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Medicare for All Will Destroy the GOP—Because It Could Make it Very Easy For Every Citizen Over 18 To Vote

The Canadian government considers your national healthcare card as your first-choice voter ID card. An American version could work identically, getting rid of outdated registration requirements and ending the vast effort by the GOP to suppress voter participation.

Now we know why the GOP is truly terrified of Medicare for All; it will wipe out the Republican Party’s control of the House, Senate, White House, and most state governments. Because it could make it very easy for every citizen over 18 to vote.

Here’s how it works.

In Canada, every citizen has a Canadian government-issued “Health Insurance Card” (you can see Quebec’s card at the link). It’s largely only available to citizens, as all citizens are eligible for the Canadian Medicare system; everybody else has to work out other insurance options (yes, there are insurance companies in Canada). And in most provinces, the card has your photo and works as an ID card as well as a driver’s license or passport.

And the Canadian government also explicitly says right here on Quebec’s elections website that your Medicare card is also your first-choice voter ID card. An American version could work identically, perhaps with a star or hologram or other mark to identify citizens as opposed to Medicare-eligible permanent residents, etc.

As Tarek, a Canadian listener to my radio/TV program, shared with me this week:

Here in Canada, citizens and permanent residents alike are covered by publicly funded health care that is administered through the provinces, whereas temporary residents must be covered via other means, namely buying private health insurance.

Since it is in everyone’s best interest to be have ‘free’ health care coverage, unlike other government issued identifications, such as driver’s license…etc, the vast majority (if not all) Canadians from all socioeconomic backgrounds make sure to obtain their health cards, which can be used as an official photo ID for flying domestically, buying alcohol and more importantly voting!

Here in the U.S., ever since Jim Crow, racist white “conservatives” have used a variety of means to prevent poor people, people of color, low-income working people, students, and older people from voting. Techniques have varied over the years, starting with poll taxes and so-called “literacy tests,” and now are carefully calibrated by cutting voting sites, reducing early voting, and even disenfranchising North Dakota’s Native American population.

The GOP stepped up their voter suppression game in 1980 when Heritage Foundation, ALEC, and Moral Majority co-founder and Reagan campaigner Paul Weyrich famously said, “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people; they never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

In that, he was following on an old Republican strategy of caging and polling-place intimidation, which earned William Rehnquist his rock-star status in the GOP back in the 1960s.

This is still the GOP game plan, although they’ve turned it into an art form. First, they spent a decade whipping up fear about “voter fraud”—brown people from Mexico voting in our elections, something that happens as often as 5 or 6 times per election cycle nationally (as opposed to over 130 million citizens voting). Then, they use this non-threat to pass voter ID laws that make it hard for people who don’t drive (old age, can’t afford a car, live in a big city and use public transportation, or live on campus) to vote.

For example, in the run-up to 2012, Pennsylvania House Leader, Republican Mike Turzai, declared, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to carry the state of Pennsylvania: Done!”

While it didn’t quite work out that way in 2012, the Pennsylvania GOP came back in 2016, along with 26 other Republican-controlled states, to purge over 16 million people from the voting rolls nationally… helping give Pennsylvania (along with Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin, according to Paul Waldman in the Washington Post) to Donald Trump by razor-thin margins far smaller than the number of voters purged and/or turned away at the polls.

Meanwhile, another estimated 2 million Americans tried to vote but were turned away for lack of the proper ID in 2016.

Republican voter suppression is thriving in the U.S.: The Brennan Center documents a 33 percent increase in voters purged during the 2014-2016 election cycle (16 million), compared with the 2006-2008 cycle (12 million purged), as the GOP has made ID and purges (along with fear mongering about brown-skinned people) their main electoral strategy. In just the past year, as many as an additional 14 million voters have been purged from rolls nationwide, while over the past two decades every Republican-controlled state has introduce rigid ID laws.

But with a national ID system in place that’s universally used because it’s the key to getting your health care and medications, there’s no need for “voter registration” and thus no ability for the GOP to purge voters. Voter registration, after all, is a practice we largely got after the Civil War because Southern white politicians warned of “voter fraud” being committed by recently freed black people, and some Northern states used it to prevent poor whites from voting.

In some places in the United States, voter registration just never caught on: North Dakota never bothered to put such a system into place; you just show up at the polls with ID to prove you’re both a citizen and resident, and vote. And with a national Medicare for All ID, every citizen could easily vote, everywhere.

Republicans have aggressively opposed a national health care program for the United States ever since Harry Truman first proposed it in his November 19, 1945 address to Congress. We’re literally the only developed nation in the world without such a system. But its popularity is well over 50 percent in America right now, and growing rapidly among voters across the political spectrum; this is something that’s politically possible in the very, very near future.

In the past, GOP opposition generally revolved around their belief that everything from water to septic to roads to prisons to health care should be run to make somebody rich, and to hell with “the public good.”

But it’s a virtual certainty that the deep-dive think tanks and “wise elders” of the GOP also know how easy it is to vote in Canada and other developed countries, in very large part because of the national ID card that Canada’s (and most of Europe’s) Medicare for All programs provide at great ease and no cost.

Thus, the Medicare system’s threat to GOP voter suppression systems may be the largest reason they’ve spent so many hundreds of millions of dollars fighting single-payer in the U.S.

In most elections, in most states, and nationally in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats win more votes, but Republicans remain in charge, because of gerrymandering made possible by voter suppression at the state level. Even the Senate is held in some red states purely because of voter suppression, leaning heavily on restrictive voter ID laws.

And, at the state level, in many—perhaps a majority—of the so-called “red states,” Republicans hold control of state legislatures and governors’ offices only because of voter suppression, ranging from voter-roll purges to voter ID laws.

If all U.S. citizens had a free national ID that could also be used to vote, it wouldn’t take long for both Congress and most states to flip back from red to blue like they were during the Carter presidency, before the GOP started their “voter fraud” hysteria and began passing voter suppression laws.

With the GOP out of power at the state level, Democrats (and the few remaining ethical Republicans) could replace gerrymandering with good-government solutions like the non-partisan district-drawing commission put into place by California.

