Monday, April 21, 2014

Your Cellphone Could Be a Major Health Risk, and the Industry Could Be a Lot More Upfront About It

(AlterNet article on cellphone EMF risks follows these links re proposed legislation or regulations.)
There have been attempts in U.S. cities and states to protect against cellphone radiation. But there have been ups and downs with these attempts.
Legislation has passed in Maine, but in a March 2014 legislation review, key Democrats switched sides after the bill passed both houses and killed the bill.
Yet legislation was passed and later killed in San Francisco in May 2013.
(Of related interest: FCC finally opens review of cell phone safety standards Nine months after the FCC said it would take a closer look at its standards for cell phone safety to see if the agency needs to revise the 15-year-old guidelines, it finally opened the official inquiry. CNet, March 29, 2013)  
CNN Anderson Cooper report:

From Cellphone Radiation Digest  

Call for Action to Reduce Harm from Mobile Phone Radiation, January 24, 2013

Europe has issued a warning that users globally should heed.
The European Environment Agency published a major report today to alert governments about the need to attend to early warning signs about technology health risks, including mobile phones.
The 750-page volume, “Late Lessons from Early Warnings,” includes twenty new case studies and has major implications for policy, science and society.  Although the report was prepared by the European Environment Agency to provide guidance to the EU nations, its implications are global. 
 . . . .
Martin Blank,
The science is becoming clearer: Sustained EMF exposure is dangerous.
The following is an excerpt from  “Overpowered: What Science Tells Us About the Dangers of Cell Phones and Other Wifi-age Devices” by Martin Blank, PhD. Published by Seven Stories Press, March 2014. ISBN 978-1-60980-509-8. All rights reserved

Key excepts, but read the valuable book:
You may not realize it, but you are participating in an unauthorized experiment—“the largest biological experiment ever,” in the words of Swedish neuro-oncologist Leif Salford. For the first time, many of us are holding high-powered microwave transmitters—in the form of cell phones—directly against our heads on a daily basis.
Cell phones generate electromagnetic fields (EMF), and emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR). They share this feature with all modern electronics that run on alternating current (AC) power (from the power grid and the outlets in your walls) or that utilize wireless communication. Different devices radiate different levels of EMF, with different characteristics.
What health effects do these exposures have?
Therein lies the experiment.
 . . . .
What we know
The science to date about the bioeffects (biological and health outcomes) resulting from exposure to EM radiation is still in its early stages. We cannot yet predict that a specific type of EMF exposure (such as 20 minutes of cell phone use each day for 10 years) will lead to a specific health outcome (such as cancer). Nor are scientists able to define what constitutes a “safe” level of EMF exposure.
However, while science has not yet answered all of our questions, it has determined one fact very clearly—all electromagnetic radiation impacts living beings. As I will discuss, science demonstrates a wide range of bioeffects linked to EMF exposure. For instance, numerous studies have found that EMF damages and causes mutations in DNA—the genetic material that defines us as individuals and collectively as a species. Mutations in DNA are believed to be the initiating steps in the development of cancers, and it is the association of cancers with exposure to EMF that has led to calls for revising safety standards. This type of DNA damage is seen at levels of EMF exposure equivalent to those resulting from typical cell phone use.
The damage to DNA caused by EMF exposure is believed to be one of the mechanisms by which EMF exposure leads to negative health effects. Multiple separate studies indicate significantly increased risk (up to two and three times normal risk) of developing certain types of brain tumors following EMF exposure from cell phones over a period of many years. One review that averaged the data across 16 studies found that the risk of developing a tumor on the same side of the head as the cell phone is used is elevated 240% for those who regularly use cell phones for 10 years or more. An Israeli study found that people who use cell phones at least 22 hours a month are 50% more likely to develop cancers of the salivary gland (and there has been a four-fold increase in the incidence of these types of tumors in Israel between 1970 and 2006). And individuals who lived within 400 meters of a cell phone transmission tower for 10 years or more were found to have a rate of cancer three times higher than those living at a greater distance. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated EMF—including power frequencies and radio frequencies—as a possible cause of cancer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

As Fracking-Quake Link Becomes Clearer, Ohio Requires Stricter Seismic Monitoring

In the context of increased seismic activity, Ohio is citing fracking as the "probable" cause for several earthquakes in March, 2014. This is all the more reason to have regulations against fracking. From ThinkProgress:

