Friday, March 29, 2013

Public Banking

What to do about the banks that are "too big to fail?"  Or "too big to prosecute?"  Interview with Michael Hudson, a former Wall Street financial analyst who is now a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Democratization Of Work

Professor Richard Wolff talks about the need for a strong jobs program in the U.S., something Congress hasn't discussed at all.  He urges an end to austerity and the "democratization of work."

There's so much to quote here, but I will share this one portion whereby Professor Wolff takes apart some of the mythology often heard on mainstream media, around a so-called "nanny state":
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Wolff, before we end, I want to turn back to the crisis in Cyprus and relate it to what’s happening here. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News warned his audience last week that Cyprus and other European countries are facing economic hardships because they’re so-called "nanny states."
BILL O’REILLY: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, now Cyprus, all broke. And other European nations are close. Why? Because they’re nanny states, and there are not enough workers to support all the entitlements these progressive paradises are handing out.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Richard?
RICHARD WOLFF: You know, he gets away with saying things which no undergraduate in the United States with a responsible economic professor could ever get away with. If you want to refer to things as nanny states, then the place you go in Europe is not the southern tier—Portugal, Spain and Italy; the place you go are Germany and Scandinavia, because they provide more social services to their people than anybody else. And guess what: Not only are they not in trouble economically, they are the winners of the current situation. The unemployment rate in Germany is now below 5 percent. Ours is pushing between 7 and 8 percent. So, please, get your facts right, Mr. O’Reilly. The nanny state, you call it, the program of countries like Germany and Scandinavia, who tax their people heavily, by all means, but who provide them with social services that would be the envy of the United States—a national health program that takes care of you, whether you’re employed or not, and gives you proper healthcare. In France, for example, the law says when you go to work, you get five weeks’ paid vacation. That’s not an option; that’s the law. You get support when you’re a new parent for your child care and so forth. They provide services. And they are successful in Germany and Scandinavia, much more than we are in the United States and much more than those countries in the south.
So they’re not broken, the south, because they’re nanny states, since the nanny states, par excellence, are doing better than everyone. The actual truth of Mr. O’Reilly is the opposite of what he says. The more you do nanny state, the better off you are during a crisis and to minimize the cost of the crisis. That’s what the European economic situation actually teaches. He’s just making it up as he goes along to conform to an ideological position that is harder and harder for folks like him to sustain, so he has to reach further and further into fantasy.
U.S., 2012, Protesters demand employment,
"Bail Out the Unemployed: Jobs Now!"

You can also listen to Professor Wolff discuss deficits and debts here in October 2011.  As per Truthout, Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He teaches at the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, and at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. He has also taught economics at Yale University, the City College of the City University of New York, the University of Paris in France, and at the Sorbonne. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Aldeia Maracanã

White Wolf Pack reports the Guajajara Indians of Brazil in court Saturday fighting a violent Friday eviction from the historic Indian Museum in Rio de Janeiro, and what the group calls "Maracana Village."  The 147 year old museum building, considered on holy territory, is located a few meters from Maracana Stadium.  The government wants the property for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and wants to raze the building for a parking lot, commercial center and expanded stadium exits.

Youtube's humanrights reports an estimated 170,000 persons at risk for displacement, if not already displaced, and with the latest eviction last week when officers brutally removed the indigenous community that called it home for more than six years.  Humanrights states that "the Museum of the Indian was Brazil's first museum dedicated to indigenous culture and history. Now abandoned by government support and falling to ruin, it has become a rallying point for indigenous activists and those fighting evictions throughout the country."

From October 23rd on telesurenglish:

Humanrights says, on March 22nd, after months of legal arguments over the museum's future, riot police stormed the building and forcibly evicted dozens of residents, clearing the museum amidst tear gas and baton beatings.

From daengellson, the video below, who also shares from the Washington Post that Indians from across Brazil stay at the museum when they come to Rio to get medical treatment, pursue an education, or sell handcrafts in the streets.

Huffpost reports an evergrowing crowd outside the museum began shouting, "Fascists! Fascists!" And, "Police are the shame of Brazil!"  Monica Lima, a 46 year old teacher said that the officials are "using the World Cup and the Olympics as an excuse to sell this city to a few billionaire businessmen."

The news outlet reports other protests, as well, when officials evicted residents of a nearby slum for the same projects, and that a group called the Homeless Workers Movement had organized protests against World Cup preparations in eight of the 12 host cities, briefly stopping work on the stadiums intended for matches in Sao Paulo.  This is reportedly the first protest, however, in which the police became violent.

