Monday, December 28, 2009

White House's Ties to Health Care Industry Deeper Than Visitor Records Show

By Daniela Perdomo, AlterNet
Posted on November 26, 2009, Printed on December 28, 2009

In August, the Associated Press asked the Obama White House -- which has promised to be the most transparent administration 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has ever seen -- to release information on all communications between top staff and health care industry bigwigs. The call went unanswered, so in September the AP downgraded its request to a log of health care-related visits to those same top White House officials.

On Wednesday, the White House released records of 575 such visits since Jan. 20. It catalogs meetings with 22 top Obama aides including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior advisers Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, and Pete Rouse.

First Commercial 3D Bio-Printer Makes Human Tissues and Organs

Invetech, an innovator in new product development and custom automation for the biomedical, industrial and consumer markets, today announced that it has delivered the world's first production model 3D bio-printer to Organovo, developers of the proprietary NovoGen bioprinting technology. Organovo will supply the units to research institutions investigating human tissue repair and organ replacement.

One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists

By Chris Hedges 

December 28, 2009 "Truthdig" -- Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.

This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements—who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism—have discovered that his fate is their fate.

Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at or On Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Energy, Politics and the US Role in Uganda’s Culture War

Uganda's oil, and gay death penalty, may rival Saudi Arabia's

Posted Dec 24, 2009 by Ann Garrison

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

Oil reserves as large as Saudi Arabia's may soon embolden Ugandan officials who've been threatening to punish homosexuals with death, just as independently oil wealthy Saudi Arabia does.

U.S. Government

Oil reserves as large as Saudi Arabia's may soon embolden Ugandan officials who've been threatening to punish homosexuals with death, just as independently oil wealthy Saudi Arabia does.

In mid-December the U.S. State Department assured Americans outraged by Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009, a.k.a. Hang the Gays bill, that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had promised to veto it, if his Parliament passes it in January 2010. However, on 12.22.2009, Uganda's leading newspaper, the Daily Monitor, reported that the government is still undecided, and will remain opposed to homosexuality, no matter how great the international pressure.

And, a little known bill as draconian as the Anti-Homosexuality Act has also been proposed----the ill-named HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, which would criminalize HIV transmission, create mandatory testing and disclosure laws, and, according to Human Rights Watch, violate international law.

Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda; the penalty is 14 years to life in prison. The Anti-Homosexuality Act would add seven "aggravated homosexuality" offenses, including gay sex while being HIV positive, gay sex with a disabled person, and serial homosexual convictions, all punishable by death. It would also add a long list of related offenses, like "aiding and abetting homosexuality" and "failure to disclose the offense," meaning failure to report gay sex or related offenses within 24 hours. And thus, it would create a politically convenient excuse to incarcerate most anyone, before Uganda's July 2011 elections or therafter.

Investigative journalist Jeff Sharlet reported that the U.S. fundamentalist elitist group known as "The Family" backed the bill both ideologically and financially, as culture wars born in the U.S.A. took the world stage.

After publishing "Globalizing the Culture Wars," Public Research Associates launched a campaign to demand that famously gay intolerant Pastor Rick Warren speak out against the Anti-Homosexuality Act, in Uganda, where he has so much influence, as a pastor, and, as a major player in PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Rick Warren twisted George Bush's arm, to propose PEPFAR, which Congress then funded at roughly $15 billion, from 2003 to 2008, then roughly $48 billion from 2008 to 2013. Both Uganda and Rwanda are among PEPFAR's 15 "focus countries"---U.S. allies receiving the most PEPFAR funds, often with little oversight.

Rick Warren finally did speak out against the bill, as did President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs Chair Russ Feingold, D-WI, and even Senators Grassley and Ensign, both of whom are members of "The Family." But, how much leverage will they, and all the other foreign nations and organizations who've spoken out against the bill continue to have?

"If Museveni wants the bill to pass, it will pass." ---Charles Langwa Bbaale

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986.

"If Museveni wants the bill to pass, it will pass," says Charles Langwa Bbaale, president of the Ugandan Ecological Party, affiliated with the Global Greens, and with the 2011 Coalition parties planning to field candidates in Uganda's July 2011 election. "But 50 percent of his budget comes from foreign donors, and he has to have those donations to keep employing all the people who keep him in power because he employs them, so he has to listen to the donors and they may pressure him to veto the bill."

"And, even if it doesn't pass, or only part of it passes," Bbaale adds, "it will have done what it's supposed to do if it distracts from other issues like poverty and hunger, and the lack of democracy."

Enormous oil wealth will soon strengthen Museveni's hand, already infamous for thirteen or more security organizations, answerable only to him, which persecute, abduct, disappear, torture, and execute opponents, and, harass media.

In December 2007, Africa surpassed the Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports and, in January 2009, Heritage Oil announced what could be the largest onshore oil discovery in Sub Saharan Africa, in the Albertine Basin surrounding Lake Albert, which forms a part of the Uganda/Congo border.

Oil is already causing new disputes and skirmishes, on this border which has seen near constant conflict since 1996. Reserves are thus far reported to be on the Ugandan side, though the European colonists who created the border never drew it clearly.

On 06.02.2009, Edris Kisambira, quoted Ms. Sally Kornfeld, a senior analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy, in East Africa Business Week:

"You are blessed with amazing reservoirs. Your reservoirs are incredible. I am amazed by what I have seen, you might rival Saudi Arabia,' Kornfeld told a visiting delegation from Uganda in Washington DC."

University of Lumumbashi Professor Joseph Yav Katshung wrote, instead, of "The Curse of Oil in the Great Lakes of Africa," in the Pambazuka News, 10.03.2007, though he also argued for using resources as “tools for reconciliation and reconstruction."

How much of Uganda's oil wealth remains in Uganda, how it's distributed, the environmental costs, and, the outcome of further disputes between Uganda and D.R. Congo, will depend in part

Oil rich Lake Albert forms part of the Western Uganda, Eastern Congo border.

on whether or not Yoweri Museveni can hold onto the near absolute power he's held since 1986, with force and patronage.

And, on whether popular Ugandan opposition parties are able to mount a serious challenge in 2011 elections, against all odds; they'll first have to succeed at electoral reform.

Opposition parties were finally able to register, in 2005, after 19 years of rule by Museveni and his National Resistance Movement.

The use and abuse of Uganda's oil will also depend, of course, on the competition, collaboration, and, covert intervention, of world powers and oil companies now maneuvering to secure as much of Uganda's oil, and oil wealth, as possible. World powers including not only the UK, the US and their allies, but also of course, China, and, as recently reported, Italy and Libya.

Oil and human rights

Senator Russ Feingold issued a press release stating that the Anti-Homosexuality Act's passage would "hurt the close working relationship between our two countries, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS," but, if Senator Feingold were serious about gay rights, human rights overall, and HIV, he'd be pushing to end the U.S.A.'s "close working relationship" with Yoweri Museveni, and citing Museveni's long list of human rights crimes, as recounted by London human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, in the Black Star News, 12.18.2009, with links to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reports. Milton Allimadi reported, in the Black Star News, 08.11.2009, that Museveni's crimes include even the targeted use of rape, including male rape, and thus, HIV, in Northern Uganda and Eastern Congo.

