Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sustained High Unemployment

Professor Jesse Rothstein with the Goldman School of Public Policy and Department of Economics discusses the various stories as to why there is sustained high unemployment.  He argues that skills training and education is not the critical solution, and lays out his view of what Congress should (but of course won't) do:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Eyes of the World

Democracy Now! reports a desperate situation at Guantánamo continuing to unfold.  For the first time, the U.S. military acknowledges that the number of prisoners on a hunger strike is over 100, and a Pentagon advisor has now predicted that some will die before the hunger strike is over.  Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a hunger striker held at Guantánamo for 11 years without charges, writes in a New York Times op ed, "Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made. I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late."  

Attorney Carlos Warner, representing 11 prisoners at Guantánamo, is interviewed in the video below.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Life Or Debt

Via PNHP News, editorialists at the Journal For Internal Medicine state that the Affordable Care Act will leave tens of millions of Americans underinsured, and facing a choice between ‘life or debt.’

http://cjrarchive.org/img/posts/parade.jpgDrs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein wrote the editorial with respect to a new study about skimpy health insurance among low income Americans, with extensive data showing this coverage as grossly inadequate, the problem only growing.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) may "paradoxically" exacerbate this issue, lowering the bar for health insurance actually leaving many people paying more in out-of-pocket costs even after they've laid out thousands of dollars for premiums.  The Obama administration is also allowing states to charge Medicaid recipients co-payments, and as the Medicaid expansion is fought out at the state level.

Dr. Woolhandler, the lead editorialist, is a physician and professor of public health at CUNY.  Both Drs Woolhandler and Himmelstein served as visiting professors at Harvard Medical School and were co-authors with Elizabeth Warren of an important study showing that illness and medical bills contribute to 62 percent of personal bankruptcies, and with most of the medically bankrupt insured.

Dr. Woolhandler said that the ACA would make underinsurance "the new normal," reducing the number of uninsured from 50 million to 30 million, but with a new coverage full of holes.  

"Americans deserve the kind of first-dollar, comprehensive coverage that Canadians already have," said Dr. Woolhandler.  "But that's only affordable under a single-payer system that cuts out the private insurance middlemen."



Meanwhile, the fight for single payer continues at the state level.  In late March, the Denver Post reported a citizen's initiative campaign spearheaded by Health Care For All Colorado and "a current member of the budding health insurance exchange."  

"Access to health care is a human right, it's not something that should be bought and sold as a commodity," said Donna Smith, executive director of Health Care for All Colorado

A simultaneous effort to pass state legislation providing health care to all people living in Colorado over a year (and funded through a 9% payroll increase tax) did not gain enough steam with state lawmakers, and organizers report now focusing efforts on a citizen's initiative.

West Virginia

Two days ago, the Charleston Gazette published another editorial on behalf of a national single payer health care system by James Binder, M.D., who is a pediatrician at Cabin Creek Health Systems.  Dr. Binder writes on the 2,000 year old Judeo-Christian moral imperatives of such a system - with well funded, quality health care for all as a human right.  He also says,
A single-payer system, unlike our current fragmented, multi-insurance system, would allow establishment of global budgeting. Global budgeting, which is how our police and fire departments, public schools and libraries are paid, would allow control of excessive spending on health care.
Occupy Wall Street

Below, a video announcement from Strike Debt, the Occupy Wall Street offshoot that has been buying up medical debt for pennies on the dollar, and then, forgiving that debt.  Strike Debt recently unfolded a new campaign advocating a single payer health care system as the solution to our nation's health care state of emergency.

