Misoprostol: Have you heard about this small, inexpensive, and most importantly available pill that can save women’s lives? Pragmatic Brazilian women first discovered the potential of misoprostol (or Cytoteca, in their parlance) in the 1980s. According to the label on this widely used peptic ulcer drug, it was not to be taken during pregnancy as it could induce bleeding. Living in a country with very restrictive policies and little access to safe abortion services, they recognized the opportunity to circumvent the system and, by word of mouth, spread the word to other women about this easily obtainable pill that could help them safely end an unwanted pregnancy.
Thirty years later, women in countries around the world are beginning to do the same—continuing to spread the word, talking to each other about misoprostol, and trying to get their hands on these pills. The women who are accessing the drug in their communities and taking it by themselves have shown us that there are relatively few health risks involved with misoprostol. What began in Brazil as a natural public health experiment has been validated by rigorous clinical studies conducted by international groups such as the World Health Organization and Gynuity. These studies have shown that the use of misoprostol for abortion is very safe, especially when taken early on in the pregnancy; while not as effective as when taken in combination with mifepristone (another abortion pill), misoprostol taken alone will safely terminate 75 to 90 percent of early pregnancies when taken as directed.
Misoprostol has also been proven to have numerous other lifesaving properties, including the ability to prevent and treat postpartum hemorrhage and to induce labor. It is registered in more than 85 countries, usually as an anti-ulcer medication, and is used off-label by clinicians around the world for numerous reproductive health indications. In addition to these clinical uses, we are beginning to see positive public health outcomes from community-based use of misoprostol. In countries where abortion is restricted and women are using misoprostol, we have seen a reduction in infections. And in under-served communities, where women delivering at home are taught to take misoprostol immediately after delivery, postpartum hemorrhage is significantly reduced.
If we have a cheap and readily available drug that can prevent and treat the two largest causes of maternal mortality worldwide—postpartum hemorrhage and unsafe abortion—why have we not taken more advantage of this exciting technology? Given the global attention being paid to meeting the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG 5)—that of reducing maternal mortality—it is difficult to fathom why we continue to squander the opportunity misoprostol offers us.
NEW YORK –- The U.S. Department of Justice may try seeking out the source of a bombshell article that revealed National Security Agency surveillance of millions of Americans, according to NBC News Justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Glenn Greenwald reported in The Guardian Wednesday night that the NSA is indiscriminately collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top-secret U.S. court order, a major scoop detailing the extent of domestic surveillance that comes amid increasing civil liberties concerns and controversial leak investigations involving the Associated Press and Fox News.
On Thursday’s “Morning Joe,” New York City Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson asked if Greenwald would be investigated and suggested the White House would face many questions about the Guardian story.
“They may not be prepared to answer that question,” Wolfson said. “But given what happened with Fox, given what happened with AP, that will be a very hot topic today.”
Williams, a well-sourced reporter who just interviewed Attorney General Eric Holder last night about the leak investigations, jumped in with an answer.
“I was told last night: definitely there will be a leak investigation,” he said.
However, a senior administration official told The Huffington Post Thursday morning that it’s premature to suggest an investigation is certain to take place.
“There’s been no referral yet from the intelligence community,” the official said.
We followed Wednesday’s story about the NSA’s bulk telephone record-gathering with one yesterday about the agency’s direct access to the servers of the world’s largest internet companies. I don’t have time at the moment to address all of the fallout because – to borrow someone else’s phrase – I’m Looking Forward to future revelations that are coming (and coming shortly), not Looking Backward to ones that have already come.
But I do want to make two points. One is about whistleblowers, and the other is about threats of investigations emanating from Washington:
1) Ever since the Nixon administration broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychoanalyst’s office, the tactic of the US government has been to attack and demonize whistleblowers as a means of distracting attention from their own exposed wrongdoing and destroying the credibility of the messenger so that everyone tunes out the message. That attempt will undoubtedly be made here.
I’ll say more about all that shortly, but for now: as these whistleblowing acts becoming increasingly demonized (“reprehensible”, declared Director of National Intelligence James Clapper yesterday), please just spend a moment considering the options available to someone with access to numerous Top Secret documents.
They could easily enrich themselves by selling those documents for huge sums of money to foreign intelligence services. They could seek to harm the US government by acting at the direction of a foreign adversary and covertly pass those secrets to them. They could gratuitously expose the identity of covert agents.
None of the whistleblowers persecuted by the Obama administration as part of its unprecedented attack on whistleblowers has done any of that: not one of them. Nor have those who are responsible for these current disclosures.
They did not act with any self-interest in mind. The opposite is true: they undertook great personal risk and sacrifice for one overarching reason: to make their fellow citizens aware of what their government is doing in the dark. Their objective is to educate, to democratize, to create accountability for those in power.
