In the Belly of the Beast: 5/26/11: Vermont Poised to Become 1st State to Enact Single-Payer Healthcare

INDEX (full text of stories follow Democracy Now headlines)

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 180

Blog and video roundup

from Raj Patel by Raj
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Fred Kaufman has been busy, not only with a fine summary in the latest issue of Foreign Policy of last year’s analysis of Goldman Sachs’ hunger games, but also at TedxManhattan, where he gave this fine talk on the lunacy of a retail sustainability index.

Also at Ted, Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group gave a helpfully concise summary of how the Farm Bill works.

Finally – and not before time – Antipodean food activist extraordinaire Christine Dann has started a blog, The Dead End Diet, which joins the blogroll.

“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”





Headlines for May 26, 2011

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 180


“Toma la Plaza”: Frustration with Unemployment, Budget Cuts Fuels Grassroots Protests in Spain

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Spain_protest_buttonTens of thousands of Spanish protesters are demonstrating across the country calling for better economic opportunities, a more representative electoral system, and an end to political corruption. The pro-democracy protests started on May 15 in Madrid when people gathered in the central plaza to advocate for change, calling the budding movement “Toma la Plaza,” or “Take the Square.” In the past week, protests have spread to more than a dozen cities across Spain. The country has the highest unemployment rate in Europe—nearly half of its population under 30 years old is jobless. Protesters are sustaining their decentralized movement through donations of food, fuel and even computers. Daily assemblies democratically vote on all decisions, and local committees are assigned different tasks, from cleanup operations to legal affairs. We speak with independent journalist Maria Carrion and protest spokesperson Ivan Martinoz in Madrid. [includes rush transcript]

Wisconsin Judge strikes down Walker/GOP anti-union law

It’s not over, but the anti-union law got whacked by a Wisconsin Judge today:

A judge has struck down Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial new collective bargaining law.

Dane County Judge MaryAnn Sumi issued a permanent injunction against the law Thursday morning. That means the law is effectively dead until the Wisconsin Supreme Court acts on it.

In her decision, Sumi said there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Republicans who control the Legislature violated the state’s open meetings laws in their rush to pass the legislation, meaning the law is void.

“The court must consider the potential damage to public trust and confidence in government if the Legislature is not held to the same rules of transparency that it has created for other governmental bodies,” Sumi wrote.

And, don’t forget, the Senate recall elections, which were spurred by this law, will be held on July 12.

Winning in Wisconsin will be a great follow up to the victory in New York 26 — and it would be another repudiation of the GOP’s extreme policies. Our Contribute to the Wisconsin Recall link is below. Thank you for whatever you can do to help.

Vermont Poised to Become 1st State to Enact Single-Payer Healthcare

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Vermont_buttonToday Vermont is set to make history by becoming the first state in the nation to offer universal, single-payer healthcare when Gov. Peter Shumlin signs its healthcare reform bill into law. The Vermont plan, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will attempt to stem rising medical care prices and provide universal coverage. We speak with Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care for All. She moved from Buffalo, New York, to Vermont in 1999 to advocate for a universal, single-payer healthcare system in the state. Gov. Shumlin calls her the “backbone” of the grassroots effort that helped persuade the Democratic-led state legislature to pass the bill this spring. [includes rush transcript]

Don’t say “Medicare”

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Everyone in politics today is talking about how last night’s huge loss by the Republicans in the 26 congressional district in New York is due to the GOP plan to cut Medicare.  It’s Medicare, Medicare, Medicare – from the DNC to all the media.

The only person who isn’t talking about Medicare when discussing NY-26 is the President of the United States.  It’s a bizarre missed opportunity that’s led at least one of our readers to ask whether it’s a “tell” from the White House that Medicare cuts are on the table, as far as the President is concerned, and thus he doesn’t want to box himself in by saying he’s against such cuts because the only good that could come of it would be saving Medicare and guaranteeing his re-election and Democratic control of the House and Senate.  And who would want that?

Now for everyone else who thinks it’s important to mention Medicare, then the President’s non-statement.


Yesterday voters in New York’s 26th Congressional District rejected the Republican Party’s plan to end Medicare as we know it and sent a Democrat to Washingtn to fight for seniors, working families and young people.


“Corwin saw her early lead dissolve after coming out in favor of a Republican budget plan that would cut billions from Medicare”


“Voters… said they trusted Ms. Hochul… to protect Medicare.”

Washington Post:

“A Democratic triumph in a conservative district that many regarded a referendum on House Republicans’ efforts to reform Medicare.”


Kathy Hochul’s special election triumph sends Republicans ominous Medicare message


Democrat Kathy Hochul defeated Republican Jane Corwin in a western New York special election that emerged as a political testing ground for the ambitious GOP blueprint to reform Medicare.

