Friday, September 4, 2009

Hidden pockets of elderly said to be in poverty

WASHINGTON – The poverty rate among older Americans could be nearly twice as high as the traditional 10 percent level, according to a revision of a half-century-old formula for calculating medical costs and geographic variations in the cost of living.
The National Academy of Science's formula, which is gaining credibility with public officials including some in the Obama administration, would put the poverty rate for Americans 65 and over at 18.6 percent, or 6.8 million people, compared with 9.7 percent, or 3.6 million people, under the existing measure. The original government formula, created in 1955, doesn't take account of rising costs of medical care and other factors.
Read more at:

photo from: Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Counting Spoons

Once again I see in the news the latest round of arrest of our politicians, government officials and religious elders in corruption probes. Money laundering , tax evasion, selling human body parts etc.

Mayors, city officials, Rabbi's; a hundred and thirty (130) public officials in New Jersey alone either pleading guilty or convicted of corruption since 2001. Congressman, Senators, Legislators having extra marital affairs, taking bribes, receiving kick-backs, selling their office and soul to the highest bidder. Judges on the take, crooked cops, corrupt prosecutors wheeling and dealing while their hands are in the cookie jar.

They all seem to forget real quick their oaths of office and the public they're suppose to work for and who pay their salary. The corruption isn't getting any better but growing worse by the day. I think maybe the general public should take a chance and vote for the unknown candidate, the newcomer, the political novice. It seems to me that those with fancy degrees, political experience, or born with a silver spoon in their mouth and who continue to get elected with huge campaign contributions from "Fat Cat" friends and Corporation cronies, are the most corrupt.

Maybe its time the public stop listening to the usual claims of experience and education. Maybe the public should weigh the options and vote their gut feelings. Take a close look and get a sense of your gut feeling whether the candidate your looking at is on the up and up. Most everybody in these corruption sweeps at one time or another have touted their "Experience" to woo voters or secure a position of trust.

Maybe we should stop looking for who have prestigious degrees from Yale, Harvard or Princeton and start looking for someone with common sense. I've never held anyone in high esteem or admiration simply because they have extensive erudition in a specific field of study and a sheepskin on the wall, that doesn't impress me.

To work for the people you have to be in touch with the average American on the street, you have to know what its like to be a working stiff or poor. You have to have common sense mixed with a little street smarts. I believe these are the ones we need as representatives, Congressmen and Congresswomen and other government officials, these kinds of people should be voted into office. There are too many in positions of power born in gated communities and attending private boarding schools who put themselves on a pedestal and look down their noses at the average American struggling to feed their families, making next months rent and trying to keep from drowning in debt or sorrow or both. Maybe we should disregard the slick talking career politicians with the bulging war chest, expensive T.V. advertisements and fancy campaign buttons. Instead vote in the inexperienced new-comers who sincerely are looking to make a difference, who want to help the people and not just help themselves. Think about it: Can someone with no political experience but smart enough to learn be any worse than a career politician who wishes to carry on the distinguished tradition of abusing their power and positions to benefit themselves?

When choosing a candidate and voting, remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The louder he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons." Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others , even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
[ I found these words in a picture frame while cleaning out the garage. I never seen it before and have no idea how it got in the garage. I thought I'd share the wisdom of these words] Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, July 18, 2009

After thought

It's easy to deceive people; just tell them the country was attacked and start waving the flag.

Josef Gobbels: Nazi Propaganda Minister Print Friendly and PDF

9/11 Investigation

I will go on record today in support of the 9/11 families, first responders, survivors and over 80,000 other New Yorkers who have endorsed a new 9/11 investigation and the countless American citizens around the country who support opening this new investigation. The people of this country want the truth and the government has an obligation to the public and all victims of terrorism to be straightforward and honest about the events of September 11th 2001.

I don't expect the government as a whole to come clean about 9/11; they're going to stick to the story line that's been advanced concerning the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon buildings. What I'm hoping will happen is that individuals in the F.B.I., C.I.A., reporters, airline representatives, firemen,policemen, and all others who were at or near the World Trade Centers on that day tell what they know. I hope they will show more loyalty to the American people than to any political party or government administrations. This especially goes for the news media and it's coverage of this event that was shameless, dispicable and treasonable. There are simply too many unanswered questions, too many loose ends, and too many incidents on 9/11 that defy logic and common sense.

There has been much talk of plots, intrigues and conspiracies as to what actually transpired the day the World Trade Centers collapsed. Did a plane really hit the pentagon and did a plane actually crash in Pennsylvania? Why did the buildings fall and especially why did building #7 fall into a nice little neat pile when no plane even hit #7.

I could expound my own theories and speculate about the motives for such a horrendous act as many others have done to try and justify a new look at 9/11. However, I don't think it's of much benefit to put my theories on top of the mountain of theories and speculations that has grown constantly since the 9/11 tragedy.

I only know this: When I look at the events surrounding 9/11 there are alarm bells going off in my head and red flags waving with every twist and turn of the 9/11 scenario that was laid out in the media and through government sources. A new investigation into the tragedy of 9/11 eight years after the fact is in my opinion eight years over do and should be commenced immediately. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


First it was slavery to keep the black Americans down and subservient to the white landowners and elite classes. When the slaves were freed during the civil war era the southern state legislators enacted what was known as "The Black Codes". The purpose of these codes was to restore slavery in substance if not in name. With these codes in place the states themselves took over the role of "Master" with these codes severely restricting black freedom.

Under the "Black Codes", blacks could not rent or lease land and were prohibited from buying property. In many southern states blacks could not vote, hold office or live in cities without a special permit. Tax laws were passed that forced blacks to pay a poll tax if they were allowed to vote at all and an occupation tax that crippled them economically. The state was allowed to arrest them for non-payment and send them to forced labor camps where they would be worked for up to a year free of charge. White plantation owners could also pay the taxes for the black man who would have to work the plantation until their debt is payed in full to the owner.

When these "Black Codes" were ruled unconstitutional it wasn't long before the first "Jim Crow" segregation laws made there appearance on the scene. Separate but supposedly equal under law. Separate drinking fountains, bathrooms, not being served in many establishments such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals and having to sit at the back of the bus or the balcony of movie theaters. Then came the literacy laws, more poll taxes and educational test as requirements for voting. Even state institutions for the blind were segregated. Color was distinguished where no color could be seen! Incredible!

Just as the social and economic discrimination continued in various forms from slavery to the "Black Codes" and through to "Jim Crow" laws that forced blacks to live in Ghetto's and work at menial labor jobs, these indignities are alive and well in the 21st century. Under various names the same social and economic injustices were advanced and the desired result of keeping the blacks and other minorities down were achieved in the past and are being successfully perpetrated today. It should be noted that some of these same laws governing literacy test and poll taxes were used against poor whites to prevent them from voting as well. The plantation owners and power brokers of the south had no intention of losing their grip on power and privilege because of disenfranchised poor folk of any color.