Even as Senator Feingold issued his perfunctory press release objecting to Uganda's anti-gay death penalty, he was, pushing the LRA Disarmament Act of 2009, Senate Bill 1067----which will further arm and fund Yoweri Museveni, so long as he remains a U.S. ally in good standing. It will also make way for more U.S. weaponry and military "advisors," and, further militarize the Eastern Uganda/Northeastern Congo border, where big oil finds have already heightened longstanding conflict.

And, Yoweri Museveni may soon control so much oil that he can hang all the gay people, and whomever else, he wants, as freely as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and otherwise carry on his epic career as all around tyrant and human rights criminal.

Anyone hoping for a better outcome might ask how to encourage a free and fair election in Uganda, in July 2011, in accordance with the Human Rights Watch report, Preparing for the Polls.


Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in San Francisco. Look for a podcast interview with her on BAL in February.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Katy Perry’s Trailer Trash Talk…Again

Katy Perry First Offended the Lesbians, Then it was the Gays, Now it’s Time to Offend the Transgender Community.

Mmm-yeah. This bitc…um…person again. Katy Perry. Pop star, big breasts, plasticine features, bigot. What’s she done now? Well, click on the link above and find out for yourself just how trashy this white trash singer truly is.

I first heard of Katy Perry with the release of “Hot ‘n’ Cold”, which I thought was a cool song (I still do, actually). Then I looked her up using that ubiquitous tool of the Internet known as “Google”…and found that she is/was a fundamentalist evangelical who has since broken into the pop circuit. This “wholesome” “Christian” (well, except for those nude pics she took of herself in the bathroom…part of that whole Google search thing, just in case you were wondering) seems more and more to espouse everything that makes the Fred Phelps cult what it is, and it keeps becoming more and more apparent with each passing tweet.

Take your pouty lips and your over-mascara’d eyes to Iran, Katy. Your views and politics would blend right in…of course, you’d have to wear a burqa, but hey – since your views have been shining through your eyes for so long now, all of that ugliness has tainted your visage to the point that we wouldn’t mind seeing only black, featureless cloth.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cost Overruns at Lawrence Livermore National Lab

According to an internal US Department of Energy study, Managers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shifted costs to understate total spending on the controversial National Ignition Facility mega-laser, The previously secret document, leaked to Trivalley CAREs, a nuclear watchdog group in Livermore CA, pegs the current hidden costs of NIF at $80 million dollars annually.

My news story is in the NBCE Audio.

Read the Report here. (.pdf file)

Industrial Waste in my Mountain Dew?

No, the title of this blog entry isn’t alarmist, nor is it a conspiracy theory.

Let’s talk a moment about…FD&C Yellow #5. We’ve all heard of it, but what is it, really? And why is it that everywhere you turn, you find it in…something that you typically use, or would like to use?

FD&C (Federal Dye & Coloring) Yellow #5 is also known as tartrazinethis is a substance that is a coal-tar derivative. Yes, you read that right. Coal tar. In your food. Yum.

It’s used in everything from pudding to rice, soft drinks to prescription medication and beyond.

There’s just one problem

Friday, December 18, 2009

Arts Podcasts Here

Occasionally, I interview artists for my podcast series, Broadcaster At-Large. I have decided to place them on this page rather than to create an arts page. This is because the future, as I conceive it to be, eliminates working "for a living" and thus allows everyone to work at their calling,which is my definition of "right livelihood", and not at whatever some "market" will pay for today, even if it is poison (Bhopal), pollution (Cap & Trade), or NBCE Weapons (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, Energy).

Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting in his life. His brother, Theo, supported him. What if Van Gogh had been an only child?

Why should we pay to live on the planet on which we were born?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

AP INVESTIGATION: Monsanto seed biz role revealed

Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.'s business practices reveal how the world's biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found.

With Monsanto's patented genes being inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., the company also is using its wide reach to control the ability of new biotech firms to get wide distribution for their products, according to a review of several Monsanto licensing agreements and dozens of interviews with seed industry participants, agriculture and legal experts.

The whole story in Businessweek

Now does anybody wonder why I call Monsanto "Monsatan"?

House passes $636B defense bill; Obama says health costs poised to bankrupt the Fed Gov't.


The U.S. House passed a $636 billion defense spending bill that also would extend jobless benefits and healthcare for out-of-work Americans another few months. [Thrown in to attract votes to the military spending--K.R.]

The bill also would provide a 3.4 percent military pay increase but did not include funding to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan as President Obama called for early this month. The price tag was estimated to be about $30 billion.

In an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson, President Obama said  that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid are on an “unsustainable” trajectory and if there is no action taken to bring them down, “the federal government will go bankrupt.”

In 2007, the latest figures I found, the Federal Government spent 370,806 billion dollars on Medicare and 196,624 on Medicaid-SCHIP (children's health insurance).

How come Obama never talks about the unsustainable trajectory of military spending and its power to bankrupt the government? How about TARP? The bankster bailouts are even bigger than 1 year's military outlays.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Not Another Sports Show

As of today, Broadcaster At-Large welcomes "Not Another Sports Show" to its sports page. NASS is intended to be a weekly audio podcast produced by Damian, Neil, Lori and Caroline. The first episode is about college sports and school priorities. The second episode is about the NFL concussion problem and other health issues. 

These first two episodes are 70 minutes each. Please give them a listen when you can.

The End (of Dollar Hegemony) Is Near!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
21:35 Mecca time, 18:35 GMT
News Middle East
Gulf nations sign monetary pact

Two GCC members declined to ratify the pact despite Kuwait's optimism that it 'has come into effect' [EPA]
A Gulf monetary union pact has been agreed by four of the six nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council at a summit in Kuwait, the country's finance minister has said.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia signed and ratified the pact on Tuesday, which will see them work towards setting up a joint central bank and implementing a single currency.
The rest of the article…

ALBA alliance forgoes US dollar

The member nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, ALBA, have decided to give up the US dollar in trading between them. They will instead use the sucre conventional monetary unit. The first international sucre transaction has already been made, with Cuba signing a contract with Venezuela on buying a consignment of rice. The agreement on a single system of regional payments is to be signed during an ALBA countries’ summit due in the Venezuelan city of Kumana next April. The financial mechanism will become operational next year to promote dollar-free cost-accounting. The ALBA alliance comprises the Latin American and Caribbean nations that seek to promote trade and cooperation among the participants and counteract the continually US-advanced free-trade areas. The ALBA alliance was initiated by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro back in 2004.

Source: The Voice of Russia (I’ve seen it elsewhere, too).

Good! Two regions where the US exerts too much influence are throwing the monkey off their backs. But moreover, this form of “community currency” is a blow against one world currency and a tiny step toward the breakdown of a global financial system run by the banksters and privateers, most of whom are in the US. But above all, the breakdown of the global financial system is a necessary first to to the eventual abolition of money.

Why do we have to pay to live on the planet on which we were born?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why Are We Drugging Our Kids?


Why Are We Drugging Our Kids?

By Evelyn Pringle,
Posted on December 14, 2009, Printed on December 14, 2009
Prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased 50 percent with children in the US, and 73 percent among adults, from 1996 to 2006, according to a study in the May/June 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs. Another study in the same issue of Health Affairs found spending for mental health care grew more than 30 percent over the same ten-year period, with almost all of the increase due to psychiatric drug costs.

