Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Urgent: Save HIV/AIDS Healthcare Program TODAY!

Save Millions... Save Lives... Save Positive Healthcare 

California's governator, Mr. Schwarzennegar, is going to cut Positive Healthcare, which is a HIV/AIDS program that serves the underserved, by 18% on March 31st (today!). Worse of all, he is doing this without explanation. Positive Healthcare has been a part of California's social programs for over 15 years and has saved the state more than $7.5 million, not to mention the innumerable lives it has saved. This action does not make any sense because it is a program that actually saves the state money. The Department of Health says that it is going to have an enhanced version of this program. This enhancement just means that Positive Healthcare would need to pay for expensive medications.

So here's the equation:
California's Money is going to be lost (and we're already in massive debt)
+ Lives are going to be lost
+ Pharmaceutical companies are going to profit?
= A Shitastic Enhancement.

Tell Schwarzennegar to stop bullying Positive Healthcare and the disadvantaged.

Read more!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

FLOW- a Film about Water.

(Image Courtesy of Flow)
We're in a drought and to many of us, that reality is hard to grasp. Ever since we were kids, we have thought that water is free and infinite. We used and abused it and most importantly, never thought twice. "Flow" tells us that everything we thought as children concerning the flow of water has been a lie. It uses scientists to provide evidence and then shows us the reality...the humanity of water. It shows the corrupt water industry, the thirst-stricken children of developing countries and the nasty toxins that are infiltrating our pipelines. And with all this learning, it still manages to be utterly captivating. Clink on the link to learn more about Flow. Click on "Read More" if you want to read some of the facts (list form) that I found astonishing.

*More than two million people die per year due to water borne diseases. The majority are children under the age of 5.

Pesticides and Other Toxins in Our Water
* Increased Birth defects in agriculture-rich areas (pesticides from agro seep into ground water)
* A Decline in fertility in European areas where pesticides are in heavy use.
* In Tasmania, cancer rates have shot up 200% after it increased its pesticide use.
* In Texas, toxicologists found high levels of Prozac in tissues of every fish they sampled (urban runoff- our polluted water and soil travel and pollute the oceans)
* The Arctic: Industrial toxins travel in water and have been found in seals, whales, polar bears, fish and in the breast milk of Inuit mothers.
* Creation of dams on a river= Rapid change in ecosystem. A river has organic materials that feed the living creatures that reside in and along the river; it also feeds the oceans. When a dam is created-->  organic matter gets captured behind the dam--> it rots--> creates methane gas, a green house gas.
-- In the 20th century, 10s of millions of people have been displaced by dams.
* Research shows the effects of atrazine, a pesticide made by a Swiss company: atrazine "chemically castrated" frogs. This means that male frogs would become more female- develop ovaries and decrease sperm count- after exposure to the pesticide.

The Anatomy of a Demasculinzed Frog
(Picture Courtesy of Berkeley)
--> Atrazine is the most used pesticide in the U.S. and it's the #1 found contaminant in our drinking, ground, and surface water.
--> It has been linked with prostate cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
--> All of the European Union has banned atrazine, including Switzerland, where the pesticide is made.

Privatization of Water
* Europe is beginning to privatize water. 3 of the largest water companies (all fortune 500 and started by bankers) are Thames Ater, Vivendi and Suez. All 3 are forcing developing countries to give them their water supplies and then charging the citizens of those countries to pay for their own water.
* 1999 Cochabamba, Bolivia: Government privatized water, which led to a water war. 2 years earlier, The World Bank gave Cochabamba and El Alto, Bolivia an ultimatum- if they don't privatize water, the World Bank would cut off their water development loans. However, 10 years after this threat, Bolivia returned water back to its people.
* Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa: Invensys Metering System. Each person pays for a card and (s)he uses this card to get water. However, this is a poor region, so most people can't pay for water--> they go to the river (unsanitary; waterborne diseases)--> people get sick--> poor health care system--> death rises.
* New Delhi, India: Suez is blocking much of the flow of the Ganges river- more then 600 billion liters- and will sell that water back to Indians at 10xs the price they're paying now.
* Michigan, U.S.: Nestle has over 70 brands of bottled water and it is using Michigan's water resources- 450 gallons/min- and not paying a cent for what it consumes. Its profits are upwards of $1.8 million/ day. Nestle has gotten over $10 million in tax abatements over the span of 10 years.
* U.S.: Less than one person in the FDA is regulating the water industry. Bottled industry is severely less regulated than tap water.
--> National Resources Defense Council tested over 100 brands of bottled water in the U.S. Outcome: Bottled water is not better, safer or purer than tap water. 1/3 of these brands had toxins like arsenic, organic harmful chemicals and other harmful bacteria invisibly poisoning the water. Some of the bottled water companies with pictures of mountains came from city tap, while others with glaciers on them came from ground water in Florida.
--> In 2007, 16 million gallons of oil were used to make water bottles.
--> U.N. estimated that it will cost an additional $30 billion/year to provide safe, clean drinking water to the entire planet. Last year alone the U.S. spent 3xs that on bottled water.