As Fracking-Quake Link Becomes Clearer, Ohio Requires Stricter Seismic Monitoring


Fracking was the “probable” cause of a series of small earthquakes that shook northeast Ohio last month, state officials announced on Friday. This is the first time gas drilling in Ohio and local quakes have been linked. Previous studies have only found connections between the underground injection of fracking wastewater and tremors.
In March, Houston-based Hilcorp Energy was ordered to halt work at seven wells in Poland Township, near the Pennsylvania border after two small earthquakes, 3.0 and 2.6, rattled nearby residents. With no wastewater injection sites nearby, investigators focused on whether fracking itself had caused the ground to shake, and they now believe it did.
The news came as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources released strict new guidelines for monitoring seismic activity in the state.
The rules will require companies to install seismic monitors before beginning to drill within three miles of a known fault or in an area that has experienced seismic activity greater than a 2.0 magnitude. If seismic monitors detect a quake of 1.0 or more, regulators will suspend fracking and investigate whether drilling is connected to the quake. Humans can generally feel earthquakes of magnitude 3 and above.
A recent article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out that the threshold for halting drilling operations was low enough, at magnitude 1, that the Seattle Seahawks Fans might jeopardize drilling. At the NFL playoffs, 67,000 football fans at CenturyLink Field managed to create just such a tiny quake by stamping their feet. This talking point has already been adopted by those who oppose the new rules.
[Go to the original ThinkProgress article for continuation of the story.]

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why Do Bosses Want Their Employees’ Salaries to Be Secret?

This is all about breaking unions, breaking worker solidarity and consciousness. From The Nation.
Opening excerpt.

Michelle Chen
April 11, 2014
The Nation
In a narrow vote this week, the Senate politely smothered the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have protected workers’ rights to compare and discuss their wages at work. Aimed at dismantling workplace “pay secrecy” policies, the legislation built on the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which strengthens safeguards for women and other protected groups against wage discrimination.
Asking someone at a party how much they make in a year might get you a weird look. Asking someone about their salary at work might get you fired. Seem unfair? Don’t bother complaining: Washington just once again reaffirmed the boss’s inalienable right to punish workers for talking about whether they’re being treated fairly.
In a narrow vote this week, the Senate politely smothered the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have protected workers’ rights to compare and discuss their wages at work. Aimed at dismantling workplace “pay secrecy” policies, the legislation built on the 2009 Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which strengthens safeguards for women and other protected groups against wage discrimination. Both measures aim to fill gaps in the enforcement of longstanding civil rights laws, which, half a century on, are still failing to combat the most insidious forms of discrimination—the subtle labor violations that grease the gears of economic inequality. Wage discrimination has persisted in large part because workers are routinely discouraged or outright banned from discussing compensation levels with coworkers.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would have shielded workers from retaliation if they discuss their salaries with coworkers. Employers would have had to “prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons,” according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. In addition, the bill would have closed disparities in the legal remedies available for violations of the Equal Pay Act, so workers could claim the same kinds of damages provided under other wage discrimination laws. And overall, workers would have had an easier time seeking compensation in federal court, rather than the bureaucracy of the National Labor Relations Board, which tends to yield weaker penalties.
The bill would also have directed the Labor Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to proactively gather data and investigate wage discrimination on a broader scale.
To partially offset the Senate defeat, President Obama signed two executive orders that placed similar mandates on federal contractors, but while that would cover a substantial chunk of the workforce, many millions of workers may remain effectively gagged at work.
Yet making pay fair is not just a matter of correcting payrolls. Despite all the handwringing on Capitol Hill around the oft-cited seventy-seven-cents-to-a-dollar figure, the restrictions of speech in the workplace attest to a more systemic power imbalance.
According to a 2003 study, “Over one-third of private sector employers…recently surveyed admitted to having specific rules prohibiting employees from discussing their pay with coworkers. In contrast, only about 1 in 14 employers have actively adopted a ‘pay openness’ policy,” which explicitly protects workplace discussion of wages. A 2011 survey estimated that 50 percent of workers are subject to some kind of restriction on discussing their pay with coworkers—slightly more women than men, with the largest concentration among private sector workers (about 60 percent, compared to less than 20 percent of public workers). The gaps vary along demographic lines: women workers, single parents and married childless women tend to face higher rates of these secrecy controls than do married mothers. And although civil servants generally had far lower rates of pay secrecy, the practice was more prevalent among women in the public sector.

