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John Conyers In Support Of Universal Health Care

John Conyers in support of Universal Health Care. Washington, DC 5-13-09

Health Care or Insurance Care - Take Your Pick - Here's What You Can Do!

Health Care or Insurance Care - Take Your Pick - Here's What You Can Do!
By Rep. Dennis Kucinich

The President's health care policy speech was brilliant but when you get into the details another picture emerges. Unfortunately, at this point, the proposal outlined last night is the ultimate corporate giveaway. It's not health care, it’s insurance care. As many as thirty million new customers for an insurance industry which makes money not providing health care. The only way this country will see true health is by investing in real health care. That is the essence of HR676, the single payer bill.

The President opened his speech speaking of how we have solved the economic crisis - how? By rewarding those who caused the crash! Is this the way we solve the health care crisis? Rewarding the insurance companies? Helping insurance and pharmaceutical stock to soar, propping up markets while skimping on health care? The very same system which caused the health care crisis is being rewarded with the guarantee of tens of millions of new customers mandated - by law - to have health care. The latest plan rewards the very companies that have denied treatment, denied care, denied drug coverage while their profits grow daily.

The only way this country will see true sustainable economic recovery is through investment in the real economy, priming the pump through job creation. The only way this country will see true health is by investing in real health care.

The "public option" has been relegated to insignificance. What we will now get is yet another "private option", not a public option, because single-payer is "off the table." We the people deserve better. We have been faced with general warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan - multi-trillion dollar ballouts for arms merchants, $12 trillion in bailouts for Wall Street, bailouts to coal and nuclear industries, and now proposed huge subsidies for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. What's wrong with this picture? Everything!

Let's Save The Status Quo!

Brought to you by Billionaires for Wealthcare, a grassroots network of health insurance CEOs, HMO lobbyists, talk-show hosts, and others profiting off of our broken health care system. We'll do whatever it takes to ensure another decade where your pain is our gain. After all, when it comes to healthcare, if we ain't broke, why fix it?

It's Simple: Medicare for All

It's Simple: Medicare for All
By George S. McGovern | Washington Post

We know that Medicare has worked well for half a century for those of us over 65. Why does it become "socialized medicine" when we extend it to younger Americans?

For many years, a handful of American political leaders -- including the late senator Ted Kennedy and now President Obama -- have been trying to gain passage of comprehensive health care for all Americans. As far back as President Harry S. Truman, they have urged Congress to act on this national need. In a presentation before a joint session of Congress last week, Obama offered his view of the best way forward.

But what seems missing in the current battle is a single proposal that everyone can understand and that does not lend itself to demagoguery. If we want comprehensive health care for all our citizens, we can achieve it with a single sentence: Congress hereby extends Medicare to all Americans.

Those of us over 65 have been enjoying this program for years. I go to the doctor or hospital of my choice, and my taxes pay all the bills. It's wonderful. But I would have appreciated it even more if my wife and children and I had had such health-care coverage when we were younger. I want every American, from birth to death, to get the kind of health care I now receive. Removing the payments now going to the insurance corporations would considerably offset the tax increase necessary to cover all Americans.

I don't feel as though the government is meddling in my life when it pays my doctor and hospital fees. There are some things the government does that I don't like -- most notably getting us into needless wars that cost many times what health care for all Americans would cost. Investing in the health of our citizens will enhance the well-being and security of the nation. Read more.

Doctors on Coverage — Physicians’ Views on a New Public Insurance Option and Medicare Expansion

Doctors on Coverage — Physicians’ Views on a New Public Insurance Option and Medicare Expansion
By Salomeh Keyhani, M.D., M.P.H., and Alex Federman, M.D., M.P.H. | NEJM

In the past few months, a key point of contention in the health care reform debate has been whether a public health insurance option should be included in the final legislation. Although polls have shown that 52 to 69% of Americans support such an option,1 the views of physicians are unclear. Physicians are critical stakeholders in health care reform and have been influential in shaping health policy throughout the history of organized medicine in the United States.2

The voices of physicians in the current debate have emanated almost exclusively from national physicians’ groups and societies. Like any special-interest group, these organizations claim to represent their members (and often nonmembers as well). The result is a well-established understanding of the interests of physicians’ societies but little, if any, understanding of views among physicians in general. Read more.

