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Archive for March 2010

Our Thirsty World: Nat’l Geo on Water

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by Shana Nys Dambrot

Photo by L Johnson

National Geographic puts a new spin on a classic subject, using cutting-edge photographic technology to build a sweeping portfolio of the past and future of water on Earth.

From agriculture, industry, and religion to conservation, commerce, and mythology, no aspect of human life is unaffected by the presence — or increasingly, the absence — of fresh water. Water: Our Thirsty World, a special issue of NatGeo and related exhibition at LA’s Annenberg Space for Photography, tackles this fluid topic in light of dire resource-war scenarios and nature’s evaporating majesty.

View the issue on NatGeo’s website, find out what you can do to help, browse images and videos from the exhibition, and if you’re in LA before June swing by and see it in person.

What Do Real Socialists Say About Obama’s Health Care “Reform”?

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We know a former Wellpoint (Insurance ) exec actually wrote most of the Bill that was just passed. We know that Obama made a deal behind closed doors to kill the Public Option. We’re also beginning to hear more about all the traps and loopholes that were written into the Bill benefiting the Insurance and Pharma industries, and the lack of any real price constraints so costs can continue to rise.

What I’d really like to know is why none of these details were provided by the media prior to passage? The public was asked to take sides pro and con with only their fears to guide them for the most part.

Progressives and Conservatives are in agreement that  these Health “Reform” efforts are a sham and will not deliver as advertised. But  Tea-Baggers claim the Bill is socialist. So what do real socialists have to say?


The Meaning of Obama’s Healthcare Reform and Next Steps

March 29, 2010

Statement by the Editorial Board of   The Organizer Newspaper

The healthcare reform bill adopted by the House of Representatives on March 21 and signed into law by President Obama on March 23 has been hailed widely as an historic victory for working people. Some have gone so far as to compare it to the adoption of the Social Security and Medicare bills years ago. Even those who criticize aspects of the bill argue that it marks a step forward that warrants our support.

No one could be opposed to a healthcare reform bill, however incremental, if it represented even a small step in the right direction. But is this really the case?

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Parents blame children’s health problems on schools’ Wi-Fi technology

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Wireless concerns


March 22, 2010

Federal guidelines for the use of wireless technology are outdated and should be more in line with emerging research, experts say.

And some Simcoe County parents, who say their kids have experienced adverse health effects as a result of wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) in their schools, agree.

Rodney Palmer, who has two children, four and nine years old, at Mountain View Elementary School in Collingwood, recently made a presentation to the Simcoe County District School Board.

He informed the board that some students were experiencing headaches, dizziness, distorted vision and other symptoms that otherwise weren’t usually a problem with the children.

Palmer’s four-year-old daughter would get a rash on her leg — something that would happen only at school, he said.

“It’s really the long-term effects that I’m worried about. Introducing a four-year-old to microwave radiation for six hours a day when it’s not being used is profoundly unnecessary,” he said, noting the majority of the school’s eight transmitters were left on when they were not needed.

The long-term effects are what worry researchers, too.

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Israeli occupation use of banned weapons during war on Gaza confirmed

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Palestinian Info Center 3/19/2010

GAZA, (PIC)– Dr. Basim Na’im, the Palestinian health minister, said that analysis of samples taken from the bodies of war victims as well as samples of soil from Gaza confirmed the use by the Israeli occupation of internationally banned weapons and called onto medical delegations who visit the Gaza Strip to expose this fact and not yield to Zionist pressures.

He made these remarks during a press conference organized by the PA health ministry on Thursday in Gaza to exhibit the findings of the analysis conducted on biological samples taken from war victims in the Gaza Strip after last years Israeli onslaught.

“We suspected the enemy was using banned weapons in its wars against the Palestinian civilians, especially that for years specialized doctors were noticing new phenomena amongst the wounded that they did not see before and that although wounded Palestinians were accorded the proper medical treatment stabilizing their condition for the first few hours, their health condition was rapidly deteriorating leading to death without obvious reasons,” Naim said.

In this regard Na’im accused the international community of remaining passive although the Israeli occupation army was caught in action using prohibited weapons against the civilians in Gaza killing children, women, and elderly people among other civilians.

He said that the analysis concluded that the weapons used contained more than 30 toxic elements such as cobalt, cadmium and molybdenum.

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Written by laudyms

March 26, 2010 at 11:54 am

Ask Justice Thomas to Recuse Himself from Supreme Court GMO Sugar Beet Case

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J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred, 534 U.S. 124 (2001) granted large biotech corporations like Monsanto extensive patent protection over genetically modified seeds. This case was authored by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former lawyer for Monsanto.

In Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the U.S. Supreme Court will review an appellate court decision ruling that the USDA illegally approved Monsanto’s GM sugar beets without determining whether organic farmers, consumers or the environment would be adversely effected.

Justice Thomas has an obvious conflict of interest and should recuse himself, but he has decided to reserve his power to rule on the GM sugar beet case.

As one blogger put it, “Fox, meet henhouse.”

Please sign OCA’s petition to Justice Thomas:

Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder Finally Explained: Too Many Chemicals

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Natural News March 24, 2010

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

A combination of toxic chemicals and pathogens are probably to blame for colony collapse disorder in honeybees, according to a study conducted by researchers at Washington State University.

Researchers conducted careful studies to uncover contributors to the disorder, in which seemingly healthy bees simply vanish from a hive, leaving the queen and a handful of newly hatched adults behind.

“One of the first things we looked at was the pesticide levels in the wax of older honeycombs,” researcher Steve Sheppard said.