After that, it’s only necessary to clean up the handful of states that won’t let ex-felons vote (they’ll have a Medicare ID card, after all), to produce a clean, efficient, and fraud-free national elections system.

Then America will have joined the rest of the developed world, in having both a national health care system and a functioning democracy.


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More Than 100 Women Elected To Congress In Historic Midterms

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) won her race for New York’s 14th District—making her the youngest female member of Congress ever elected. Ilhan Omar (center), a Somali-American, won a resounding victory in Minnesota. She and Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, also made history as the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Sharice Davids (right), a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, claimed victory in Kansas, becoming the state’s first Native American Congresswoman.

Source: yahoo.com

A record number of women were elected to Congress on Tuesday night as an unprecedented number of female candidates ran for the first time.

At least 98 women will be elected to the House of Representatives — 84 Democrats, 14 Republicans — and 12 will join the Senate — 10 Democrats, two Republicans — according to the latest projections by ABC News.

The figure marks an all-time high for the number of women in the House, but the results could fluctuate as more precincts report.

It was also a historic night for first-time female candidates, with several political newbies flipping GOP-held congressional seats, according to ABC News’ analysis.

Political novice Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, claimed victory in Kansas and would be the state’s first Native American Congresswoman — and is one of two voted in. Davids is also slated to become the Sunflower State’s first openly LGBT congressional representative. Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American, also won a resounding victory in Minnesota. She and Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, also made history as the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

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Americans Urged to Vote ‘Like the Planet Depends On It—Because It Does’

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

President Donald Trump has urged voters to treat the 2018 midterms as a referendum on his presidency, and climate action advocates on Monday made a similar call—asking Americans to remember the vast damage the president and the Republican Party have done to previous efforts to curb the climate crisis in the past two years, and to vote accordingly.

Tuesday’s elections are providing voters with a chance to stop Trump’s anti-climate, pro-fossil fuels agenda in its tracks, Greenpeace said.

We have 10 years to save the world from climate catastrophe,” said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA. “We can start by voting on November 6th for candidates who believe in the urgency of climate change and have solid plans for keeping fossil fuels in the ground, accelerating a just transition to a clean energy economy, and increasing democratic participation. The more people in politics who are committed to swift and meaningful climate action and reject new fossil fuel infrastructure, the better.”

The midterms come less than a month after the United Nations released an urgent new report stating that a 40 to 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions is needed by 2030in order to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The study stoked fears among progressives who have watched with outrage as Trump turned his anti-science, pro-fossil fuel agenda into public policy—rolling back the Clean Power Plan, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, and introducing numerous other deregulatory measures affecting Americans’ drinking water and the environment. 

Greenpeace and other groups say voters should go to the polls with the new research in mind, with 350.org and Defend Our Future encouraging followers via the hashtags #VoteClimate and #ClimateVoter.

Greenpeace expressed optimism that a united effort among progressives to vote for candidates who will support renewable energy over fossil fuel dependence, as well as ballot initiatives aimed at strengthening environmental regulations, will help to usher in a new era in which the U.S. becomes a true leader in combating the climate crisis.

“People in this country have been working nonstop for the past two years to resist Trump’s destructive agenda and build a better democracy,” said Leonard. “Now is the time to elect new leaders who will join the people and get to work fighting for climate, racial, and economic justice.”

The group has supported a number of ballot measures in several states. In Washington, Greenpeace is urging voters to support Initiative 1631, the Carbon Emissions Fee Measure. The initiative would charge carbon emitters $15 per metric ton of carbon beginning in 2020, with fees going up each year after that. The fees would fund a number of clean air and other climate-related projects.

Greenpeace also supports Proposition 112 in Colorado, which would ban fracking within 2,500 feet of occupied buildings, and Measure 26-201 in Portland, Oregon. The city measure would collect a one percent surcharge from businesses with annual revenues of at least $1 billion in order to fund green initiatives.

“There’s too much at stake in this year’s elections to NOT do everything we can,” said 350 Action, the U.S. political advocacy arm of the global climate group. “If you’re a climate voter, get out there and VOTE—but if you can, don’t stop there. Make calls. Knock doors. Talk to friends. Take action like the planet depends on it. Because it does.”


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Voters Face a Simple Choice: Expand Social Security and Medicare, or Watch GOP Eviscerate Them Both

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has bragged that he has been thinking about cutting these programs since his frat days. He literally claimed that he was “dreaming” of ending Medicaid when he was “drinking at a keg,” adding, “I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time.”(Photo: Courtesy of AFGE, Flickr | CC 2.0)

By Max Richtman  | Common Dreams

Do older Americans want bigger Social Security checks and expanded Medicare coverage – or do they want their benefits cut?

That is the fundamental question for seniors and their families with less than two weeks until the mid-term elections.  The majority party in Congress has proposed time and again to slash Social Security and Medicare benefits under the guise of ‘entitlement reform.’  Leader Mitch McConnell just attributed the swelling federal debt to retirees’ earned benefits – when the real culprit was the 2017 tax package that mainly benefited the wealthy and big corporations.  The majority party’s 2018 and 2019 budgets would have taken a $500 billion bite out of Medicare and $64 billion from Social Security.  And make no mistake – conservative tropes like raising the eligibility age, imposing a more meager inflation formula, and means testing are benefit cuts.

For seniors living on fixed incomes, the fate of their earned benefits is the ultimate “pocketbook issue.”  According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Social Security provides the majority of income to most elderly Americans.  Some 40 percent of seniors rely on their Social Security checks for at least 90 percent of their income. Medicare beneficiaries spend 25% of their income on out-of-pocket medical costs. As time goes by, more and more of their Social Security benefit checks will be consumed by rising health care costs.

Plainly put, millions of American seniors are feeling the pinch. They need a raise in the form of bigger Social Security checks and expanded Medicare benefits.  The average Social Security retirement benefit is a little more than $1400 per month – enough to keep most seniors out of poverty but by no means extravagant.  Our organization often hears from beneficiaries who are grateful for Social Security, but still are living hand to mouth.

A retiree named Shirley says that her Social Security benefit pays for gas, electric, groceries, and clothing. “Without Social Security, which my husband and I paid into for up to 50 years, we would have to be on welfare,” she explains.

