Thursday, March 29, 2012

Disabled riders, supporters plead with Port Authority

On a day when getting around was difficult even for the able-bodied, people with disabilities descended in a small army to join other Port Authority riders and supporters at a public hearing Wednesday to protest plans for record-breaking transit service cuts.

Hundreds of people in wheelchairs rolled out of the torrential rain and into the hearing at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, some just to show support and others to testify against the 35 percent reduction planned for Sept. 2. The reduction, to close a projected $64 million budget deficit, would eliminate 46 of 102 bus routes and cause deep cuts to ACCESS service for the disabled.
"It is just unimaginable that we are going to set people with disabilities back 35 years to the point where they are trapped in their homes," said Lucy Spruill, director of public policy and community relations for United Cerebral Palsy.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Malcolm Gladwell: The strange tale of the Norden bombsight

The Pennsylvania gas law fails to protect public health

Dr. Bernard Goldstein is emeritus professor in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health ( Jill Kriesky is senior project coordinator at the school's Center for Health Environments and Communities

Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed a bill that goes beyond just ignoring concerns about the potential human health effects of Marcellus Shale drilling, it retains some of the worst aspects of industry secrecy about proprietary hydrofracking chemicals while making unethical demands on physicians.
Imagine a physician caring for a child whose illness might have been caused by long-term exposure to a proprietary fracking chemical while playing near a drill site. Assume that after signing a legally binding nondisclosure agreement, the physician is given the identity of the chemical and comes to believe it caused the illness. What can the physician tell the families of other neighborhood children who play in the same field?
Under the newly enacted law, copied almost verbatim from a controversial Colorado law, a physician may receive information about a proprietary chemical used in the fracking process, but the physician must agree to not reveal this information to the public. The law also allows the company to keep secret from physicians information about agents that come up from the ground during drilling, such as natural gas constituents -- which themselves can be toxic -- and naturally occurring toxic agents such as arsenic, barium, brine components and radioactive compounds dissolved in flowback water. Nor can public health authorities begin with knowledge of a secret chemical and ask whether there is an increase in an illness that the chemical is known to cause.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Michael Steele: "I Wanted a Brokered Convention"

Before he was booted as GOP chair, Steele changed the party's primary contest rules—and now Romney and the Republican establishment are paying for his chaos theory experiment.

| Mon Mar. 12, 2012 
michael steeleMichael Steele.
Is the never-ending and ever-bitter 2012 Republican presidential race—which at this point seems to be alienating independent voters—Michael Steele's revenge?

Consent of the Governed

DESCRIBING THE UNITED STATES of the 1830s in his now-famous work, Democracy in America, the young French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville depicted a country passionate about self-governance. In the fifty years since sovereignty had passed from the crown to the people, citizens of the new republic had seized upon every opportunity “to take a hand in the government of society and to talk about it….If an American should be reduced to occupying himself with his own affairs,” wrote de Tocqueville, “half his existence would be snatched from him; he would feel it as a vast void in his life.”
At the center of this vibrant society was the town or county government. “Without local institutions,” de Tocqueville believed, “a nation has not got the spirit of liberty,” and might easily fall victim to “despotic tendencies.”

In the era’s burgeoning textile and nascent railroad industries, and in its rising commercial class, de Tocqueville had already detected a threat to the “equality of conditions” he so admired in America. “The friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed,” he warned, on an “industrial aristocracy….For if ever again permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy make their way into the world it will have been by that door that they entered.” Under those conditions, he thought, life might very well be worse than it had been under the old regimes of Europe. The old land-based aristocracy of Europe at least felt obliged “to come to the help of its servants and relieve their distress. But the industrial aristocracy… when it has impoverished and brutalized the men it uses, abandons them in a time of crisis.”

