Monday, February 28, 2011

McCain Flip-flop on Egyptian revolution

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut were in Egypt this weekend as the first visiting congressional delegation since Mubarak’s ouster. McCain and Lieberman met with officials in Egypt’s transitional government and even took a walk through Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising. At a news conference, McCain had warm words for the Egyptian revolution.
Sen. John McCain: "This revolution is a repudiation of al-Qaeda. This revolution has shown the people of the world, not just in the Arab world, that peaceful change can come about and violence and extremism is not required in order to achieve democracy and freedom. That’s why we are especially proud to be here, where history is being made for the entire world, not just the Arab world."
McCain’s comments appear to differ from his stance during the height of the Egyptian uprising. Speaking on Fox News just days before Mubarak was forced to resign, McCain described the popular movements in the Arab world as a "virus."
Sen. John McCain: "This virus is spreading throughout the Middle East. The president of Yemen, as you know, just made the announcement that he wasn’t running again. This, I would argue, is probably the most dangerous period of history in—of our entire involvement in the Middle East, at least in modern times."

Teachers, End of Medicaid and Wisconsin

Over 100,000 Rally in Madison; Thousands Join Nationwide Protests

Over 100,000 people rallied in Madison on Saturday against Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to remove the collective bargaining rights of most public-sector workers. It was the largest demonstration Madison has seen since the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of people marched in solidarity protests nationwide. In New York City, thousands gathered for a "Save the American Dream" rally outside City Hall. Crowds drawing several thousand were also reported in cities including Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles and Denver. In Wisconsin, hundreds of demonstrators defied police orders and slept inside the State Capitol building Sunday night in defiance of Walker’s order to leave. Capitol police decided not to enforce Walker’s edict after hundreds of labor activists, students and supporters insisted on staying put.

Providence School Teachers Warned of Layoffs

Public school teachers in Providence, Rhode Island, have been warned they could lose their jobs this year. The Providence School Board issued the work alert last week, citing a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall. Nearly 2,000 teachers have been told they could be fired.

Governors Push Changes to Medicaid

President Obama is hosting a meeting of the nation’s governors at the White House today amidst a contentious debate over the squeezing of workers’ rights and social services in the name of reducing deficits. At a gathering of the National Governors Association over the weekend, Democratic and Republican leaders agreed to form a committee to explore ways to amend Medicaid. The panel will look at how states can change eligibility rules and other provisions of the insurance program for low-income Americans. Republicans have called for converting Medicaid from an entitlement program to a block grant, similar to how Republicans and former President Bill Clinton altered welfare programs in the 1990s. Among the strongest advocates for that route is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has just been named the new chair of the National Governors Association’s health and human services panel.

Afghan Civilian Killings at Record Level

Afghanistan is facing what is being described as its deadliest period for civilians since the U.S.-led invasion began more than nine years ago. According to Afghan officials, more than 200 Afghans have been killed in attacks and military operations of the past two weeks. An Afghan government panel is still investigating claims some 65 people were killed in a U.S.-led attack last week. On Saturday, a government adviser and investigator said that 40 of the dead were children.

6 Reported Killed in Oman Protests - governmetn ablaze

The wave of protest has now spread to Oman. On Sunday, up to six people were reportedly killed when government forces fired on protesters demanding political reform. Protesters set government buildings ablaze and launched a sit-in demonstration in the city of Sohar. Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ruled Oman since 1970.

"Inside Job" Wins Best Documentary at Oscars

The 83rd annual Academy Awards were held last night in Los Angeles. The film Inside Job, about the nation’s financial crisis, was awarded best documentary. In his acceptance speech, Director Charles Ferguson drew applause after calling for the jailing of financial executives.
Charles Ferguson: "Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail—and that’s wrong."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa

Armed conflict within nations has had disastrous humanitarian consequences throughout much of the world. Here we undertake the first comprehensive examination of the potential impact of global climate change on armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. We find strong historical linkages between civil war and temperature in Africa, with warmer years leading to significant increases in the likelihood of war. When combined with climate model projections of future temperature trends, this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars. Our results suggest an urgent need to reform African governments' and foreign aid donors' policies to deal with rising temperatures.

Article Link

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Domino Theory, Tunisia Style

It takes 29 days to topple a 23-year old regime. At least that’s the mathematics Tunisia taught the rest of us on January 14th.

It seemed to come out of nowhere. Tunisia was a stable, relatively prosperous, moderate Muslim state in North Africa. Its GDP per capita was the highest in the region and it had one of the lowest poverty rates in Africa. Its main trade partners were France, Italy and Germany. It had been a secular state since its independence from France in 1956, and the majority of the Islamic population was considered moderate [1]. Even those of us in the U.S. who keep up with international news would probably have described Tunisia’s state as stable and in today’s world, sustainable. But in defiance of the statistics, trouble was brewing. Despite the fact that Tunisia’s unemployment levels were low in comparison to some of its destitute neighbors, Tunisians had been feeling the economic squeeze much like the rest of the world. Unemployment was rising, as were food prices. The government’s corruption, which had been tolerated by the public in the name of relative prosperity and freedom, suddenly came into focus.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

“We don’t Need Coca-Cola” Says Venezuela’s Chavez

Mérida, February 7th 2011 ( – In a nationally televised address on Friday to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the famous failed coup attempt led by himself, President Hugo Chavez expressed his support for the current workers’ conflict in a Venezuelan Coca-Cola plant.
 “If Coca-Cola doesn’t want to comply with the constitution and the law, well, we can live without Coca-Cola,” he said.
“Coca-Cola isn’t indispensable,” he continued, to cheers from the crowd, “Who said Coca-Cola is necessary in order to live?” he added, then suggested some Venezuelan drinks, such as guava juice, that are better.