Joe, a beneficiary with no retirement savings, receives a $2100 monthly benefit, but barely manages to balance his bank account every month after paying for rent, meals, and other living expenses.

Virginia receives a widows’ benefit from Social Security. “If I didn’t have this, there is no way I could pay my rent, bills and buy groceries,” she says.  “If they take it away, I will be living in my car.”

Who would argue that these seniors’ lives would be a little easier with a modest boost in benefits?  Congressman John Larson’s (D-CT) Social Security 2100 Act would give seniors a benefit increase of about $70 per month.  To some, that may not sound like much.  But think of what an extra $70 could mean for a senior living on a fixed income.  That benefit increase could pay for at least one of the following expenses:

  • 3 bags of groceries
  • 3+ prescription copays
  • 2 tanks of gas
  • Oil change
  • Monthly phone bill
  • Monthly utility bills
  • Monthly home/renters’ insurance premium

Now imagine how much money seniors would save if traditional Medicare were expanded to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage, given what retirees currently pay out of pocket in those categories:

  • $4,700 (average) for a pair of high quality hearing aids
  • $800-3,000 for a dental crown
  • $900-1100 for a root canal
  • $114 (average) for eye exam
  • $200 (average) for prescription eyeglasses

These costs would be covered under legislation introduced by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) known as the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act.  But this bill has little chance of becoming law unless voters elect a majority in Congress that supports improving earned benefits.

The next Congress could also give retirees a boost by improving the way Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are calculated.  COLAs are currently based on the consumer price index for wage earners (CPI-W), which does not adequately reflect increases in seniors’ true living expenses.  (Retirees typically spend more of their income on housing and medical expenses, for instance, than working-age wage earners.)  The Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which accounts for inflation in goods and services that seniors depend upon, would be a much fairer formula for determining COLAs.  In fact, Rep. Larson’s bill – and legislation introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) – would require the use of the CPI-E to determine annual Social Security COLAs.  Again, this is a proposed benefit boost that could become law if the election changes the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

President Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that he would not cut Social Security and Medicare – a theme he has reprised this fall in the run-up to the mid-terms.  YET, he has openly betrayed this promise by embracing proposals from his own administration and his allies in Congress to slash spending on both programs.

The choices for older voters in the November elections couldn’t be clearer.  Either vote for candidates and incumbents who have a track record of protecting and improving earned benefits, or keep the current majority who boldly attack the programs that provide the only health and retirement security that seniors, the disabled and their families can depend on.  Boost or cut.  It’s the voters’ choice now.


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Peacemakers, Warmongers and Fence Sitters: Who Represents You?

What kind of world do you want? In lifetime voting records tabulated by Peace Action, the average House Democrat has a 72% peace voting record, while the average House Republican scores only 10%. In the Senate, the difference is 69% to 14%. (Photo: Debra Sweet/flickr/cc)

By Nicolas J. S. Davies, Medea Benjamin | Common Dreams

As a foreign policy crisis explodes over the apparent Saudi assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, the failure of the U.S. Congress to assert its constitutional war powers over three years of illegal U.S. military action in the war on Yemen and booming U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners is finally coming home to roost.

The UN already reported two years ago that a child was dying every 10 minutes in Yemen, wracked by the war and its consequences, including malnutrition, diphtheria, cholera and other preventable diseases.  Data already showed that more than a third of Saudi-led airstrikes were hitting schools, hospitals, markets, mosques and other civilian sites. But none of the dire warnings by UN agencies and NGOs could trigger the constitutionally required debate and decisive action by the U.S. Congress.  Even now the Trump administration is trying desperately to salvage its blood-soaked arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Yet as early voting gets under way across the country, Congressional campaigns have focused mainly on domestic issues and personality politics, with almost nothing to say about the war in Yemen or other critical questions of war, peace and record military spending. The elephant in the room that none of them want to discuss is that Congress keeps handing more than 60% of discretionary federal funds over to a military industrial complex whose recent wars have only succeeded in plunging half a dozen countries into intractable violence and chaos, leaving vital domestic priorities permanently underfunded.

To fill this dangerous vacuum and help voters make critical decisions at the voting booth, the CODEPINK 2018 Peace Voter’s Guide and Divestment Record has gathered data on arms industry campaign contributions from Open Secrets and the peace voting records of every Member of Congress from Peace Action, and published them all in one place for easy reference.

We invite voters to check out the Peace Voter’s Guide to see where your Senators and Representatives stand on critical issues of war and peace.  How much money have your representatives collected from the arms industry in this election cycle? How have they voted on critical bills and amendments for war, peace, weapons and military spending during their time in Congress?

You can use the Guide to compare your representatives with their colleagues. You can check out the differences between Democrats and Republicans, and see who are the real hawks and doves in each party.

Figures show that arms companies, including their PACS, have contributed about equally to Democrats and Republicans in the Senate in this election cycle, giving an average of over $180,000 to each Senator. In the House, however, they have given more to Republicans (an average of $46,000 each) than to Democrats ($31,000 each).

The Senators who are most indebted to the arms industry tend to be high-ranking members of committees key to Pentagon funding. In 2017-18, the senator receiving the most weapons industry contributions, $969,550, was Richard Shelby (R-AL). Shelby chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee, the committee that allocates funding for all federal agencies.

The number one recipient on the Democratic side, with $675,8287 in contributions, is Jack Reed (D-RI), ranking member at the Armed Services Committee. Other major recipients, all on key committees, are Tim Kaine (D-VA) with $607,850; Dick Durbin (D-IL) with $550,161; James Inhofe (R-OK) with $478,249; Lindsey Graham (R-SC) with $458,893; Mark Warner (D-VA) with $399,928; and Bill Nelson (D-FL) with $391,800.  The arms industry’s most favored House Reps are Armed Services Chair Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13), with $402,250; Appropriations Committee member Kay Granger (R-TX-12) with $368,410 and another Appropriations member Peter Visclosky (D-IN-1) with $328,583.

When it comes to critical votes on war, peace and militarism, the differences between Democrats and Republicans are more stark. In lifetime voting records tabulated by Peace Action, the average House Democrat has a 72% peace voting record, while the average House Republican scores only 10%. In the Senate, the difference is 69% to 14%.