On April 22, 2009, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that in 2006 more money was spent on treating mental disorders in children aged 0 to 17 than for any other medical condition, with a total of $8.9 billion. By comparison, the cost of treating trauma-related disorders, including fractures, sprains, burns, and other physical injuries, was only $6.1 billion.
In 2008, psychiatric drug makers had overall sales in the US of $14.6 billion from antipsychotics, $9.6 billion off antidepressants, $11.3 billion from antiseizure drugs and $4.8 billion in sales of ADHD drugs, for a grand total of $40.3 billion.

Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics

The New York Times


December 12, 2009

Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics


New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows.

Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them — but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children?

The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems.

The rest of the article

Children and Antipsychotics: Graphical breakdowns by coverage type and diagnosis

End the Fed? Or End the Market Economy?

Original Content at OpEdNews

December 11, 2009
End the Fed? Or End the Market Economy?
By shamus cooke

When Republican Congressman Ron Paul recently introduced legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, diverse sections of the political spectrum applauded. And rightfully so. The Fed's role in the still-developing bank bailouts is one of utter secrecy; the total cost of which -- as estimated by the bailout's Special Inspector General, Neil Barofsky -- could cost taxpayers $23.7 trillion. The fact that legislation needed to be introduced to raise the question of the whereabouts of these funds points to a larger breakdown in U.S. democracy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Self-Sufficiency Fetish

No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
-- John Donne, Meditation XVII

Self-sufficiency, a.k.a. self-reliance or rugged individualism, is one of the great fetishes of American culture. To the self-sufficiency fetishists, being able to take care of oneself and pay one's own way is the opposite side of the coin of freedom. Sacrifice self-sufficiency and you have sacrificed freedom, they claim. Not to be able or willing to take care of yourself is to be an infant, whether your caretaker is a blood relative, a spouse, a paid caretaker or “Uncle Sam.”

The debate over health insurance reform has brought out the self-sufficiency fetishists in full force. They post comments all over the Internet decrying the idea of “socialized medicine.” They do not believe that health care is a human right but a “personal responsibility.” They are against any the government role in health care because people should take care of themselves. They see taxation to help other people to get health care as “confiscation” of their hard-earned money. (Strangely enough, they never see the ever-increasing premiums charged by private health insurance companies for ever-skimpier policies as “confiscation”).

There is one problem with this point of view.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rachel Maddow on “Curing” Homosexuality

Rachel Maddow takes on Richard Cohen, an alleged “ex-gay” who uses his self-professed “expertise” as a “sexual reorientation specialist” to promote the myth that homosexuality is a choice, and whose books touting a “cure” have been used as promotional material in the criminilization of homosexuality in Uganda.

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

To this, I would just add the following excerpts from the website of the American Psychological Association:

  • What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

  • Is homosexuality a mental disorder?

No, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding. Therefore, these mainstream organizations long ago abandoned classifications of homosexuality as a mental disorder.

  • What about therapy intended to change sexual orientation from gay to straight?

All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.

Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his samesex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life. Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to selfdetermination; be sensitive to the client’s race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, language, and disability status when working with that client; and eliminate biases based on these factors.

Monday, December 7, 2009

American Atheists sue Hardesty, Oklahoma Public Schools and the Texas County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department.

American Atheists filed suit in federal court today on behalf of an Oklahoma family who say their civil rights were violated by the Hardesty, Oklahoma Public Schools and the Texas County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department.

The daughter of Chester Smalkowski wanted to play basketball for the Hardesty Public Schools. She was forced from the team when she, an Atheist, refused to recite the Lord’s Prayer after a game as was required by the school. When the Smalkowski family complained about this unconstitutional practice, she was suspended. Further complaints resulted in criminal charges being brought against her father.

Chester Smalkowski refused to submit to a request from the District Attorney to move his family out of the County in exchange for the charges being dropped. His case went to trial last month, and he was acquitted of all charges by a jury. The Smalkowski children have been threatened and subjected to discrimination for the daughter’s refusal to participate in the prayer recitation.

The family is being represented in the civil lawsuit by Oklahoma City attorney Richard Rice, and by American Atheists National Legal Director Edwin Kagin of Kentucky who, together with attorney Tim Gungoll of Enid, Oklahoma successfully represented Chester Smalkowski in his criminal trial in Hardesty. Mr. Rice is a member of the Southern Baptist Church in Midwest City. Mr. Rice stated: “I have the right to pray, believe in God, attend church without fear of reprisal from any branch of any government here in America.” Co-counsel Edwin Kagin adds: “I have the right to NOT pray, to NOT believe in God, or to NOT attend church without fear of reprisal from any branch of any government here in America.” Both men, differing in their opinions in respect to theology, have teamed up to support the same legal and ideological position with regard to the First Amendment.


Atheists are not the only ones who would not want to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, traditional Native Americans, etc. would have problems with saying this prayer. Whoever made up that school policy might have felt that saying such a prayer after the game unifies the team. A common religion is a factor in social cohesion. But times have changed and even places like Hardesty, Oklahoma need to acknowledge that their community is more diverse than it was 50 years ago. And better to teach the young respect for civil rights and equality before the law regardless of belief, than to teach them to “go along to get along.”

If, in fact, the DA did ask the family to move in exchange for charges being dropped, he should be disbarred!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kucinich to Congress: War is a Threat to our National Security

(December 3, 2009) - Congressman Dennis Kucinich delivered an alternative approach to National Security in a speech to Congress - National Security starts at home in America. The war is a threat to our National Security.

Congressman Kucinich stated:

"America is in the fight of its life and that fight is not in Afghanistan - it's here. We are deeply in debt. Our GDP is down. Our manufacturing is down. Our savings are down. Our trade deficit is up. Business failures are up. Bankruptcies are up."

"The war is a threat to our National Security. We'll spend over $100 billion next year to bomb a nation of poor people while we reenergize the Taliban, destabilize Pakistan, deplete our army and put more of our soldiers' lives on the line. Meanwhile, back here is the USA, 15 million people are out of work. People are losing their jobs, their health care, their savings, their investments, and their retirement security. Trillions in bailouts for Wall Street, trillions for war; when are we going to start taking care of things here at home?"


That's telling 'em. DK! Doesn't anyone remember Reagan's strategy for destroying the Soviet Union? It was to increase our military spending so much that the Soviets would do likewise to counter the threat. Only their economy could not take that kind of useless-to-the-nation expenditure and the USSR imploded. The same thing is being done to our country by global corporatists whose only patriotism is to their bottom line. They, not the Taliban or Al-Q'aeda, are the biggest threats to our national security. And if we take care of ourselves instead of mucking around in other countries, the Taliban and Al-Q'aeda won't be a threat at all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bernie Sanders Blocks Bernanke Confirmation... With Bi-Partisan Support. The First Step in Ending the Monetary System?

Press Release: WASHINGTON, December 2 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today placed a hold on the nomination of Ben Bernanke for a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. 

“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few,” Sanders said. “What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.” 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Healthcare or Warfare?