A Sea of Bottled Water
(Image Provided by Current.com)
*Ashok Gadgil, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found that ultra violet rays kill pathogens in water, and with this information he developed clean affordable water.
-->Bomminampadu, India: UV ray Water Purification Center. The price at which local people buy the water pays the wages of the locals who run the center = self-sustaining. The price for 10 gallons of safe drinking water per day everyday for a year= $2 U.S. (affordable!) 300,000 people benefit from this technology right now.
* Rainwater Harvesting: catches rainfall on rooftops and a pipe guides it to a storage unit that stores the water, so that when there are dry periods water can be consumed- Super effective.
*Playpumps: there's a circular device that kids ride on and it uses their kinetic force to pump water. 900 playpumps bring 2,250,000 people water in Africa.

Playpumps Providing Smiles and Water
(Picture thanks to Pixelsumo.com)

Read more!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Truth.

Two of Suheir Hammad's performances that reference the aftermath of 9/11.

Read more!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

CIA- Going Beyond "Top Secret"

(Art by Julia Nissen)

On March 6th, 2009 the CIA finally admitted that it destroyed 92 videotapes of interrogation, 12 of them which showed CIA officials' use of harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding back in 2005. CIA's unlawful act occurred after the ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in 2003 and 2004.

After suspicions of CIA's conduction of torture arose, the ACLU filed FIOA requests on October 2003 and May 2004, so to view the videotapes and manuscripts concerning CIA's interrogation techniques. However, the CIA failed to comply to the ACLU, as well as, the 9/11 Commission's requests. Thereafter, the United States District Court for Southern New York stepped in and ruled that the CIA must produce all materials that are related to interrogation. Again, the CIA decided it was above the law and didn't produce the materials.

(Image from Infoniac.com)

To retaliate against CIA's perpetual disregard for the law, on December 12th, 2007 the ACLU filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt. Jameel Jaffar, the Director of ACLU's National Security Project stated, "By destroying these tapes, the CIA violated the statute as well as an order of the court. In the circumstances, it would be entirely appropriate for the court to hold the agency in contempt."

Presently, the motion is still pending. However, if it goes through, the CIA will be forced to hand over all interrogation-related materials and give written descriptions of the tapes that have been destroyed.

All bodies of government need to be held accountable for the performance of illegal and/or abusive activities. If they are not, we will surely see a gradual descent to some form of tyrannical rule. I know this sounds like an exaggeration but if you break it down, it really isn't. Most people will act illegally if they know that this act will give them greater power (in whatever sense) and if they know they can get away with it. If we don't hold them accountable now, what will stop them from further abusing our legal system and even our own rights?
Read more!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obama Fights for Women's Rights

As Bush's days dwindled, he, like most president's in the past, altered a slew of policies prior to relinquishing his control. One of these dealt with women's reproductive rights. As expected, President Obama is attempting to rescind this unjust legislation and you can add strength to his voice with your own.

(Image Courtesy of Amy King's Alias)
I don't understand what type of world the Bush administration and his followers believe we live in. Yes, abortions are not ideal and yes, people should be sexually responsible but people are just people. People make mistakes- Bush should be very familiar with this concept. In such cases, should motherhood be forced upon women especially when they are not ready? Statistically, children brought up in single-parent homes are financially less well off than children who are not. Granted there are exceptions but these exceptions are rare. Forcing this would increase the population of poorly educated individuals and overall poverty. Moreover, if women don't have reproductive rights, they will resort to unsafe abortion practices, which will increase ill health and death amongst women.

(Image Thanks to Shine_So_Cold on Flickr.com)

And sometimes, people don't make mistakes and it is through violence that unfortunate events are thrusted upon them. In circumstances of rape, what will the government say about abortion or even, birth control? It could be said that there can be exceptions to the law, so that in instances of rape, abortion is permitted. But, statistically, many victims of rape fail to report, so what then? And, what if the victim does report but the judge/jury feels that the case lacks evidence and thus, the woman cannot be granted an abortion or birth control. There are an infinite amount of scenarios and it would be near impossible to create a policy that would keep the rights of women intact.

People will not start behaving the way they should just because a law is put into effect. People are still going to have sex. Sometimes the condom will break or in the heat of things, it may be forgotten, or even, it may be present but mr. sperm was just sneaky. Rape will still, unfortunately, be a common occurrence. Bush's ban against women's reproductive rights will not miraculosly change all of this and we must not be naive enough to think so.

Obama's proposal to rescind Bush's backward thinking has a 30 day comment period, so it's important that you voice your opinion!
Read more!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Our rights are hanging by a thread...

Today is the hearing for the challenge against Prop 8.

Watch the hearing live! Read more!