The "Jim Crow" laws and "Black Codes" of yesterday are the Criminal Offender Record Information (C.O.R.I.) reports of today and serve the same purpose: To keep the people of color and other poor minorities marginalized, sidelined and powerless to improve their position in society. The C.O.R.I. report effectively eliminates anyone with a criminal record (no matter how minor or long ago) from full participation in society for the rest of their lives and are used as a perfect excuse to deny the rights of millions of American citizens. With these C.O.R.I. reports you can be denied housing, employment in many fields like child care, banks, foster parenting, most state and federal employment, government contractors and prevented from getting a bank loan and the list goes on and on.

In this slick back-door manner the status quo has found a new way to practice bigotry, racism, discrimination and hate. With this C.O.R.I. information readily available to local, state and federal government agencies as well as employers, doors are slammed shut legally under the guise of protecting society. Under the banner of public safety and preventative measures to preempt the breaking of primary laws; every Tom, Dick and Harry, butcher, baker and candlestick maker can access these C.O.R.I. records, use them as legal tools of racism and turn an entire segment of the U.S. population into practically non-existent entities. C.O.R.I. is nothing less than government mandated institutional racism. It is lynching without rope; an electronic lynching and a subtle way of killing people slowly without literally whacking them. It is a new kind of cleverly disguise slavery, "Black Codes" and "Jim Crow" laws all rolled into one legislative act that turns American citizens into ghost and should be struck down as discriminatory and unconstitutional. At the very least the C.O.R.I. laws need to be modified and these records strictly limited, controlled and accessible only under the most stringent guidelines. Support C.O.R.I. reform. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Here's my stab at poetry:

Blind judgements
Red eyes
Is there any truth
Storied tales or lies?
High handed words
I feel the blood boil
My heads on fire
My body a funeral pyre
Mind blown up
Fast asleep at the wheel
Clean out of luck
Tell me what's real

Say hello when you take the trip
Snakes alway's in a coil
The spirit will strike lickity-split
I get tired
As the blood boils
And the flames move quick
As the blood boils Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, July 11, 2009


A 2005 government report estimated that approximately 191,000 reported and unreported hate crimes occur every year. To find out more go to. Print Friendly and PDF


Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, national security can be the last refuge of a tyrant:

Lord Walker of Gestingthorp Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, July 10, 2009


I see in the press that violence in Iraq is increasing as the U.S. troops are pulling out of Iraqi cities little by little. Excuse me for being blunt but I think the violence in Iraq will escalate to the levels it was before the implementation of George Bush's so-called "Surge" and higher. If the U.S. troops leave the country entirely, Iraq will spiral down into civil war soon after the last pair of U.S. boots hop on the last thing smoking for the United States.

The sectarian violence will spike not because the Iraqi army and police forces are poorly armed, badly trained or ill prepared. The violence will not return because U.S. forces pull back and take leave of the situation. The violence will return because of what the U.S. military brass will take with them as they withdraw from Iraq. You see George W's "Surge" was more smoke and mirrors than brilliant tactical maneuver despite the hooey expounded and served up by mainstream media outlets. Regardless of the "Neo-Cons" that hail the "Surge" as a success story, this is not even close to the truth. The truth of the matter is the violence calmed down for one reason and one reason only.

That reason was the initiation of a strategy (Most of the time a failed strategy) out of an old play book and used by many a businessman, industrialist, corporations, military's and countries throughout the world from time to time. This strategy is used many times when options are few and all else failed. It's used when the product fails to meet expectations, when the assembly line is producing more scrap than saleable merchandise and used when wars or occupations take a disastrous turn. This strategy comes into play when the know-it-all smart-asses running the show realize they aren't as smart as they thought they were. It's used when the best laid plans go haywire and options have dried up and blown away.

The strategy is simple and easy; the strategy is to throw more money at the problem, usually more money than the problem is worth. As they sent more troops in to quell the violence in Bagdad, Kirkuk and other Iraqi cities they simultaneously sent in a "Bag Man" with plenty of cash to spread around. The violence in Iraq didn't slow down because of the influx of new troop concentrations. The violence tapered off because of the bundles and bundles of cash the military (With the blessing of Washington) brought with them to appease various factions responsible for the bombings and killings.

The number of U.S. troops brought in actually had little to do with the relative calm of the Iraqi streets. It was the amount of money brought in and being doled out as payment to various sects in Iraq to stop fighting. This is why the supposed "Awakening Councils" were formed in Iraqi neighborhoods. Not to promote peace as claimed by the media, but to serve as regional paymasters to disperse these funds to the local warlords. Like they say: "Money talks and bullshit walks".

When it came to collecting easy money and I'm talking about thousands and hundreds of thousands of good old American "Green Backs" that are being thrown at the warring factions in Iraq, things changed. Suddenly it becomes very profitable and fashionable for all sides to hold their militias in check and stop blowing people up for awhile. But as the troops pull back, Uncle Sam's purse strings will pull tight and the flow of dollars will stop. The fat payola enjoyed by the Sunni, Shite's, kurds and Turks is slowly shrinking and will soon be gone. The day the United States stops paying the various sects and militias not to fight, all hell is going to break lose. The only "Surge" that worked was the surge of American money not American might.

This war was a foolish and reckless undertaking from day one. No matter what beautiful pictures are shown or optimistic commentary comes out of the talking heads on mainstream corporate television, the United States involvement in Iraq can only end with a rude awakening and realization that far more harm was done on many levels than good because of the invasion of Iraq, regardless of how our involvement ends. In my opinion Civil War in Iraq is almost assured and no amount of troops, guns or propping up of puppet regimes from the United States is going to make a differance in the outcome. The future of Iraq must be in the hands of the people of Iraq as it should have been from the start. The only reasonable solution the United States has to their involvement in Iraq, is the only solution there ever was: GET OUT AND STAY OUT! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, June 26, 2009

From the border

Hello Everyone.. I finally get a few moments to work on the computer!! Don from Ohio and I were picked up again this am by security on the way to buy some water and were transported to Arish the nearest big city, which is about 2 hours away from the border, before we were let go.. now we are waiting for security to lose interest in us, before we try to go back though the many check points to the border... What better place to hid than in the net works!! The border is very hot, we are sleeping in tents, in what could be called a large car port, with security all over the place... we are about 100 yards from the gate and the border runs about 200 yards along the side of us.... most mornings we wake to the sounds of bombs being dropped very is said to be on the tunnels,. so the whole earth shakes... and at night too there is bombs being dropped.. Our daily skd is pretty much the same each day.. getting up.. washed in the bathroom (if security has't locked us out) and you wouldn't want to call it a bathroon... it is really a line of really dirty small ( the john in the office is 3 times as big!!) room with a hole and a water pipe... we have found a cut off plastic bottle works well to collect the water from the pipe and pour over the body!! so much for showers... and than washing our clothers in another large plastic be put out on the tree to dry .. and we are ready for going to the gate to talk to all the different people denied entering Gaza...there are 50 or 60 people each day who are denied and many of them keep coming back ..secuity keeps saying they don't have the right papers. 10 people from United Nations are being denied right now...many people are from the US... families coming to visit their parents or to attend a wedding, the stories are women was told that the house of the family she wanted to visit was destroyed so she didn't have the right address to enter!! Well it is time to pick up some water and look for a way back in.Love and. Peace to all Ellen... I moved my tkt up.. will be back Monday.. Hugs Ellen Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

International Community Activists Arrive at the Rafah Border

More about Ellen Grave's group...

