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Administration Makes Progress on Resettling Detainees
By Peter Finn | Washington Post
The Obama administration has secured commitments from nearly a dozen countries willing to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay and is increasingly confident about its ability to transfer a large majority of the prisoners who have been cleared for release, according to U.S. and foreign officials.
Six European Union countries -- Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain -- have accepted or publicly agreed to take detainees. Four E.U. countries have privately told the administration that they are committed to resettling detainees, and five other E.U. nations are considering taking some, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
Two E.U. countries will soon send delegations to the U.S. military prison in Cuba to assess detainees held there.
The administration's progress in resettling the approximately 80 detainees cleared for release so far could ease the politics and logistics of moving terrorism suspects to American soil. Some lawmakers fiercely oppose bringing any detainees to the United States, but a substantially reduced detainee population could bolster the administration's effort to secure a prison location in this country. Read more.
Some 500 tons of donations of medical equipment which flooded the Strip after Israel’s military offensive ended on 18 January sits idle in warehouses. Few donors consulted the health ministry or aid agencies working in Gaza to find out what provisions were needed. According to the health ministry, 20 percent of the donated medications had expired. WHO said much of the equipment sent was old and unusable due to a lack of spare parts.
Arafat Hamdona, 20, has been confined to the cancer unit of As-Shifa, Gaza’s primary hospital, since he was diagnosed with maxillary skin tumours in June 2008. Red lesions protrude from his face, his features are distorted and his eyes swollen shut.
In April, Arafat was permitted to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem where he received three series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. He was scheduled to return for further treatment, but has not been granted permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza.
“He is only given pain killers,” said Arafat’s father, Faraj Hamdona, explaining that that is all As-Shifa has to offer.
According to a July 2009 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Jerusalem, Gaza doctors and nurses do not have the medical equipment to respond to the health needs of the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip.
Q&A: "Punishment Has to Be Top Priority in U.S. Military"
Catherine Makino interviews Ann Wright, retired U.S. army colonel | IPSNews
Ann Wright is a former U.S. diplomat who served in the military for 29 years.
She was a deputy ambassador in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Mongolia and Micronesia. She is one of three U.S. diplomats who publicly resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.
She is currently in Japan speaking around the country about eradicating military violence against civilians, including sexual assault and rape by the military. Before she arrived in Japan she went to the Pacific island of Guam with a delegation.
Wright spoke to IPS on U.S. plans to build a military base in Guam, sexual assault by U.S. soldiers on Japanese women and girls and how groups in Japan work with their counterparts in the U.S. to stop this violence.
IPS: A U.S. military base in Guam could result in the redeployment of more than 35,000 people there. What did you say in Guam?
ANN WRIGHT: That our delegation is here in solidarity with the people of Guam in terms of the movement of 8,000 U.S. marines from Okinawa to Guam.
That the people of Japan, particularly the people on Okinawa, have been working very hard to remove some of the extensive military forces. Now, the U.S. military seem to be coming to this lovely island.
The Okinawans certainly understand that whenever the U.S. military lands somewhere, it leaves a very large footprint. They all know it very well, because much of their land is already occupied by the U.S. military.
In Guam they have been seeing their own lands being taken from them. Read more.
What is a Voting Bloc?
A voting bloc is a group of people who vote together in support of a specific issue or common concern.
Gain national single payer health care for all citizens. Demand that your elected officials support H.R. 676 & S.703 the national single payer health care reform bills. Read more.
Dem-GOP Split on Health Care Goes Beyond Public Option
Senate's No. 2 Republican Opposes Guaranteed Issue and Community Rating of Health Insurance
By Teddy Davis | ABCNews
If you were to listen to most coverage of the health-care debate, you would be excused for thinking that the public option is the only significant difference between the parties.
Republicans and Democrats are at loggerheads on a far broader set of issues.
The distance between the parties' leaders on health care was made clear on Tuesday when the No. 2 Republican in the Senate held a conference call with reporters.
Asked by ABC News about a package of insurance market reforms that have been endorsed not only by President Obama but also by the insurance industry, Sen. Jon Kyl came out against all three proposals.
