Why 30,000 People Are Fasting

From Move-On: http://front.moveon.org/why-were-fasting-against-the-immoral-budget/?rc=mo.email&id=26909-4788107-QAWbonx

Posted on April 12, 2011 by Peter

So far, over 30,000 people are participating in a rolling fast to protest the immoral budget cuts Republicans are pushing in Washington. With some help from Grammy-nominated recording artist Moby, MoveOn.org Political Action has put together a short, powerful video about this fast. Please check it out and then help spread the message by passing it on:

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Hundreds of whales face slaughter as Norway’s killing season resumes

From The Ecologist: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/834271/hundreds_of_whales_face_slaughter_as_norways_killing_season_resumes.html

Joanna Toole

1st April, 2011
As the annual and highly controversial Norwegian whale hunt begins, Joanna Toole argues the evidence proving the practice is cruel, unnecessary and increasingly unpopular is now overwhelming

Today is the official start of the whaling season in Norway. Norway is one of just three countries defying the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling. This moratorium on whaling was implemented by a qualifying majority of member states of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in attempt to put a stop to a hunting practice which was leading to the near extinction of several whale species.

Despite the international opposition, Norway resumed commercial whaling in 1993 and has since killed over 9,500 whales. This year, 1,286 sociable and sentient minke whales are earmarked to die in Norwegian waters in the hunting season which runs between April and August.

For years the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has worked alongside animal welfare groups in Norway to help increase the pressure on the Norwegian government to put a stop to this cruel, outdated and unnecessary practice. So far it has been hard getting through to government officials in the Norwegian home turf and the IWC alike. It has been made clear by the Norwegian government that the argument of whaling being cruel isn’t reason enough to put a stop to the hunts.

Dwindling support

However, next week WSPA and Norwegian organisations Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge and NOAH – for Dyrs Rettigheter will release new evidence which demonstrates that public support for whaling in Norway is dwindling, that the Norwegian appetite for whale meat is at an all time low and as a consequence the industry is struggling to survive. The diminishing profitability of the industry is already acknowledged by whalers and the Norwegian government as recent years have seen declining catches and fewer people and vessels involved in the hunts.

Continue reading at: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/834271/hundreds_of_whales_face_slaughter_as_norways_killing_season_resumes.html

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States Look to Ban Efforts to Reveal Farm Abuse

This story is just so completely appalling I am at a loss for words.  These people are like Mafia Dons demanding the press not cover their crimes and the politicians are completely in their pockets.

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/us/14video.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=farm%20abuse&st=cse

Published: April 13, 2011

Undercover videos showing grainy, sometimes shocking images of sick or injured livestock have become a favorite tool of animal rights organizations to expose what they consider illegal or inhumane treatment of animals.

Made by animal rights advocates posing as farm workers, such videos have prompted meat recalls, slaughterhouse closings, criminal convictions of employees and apologies from corporate executives assuring that the offending images are an aberration.

In Iowa, where agriculture is a dominant force both economically and politically, such undercover investigations could soon be illegal.

A bill before the Iowa legislature would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility. It would also criminalize lying on an application to work at an agriculture facility “with an intent to commit an act not authorized by the owner.”

Similar legislation is being considered in Florida and Minnesota, part of a broader effort by large agricultural companies to pre-emptively block the kind of investigations that have left their operations uncomfortably — and unpredictably — open to scrutiny.

Their opponents, including national groups that oppose industrial farming practices, say these undercover investigations have been invaluable for revealing problems and are a form of whistle-blowing that should be protected. They argue that the legislation, if passed, would essentially hide animal abuse and food safety violations.

Wayne Pacelle, the executive director of the Humane Society of the United States, noted that secretly recorded videos released last year revealed unsanitary conditions inside egg plants in Iowa. Months later, a different Iowa egg producer was responsible for the largest egg recall in United States history because of salmonella contamination.

“It’s because they don’t want you to see what’s going on that we’ve resorted to employee investigations,” Mr. Pacelle said.


The legislation has been strongly backed by Republicans but has also won some Democrats. John P. Kibbie, Democrat of Emmetsburg and president of the State Senate, who has been working on an amended bill expected to be released this week, said he supported the legislation to “make producers feel more comfortable.”

Complete article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/us/14video.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=farm%20abuse&st=cse

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Equal Pay Day: Women Still Paid Less than Men

From AFL-CIO Blog: http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/04/12/equal-pay-day-women-still-paid-less-than-men/

by James Parks
Apr 12, 2011

Today is Equal Pay Day—the date that symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010.

Nearly 50 years after enactment of the Equal Pay Act, working women in the United States are paid an average of 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. The pay gap is even larger for women of color, with black women earning about 70 cents, and Latinas about 60 cents, of every dollar paid to all men.