There are noteworthy outliers, like Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI-3) with an 82% peace voting record and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA-31) at only 18%. In the Senate, Republican Rand Paul (KY) has a better voting record (62%) than Democrat Joe Donnelly of Indiana (16%), although even Rand Paul would be below-average if he was a Democrat.

And then there are real champions for peace and disarmament in Congress: 16 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the House who have run this year’s campaigns with no arms industry cash at all; and progressive leaders who stand up to vote for peace at almost every chance they get, like Barbara Lee (CA-13), with a 99% lifetime peace voting record, Katherine Clark (MA-5) at 98%, Jared Huffman (CA-2), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) at 96%, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin with the highest score in the Senate at 94%.

At the other end of the scale, there are 22 Members of Congress (all Republicans) with a 0% peace voting record, meaning that they have never once voted as requested by members of Peace Action, CODEPINK and our partners in the U.S. peace community. They are Senator Tom Cotton (AR) and Representatives McSally (AZ-2), Walters (CA-45), Curbelo (FL-26), Carter (GA-1), Allen (GA-12), Bost (IL-12), LaHood (IL-18), Brooks (IN-5), Poliquin (ME-2), Bishop (MI-8), Emmer (MN-6), Stefanik (NY-21), Katko (NY-24), Rouzer (NC-7), Russell (OK-5), Costello (PA-6), Ratcliffe (TX-4), Hurd (TX-23), Brat (VA-7), Comstock (VA-10) and Newhouse (WA-4).

We invite you to explore the CODEPINK 2018 Peace Voter’s Guide and Divestment Record before you vote. We hope it will help you to find incumbents or challengers where you live whose campaigns are not tainted by big contributions from the arms industry, and whom you can count on to reflect your values by casting decisive votes for peace, diplomacy and disarmament in the coming years.  Please vote wisely. Millions of lives depend on it.


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Global ‘War on Drugs’ Terrible at Eradicating Drugs, But Great at Upending Societies: Report

The report—titled “Taking stock: A decade of drug policy”—evaluates the impacts of drug policies implemented across the world over the past decade, using data from the United Nations, peer-reviewed academic research, and a collection of grey literature from civil society. (Credit: Report cover / LSE)

By Jon Queally | Common Dreams

Another major study designed to assess how national governments wage their so-called “war on drugs” shows that the last ten years of such policies have not only failed to put a dent in the illegal drug trade, the tactics have had serious negative impacts for global health, human rights, public safety and economic progress.

As a result, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the international group behind the report, is calling for a major rethinking of global policy on narcotics and an end to the failed efforts that governments refuse to relinquish.

“This report is another nail in the coffin for the war on drugs,” said Ann Fordham, IDPC’s executive director of IDPC, in a statement. “The fact that governments and the UN do not see fit to properly evaluate the disastrous impact of the last ten years of drug policy is depressingly unsurprising.”

The report—titled “Taking stock: A decade of drug policy“—evaluates the impacts of drug policies implemented across the world over the past decade, using data from the United Nations, peer-reviewed academic research, and a collection of grey literature from civil society.

What did it find? It found that the last decade’s efforts to eliminate the world’s illicit drug market via a militarized “war on drugs” approach has had almost zero effect on global supply while creating widespread and negative effects on global health, human rights, security and development.

“Instead of reducing the overall scale of the illegal drug market,” notes the executive summary (pdf), “overly punitive drug policies have often exacerbated violence, instability and corruption.”

Meanwhile, over the last tens years in which decreasing crop production of opium poppy, coca, and cannabis was a key goal of governments, the report found that crop yields for all three went up. Poppy production, according the report’s estimate is up by 130%, while coca production is up 34% over the last decade. Cannabis figures are harder to estimate, the report found no evidence that crops are down.

“What we learn from the IDPC shadow report is compelling. Since governments started collecting data on drugs in the 1990s, the cultivation, consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels,” wrote Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in the report’s foreword.

“Moreover,” she added, “current drug policies are a serious obstacle to other social and economic objectives and the ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in millions of people murdered, disappeared, or internally displaced.”


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Canada Becomes First Major Economy To Legalise Recreational Cannabis

By Ben Riley-Smith | The Telegraph

Canada has became the first major world economy to legalise recreational cannabis, kick-starting a nationwide experiment in drug laws and regulations despite uncertainty about the consequences.

Weed enthusiasts celebrated the “end of prohibition” as the clock struck midnight on Tuesday evening and the first legal pot sales for non-medical purposes were made across the country.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister who pledged the change in his 2015 election campaign, tweeted that the policy would take “profits out of the hands of criminals” and protect children.

On Wednesday, his government also announced moves to make it easier for people convicted for carrying small amounts of marijuana in the past to obtain a pardon, waiving the $631 Canadian dollar fee.

However legalisation was not universally welcomed, with one leading Canadian medical journal warning the “uncontrolled experiment” would put profits ahead of the nation’s health.

And there was speculation about the impact the change could have on other nations, including America – where some states have legalised recreational use – and even Britain, where it remains a crime.

Canada is the first country in the G7 – a group of the world’s seven biggest economies – to legalise recreational cannabis, overturning a ban almost a century old. It has had legal medical marijuana since 2001.

The change is the latest example in a growing trend of countries loosening their cannabis laws.

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All Laws That Make It a Crime to be Homeless Should Be Repealed and Here’s What Should Replace Them

We must strengthen federal anti-discrimination laws, so housing can’t be denied to someone due to their source of income, poor credit, lack of rental history, or their status as a victim of domestic violence. (Photo: 123rf.com)

By John Tharp, Maria Foscarinis | Common Dreams

When San Diego resident Gerald Stark’s rent increased and he couldn’t afford another apartment, the retired union pipefitter moved into his RV.

But because he lacked an address, San Diego law made it almost impossible for him to park his RV legally. Soon the city confiscated it, leaving him out on the streets.

There, he was ticketed for violating another law prohibiting sleeping in public. Faced with thousands of dollars in fines and fees he was unable to pay, Stark lived every day in fear of being arrested — for simply trying to survive.

He’s not alone.