From Socialist Worker: http://socialistworker.org/2013/06/06/solidarity-with-taksim-square
June 6, 2013
IN NEW York City, a crowd of at least 150 gathered June 4 outside the Turkish consulate in midtown Manhattan. Generally, the participants weren’t seasoned activists, but rather young people in their early 20’s studying in the New York area while working low-wage service jobs (if they can find one). These solidarity protesters appear to be much like their Turkish peers back home whom we’re watching on television and YouTube. In fact, they are the brothers and sisters and friends of the Turks taking to the streets in dozens of cities.
Few of the students I talked to at the solidarity protest had considered themselves self-consciously political before the rebellion that started in Istanbul on May 27 began to consume their every waking hour. They are mostly young, the children of Turkey’s middle class, and they see themselves fighting for their futures and the direction of their country.
Fadime is a grad student at City University of New York whose first words to me were, “We do not want U.S. intervention. We want to be heard, we can take care of this ourselves.” It was a sentiment echoed by many concerned that the United States would try to manipulate this crisis for its own ends. They are right to be cautious about U.S. intentions.
One of the few explicit demands of the crowd was for the U.S. government to stop sending tear gas to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party. According to RT News, Turkey has imported 62 tons of “tear gas and pepper spray–mainly from U.S. and Brazil–over the past 12 years.”
Every protester had stories of family and friends suffering terribly from the beatings and gas.
Destine Özuygur says that according to friends’ texts and tweets, “There are far more than two people dead so far. I know two people myself who are dead from wounds and the gas. Police are attacking universities and hospitals.” She continued, “One friend died from a gas canister tossed into a metro tunnel; people were trapped down there. Police are taping over their ID numbers so they can act anonymously.”
Today is Destine’s birthday, and she awoke to birthday messages from friends back in Turkey saying they wanted to send her early wishes because they aren’t certain they’ll be safe or even alive by evening. The extreme brutality of the Erdoğan regime is driving an intensity and political focus that many here–and there, it appears–had never felt before.
Continue reading at: http://socialistworker.org/2013/06/06/solidarity-with-taksim-square
From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/noam-chomsky-nuclear
Reagan waged a murderous assault on Central America.
By Noam Chomsky
June 6, 2013
On Mother’s Day, May 12, The Boston Globe featured a photo of a young woman with her toddler son sleeping in her arms.
The woman, of Mayan Indian heritage, had crossed the U.S. border seven times while pregnant, only to be caught and shipped back across the border on six of those attempts. She braved many miles, enduring blisteringly hot days and freezing nights, with no water or shelter, amid roaming gunmen. The last time she crossed, seven months pregnant, she was rescued by immigration solidarity activists who helped her to find her way to Boston.
Most of the border crossers are from Central America. Many say they would rather be home, if the possibility of decent survival hadn’t been destroyed. Mayans such as this young mother are still fleeing from the wreckage of the genocidal assault on the indigenous population of the Guatemalan highlands 30 years ago.
The main perpetrator, Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, the former dictator who ruled Guatemala during two of the bloodiest years of the country’s decades-long civil war, was convicted in a Guatemalan court of genocide and crimes against humanity, on May 10.
Then, 10 days later, the case was overturned under suspicious circumstances. It is unclear whether the trial will continue.
Rios Montt’s forces killed tens of thousands of Guatemalans, mostly Mayans, in the year 1982 alone.
As that bloody year ended, President Reagan assured the nation that the killer was “a man of great personal integrity and commitment,” who was getting a “bum rap” from human-rights organizations and who “wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.” Therefore, the president continued, “My administration will do all it can to support his progressive efforts.”
Ample evidence of Rios Montt’s “progressive efforts” was available to Washington, not only from rights organizations, but also from U.S. intelligence.
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/noam-chomsky-nuclear
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/07-1
Published on Friday, June 7, 2013 by Common Dreams
In a victory for anti-nuclear activists, the trouble-stricken San Onofre nuclear plant is set to close permanently.
The plant’s operator, Southern California Edison, made the announcement on Friday.
The closing of San Onofre “is very good news for the people of Southern California,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth (FOE).
As long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman has noted, the plant
sits in an earthquake/tsunami zone halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. At least 8 million people live within a 50 mile radius, many millions more within 100. The reactors are a stone’s throw from both a major interstate and the high tide line, with a 14-foot flood wall a bare fraction of the height of the tsunami that overwhelmed at Fukushima.
“We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed,” added said Pica.
The San Onofre Safety website has pointed out that
San Onofre consistently has the highest number of safety and discrimination allegations (complaints) compared to all other U.S. nuclear power plants, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) data.
The plant had been out of commission since January 2012 because of a leak detected in its steam generator, and in April a whistleblower warned a local news station of a “potentially catastrophic problem” at the plant and said that a faulty redesign of the plant’s steam generators put the system at risk of a “full or partial meltdown.”
With the plant now set to close, “the people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind,” said FOE’s Picah.