Photostream at this link.

Video below posted 9 months ago.

Aldeia Maracanã from Agencia Olhares on Vimeo.

The group insisted in court on Saturday on returning to the old museum.  They are refusing relocation to accomodation offered by the state government in Jacarepaguá, and the lawyer presented the headquarters of the National Agricultural Laboratory (LANAGRO) on the grounds of the Village Maracanã as alternative housing.  Upon inspection, however, Federal Judge Wilson Witzel found LANAGRO uninhabitable for the group, and the matter was left unresolved.

Federal Judge Wilson Witzel does not have jurisdiction over the fate of the museum building, but is recommending its preservation to Judge Marcus Abraham who will have the final say.
Judge Witzel concluded, "Unfortunately this is not under my jurisdiction, but surely it will be in the capable hands of the magistrates TRF, who have great moral and intellectual capacity to find the best solution."
The leader of the indigenous, Urutau Guajajara, said the only solution that will be accepted by the group is repossession of the museum to the Village Maracanã. He noted that the meeting with members of FUNAI was something historic, early in the conciliation meeting. At the end of the meeting however, disappointed, he said the Funai does not represent them. "I'm not defending our home, but our heritage. That's my story and that of my ancestors are there. And our heritage is not for sale," said Urutau.

*Photo credits, top and bottom/courtesy of White Wolf Pack/Brazilian Indians fighting in court on Saturday for their right to repossess heritage museum following group eviction.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Trolls And Shakes

Enjoy these protest videos with some humorous bends and twists.  From the Red Lake Nation where tribal members blockade Enbridge pipelines -- The Enbridge Troll.

And .. the pirates of the southern seas take a break defending the whales by getting down with the Harlem Shake out in the Antarctic.  "The Shackleton Shake," that is.  Sea Shepherd expects to be sending the whalers home soon with their smallest catch ever in a long and bloody history of commercial whaling.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Life Or Debt

Strike Debt releases a video, Life Or Debt, on the American medical debt crisis and the need for a single payer system.

Strike Debt recently bought off and forgave another 1 million dollars in medical debt on behalf of individuals who needed and used hospital emergency rooms in Indiana and Kentucky.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No More

Eddie Vedder sings No More, a song he wrote for Iraq War veteran Tomas Young.  The song was featured in the Phil Donohue documentary Body Of War viewable here in 9 parts.    

No More was also featured today on Democracy Now! in an exclusive interview with Mr. Young who has been an outspoken anti-war activist for many years since returning home to the U.S.  

Mr. Young is severely disabled from the Iraq War.  Recent medical developments surrounding his condition and treatment have led him to decide to take his own life in the next few months.

In the linked interview, he speaks about his decision, and in another interview portion here, reads a letter he has written about the Iraq War to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Full written contents of the letter, as follows:

"The Last Letter" 
From A Dying Veteran

TO:    George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
FROM:  Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those who bear those wounds. I am one of those. I am one of the gravely injured. I am paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care. write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost parents, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have done, witnessed, endured in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you are—who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, and your privilege and power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the 9/11 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the U.S. I did not join the Army to 'liberate' Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called 'democracy' in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues.  Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences. 

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire. 

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul. 

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.  

*Photo credit/courtesy of The Pitch/posted by /Tomas Young, 2008, in the process of undergoing more medical treatment for his injuries in the Iraq War.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When Will They Ever Learn?

A chilling report from Dahr Jamail on the Iraq War's cancer legacy.  From 1991 to 2005, the cancer rate has gone from 40 out of 100,000 people to 1,600 out of 100,000, with rates still increasing.  And,,_15Feb_2003.jpg/220px-London_Anti_Iraq_War_march,_15Feb_2003.jpgAs shocking as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research, and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest.
"Cancer statistics are hard to come by, since only 50 per cent of the healthcare in Iraq is public," Dr Salah Haddad of the Iraqi Society for Health Administration and Promotion told Al Jazeera. "The other half of our healthcare is provided by the private sector, and that sector is deficient in their reporting of statistics. Hence, all of our statistics in Iraq must be multiplied by two. Any official numbers are likely only half of the real number."
Dr. Haddad states the increasing rates correlate to the amount of bombing carried out by U.S. forces in areas like Fallujah where health authorities are also seeing an increase in congenital malformations, sterility, and infertility.  One related study finds the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied, including Hiroshima.  The steep rise in congenital birth abnormalities includes "children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumours, disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems."