There isn’t a single county in the United States where you can rent a two-bedroom, market-rate apartment working a full-time, minimum-wage job. Many of our neighbors are just one emergency or missed paycheck away from losing their homes.

Unfortunately, law enforcement is often used as a first response to address homelessness. Many communities essentially criminalize it.

Instead of connecting people with services and housing, they drag people experiencing homelessness into the criminal justice system, making it more difficult for them to get a job or housing.

It’s a harmful myth that homeless people cause an increase in crime. Several studies show homeless people are actually more likely to be victims of crime — especially in places where they have to hide from police.

In the absence of low-cost housing, many people often have no choice but to break the law to carry out necessary, life-sustaining activities — like sleeping, resting, or using the bathroom — in public places. But instead of responding with solutions, cities like Denver, Houston, and Puyallup, Washington are enacting more laws against those activities.

Such laws are harmful, wasteful, and arguably unconstitutional.

Cities spend taxpayer dollars enforcing homeless encampment “sweeps” and “move along” policies for homeless people. And burdening homeless people with fines and fees makes it even more difficult for them to return to the tax rolls.

One homeless man, Russell Bartholow of Sacramento, received an astonishing $100,000 in fines for sleeping and camping in public. Fining people who don’t even have enough money for rent isn’t productive or humane.

Homelessness is a community issue, and it demands a community to solve it.

At the federal level, a universal voucher program, where no person pays more than 30 percent of their income on rent, would go a long way. Currently, because of funding cuts spanning almost four decades, only one-in-four of those poor enough to be eligible for federal housing help actually receives it.

Those who do are often turned away due to discrimination. We must strengthen federal anti-discrimination laws, so housing can’t be denied to someone due to their source of income, poor credit, lack of rental history, or their status as a victim of domestic violence.

At the local level, tenants in good standing should be protected from arbitrary eviction, and low-income people facing eviction should get a right to counsel.

And all laws that make it a crime to be homeless should be repealed.

Philadelphia offers an example. Earlier this year, law enforcement officials donated a vacant office in the subway station to create the HUB of Hope, where homeless people can do their laundry and stay out of bad weather. “We are not going to arrest people for being homeless,” said Major Jim Kenney.

In Syracuse, Mayor Stephanie Miner refused to follow a state order to arrest homeless people who didn’t enter shelters. Instead, the city reached out to people experiencing homelessness to connect them to housing, helping Syracuse become one of the first cities to end veteran homelessness.

With proven solutions, communities can help people like Gerald Stark, Russell Bartholow, and millions of others off the streets and onto a better path, leaving everyone safer and healthier.




The Future of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Is on the Ballot This November

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has bragged that he has been thinking about cutting these programs since his frat days. He literally claimed that he was “dreaming” of ending Medicaid when he was “drinking at a keg,” adding, “I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time.”(Photo: Courtesy of AFGE, Flickr | CC 2.0)

By Nancy J. Altman | Common Dreams

Everyone who cares about their Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid needs to vote on November 6. If Republican politicians and the donors who own them retain full control of Congress, they are determined to finally succeed in their longstanding goal of ending all three programs.

Right-wing extremists have never been subtle about that goal. As the fight over President George W. Bush’s 2005 proposal to privatize Social Security was heating up, a leaked memorandum from Bush’s director of strategic initiatives, dated January 3, 2005, and marked “not for attribution,” put the fight over the program in context: “this will be one of the most important conservative undertakings of modern times.” If that weren’t clear enough, the memorandum concluded with a startling and refreshingly frank assessment: “For the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has bragged that he has been thinking about cutting these programs since his frat days. He literally claimed that he was “dreaming” of ending Medicaid when he was “drinking at a keg,” adding, “I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time.”

Republican leaders are so eager to cut benefits that they seem incapable of hiding their plans to go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The latest person to let the veil slip is none other than powerful Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

He just stated that spending on so-called “entitlement programs” must be “addressed.” That is Washington insider code for ending Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The shocking part of McConnell’s statement, and those made by other powerful Republicans, is not the content, but the timing. Right-wingers have opposed Social Security and Medicare ever since they were first created. But because these programs enjoy overwhelming support from the American people, including voters of all political affiliations, they do not normally talk about their plans for benefit cuts three weeks before an election. If this is how they are talking now, imagine how emboldened they will be if they ride out the blue wave and keep control of Congress!

Since losing the Bush privatization fight, these Republicans have worked hard to avoid political accountability, through using fast-tracked, unaccountable supercommittees, commissions or other forms of bipartisan cover. But with Democrats now in favor of expanding not cutting these vital programs, Republican elites may see their latest chance slipping away. And they are determined not to let that happen. Like the proverbial child who murders his parents and then pleads for leniency because he is an orphan, today’s Republicans are planning to use the cost of their tax giveaway to the wealthy as the excuse to do what they have wanted to do for so long.

Time and time again, McConnell has shown that the only thing he truly cares about is power. And he has been rewarded for his ruthlessness. He was able to steal a Supreme Court appointment in 2016. If Congress remains in Republican control, he will do anything he has to do to ensure that he destroys Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. On November 7, 2018, he will be as far from the next election as you can get. And he and the other Republicans will have no guarantee that they will keep control of the White House and Congress after 2020.

Donald Trump understands the politics better than the rest of his cronies. In his typical effort to project his true views onto his political opponents, he signed an op-ed claiming that Democrats are the ones who want to destroy Medicare. He has also madethe equally absurd claim that Democrats are out to destroy Social Security. (Thinking about this transparent projection brings to mind his retort, when Hillary Clinton accused him of being a Russian puppet: “No puppet; you’re the puppet!”)

Notwithstanding Trump’s efforts, the other Republicans just cannot control themselves. By being undisciplined enough to announce, immediately before an election, their plans for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts, McConnell and the others have made the choice for voters crystal clear.

It is a cliché to say whatever election is coming up is the most important in our lifetimes. But this time, it is no hyperbole. There are many, many reasons to make sure you vote. A principal reason is to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

If Democrats take back the House of Representatives, they can block McConnell’s plans for cuts. If they take back the Senate, McConnell will lose his control—and Democrats can hold floor votes on expanding Social Security and Medicare, forcing every single senator and House member to go on the record for or against these programs.