At 8 a.m. Egypt time, seven of the International Movement to Open the Rafah Border walked to the Rafah, Egypt/Gaza border. The group consists ofDavid Mattacchioni, Italy; Christian Chantegrel, Micheline Garreau, Jacque Denko, France; Paki Wieland, Ellen Graves, and Don Bryant, USA. Theycame by a circuitous route, avoiding all checkpoints between El-Arish and Rafah. These international activists attempted to enter Gaza the morning ofJune 9, but were denied. They were told the border would open at 1 p.m.

The goal of the International Movement to Open the Rafah Border (IMORB) is not to enter Gaza, but to protest the extended siege and the 22-day Israelimilitary attacks of Gaza. "A humanitarian crisis exists in Gaza due to the siege and the Israeli invasion in December and January." explained Don Bryantof Cleveland, Ohio. "We were in Gaza three months ago and saw the extreme destruction in every village, refugee camp, and business district. Over 1400were killed, 85% were civilians."

"There's a lot of destruction, almost like the day of judgement." said Cesar, born in Gaza, now of Denton, Texas. His family had planned to return to Gazauntil their last visit, when they decided it was just too bad to stay. The IMORB sat with Cesar, his wife, and four children, at the border checkpoint, as theywaited to enter Gaza, to visit with family.

Four men who wanted to go to Gaza today also waited with the IMORB. Awni from UAE wanted to see his sick mother, Mohammad had surgery in Cairoand wishes to go home to Gaza, and two students, Salama and Mohammad graduated and are hoping to go home to Gaza. Awni told the activists,"unfortunately, we found the border closed, and we have to wait, six days now. What do they think, we are not human? What did we do to these people?

There are treating us very bad, they treat us like animals, but we are all the same as you from America. Why? Why?"

In late morning, a European Parliament delegation came to visit Gaza. The IMORB displayed a banner, "Open the Gaza Border," and hoped to have a meeting with the dignitaries. The Rafah gate was suddenly opened wide to make them pass as quick as possible in order to make sure there was no contact with the activists or the other people waiting. The demonstration was captured on camera by convoy passengers. Families trying to enter Gazajoined the demonstration.

If Egyptian security allows the international activists to enter Gaza, they will accept the visa on one condition. "If the gates are open for everyone to comeand go as they wish., explained Ellen Graves. "We have people here with us who have come to visit their loved ones; forbidding these visits is againstinternational law, and contrary to human dignity. Families come long distances, and then they have to sit here for days before entering, It is inhuman.

On June 4, 2009

In response to US President Barrack Obama's visit to Cairo, Egypt on June 4, seven "international community activists" from the International Movement to Open the Rafah Border, and US anti-war groups Code Pink and Raging Grannies began a day-long protest to end the Siege of Gaza. The group began their protest at 9 am at the US embassy in Cairo. They unfurled a banner in front of the embassy with the message, "End the Siege of Gaza." Code Pink co-founder, Medea Benjamin carried a letter from the Palestinian government, Hamas, to deliver to the embassy and to President Obama. The letter had been issued to Medea the day before coming from Gaza. The correspondence from Hamas stated their desire to negotiate with israel and the US with no preconditions. "It was a very dignified letter," said French demonstrator, Christian. The group was also asking President Obama to visit Gaza, Palestine on his Middle East tour. "If the president could see Gaza for himself, he would see the result of US tax dollars, that support the Israeli war crimes in Gaza ," shouted the demonstrators. "Obama, go to Gaza!" they continued.

The international community activists (ICA) were diverted from delivering their message to the embassy, being directed from one entrance to another. They were also told that cameras would be confiscated if any pictures were taken. The group was joined by members of two student delegations that had been to Gaza. The students had scribed a letter to the president, protesting the Israeli siege and war crimes in Gaza. Tigue from Code Pink had a contact within the embassy, whom he called to find out who was in control at the embassy that day. He was told that embassy security had the final say. Embassy security tried to contain the ICA in a barricade, which they crawled under, and escaped.

The demonstration was pure improvisation. After leaving the embassy the ICA had planned to display their banners from various bridges or buildings. Instead they decided to see how close they could get to the Cairo University, where the president would deliver his Middle East address.

Being separated from the students, the seven travelled in two taxis, arriving 1 km from the university. The police stopped all traffic including their taxis. Exiting from the taxis, the demonstrators began walking freely, through the heavily secured area. Christian said it was like the American movie, "Little Big Man," when Dustin Hoffman escorted the blind native chief through a raging massacre. The demonstrators walked for one minute towards a monument thirty meters from the university and the security checkpoint. The plaza was crowded with spectators, security officers, and police dogs.

In front of the monument the demonstrators unfurled the bright pink banners in English and Arabic. All the spectators had to pass by the demonstrators on their way to the presidential address. While some of the ICA remained with one banner in front of the monument, the others wandered among the crowd addressing the spectators by microphone, openly displaying the letter from Hamas. People took interest and took pictures of the letter and the demonstration.

The demonstrators saw about 1000 security officers; Egyptian officers in white and black, and many plain-clothes police from the US and Egypt. Security officers noticed the protestors and communicated on walkie-talkies apparently trying to figure out how to handle the demonstrators. The demonstration went on for nearly 1/2 hour before security finally approached them. Actually there were 30,000 security officers on duty, as was later revealed. Security told the ICA to leave but they said, "we are Americans. We are protesting. This is our right of free speech." The only Egyptian protestor was told to leave, but others joined the demonstration, which now included, one Chinese and three American students, two Frenchmen, and four others from the US....the Italian who tried to join them was searched and sent away because security discovered a video camera in his back pack.

Three of the ICA took a banner to another gate where the president was supposed to pass by. They were told to leave this area. As they went to rejoin the larger group, security tried to drive them with some physical force, to no avail. Medea told them, "President Obama wouldn't like you do that."

Finally, a full line of security officers faced the demonstrators. The ICA knew something was about to happen. Suddenly sirens blarred. The Obama motorcade was approaching. President Obama passed, as fast as possible, by the demonstration in full view of the banners' messages "End the Gaza Siege," "Stop Funding Israeli War Crimes."

When Obama had entered the university, the situation was calmer and Egyptian security warmed up to the protestors, serving them juice and cookies.