Meanwhile and below, grok these stats in an opinion piece from LaughToNotCry on the 60 billion other reasons why the Iraq War was a rotten idea.

*Photo credit/courtesy of Wikipedia/photographer: Simon Rutherford/from "Protests Against The Iraq War,"  Photograph of a protest against the war in Iraq, taken from Hungerford Bridge, in Embankment London. 15th Febuary 2003.

New "New Deal"

A discussion with economists James K. Galbraith and Leo Panitch on whether a new "New Deal" is possible.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Protestors against the continued existence of Guantánamo outside the Supreme Court on January 11, 2013  In the video below, from the Witness Against Torture Fast for Justice - Day 3: activist Molly Kafka reads a poem by former Guantánamo detainee, Sami Al Hajj, Humiliated in the Shackles.  Demonstrators in the video are outside the U.S. Supreme Court in January, 2013.   

Deseret News reports today that the Guantánamo prisoner hunger strike now enters its second month;  while prison officials report 21 participants, Pardiss Kebriaei, a New York lawyer representing a Yemeni detainee, states, "My client and other men have reported that most of the detainees in Camp 6 are on strike, except for a small few who are elderly or sick."  Camp 6 reportedly holds 130 of the 166 remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  Witness Against Torture reports today that more than 1/2 are categorized by the U.S. government as "cleared for release."

More poetry reading from the Witness Against Torture Fast For Justice here at this link.  It includes a poem written by another detainee, Adnan Latif, also "cleared for release," but who nevertheless remained in captivity until his death in September 2012.  He described Guantánamo as "a piece of hell that kills everything."

On March 12th, Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Omar Farah told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

“Our clients report that most of the men at the prison are now in the fifth week of a mass hunger strike to peacefully protest worsening prison conditions, religious provocation, and the crushing reality that after 11 years in indefinite detention, there is no end in sight to their suffering. In light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Guantánamo, it is indefensible that the U.S. government failed to answer the Commission’s simple questions about how it plans to close the prison camp.”


*Photo credit/top, courtesy of Close Guantanamo/photographer: Andy Worthington/Washington D.C. protesters outside the Supreme Court on January 11, 2013, the anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo. Bottom, courtesy of peaceworkmagazine, Issue 386, June 2008.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Military Logs

A Guardian/BBC Arabic investigation sparked by the Bradley Manning/Wikileaks release of classified U.S. military logs has for the first time linked the Pentagon during the U.S. occupation of Iraq to a network of Iraqi torture centers accelerating the country's descent into full-scale civil war.  The logs detailed hundreds of incidents where U.S. soldiers came across tortured detainees in these centers run by police commandos across Iraq.

The Pentagon sent Colonel James Steele, a U.S. veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee these detention and interrogation centers.  The Guardian has released the documentary, James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq (viewable at link), exposing the U.S. role in Iraq's sectarian violence.

Below, a trailer and discussion with Maggie O'Kane, Executive Producer:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Emergency Room Debt demands a single payer medical system.  From the Physicians For A National Health Program email news, an update below on the Rolling Jubilee that bought up and abolished distressed medical debt for 44 people in upstate New York.  As of March 14th, the group announces its second debt buy on behalf of individuals who used emergency rooms in Indiana and Kentucky;  the group is also demanding that America meet this issue head-on by expanding an improved Medicare for the entire country.  
Strike Debt/Rolling Jubilee, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street that has reportedly raised about $1 million to buy distressed medical debt (for pennies on the dollar), is planning a nationwide week of actions on March 16-23 around the issue of medical debt and medical bankruptcy, culminating in a rally in New York City on March 23. The actions will have a special focus on buying distressed medical debt in Indiana and Kentucky. Rolling Jubilee is explicitly demanding a single-payer health system as part of its call to action. You can listen to PNHP co-founder Dr. Steffie Woolhandler’s talk on a recent radio show about Strike Debt/Rolling Jubilee and the issue of medical bankruptcy here (her part begins at the 31-minute mark); you can also watch her on a HuffPo Live discussion on a related topic (her segment starts at the 2-minute mark). PNHP has also highlighted the problem of medical debt on Facebook and Twitter.

More information on the week of action here at Strike Debt's website.

Representative John Conyers recently reintroduced H.R. 676, "The Improved And Expanded Medicare For All Act" to the 113th Congress.  More information here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Frank's 47% Song

From Frank Gallagher and Joe Wurth of Northwest Iowa "recorded September 28, 2012 in Terry's basement," Frank's 47% Song.