The Hill:

Democrat Kathy Hochul pulled off a victory in New York’s special election Tuesday in a race that had been cast as a referendum on the GOP’s Medicare proposal.

MSNBC First Read:

There was a reason why Republican strategists convinced their House candidates last year not to support Paul Ryan’s budget “roadmap” (which included an overhaul of both Medicare and Social Security): Touching popular entitlement programs doesn’t make good politics.

Buffalo News and the candidate herself:

And as a jubilant Hochul took the stage at her headquarters at the UAW Hall in Amherst at about 10:30 p.m., she reminded supporters about the core of her campaign — controversial proposals by the GOP to revamp Medicare.

Finally, there’s President Obama:

I want to extend my congratulations to Congresswoman-elect Kathy Hochul for her victory in New York’s 26th Congressional District. Kathy and I both believe that we need to create jobs, grow our economy, and reduce the deficit in order to outcompete other nations and win the future. Kathy has shown, through her victory and throughout her career, that she will fight for the families and businesses in western New York, and I look forward to working with her when she gets to Washington.

Biden puts Medicare back on the table, right after Medicare being on the table just won Dems a House seat

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From Reuters (h/t Marcy Wheeler):

Joe Biden group to tackle Medicare and Medicaid: aide

Vice President Joe Biden and top lawmakers will examine government-run health plans on Tuesday as they try to work out a deal to raise the United States’ borrowing authority, a congressional aide said.

The article goes on to list Medicare and Medicaid as “major sticking points” in the attempt to give politicians “political cover” for raising the debt ceiling.

Everyone but Obama has NY-26 figured out, it seems — Democrats won a House seat in a conservative NY congressional district solely because of voter discontent over the GOP plan to cut/kill Medicare. So the White House decides it’s time to talk about cutting Medicare.

Maybe the President has different goals than we hope he has. Hope … that’s so 2008. Time to look forward, not back. On to 2012.

“Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary sector of monopoly capital”

Chris Hedges: ‘We Speak in the Language of Terrorism’

In this recent appearance on GRITtv, “The World As It Is” author and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges talks with host Laura Flanders about the murder of Osama bin Laden and cuts through the noise to pose some tough questions about America’s fighting style—“What is the moral difference between a drone attack and an IED?”—and points to the reasons why our empire is dying.  —KA

GRITtv with Laura Flanders:

The Secret Patriot Act

from Informed Comment by Juan
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Dear Tea Party: If all your distrust of the federal government doesn’t cause you to vote against the so-called PATRIOT Act, your tea is weak. Very weak.

Spencer Ackerman reports that Rep. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is worried about a “secret PATRIOT Act”– that is, a set of practices and inquiries into the affairs of private citizens that go far beyond the letter of the law and which would shock most Americans.

Hint: The ‘business records’ provision is the one that most concerns him.

Me, I think government surveiilance could allow the blackmailing of judges, journalists and politicians, adding to the corruption of the American political system.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) also plans to vote against if there aren’t amendments.

Congress is set to extend the unconstitutional law, which contravenes the 4th Amendment, for 4 years without debate.

So an elective dictatorship is imposing a dictatorial and unconstitutional law on Americans without so much as a discussion.

Rand Paul on Patriot Act Extension puts Obama to Shame

from Informed Comment by Juan
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Sen. Rand Paul is among the few in Congress to oppose the 4-year extension of the misnamed PATRIOT Act, which violates the 4th Amendment against baseless and warrantless search of personal effects.

US to store air traveler personal data for 15 years

The personal data of millions of passengers who fly between the US and Europe, including credit card details, phone numbers and home addresses, may be stored by the US department of homeland security for 15 years, according to a draft agreement between Washington and Brussels leaked to the Guardian.

The “restricted” draft, which emerged from negotiations between the US and EU, opens the way for passenger data provided to airlines on check-in to be analysed by US automated data-mining and profiling programmes in the name of fighting terrorism, crime and illegal migration. The Americans want to require airlines to supply passenger lists as near complete as possible 96 hours before takeoff, so names can be checked against terrorist and immigration watchlists.

The agreement acknowledges that there will be occasions when people are delayed or prevented from flying because they are wrongly identified as a threat, and gives them the right to petition for judicial review in the US federal court. It also outlines procedures in the event of anticipated data losses or other unauthorised disclosure. The text includes provisions under which “sensitive personal data” – such as ethnic origin, political opinions, and details of health or sex life – can be used in exceptional circumstances where an individual’s life could be imperilled.

Julian Assange: Media coverage of accused Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning is appalling

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The WikiLeaks founder also described how the prosecution of Manning — and potentially his own organization — under the Espionage Act of 1917 could have a chilling effect on investigative journalism. […]

Assange, responding to a question from The Huffington Post, described much of the media coverage of Manning’s situation as “appalling.” He continued:

There have been some good journalists that are starting to break through that. I see that the Washington Post has been improving its coverage. Glenn Greenwald, from Salon, has always been on this issue, dealing with it in a comprehensive and robust manner.

