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Civil Rights / Liberties
How can we guarantee healthcare for all?
What can you do to help?
Healthcare in case of injury: you're on your own, for now
Donna Smith, California Nurses Association, seen in Michael Moore's "Sicko"
Steve Cobble, Progressive Democrats of America
Dr. Susan Miller, Physicians for a National Health Program
Larry Rousseau, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Lynn Hassman, American Medical Students Association, UVA
Dr. Wm. Ferguson Reid, Virginia Coalition for Guaranteed Health Care
Virginia Coalition for Guaranteed Health Care
California Nurses Association
Progressive Democrats of America
Physicians for a National Health Program
American Medical Students Association, UVA
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice
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FORWARD THIS ANNOUNCEMENT FAR AND WIDE.
By Laura Bonham
As an ardent advocate of single-payer healthcare for many years, I am more than a little frustrated by Washington insiders — beholden to healthcare corporations — telling the American people that passing single-payer healthcare reform, specifically HR. 676, the United States National Health Care Act, can't happen. The fact is they are standing in the way of it happening.
They cite specious reasons like we're an entrepreneurial nation and need a uniquely American solution, or we can't afford it, or single-payer won't work in the U.S. Well it works quite well in the form of Medicare, an incredibly popular and uniquely American program. In a nutshell, HR 676 basically improves and expands Medicare to cover everybody.
They say it can't happen because Americans don't want it. Polling indicates otherwise; a January 30, CBS poll shows significant support:
Now we need to get someone appointed who's open to offending the health insurance companies.
OPEN LETTER TO TOM DASCHLE - AND A PETITION TO SIGN IF READERS AGREE!
By Mimi Kennedy, Chair, Progressive Democrats of America
Mr. Daschle, you are now exactly the wrong man for health care reform.
It is clear you will work for a solution that is a political compromise - and now, any compromise you might attain will be lethally vulnerable. From all sides, your compromise will be attacked as the work of a man unwilling to pay his fair share of burdens he willfully imposes on others, of a man who's not even cognizant of his actions when he ducks those burdens.
Obama supporters held house parties on healthcare in December, and nobody has seen the results, the decisions as to what sort of actions were most favored. Let's ask:
Dr. Jeanne Lambrew
Office of Health Care Reform
By fax to 202 690 7203
By email to Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
US Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs
Friends Committee on National Legislation, coordinator
U S C B L e - a c t i o n : write to Obama
j a n u a r y 2 0 0 9
"Our global community must continually keep challenging itself about the way it behaves. Political leaders must show they are prepared to listen and respond to the voices of victims, of civil society, and of ordinary people."
-British Foreign Minister David Miliband at Oslo cluster bomb treaty signing, December 2008
As 94 nations gathered in Oslo in December to sign the treaty banning cluster bombs, foreign leaders echoed the optimism of the Obama campaign, reflecting their joy in joining survivors and civil society activists to sign the most significant humanitarian law treaty of the past decade. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, "Yes, we can! We can, and the U.S. can sign this treaty, Russia can, and China can."
By David Swanson
While a Democratic polling firm has just found, as pollsters always do, dramatic public support for public health coverage, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill appear divided, as they have always been, over whether to take a comprehensive approach to health care.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on C-Span on Sunday that incrementalism would suit him better "than to go out and just bite something you can't chew." Clyburn said he opposes any comprehensive approach in 2009. Meanwhile House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) made a long speech about healthcare at a conference in D.C. on Thursday in which he said "I am committed to helping bring comprehensive reform to the floor of the 111th Congress."
Those of us who prefer justice to arbitrary and unaccountable detention without charge or trial were delighted when, last week, Barack Obama fulfilled a long-stated promise and issued a presidential order stating that Guantánamo will be closed “as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order,” and establishing an immediate review of the cases of the remaining 242 prisoners to work out whether they can be released.
He lived 42 of his 48 years in the United States, and had the words “Raised American” tattooed on his shoulder. But Guido R. Newbrough was born German, and he died in November as an immigration detainee of a Virginia jail, his heart devastated by an overwhelming bacterial infection. His family and fellow detainees say the infection went untreated, despite his mounting pleas for medical care in the 10 days before his death. Instead, after his calls for help grew insistent, detainees said, guards at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., threw him to the floor, dragged him away as he cried out in pain, and locked him in an isolation cell. Read the rest in the New York Times. Here's a group working to change things that has been raising this and related matters for months.