The heroic cameraman who taped Mitt Romney's 47 percent remarks at the infamous $50,000. per plate fundraiser has stepped forward.  It was, indeed, the bartender who "done it," as many suspected.

In an interview with MSNBC's Ed Schultz, whistle blower Scott Prouty said he brought his camera to the event because of a prior fundraiser photo op with Bill Clinton, who went into the kitchen afterwards and stood for pictures with staff.  Cameras were not excluded from either occasion. 
He told Mr. Schultz that when he brought a camera to the event, he had not yet decided that he would film all of Mr. Romney’s remarks, or release them publicly.
It was Mr. Romney’s comments about a factory in China, where he expressed amazement at the willingness of Chinese workers to undertake jobs under harsh conditions, that convinced Mr. Prouty to release the video.
“He just wandered through this horrendous place and thought to himself, ‘this is pretty good,’” Mr. Prouty said. “If you typed in Mitt Romney into Google, my goal was to have that clip, that China clip, pop up,” he said.
Below, the full interview with Ed Schultz.

Mr. Prouty states, "You shouldn't have to be able to afford 50,000 dollars to hear what the candidate actually thinks."  And, "I don't think he has any clue what a regular American goes through on a daily basis."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Funeral For Our Future

Via Common Dreams, twenty-six protesters were arrested outside a TransCanada office Monday in Westborough, Massachusetts.  Staging a "Funeral For Our Future," protesters carried a coffin representing the future and sang, "They are digging us a hole, six feet underground, where the pipelines will go."


The demonstration is part of a lead-up to national actions against the pipeline March 16th-24th.  

Activist Isabel Arthen stated:
The total carbon contained in Canada’s tar sands exceeds all the oil burned in human history. If we develop these incredibly dirty fossil fuels, my future will be marked by superstorms, untold numbers of climate refugees and climate-related deaths, and ultimately an uninhabitable planet. The planet is already the hottest it’s been in 4000 years. How hot will it be when the Keystone pipeline delivers over 800,000 barrels of tar sands a day? We must stop it. We will stop it.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The late Jayne Cortez in two pieces performed at the Sanctuary For Independent Media in Troy, New York in October, 2010, and in A Dialogue Between Voice And Drum, with drummer Denardo Coleman.  The Sanctuary describes her work celebrated "for its political, surrealistic and dynamic innovations in lyricism and visceral sound."

The first selection, Find Your Own Voice.

The second selection, I'm Gonna Shake

Monday, March 11, 2013

No Nukes

Anti-nuclear protesters march in Tokyo March 10, 2013. REUTERS-Issei KatoReuters reports thousands of protesters in Tokyo Sunday decrying nuclear energy.  Today is the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the world's worst nuclear powerplant disaster in twenty-five years.

*Photo credit/courtesy of Reuters/photographer: Issei Kato/"No Nukes" protesters in Japanese capital Sunday.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Over two million people turned out in the streets of Caracas Friday for the funeral of the late President Hugo Chavez.


The funeral was attended by dignitaries throughout Latin America, including Bolivia's President Evo Morales. Like Venezuela, Bolivia has declared a 7 day period of mourning for the late President who died Tuesday after a two year fight against cancer.

More here and here and here on the life and legacy of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Saturday Update:

Below, excerpts from the ceremonies, including a speech made by Nicolas Madura.  The vice president was sworn into office friday, with another election slated in a month.  Prior to his death, President Chavez announced the vice president as his preferred successor.  

President Madura stated, "All of our commander’s life has been a testament.  His words, his passions, his work, his people, the people of Venezuela, is his testament."  He continued, saying that Chavez left behind a system of primarily five principles and values:
The first is to maintain the independence and achievements of this popular Bolivarian revolution.  The second objective is to construct our own socialism; diverse, democratic, and Latin American rooted.  The third, to project Venezuela as part of a more powerful Latin America, that will be constructed in the next few years.  We see that represented here in the diversity of presidents who attended this ceremony.  Number four is to construct a world of balance, of Bolivarian balance without empires.  The fifth objective is a historic one:  to contribute to the preservation of the planet and the survival of the human race.   

The ceremony was punctuated by the many world dignitaries and groups lining up around the late president's casket for a moment of silence.

From the United States, Reverend Jesse Jackson attended ceremonies and said a prayer:
Today we are here not because Hugo Chavez died, but because he lived.  We pray God that today that you will heal the breach between the U.S. and Venezuela.
Actor Sean Penn was also seen in attendance; he joins a number of American activists and film figures such as Michael Moore, Danny Glover, and director Oliver Stone in hailing Hugo Chavez, in the words of Mr. Glover, "as a social champion of democracy, material development, and spiritual well-being."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Hundreds of thousands of people are reported in the streets of Caracas today (aerial footage here), and many across Latin America, mourning the death of President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday at age 58.  President Chavez had been fighting cancer.  