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement marking Equal Pay Day:

When women start at a disadvantage, they stay at a disadvantage. Every time a woman starts a new job or tries to negotiate for a pay raise, she is starting from a lower base salary. So, the pay gap grows wider and wider over time.

The Labor Department reports the pay gap for the average, full-time working woman means she gets $150 less in her weekly paycheck. If she works all year, that’s $8,000 less at the end of the year and about $380,000 over a lifetime.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) yesterday released a new fact sheet on the gender wage gap that shows women have lower median earnings than men in 107 out of 111 occupations, regardless of levels of education.

According to the fact sheet, in the lowest paid 10 occupations, nearly two-thirds of workers are women, while in the highest paid 10 occupations some two-thirds of workers are men. Women’s median earnings are lower than men in the 10 most common occupations, in the 10 highest paid occupations, and in the 10 lowest paid occupations.  Check out the fact sheet “The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation” here.

Continue reading at: http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/04/12/equal-pay-day-women-still-paid-less-than-men/

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Republicans Continue Their Assault on Planned Parenthood

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/150607/republicans_continue_their_assault_on_planned_parenthood/

Last week, the most powerful nation on the planet nearly went out of business because a few fringe members of Congress wanted to show off their spite for Planned Parenthood.

By Cecile Richards
April 14, 2011

The greatest nation on earth nearly had to turn off the lights last week. Please take note of the reason. It wasn’t because of terrorism. It wasn’t the aftermath of a tsunami or an earthquake. And it certainly was not — despite some claims — because of a financial crisis. No. The most powerful nation on the planet nearly went out of business because a few fringe members of Congress wanted to show off their spite for Planned Parenthood. The sideshow seemed finished Friday night, when President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stood firm for women’s health and the House leadership folded a losing hand.

Just days later, the small band of believers (House leadership in tow) are back with a fresh attack on Planned Parenthood. This week, at the insistence of House Speaker John Boehner, the House and Senate will vote on a stand-alone version of the same measure that Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana tried to link to last week’s short-term spending plan. The measure would explicitly bar one of the nation’s oldest, most trusted and most cost-effective family-planning providers from participating in any federal health program. Period. Pence and his allies claim the measure would somehow reduce federal support for abortion, but the public now knows this is a ruse. Congress has prohibited federal funding for abortion for more than 30 years. This measure would cut off access to birth control — thus increasing the need for abortion — while also eliminating lifesaving cancer screenings and other vital services. That’s not just aggressive. It’s bad for women’s health.

The Planned Parenthood Mike Pence wants to eliminate looks nothing like the Planned Parenthood that three million patients rely on each year. One American woman in five has received care from a Planned Parenthood health center. Abortion — a safe, legal procedure — makes up three percent of our services, not the “well over 90 percent” that Senator Jon Kyl recently claimed on the Senate floor and later had to retract. The rest of our services are basic preventive health care — affordable, high-quality care that helps avert serious illness rather than treat it at advanced stages. Each year we provide nearly two million screenings to detect breast and cervical cancer early. We also provide nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including half a million HIV tests. And we ensure that nearly 2.5 million people have access to affordable birth control, which reduces unintended pregnancy.

What would Pence’s proposal mean to the women we serve? Two thirds of them, the two million whose care is covered by Medicaid and other federal health programs, would lose all access to our health centers. And because Planned Parenthood is the only provider available to many of these women, the loss would be more than an inconvenience. Cutting off our services would amount to cutting off their health care, with tragic and predictable outcomes: more cancer deaths, more undiagnosed HIV and untreated STDs, and more unintended pregnancies, which means more abortion.

Why would anyone pursue such an agenda? Pence may spin this as an effort to control federal spending, but it’s nothing of the kind. In fact, his proposal would cost the government money. Family planning saves taxpayers nearly $4 for every $1 invested. Killing family planning would eliminate those savings, and locking Planned Parenthood out of federal programs would make the programs themselves less efficient. We provide high-quality care for less money than other publicly funded providers charge. If all of our three million patients had to get preventive health care from other publicly funded providers, the total cost could rise by as much as $200 million a year.

Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/150607/republicans_continue_their_assault_on_planned_parenthood/

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Why Anti-Nuclear Belongs in All of Our Movements

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/12-10

by Betsy Hartmann
Published on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The stakes are getting higher by the day in the radioactive roulette playing out at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. On Monday the Japanese government finally widened the evacuation zone and is raising the threat level from five to seven, the same level as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. In our own movements we need to raise the nuclear threat level too.

While it’s tempting to sit back and wait for an antinuclear movement to rekindle in the United States, we simply can’t afford the time. Nor is it clear that such a movement will emerge. The failure of the anti-war movement to gain broad traction is a case in point. Many progressive movements are just struggling to hold on in the face of vicious right-wing assaults and loss of funding. So the question becomes: How do we build an antinuclear politics in the absence of a full-fledged antinuclear movement?

