Thursday, June 30, 2005

Milk Money: How Corporate Interests Shaped Government Health Policy for Women

"MILK MONEY", the 20/20 Investigative Report from last year received a Gracie Award this week. The Gracie Awards recognizes the realistic and faceted portrayal of women in many forms of media.

Watch "Milk Money: How Corporate Interests Shaped Government Health Policy for Women" on Democracy Now!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Death for Millions, not "Victory for Millions"

Excellent article by John Pilger about the hypocritical and hype-ridden sophistry surrounding the G8 summit and the announced reduction of African debt.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The 3rd International Trade Exhibition for the Rebuilding of Iraq

This is not a joke. It is a trade show and conference.

Ah, it all makes sense, now. We break it, then we make money fixing it - like a seedy mechanic. But, as Naomi Klein reminded us, Rebuilding Countries is big business!

Quote from the website: "Rebuild Iraq 2006: Be a player in the region’s most promising market. Seize unmatched trade and investment opportunities. No country in the region has more business-generating potential than Iraq."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The hole in the wall experiment

The hole in the wall experiment: What would happen if you could provide poor children and women in India with free, unlimited access to computers and the Internet? Dr. Sugata Mitra, a computer scientist tried it...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Aid to Africa and Climate Change Intimately Linked

The BBC reports that Tony Blair's top two agenda items for the upcoming G8 meeting (aid to Africa and climate change) are intimately linked.

Britain's leading scientific society points out that the people in Africa are particularly vulnerable to climate change. This is because the weird and wacky weather patterns we are seeing (such as extreme temperatures, changes in rainfall, decreased arable land) will cause increased disruptions on fragile environments.

In such places, even a small shift can produce devastating results. Plus, in Africa 70 percent of people rely on small-scale, rain-fed agriculture.

A coalition of green and charity groups is arguing that efforts to reduce poverty in Africa are therefore hopeless if we in the G8 countries don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In essense, aside from all the other things the industrialized world has done to mess with them, we are making it harder for them to support themselves by wrecking their environment.

It is doubtful that this will be accepted, of course, considering the US is STILL not admitting that humans have anything to do with climate change.

*sigh* It all makes me so mad, because the whole conversation about aid to Africa frames Africans as these needy and helpless people that cannot take care of themselves. But their own means of self-support have been steadily eroded over the last couple of centuries. And it continues!

Friday, June 17, 2005

AIDS drug experiments on foster children

Is it hard to figure out that it is wrong to use defenseless foster kids as guinea pigs, pumping their little bodies full of powerful and toxic drugs? Well, The US Dept. of Health concluded that some of these AIDS tests violated rules because proper consent wasn't sought out.

The rules state that researchers must seek consent from independent advocates when experiments pose more than a minimal risk and do not hold the likelihood of improved health.

Hundreds (maybe thousands) of HIV-positive, mostly black and Hispanic kids, some as young as 3 months were given experimental AIDS treatments. There was no advocate to say in each case whether or not these drugs should be administered. They just were.

Although it seemed like a good thing at the time, because of free treatments and research funding, the end result is extremely sad: "patients suffered side effects such as rashes, vomiting and sharp drops in infection-fighting blood cells, and one reported a 'disturbing' higher death rate among children who took higher doses of a drug."

When people are vulnerable and can't fight for themselves, this is what happens?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ex-Bush Aide Who Edited Climate Reports rewarded with a new job at ExxonMobil

Phillip Cooney, ex-Chief of Staff at the EPA, had been editing out of the relevant research any connection between global warming and oil. He recently resigned.

Update to the Phillip Cooney story: he is no being hired at ExxonMobil.

Well, I can't say I am surprised. I doubt anyone else is either. He was already working for the best interests of oil, now it's just official.
"Perhaps he won't even notice he has changed jobs," said David G. Hawkins, who directs the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a private environmental group.

Read about it in the New York Times (user: redjenny44 password: redjenny)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mad Cow Cover-up

The Cover-Up Begins to Unravel, leading some (like me) to agree that the current US administration is full of mad cowboys.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

African Debt and Hypocrisy

Crumbs for Africa: The NY Times says most Americans believe 24% of the US budget is spent on aid to poor and developing countries. The actual figure is less than a quarter of one percent. That's less than 0.25%!

Bush said he tripled aid to Africa. At a press conference on Tuesday, he announced $670 million, but this is money that was already approved. This is also emergency assistance, and is development money or earmarked for debt cancellation.