Many of these workers will never even know that they’ve unfairly benefited from or suffered from unequal pay. Ultimately, the big winner in this game of secrecy is the boss, who profits directly from the ignorance and pliability of workers who don’t grasp their own economic situation.
So there’s a gap between what’s fair and what’s legal. Discussing wages in a private workplace isn’t technically covered by any First Amendment guarantee against censorship, but the issue of pay secrecy raises crucial questions about workers’ freedom to learn and communicate about their labor conditions.
In unionized workplaces, where there is additional protection for organizing-related activities, the National Labor Relations Board and the civil courts have consistently sided with workers, ruling that under the National Labor Relations Act, wage discussions should be considered “concerted activity for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

 . . . . 
Read the rest of the article at The Nation.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shocking Decline of Real Value of America's Minimum Wage

Alex Planes, Feb. 16, 2014 from the Motley Fool column.

It is apparent that the golden years were roughly from 1950 to 1980. The graphs show how far we have declined since the loss of industrial labor, the decline of organized labor (read here, here and here), the losses since the onset of the deregulation craze beginning in the 1970s and the onset of globalization/free trade agreements, essential background issues that the article was silent on.

The Shocking Decline of America's Real Minimum Wage in 9 Charts

Click here to access the original article, text.



Click here to access the original article, text.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Don't Forget the New Victims of NYPD Violence in the Occupy Wall Street Protests

A very good new site, Activist Post, has an article on a woman recently sexually assaulted by the NYPD, yet who the NYPD is charging with felony assault.

New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, needs to demonstrate a change and stop the New York Police Department's persecution of political dissenters and gratuitous sexual assault. He is to be applauded for changing the police department's policy regarding stop and frisk. He must extend that spirit toward reforming how the police department interacts with protestors.

Appeal to New York City public advocate Letitia James on her behalf, one Centre Street, 15h Floor, New York, NY, 10007 (212) 669-7200

Woman Faces 7 Years in Prison After Altercation With NYPD At Occupy Protest

Drop the charges against Cecily McMillan. McMillan was sexually assaulted, beaten unconscious and into seizures by NY Police, but the city is charging her with felony assault over the incident.

Cecily McMillan, image source
Kevin Zeese
Activist Post

Occupy participant Cecily McMillan is being prosecuted for felony police assault and may face up to 7 years in prison. In reality, it is the NYPD that should be on trial for their assault on McMillan. The trial has already been delayed because of the credibility of the arresting officer; however, New York City should review the case and drop all charges against McMillan.
On the Sixth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street Cecily McMillan arrived at midnight to Zuccotti Park to meet some friends and go out to celebrate her birthday. Instead, she would find herself unconscious, in seizures and badly bruised.

McMillan was not in Zuccotti to protest, but she arrived as the police began to violently break up the crowd. She felt someone grab her right breast she involuntarily swung her elbow around and hit the offender in the face. It turned out to be an undercover police officer, Grantley Bovell. She was violently arrested, knocked to the ground, unconscious and began suffering seizures while she was handcuffed. It would be 15 to 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived. Photos of McMillan show bruises from fingers that grabbed her breast, a swollen eye and other bruises.

Officer Bovell has some serious problems in his history as a police officer including alleged police abuse. As PolicyMic reports:
Officer Bovell has been accused of brutality before. He was named in a lawsuit in the Bronx Supreme Court, filed by Reginald Wakefield, a young black man who was 17 at the time, that alleges the police maliciously used an unmarked police car as a weapon to knock him off his dirt bike in the course of a pursuit. In court filings, Wakefield said his nose was broken, two teeth were knocked out and his forehead lacerated following the encounter with Bovell and other officers on March 21, 2010. The suit is still active, according to court records.
And, now it has come out that he has some serious credibility problems, as a result if he testifies his credibility will be put in doubt. The District Attorney has provided McMillan’s defense attorney, Martin Stolar, documents that show Bovell was part of 500 officers tied to the infamous 2011 Bronx ticket-fixing scandal. Stolar told PolicyMic: “He was involved and internally disciplined.”