In July 1949, Robinson, with other prominent African-Americans, was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee to rebuke the actor-singer Paul Robeson, who had said that African-Americans would not fight against the Soviet Union in a war.
According to an Associated Press account from the days before his testimony, Robinson said he would tell the committee, “Paul speaks only for himself.” Referring to his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Roy Campanella, Robinson said: “Campy and I would fight any aggressor — the Russians or any other nation. Anybody who wants to take away the things I’ve gained will have to fight for it.”
Just before his death in 1972 Robinson, writing in his autobiography, “I Never Had It Made,” looked back on his decision to testify in 1949 and said he had been naïve.
“In those days, I had much more faith in the ultimate justice of the American white man than I have today,” he wrote. “I would reject such an invitation if offered now. I have grown wiser and closer to the painful truth about America’s destructiveness and I do have increased respect for Paul Robeson who, over a span of 20 years, sacrificed his career and the wealth and comfort he once enjoyed because, I believe, he was sincerely trying to help his people.”
by Linda Milazzo
President Barack Obama of the Capitol of Washington, it is my most sincere honor to introduce you to Citizen Bob Alexander of the State of Washington, who by the standards you have set to 'give our all' has valiantly answered your call. In fact, Citizen Bob answered that call long before you were President. He seized his responsibilities gladly, not grudgingly, just as you asked at your inauguration. And now President Obama, Citizen Bob and millions more, would like you to hear THEIR call.
Before I tell you more about Citizen Bob, allow me to remind you of a few of the inspirational words you delivered at your inauguration. Here they are in a 31 second clip:
By Dave Lindorff
As someone who has spent nearly three frustrating years actively advocating the impeachment of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their many crimes and abuses of power, I have to admit that not only did it not happen, but that the likelihood of their being indicted and brought to trial now that they have left office is exceedingly slim.
"...in Maryland, where the most recent revelation du jour is that state police dubbed bicycle advocates seeking additional bike lanes "terrorists" and branded the DC Anti-War Network a white supremacist group.
While the country's economic infrastructure gyrates, the infrastructure to squelch political dissent quietly thrives after years of post-9/11 behind-the-scenes buttressing.
The Bush administration will long be remembered for placing the country on war footing abroad, but it should also be remembered for liberating the forces of political suppression at home.
Freed Gitmo prisoner sues U.S. for unlawful detention
From Reza Sayah | CNN
Muhammad Saad Iqbal is a free man after serving more than six years at the U.S. military’s detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — without any charge.
Now, Iqbal is suing the U.S. government for unlawful detention.
“I am angry in my heart,” Iqbal said in a recent interview. “It’s easy for the U.S. government to say, ‘There are no charges found and he’s free.’ “But who will be responsible for seven years of my life?”
His attorney in Washington, D.C., is suing the U.S. government, on behalf of Iqbal, through the federal court system.
Former U.S. attorney David Iglesias - one of nine U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration in 2006 - has a new job.
Iglesias has been hired to prosecute suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the Office of Military Commissions. He was reactivated as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve JAG corps as part of a special prosecution team for Guantanamo detainees.
Hours after taking office, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered military prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals to ask for a 120-day halt in all pending cases and a judge granted the request on Wednesday in the case against a young Canadian.
When defense lawyers did not oppose the move, a judge froze the proceedings against Canadian Omar Khadr, who was captured at age 15 and is accused of murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan.
Another judge was expected to rule as early as Wednesday in the death penalty case against five prisoners accused of plotting the September 11 hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
By Troy A. Davis
Where is the Justice for me? In 1989 I surrendered myself to the police for crimes I knew I was innocent of in an effort to seek justice through the court system in Savannah, Georgia USA. But like so many death penalty cases, that was not my fate and I have been denied justice. During my imprisonment I have lost more than my freedom, I lost my father and my family has suffered terribly, many times being treated as less than human and even as criminals. In the past I have had lawyers who refused my input, and would not represent me in the manner that I wanted to be represented. I have had witnesses against me threatened into making false statements to seal my death sentence and witnesses who wanted to tell the truth were vilified in court.