*Photo credits/top, Columbia Journalism Review/posted by Trudy Lieberman/June 2008, "Grassroots Support For Single Payer."  Single payer supporters gather for rallies in 19 cities as part of a National Day of Action Against Insurance Companies.  Bottom, Occupy DC/photographer: Eyes Of The World/A March 23, 2013 strike debt action in Union Square, N.Y.C. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Documentary Invitation

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1290341.1363392518!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/teen16n-1-web.jpgOccupyTVNY announces a new documentary in the works telling the true story of Kimani Gray, the East Flatbush teenager killed by two police officers reported as having a history of brutality and falsifying evidence.  His death triggered public outrage and widespread protest.  The documentary will place events in the context of police-community relations in neighborhoods like East Flatbush, filmmakers envisioning "a narrative told by many voices, most of them residents of East Flatbush."   

If you would like to participate in this documentary, please contact atiqzabinski@gmail.com.

Below, Councilman Charles Barron with Kimani's mother, Carol Gray, after her first meeting with District Attorney Charles Hynes regarding the slaying of her son.  

OccupyTVNY will continue to cover events in East Flatbush at this playlist which viewers are encouraged to upload and share. 

*Photo credit/NY Daily News/photographer: Todd Maisel/Picture of a family photograph of Kimani Gray with his mother.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Public Opposition

The E.P.A. is objecting (and yet again) to the Keystone XL Pipeline, stating in a letter to the State Department, that a 4 year State Department study has "insufficient evidence" for the project to proceed.   The State Department study was reportedly conducted amidst numerous conflicts of interests, while standing in stark contrast to E.P.A. findings of "significant environmental impacts." 

http://barneymccoy.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/keystone-pipeline.jpgThe pipeline crosses an international border (in this case, of course, the U.S. and Canada), which is why the State Department is involved.  A twist being, with the approval of the project, TransCanada obtains eminent domain over American land - something they cannot obtain (even under NAFTA).

Via the Grist, the Montreal Gazette reports TransCanada acccusing the E.P.A. of attempting to interfere in Canadian sovereignty "by recommending that the State Department explore ways the U.S. can get involved in reducing emissions from Canada’s oilsands."

A State Department comment period on the Keystone XL Pipeline closed a couple of days ago with over a million comments from the American public against the Keystone XL. 

In the video below, Anthony Swift with the National Resource Council reviews the situation with Thom Hartmann, saying that the sheer volume of comments shows "how deep the opposition" to the pipeline is in the United States. 


*Photo credit/JournalCetera/Photo: National Radio Canada/Pieces of the Keystone XL pipeline await transport. From 10/25/2012, "Engineer raises concerns over Keystone XL Pipeline."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Miranda Notice

http://occuworld.s3.amazonaws.com/2013/04/e903eebc2fror600.jpg.jpgVia boingboing, the Boston bombing suspect is read his Miranda rights (see page four of court transcript) in an initial federal court appearance - at his bedside in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

More about that controversy here, along with the "public safety exception."

19 year old was appointed counsel, also present.  He was charged with one count of "using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, resulting in death," and one count of "malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device, resulting in death." 

On the Miranda issue, the ACLU had released this statement a few days earlier via Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director:
The ACLU shares the public’s relief that the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has been apprehended.
Every criminal defendant is entitled to be read Miranda rights. The public safety exception should be read narrowly. It applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule. Additionally, every criminal defendant has a right to be brought before a judge and to have access to counsel. We must not waver from our tried-and-true justice system, even in the most difficult of times. Denial of rights is un-American and will only make it harder to obtain fair convictions.
Our thoughts remain with the victims of this tragedy and with the entire Boston community.


On forums and whereabouts's (and the "enemy combatant" thing), OccuWorld says (infographic above):
There’s no need for debate about whether the suspect should have instead been treated as an enemy combatant. President Obama made the right decision in committing to try the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect in a U.S. federal court. Federal courts have completed nearly 500 cases related to international terrorism since 9/11.  Of those, 67 cases have involved individuals captured overseas, according to Department of Justice data obtained by Human Rights First in a Freedom of Information Act request.
Meanwhile, military commissions have convicted only seven individuals since 9/11 and has needlessly delayed many high profile terrorism prosecutions.  Two of those convictions were recently overturned due to legal problems in securing jurisdiction.
Americans deserve justice for the Boston Marathon bombing. If convicted, Dzhohkhar could face the death penalty for killing three civilians and injuring over a hundred more.