Why is debt cancellation so important? To begin with, the imense debt that African countries hold ($300 Billion) is mostly illegitimate. It is largely from loans that were made to unrepresentative African governments during the Cold War years. Often the money went right into the pocket of dictators who were helped into power by the CIA (such as the former Zaire's Mobutu). This money never benefitted the people, but yet they are on the hook for paying it off. They have been servicing the debt over the years, but with compounded interest, the debts continue to accumulate. These debts have been paid off several times over, but it keeps growing because of the interest.

$15 billion each year leaves Africa to go the IMF, World Bank and wealthy private creditors. That's far more money than is going into Africa in either new loans, assistance, or foreign investment. "So you have this tragic irony where the poorest region of the world is in effect subsidizing some of the wealthiest institutions and economies in the world." (Watch, listen or read this interview at Democracy Now.)

To put this in a human perspective, the UN estimates three million children will die because of famine in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of the global community's failure to meet its promises of aid. They are dying because the money that their own citizenry could use to feed themselves is being used to service this odious debt. Bush talks out of one side of his mouth about aid, while sending in the wolf(owitz) to help squeeze out even more.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Speaking of things that make me mad...

Bush & co. doesn't like to acknowledge global warming: Phillip Cooney, is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is the White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases. He has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming.

The day before this was published, at a press conference, Bush said this: "I don't know if you're aware of this, but we lead the world when it comes to dollars spent, millions of dollars spent on research about climate change."

Said Carl Pope on Democracy Now: "You can spend a lot of money on research, but if you let the oil industry censor the research after you complete it and if you don't act on the findings, you might as well burn the money on the White House steps."

Read the full story on Yahoo News and NY Times (login: redjenny4 password: redjenny)

Why New York is the Greenest City in the U.S.

Living in a city with a high density is much more environmentally responsible than living in the country or the suburbs. Full Article Here (PDF):
Most Americans, including most New Yorkers, think of New York City as an ecological nightmare, a wasteland of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams, but in comparison with the rest of America it's a model of environmental responsibility.

...our living space measured just seven hundred square feet, and we didn't have a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a lawn, or a car. We did our grocery shopping on foot, and when we needed to travel longer distances we used public transportation. Because space at home was scarce, we seldom acquired new possessions of significant size. Our electric bills worked out to about a dollar a day.
One more story to support the revitalization of inner cities and preservation of greenbelts.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Theatre of the Oppressed

Augusto Boal on Democracy Now today. Very interesting interview. He is the founder of the Theatre of the Oppressed movement in Brazil and globally.

An excerpt, explaining the Forum Theater:
We present the play, whatever the theme is, whatever the problem is. We present the play, and then we look at like normal spectators. But at the end we say, okay, this ended in failure. So how could we change the events? Everything is going to change in society and our biological life. Everything's always changing. Nothing's going to stay the way it is. All is going to -- so how can we change this for better? And then we start again the same play and we invite the audience to anytime they want to say stop, go to replace the protagonist and show alternatives. So we learn from one another. You have in the scene the wrong solution, the wrong way. And then we try to see what is the right way. We don't know. We don't do the political theatre of the 50s in which we had the propaganda. You had an idea, you have a message. We don’t have the message, we have the questions. We bring -- what can you do? And democratically, everyone can say stop and jump on the scene and try a solution or an alternative and then we discuss that alternative and then a second or third, as many as people are there. So what we want is to develop the capacity of people to create, to use their intelligence, to use their sensibility, because we live in a society which is very imperative, who says all of the time: Do this, Go that way, dress this way, eat that. And we don't want the orders, we don't want the imperative mood. We want the subjunctive theater, in which we say, how would it be if it were like that? Then we ask, we bring questions. We don't bring certitudes, but the questions. The doubts are the seeds of certitudes. Then some certitude comes out. But it is from everyone. Everyone has the right to speak their word and to act their thoughts, not only to talk about, but to act their thoughts.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Weasel Words

'It's not torture. Pyramids can be used as a control technique... Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year.' Guy Womack, defence lawyer for a US soldier court martialed in the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal, SBS World News

Women's weight found to affect job, income

A new study has proven what we already intuitively know: Women's weight found to affect job and income. According to this study, men experience no negative effects of body mass on their economic situation.

The lower economic status is due to both lowered marriage prospects for overweight women (single women everywhere being poorer than married women. Also, if married, heavier women generally have poorer spouses.), and also lowered job prestige. They found that it had as much or more of an effect than education.

Reminds us what we know: "Men are more often evaluated by their achievements, while women are judged more on their appearance."

So why are we surprised when we hear about eating disorders?