If this case goes to trial the NYPD should be put on trial by the defense and the full embarrassment of its response to Occupy Wall Street exposed. The NYU School of Law and Fordham Law School, issued a detailed report that found that the NYPD consistently wielded excessive, aggressive force with batons, pepper spray, scooters and horses. In addition there were mass arrests that were often arbitrary, gratuitous and illegal, with most charges later dismissed. NYPD has been sued by occupy protesters resulting in settlements of $50,000, $82,000 with more still pending. NYPD abuse of protesters is a long-term problem as the 2004 protests against the RNC shows. In that case the largest settlement for police abuse in history was announced last month -- $18 million. Videos show how the NYPD randomly picked people out of crowds during the occupy protests even if they were doing nothing illegal or were even involved in the protest.

And, it seems that there was a consistent practice of New York police officers grabbing women’s breasts. As anthropologist David Graeber wrote:
Arbitrary violence is nothing new. The apparently systematic use of sexual assault against women protestors is new. I’m not aware of any reports of police intentionally grabbing women’s breasts before March 17, but on March 17 there were numerous reported cases, and in later nightly evictions from Union Square, the practice became so systematic that at least one woman told me her breasts were grabbed by five different police officers on a single night (in one case, while another one was blowing kisses.) The tactic appeared so abruptly, is so obviously a violation of any sort of police protocol or standard of legality, that it is hard to imagine it is anything but an intentional policy.
But, put all of that history of NYPD violence against citizens and sexual assaults against women aside and just look at the McMillan case. Martin Stolar points out in a video that in order for there to be a crime there must be criminal intent. McMillan did not intend to assault a police officer. Her breast was grabbed from behind by an undercover officer, she reacted involuntarily by swinging around and hitting him with her elbow. An involuntarily reaction is not intent to assault someone. If there was any intent to assault someone it came from Officer Bovell, not from Cecily McMillan.

The New York District Attorney would be wise to drop all charges against McMillan before the trial begins on March 3. With the disclosures about Bovell’s past alleged police abuse and involvement in the ticket fixing scandal, their key witness is no longer credible. The history of police violence and sexual assault against woman adds to the credibility of the allegations of McMillan against Bovell and they are supported by photographs and videos. And, finally, the facts in this case do not support a criminal prosecution as there was no criminal intent.

It is time for the criminal charges against Cecily McMillan to be dropped. The NYPD has done enough damage, the District Attorney should not be adding to these injustices.

Kevin Zeese serves as Attorney General in the Justice Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet

For more on this case see:

Justice for Cecily, the support group working for justice in the Cecily McMillan case.

Bizarre Prosecution Of Cecily McMillan For Police Assault Delayed, Popular Resistance by Kevin Zeese, February, 14, 2014.

This Occupy Activist Could Go to Prison for Standing Up to the Cop Who Grabbed Her Breast, PolicyMic by Peter Rugh, February 13, 2014.

Cecily McMillan's Occupy trial is a huge test of U.S. civil liberties. Will they survive?, The Guardian by Chase Madar, February 13, 2014.

Occupy Protester Who Suffered Seizure During Arrest Stands Accused Of Felony, The Gothamist by Christopher Robbins, February 10, 2014.

Activist Allegedly Beaten Into Unconsciousness By Police Faces 7 Years In Prison For Elbowing Cop, Think Progress by Aviva Shen, February 10, 2014.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"A Place at the Table" - Film on Hunger in America - My Favorite Line From This Trailer? ‘If Another Country Was Doing This To Our Kids, We’d Be At War.’

This movie was released last year but can now be streamed online. It's one of the best summaries of a growing problem we have in this country that is totally solvable.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kale and Thyroid Concerns


The Dark Side Of Kale (And How To Eat Around It)