By Dave Lindorff
Maybe symbolism is just symbolism, but the optimist in me says that Barack Obama's invitation to former Communist and life-long political activist Pete Seeger (along with Bruce Springstein and 89-year-old Pete's full-throated grandson Tao) to sing Woody Guthrie's anthem This Land is Your Land, and the fact that the once blacklisted folk legend chose to do not just the feel-good, approved-for-public-school-music-class-use verses, but all the verses, including Woody's long-censored "commie" verses, and that Obama was right there singing those verses along with the rest of the million people on the Mall, has to mean something.
The Supreme Court has recently watered down the exclusionary rule in a decision that has affirmed a conviction even where there was a bad warrant and faulty arrest. Now evidence obtained through negligence will be admissable, meaning that police have less reason to be careful in their investigations, searches and arrests.
The exclusionary rule is not included explicitly in the Fourth Amendment, but it is one of the few ways the amendment has any teeth. If there are no consequences for prosecution when police trample on our rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, police can be expected to face less pressure from district attorneys to obey Constitutional limits on their searches.
Rev. Gene Robinson Prayer Kicks off Inaugural Events
Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.
The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one.
By Dave Lindorff
The calls for a reckoning for the criminals of the Bush/Cheney administration are growing by the day, as the final few days of the Bush presidency tick down, and as new evidence of their crimes keep pouring out of the deflating gas bag that was the Bush White House.
For years, the Democrats in Congress, with a few notable exceptions, have sat on their hands, allowing the ongoing destruction of the Constitution, of the US military, of the nation’s reputation, and of the rule of law, as well as of the institution of Congress itself, by a cabal of Republicans in the White House, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, who have sought to establish an executive-led government that answered only to itself.
Atheists United of Los Angeles has become the first Southern California organization to join the lawsuit, Newdow v. Roberts, asking to prohibit prayers at President-elect Obama’s inauguration. “If ever there was a person who demonstrated the wisdom of our founders in keeping the divisiveness of religion out of our united government, it is the Reverend Rick Warren,” AU President Bobbie Kirkhart said. The suit also asks that Chief Justice John Roberts administer the oath as written in the Constitution, and not add “So help me God,” as recent Chief Justices have done.
By David Swanson
Here's a columnist in Media General newspapers named Scott Hollifield ridiculing Raed Jarrar's settlement that gave him $240,000 as compensation for having been thrown off an airplane for looking middle-eastern and wearing a t-shirt with Arabic words on it. This is an on-going problem. A whole family was thrown off an airplane at National Airport in Washington, D.C., a couple of weeks ago because they looked middle-eastern and one of them said to another that they should sit in the safest seats. Now, it's possible that a $240,000 penalty would be enough to change the behavior of an airline if repeated a few times, but this money is coming from the federal government, which now throws around trillions like they were millions. The purpose of the penalty is not to measure the suffering, although that should not be mocked. While Mr. Hollified may or may not have felt bad when he was accused of being a biker, I have no doubt that Raed, who works night and day to save lives, felt physically ill when accused of trying to destroy lives. The purpose is to end the discrimination. Raed was not, like Hollifield, offered the opportunity to turn his shirt inside out and remain on the flight. He was removed under suspicion of wanting to engage in mass-murder. So was that entire family. So are others, quite frequently, at airports and elsewhere in this country. Dredging up a petty offense from your drunken past with which to mock the victims of official and widespread discrimination is something only a Media General columnist or perhaps George W. Bush would think of.
Lt Col Darrel Vandeveld gives his first interview since quitting the US military after witnessing mistreatment of inmates and crucial evidence being withheld from defence lawyers at Guantanamo Bay. Security correspondent Gordon Corera reports.
Or, Praise for Those Defending Rights and Liberties in the “War on Terror”
A Talking Dog/Andy Worthington co-production
Andy suggested that he and I team up on a top ten list of what we felt after at least seven years of winter in the American judicial system, when we now have some semblance of the sun breaking through. And so, we have nominated ten cracks in the judicial ceiling last year, from all levels of the judiciary, and, in one case, from a foreign court.