Please understand that I am not a knee-jerk Democrat. In the 1970s, I worked for a Republican senator, and in the early 1980s, I was the top assistant to conservative economist Alan Greenspan in his position as chair of the bipartisan Social Security reform commission. Mainstream Republican presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush, have supported Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But no more.

Right-wing extremists, who hate all government programs that improve people’s lives, are currently in charge of the Republican Party. They are extreme in their views. They are extreme in their tactics. And they are extreme in their efforts to thwart our system of checks and balances.

So, I implore all supporters of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid: Vote this November.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.


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EPA Aims to Weaken Radiation Regulations as FCC Gives Telecoms $2B to Install 5G Everywhere

By BN Frank | Activist Post

An article by The Register, “Eat my shorts, watchdog tells every city mayor in the US – FCC approves $2bn 5G telco windfall,” says it all.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has sold out to “Big Wireless” in a way that is even more embarrassingly obvious than even pro-Telecom elected officials ever expected:

If you were to pick a moment in which America’s telecoms regulator disappeared down the rabbit hole at its monthly meeting, it would probably be when the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai provided a full “up is down” statement.

“I salute Commissioner Carr for his leadership in developing this order,” Pai said today of his fellow commissioner Brendan Carr while discussing a plan to set a federal limit on what local and state governments are allowed to charge telecoms companies to add new 5G mobile cell sites on their property.

“He worked very closely with many state and local officials to understand their needs and to study the policies that have worked at the state and local level. It should therefore come as no surprise that this order has won significant support from mayor, local officials and state legislatures.”

There’s only one problem with this statement: it is wholly, provable [sic] incorrect.

In fact, the FCC just closed a short public comment period in which a very large number of mayors, city officials, and state legislatures explicitly stated the opposite: that they were entirely opposed to the plan.

A separate article by The Register provides more details: “US cities react in fury to FCC’s $2bn break for 5G telcos: We’ll be picking up the tab, say officials.”

Activist Post and others have reported many times already about widespread opposition to reducing municipal control in regard to 5G and small cell towers and related infrastructure.  Complaints from those who oppose this federal legislation are actually still being posted at The FCC docket.

More from the article:

It’s worth noting that the five FCC commissioners are supposed to act as an internal balancing mechanism; each a largely independent thinker and telecoms policy expert in order to provide balance.

Since Pai – a former Verizon lawyer – took over, this shaky balance has come completely off the wheels. Pai pushed for Carr to become a commissioner and persuaded the White House to nominate him. They are old pals. Carr worked for Pai for four years as his legal advisor before Pai promoted him to general counsel and then got him as an FCC commissioner to guarantee him a safe vote on key decisions.

Activist Post has reported about prior shenanigans by Ajit Pai and Brendan Carr already also.  Journalist Norm Alster may have said it best when he labelled The FCC as a “Captured Agency.”

This “captured” condition is only getting worse with the ridiculous and highly risky “Race for 5G.” As reported by Fierce Wireless, “Trump Officials vow, ‘America first, 5G first’”:

Top White House officials today held a “5G Summit” with one basic message: How can the Trump administration encourage the private sector to deploy 5G as quickly as possible?

The meeting, kept largely under wraps until this morning, essentially serves as a stake in the ground by President Trump to figure out ways to aid wireless carriers and the rest of the wireless industry with regulations that will speed up the deployment of the wireless industry’s next-generation technology.

Officials described the event as an opportunity for White House representatives to listen to wireless industry executives and to learn ways the Trump administration can play a role in 5G.

But Kudlow—who replaced Gary Cohn as Trump’s top economic advisor in May—made it clear that the Trump administration wants to give the wireless industry what it needs to deploy 5G quickly.

Kudlow said the administration is taking an “America first, 5G first” approach to the issue. Specifically, he said the administration will work toward policies—including lower taxes and deregulation—that promote growth in the private sector.

“The White House is behind this free market approach,” he noted.

Kudlow also boasted of the Trump administration’s efforts to encourage U.S. economic growth, particularly through corporate tax cuts. “We’re crushing it, we’re absolutely crushing it,” Kudlow said of the overall U.S. economy. “And I want the 5G to be in that crushing it thing.”

Interestingly, Kudlow said that “I’m not here to make war on China,” in addressing worries that China could overtake the United States in the world’s move toward 5G. But he did say that the administration will work to make sure U.S. companies can compete on the global stage.

Crushing it?  Worried about China overtaking the U.S. in the world’s move toward 5G?  Every day this sounds more like a “mine is bigger than yours” contest with China. 

Regardless, The FCC’s “captured” condition started long before the Trump administration.  There have been elected officials who have received large sums of money from “Big Wireless” for many years.  But this reckless mission to put millions of small cell towers and their related infrastructure everywhere – including in front of homes – seems to now unfortunately involve the EPA as well.

APNewsBreak: “EPA says a little radiation may be healthy” 

The Trump administration is quietly moving to weaken U.S. radiation regulations, turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight.

The government’s current, decades-old guidance says that any exposure to harmful radiation is a cancer risk. And critics say the proposed change could lead to higher levels of exposure for workers at nuclear installations and oil and gas drilling sites, medical workers doing X-rays and CT scans, people living next to Superfund sites and any members of the public who one day might find themselves exposed to a radiation release.

[Read more here]

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.




‘Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist’: Sanders Introduces Bill to Break Up Nation’s Largest Wall Street Banks

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

With Wall Street banks as big and profitable as ever ten years after their reckless criminality sparked the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would break up Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and other so-called “too big to fail” financial institutions that pose a major systemic risk to the American economy.

“No financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation’s economic well being,” Sanders said in a statement. “We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street: the policy of ‘too big to fail.'”

Titled “The Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act,” Sanders’ legislation would break up any bank that has a total exposure of more than three percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP)—the equivalent to $584.5 billion in today’s dollars.

If passed, Sanders’ bill would break up of America’s six largest financial institutions—JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley—as well as massive non-bank financial corporations like AIG and Prudential.

“These six major financial institutions have over $10 trillion in assets, equivalent to 54 percent of our entire GDP and have a combined total exposure that exceeds 68 percent of our nation’s GDP,” according to a summary of the new legislation released by Sanders’ office.