The headline in The New York Times made my heart sink: Kale? Juicing? Trouble Ahead.
Confession: I’m one of those Vitamix-loving, green-smoothie worshipping, kale bandwagoners. I brim with holier-than-thou pride when my kids eat raw kale (no dressing, even!) and thick kale-laden shakes while other children snack on sugary GoGURT squeezes and suck on juice boxes.
I am not alone. Presidents and stars are kale-lovers too.
Kale, in case you haven’t noticed, is health-conscious America’s “it” vegetable. Raw, blended, sauteed or in chip or “crunch” form, it appears to be the manna of celebrities: Gwyneth and Jennifer devour it while Kevin Bacon recently declared [it's] “the age of kale.” In an astutely reported feature called Stars Who Love Kale, US Weekly quotes Bette Midler saying: “Kale is burning up the veggisphere.”
Even the Obamas dined on kale salad at their Thanksgiving feast, notes The Washington Post.
But apparently there’s trouble in cruciferous paradise.
Writing for The Times, Jennifer Berman reports on the dark side of kale, and how the health-infused, veggie Eden she’d carefully built over years began to crumble:
Imagine my shock, then, at my last physical, when my doctor told me I had hypothyroidism, common in women over 40. When I got home I looked up the condition on the Internet and found a list of foods to avoid. Kale, which I juiced every morning, tops the list, followed by broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collard greens — the cruciferous vegetables I consumed in large quantities because they are thought to prevent cancer, which runs in my family. And flax — as in the seeds — high in omega 3’s, that I sprinkled on cereal and blended in strawberry almond milk smoothies. Also forbidden: almonds and strawberries, not to mention soy, peaches, peanuts, corn, radishes, rutabaga and spinach.
My first reaction: Berman must be misguided, mistaken. Can kale possibly be bad?
Well, yes, possibly. Here’s the science-y low-down on the kale-thyroid connection from the Oregon State University Micronutrient Information site:
Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables…have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals (68). There has been one case report of an 88-year-old woman developing severe hypothyroidism and coma following consumption of an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg/day of raw bok choy for several months. Two mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The hydrolysis of some glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., progoitrin) may yield a compound known as goitrin, which has been found to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. The hydrolysis of another class of glucosinolates, known as indole glucosinolates, results in the release of thiocyanate ions, which can compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. Increased exposure to thiocyanate ions from cruciferous vegetable consumption or, more commonly, from cigarette smoking, does not appear to increase the risk of hypothyroidism unless accompanied by iodine deficiency. One study in humans found that the consumption of 150 g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function.
Teresa Fung, Sc.D., M.S.. an adjunct professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor at Simmons College in Boston, confirms the kale-thyroid link. But, she says, “normal, reasonable amounts of eating should not be a problem. A regular person [with no thyroid issues] who eats several servings of cruciferous vegetables a week should not have problems.”
Fung adds: “It’s the dose that makes a poison. If people have hypothyroidism or they’re taking thyroid medication, then they should check with their doctor. But even in this case, reasonable amounts shouldn’t be a problem. Now, if people have a tall glass of kale juice every single day, then it gets into the unknown territory.”
So, what are still-anxious kale-lovers to do? I asked Somerville health coach and psychology of eating coach Nina Manolson to offer some guidance. (She’s not a doctor, but she knows a lot about food, so keep that in mind and always check with a professional if you make major changes in your diet.)
Nina reiterated that kale is a goitergenic food – meaning that it can contribute to an enlarged thyroid – a goiter. A goiter indicates that the thyroid gland is not functioning optimally. But, she says, there are ways to have our kale and eat it too. Here, lightly edited, are her suggestions:
1. Cook Your Kale
The goitergenics properties of kale become dramatically lessened when kale — or any other cruciferous vegetable — is cooked. (Other veggies in this category include: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, and Chinese cabbage. Arugula, horse radish, radish, wasabi and watercress are also cruciferous vegetables.)
2. Eat Seaweed
Kale on its own does not increase the risk of thyroid problems. It’s a combination of factors; including potential iodine deficiency. (One of the most common causes of goiters is iodine deficiency.) Adding seaweed or another iodine rich food to your diet may, in some cases, help you get adequate iodine.
3. Throw A Brazil Nut Into Your Smoothie
Selenium can support normal iodine levels which in turn may support a healthy thyroid. A Brazil nut or two in your daily smoothie or as a topping to any dish might help keep selenium levels strong.
4. Switch Up Your Greens
Vary your greens. If you’re going to eat kale one day choose a non-cruciferous, non-goitergenic veggie dish the next, like a simple cucumber and tomato salad, or beets. There are many highly nutritious vegetables that aren’t goitergenic, including celery, parsley, zucchini, carrots and more. Our bodies need many nutrients and by eating a variety of vegetables you’ll ensure that you don’t overload on one and skip another.
Nina adds:
If you don’t have a thyroid issue, kale can and should be a delicious and healthy part of your diet because it is, indeed, a nutritional superstar with excellent credentials:
•It supports strong bones because of its high calcium content.
•It’s a potential immune booster, rich in Vitamin C
•It may protect us against cancer because it’s packed with anti-oxidants and as mentioned, it’s a cruciferous vegetable.
•It’s high in iron which can support blood and energy levels.
•And of course, it’s packed with fiber so it’s great for digestion.
All of this leaves me wishing that eating were just, well, simpler. With no arsenic in the rice and no flip-flopping guidance on milk, soy, whatever, from the experts. It reminds me (and several commenters on The Times‘ kale story) of that looming prophet of health, Woody Allen, and this scene from his film, Sleeper:
Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called “wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk.”
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or… hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy… precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Stop Citizen's United - Sign Kay Hagan's Petition vs. Citizen's United