November 30, 2009, 7:03 pm
Millions of Jobless Lose Insurance Aid


The changes that the health-care bills in Congress envision are years away — not soon enough to help the millions of unemployed people who, on Monday, lost their temporary federal subsidies for health insurance.
That means that people like Linda Rasor, 56, who lives in Haslett, near East Lansing, Mich., and was laid off from her energy consulting job in February, will have to start paying triple the cost for their health insurance.
As losses rippled out from Michigan’s devastated auto industry, Ms. Rasor was laid off from Johnson Controls Inc. With the federal subsidy, she has been paying $407 a month to cover herself, her husband, who is an independent contractor, and her daughter, who is in college. But with the subsidy now gone, her premiums will jump to $1,100 a month.
The rest of the New York Times article…
This Times article is further proof of the complete inadequacy of health insurance through employment. Lose your job, lose your health care access. That only makes sense if you believe that only those who are profitable to the corporations deserve  health care. Is that what the United States of America is about?

Open Source as a Model for Business Is Elusive

November 30, 2009

Open Source as a Model for Business Is Elusive


SAN FRANCISCO — In many ways, MySQL embodies the ideals of the populist software movement known as open source, in which a program’s creator releases it to the world free of charge, and legions of volunteers contribute improvements that are also freely shared.
The start-up company came out of nowhere, building a database application beloved by vibrant, young Internet companies. Logging in from homes scattered around the globe, its workers seemed more a part of a virtual commune than a corporate monolith, and they relished taking on proprietary software giants like Microsoft.

But like most open-source companies, MySQL’s sales, tied to support deals, never matched the astronomical number of downloads for its product, about 60,000 a day. In January 2008, the founders decided to sell the company for $1 billion to Sun Microsystems. And this year, Sun agreed to sell itself to Oracle, which makes database software aimed at larger companies and tougher jobs, for $7.4 billion.

Now, disagreement over the value of MySQL — both as a stand-alone entity and as part of a big company — lies at the heart of a bitter public battle between Oracle and the European Union over the Sun acquisition. The fight illuminates a larger truth about open-source companies: their societal and strategic importance far exceeds their financial value as operating businesses.

The rest of this New York Times article…

The open source software movement is living proof that we do not need the profit motive to create innovation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On the Morality of Eating Animal Flesh

As we finish the last of the Thanksgiving feast leftovers, let us revisit the issue of the morality of eating animals. No, this isn’t going to be a holiday lecture on the virtues of veganism. Actually, I have been thinking about this for a few weeks, ever since I was told that a group of vegans were protesting in front of KPFA-FM in Berkeley, CA. I’m a member of the news department there, so I wrote to one of the protesters to find out what the gripe was. It seems that someone in their group was promised a time slot for a regular show on animal rights back in 2006, and it never happened. (The program council that allegedly promised them this time was disbanded  soon after). They also disagreed with a book that was offered as a fund drive premium.

I told the protester that we had a reporter who specialized in stories about animal rights, that if they disagreed with the book premium they should come forth with an author who could be interviewed during the next fund drive or on one of our book shows. I also said that while a regular show might not be forthcoming, they could ask that a documentary be played during one of the holidays when the news goes from an hour to a half-hour, or contact some of the public affairs producers to see if anyone was interested in interviewing one of their members. The vegans could also add their voices to the growing chorus of people who want to see more original programming on KPFB, a 100-watt adjunct station that serves largely as a local repeater and emergency back-up.

All of those suggestions were deemed totally unacceptable; KPFA was towing the pro-meat corporate line.

KPFA can be accused of many things, but being in the pockets of the meat-industry lobby is not one of them.

Mark Pittman, Reporter Who Foresaw Subprime Crisis, Dies at 52

Mark Pittman, Reporter Who Foresaw Subprime Crisis, Dies at 52

By Bob Ivry

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Mark Pittman, the award-winning investigative reporter whose fight to open the Federal Reserve to more scrutiny led Bloomberg News to sue the central bank and win, died Nov. 25 in Yonkers, New York. He was 52.

Pittman suffered from heart-related illnesses. The precise cause of his death wasn’t known, said his friend William Karesh, vice president of the Global Health Program at the Bronx, New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

A former police-beat reporter who joined Bloomberg News in 1997, Pittman wrote stories in 2007 predicting the collapse of the banking system. That year, he won the Gerald Loeb Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the highest accolade in financial journalism, for “Wall Street’s Faustian Bargain,” a series of articles on the breakdown of the U.S. mortgage industry.

The rest of the article…

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Medicare in Crisis: The Devastating Impacts of a Corporate Health Care Bill

Medicare in Crisis: The Devastating Impacts of a Corporate Health Care Bill
By Shamus Cooke

Global Research, November 27, 2009; Reprinted by permission of the author.
Wading through the endless debate over health care has exhausted the patience of most Americans — the zigzags, obscure language, and long-winded discussion is inherently repulsive.

But now the dust is starting to settle, and the Congressional vision for health care in the U.S. is emerging. Instead of being “progressive,” it will amount to a massive, corporate-inspired attack on American workers, the elderly, and the poor.

Rejecting the Narrative for Health Reform in America, Believing in a Better Way

Original Content at
Reprinted by permission of the author.

November 23, 2009
Rejecting the Narrative for Health Reform in America, Believing in a Better Way
By Kevin Gosztola

Flickr photo by
To the extent that politicians in Washington, D.C. have not attempted reform of this magnitude with a concerted effort for a decade (perhaps, decades depending on how you regard Hillary Clinton's past efforts), the recent votes on health reform in the House two weeks ago and in the Senate this weekend are historic. But, they are no more than contrived milestones in history if you truly assess what the Democrats and their supporters hope this bill will achieve.
The rhetoric of a dominant political culture in America has taken righteous outrage and enthusiastic fervor for real healthcare reform and channeled it into a fight for a weak public option in what Steven Hill recently called America's “House of Lords.”

Friday, November 27, 2009

Native Blood: The Myth of Thanksgiving

by Mike Ely
Puritan settlers massacre Pequot people.
It is a deep thing that people still celebrate the survival of the early colonists at Plymouth — by giving thanks to the Christian God who supposedly protected and championed the European invasion. The real meaning of all that, then and now, needs to be continually excavated. The myths and lies that surround the past are constantly draped over the horrors and tortures of our present.
Every schoolchild in the U.S. has been taught that the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony invited the local Indians to a major harvest feast after surviving their first bitter year in New England. But the real history of Thanksgiving is a story of the murder of indigenous people and the theft of their land by European colonialists–and of the ruthless ways of capitalism.
* * * * *

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Feds Want Rehearing of MLB Drug List Ruling

News Item-- SAN FRANCISCO Tuesday, November 24, 2009 (AP) —  Federal officials are asking for a rehearing of an appeals court decision that said the government illegally seized a list of Major League Baseball players who tested positive for steroids.

Officials say their investigations have been hampered by the ruling, which established new rules for digital searches.

In a court filing Tuesday, the government asked the 27 judges of the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider the case.

A panel of 11 9th Circuit judges ruled in August that investigators trampled on protections against unreasonable searches and seizures when they seized the list of 104 players who tested positive in the 2003 season. The investigators were armed with warrants for only the test results of 10 players.
I hope the feds lose this appeal and you should, too, even if you never watch baseball. They had warrants for ten sets of results and that is all they should have gotten. Those were the results relative to the investigation they were conducting. If they later found evidence indicating that they needed to get results from other players, they could have gone back to a judge for an additional warrant. Grabbing 104 results when they had warrants for 10 is clearly overreaching.