In particular, the Arizona Republican signaled that he opposes requiring insurance companies nationwide to provide coverage without regard to pre-existing conditions; requiring them to charge everyone the same rate regardless of health status; and requiring all Americans to carry health insurance. Read more.
Health Care Wanted: Dead or Alive
By Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH | Tuesday, 18 August 2009
The masquerade is over! The "public option" is ... dead.
Health care reform is now a private option: WHICH FOR PROFIT INSURANCE COMPANY DO YOU WANT? You have to choose. And you have to pay. If you have a low income, under HR3200 government will subsidize the private insurance companies and you will still have to pay premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
The Administration plan requires that everyone must have health insurance, so it is delivering tens of millions of new "customers" to the insurance companies. Health care? Not really. Insurance care! Absolutely. Cost controls? No chance.
You will next hear talk about "co-ops." The truth is that insurance company campaign contributions have co-opted the public interest.
I need your help to spread the word and rally the nation around true healthcare reform which covers everyone and maintains fiscal integrity without breaking our nation's bank! Your contribution will empower our efforts to continue to fight for the single-payer, not-for-profit health care bill, HR676 "Medicare for All," which I co-authored with John Conyers...The bill now has 85 sponsors in the House.
The hotly-debated HR3200, the so-called "health care reform" bill, is nothing less than corporate welfare in the guise of social welfare and reform. It is a convoluted mess. The real debate which we should be having is not occurring.
Removing the "public option" from a public bill paid for by public money is not in the public interest. What is left is a "private option" paid for with public money. Why should public money be spent on a private option which does not guarantee 100% coverage nor have any cost controls? A true public option would provide 30% savings immediately which would then cover the 1/3rd of the population who presently have no healthcare.
Unfortunately, under HR3200, the Government is choosing winners and losers in the private sector; proposing to spend public funds on subsidizing insurance companies who make money not providing health care. This process will insure only one thing - the expansion of profits. Gone is the debate over cost. Read more.
Religious and Grassroots Leaders Urge Clinton to Suspend Military Base Talks with Colombia Bases
deal “presents enormous dangers for entire hemisphere”
For Immediate Release
Over one hundred religious, national, community organizations and leaders and academics today called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia,” a plan that has generated a swell of protest among Latin American countries, including Colombia, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the hemisphere.
“It is rational for regional leaders to see the installation of several U.S. military sites in Colombia as a potential threat to their security,” the groups said, because of U.S. support for trans-border attacks from Colombia, reported violations of the expiring base agreement with Ecuador, a Pentagon statement that it seeks access for “contingency operations” in the region, and the painful history of U.S. military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“To broaden relationships with South America and value respect for human rights, the United States should not create a fortress in Colombia in concert with the region’s worst rights violators, the Colombian military,” the letter said.
“A fight, a fight . . .”
Oh Lord. From what depths did this story come? This was the power of the peace circle, pulling something out of me beyond any known zone of emotional safety.
There were five or six of us, in a small breakout group, challenging one another with the deepest puzzles of our lives. Most of the people in this classroom, at a high school on the West Side of Chicago, were either teachers or connected in some way to the city’s schools and young people, as social workers, counselors or community activists. One of the participants was a school security guard. I was on the edge of all this — a “peace journalist” (as I call myself), investigating the future of nonviolent conflict resolution, restorative justice and education itself.
I’ve been aware of the restorative justice movement here in Chicago for a number of years now — this movement that pushes justice into a new realm, beyond revenge, punishment and isolation, to the healing of broken relationships and the building of peace in schools, workplaces and communities. It is common sense itself, turning conflict into the opportunity to discover who we really are. What’s more, it’s cost-effective, which may be why our cash-strapped and desperate school systems are slowly, warily embracing the process.
But it’s not easy. We have to get to know each other and start figuring out how to work together as equals. And this is the point of the peace circle, the wheel that churns at the center of restorative justice and drives everything. How radical: We’re all equal, we all belong here, we are all invaluable to the whole that is slowly finding form. Read more.
ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT WISCONSIN’S FORT MCCOY CLAIM FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND POSSE COMITATUS VIOLATIONS BY ARMY POLICE - “A VIRTUAL KIDNAPPING,” SAYS ATTORNEY...
For Immediate Release | August 18, 2009
Four peace activists who were arrested and jailed by Department of the Army Police at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin at an antiwar protest on August 9, are consulting with attorneys working for the Mass Defense Committee of the National Lawyers Guild to explore possible legal responses to what they charge is their false imprisonment and various violations of posse comitatus laws that restrict the military from acting as civilian police.
The nonviolent protest occurred on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki as more than 50 participants of the “Walk for Peace” a three day thirty mile march calling for the end of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing home all National Guard troops and the abolition of nuclear weapons ended their journey at the gates of Fort McCoy. Fort McCoy is a military training center from which National Guard units from around the United States are deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Walk for Peace was sponsored by several regional and national organizations, including Nukewatch, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Madison Pledge of Resistance, and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.
Nine activists who carried their protest onto the base were issued citations for a federal petty offense requiring them to appear in court at a later date. Usually one charged with a minor offense and issued a citation is immediately released pending a later court appearance but in this case, military authorities released five of the nine but continued to detain Bonnie Urfer of Luck, Wisconsin, Alice Gerard of Grand Island, New York, Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa and Joy First of Madison, Wisconsin, explaining to them that they were going to be jailed because they had each been apprehended at previous protests at the Fort.
The President Exhibits Crazy Speech Patterns
By Cindy Sheehan | Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
Please join us on Martha's Vineyard from August 26th-30th to demonstrate to the world that there are still some people here in America who want peace no matter who's inhabits the Oval Office.
As I listened to clips of Obama's speech to the VFW on August 17th, 2009, I was wondering if his speechwriters were on vacation and they just recycled an old Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice speech.
While the so-called left is focused on the health care debacle and is allowing the so-called right to define the debate when it should be: Medicare for all, and all for Medicare; Obama and his neocon foreign policy team are preparing for a decades long, bloody foray in Af-Pak.
As Yael T. Abouhalkah, an editorial writer for the Kansas City Star, put it:
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will spend the early days of the August legislative recess wining and dining powerful corporate and political figures.
Pelosi will host a two-day “issues conference” for 170 elite guests, starting Friday at her multi-million dollar mansion in San Francisco’s exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood, Politico's John Bresnahan reports. “The following day, Pelosi will shepherd her guests to a Napa Valley winery with buildings designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry; the speaker and her husband, investor Paul Pelosi, own a nearby vineyard worth between $5 million and $25 million, according to her annual financial disclosure report,” he writes.
Bresnahan notes that the event is not a fundraiser, but a “donor maintenance” event, in which top contributors to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will be given the chance to rub elbows with leading Democratic Party insiders. These include top Obama adviser David Axelrod; Obama economic adviser Mark Zandi (who served as economic adviser to John McCain in the 2008 elections); media pundit and former Clinton adviser James Carville; Rep. George Miller of California, who chairs the Education and Labor Committee; Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey, of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
To receive an invitation to the event, it is enough to have donated $30,400 to the DCCC during the last election cycle, a figure that also happens to be the maximum allowable contribution to a national party committee. Read more.
The coffin of Britain's last World War I infantry veteran, Harry Patch, is carried away after his memorial service at Wells Cathedral in Wells, England, Thursday, August 6, 2009. As a mark of reconciliation, soldiers from Britain, Belgium, France, and Germany walked behind the hearse carrying the coffin as it was driven through Wells, where thousands of people lined the streets to watch the funeral procession of Patch, who died at age 111, and who was a veteran of the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
On July 25, Harry Patch, the last British veteran of World War I, died, marking the passing of an entire generation of veterans of the so-called "war to end all wars." What was most remarkable about Patch’s experience is that he came to believe that what he and his fellow soldiers had done so proudly in their youth had been in vain. At a remembrance ceremony on November 11, 2007, Patch explained:
Today is not for me. It is for the countless millions who did not come home with their lives intact. They are the heroes. It is also important we remember those who lost their lives on both sides."