When the president's speech was over, suddenly a huge crowd of diplomats, journalists, and Egyptian VIPS all left at the same time. In the hot sun an intensity resurged. The ICA met the masses with increased vigor. and they were actually greeted by some of the crowd. Some of the demonstrators were engaged in interviews by the journalists.

The group decided it was a good time to exit when they noticed that most of the public had dissipated and that other security forces were slowly enclosing the area around the monument. The International Community Activists quickly packed their banners and slipped through an opening in the security barrier, even while the police were following and trying to grab them.

The banners were later hung from a hotel on Independence Plaza.

Upon later reflection of the intense deployment of security, Raging Grannie Paki, said, "what kind of a world is this that we have to have this much security?"

Christian answered, " it is an occupied world."

Contact (002)0144169801

Christain Chentegrel


David Mattacchioni Print Friendly and PDF

Time for a Citywide Tenants Organization

If there's one issue bringing people into Arise for Social Justice these days, it's housing.

Today a Navy veteran with a nine year old autistic son needed some help in finding out where she is on the list for subsidized housing. She'd call HAP the other day but they misunderstood what she was asking and they told her they're not taking new applications because there's a ten year waiting list! She feels as if the family members she's been living with are running out of patience with her because her son is not easy to live with, but her income is under $900 a month in SSI for her son and TAFDC for her so she hasn't been able to find anything she can afford.

Another woman last week was never notified by her landlord as to which bank is holding her security deposit, and now that's she's moving, she wants to know where it is-- minor in the light of things, except that she needs the money to put down on the new apartment.

Of course we see our fair share of bad housing issues, the occasional case of sexual harassment by a landlord or other tenant, pending evictions because not having the rent money, and a steady stream of single men and women looking for an efficiency apartment they can afford. People are feeling shell-shocked and discouraged yet somehow they keep on with the struggle.

Funny how even living poor, you can be so shocked by the situations of others. Arise was started in the mid-eighties by four of us on public assistance, so we all knew something, but I still remember the day I found out that there were so many homeless families, they had to be put up in motels. I still remember the day I first heard someone say, "How can there be empty buildings when the shelters are full?" And I remember the day I figured out that rents had gone up 161% in just three years.

This was just a few years before the savings and loan debacle, where buildings were emptied and boarded up as their overextended owner, who thought they could just keep flipping buildings at higher and higher prices, with no chance ever to be able to meet a monthly mortgage payment based on tenants' rents, finally faced the bursting of their own housing bubble.

Arise was involved in the one and only development project we've ever undertaken just after that bubble burst-- we built a coalition of organizations and agencies and purchased the old Rainville Hotel on Byers St., a building that defined the word seedy. It had been taken over by the Resolution Trust Company, a Government-owned asset management company. and we turned it from a 60 some odd unit dump into forty-three efficiency apartments for homeless people "ready for independent living." I write these words so blithely, but it took three years of difficult development work to make it happen, and we have now provided housing for ten years. Never again, we decided.

But just because we don't want to do housing development doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.

We at Arise have taken no particular opinion at this point on the proposed development of Longhill Gardens, a controversial affordable housing rehab, except, of course, to be aware of how many of the project''s opponents seem to believe that poor people are indistinguishable from criminals. But the cry of "No more affordable housing!" begs the question: affordable to whom?

I had an amicable conversation with a project opponent at an candidates' training sponsored by Arise. He said that Longhill Gardens would be designed for people who make 60% of the median income, as if that was a terrible thing. I asked him what that was and he said it was about $20,000. Well, I'm an intelligent person and I've worked all my life but I'm not college-educated and the work I do tends not to be valued very much. For all but three years of my working life, I qualify to live in Longhill Gardens.

So here we are, 24 years after Arise was founded, with homeless families in motels, unaffordable rents, and streets so riddled with boarded and abandoned houses they look like the site of a natural disaster.

A federal law that gives tenants in foreclosed properties some rights was just passed this May, and we're getting ready to do door to door with information because not knowing you have a right is the same as not having it. We learned that one a long time ago.

Although (because?) Arise is primarily an organization that organizes, we also do a lot of advocating. It's time to bring the people we advocate with plus our members together so there's a vehicle to spread information about people's rights. What are the other issues people will bring to the table? I have a pretty good idea, but we'll find out.

There's strength in numbers and it's time to form a citywide tenants organization.

Join us on Wednesday, June 24, from 6 pm to 8 pm, at 467 State St., Springfield, for the first meeting.

Graphic by Eric Drooker. Print Friendly and PDF

Emails from Ellen in Egypt

In chronological order, here's what we've heard so far from Ellen:

Date: Thursday, June 4, 2009, 6:31 PM

Please forgive this "mass mailing," but I wanted each and all of you to hear our news.Report #1, Cairo, after landing, getting our affidavits, riiding the bus to & from the pyramids, a quick visit to the Egyptian Museum and almost figuring out the cell phone, etc. in weather that was over 100 degrees yesterday! 6/4... TODAY! After 2 CUPS of Egyptian coffee, Paki and I hooked up with Medea Benjamin and other CP ers to go to the Embassy to deliver Yussef's letter from Hamas to Obama. The place was in high intensity mode! TOP SECURITY!!! We then helped form the group of about 12 code pink members and friends who held banners and chanted, "No money for Israeli war crimes," and "Justice for Gaza" at the University of Cairo today. President Obama's motorcade drove past the protesters who stood for 5 hours in the Egyptian's midday sun. The crowd listened as we chanted and Medea Benjamin reported on her recent time in Gaza, from where she returned yeaterday..

Our protest was to remind President Obama to do what he can diplomatically to stop the suffering in Gaza. This includes cutting the funding to Israel for weapons which it uses in violation of International Law and to support justice for the Palestinian people.
The Egyptian and U.S. security was very much in evidence. There was intimidation of Egyptian activists who initially stood with us. They were not detained but certainly, they were not afforded the privilege of the 1st Amendment we exercise. I spoke with one woman this evening who expressed deepest appreciation for our presence (I thank you for your helping make this possible). The Egyptian authorities were initially heavy handed, but they backed down, allowing us to gather at the main entrance to Cairo University. It seems the President consequently entered through another entrance. Perhaps in keeping with the good will engendered by President Obama's visit, after about 4 hours in the midday sun the Egyptian authorities brought us water, juice and cookies. This sustained us to continue our protest as the crowds filed out of the hall following the speech. They seemed both bouyed by the visit of our President and supportive of our cries for just peace.
Tomorow we plan to leave for the border.
Love and Hugs to all .. Ellen

June 7 - Hi I am now in a little town called La laresch (in english).. but everything is in Arabic here as it was in Cairo..we are with in 10 miles of the border waiting for others to join us, before going tomorrow for our first try to cross..There are Chistian from Lisbon, Jock who is French, David from Italy Omar and Micheal fom England, Don from Ohio and Paki and I and we are being join by 10 others tomorrow from New Orleans... Many others are due in I hope inthe next 2 that point we go.. Before we left Cairo Paki, Chistian and I had a wonderful 4 hour conversation with Nada... One of the leaders of the Kaferfa Student Organization.. She was with us at the University until the the government security made her leave and tried to arrest her.. The conversation was about everything.. which I will share when I get back.. The police in this little town are always with us and watching.