In a Facebook Live video on Wednesday, Sanders discussed the details of the new legislation with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)—who is planning to introduce a companion bill in the House—and economist Simon Johnson, who joined a large groupof financial experts, consumer advocacy groups, and labor unions in endorsing the Vermont senator’s bill:

“The new Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist proposed legislation from Senator Bernie Sanders is short and to the point,” Johnson said in a statement on Wednesday. “The largest banks and other highly leveraged financial institutions are simply too big—and pose a real danger to our continued economic recovery.  Make them break up into smaller pieces, bringing more competition, better service and lower risks for the American economy.”

“Too big to fail should be too big to exist,” Rep. Sherman concluded. “Never again should a financial institution be able to demand a federal bailout.”


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‘Glimmer of Hope’ for Yemen as Khanna Invokes War Powers Act to End US Support for Saudi-Led Slaughter of Civilians

A young boy runs with his tyre past buildings damaged by air strikes in Saada Old Town, Yemen. (Photo: Giles Clarke/OCHA)

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

Amid reports that civilian deaths have “surged dramatically” in Yemen since June, when the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive to take control of the port city Hodeidah, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on Wednesday officially introduced a highly anticipated resolution invoking the War Powers Act of 1973, in hopes of ending American support for the coalition’s attacks and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

The resolution (pdf) “directs the president to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations authorized under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force…not later than 30 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces has been enacted into law.”

The measure was immediately applauded by peace advocates and human rights groups that have long charged, as Paul Kawika Martin of Peace Action outlined Wednesday, that “the unauthorized U.S. role in the war has given rise to the worst humanitarian disaster in the world, made the U.S. complicit in countless war crimes and violations of international law, and undermined our national security interests.”

“This House resolution offers a glimmer of hope to the suffering people of Yemen because if the U.S. withdraws its support for the Saudi-led bombing, a negotiated settlement is sure to follow,” responded CODEPINK co-director Medea Benjamin.

“Let’s make sure the August bombing of a busload of children marks a turning point in U.S. policy,” she added, referencing an August attack that killed 40 boys aged six to 11.

“This resolution should be a no-brainer for Congress. What more do they need to finally end this tragedy?” said Elizabeth Beavers, associate policy director for Indivisible. “If they’re not persuaded by the fact that the U.S. is engaging in unauthorized warfare, the growing civilian body count should demand their attention.”

William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, noted: “Rarely does Congress have an opportunity make a difference in the lives of millions of people. This legislation is one such chance, and the time to act is now.”

Last year, Khanna was part of a small group of House members who were demanding an end to U.S. complicity in the war and introduced a similar measure. “One year later, the bloodshed continues with widespread destruction and disease contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. U.S.-fueled planes continue to drop U.S.-made bombs on innocent victims,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “This time around, our coalition to end the war has expanded and the call for withdrawing U.S. involvement is louder.”

Backed by a bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers, Khanna asserted that withdrawing U.S. support for the coalition “is now a mainstream position within the Democratic Party,” and that he is “confident the House Republican leadership will allow this resolution to come to a vote and that members of the House will hear from their constituents in support of our position against this unauthorized war contributing to Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe.”

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, is one of the resolution’s co-sponsors. “The U.S. should be aggressively pushing a peaceful solution to end this civil war instead of supporting the Saudi-led coalition military campaign that has only destabilized the crisis further,” the congressman charged on Twitter Wednesday.

The resolution’s other co-sponsors—which include the ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the Rules Committee—are: Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).


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With US Bombs Killing Kids in Yemen, Sanders Tells Pompeo ‘Human Lives Worth Far More Than Defense Contractor Profits’

“Yemeni civilians are dying every day because of this war and you (America) are fueling this war, so stop fueling this war,” Radhya al-Mutawakel, chairwoman of the Yemen-based human rights group Mwatana, said in a statement. (Photo: Mwatana via CNN)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

“Hopefully this news will reach the living rooms of all Americans, because I have faith the great people of this country do not support a war like this.” ~ Rep. Ro Khanna

RELATED ARTICLE: Sept 21-23: A Weekend for Peace Culminating With the World’s Largest Peace Meditation on Sunday

American-made bombs are being used to massacre large numbers of civilians in Yemen, and new reporting shows that the Trump administration is allowing this carnage to continue and escalate in order to protect the profits of defense contractors.

Just days after the Yemen-based human rights group Mwatana gave CNN exclusive accessdocuments showing that U.S.-manufactured bomb fragments have been found at the scene of at least 11 separate Saudi-led attacks on Yemeni civilians since 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opted to continue American military support for Saudi Arabia over the objections of his staff in an effort to preserve $2 billion in weapons sales to the brutal monarchy.

“Pompeo overruled concerns from most of the State Department specialists involved in the debate who were worried about the rising civilian death toll in Yemen,” the Journalreported, citing a classified State Department memo. “He sided with his legislative affairs team after they argued that suspending support could undercut plans to sell more than 120,000 precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”

“Secretary Pompeo’s certification last week that the Saudi-led coalition was taking appropriate steps to protect civilians in Yemen was ridiculous on its face,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote in response to the Journal‘s reporting on Thursday. “But now we find out that Pompeo overruled the advice of his own State Department experts and legal advisers in order to make that certification to Congress, because he feared not doing so would endanger U.S. arms sales to the Saudis and Emiratis currently destroying Yemen.”

“Mr. Pompeo: human lives are worth far more than defense contractor profits,” Sanders added. “The Senate must also investigate this effort to mislead us.”

News that Pompeo’s decision to “certify” U.S. military support for the Saudis was motivated by a desire to appease war profiteers comes shortly on the heels of CNN‘s report detailing the American-made bombs that have been used to slaughter Yemeni civilians since 2015.

“This report makes it clear that the United States is participating in the commission of war crimes,” Win Without War wrote on Twitter. “Congress must stop our participation in the war in Yemen and it must stop it now.”

In seven of the 11 attacks examined by CNN and the human rights organization Mwatana, bomb fragments were traced back to the major American defense contractor Raytheon—which stands to profit massively from the Trump administration’s recent arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

“Yemeni civilians are dying every day because of this war and you (America) are fueling this war, so stop fueling this war,” Radhya al-Mutawakel, chairwoman of Mwatana said in a statement. “It is a shame that financial interests are worth more than the blood of innocent people.”