Corporate Corruption Killing America

Corporate Corruption Killing America
by Joel S. Hirschhorn | Media With Conscience

Anyone smart and strong enough to fight delusional thinking and who pays attention to current events should clearly see that corporate corruption of the US political system is so pervasive and powerful that there will be no genuine reform of both the health care and financial sectors.

I always believed that president Obama was just a different color corrupt politician who was subservient to the two-party plutocracy. His so-called reform efforts and ludicrous federal deficit spending should disappoint all his non-delusional supporters.

For health reform the only genuine and sensible reform legislation should have been not much more than a single sentence mandating that every American has a right to full Medicare coverage. Period. End of story. True reform. True universal health insurance.

Let the health insurance industry sell their garbage to those choosing it over Medicare and as supplemental insurance, as is done today, to cover what Medicare does not. The one major reason why the US spends more of its wealth on health care than any other nation, but with lousy results for the population as a whole is that so many Americans and their employers buy costly private health insurance. Some things essential for human survival require government programs, like police and fire protection. The overwhelming opinion of those in Medicare is very positive. In fact it is far more positive than those using private health insurance.

But the health insurance industry and others have successfully corrupted Congress and brainwashed much of the population to fear true reforms. Sure, Congress will pass some legislation that Obama will sign and they all will claim victory. But the nation will not get true reforms and health care spending will continue to rise and bankrupt the nation. Read more.

Real ‘Norma Rae’ Dead Of Cancer After BattleWith Health Insurer

Real ‘Norma Rae’ dead of cancer after battle with health insurer
By Daniel Tencer | PuppetGov

Insurers’ delays are ‘almost ... like murder,’ Sutton said.

The woman whose life inspired the 1979 film Norma Rae has died of cancer after struggling with her health insurance company, which had delayed her treatment.

Crystal Lee Sutton was 68. She had struggled for several years with meningioma, a form of brain cancer.

She became a hero to the labor movement in the 1970s, when she took on her employer, a North Carolina textile plant, and unionized the factory floor. Her story became famous nationwide in 1975 after New York Times reporter Hank Leiferman wrote Crystal Lee: A Woman of Inheritance.

In 1979, her story was turned into the movie Norma Rae, a thinly-veiled fictional adaptation of Sutton’s struggle to unionize the J.P. Stevens plant in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Sally Field won an Oscar for her portrayal of the character inspired by Sutton.

As Daily Kos blogger hissyspit points out, last year Sutton gave an interview to the press where she described a struggle with her health insurer over treatment. The Times-News in Burlington, North Carolina, wrote in 2008:

[Sutton] went two months without possible life-saving medications because her insurance wouldn’t cover it, another example of abusing the working poor, she said. Read more.

Shareholders Urged NOT To Protest Genocide

Shareholders urged NOT to protest genocide
By Catherine Danielson

Here's a story I doubt you will hear all about anywhere else...

American Funds is one of the largest families of investment funds ($700 billion), owned by Capital Group Companies, a huge group of investment management companies. There was a shareholder proposal made recently requesting the board to "institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egrigious violations of human rights."

I'm a shareholder in American Funds, so I received the proxy letter requiring me to vote on a number of proposals for the upcoming board meeting (on October 27th in LA). First, there was a list of very boring-sounding proposals about electing trustees, updating this, approving that, blah blah blah. The shareholder proposal request came LAST, and it was #8. What came FIRST was this:

Obama Brings Guantánamo And Rendition To Bagram (And Not The Geneva Conventions)

Obama Brings Guantánamo And Rendition To Bagram (And Not The Geneva Conventions)
By Andy Worthington | | September 14, 2009

Following briefings by Obama administration officials (who declined to be identified), both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported yesterday that the government is planning to introduce a new review system for the 600 or so prisoners held at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, which will, for the first time, allow them to call witnesses in their defense.