Patch didn’t talk about the war for 80 years, but he came to believe the casualties were not justified.
I met someone from the German side and we both shared the same opinion: we fought, we finished and we were friends.
"It wasn't worth it."
Human Rights Watch: Iraqi Gays Tortured and Killed
Gay men in Iraq targeted in brutal campaign of torture and murder, human rights group says
By Kim Gamel, Associated Press Writer | ABCNews
Militiamen are torturing and killing gay Iraqi men with impunity in a systematic campaign that has spread from Baghdad to several other cities, a prominent human rights group said in a report.
Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to act urgently to stop the abuses, warning that so-called social cleansing poses a new threat to security even as other violence recedes.
The bodies of several gay men were found in Baghdad's main Shiite district of Sadr City earlier this year with the Arabic words for "pervert" and "puppy" — considered derogatory terms for homosexuals in Iraq — written on their chests. Read more.
Wait for it . . . “I don't think this bill is worth passing without a public option,” said former DNC chairman Howard Dean.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: “Ultimately, if the president decides he’s going to go with a reform effort that doesn’t include a public option, what he will have done is spent a ton of political capital, riled up an incredibly angry right-wing base that’s been told this is a plot to kill Grandma, and he will have achieved something that doesn’t change health care very much and that doesn’t save us very much money and won’t do much for the American people.
May need to recast this line: “At this point, all that stands in the way of universal health care in America are the greed of the medical-industrial complex, the lies of the right-wing propaganda machine, and the gullibility of voters who believe those lies,” Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times column. Read more.
Our nation is now engaged in a great debate about the future of health care in America. And over the past few weeks, much of the media attention has been focused on the loudest voices. What we haven’t heard are the voices of the millions upon millions of Americans who quietly struggle every day with a system that often works better for the health-insurance companies than it does for them.
These are people like Lori Hitchcock, whom I met in New Hampshire last week. Lori is currently self-employed and trying to start a business, but because she has hepatitis C, she cannot find an insurance company that will cover her. Another woman testified that an insurance company would not cover illnesses related to her internal organs because of an accident she had when she was 5 years old. A man lost his health coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because the insurance company discovered that he had gallstones, which he hadn’t known about when he applied for his policy. Because his treatment was delayed, he died.
I hear more and more stories like these every single day, and it is why we are acting so urgently to pass health-insurance reform this year. I don’t have to explain to the nearly 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance how important this is. But it’s just as important for Americans who do have health insurance.
There are four main ways the reform we’re proposing will provide more stability and security to every American. Read more.
Bowing to Republican pressure, President Barack Obama's administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.
Facing mounting opposition to the overhaul, administration officials left open the chance for a compromise with Republicans that would include health insurance cooperatives instead of a government-run plan. Such a concession probably would enrage Obama's liberal supporters but could deliver a much-needed victory on a top domestic priority opposed by GOP lawmakers.
Officials from both political parties reached across the aisle in an effort to find compromises on proposals they left behind when they returned to their districts for an August recess. Obama had sought the government to run a health insurance organization to help cover the nation's almost 50 million uninsured, but he never made it a deal breaker in a broad set of ideas that has Republicans unified in opposition. Read more.
"Mad as Hell Doctors" Embark on Cross Country Care-A-Van to Demand Single-Payer from Congress - Join The Movement!
Hear practicing physicians tell why they support single-payer health care reform. Runs 40 minutes: consider it your workout time.
Frustrated with the health care 'options' coming out of Washington, D.C., six "Mad as Hell" Oregon physicians are taking an unprecedented road trip across America to lobby Congress for a single-payer health care system.
Called a "Care-A-Van," these road-tripping Oregon physicians will leave in a used motor home from Portland, Oregon on September 8th, inviting doctors and ordinary citizens from other states to join them on their twenty-city tour across the country. Join the Care-A-Van. Their journey will culminate in a D.C.-based event on September 30th, scheduled to take place on the steps of Congress. Demonstrating with the doctors will be thousands of fellow 'Mad as Hell' single-payer advocates, all adorned with the movement's new symbol - the white ribbon. Their demand: Single-Payer Now!