Texas Refuses to Compensate Exonerated Death Row Prisoner

The Texas Comptroller’s Office is refusing to pay out compensation to a former death row prisoner who spent 18 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Anthony Graves was denied the $1.4 million in compensation because the word "innocent" did not appear in paperwork submitted on his behalf.

Arizona Bill Would Require Hospitals Check Citizenship Status of Patients: Health care not sick care

In news from Arizona, Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill that would require doctors and nurses to check on the citizenship status of their patients. Under the bill, hospitals would be required—when admitting non-emergency cases— to confirm that a person seeking care is a U.S. citizen or in the country legally. The bill has sparked outrage in the medical profession.

BP Executive Resigned over Safety Protocols Before Spill

A class action federal lawsuit has revealed that a former BP executive resigned in late 2009 because of concerns over the company’s safety protocols in offshore drilling operations. Kevin Lacy resigned in December 2009—just months before last year’s massive oil spill. He was BP’s former senior vice president for drilling operations for the Gulf of Mexico.

HOUSTON — A former official with BP's drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico resigned just months before last year's oil spill because of disagreements with the oil giant over its commitment to safety, according to a class-action federal lawsuit related to the spill.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ACLU Observer Alleges Beating at L.A. Prison

In California, the American Civil Liberties Union is accusing Los Angeles prison guards of severely beating a defenseless prisoner. ACLU jail monitor Esther Lim says she witnessed two deputies at the Twin Towers jail kicking, punching and tasering prisoner James Parker as he lay unconscious for at least two minutes. Lim says the deputies repeated the commands, "stop resisting" and "stop fighting," as though they were reading from a script. Parker has been charged with felony counts of battery and resisting an officer in connection with the incident

Blackwater Appeal to be Closed to Public: Nisoor Square Massacre

A U.S. appeals court has agreed to a hear the federal government’s appeal of a decision to clear five former operatives with the private military firm Blackwater in the 2007 Nisoor Square massacre behind closed doors. The five guards had been charged with killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians during an unprovoked attack in Baghdad. The charges were dismissed after a judge ruled prosecutors had used incriminating statements they had made while under State Department immunity. At the request of both the government and the suspects, the appeal will be closed entirely to the public. A ruling is not expected for three months

Pakistan Jails U.S. Consular Worker Over Shooting deaths

A delegation of visiting U.S. Congress members has threatened to cut aid to Pakistan unless it releases a U.S. citizen jailed over the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis. Raymond Allen Davis, an employee of the U.S. consulate, admitted to fatally shooting two people he said threatened him while he was driving in Lahore last month. A third Pakistani was reportedly run over and killed by a U.S. consulate vehicle that arrived at the scene. Last weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton canceled a meeting with Pakistan’s foreign minister to protest Davis’s detention. The State Department says Davis holds a diplomatic passport and is entitled to full criminal immunity. The Obama administration has demanded his immediate release. On Tuesday, released a number of revelations questioning Davis’s role at the consulate. Davis and the U.S. embassy have claimed that he was hired as an employee of Hyperion Protective Consultants, a Florida-based security firm. But an article posted on CounterPunch says no such company has been located at the given address, and the Florida Secretary of State office has no record of a Hyperion Protective Consultants. Pakistani journalists have speculated Davis is a CIA agent or a private contractor working for a mercenary firm. According to CounterPunch, U.S. officials failed to report Davis was driving a rental car rather than an embassy vehicle and possessed two handguns, a substantial amount of ammunition, three cell phones and a telescope. The incident has sparked massive protests in Pakistan. The wife of one of the victims committed suicide on Sunday

Paradise lost as the Great Marcellus Gas Rush hits home

Organic farmer Stephen Cleghorn reports
Sunday, October 10, 2010
On our 50-acre certified organic farm, located in a small unincorporated area of Henderson Township in Jefferson County, an area that has been called Paradise for more than a century, there is a high point to which we take the dogs. There we like just to be quiet before the beauty we see all around us. Rolling fields of crops, alternating green and brown. Our neighbor's cows, gorgeous Jerseys with their big soulful eyes, framed against their emerald pasture. Our own dairy goats lazing away a summer's afternoon on the pasture down below us.
And sometimes we go up there at night to admire God's creation as it envelops us. From that hilltop it is easy to recall the words of the poet-farmer Wendell Berry:
I am wholly willing to be here
between the bright silent thousands of stars
and the life of the grass pouring out of the ground.
The hill has grown to me like a foot.
Until I lift the earth I cannot move.
Five years ago we had a dream that we could take these 50 acres and make them our small gift to our neighbors and our world by producing healthy organic vegetables and fresh goat milk products. We wanted to do so in a manner that in a small way helps to heal our environment, our atmospheric commons that has become stressed by an over-reliance on fossil fuel energy. We joined a growing movement in agriculture to be small and local on purpose, for our health, for that of our neighbors and even for our planet.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Black Panthers: Founders of the Free Breakfast Program for Children

A 1969 School breakfast Radio Show--Raj Patel: I’m doing a bit of work on the Black Panther Party’s School Breakfast program, and came across this terrific 1969 radio interview with children and Black Panther activists. You’ll need 20 minutes and the free Real Audio player. Click here to listen.