On paper, this appears to be an improvement on existing conditions at the prison, but a close inspection of the officials’ statement reveals that the proposed plans actually do very little to tackle the Bush administration’s wayward innovations regarding the detention of prisoners in wartime, and, moreover, the officials also provided the shocking news that prisoners are currently being rendered to Bagram from other countries.

Reform at Bagram is certainly needed. Until 2007, there was, as the Post explained, “no formal process to review prisoner status,” and, as District Court Judge John D. Bates noted in April, the system that was then put in place — consisting of Unlawful Enemy Combatant Review Boards — “falls well short of what the Supreme Court found inadequate at Guantánamo” (in Boumediene v. Bush, the June 2008 ruling granting the prisoners constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights), being both “inadequate” and “more error-prone” than the notoriously inadequate and error-prone system of Combatant Status Review Tribunals that was established at Guantánamo to review the prisoners’ cases.

Revealing the chronic deficiencies of the review system at Bagram, Judge Bates quoted from a government declaration which stated that the UECRBs at Bagram do not even allow the prisoners to have a “personal representative” from the military in place of a lawyer (as at Guantánamo), and that “Bagram detainees represent themselves,” and added, with a palpable sense of incredulity:

Detainees cannot even speak for themselves; they are only permitted to submit a written statement. But in submitting that statement, detainees do not know what evidence the United States relies upon to justify an “enemy combatant” designation — so they lack a meaningful opportunity to rebut that evidence. [The government’s] far-reaching and ever-changing definition of enemy combatant, coupled with the uncertain evidentiary standards, further undercut the reliability of the UECRB review. And, unlike the CSRT process [which was followed by annual review boards], Bagram detainees receive no review beyond the UECRB itself. Read more.

Cheney and Rumsfeld's 'Close Friend' Throws Out Suit Against Alleged Abu Ghraib Torturers

Cheney and Rumsfeld's 'Close Friend' Throws Out Suit Against Alleged Abu Ghraib Torturers
By Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports

On September 11, the US appeals court for the District of Columbia announced in a 2-1 decision that it was throwing out a lawsuit against CACI International and L-3 Communications Titan unit, which are being sued by Iraqi civilians for their alleged role in the torture and abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. The companies provided interrogators at the prison at the height of the abuses there. The suit alleges that employees of the companies conspired with U.S. Army reservist Charles Graner, who was convicted of prisoner abuse on January 14, 2005 and is currently serving 10 years at Fort Leavenworth, and others to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Several of the plaintiffs are Iraqis whose torture was depicted in graphic photos revealed over the past several years.

The judge who wrote the majority opinion, Laurence H. Silberman, said: “During wartime, where a private service contractor is integrated into combatant activities over which the military retains command authority, a tort claim arising out of the contractor’s engagement in such activities shall be preempted.”

The decision was swiftly celebrated by the private security industry. “The court’s decision today is an important step toward resolving all legal matters regarding the company’s mission and duties in Iraq,” Jody Brown, executive vice president for public relations at CACI, said in a statement. “We have said from day one that these lawsuits are completely without merit and designed to pursue a political agenda.” Read more.

Activists Demand that Torture Lawyer Resign

Activists Demand that Torture Lawyer Resign
By: Laury Kenton, Photographs by Elliot Stoller | Seattle Indymedia Center

On September 3rd, a dozen or so people demonstrated outside of the Seattle Federal Courthouse, calling for Bybee's impeachment. The action was sponsored by Washington For Impeachment, PDA, World Can't Wait, Backbone Campaign, Code Pink, and Eastside Fellowship of Reconciliation. The action was scheduled for 10:00-12:30 on a Thursday, so (not unexpectedly) the demonstrators were out numbered by Homeland Security forces. In addition to the usual courthouse security, there were 7 white vans parked near the entrance, each containing uniformed, armed guards. The Backbone Campaign brought a large paper mache statue of Justice. Others held signs showing pictures of Bybee's torture victims.