Citizens United opened the floodgates for outside special interest groups, run by the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, to dominate the conversation around our elections. There’s no transparency. There’s no accountability. And it needs to end.
Urge Congress to reverse the effects of Citizens United — sign the petition.
Members of Congress:
It’s time we put an end to limitless corporate cash in our elections.
Elections should be about the people and their interests, not the powerful and their bank accounts.
It’s time for Congress to end the disastrous effects of Citizens United, and restore accountability and transparency to our campaign finance system.
[Your Name Here]

Daily kos, FRI NOV 15, 2013 AT 07:52 AM PST

NC-Sen: Kay Hagan (D) Highlights The Negative Effects Citizens United Has Had On North Carolina

You’ve all heard of Citizens United -- the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for Super PACs and out-of-touch special interests to spend millions of dollars in our elections with no transparency.
North Carolinians have seen the damage of all that secretive spending. According to theCenter for Public Integrity, our state judicial races in 2012 were “rocked” by the Citizens United decision. And we’ve already seen the outside interests hard at work in our race, launching attacks on TV, online, even on billboards to influence North Carolinians.
It’s not a secret to anyone: Our campaign finance system is broken. It’s far past time we took steps to fix it.
I’m joining with a group of my colleagues to call for an end to the effects of Citizens United, and we need you to join us. Can you sign the petition right now?
    *   *   *    *
Kay Hagan, junior and first term U.S. Senator from North Carolina in 2014, is in many ways one of the most progressive Democrats to come out of the Carolinas in a long time. Elected in the wake of President Obama's 2008 victory, her labor union ratings are good, and her candidacy deserves support. A Washington Post article, "Can Sen. Kay Hagan can get away with what other red state Democrats can’t?," noted her braving conservative region conventions: among other issues, she has declared her support for marriage equality.

It will be a tough campaign. Elizabeth Dole has already come out with sleaze attacks attacking her religious beliefs. But Hagan's not backing down, and has ads of her own.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sick of NPR's Pro-fracking ads on the Radio?

It might surprise you that one of NPR's biggest corporate sponsors is the American Natural Gas Alliance,
a front group for some of the worst polluters in America.

Fracking for natural gas puts America on a path toward a bleak energy future, with polluted land, flammable tap water and earthquakes.

Even worse, NPR's financial dependence on the fracking industry could be fouling its news coverage, just like fracking fouls up our air, water and climate.

Sign Environmental Action's online petition.

Please sign this important petition on globalization, Trans-Pacific Partnership from SumOfUS

Please sign this important petition on globalization from SumOfUS, SumOfUs is a movement of consumers, workers and shareholders speaking with one voice to counterbalance the growing power of large corporations. Join us on our journey as we seek to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children and all who share our planet.

Our democracy could suffer a huge blow this month -- Congress is preparing to sign away its authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that reads like a corporate lobbyist’s wildest dream.
The TPP would make it easier for corporations to sue our government, prevent regulation of GMOs, and keep people in impoverished countries from accessing life-saving medicines. And worst of all, the full text of the deal has been kept secret from the public, and even Congress doesn’t have full access -- even though hundreds of corporate lobbyists who have helped write the agreement do!
Now President Obama is trying to ram this deal through by seeking “fast-track” authority, which would prevent Congress from making any changes to the deal and stifle any debate. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have spoken out against fast track authority, and if we can get more Democrats to join them, we’ll have a real chance to stop this corporate power grab.
Rep. Sandy Levin is key. He’s the top Democrat on the congressional committee that's responsible for trade policy, but he’s breaking with most of the party to support a fast-track bill. Can you call his office today and tell him to stop fast-track?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is called a trade deal, but it's really a corporate wish-list aimed at attacking everything from environmental protections to affordable medicines to internet freedoms.
If the deal is signed, future laws designed to protect consumers, our health or our environment could be challenged by corporations that claim that the law reduces their profit -- and there is nothing we or our governments could do to stop them.
Corporate lobbyists and government insiders are keeping the text of the deal secret because they know that if the full details got out into public view, we wouldn't like what we saw. Even Congress can’t see the bill, but the Obama administration wants authority to negotiate without any oversight. But we already know enough through leaks to know it's really bad. We can't let this sail through without public scrutiny, and the only way we can give the public time to review the bill is by stopping fast track now!
Can we count on you to call Rep. Levin and tell him not to let the TPP sail through without real oversight?.
Thanks for all you do,
Kaytee, Paul, Rob, and the team at SumOfUs