The feds had no excuse for overreaching here. One wonders why they needed as many as ten results, except for the possibility that they wanted a pool of players some of whom they could pressure to rat out the drug designers at the BALCO lab. This was a run-of-the-mill drug investigation, not a terrorism case with lives in imminent danger. The only reason they didn’t get another warrant is that they think they it’s a pain in the butt.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kennedy's Executive Order 11110 was never rescinded. So, the E.O. still stands.

Originally posted by Jack on the End the Fed Network.

Kennedy issued his US Notes for much the same reason. On June 4, 1963, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110, which authorized the US Treasury to issue a new form of silver certificate.

Kennedy issued $4,292,893,825 of cash money; free of debt and free of interest. It was a sufficient amount to allow the nation to operate without the private Federal Reserve. Just 5 months later, JFK was shot by the "crazed lone nut" Lee Harvey Oswald. Almost immediately after Kennedy's death, the US Notes were pulled out of circulation and destroyed except for samples in the hands of collectors.

A telling clue lies in the fact that the Warren Commission, now widely understood to have been a cover-up, counted among its seven members John J. McCloy, who had served as head of the World Bank and President of Chase Manhattan Bank. A rather odd resume for a man charged with investigating a murder, in hindsight!

Subsequent examination has shown that Kennedy's Executive Order 11110 was never rescinded. That would have taken an act of Congress, and in the atmosphere of near deification of JFK following his death, that would have brought more public attention to what Kennedy had wanted to do. So, the E.O. still stands.

I have written this commentary for two purposes. First, to remind President Obama that he already has all the authority he needs to order the US Treasury to start issuing currency. He just needs to pick up the phone or stroll through that tunnel and tell them to carry out Kennedy's EO 11110. Obama has that authority. He does not need Congress or anyone else's permission.

My second purpose is to send a message to the Federal Reserve. and that message is that if Obama does start issuing currency in accord with the Constitution and Kennedy's EO 11110, and anything happens to him (or for that matter to Ellen Brown), the owners of the Federal Reserve will be our first and most likely suspects.

Paul/Grayson Amendment to audit Fed passes committee

The Paul/Grayson amendment to have a genuine and probing audit of the Fed passed the House financial services committee 43-26, with 15 Democrats defying Chmn. Barney Frank (D-MA), the Democractic Leadership and the banking industry to support the amendment whose chief sponsor is Ron Paul (R-TX).

Now in Under-Reported Reports

A link to the report: Factors Effecting Efforts to Limit Payments to AIG Counterparties.

And a link to a related New York Times article that said: "It’s must reading for any taxpayer hoping to understand why the $182 billion “rescue” of what was once the world’s largest insurer still ranks as the most troubling episode of the financial disaster."

Factors Affecting Efforts to Limit Payments to AIG Counterparties

From the Objectives section of the introduction:

Twenty-seven members of Congress asked SIGTARP (Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program) to review the basis for these counterparty payments, whether they were in the best interests of the taxpayers, and whether they needed to be made at 100% of par value.  SIGTARP also sought to determine to what extent AIG continues to have potential risks to other counterparty payments associated with their financial products.

The SIGTARP Report

New York Times Article: Revisiting a Fed Waltz with AIG

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve has 298 co-sponsors (69%) in the House. The Senate version, sponsored by Bernie Sanders, has 31 co-sponsors (31%). But in a last-minute power-play by the banks, Rep. Mel Watt wants to gut a proposal for a complete audit of the Federal Reserve.

If you don’t think the Fed needs to be audited, go to the video box on the left sidebar and watch the first video. It’s 5 and a half minutes long. Rep. Alan Grayson asks the Fed’s inspector general some simple questions that she clearly would rather not answer.

Then go to this FireDogLake action link and sign the petition. Bernanke’s against a complete audit, so you know it’s time to do it!

Nov. 22nd is National End the Fed Day. Go to the End The Fed web site to see what actions are taking place in your community.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Open Letter to the House Progressive Caucus (Except Kucinich and Massa)

I am deeply disappointed in you for voting for the “Greater Health Insurance Industry Profits Act” a.k.a. H.R. 3962, and especially for voting for it with the Stupak anti-abortion amendment attached, after your voting against the amendment's being attached in the first place. Stupak goes beyond even the Hyde Amendment, in that it forbids women from buying insurance coverage for abortion services with their own money if they are being subsidized by the government for health insurance and forbids health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage if they are part of HR 3962's insurance exchanges. But you voted for the bill with this amendment added anyway. And you call yourselves progressives?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Baseball Videos

I have begun the videos on this page with footage from baseball's dead ball era. All of the footage was taken from You Tube, some of it coming from clips of Ken Burns' great documentary "Baseball." I wanted to include Negro League players, so I looked up Satchel Paige.  I found a two-part documentary, just over 10 minutes long, created for National History Day 2009 by one Thomas Gunn, aged 15, of northern Vermont.  This home-schooled teenager has created a documentary that is worthy of the efforts of someone three times his age.  Have we here the next Ken Burns?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kucinich: Why I Voted NO


Original Content at

November 8, 2009

Kucinich: Why I Voted NO

By Dennis Kucinich

Washington D.C. (November 7, 2009) – After voting against H.R. 3962 - Affordable Health Care for America Act, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:
“We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

“Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

“But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies — a bailout under a blue cross.

“By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress' blog, Think Progress, states “since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.” Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that “money will start flowing in again” to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

“During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The “robust public option” which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.
“Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks' hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy -- in which most Americans live -- the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street.
“This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America's manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.

“Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America's businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.”

Author's Bio: Dennis Kucinich is a congressman from Ohio and a 2008 presidential primary candidate. The best way to reach congressman Kucinich is through the information on his congressional website


Who Were the Witches? - Patriarchal Terror and the Creation of Capitalism

Original Content 
Reprinted by Permission.

November 6, 2009
Who Were the Witches? - Patriarchal Terror and the Creation of Capitalism
By Alex Knight

Order this important book through our links to

Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body, and Primitive Accumulation
This Halloween season, there is no book I could recommend more highly than Silvia Federici's brilliant Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation (Autonomedia 2004), which tells the dark saga of the Witch Hunt that consumed Europe for more than 200 years. In uncovering this forgotten history, Federici exposes the origins of capitalism in the heightened oppression of workers (represented by Shakespeare's character Caliban), and most strikingly, in the brutal subjugation of women. She also brings to light the enormous and colorful European peasant movements that fought against the injustices of their time, connecting their defeat to the imposition of a new patriarchal order that divided male from female workers. Today, as more and more people question the usefulness of a capitalist system that has thrown the world into crisis, Caliban and the Witch stands out as essential reading for unmasking the shocking violence and inequality that capitalism has relied upon from its very creation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kucinich: Why is it we have Finite Resources for Health Care but Unlimited Money for War?


Washington, Nov 6 -

Following a statement on the Floor of the House of Representative, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:

“Why is it we have finite resources for health care but unlimited money for war? 

“The inequities in our economy are piling up: trillions for war, trillions for Wall Street and tens of billions for the insurance companies. Banks and other corporations are sitting on piles of cash of taxpayer’s money while firing workers, cutting pay and denying small businesses money to survive. 