Later in day the day.....
I am using a computer at a net shop!! and the letters are all in Arabic!!(painted over the English) so anyway the place we stayed last night was too expensive,, There were police sitting in the lobby and standing around the desk .. We moved to some rooms in a house (friends of Nada) The
police asked the taxi driver where we had gone.. and now the police are sitting in the drive way..So for their safety we are moving back... I have been unable to get on the blog because it is Arabic.. But will try again,, Peace and Hugs... Ellen.

Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A part of the Struggle.

Native American/Indigenous issues get very little airtime, especially in Western Mass. I'm not sure why this is but it is. Native issues are as much a part of the social/economic justice struggle as anything else is.
I have been following "Six Nations" fight to prevent Officers of the Canada Border Services Agency from carrying guns at the Cornwall crossing. This boarder crossing is on sovereign Mohawk land. If Canada wants to arm CBSA then they should do it in their own country.

picture from

Here is a bit of an article by Kaheninetha Horn editor MNN Mohawk Nation News, clan mother, grandmother, mother and activist.........


MNN. June 2 2009. In the US everyone needs guns. Canadians don’t need guns to protect themselves, yet! It is still different enough. Canadian society went hard against anyone that used guns in a crime. In the US if someone burglarizes, the home owner can shoot and kill them. In Canada guns can only be used in self defense. They always thought they could work things out.

Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has taken on the US attitude where most enforcement agencies need guns to deal with criminals or the public, who will also need guns to protect themselves from the police. There are countless super violent standoffs in the US. This is being invited into Canada by Harper.

Harper wants to appear more masculine so that he is no longer just a sidekick of the US. To be the dominant party, he has to be as big and tough as Obama or Bush. He needs a macho image to compete with them. He needs a gun! Harper wants all enforcement agents to have guns. This idea is already expressed in many recent government legislation.
A truck driver in the US needs a gun to protect himself from being hijacked or killed. They used to get arrested when they crossed the border into Canada for carrying guns. They had to leave them behind. In Canada they still should feel safe. Things haven’t changed. It will always be a safe place even though Harper wants to change it.

What is the problem? It’s penis envy. In the minds of many men a gun is a phallic symbol which is a sign of masculinity and virility. This is untrue. If you get into a fight to defend yourself without guns, it requires a bigger person.

You can read the rest at: Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Neal still waffling on health care

A hundred people showed up yesterday for a rally at Congressman Richard E. Neal's Springfield office on State St. We were there to see if we could win Neal's support for HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act.

Many groups have met with Cong. Neal to ask him to support HR676. He just keeps putting off a real answer. Yesterday he released the following statement:

“Since President Obama’s election, I have pledged to work with him to reform America’s health care system. I share his goals that comprehensive health care reform must be affordable, provide coverage options for every American and guarantee quality care. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, one of three committees in the U.S. House that has jurisdiction over health care, I am committed to passing real health care reform legislation this year. On numerous occasions, I have spoken with the White House and officials in the Obama administration about the importance of passing health care reform during the 111th session of Congress. I know they share my view that the American people cannot afford to wait any longer. As the debate in Congress resumes, I look forward to continuing my work with President Obama and the leadership in Congress to make health care affordable and accessible for every American.”

Well, blah, blah, blah.

Two days before the rally, a member of the Western Mass. Single Payer Network had a conversation with Neal's legislative aide Bill Powers about HR 676. The gist of it went like this:

  • Rep. Neal has already met with 2-3 groups regarding his stance on healthcare, and can't keep spending time meeting with groups over this single issue.
  • Neal's position on health care is not clearly articulated in any public place and cannot be articulated without a "longer conversation" but unfortunatelty Neal is not available to meet on this topic for at least a month-and-a-half or two months in the future.
  • When asked whether Neal supports HR 676 or not, Powers stated that Neal takes issue with how HR 676 is written, but does not necessarily object to HR676. Again, his position on HR676 requires a "more lengthy discussion".

Could Neal's lack of support for HR 676 be linked to the fact that his top contributer category is insurance companies? That's not the case for any of the other 13 U.S. Senators and Representatives in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately it seems as if President Obama has yet to come around to supporting a true single payer plan. His current proposal gives too much power to insurance companies. A good fact check on his plan can be found at PolitiFact. A real problem is that his plan mimics the Massachusetts model. Yesterday's Boston Globe sees the state's health care costs spiraling out of control, waits for doctors increasing, and costs keeping patients from accessing prescription drugs and doctors.

It's not too late to win HR676, but we have our work cut out for us.

Photos: President of Arise Don James, Shirley McCready and John Bennett from Mass. Senior Action, Liz Bewsee from Arise and Ashley from OutNow, Arky Markham from Western Mass. Single Payer Network, Sadie Centeno and Vanessa Rivera from Arise, State rep. Ben Swan, City Council candidate Norm Oliver.

Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, May 15, 2009


Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

President Obama has called for repealing the ban on federal funding
for anti-AIDS programs that supply clean needles to drug users. His
drug policy director supported such a program when he was Seattle's
police chief. And last week, Obama's nominee to head the Food and
Drug Administration won praise in a Senate committee for her
leadership on needle exchange.

So advocates of the programs in the Bay Area and elsewhere were
surprised and dismayed when Obama's budget for 2009-10 proposed to
continue the funding prohibition that dates from the 1980s.

"We hoped that the president would seize the first opportunity for
lifting federal restrictions on this life-saving prevention
strategy," said Paola Barahona of Physicians for Human Rights.
"Denying people at risk for HIV a proven prevention intervention is
a denial of their basic human rights."

"Without the federal funding, we're missing people that we could
reach," said Laura Thomas, who heads the Drug Policy Alliance office
in San Francisco and volunteers at a local needle-exchange program.
"It's ridiculous that at this point in the epidemic, we're not
looking to science in determining what we're funding."

A similar view could be found on the White House Web site soon after
Obama took office in January: "The president also supports lifting
the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce
rates of infection among drug users."

That comment was erased from the site recently.


Continues: Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama

An Open Letter to President Barak Obama

April, 6, 2009

Dear President Obama,

In approaching the task of addressing you directly about a personal issue, I feel daunted by the abyss that separates the two of us in status and power. I am a retired public health physician, attempting to maintain a hold on his sanity and physical health by puttering around his garden in a Palestinian village in Galilee. You are the president of the nation most of humanity envies and desires to join, burdened with the task of saving the world from economic and political chaos and now from nuclear war.....