Though I can't go along with the death penalty argument, myself, as I support abolishing that practice altogether. (And while Mr. Tsarnaev could also face state criminal charges, the death penalty is not an option under Massachusetts law.)

More here in an article from The Hill.  White House press secretary Jay Carney described the success of the federal court system in handling terrorism cases, stating that information could be obtained without military detention.  Meanwhile, House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) had said in an opposing written statement, “It seems premature to declare that we will not treat Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant since we do not know enough about his affiliations."

More about all that confusion in this earlier Rachel Maddow clip from April 19th:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Editor's Note:  This post has been modified to correct some inaccuracies originally published.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cheering In The Streets

Rachel Maddow reports crowds of Watertown, Massachusetts residents pouring into the streets to applaud and cheer (generically) Boston police for taking the 2nd Boston Marathon bombing suspect into custody - 8.3 miles outside the city, and heading west along the Charles River.  The first suspect, his older brother, was killed earlier in a gun fight with law enforcement.  Rachel Maddow's team, live on the ground in Watertown:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Home Defenders

From B Media Collective, a film short titled, Home Defenders, about people helping people fight evictions.   Housing - and with heat, functioning toilets, and running water - is a human right.  We are living in the richest country on earth.  So why are people still asking someone to turn the water back on, and in the United States of America?  

More information here at WeAreOregon.com, including how you, too, can be housesitter - or home defender - in your community. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Maduro Wins

Returning to news coverage from Venezuela where Nicolas Maduro has won the presidential election against challenger Henrique Capriles in an estimated 51 to 49 percent of the vote.  Maduro's supporters turned out in the streets to celebrate.

With the nation still reeling from Hugo Chavez' death, voter turnout was high at 78%, though not as high as the last election in which Chavez swept into landslide victory with 81% casting ballots in what the Carter Institute has described as the best election system in the world.  The election was closer than expected, keeping many on the edge of their seats, with Maduro winning by about 300,000 votes.  

Mr. Capriles has demanded a recount, his Caracas campaign manager Jorge Millan asserting, "The electoral authorities are partisan towards the government."   

In response, an election official scoffed, "Henrique Capriles is the current governor of Miranda state.  The system is good when you win, but not when you lose?

President-Elect Maduro reportedly welcomed the recount to leave no doubts about his six year term.  He has given an acceptance speech, and his election win is formally recognized by the major Latin American leaderships, notably beginning with Argentina, Ecuador, and congratulatory statements by Raul Castro in Cuba. 

President-Elect Maduro pointed out in his acceptance speech that the right often wins elections by much narrower margins, without objection to that same process that puts their own candidates in seats, and presenting additional perspective on this latest win by the left.

"In other countries like in the United States," he said, "A president whose name I won't mention won by a margin of 0.3% and ruled for 8 years after that.  And what did the opposition candidates say about that?  Not a word.  In Mexico, a president won by 0.3% and governed a full six-year term.  What did the left say when they lost the election?  That the election results must be respected.  There are many cases like that.  Here we won with 2% - that's 300,000 votes in the middle of an electoral war - for the first time [in a situation in which]* "the giant" (Chavez) is not a candidate."

The Maduro campaign had criticized Mr. Capriles for his ties and support by that unnamed U.S. president and friends, notably former Bush state department officials Otto Reich and Roger Noriega.

Venezuela political observer and analyst Greg Wilpert says that a recount is likely approved by the election authorities based on the 2% margin, a process fairly easily accomplished within a few days, though not automatically.  Mr. Wilpert describes a system in which voters normally cast both a paper and electronic ballot, and then, about 53% of the paper ballot boxes are randomly selected for a paper ballot count.  This 53% paper ballot count is what is normally compared to the electronic vote count to ensure veracity.  What Mr. Capriles essentially wants is for all the ballot boxes to be opened and compared to the electronic count.