“People are losing their homes, their jobs, their health, their investments, their retirement security; yet there is unlimited money for war, Wall Street and insurance companies, but very little money for jobs on Main Street.

“Unlimited money to blow up things in Iraq and Afghanistan, and relatively little money to build things in the US. 

“The Administration may soon bring to Congress a request for an additional $50 billion for war. I can tell you that a Democratic version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is no more acceptable than a Republican version of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Trillions for war and Wall Street, billions for insurance companies...  When we were promised change, we weren’t thinking that we give a dollar and get back two cents.”

# # #

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Coal Company Destroys Last Intact Mountain in Coal River Valley (WVa)

Nov 6, 2009, 00:10

For Immediate Release
Contact: Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A subsidiary of Massey Energy has begun mountaintop-removal coal-mining operations on Coal River Mountain in West Virginia, the only peak in Coal River Valley that hasn’t been blasted away for mining. Blasting for the mine is taking place 200 yards from the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, which holds 8 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge above the Coal River community. Local and national conservation organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity are asking the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House to halt the mining operation.

“It is just plain wrong to blow up the last mountain in Coal River Valley and to jeopardize the lives of the people living below the slurry dam. The federal government should intervene and protect this community,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center.

Citizens are concerned that blasting could weaken or breach the slurry dam. A coal slurry impoundment owned by a Massey subsidiary failed in 2000, spilling more than 300 million gallons of toxic slurry into the Big Sandy River in Martin County, Kentucky. In 1972, 125 people were killed by a 132-million-gallon slurry spill in Logan County, West Virginia.

At 3,300 feet, Coal River Mountain is the tallest mountain ever to undergo mountaintop-removal mining. Massey Energy plans to blast away 6,600 acres of the mountain and fill in 18 streams with toxic mining waste. Mountaintop-removal coal mining has already destroyed 500 mountains, more than 1 million acres of hardwood forest, and more than 1,200 miles of streams in Appalachia.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Dangers of Voting on Civil Rights

NEWS ITEM – Portland, ME (AP) -- In an election that had been billed for weeks as too close to call, Maine's often unpredictable voters repealed a state law Tuesday that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed. Gay marriage has now lost in all 31 states in which it has been put to a popular vote — a trend that the gay-rights movement had believed it could end in Maine.
The following is an excerpt from a column by Huffington Post Blogger Mike Alvear of Atlanta, GA:

Sometimes I wonder how the framers of the Constitution would react to Maine’s vote this Tuesday on whether gay people should keep their right to marry.
I’m pretty sure Jefferson would weep.
And the others would share his hankie. For this must be the founding father’s nightmare: Seeing one group of Americans go into the voting booth to take away the rights of another.....
...No matter what side you’re on, no matter what the result of the final tally, voting is the enemy of equality.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1958, “When any society says that I cannot marry a certain person, that society has cut off a segment of my freedom.”

In Loving v. Virginia, a case involving the right of an interracial couple to wed——that the US Supreme Court reminded us in 1967 that:

The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888).

The Supreme Court used Loving v. Virginia to strike down “anti-miscegenation” statutes barring interracial marriage as violating the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection of the laws and due process. That decision is the constitutional foundation upon which gays and lesbians assert their right to marry. In 2007, at a celebration marking the 40th Anniversary of the Loving decision, the usually reclusive Mrs. Loving, by then a widow, allowed the reading, on her behalf, of a statement in favor of same-sex-marriage.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Patenting Life

News item: Wired Magazine -- November 2, 2009 -- Judge OKs challenge to human-gene patents.

A federal judge ruled Monday that a lawsuit can move forward against the Patent and Trademark Office and the research company that was awarded exclusive rights to human genes known to detect early signs of breast and ovarian cancer.

US Judge Robert W. Sweet of New York, in ruling that the case may proceed to trial, noted that the litigation it may open the door to challenges of a host of other patent genes.  About 1/5 of the human genome is covered under patent applications and claims.
This is an excellent lawsuit!  The plaintiffs -- the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law -- are alleging that the patent violates free speech by restricting research.  They also claim that the defendant company, Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City, has tried to patent something that occurs in nature.  The company did not invent, create or engineer the genes; it merely found the genes in nature and described how they function in nature. The company should be able to patent the method by which it found the genes, but not the genes themselves.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The M.O. of The Social Contract Renewed

The modus operandi (M.O.) of the book is the same one stated in the subtitle of this blog: Challenging the Assumptions We Live By. Kellia believes we can form any kind of society we will, because human beings are capable of change. But we can only change if we are willing to stop resting on our assumptions. Take, for example, the existence of money. Most of the world's problems stem from either the need or greed for money. What if we could abolish it?

If you think that is hopeless fantasy, you are locked in the assumption that money must exist. Think for a moment. What if money didn't exist? Have you ever read a book or seen a movie about a culture in which money did not exist? How do people access goods and services without money. How do they facilitate exchange? Many of you would come up with different scenarios: good, bad, or, if money didn't exist it would have to be invented. And those scenarios would be the start of an interesting conversation. Start that conversation by making comments on this blog.

But some of you simply could not wrap your brain around the idea of a world without money. It's for you especially, the folks who cannot think of things other than the way they are and seem to have been since time immemorial, that Kellia is writing the book.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Home of the Brave?

By John Steinsvold

[A thought-provoking "utopian" article, entitled "Home of the Brave?" which appeared in the American Daily which was published in Phoenix, Arizona on March 14, 2006. It was then republished on a website called The Athenaeum Library of Philosophy. ]

Economists concede that economics is an inexact science. What does that mean? Perhaps it means their economic forecast is better than yours or mine. Recently, economic indicators have been rising and people have their fingers crossed. Economists have given us reason to hope that the job market will improve and that the stock market will continue on a steady climb. Yet, the newspapers continue to report more layoffs and more jobs going overseas. 

Meanwhile, our economy is getting more and more complex. We associate complexity with progress for some ungodly reason. The following problems, however, have become inherent in our economy. What does that mean? It means they will be around for a while:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bioagents and Bioweapons:High- Containment Laboratories: National Strategy for Oversight is Needed

High-Containment Laboratories: National Strategy for Oversight is Needed

From the GAO Highlights page for this report:

GAO was asked to determine (1) to what extent, and in what areas, the number of high-containment laboratories has increased in the United States, (2) which federal agency is responsible for tracking this expansion and determining the associated aggregate risks, and (3)  lessons learned from highly publicized incidents at these laboratories and actions taken by the regulatory agencies.

Communications: Wireless Crisis Foretold: The Gathering Spectrum Storm...and Looming spectrum Drought

Wireless Crisis Foretold: The Gathering Spectrum Storm…and Looming Spectrum Drought

This is more a letter to the FCC than a report per se. But the bottomline is that Big Telecom wants Uncle Sam to  turn over more of the public spectrum to the private profiteers.

Re: Written Ex Parte Communication, GN Docket No. 09-51.

Dear Chairman Genachowski, and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker:
As the Commission moves forward with the development of a National Broadband Plan,
CTIA – The Wireless Association® (“CTIA”) urges the Commission to use this historic
opportunity to make a bold commitment to our nation’s mobile broadband future. Specifically,
CTIA urges the Commission to commit to identifying and allocating a significant amount of
spectrum – with a goal of at least 800 MHz – for licensed commercial wireless services. While it
is impossible to quantify precisely what amount of additional spectrum would be “future proof,”
such an allocation would be an important step towards meeting rapidly accelerating demand and
maintaining U.S. leadership in the global mobile broadband marketplace.