The link for this blog was sent by a friend. here is the link to the rest of the blog.

Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

War on Drugs

The “War on drugs”

Law enforcement loves to tout the “War on drugs” as a banner theme, a shining example to point to as proof of their diligence and commitment to fighting crime. The media falls in line with this supposed “WAR” by creating headlines out of every little local drug bust where an “Ounce of this” or a “100 grams of that” was confiscated along with a few hundred dollars. If a gun or two are found in with the stash, law enforcement and the media will have a field day with exploiting this angle and use it to attack the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

John Q. Public will sit back in an easy chair and review the evening news or read the local rag delivered to their doorstep every morning and believe that all is well and great progress is being made on in this “WAR”. How so many people are duped into being content with these nickel and dime, small potatoes drug bust operations by law enforcement that do absolutely nothing to put a dent in the drug trade is puzzling to me. These little nothing operations are costing the taxpayers a fortune in Salaries to Judges, Police, Correction staff, equipment and cost of operating Jails all for small time players in the drug market while little or nothing is being done to reel in the “Big Fish.”
The small fry’s that are being busted are insignificant side players and actions against them do nothing to curb drug use or the drug trade in the United States. Even if every one of these small time operators were to drive into town with a tractor- trailer loaded to the hilt with Cocaine, Crack or Heroin, this would still only be a drop in a bucket that has a million holes in it.
A flood, a Tsunami of drugs of all kinds is literally pouring into this country from every imaginable source and every imaginable mode of transport. It’s coming up from Mexico, down from Canada, in from the Pacific Ocean, The Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of Mexico. Drugs are being flown in at a rate that makes the Berlin air lift after World War II look like a “Mom and Pop” operation. From fishing boats to freighters to entire flotillas of boats, drugs are moving like a prairie-fire into and across this country virtually unimpeded. By land, sea and air it is measured in TONNAGE, not Kilograms, Grams or “Bags”[those are the measurements of the little street dealers].
It’s time for the people to wake up to this reality and demand that law enforcement wage a real war and go after the “Big Boys.” Stop wasting the taxpayer’s dollars and clogging up the justice system and jails with people charged with little “Bullshit” drug busts that do nothing to alleviate the real problems. Law enforcements so-called “WAR” on drugs is more like a war on the weak, the poor, the minorities and bit players who are looking for an escape of one kind or another from the stifling racism, bigotry and poverty of an ingrained White Supremist Society.
None of these little fish are bringing these drugs into the country. None of these “Big” busts that are splashed across the T.V. screens and front pages of newspapers are big bust at all. None of these street dealers have low flying D.C. 9’s or Panamanian registered freighters moving drugs into or across this country. Demand more from your representatives in government and hold our illustrious leaders accountable to the people at every level of government. Demand that if they fight a drug war or any other war, fight it on the front lines and quit pussyfooting around. There are huge profits to be made in the drug trade so if they’re serious about this war (Which I don’t believe they are) they should be following the money. The money will lead back to the source and if that source turns out to be the very Congressmen, Senators and Judges that claim to be fighting against drugs, then justice must be blind and doled out to them with the same aggressive attitude that is used on the poor minority defendant caught with a few bags of dope in the inner city. Let’s get real. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Food for Thought

When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

Sinclair Lewis Print Friendly and PDF

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Police Brutality in Northampton MA!!!!

I went to the rally yesterday and I wanted to update you all.
People have been VERY hostile to this information getting out, many listserves that I am on have been home to heated debate with area residents making exclamations like "Come on this is Not L.A." Or " There Is no story. It was made up" to "if its true why is in not in the police blotter"--Come one since when have the police kept record of their own brutality??!!?? These things do happen--even in th happy valley!

The following is information of what allegedly took place in Downtown Northampton this past weekend.
Here is the information as it was told by Al's best friend Aaron @ yesterday's rally:
Al is a Black Disabled Veteran. He was arrested at Urban Outfitters for alleged shoplifting. Aaron believes that when the police brought him out of the store and around the corner there were reports of Al yelling "You are really hurting me!" It is at that point that Aaron believes (based on eye witness accounts) that the beating ensued. It is believed that Al received many blows to his face (and probably body as well). Aaron reported that he was notified of the arrest and proceeded to gather bail money. Aaron arrived at the Police station sometime after the arrest (I'm not sure how much later--it might have even been the next morning?) Aaron said that he was here to bail Al out. The officers began processing bail. It was at that point that an officer went to go retrieve Al and found him unconscious (later to be deemed in a coma) in his cell. Al was NOT breathing at this point in time and the officer returned to report to Aaron that he "had come bad news," It appeared his friend had suffered a Massive Heart Attack. Aaron said that it was was clear at that point in time that Al had NOT been monitored while locked up. The police were ONLY aware of Al's condition because they had gone to retrieve him for bail. Once at the Hospital Aaron was disturbed to see the extent of Al's injuries.
Al's bottom jaw was injured so badly and that it was knocked so far to the right that "Al can look down to the side and see his own jaw!" His upper lip was completely split open horizontally and his eyes were swollen shut. Al's family came to Cooley Dickinson and they, as well as Aaron and members of Poverty is Not a Crime, have reported that all doctors and nurses at Cooley Dickinson Hospital who have cared for Al have said "There is Nothing wrong with this man's heart. He did not have a heart attack" Aaron reported that Al has no spleen and due to this feels pain much more intensely than most. Aaron said that the medical professionals believe that Al's body went into a coma as a way of coping with the intense pain he was experiencing. It is not known for how long Al laid on the cell floor, not breathing, nor the extent of brain damage due to an extended period of time with no oxygen going to his brain. Al is currently at Cooley Dickinson, in and out of consciousness.

Action MUST be taken!!! Please make the following phone calls:
Mayor Higgins should have an earful--413.587.1249

Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz---413.587.1100
The arresting officers AND the officers that left Al bleeding and unconscious in a cell should be suspended without pay effective immediately