Although torture is illegal under both United States and international law, George W. Bush relied upon Jay Bybee and other lawyers to construct the legal grounds for allowing the president and his representatives to torture at will.

As an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, Bybee released memos that authorized torture under the guise of "enhanced interrogation techniques". These techniques were used at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other places. Bybee's torture memos rejected the United Nations Convention Against Torture as too broad. He championed a new litmus test for torture -- the intentional infliction of permanent injury or death.

These memos redefined behavior such as threats of execution against detainees and their families, threats to rape a detainee's female relatives, beatings, and waterboarding as permissible behavior. A few months after submitting the torture memos, Bybee was given a lifetime appointment to one of the top judicial benches in the country.

The Bybee Torture Memo was written in August of 2002, but it was only revealed to the public on April 16, 2009, after years of litigation. Upon its release, the New York Times called on Congress to impeach federal judge Jay Bybee. In an editorial, the New York Times declared that Bybee was, "unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. " In a similar vein, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman has also asked, "Why should a suspected war criminal serve as a federal judge?"

Despite the many displays of public outrage, little has changed since Bybee's memos were exposed. In an April 25, 2009, Washington Post article, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) said: "If the Bush administration and Mr. Bybee had told the truth, he never would have been confirmed," and that "the decent and honorable thing for him to do would be to resign". Four days later, Senator Leahy sent a letter to Judge Jay S. Bybee inviting him to testify before the Judiciary Committee, however, Bybee did not have the necessary manners -- or decency -- to respond to the invitation. No federal judge has ever been impeached for conduct that took place before taking the bench. So far, the senate has been unwilling to break that precedent.

Immune to criticism, Bybee sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Open Letter to President Obama on Afghanistan

Mark Crispin Miller wrote:

Here's an open letter to Obama, from a rightist group including (along with the ambitious Sarah
Palin) members of the PNAC gang that pushed for the invasion of Iraq. Just as, in 1998, they
urged Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, then got their way with Bush & Co. (Dick Cheney being one
of them), they're now demanding that this president "fully resource the effort in Afghanistan."

They're pushing him like this because of rising public (and, therefore, congressional) opposition to the Bush war in Afghanistan. So who will win this time? Will they prevail again, despite the
vast catastrophe they brought down on Iraq (a nightmare that continues)? Or will it, somehow, be the rest of us? ("The rest of us" includes an ever-growing number of our troops.)

Whatever you can do to tell Obama that this war is an atrocious loser, do it loud and clear, and do it now.


Open Letter to President Obama on Afghanistan

Letter From Kabul: After The Election

Letter from Kabul: after the election
by Zaher Wahab | Oregon Live | Submitted by Michael Munk |

Editor's note: Lewis & Clark College professor Zaher Wahab is a native of Afghanistan who has been returning every year since 2002 to help rebuild the country's higher education system. Below, in a handwritten letter composed Thursday and edited for clarity, he describes life in Afghanistan following the Aug. 20 election. Read more of his experiences at his blog, called "Dispatches From Afghanistan."

Stop spending $5 billion per month on death and destruction.

Even though Kabul looks like a city under siege -- with thousands of heavily armed Afghan-NATO-ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] forces everywhere -- there is little to no security.

Two days ago, insurgents rocketed the city, killing a family of four, and a suicide bomber drove to the inner gate of the heavily protected Kabul military-civilian airport, killing and injuring several. There is fighting in the south, east, north and west of the country. Two-thirds of the country is considered unsafe by the U.N. and the Afghan Ministry of Interior. I have irregular Internet access and electricity at Kabul Education University. And we are told to keep a low profile and avoid crowds. I am not allowed, and would not consider, traveling to where I was born to see my mother -- about 100 miles on the main highway. I won't get out alive and would endanger the people I visit.