*Editor's bracketed clarification with respect to the translation.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Tax Haven Day

From other98, Tax Evaders: The Invasion Begins.

And to Laugh To Not Cry .. What Is Entitlement?

http://graphicpolicy.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/tax_evaders.jpgEditor's Update, 4/16/2013:  More information about video games and tax day actions targeting corporate evaders in this interview with two of the organizers.

Link here to play

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Land Of Guantánamo

Singer-songwriter Rich Wyman in a protest song about Guántanamo. Directed by Eric Hutchins.

Also listen to an interview with Rich Wyman here about how and why he wrote the song, along with portions of a performance.

The UK Guardian reports a hearing to be held on Monday regarding deteriorating conditions at the prison as a British hunger striker inside Guantánamo Bay described fears that prisoners would soon die - and if authorities did not take action to release those long determined as no longer needing to be detained, and to close the illegal facility.
Shaker Aamer, the last UK resident still held at the camp, claims he is subjected to harsh treatment from guards and denied water, despite being in a weakened state due to severe weight loss, according to a written declaration filed by his lawyer.
At least one prisoner has lost 55 pounds or 25% of his body weight in the hunger strike believed to have started February 6th.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


http://go.bloomberg.com/political-capital/files/2013/01/0103-Sequestration.jpgOver 2 million Americans sign petitions (via Senator Bernie Sanders) to protect social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and create jobs.

*Photo credit/courtesy of The Boston Globe/photographer: John Tlumacki/January 2013 Boston protesters opposing cuts to the social safety net.

Editor's 4.11.2013 Update:  You can also sign at Representative Alan Grayson's petition here. (currently showing 2,339,446 signatures).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mayflower Interview

Back in Arkansas, where the pipeline ruptured, members of the Tar Sands Blockade spill response team interview a local resident known as Duck. 

The spill response team also visits this wetland and duck nesting habitat destroyed by Exxon.

Over at the Valero Texas Open, a protester interrupts:

Connect The Dots

Via Common Dreams, another unexpected turn in the world of commercials with a national T.V. ad campaign against the Keystone XL Pipeline, and put together by groups including the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Bold Nebraska, Oil Change International, and the Nebraska Farmers Union.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Maduro Leads

Turning again to events unfolding in Venezuela, elections are now in full swing -- interim President Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez' former vice president and chosen successor, well in the lead, with the April 14th vote predicted as a landslide.  From IPS,
Venezuelan acting President Nicolas MaduroMaduro, the new leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and Henrique Capriles, the candidate of the heterogeneous opposition coalition, will face off at the polls to win the six-year term to which the late Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) had been re-elected in October.
Real News reports President Maduro's campaign themes include a deepening of Hugo Chavez' legacy, reduction of the homicide rate, and that the opposition is receiving support from the United States - primarily through former Bush state department officials, Otto Reich and Roger Noriega.

More below in video coverage from Venezuela:

*Photo credit/courtesy of LA Times/Photographer: Juan Barreto/April 4, 2013, Venezuelan interim President Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores greet supporters during a San Carlos campaign rally.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pipeline Ruptures

Two dozen Arkansas homes evacuate (video below) as an Exxon Mobil pipeline ruptures, pouring an estimated 84,000 gallons of Canadian crude into their neighborhood on Friday about 20 miles north of Little Rock.  Police report that the oil gushed for 45 minutes before being stopped.  Meanwhile, Texas landowners join activists in the Keystone XL pipeline blockade.  Events unfold as President Obama considers the fate of the pipeline, with the Arkansas crisis providing further impetus to the argument as to why the pipeline project should cease.  A much-discussed Canadian op ed here at the NY Times from Thomas Homer-Dixon.