The researchers acquired used hives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, finding that they had “fairly high levels of pesticide residue.” When bees were raised in these hives, they had “significantly reduced longevity,” the researchers said.

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Written by laudyms

March 24, 2010 at 8:51 am

The Lobbyists Health Bill- PR triumphs over the facts

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How many times can you fool the American people?  Evidently, they’ll swallow whatever PR you feed them.

Ralph Nader writes in Craven Democrats:

President Obama said that he and the Democrats had pushed back against the “special interests.”

In fact, the bill that was passed by the House Sunday night was a result of a deal President Obama and the Democrats cut last year with the pharmaceutical industry.

And it was written with the help of former insurance industry lobbyists.

Or as the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne put it – the Democrats are fighting for a Republican health plan.

Last year, former CIGNA executive turned whistleblower Wendell Potter called the bill “a joke” and “an absolute gift to the insurance industry.”

Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program called the bill “a step backwards.”

“This bill further enriches the industries that are the problem,” Dr. Flowers said.

Chris Hedges put it this way:

“This bill is not about fiscal responsibility or the common good.”

“The bill is about increasing corporate profit at taxpayer expense,” Hedges wrote.

“It lavishes hundreds of billions in government subsidies on insurance and drug companies.”

“The some 3,000 (corporate) lobbyists in Washington, whose dirty little hands are all over the bill, have once more betrayed the American people for money.”

“The bill is another example of why change will never come from within the Democratic Party. The party is owned and managed by corporations.”

Pro-single-payer doctors: Health bill leaves 23 million uninsured

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A false promise of reform

For Immediate Release
March 22, 2010     PNHP

Oliver Fein, M.D.
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.
David Himmelstein, M.D.
Margaret Flowers, M.D.
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006, mark@pnhp.org

The following statement was released today by leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program, www.pnhp.org. Their signatures appear below.

As much as we would like to join the celebration of the House’s passage of the health bill last night, in good conscience we cannot. We take no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.

Instead of eliminating the root of the problem – the profit-driven, private health insurance industry – this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers’ defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.

The hype surrounding the new health bill is belied by the facts:

  • About 23 million people will remain uninsured nine years out. That figure translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering.
  • Millions of middle-income people will be pressured to buy commercial health insurance policies costing up to 9.5 percent of their income but covering an average of only 70 percent of their medical expenses, potentially leaving them vulnerable to financial ruin if they become seriously ill. Many will find such policies too expensive to afford or, if they do buy them, too expensive to use because of the high co-pays and deductibles.
  • Insurance firms will be handed at least $447 billion in taxpayer money to subsidize the purchase of their shoddy products. This money will enhance their financial and political power, and with it their ability to block future reform.
  • The bill will drain about $40 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the tens of millions who will remain uninsured.
  • People with employer-based coverage will be locked into their plan’s limited network of providers, face ever-rising costs and erosion of their health benefits. Many, even most, will eventually face steep taxes on their benefits as the cost of insurance grows.
  • Health care costs will continue to skyrocket, as the experience with the Massachusetts plan (after which this bill is patterned) amply demonstrates.
  • The much-vaunted insurance regulations – e.g. ending denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions – are riddled with loopholes, thanks to the central role that insurers played in crafting the legislation. Older people can be charged up to three times more than their younger counterparts, and large companies with a predominantly female workforce can be charged higher gender-based rates at least until 2017.
  • Women’s reproductive rights will be further eroded, thanks to the burdensome segregation of insurance funds for abortion and for all other medical services.

It didn’t have to be like this. Read the rest of this entry »

A spy unsettles US-India ties

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A senior Indian editor wrote on Sunday, “Headley … was convicted on drug charges and sent to jail in the US. We know also that he was subsequently released from jail and handed over to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which said that it wanted to send him to Pakistan as an undercover agent. All this is a matter of public record. What happened between the time the US sent Headley into Pakistan and his arrest at Chicago airport a few months ago? How did an American agent turn into a terrorist? The US will not say.”

March 23, 2010   Asia Times

A spy unsettles USIndia ties
Mumbai attacks planner was a CIA agent

By M K Bhadrakumar

[Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.]

News that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had reached a plea bargain with David Coleman Headley, who played a key role in the planning of the terrorist strike in Mumbai in November 2008 in which 166 people were killed, has caused an uproar in India.

The deal enables the US government to hold back from formally producing any evidence against Headley in a court of law that might have included details of his links with US intelligence or oblige any cross-examination of Headley by the prosecution.

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U.S. Ranks in Top 5 in Worst Food Safety Culprits

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Figure 4. Comparison of the accumulated number of food alerts and the transgressor indices.

A new international food safety monitoring tool has been developed to track food safety violations by country, and the results do not look good for the U.S., which ranks among the top five most dangerous countries in food safety.

by Kristen Ridley  March 18, 2010     Change.org

A new international food safety monitoring tool has been developed to track food safety offenses by country, and the results don’t look good for the U.S. It joins China, Turkey, Iran, and Spain as the five countries with the worst records of food safety.

The new tool uses massive amounts of food recall data collected from 2003 to 2008 to make it’s calculations, and it’s all available online in a user-friendly format for anyone to see, even if it is still obviously geared towards researchers. According to one of the tool’s developers, D. P. Naughton, “No other system can reflect the complexity of this information in a snapshot form.” This advanced level of food safety analysis should prove particularly useful to developing countries, many of which still don’t have comprehensive food safety programs.

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