Even if you are NOT a resident of Northampton I urge you to make these phone calls--because we ALL do business in that town, purchase items in that town, are patrons at its stores and restaurants, or work in Northampton! We ALL have a stake in protecting our Disabled Veterans! We ALL deserve to feel safe. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30, 2009
Editorial, New York Times
Reviewing Criminal Justice
America’s criminal justice system needs repair. Prisons are overcrowded, sentencing policies are uneven and often unfair, ex-convicts are poorly integrated into society, and the growing problem of gang violence has not received the attention it deserves. For these and other reasons, a bill introduced last week by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, should be given high priority on the Congressional calendar.
The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, would establish a national commission to review the system from top to bottom. It is long overdue, and should be up and running as soon as possible.
The United States has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world. More than 1 in 100 adults are now behind bars, for the first time in history. The incarceration rate has been rising faster than the crime rate, driven by harsh sentencing policies like “three strikes and you’re out,” which impose long sentences that are often out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense.
Keeping people in prison who do not need to be there is not only unjust but also enormously expensive, which makes the problem a priority right now. Hard-pressed states and localities that reduce prison costs will have more money to help the unemployed, avert layoffs of teachers and police officers, and keep hospitals operating. In the last two decades, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report, state corrections spending soared 127 percent, while spending on higher education increased only 21 percent.
Meanwhile, as governments waste money putting the wrong people behind bars, gang activity has been escalating, accounting for as much as 80 percent of the crime in some parts of the country.
The commission would be made up of recognized criminal justice experts, and charged with examining a range of policies that have emerged haphazardly across the country and recommending reforms. In addition to obvious problems like sentencing, the commission would bring much-needed scrutiny to issues like the special obstacles faced by the mentally ill in the system, as well as the shameful problem of prison violence.
Prison management and inmate treatment need special attention now that the Prison Litigation Reform Act has drastically scaled back prisoners’ ability to vindicate their rights in court. Indeed, the commission should consider recommending that the law be modified or repealed.
Mr. Webb has enlisted the support of not only the Senate’s top-ranking Democrats, including the majority leader, Harry Reid, but also influential Republicans like Arlen Specter, the ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham, the ranking member of the crime and drugs subcommittee.
There is no companion bill in the House, and one needs to be written. Judging by the bipartisan support in the Senate, a national consensus has emerged that the criminal justice system is broken. Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Jonathan Saltzman

Officials Want Children Shielded

Dozens of Massachusetts cities and towns are taking steps to impose
stiff new fines for smoking marijuana in public and even to charge
some violators with misdemeanors, a trend that critics say subverts
the state ballot question passed overwhelmingly last fall to
decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

In recent weeks, at least seven communities - Duxbury, Lynn, Methuen,
Medway, Milford, Salem, and Springfield - have passed bylaws that
target people who light up in public. And two dozen cities and towns
expect to vote this spring on similar measures, which proponents liken
to local open container laws that ban drinking alcohol in public.

Police officials say they want to discourage flagrant marijuana
smoking, particularly in public parks, schoolyards, and on beaches
where young children gather. While last year's ballot initiative
reduced possession of an ounce or less from a misdemeanor to a civil
infraction carrying a $100 fine, police say that some marijuana
smokers mistakenly believe that the voters legalized the drug

"If you're smoking marijuana in front of schoolchildren, to me that's
a little bit more serious than smoking a joint by yourself out in the
middle of the woods," said Salem police Captain Brian Gilligan. His
city recently authorized officers to fine public smokers $300 in
addition to the $100 fine for possession. The Salem bylaw also lets
officers give them a misdemeanor summons, although Gilligan predicted
that few will get them.

Advocates of last fall's ballot initiative say the new civil fines for
smoking marijuana in public are, at best, unnecessary because those
individuals can already be fined for possession. At worst, they say,
bylaws that treat smoking violations as a misdemeanor are a backdoor
attempt to subvert the will of Massachusetts voters, who approved
decriminalization in November by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.

Continues: Close Window Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Commentary: Legalize Drugs to Stop Violence

Commentary: Legalize drugs to stop violence
Jeffrey Miron: Thousands have been killed in Mexico's ongoing drug war
He says U.S. drug policy leads to corruption of politicians and law enforcement
Miron: Legalizing drugs is the best way to reduce drug violence
He says drugs should be controlled through regulation and taxation
By Jeffrey A. MironSpecial to CNN
Editor's note: Jeffrey A. Miron is senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Over the past two years, drug violence in Mexico has become a fixture of the daily news. Some of this violence pits drug cartels against one another; some involves confrontations between law enforcement and traffickers.
Recent estimates suggest thousands have lost their lives in this "war on drugs."
The U.S. and Mexican responses to this violence have been predictable: more troops and police, greater border controls and expanded enforcement of every kind. Escalation is the wrong response, however; drug prohibition is the cause of the violence.
Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.
Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after.
Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it's permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question.
The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs. Fortuitously, legalization is the right policy for a slew of other reasons.
Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade. This is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for prohibited industries but rare otherwise. Mexico's recent history illustrates this dramatically.
Prohibition erodes protections against unreasonable search and seizure because neither party to a drug transaction has an incentive to report the activity to the police. Thus, enforcement requires intrusive tactics such as warrantless searches or undercover buys. The victimless nature of this so-called crime also encourages police to engage in racial profiling.
Prohibition has disastrous implications for national security. By eradicating coca plants in Colombia or poppy fields in Afghanistan, prohibition breeds resentment of the United States. By enriching those who produce and supply drugs, prohibition supports terrorists who sell protection services to drug traffickers.
Prohibition harms the public health. Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other conditions cannot use marijuana under the laws of most states or the federal government despite abundant evidence of its efficacy. Terminally ill patients cannot always get adequate pain medication because doctors may fear prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Drug users face restrictions on clean syringes that cause them to share contaminated needles, thereby spreading HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.
Prohibitions breed disrespect for the law because despite draconian penalties and extensive enforcement, huge numbers of people still violate prohibition. This means those who break the law, and those who do not, learn that obeying laws is for suckers.
Prohibition is a drain on the public purse. Federal, state and local governments spend roughly $44 billion per year to enforce drug prohibition. These same governments forego roughly $33 billion per year in tax revenue they could collect from legalized drugs, assuming these were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco. Under prohibition, these revenues accrue to traffickers as increased profits.
The right policy, therefore, is to legalize drugs while using regulation and taxation to dampen irresponsible behavior related to drug use, such as driving under the influence. This makes more sense than prohibition because it avoids creation of a black market. This approach also allows those who believe they benefit from drug use to do so, as long as they do not harm others.
Legalization is desirable for all drugs, not just marijuana. The health risks of marijuana are lower than those of many other drugs, but that is not the crucial issue. Much of the traffic from Mexico or Colombia is for cocaine, heroin and other drugs, while marijuana production is increasingly domestic. Legalizing only marijuana would therefore fail to achieve many benefits of broader legalization.
It is impossible to reconcile respect for individual liberty with drug prohibition. The U.S. has been at the forefront of this puritanical policy for almost a century, with disastrous consequences at home and abroad.
The U.S. repealed Prohibition of alcohol at the height of the Great Depression, in part because of increasing violence and in part because of diminishing tax revenues. Similar concerns apply today, and Attorney General Eric Holder's recent announcement that the Drug Enforcement Administration will not raid medical marijuana distributors in California suggests an openness in the Obama administration to rethinking current practice.
Perhaps history will repeat itself, and the U.S. will abandon one of its most disastrous policy experiments.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jeffrey Miron.
All AboutMexicoIllegal DrugsLaw Enforcement

Find this article at:

Check the box to include the list of links referenced in the article.

� 2008 Cable News Network
setTimeout('showLayer();',200); Print Friendly and PDF

After Yucca: America's homeless nuclear waste

In Idaho. In Massachusetts. In Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Louisiana, California, New Mexico -- at 120 locations in 39 states a total of 66,000 tons of used but still dangerously radioactive fuel are stored in concrete containers under the open sky.