You heard about the bombing of the two tankers in Kunduz, in the north at 2:30 a.m. last Friday, killing at least 125 people, mostly civilians. And you probably read about the killing of Afghan journalist Sultan Munadi, and Stephen Farrell's abduction; Farrell, a correspondent for The New York Times, was rescued alive.

Afghans of all kinds are mad as hell, both at the insurgents and all the foreign troops, which they call the occupiers, who behave worse than the Red Army in the 1980s. Read more.

Yemeni Girl, 12, Dies In Painful Childbirth

Yemeni girl, 12, dies in painful childbirth | CNN

A 12-year-old Yemeni girl, who was forced into marriage, died during a painful childbirth that also killed her baby, a children's rights group said Monday.

Fawziya Ammodi struggled for three days in labor, before dying of severe bleeding at a hospital on Friday, said the Seyaj Organization for the Protection of Children.

"Although the cause of her death was lack of medical care, the real case was the lack of education in Yemen and the fact that child marriages keep happening," said Seyaj President Ahmed al-Qureshi.

Born into an impoverished family in Hodeidah, Fawziya was forced to drop out of school and married off to a 24-year-old man last year, al-Qureshi said.

Child brides are commonplace in Yemen, especially in the Red Sea Coast where tribal customs hold sway. Hodeidah is the fourth largest city in Yemen and an important port.

More than half of all young Yemeni girls are married off before the age of 18 -- many times to older men, some with more than one wife, a study by Sanaa University found. Read more.

OpedNews Journalist and Protesters Charged With Criminal Conspiracy After Arrest At "Army Experience Center"

By Linda Milazzo

Philadelphia, PA, September 13, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested on Saturday, September 12, 2009, at approximately 3pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA. They were released early Sunday morning and charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure To Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET) at Philadelphia Municipal Court,1301 Filbert Street.


Domestic Violence Victims Have A "Pre-Existing Condition"?

Domestic violence victims have a "pre-existing condition"?
By Maria Tchijov | SEIU

Insurance companies have used the excuse of "pre-existing conditions" to deny coverage to countless Americans. From cancer patients to the elderly suffering from arthritis, these organizations have padded their profit margins by limiting coverage to patients deemed "high risk" because of their medical condition.

But, in DC and nine other states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming, insurance companies have gone too far, claiming that "domestic violence victim" is also a pre-existing condition. Read more.

Norman Solomon Discusses Afghanistan, War, & US Policy

Norman Solomon, Institute for Public Accuracy, Exec. Dir., discusses Afghanistan, including the recent election, the war and U.S. policy towards the country. Watch it here.

Call to Action: March of the Dead Continues October 5, 2009



A Call to Action

October 2009 marks the beginning of the ninth year of war and occupation in Afghanistan. In this time, our government has waged an illegal war in Iraq, carried out torture and indefinite detention, and aided an escalation of Israeli aggression toward the People of Palestine.

A coalition is forming to demand an immediate end to these atrocities committed by our government, in our names. On October 5, 2009, we will bring our demands to the White House:

  • An immediate withdrawal of ALL U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as an immediate end to the illegal expansion of war into Pakistan.
  • Accountability for those who have committed war crimes, torture, and other illegal acts, both past and present.
  • An end to U.S. complicity in aiding the Israeli governments’ occupation of Palestine.

2 GOP-Appointed Judges Shame America

By Sherwood Ross

The federal Appeals Court decision to toss a lawsuit claiming contractors tortured detainees in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison is what you’d expect from a tyranny.

The new ruling brushes off the charges by 212 Iraqis who said they or their late husbands were abused by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib. The suit charged private security firm CACI International Inc., of Arlington, Va., of crimes inside the Baghdad hellhole.

Yet in a 2-1 ruling, the D.C. Court of Appeals said CACI “is protected by laws barring suits filed as the result of military activities during a time of war,” the Associated Press reported. This opinion was written by Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, and supported by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Bush appointee.