Asthma data down from .gov, in light of fracking

“This was all done in the backroom—and it was written by the oil and gas industry,” Shields said, pointing to fine print such as the confidentiality strictures for doctors who treat any patient that might be exposed to drilling fluids. “Where the hell does physician confidentiality come from? There isn’t a legislator up there that would ever have thought of that. But a good corporate lawyer will figure that out because they don’t want that to affect them in lawsuits. They know we will be coming because they know we will have spills and accidents and people are going to get hurt. They don’t want to give them a leg up.”   

Fracking Democracy: Why Pennsylvania's Act 13 May Be the Nation's Worst Corporate Giveaway

Pennsylvania's Republican leaders have given the natural gas industry unprecedented power to overrule local government and drill anywhere.
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Editor's Note: This is the first of two articles about Pennsylvania’s Act 13, perhaps the worst new environmental law in the nation, and the effort to stop it from taking effect. You can read the second one here.
Pennsylvania, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed and where the U.S. coal, oil and nuclear industriesbegan, has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. 
The draconian new law, known as Act 13, revises the state’s oil and gas statutes, to allow oil companies to drill for natural gas using the controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, where large volumes of water and toxic chemicals are pumped into vertical wells with lateral bores to shatter the rock and release the hydrocarbons. The law strips rights from communities and individuals while imposing new statewide drilling rules.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a self-styled neighborhood watch leader

Heartbreaking tragedy: 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was visiting a relative's house in a Florida gated community when he walked to the store to get Skittles and iced tea for his little brother. He never made it home. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a self-styled neighborhood watch leader, who told police he thought Trayvon was "suspicious" in the mostly-white community.

Unbelievable twist: A man named George Zimmerman allegedly admitted to police that he shot Trayvon Martin in the chest. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense, even though police allegedly told him not to do anything until they arrived -- and despite the fact that Trayvon was unarmed, carrying only a bag of Skittles when he died. In the two weeks since Zimmerman allegedly killed Trayvon, police have refused to arrest the confessed killer.

Hope for justice: Sybrina Fulton is Trayvon's mother, and she's leading a campaign on to get justice for her son. Tracy knows that if enough people raise an outcry, Sanford, Florida authorities will be forced to investigate Zimmerman the same way they would investigate any confessed killer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Scenes from the Iowa Caucus Circus

From a flurry of presidential stump speeches to Occupy protests outside political headquarters, the build-up to the 2012 Iowa caucuses captured the attention of media around the world. Then it was all over in the blink of an eye as GOP favorite Mitt Romney edged out social conservative rival Rick Santorum by just eight votes, with Ron Paul placing third as the horserace moves on to New Hampshire.

10 Extreme Claims in Ron Paul's Controversial Newsletters

New York City renamed "Rapetown," AIDS spread by a "malicious gay," how to gun down an "urban youth," and more.

Why Does the Military Love Ron Paul?

Servicemembers are giving way more cash to the anti-war GOP candidate than any other—but not for the reason you might think.

Egyptian Military Court Acquits Doctor in Virginity Test Case

Human rights organizations are criticizing an Egyptian military court for acquitting an army doctor of forcing a virginity test on a pro-democracy protester. According to Amnesty International, Egyptian troops beat, shocked and strip-searched many women arrested during the protests in Tahrir Square last year forced them to submit to virginity tests. Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch criticized Sunday’s ruling saying: "This is a reflection of the fact that the military justice system is not an independent justice system and that the military will protect its own."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

US Military Map

Super Glue

Insane Sex Laws Inspired by Republicans

As Republican lawmakers have pushed evermore intrusive and expansive uterus-related legislation, some of their colleagues across the aisle have fired back with intentionally and equally ridiculous counterproposals. From mandatory rectal exams for guys seeking Viagra to prohibitions on sperm-stifling vasectomies, most of these male-only provisions have, unsurprisingly, flopped. But they've scored big as symbolic gestures, spotlighting the inherent sexism of laws that regulate only lady parts.
Some of the tongue-in-cheek ideas introduced across the country:

Why This Prominent UK Enviro Caused a National Security Freakout

Why did the FBI detain and question a 62-year-old British environmentalist upon his arrival at New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport? The bureau won't say, and the activist, who was subsequently shipped back to London, never got a clear explanation.
Last Thursday, prominent British enviro John Stewart traveled to the United States to take part in a monthlong speaking tour organized by Aviation Justice Express, a US-based coalition of environmental and community-based groups. The tour was scheduled to stop in six cities across the US, where Stewart was slated to discuss his work in the United Kingdom on aviation pollution.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

London Tuition Riots 2010, and what are we doing next?