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Facebook Got Multi-billion Dollar Tax break; Yet Dictates Public Policy

Facebook made over $1 billion in profits this year [2013] but won't be paying any taxes. Instead, he company will receive a $429 million tax refund.

Facebook won’t pay taxes again, will get refund instead

Published time: December 19, 2013 16:25 in Russia Today
Edited time: December 19, 2013 17:33

 . . . .

From Citizens for Tax Justice, a progressive group on tax issues:

Yet, while Facebook evades tax responsibility, its leader Mark Zuckerberg manipulates public education policy. For example he gave a strings attached gift to Newark, NJ:

From Mother Jones

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Warning: A "Natural" Fetish is Harmful to Your Health - Collide-a-Scape |

Warning: A "Natural" Fetish is Harmful to Your Health - Collide-a-Scape |

Warning: A “Natural” Fetish is Harmful to Your Health

By Keith Kloor | December 23, 2013 8:35 am From Discover Magazine's website
Natural prod
Last week an expert panel of physicians advised Americans to “stop wasting money” on multivitamins:
We believe that the case is closed— supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.
Good luck with that. As the New York Times notes,
Demand for vitamin and mineral supplements has grown markedly in recent years, with domestic sales totaling some $30 billion in 2011.
(It’s a big business in the UK, too.)
Naturally (pun intended), the Natural Products Association, the industry trade group for this modern-day snake oil, was none too happy, insisting that dietary supplements “are overwhelmingly safe.” Not that they would know, of course, since the vast majority of the products are unregulated. As for their safety, the Times ran a front page piece on this issue yesterday: 
Dietary supplements account for nearly 20 percent of drug-related liver injuries that turn up in hospitals, up from 7 percent a decade ago, according to an analysis by a national network of liver specialists. The research included only the most severe cases of liver damage referred to a representative group of hospitals around the country, and the investigators said they were undercounting the actual number of cases.
While many patients recover once they stop taking the supplements and receive treatment, a few require liver transplants or die because of liver failure. Naïve teenagers are not the only consumers at risk, the researchers said. Many are middle-aged women who turn to dietary supplements that promise to burn fat or speed up weight loss.
“It’s really the Wild West,” said Dr. Herbert L. Bonkovsky, the director of the liver, digestive and metabolic disorders laboratory at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C. “When people buy these dietary supplements, it’s anybody’s guess as to what they’re getting.”
Gee, so much for that precautionary principle I keep hearing about from organic, anti-GMO folks. Speaking of, where are the consumer watchdogs and health advocates who are so obsessed with genetically modified foods? Surely, this Wild West of health products would be of concern to them?
Not surprisingly, the Natural Products Association has jumped aboard the GMO labeling movement:
This is really very simple – people have a right to know what’s in their food.
People also have a right to know if pills branded as “natural” might destroy their insides.
As the Times piece says,
unlike prescription drugs, which are tightly regulated, dietary supplements typically carry no information about side effects. Consumers assume they have been studied and tested, Dr. Bonkovsky said. But that is rarely the case. “There is this belief that if something is natural, then it must be safe and it must be good,” he said.
Gee, I wonder where consumers get that idea from?
Marc Gunther explains it well and also suggests:
The challenge for all of us is to get beyond the simple dichotomies that characterize so much conversation around food. Natural vs. processed. Local vs. global. Small vs. big. Genetically-modified vs. conventionally bred. Organic vs. everything else.
I’m all for that. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking for the champions in the Food Movement to take on the existing fuzzy labels, dubious health claims and very real dangers of the “natural” food products industry.