And now it has nowhere else to go.
In this June 25, 2002 file photo, the view from the summit ridge of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump near Mercury, Nev.,looking west towards California. (The Associated Press file photo)
But President Barack Obama opposes the repository and has slashed funding for it in his budget proposal. "Both the president and I have made clear that Yucca Mountain is not a workable option and that we will begin a thoughtful dialogue on a better solution for our nuclear storage waste needs," Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate budget panel recently.
Concerns about transportation safety, earthquakes, water contamination and its proximity to millions of Nevadans have stalled the repository's completion after two decades and billions of dollars of study and construction.

Some even contend that the Yucca Mountain project is dead.
Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, March 13, 2009

Monsanto's Many Attempts to Destroy All Seeds but Their Own

Some say that if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, they simply shouldn’t buy Monsanto’s GMO seeds. But it isn’t quite that simple. Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples, and then sues, saying they own the crop.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is taking many other steps to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of normal seeds:

Continue reading at:
http://articles. sites/articles/ archive/2009/ 03/07/monsantos- many-attempts- to-destroy- all-seeds- but-their- own.aspx
Photo from: Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Environmental Action

Polluters are using two Supreme Court rulings and Bush era actions by the Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to circumvent the Clean Water Act. This can result in the pollution of America's streams, lakes and rivers. Please support the "Clean Water Restoration Act". Go to and learn more.

Posted by D.J. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crisis in Somalia


A series of public forums on the current war and raising awareness on what some call the largest humanitarian crisis in Africa and the world.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009

4-6 pm

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center,

3 Rutland Street (at corner of State St.)

Springfield, MA



FEATURING special guest Smith College professor KATWIWA MULE.

Video clips of past forums and live performance by members of the Walaalo! Somali Sisters Collective.

There will be POETRY and MUSIC from members of Walaalo! Collective

For more info visit our website at or contact Nicole: or 413-545-1972

The Crisis in Somalia forums are co-sponsored by the Center for Popular Economics,Western Mass. American

Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the MLK Community Center, and other partners with generous support from

the Mass Humanities.

See our website for updates & information –

WALAALO! Project is supported in part by the Womenʼs Fund of Western Massachusetts, and Mass

Humanities. This highly collaborative project would not be possible without the work of the

following partner organizations: the Center for Popular Economics, the International Language

Institute, Akeret Productions, Deanʼs Beans, and Gasoline Alley.

For info email Nicole Young at or call NWT at 413-545-1972.

Print Friendly and PDF

Homeless Nation gains attention

Last fall community and social media expert Chris Brogan gave a plus t0 Canadian-based Homeless Nation, a site I frequently go to for updates on homeless organizing.

You might have heard of the site. They won both the Canadian New Media Award (CNMA) and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) Award for Excellence in New Communications Award for New Media Creation/Social Media Production, so it’s not like they’re going unnoticed. The organization has been around since 2003, providing information on services, events, missing people notices, and much more.

I found the fact that members of Homeless Nation can produce podcasts and video to be quite an interesting component. Imagine a world where your physical location is no longer fixed. You might have a place to stash parts of your belongings. You will certainly find ways to acquire temporary shelter, will learn how to find food, find a place to bathe, and the like.

Homeless Nation describes it goals as:

Our Goals

  • Build and strengthen communities, both virtual and actual, across Canada
  • Provide access to the Internet, media and training to Canada's homeless population
  • Encourage discussion and learning on social issues surrounding homelessness
  • Create dialogue between Canada's homeless and mainstream society to counter isolation and marginalization
  • Recycle and re-purpose technology for use by Canada's homeless communities
  • Break down stereotypes and barriers in our society
  • Community development uniting resources serving the homeless
  • Create a national collective voice by and for Canada's homeless population
  • Wouldn't it be great to have a site like this in the U.S.? Print Friendly and PDF

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    From the Springfield Republican, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

    NORTHAMPTON - Venturing into little-known legal territory, the defense for Jason W. Vassell asked a Hampshire Superior Court judge on Wednesday for the right to examine police and prosecution files for incidents involving race. Read more...

    'Racism' hinted in UMass case Print Friendly and PDF

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    As President Obama is scheduled to announce his $50 billion foreclosure prevention plan today, we go to Minneapolis to speak with Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. The group is taking matters into its own hands and finding housing for homeless people in foreclosed and vacant homes. We also speak to Dwayne Cunningham, a homeless man who recently moved into a vacant home.

    Read on... Print Friendly and PDF
    Amy Goodman’s New Column: “Jailing Kids for Cash”
    As many as 5,000 children in Pennsylvania have been found guilty, and up to 2,000 of them jailed, by two corrupt judges who received kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities that benefited. The two judges pleaded guilty in a stunning case of greed and corruption that is still unfolding. Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan received $2.6 million in kickbacks while imprisoning children who often had no access to a lawyer. The case offers an extraordinary glimpse into the shameful private prison industry that is flourishing in the United States.
    Listen to this Column Print Friendly and PDF

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Springfield Libraries Under Fire Again By Maureen Turner

    Springfield Libraries Under Fire Again
    Supporters say proposed budget cuts would devastate the city's library system.

    Springfield's city libraries have been on a roller coaster ride in recent years, with dramatic lows (the shutting of three neighborhood branches by the Springfield Library and Museums Association in 2003) and thrilling highs (the citizens' movement that same year that led to the city taking control of the libraries from the SLMA).

    While not all the damage suffered under the SLMA has been undone—notably, Mason Square still doesn't have a full branch, six years after the SLMA secretly sold that neighborhood's branch building to the Urban League—the system has enjoyed a general sense of security since it was taken from the private organization and put under public control.

    But that sense of security has been shaken by recent budget recommendations put out by Mayor Domenic Sarno. Faced with deep cuts in local aid, the Sarno administration is looking to cut more than $4.5 million in city spending over the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

    Print Friendly and PDF

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    20 years later, are we finally "families?"

    One of the very first flyers Arise ever made-- back in the day when we scratched off presstype letters that were never even-- was about a memo from Welfare that had fallen into our hands. The language in the memo was very strange-- instead of saying families, we were called "Assistance Units!!!"

    Well, we protested, we used it to organiz IOe other families on Welfare to illustrate how we were demeaned by the system.

    Today I got an email from the Mass Coalition for the Homeless about the eight TERRIBLE proposals the Department of Transitional Assistance is proposing that would limit families' access to emergency shelter. they all need to be opposed, and I've written about them in more detail on my own blog.

    At the very end of the email from MCH, two positive changes are mentioned. One removes barriers to shelter for children living with legal guardians who are not parents.

    This is the other: "Refer to families as "households" instead of "assistance units."
    What a long, strange trip it's been.
    Print Friendly and PDF