"During wartime, where a private service contractor is integrated into combatant activities over which the military retains command authority, a tort claim arising out of the contractor's engagement in such activities shall be pre-empted," Silberman wrote. If so, with about as many U.S.-led contract mercenaries as regular army involved in the Iraq conflict, this decision preposterously exempts some 150,000 fighters from legal action for any crimes they commit. It gives a shoot-to-kill pass to privateers such as Blackwater, whose operatives on one occasion are said to have gunned down 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians.

MI6 Officer Investigated Over Torture Allegation

MI6 officer investigated over torture allegation
By Richard Norton-Taylor and Ian Cobain | Guardian UK

Fresh questions were raised tonight about the behaviour of British officials towards terror suspects by the disclosure that MI6 had referred one of its officers to the attorney general over allegations of complicity in torture.

The unprecedented move was disclosed in a letter from David Miliband, the foreign secretary, to his Conservative shadow, William Hague. He said MI6 had acted on its own initiative, "unprompted by any accusation against MI6 or the individual concerned".

The Metropolitan police specialist crime branch said Lady Scotland, the attorney general, had asked it to investigate "the conditions under which a non-Briton was held" and the "potential involvement of British personnel".

Officials were reluctant to say anything more about the case other than it was "unrelated" to that of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who says he was tortured and ill-treated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco and Guantánamo Bay.

The police are separately investigating allegations of what the high court has called "possible criminal wrongdoing" by an MI5 officer involved in Mohamed's secret interrogation. Read more.

Dems Seek to Play Down Role of Public Option Idea

Dems Seek to Play Down Role of Public Option Idea
Democrats try to play down role of government insurance option in health care overhaul debate
By Phillip Elliott, Associated Press | ABCNews

The White House and its Democratic allies on Sunday tried to play down the role of a government insurance option in health care legislation as the party in power worked to reclaim momentum on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

His spokesman described the public option as just one way to achieve Obama's goal of providing coverage to the estimated 45 uninsured Americans without insurance. His senior adviser contended the White House was ready to accept that Congress would reject the idea, though he, too, said it was an option, not a make-or-break choice.

Congressional Democrats took care to say the idea, backed by liberals and targeted by conservatives, is not a deal breaker in a debate that has consumed Washington for the summer and shows now sign of abating.

"I think that's a reasonable way to go. But I think it's important to stay focused on what we're trying to accomplish," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

Presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs stressed Obama's commitment to choice and competition and declared the public option "a means to an end, but it is not all of health care." Read more.

Open Left Exclusive: UnitedHealth Lobbyist Announces Pelosi Fundraiser As She Begins Backing Off Public Option

Open Left Exclusive: UnitedHealth Lobbyist Announces Pelosi Fundraiser As She Begins Backing Off Public Option
By David Sirota | Open Left

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance - whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats." When "asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand - as her previous statements had indicated Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions," according to CNN. This was also corroborated by the Associated Press, and by Pelosi's own words, as quoted in those stories.

This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth's lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source - check out this OpenLeft exclusive:

Read more

9-11 and Oil

9-11 and Oil
By Cindy Sheehan | Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

Friday was the 8th anniversary since the tragedies of 9-11 and before I go forward, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of the people who were killed that day, but to also recognize that everyone in this country has suffered whether they know it or not.

On that sunny and bright morning, 8 years ago, I awoke from my sleep to learn that the first plane had hit the first tower. As the events of the day unfolded, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this event would somehow lead to the death of my oldest child Casey, who was in the Army stationed at Ft. Hood, Tx. I went into a tailspin of depression that didn’t break until I fell on the floor screaming after I found out he was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04. I wasn’t depressed anymore I was in a pain-soaked, white-hot rage.