The U.S., al-Mutwakel added, bears a “legal and moral responsibility for selling weapons to the Saudi-led coalition.”

Raytheon did not respond to CNN‘s request for comment.

In a Twitter thread reacting to CNN‘s report, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)—one of the few members of Congress who has worked on legislation to end American support for the Saudi-led coalition’s assault on Yemen—wrote, “How can someone look at these photos and continue to support this war in Yemen?”

“While this reporting just confirms what we already knew, seeing the photos of these U.S.-made bombs should be a wake-up call to all Americans,” Khanna concluded.


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US-Backed War Risks Killing an ‘Entire Generation’ of Yemeni Children

(MEE) — More than five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the ongoing war causes food and fuel prices to soar across the country, charity Save the Children warned on Wednesday.

Disruption to supplies coming through the embattled Red Sea port city of Hodeidah could “cause starvation on an unprecedented scale”, the British based NGO said in a new report.

Save the Children said an extra one million children now risk falling into famine as prices of food and transportation rise, bringing the total to 5.2 million.

Any type of closure at the port “would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in immediate danger while pushing millions more into famine”, it added.

Impoverished Yemen has been mired in deadly conflict between Houthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi since 2014.

A Saudi-led alliance has been launching attacks since 2015 in a bid to bolster the president. Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed.

Deadly clashes resumed around the Houthi-held Hodeidah following the collapse of talks in Geneva earlier this month.

“Millions of children don’t know when or if their next meal will come,” said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International.

“In one hospital I visited in north Yemen, the babies were too weak to cry, their bodies exhausted by hunger.”

He added that the war risks killing “an entire generation of Yemen’s children who face multiple threats, from bombs to hunger to preventable diseases like cholera.”

The United Nations has warned that any major fighting in Hodeidah could halt food distributions to eight million Yemenis dependent on them for survival.

Last week, Jameel al-Qirwi, a trader in Sanaa warned that a blockade on Hodeidah would constitute a siege on all northern provinces that depend on aid that comes through the port city.

Hodeidah is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis across the country. About 70 percent of all humanitarian assistance and nearly all commercial food stocks for northern Yemen enter through the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, just to the north of the city, according to the UN.

Hodeidah is also under threat of attacks on its food storage, which would affect the country’s northern areas.

“The mills in Hodeidah feed millions of people. We’re particularly worried about the Red Sea mill, which currently has 45,000 metric tonnes of food inside, enough to feed 3.5 million people for a month. If the mills are damaged or disrupted, the human cost will be incalculable,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande said in a statement last week.

“So much has already been destroyed. In the last six weeks alone, houses, farms, livestock, businesses, roads, a water facility and a flour mill have all been hit.”

By MEE and agencies  Middle East Eye / 




Central Banks Have Gone Rogue Putting Us All at Risk 

By Ellen Brown | Nexus Newsfeed

Excluding institutions such as Blackrock and Vanguard, which are composed of multiple investors, the largest single players in global equity markets are now thought to be central banks themselves. An estimated 30 to 40 central banks are invested in the stock market, either directly or through their investment vehicles (sovereign wealth funds). According to David Haggith at Zero Hedge:

Central banks buying stocks are effectively nationalizing U.S. corporations just to maintain the illusion that their “recovery” plan is working. … At first, their novel entry into the stock market was only intended to rescue imperiled corporations, such as General Motors during the first plunge into the Great Recession, but recently their efforts have shifted to propping up the entire stock market via major purchases of the most healthy companies on the market.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, which bailed out General Motors in a rescue operation in 2009, was prohibited from lending to individual companies under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, and it is legally barred from owning equities. It parks its reserves instead in bonds and other government-backed securities. But other countries have different rules, and central banks are now buying individual stocks as investments, with a preference for big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Those are the stocks that dominate the market, and central banks are aggressively driving up their value. Markets, including the U.S. stock market, are thus literally being rigged by foreign central banks.

The result, as noted in a January 2017 article at Zero Hedge, is that central bankers, “who create fiat money out of thin air and for whom ‘acquisition cost’ is a meaningless term, are increasingly nationalizing the equity capital markets.” Or at least they would be nationalizing equities, if they were actually “national” central banks. But the Swiss National Bank, the biggest single player in this game, is 48 percent privately owned, and most central banks have declared their independence from their governments. They march to the drums not of government but of private industry.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the 2008 collapse, former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury secretaries Timothy Geithner and Henry Paulson wrote in a Sept. 7 New York Times op-ed that the Fed’s tools needed to be broadened to allow it to fight the next anticipated economic crisis, including allowing it to prop up the stock market by buying individual stocks. To investors, propping up the stock market may seem like a good thing, but what happens when the central banks decide to sell? The Fed’s massive $4-trillion economic support is now being taken away, and other central banks are expected to follow. Their U.S. and global holdings are so large that their withdrawal from the market could trigger another global recession. That means when and how the economy will collapse is now in the hands of central bankers.

Moving Goal Posts

The two most aggressive central bank players in the equity markets are the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of Japan.  The goal of the Bank of Japan, which now owns 75 percent of Japanese exchange-traded funds, is evidently to stimulate growth and defy longstanding expectations of deflation. But the Swiss National Bank is acting more like a hedge fund, snatching up individual stocks because “that is where the money is.”

About 20 percent of the SNB’s reserves are in equities, and more than half of that is in U.S. equities. The SNB’s goal is said to be to counteract the global demand for Swiss francs, which has been driving up the value of the national currency, making it hard for Swiss companies to compete in international trade. The SNB does this by buying up other currencies, and because it needs to put them somewhere, it’s putting that money in stocks.

That is a reasonable explanation for the SNB’s actions, but some critics suspect it has ulterior motives. Switzerland is home to the Bank for International Settlements, the “central bankers’ bank” in Basel, where central bankers meet regularly behind closed doors. Dr. Carroll Quigley, a Georgetown history professor who claimed to be the historian of the international bankers, wrote of this institution in” Tragedy and Hope” in 1966:

[Read more here]

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.