Statements were released by world leaders, some of whom - for example, Bolivian President Evo Morales - appeared in the street procession today with Vice President Nicolas Maduro, accompanying the casket.  

NBC carries a photostream here showing many Venezuelans weeping.
The vice president stated on Tuesday that Venezuelan authorities believe the late president was poisoned (i.e. cancer induced) by U.S. government operatives.  At the same time, two U.S. Embassy military attachés were expelled for allegedly attempting to destabilize the country by culling right-wing military support in a plot against the Venezuelan government.  

The late president who was in office for 14 years survived a 2002 coup attempt later linked to the Bush administration. 

Below, video of formal statements regarding Hugo Chavez' death.


President Chavez decisively won reelection in October under an election system the Carter Center has identified as the best in the world, with the last election deemed by observers "a model of democracy."  Voter turn-out was massive.  

Vilified by the American mainstream press, Chavez was a more controversial figure in the United States, though he was wildly popular in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.

Widely known for redirecting Venezuela's oil wealth to the nation's impoverished majority, Chavez instituted programs that rapidly halved the national poverty rate, and decreased the extreme poverty rate by 2/3rds.  The late president implemented social missions aimed at eliminating illiteracy, and he brought high school and college educations within reach of large numbers of Venezuelans previously unserved - and without putting students under the staggering burdens of a student debtor system, as in the United States.  

Photo By: Franklin Reyes, MinCIChavez expanded social security for senior citizens, many of whom had no pensions, and no access to the system previously, providing a guaranteed income to older Venezuelans equivalent to the national minimum wage.

“This is the first time that senior citizens are receiving help, and in my case I need it, because I have always been self-employed and I don’t have a pension,” stated a Mr. Luis Araque from Caracas, back in January, 2011, and when the program was first made available to women over 55 and men over 60.

The Chavez government also instituted a universal health care system, while bringing thousands of doctors into the slums of Caracas to provide free, 24 hour per day medical care. His leadership is regarded as having "spawned a massive grassroots renaissance among millions of poor Venezuelans. They now participate in community groups that do everything from running soup kitchens to installing public water systems."
More discussion of the Chavez legacy here and here on Real News and Democracy Now! and here on Truthout, and here at theguardian.

Below, from arenamierda, David Rovic's Song For Hugo Chavez.


*Photo credit/top, courtesy of NBC/photographer: Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters/Supporters gather outside the hospital in Caracas/bottom, courtesy of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela/photographer: Franklin Reyes, MinCI/Learning to read and write through social missions instituted under Chavez.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stolen Apes Common Dreams, a new report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) through the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) shows that over 22,000 great apes have been illegally stolen, traded, or killed since 2005. "Stolen Apes: The Illicit Trade in Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos and Orangutans,” is the first report to analyze the scale and scope of the issue, with traffiking linked to organized crime and trans-boundary networks moving animals with drugs, arms and laundered money.

GRASP Coordinator Doug Cress states,  "At this rate, apes will disappear very quickly.  Great apes are extremely important for the health of forests in Africa and Asia, and even the loss of 10 or 20 at a time can have a deep impact on biodiversity."  The report urges increased enforcement of protected areas; only 27 arrests were made in Africa and Asia between 2005 and 2011, and only 25% of those arrests were prosecuted.  

A video here from the Great Apes Survival Partnership.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Masters Of War

Pearl Jam in Masters Of War at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary.

True Cost Of Wars

Americans have the right to know. Free Bradley Manning.Bradley Manning reads a 35 page statement Thursday, "at a providence inquiry for his formal plea of guilty to one specification as charged and nine specifications for lesser included offenses."  The New York Times reports that the guilty pleas expose him to up to twenty years in prison.  The private whistleblower released classified documentation, including video showing American soldiers killing unarmed Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists.  

The twenty-five year old soldier said that he wanted to share with the world the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also stated, "I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information .. this could spark a debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general." 

In the video below, attorney Michael Ratner, with the Center For Constitutional Rights, describes the scene in the courtroom.

*Photo credit, top left/courtesy of Gay Liberation Network/"Americans Have The Right To Know - Free Bradley Manning."  June 2011 Free Bradley Manning Rally In Leavenworth, Kansas.