9-11 was, of course, the defining moment of this generation. Of course, whether it was an inside job: evil Dick Cheney planning it between heart attacks in his bunker; to the “official story” (yeah, right!); the attacks were exploited to lead to, among other things: get our country militarily mired into three countries by now; torture; Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and rendition (began under the Clinton admin); USA PATRIOT ACT; military commissions act; lack of personnel and equipment to help the victims of Katrina in her aftermath; crumbling infrastructure here in America; collapsing economy; the FISA Modernization Act, etc, etc.

American Psychological Association Sees No Evil

American Psychological Association Sees No Evil | ACLU Blog

The role that psychologists played in the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies is slowly being made public. Military psychologists, with the full support of their professional organization, the American Psychological Association (APA), advised, implemented, and sometimes initiated programs that are drawing harsh criticism and calls for an independent investigation. When other national and international professional health associations withdrew their support and implicit endorsement of these policies, the APA remained steadfast in their support of the government’s illegal practices. Meanwhile many, perhaps most, members of the APA were unaware of the policies that were being carried out in their name. I shall briefly describe how the APA aided and abetted the U.S. government in Guantánamo Bay and the CIA black sites, and the steps that a number of psychologists are taking to end this unholy alliance.

In Torture and Democracy, author Darius Rejali points out that many decent professionals leave their posts when the state begins to torture, while those professionals who continue to work for the state create a “culture of impunity.” In 2002, shortly after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the American Psychological Association altered its ethics code (PDF), thereby creating it own “culture of impunity.” To a clause that read: “If psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict, ” the following sentence was added: “If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.” (emphasis added). As Kenneth Pope, a former chair of the APA’s Ethics Committee who resigned from the APA in protest over these changes and other ethical breaches, recently wrote in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, the APA’s ethics code “now runs counter to the Nuremberg Ethic.” In other words, when American psychologists are charged with unethical conduct, they can claim that they were merely following orders, just as health care professionals in Nazi Germany did when they were prosecuted at Nuremberg.

When the American Psychiatric Association overwhelmingly voted to discourage its members from participating in the interrogation process in Guantánamo Bay, Steven Behnke, the Director of Ethics for the American Psychological Association, emphasized the “unique competencies” that psychologists bring to their role in interrogations, and claimed that psychologists who help military interrogators made a valuable contribution. Furthermore, he argued, psychologists play a vital role in safeguarding the welfare of detainees.

Human rights organizations and congressional oversight committees take a very different view of this collaboration. Physicians for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and the Senate Armed Services Committee document cases of psychologists advising, and in some cases directing, the interrogation of detainees in enhanced interrogations techniques that constitute torture under international law. Read more.

Gaza's Kite Runners

Gaza´s Kite Runners
By Ramzy Baroud | American Chronicle

When seen from a distance, kites in Gaza may look quite ordinary. But while Gazan children, in many respects, are just children, their kites are hardly ordinary. Often adorned by the red, black, green and white of the Palestinian flag, Gazan children´s kites are expressions of defiance, hope and the longing for freedom.

This is hardly a cliché. People living under oppressive rules take every opportunity to express defiance, even through such symbolic ways.

Born and raised in Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, I remember my first kite. It, like most kites, carried the colors of the flag. The kite was the work of my older brother, now a successful medic in the West Bank. He obliged before my incessant cries for a kite despite my father´s objections. But why should a father object to something so seemingly harmless? Simple.

A notorious Israeli military camp and detention center was stationed on the outskirts of our refugee camp, between Nuseirat and Buraij. The military camp served multiple purposes. It was to immediately dispatch troops into our refugee camp at the first sign of protest. Further, the men stationed there guarded a nearby Jewish settlement. Finally, it also served as a temporarily prison where Palestinian activists suffered torture before being hauled off to Gaza´s central prison, or worse, Al-Nakab.

The military camp however, hardly enjoyed a moment of peace. Students and other refugees from adjacent refugee camps would descend into the Israeli military grounds, almost daily with marches; carrying flags, throwing stones and demanding that the soldiers´ depart. Of course, the soldiers didn´t oblige, and my refugee camp paid a heavy price in blood with every confrontation. Read more.