The answer lies in finding points of convergence. After all, nuclear power, waste and weaponry threaten us all, as well as generations to come. The nuclear accident in Japan – if we can really call it an accident since potential disaster was built into the very location and design of the plants – serves as a glaring reminder that those who hold the reins of power do not have solutions for the serious social, economic and ecological crises of our time. On the contrary, they are making disasters, not unmaking them, risking our collective future for their own short-term gain. As economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote recently, financial meltdown and nuclear meltdown are closely related, both products of a system of delusional speculation, technological hubris, public subsidies and private greed.

In each of our movements, then, we need to make a space for antinuclear activism. Here are just a few of many possible points of convergence:

Nuclear power is a reproductive rights issue. Among other serious side effects, exposure to radiation can increase the risk of sterility, birth defects and genetic mutations that can affect the reproduction of generations to come. Plutonium, a by-product of nuclear power and a key component of atomic bombs, is the most potent manmade poison on the planet, with a half life of 24,000 years. It crosses the placenta and is stored in male testicles.

Nuclear power is an environmental justice issue, from uranium mining on indigenous lands in the southwest to locating reactors in poor African-American rural communities in Georgia.

Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/12-10

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How to Save a Trillion Dollars

From The New York Times: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/how-to-save-a-trillion-dollars/?emc=eta1

April 12, 2011

In the scheme of things, saving the 38 billion bucks that Congress seems poised to agree upon is not a big deal. A big deal is saving a trillion bucks. And we could do that by preventing disease instead of treating it.

For the first time in history, lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and others kill more people than communicable ones. Treating these diseases — and futile attempts to “cure” them — costs a fortune, more than one-seventh of our GDP.

But they’re preventable, and you prevent them the same way you cause them: lifestyle. A sane diet, along with exercise, meditation and intangibles like love prevent and even reverse disease. A sane diet alone would save us hundreds of billions of dollars and maybe more.

This isn’t just me talking. In a recent issue of the magazine Circulation, the American Heart Association editorial board stated flatly that costs in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease — the leading cause of death here and in much of the rest of the world — will triple by 2030, to more than $800 billion annually. Throw in about $276 billion of what they call “real indirect costs,” like productivity, and you have over a trillion. Enough over, in fact, to make $38 billion in budget cuts seem like a rounding error.

Similarly, Type 2 diabetes is projected to cost us $500 billion a year come 2020, when half of all Americans will have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Need I remind you that Type 2 diabetes is virtually entirely preventable? Ten billion dollars invested now might save a couple of hundred billion annually 10 years from now. And: hypertension, many cancers, diverticulitis and more are treated by a health care (better termed “disease care”) system that costs us about $2.3 trillion annually now — before costs double and triple.

It’s worth noting that the Federal budget will absorb its usual 60 percent of that cost. We can save some of that money, though, if an alliance of insurers, government, individuals — maybe even Big Food, if it’s pushed hard enough — moves us towards better eating.

The many numbers all point in the same direction. Look at heart

Continue reading at: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/how-to-save-a-trillion-dollars/?emc=eta1

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Endless War and Empire: Your Tax Dollars at Work

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/14-2

by Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis
Published on Thursday, April 14, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Death and taxes are the only certainties in life. And these days, they go hand in hand.

While our fiscal woes have led Congress to slash food aid this year to the world’s poor — rest assured, fellow Americans — the U.S. government will keep using your tax dollars to kill them. For while John Boehner and Barack Obama might disagree on some things, there’s one area they can agree on: War. And the need for more of it.

“Money for bombs, not bread,” might be a good bipartisan slogan.

And when it comes to dropping its citizens’ tax dollars on flying killer robots and foreign military occupations, no country comes close to the United States. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ( SIPRI ), the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — more than $150 billion in direct spending this year alone — exceeds what China, the U.S.’s closest military rival, spends altogether on its armed forces. Overall, the Obama administration will spend more than $700 billion next year on the military.

That’s more than George W. Bush ever spent. And figures released this week by SIPRI show that since Obama took office, the U.S. has been almost entirely responsible for the global rise in military spending: $19.6 billion of $20.6 billion since 2008. What a difference a Nobel laureate makes.

And the actual figure spent on war – the fighting of it, the preparation for it and the consequences of it – is substantially higher than acknowledged, with spending on military programs often buried in places like the Department of Energy, which oversees the U.S.’s massive stash of nuclear weapons. Counting those hidden costs, including veterans benefits, aid to foreign militaries and interest payments on defense-related debt, economist Robert Higgs estimates the U.S. government spends more than $1 trillion a year on empire.

But you wouldn’t grasp the enormity of the U.S.’s commitment to militarism if you listened to its politicians. Remarking last week on the deal he struck that slashes $38.5 billion in federal spending, President Obama said the agreement “between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.”

Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/14-2

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