Education: Oklahoma HS Students Wouldn't Pass Citizenship Test

Oklahoma HS Students wouldn't pass citizenship test

From Article by Matthew Ladner:

In order to pass the citizenship test, an applicant must answer six of the 10 questions correctly. As you can see in Table 2, only 2.8 percent of Oklahoma high-school students attending public schools answered six or more questions correctly, and thus pass the citizenship test. Out of the sample of 1,000 students, only six students got seven questions correct, and none answered eight or more questions correctly.
Notice that the number of students answering either zero or one item correctly (204 students) is more than seven times larger than the number answering six or more items correctly (28 students). In short, Oklahoma's public high-school students have displayed a profound level of ignorance regarding American history, government, and geography.

Health: Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress

Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress

Beginning of Executive Summary:

This report assesses progress over the past decade regarding the legality, safety and accessibility of abortion services worldwide. It summarizes developments
in policy and documents recent trends in abortion incidence, with a focus on unsafe abortion. It also examines the relationship between unintended pregnancy,
contraception and abortion, placing abortion within
the broader context of women’s reproductive lives.

Health: Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults

Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults

Beginning of Executive Summary:

Objectives. A 1993 study found a 25% higher risk of death among uninsured
compared with privately insured adults. We analyzed the relationship between
uninsurance and death with more recent data.

Methods. We conducted a survival analysis with data from the Third National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. We analyzed participants aged 17 to
64 years to determine whether uninsurance at the time of interview predicted

Results. Among all participants, 3.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]=2.5%,
3.7%) died. The hazard ratio for mortality among the uninsured compared with
the insured, with adjustment for age and gender only, was 1.80 (95% CI=1.44,
2.26). After additional adjustment for race/ethnicity, income, education, self- and
physician-rated health status, body mass index, leisure exercise, smoking, and
regular alcohol use, the uninsured were more likely to die (hazard ratio=1.40;
95% CI=1.06, 1.84) than those with insurance.

Conclusions. Uninsurance is associated with mortality. The strength of that
association appears similar to that from a study that evaluated data from the
mid-1980s, despite changes in medical therapeutics and the demography of the
uninsured since that time. (Am J Public Health. 2009;99:jjj–jjj. doi:10.2105/

Health: The "Massachusetts Plan": A Failed Model for Health Care Reform

The "Massachusetts' Plan" A Failed Model for Health Care Reform"

Beginning of Executive Summary:

The Massachusetts Health Reform Law of 2006 expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor and made available subsidized, Medicaid-like coverage for additional poor and near-poor residents of the state. It also mandated that middle-income uninsured people either purchase private health insurance or pay a substantial fine ($1,068 in 2009). Smaller fines (up to $295 per employee) were also levied on employers who fail to offer insurance benefits.

The reform law has not achieved universal health insurance coverage, although half or more of the previously uninsured now have some type of insurance policy.
The reform has been more expensive than expected, costing $1.1 billion in fiscal 2008 and $1.3 billion in fiscal 2009. In the face of a state budget crisis in fall 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick announced that he will keep the reform afloat by draining money from safety-net providers such as public hospitals and community clinics.

Labor: California’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs

California's Forgotten Middle Skill Jobs

Beginning of Executive Summary:

With a gross state product of $1.8 trillion dollars, California is the eighth
largest economy in the world, ahead of global powerhouses like Russia, Canada,
India and Mexico. Our diverse state economy encompasses internet startups in
Silicon Valley, the agricultural fields of the Central Valley and the bright lights of Hollywood. We’re also home to some of the largest college systems in the world. Our state’s sheer size combined with the breadth and depth of our industrial base and extensive education system have long put California at the forefront of economic innovation and opportunity nationwide.

However, we face deep, systemic economic problems today that threaten to undermine the programs, policies and industries that have long made us strong. Our ranking as a national innovator is slipping. With layoffs, state budget cuts, housing foreclosures and business shutdowns dominating headlines for the past year, some may believe California’s economy has gone into a permanent decline.
California has been through economic crises before, and we have always found our way out of them. The question this time around is whether we can develop the policies to prepare our workforce for a future turnaround. To do this, we must understand what kinds of jobs will be in demand, and to begin to prepare our workforce for them now.

Despite all the changes and challenges our state is experiencing today, and despite popular perception, one crucial fact will not change. Middle-skill jobs represent the largest share of jobs in California—some 49 percent—and the largest share of future job openings.

Labor: Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment Laws

 Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America's Cities

Beginning of Executive Summary: This report exposes a world of work in which the core protections that many Americans take for granted—the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers’ compensation when injured, and the right to advocate for better working conditions—are failing significant numbers of workers. The sheer breadth of the problem, spanning key industries in the economy, as well as its profound impact on workers, entailing significant economic hardship, demands urgent attention.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR) -- Nothing Less than Rape!

Oct 30 was a national day of protest to urge the EPA to end mountaintop removal mining. Early in the afternoon, protest organizer Scott Parkin reported back on Facebook:
"hey all-- we're having a really successful day. but we need your reportbacks. please send us your reportbacks and pics so that we can post them in the blogosphere.

so far,
- 13 activists did a 4 hour sit-in at the EPA HQ in Washington D.C.
-a Zombie March is making it's way through the streets of SF
-activists protest at the Atlanta EPA office and met with officials
-Philly activists hang a banner and rally at the Philly EPA offices
-the NYTimes, via AP picked up the story
-Jeff Biggers' post is hitting the blogosphere (Please repost"
Broadcaster At-Large has posted a podcast on this page,  on  and it will appear later this week on iTunes. It is the first part of a discussion of MTR with research ecologist Dr. Kellis Bayless and includes the voices of some of the people directly affected by what is nothing less than the brutal rape of the earth in some of the most beautiful and biodiverse regions of the United States.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Full-Time Job Ain’t What It Used To Be

News item: October 27, 2009 -- San Francisco Chronicle -- The California State Employment Development Department estimates that the underemployment rate hit 21.9 percent in September. The underemployment rate includes people who could get only part-time work as well as those who want jobs but were too discouraged to look, in addition to the jobless who are actively looking for work.

It is good to see that economists and employment development officials are starting to pay more attention to the underemployment rate.  (California started collecting statistics on underemployment in 1994).  The traditional unemployment rate was based on people who were receiving unemployment compensation. Those people are required to look for work. If you give up looking, you can be cut off unemployment compensation.  This is the typical blame-the-victim attitude that is part and parcel of the American "rugged individualism" myth, which has given us, among other things, the worst unemployment compensation system in the industrialized world.  And among its many faults is the fact that it woefully undercounts the unemployed and doesn't count the underemployed. 

But to get a true picture of the economy, the statistics have to be developed still further to consider that over the years the definition of full-time employment has changed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ARCHIVE: MLB + DRM = foul ball!

by Kellia Ramares

[Originally published on my baseball blog on January 6, 2008]

I downloaded the Tony Gwynn documentary from last night. I have yet to watch it, but I have made an important discovery about MLB downloads: You are not downloading a file to keep and play as much as you want, you are only renting the file for a limited number of viewings, or in my case, attempts to view.