MA Uninsured Rate Has Gone UP Under Mandated Private Coverage Rule

Mass. Uninsured Rate Has Gone UP Under Mandated Private Coverage Rule
By McCamy Taylor | DemocraticUnderground

Here is another fact to add to your list of health care talking points.

Today, I received this alarming email from Physicians For a National Health Plan:

Significantly, in Massachusetts, where an individual-mandate health reform law, much like what President Obama is proposing on a national scale, was passed in 2006, at least 352,000 people, or 5.5 percent of the population, remained uninsured in 2008. That number was actually (but non-significantly) higher than the number of uninsured in 2007, before strict enforcement of the individual and employer mandates went into effect.

"The legislation championed by the president and the congressional leadership is a virtual clone of the Massachusetts plan," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). "Today's numbers show that plans that require people to buy private insurance don't work. Obama's plan to replicate Massachusetts' reform nationally risks failure on a massive scale."

Keep in mind that Massachusetts has a relatively low percent uninsured. I live in Texas, which has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation (25%!) despite being the country's second richest state and the world's 15th largest economy. If Mass was unable to make mandatory private insurance work, how on earth are the states that really need help going to get by?

Answer: they won't. Mandatory private insurance is nothing but a scam being run against the American people by private insurers who stand to make a fortune writing policies for healthy young people who will not use their insurance and older, sick folks who will be sold paper only policies that do nothing but save them from paying the fine for being uninsured.

But insurance is insurance.

Ha! An insurance policy with a two to three thousand dollar deductible sold to working class Americans will only be used in the event of a major emergency. People will not seek care for chronic problems like hypertension and diabetes, and they will not get preventive care like check ups and Pap smears. Indeed, if forced to pay a thousand dollars or more for a policy like this, folks will be even less likely to get necessary care since they will be $1000 poorer.

Universal healthcare in countries like France and Canada work--i.e. they do not break the national budget---because they are designed to encourage folks to get necessary preventive care. That makes them healthier so they are less likely to require expensive emergency care. Most of the world's industrialized countries pay less than half per person for health care (compared to the U.S.) and achieve better results in measures of public health like life expectancy and infant mortality. That is the benefit of prevention. A sane universal health plan emphasizes prevention. In contrast, our insane Congress's health plan emphasizes insurance company profits. Read more.

US Starting New System For Afghan Detainees To Challenge Their Detention

US starting new system for Afghan detainees to challenge their detention
By Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press | ABCNews

The Pentagon has begun putting into place a new program under which hundreds of prisoners being held by the military in Afghanistan will be given the right to challenge their detentions, a defense official said Sunday.

Prisoners at Bagram military base are all to be given a U.S. military official to serve as their personal representative and a chance to go before new so-called Detainee Review Boards, to have their cases considered, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be able to discuss a program that has not been formally announced.

The initiative amounts to the first time prisoners will be able to call witnesses and submit evidence in their defense. There are some 600 detainees at the facility, some who have been held for up to six years.

An order creating the review boards was signed in July by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn. Some military officers serving in Afghanistan have already been assigned to the boards and some who will serve as personal representatives have already been identified, the official said. He declined to say whether any proceedings have already been held.

The guidelines came to light as the Obama administration is reviewing Bush-era detention policies and determining where to make changes. Read more.

Mad As Hell Doctors Road Report - Day 3 - Helena MT, Headin' for Fort Collins, 4:30 PM, Civic Center Park

Sunday, September 13 Fort Collins, CO
Mad As Hell Doctors Rally
Make your voice heard - demand real health care reform!
Hosted by: Mad As Hell Doctors
Where: Civic Center Park, LaPorte Ave & Howes St., 80521
When: Sunday, September 13 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm

More in Fort Collins tomorrow, below the fold. Click "Read more."

Speaking Events

David Swanson in Fairbanks, Alaska, October 22, 2016.


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