That we saw, for example, with Frontline last night — once again a concentration on salacious and really quite irrelevant personal factors. There are many, indeed, perhaps most, people in the United States from divorced parents. But how many have spent the last year without conviction in a military prison. The answer is one. …

Parish of top advisor to Pope on pedophile priests rocked by pedophilia sex ring; priest may be HIV+

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[Update: Corrected headline for accuracy. GP]

Thanks to Twitter and Chris Hayes, we find this amazing story. John also has more coverage of it over at AMERICAblog Gay, including some pointed commentary (and the fact that the Italian press is reporting that the priest is HIV+).  God is indeed an ironist:

A [priest in the parish of a] top advisor to Pope Benedict XVI was arrested Friday on pedophilia and drug charges in a drug and sex ring investigation. … Piercarlo Casassa, a retired priest, in a report by The Daily Telegraph, said of Seppia, “I told the Church about him in 1994 but was ignored. I told them he was not the right person to have around youngsters.”

The article then quotes Time and Worldcrunch (emphasis theirs):

“Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51-​year-​old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, was arrested last Friday, May 13, on pedophilia and drug charges. Investigators say that in tapped mobile-​phone conversations, Seppia asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. “I do not want 16-​year-​old boys but younger. Fourteen-​year-​olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues,” he allegedly said. Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy, released this week, on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.”

Just horrifying. The original article then notes (my emphasis):

In related news, the Vatican released a report last week that many are calling “the ‘blame Woodstock’ explanation.

The report, paid for in part by American Bishops, in part by Catholic organizations, and in part by the U.S. DOJ, is ludicrous.” [my emphasis here]

The DOJ? This is not a church, it’s a crime family. And the DOJ should be investigating, not funding their PR.




FYI: Pesticide Bans May Reduce Suicide Rates

from Raj Patel by Raj
More at The Hindu. Hat tip: Xavier Dias.

Bill McKibben: From Storms to Droughts, Devastating Extreme Weather Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change

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Bill_tornado_button2011 has already become the deadliest year for tornado outbreaks in the United States since 1953, with more than 500 people killed. Extreme weather has made headlines across the world, as well, with megafloods occurring in Colombia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Australia, even as the Amazon just faced its second hundred-year drought in the past five years. News audiences are seeing the warning “severe weather” increasingly flash across TV screens, but little connection has been made to the role humans have played in driving climate change. We speak with environmentalist Bill McKibben, founder of the grassroots climate campaign, “We’re making the earth a more dynamic and violent place,” McKibben says. “That’s, in essence, what global warming is about.” [includes rush transcript]

Lawsuit filed against USDA, saying approval of Monsanto-modified alfalfa is “illegal”

Earlier we wrote about the Obama administration’s approval of Monsanto-owned genetically modified plants, including alfalfa. Shockingly, this USDA action seems to have been taken at the direction of the White House. (Listen to the audio in the above link for that information.)

In response, the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and others have filed a lawsuit, saying the approval of Monsanto alfalfa is “illegal” (h/t Jennifer Grayson).

From the complaint (pdf):

Plaintiffs ask this Court to declare the Deregulation Determination to be arbitrary and capricious, in violation of NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act], the PPA [Plant Protection Act] and the APA [Administrative Procedure Act]. Plaintiffs further ask this Court to vacate APHIS’s [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an arm of the UDSA] decision to once again deregulate RRA [Roundup-Ready Alfalfa] without taking a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of its decision. … Plaintiffs request injunctive, declaratory, and other relief this Court deems appropriate.

The plaintiffs want the USDA order vacated. As the complaint notes, this has been adjudicated before, in 2005.Jennifer Grayson adds:

For those wondering about the status of the lawsuit, it is still pending; but according to True Food Network (CFS’ grassroots arm) Director Heather Whitehead, it is “progressing a pace.” Here’s hoping that a winning decision comes down soon, before those first soiled seeds are sown.

Here’s hoping indeed. I’ll bet there’s a race to spread those seeds as far and as fast as possible.


Older Japanese engineers ask to fix Fukushima to save younger generation

Every culture has its positives and negatives, but stories like this is what makes Japan amazing. These people know that they have a high risk of dying yet they are asking for the job. From the team leader of the over-60 nuclear engineers:

“We shouldn’t leave the work only to young engineers,” he said. “Young people, especially those who have children in future, should not be exposed to radiation.” More than 1,000 people, including young subcontractors, are currently working in sensitive conditions at Fukushima in an on-going bid to restore control at the damaged six-reactor plant.

This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Events, Food & Agriculture, Human Rights, Nuclear Power, Obama, US Electoral Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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