ARCHIVE: Welcome to airline pricing at the ballpark (YUCK!)

by Kellia Ramares

[Originally published on my baseball blog on January 5, 2009]

News Item from

The Giants ... will become the first Major League team to use a "dynamic" pricing structure, in which the team adjusts ticket prices up to the morning of a game based on market demand. [The Rockies do some price adjustment the day of the game but the Giants program is more full-out airline style pricing--KR]. By using a computer model created by Texas-based qcue, the Giants can shift ticket prices -- up or down -- based on the market demand for the game. Among the factors that could influence ticket prices are team performance, the starting pitcher, promotional giveaways or an opponent's team performance.
qcue's website says: "qcue exploits the synergies between the primary and secondary markets by integrating elements of airline pricing and NASDAQ trading into current selling platforms, providing primary sellers the ability to dynamically price-to-market while hosting a seamlessly integrated secondary market."
Does anyone out there really like airline pricing?

ARCHIVE: The Beauty of Baseball

By Kellia Ramares

[Originally published on by baseball blog on April 24, 2009]

Danny Haren pitched seven innings of shutout ball for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Colorado Rockies, Wednesday, striking out nine along the way.  But the score at the seventh inning stretch was 0-0. So unless the Diamondbacks scored in their half of the seventh, it looked as though the best Haren would do would be to gain a no-decision.
The lack of run support for Haren has been thoroughly frustrating.  In his three previous starts, all quality efforts that met with defeat, the Diamondbacks could manage only one run for him, total for the three games.  Diamondbacks broadcaster Daron Sutton, the former play-by-play man for the Milwaukee Brewers, saw Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa in the Midwest.  He said Jorge was erratic in those days, showing flashes of brilliance, but then blowing up. On Wednesday, however,  he was every bit the ace Haren was.

ARCHIVE: Thoughts on the Creative Process 5: Why Susan Boyle Makes Us Cry

by Kellia Ramares
[N.B.] Essays 1-4 are available on Machini-mations. 

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's a link to a tape of Susan Boyle's bravura performance in "Britain's Got Talent." I didn't watch it at the first opportunity. Reality shows and talent shows are not my cup of tea. To me, they seem to be yet another fad in the drive to lower costs of TV production. But I kept seeing news items around the Internet about a singer who had wowed the judges and the crowd. When I finally gave in and took a look, she wowed me, too. In fact, I cried and have cried each time since, and I've watched the tape at least a dozen times. What's more, when I read comments about her performance, I saw that I wasn't alone in letting the tears flow. Far from it.

ARCHIVE: As Bush threatens Iraq with nukes, US ramps up its own biowarfare research

It was originally published on the Center for Research on Globalisation on December 26, 2002.

When I booted up my AOL account on the morning of December 11th, I was greeted by the picture of someone in a gas mask and the headline: "You gas us; We'll nuke you!" Bad as that was, the headline on West County Times was worse: "Pre-emptive nuke strike a possibility." The San Francisco Chronicle banner headline was even pithier: Bush Doctrine: Hit First.

But while George W. Bush threatens Iraq, the United States is expanding its own biowarfare research programs. The government plans to increase the number of biohazard safety level (BSL) 3 and 4 labs around the United States. BSL 3 labs handle live anthrax, botulism, and bubonic plague, among many other things. BSL 4 labs conduct research on an array of even deadlier organisms, including smallpox and Ebola virus.

ARCHIVE: Making a killing by threatening to make a killing

By Kéllia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor
April 25, 2005—I really thought I had my finger on the pulse of Internet, or at least Blue State Internet, humor when I started offering products in my online store that said, Necons, Inc. Killing for the Culture of LifeSM. When sales of my audio documentary, "Peak Oil," started moving a bit in February, I figured word-of-mouth advertising, supposedly the best kind, and high gasoline prices, would multiply the sales. I hoped that sales of “Peak Oil” and my other serious titles, would bring me supplementary income that would allow me to do serious journalism without worrying about the rent.
But no one has ordered the Neocons, Inc. gear, or other items with incisive messages like "Your Religion is Not My Law" or "Theocracy is Un-American." Orders for my public affairs CDs have dried up. Silly me, why didn’t I realize that the quick way to make good money online is to threaten a rabbit’s life?

ARCHIVE: Your Religion is NOT My Law: Unscrupulous American Theocrats aim to destroy our Constitution

[Originally published on Online Journal on April 29, 2005]
by Kellia Ramares

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It
neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1785.

April 29, 2005--America is NOT a Christian nation. It is a nation many of whose citizens
are Christians. That’s not just a subtle turn of phrase. Understanding the difference is
essential to understanding America’s constitutional principles.

Christianity itself is not monolithic, as is evident by the many Christian denominations
that exist in the USA. But there are certain politicians, and backers of certain politicians,
who insist that America is a Christian nation…their brand of Christianity, of course. And
they aim to destroy our constitutional republic in order to establish a Bible-based
America—their interpretation of the Bible, of course--that is as much a theocracy as is
the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are part of a political movement called Dominionism or
Christian Reconstructionism.

ARCHIVE: Corporations: Do you love them more than you’ll admit?

By Kéllia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor
March 5, 2005—In late February, KPFA-FM, part of the Pacifica Radio Network, finished a successful fundraiser that garnered over a million dollars in pledges. If they run true to form, they’ll actually collect about 85 percent of the money. KPFA, the first listener-sponsored radio station, will be back for more in May, August and October. March 2 was my 6th anniversary at KPFA. Over the years, I have watched KPFA’s fundraising goals increase. The station has always made its goal. True, it’s occasionally done so by extending the fundraiser a few days, but never by more than that.
During the same time as this latest KPFA fundraiser, Online Journal publisher Bev Conover started a little fundraiser of her own. Her goal was nowhere near as lofty as KPFA’s. She’s looking for $10,000 to replace aging computer equipment. Recently, she told me her fundraiser was going “lousy.” She’s not alone in this. Why are the modest funding appeals of left news sites like Online Journal going begging, while larger organizations like KPFA can rake in the dough?

ARCHIVE: Book Review: Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda

[Originally published in December, 2004 in Online Journal]
Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda
By Larry Everest
Common Courage Press; ISBN 1-56751-246-1
392 Pages, $19.95USD
Review by Kellia Ramares
The U.S. government has mustered a dizzying and often shifting assortment of
“reasons” for invading and occupying Iraq. At one time or another—sometimes in the
next breath—it cited weapons of mass destruction and imminent threats to America,
links to terrorism and al Qaeda, liberating the Iraqi people, and transforming the entire
Middle East. Yet, as it was going on ad nauseam about such nonexistent threats,
phantom connections, and hollow promises, there was one real issue that the Bush
team adamantly refused to discuss at all: oil.

--Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire p. 248
December 17, 2004—Two days ago, the Boston Globe published an article titled: “War
Funding Request May Hit $100 Billion.” The article concerned White House plans to ask
Congress for $80 to $100 billion dollars for next year’s military operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan. If such a request goes through, the total cost for operations in Iraq alone
will exceed $200 billion since the invasion was launched in March 2003.
Ask yourself where all this money is coming from; federal deficits are at record levels.