More detailed video of HQ

Bolivia must investigate violence at disability protest

Disabled Bolivians clash with riot police

Indian Strike

Pig Pee


Why Won’t Mitt Romney Stand Up for Women?
After remaining silent for days last week as the controversy about Rush Limbaugh’s outrageous smears against Sandra Fluke — and really all women — grew, Mitt Romney was finally confronted on a ropeline on Friday and meekly responded that calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” and demanding that she post sex videos online was “not the language [he] would have used.”

As the furor expanded this week — nearly four dozen advertisers have now abandoned Limbaugh — Romney was given something of a do-over last night at a press conference when he was asked directly what words he himself would’ve used. Romney’s less than courageous answer:

“My campaign is about jobs and the economy and scaling back the size of government and I’m not going to weigh in on that particular controversy.”

During an appearance on MSNBC this afternoon, Romney’s top strategist Eric Fernhstrom said Romney would continue to be focus on his economic plan (cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans) and would not “be distracted” by condemning Limbaugh’s sexist smears against Sandra Fluke and other women.

Check out our video compilation of the 70 sexist smears Limbaugh made that Mitt Romney pointedly refuses to condemn:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Syria Sunday Times Photographer Paul Conroy On 'Massacre' In Homs

but we are still in meetings:

The U.N. Human Rights Council has voted to condemn Syria for potential crimes against humanity in the crackdown on rebel fighters and opposition protesters. Thirty-seven states voted to back the measure, with three opposed, including Russia and China. The vote came as the new United Nations-Arab League envoy on Syria, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said he plans to visit Syria in the coming days to meet directly with Assad.

Kofi Annan: "We haven’t been in touch for a couple of years, and so I will not presume anything. We will make the dĂ©marches, and time will tell. But I would plead with him that he should engage, not only with me but with the process that we are launching today."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Prisons for Profit : Florida Vote and Ohio Report


Dow pays "strategic intelligence" firm to spy on Yes Men and grassroots activists. Takeaway: movement is on the right track!
WikiLeaks begins to publish today over five million e-mails obtained by Anonymous from "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The emails, which reveal everything from sinister spy tactics to an insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs (see below), also include several discussions of the Yes Men and Bhopal activists. (Bhopal activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India, that led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.)
Many of the Bhopal-related emails, addressed from Stratfor to Dow and Union Carbide public relations directors, reveal concern that, in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the Bhopal issue might be expanded into an effective systemic critique of corporate rule, and speculate at length about why this hasn't yet happened—providing a fascinating window onto what at least some corporate types fear most from activists.
"[Bhopal activists] have made a slight nod toward expanded activity, but never followed through on it—the idea of 'other Bhopals' that were the fault of Dow or others," mused Joseph de Feo, who is listed in one online source as a "Briefer" for Stratfor.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How democratic is your news: What does News Corp (the parent company of new internation, aka we tap your phones and shit) own?

7,000 deaths later and finally the UN agrees to.... condemn.

U.N. Human Rights Council Condemns Syria Crackdown

The U.N. Human Rights Council has voted to condemn Syria for potential crimes against humanity in the crackdown on rebel fighters and opposition protesters. Thirty-seven states voted to back the measure, with three opposed, including Russia and China. The vote came as the new United Nations-Arab League envoy on Syria, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said he plans to visit Syria in the coming days to meet directly with Assad.
Kofi Annan: "We haven’t been in touch for a couple of years, and so I will not presume anything. We will make the dĂ©marches, and time will tell. But I would plead with him that he should engage, not only with me but with the process that we are launching today."