the holistic radical

January 18, 2008

Still the economy, stupid—Will this election help the middle class and the poor?

Without a stable middle class, this country has no reason to survive, and there will be mass discontent.

As this article points out, making a middle class salary no longer signifies that one can have a middle class quality of life due to inflationary pressures. In other words, a dollar worth less makes survival difficult for everyone, especially the middle class and the poor.

Maybe the dollar’s so low because we have a huge national debt and because we import almost everything, making few products here. That’s how buying American-made whenever available really does matter–it’s not jingoistic as much as it is good economic and environmental policy. When we lose our manufacturing infrastructure, all we have are desk-jockey jobs, inequitably distributed to those who have “educational,” family-based or other connections–the precise opposite of a meritocracy; instead we have a hierarchy based on appearances and credentials which are purchased more than earned. That’s why, unfortunately, an American education still means nothing.

The bubble is beginning to burst. With this election, we have out last chance to set priorities, make changes, and fix inequities. The middle class and the poor are beginning to not be so distant–and as such, they need to align politically in this election to help each other out. If they can move beyond racism and geographical and local segregation to see their common interests (and please not vote for Giuliani or Clinton, picking Obama, Paul, or Kucinich instead), real change can finally begin to happen with those numbers.

If we decide to do nothing, or keep doing what we have been doing, things will only get worse.

One problem: where is Ron Paul in this article?

newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-opwhe165539332jan16,0,7517032.story

Newsday.com

Candidates lack concrete plans to aid middle class

BY JENNIFER WHEARY AND THOMAS SHAPIRO

Jennifer Wheary is a senior fellow at New York-based public policy organization Demos, and Thomas Shapiro is director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University’s

January 16, 2008
The primary election results so far show that candidates need to work harder. The fact that the race is still open does not mean we voters can’t make up our minds. It means we are thinking very carefully about what’s best for the country and what policies will bring about true change.

Addressing economic insecurity among the middle class has been a recurring theme among the contenders and a top concern in the polls.

Candidates have played to this concern, but only superficially. Politics often turns into a game of appearances, so that it’s not about who has the solutions but who has the best sound bites.

We’ve seen a large sampling of sound bites from candidates from both parties about what it takes to strengthen the middle class. This has mostly amounted to bickering about whether tax reform or a massive mortgage bailout or better trade policy or health care reform is the magic bullet.

What we haven’t seen from anyone is a true understanding of what being middle class means, and what it should be.

Being middle class means having financial security. That security requires the education level necessary to find a good job and the ability to afford housing and essential living expenses. It requires having enough financial assets to provide a safety net for troubled times and a nest egg for the future. It means having adequate health insurance to ensure that financial stability is not eroded in the event of an unforeseen illness.

Tens of millions of American families earning a middle-class salary are unable to meet these basic conditions.

Only about one in three middle-class families has the critical mass of financial assets, higher education, affordable housing, adequate income and health insurance needed for long-term economic security. In fact, one out of four families is so weak in these areas that it is in danger of slipping out of the middle class.

The troubling signs do not stop there.

More than half of middle-class families have no net financial assets whatsoever or debt levels that exceed their assets.

More than one in five middle-class families has less than $100 left over each week after covering essential living expenses such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, personal care, education, personal insurance and pensions.

More than a quarter of middle-class families match the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of being housing burdened – spending more than 30 percent of their after-tax income on housing.

In nearly one in four of middle-class families, at least one member lacks health insurance of any kind.

In the age of appearances, our candidates have chosen to overlook the implications of these hard facts.

It is time to send them a clear message. The middle class does not need a Botox bolster, a series of superficial, short-term sound-bite solutions. We need a complete makeover.

This requires vision and bold new ideas, not bickering among opponents or across congressional aisles. It’s time to push past appearances and challenge our campaigners to engage in a serious national discussion about how to build a broader and more secure middle class.

This is no easy task. It requires that candidates lose the platitudes and describe concrete plans to make it easier for low- and moderate-income families to enter the middle class and for those already in the middle class to stay there.

Why should candidates go the extra mile?

When you count up those Americans who either have earnings that fall below middle-class incomes (below 200 percent of the poverty line) or have middle-class incomes but lack the basic pillars of economic stability, middle-class financial security eludes an estimated 70 million working-age households.

And that’s the kind of number that can turn the tide of an election.

Incredible must-read article by Nat Hentoff–what the CIA had to destroy

Hentoff is a national treasure. We are running out of time to impeach Bush, and Hentoff presents more persuasive reasons why such action is not only warranted, but necessary. Average citizens will not be protected from CIA-allowed torture in the future, and the destruction of evidence going on here is not only unjust and morally shady, but it’s outright criminal–here are the actions of power out of control, here are the frantic moves of an empire crumbling.
The whole “is waterboarding torture” debate should not be taking place, and speaks volumes about our moral degradation. Of course waterboarding is torture: it is more than “simulated drowning”–it is all but real drowning–it is oxygen deprivation and it is being used to coerce information out of people–people who do not even have to be formally charged with any crime, who can be you or me called an “enemy combatant” (see the debate on internet freedoms and why S. 1959 must be defeated–Ron Paul is the only candidate taking a stand on this). Average citizens must go on the record and display their abhorrence to it, if governments are being reprehensible about it.
http://www.villagevoice.com/generic/show_print.php?id=78870&page=&issue=0803&printcde=MzYwMTc2NzQwMg==&refpage=L2FkbWluL2VkaXQvZWRpdC5waHA/aWQ9Nzg4NzAmc2VjdGlvbj1uZXdz
Nat Hentoff
What the CIA Had to Destroy
The many reasons this torture evidence was too hot to handle
by Nat Hentoff
January 15th, 2008 6:14 PM
So what was on those videotapes destroyed by the CIA? Let’s put a face to it. Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and, after being shot in the groin while trying to escape, was sent to recover in a CIA secret prison. He would be the first of the CIA’s many “ghost prisoners”—and also the first to test the value of what the president has often described as an “alternative set of [interrogation] procedures . . . that are safe and necessary.”As described by Ron Suskind in The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 , Zubaydah—held in an ice-cold cell—was denied medication for his wounds, threatened with death, prevented from sleeping, incessantly blasted with pounding rock music (by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others), and, at last, waterboarded. After 30 seconds of feeling that he was on the verge of drowning, he was more than eager to answer any questions.

In a September 6, 2006, speech, George W. Bush triumphantly called Zubaydah “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.” After the application of those “alternative” interrogation procedures, which the president described as “designed to . . . comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations, [and which] the Department of Justice reviewed extensively and determined to be lawful,” the detainee “disclosed Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [to be] the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks” and “also provided information that helped stop a terrorist attack being planned for inside the United States.”

But, Suskind added, two weeks before Bush’s words of praise for these “coercive” interrogations, Dan Coleman—the FBI’s leading expert on Al Qaeda—asserted that Zubaydah was “insane, certifiable, split personality,” and that he wasn’t the top operative he was made out to be. The CIA was informed of Coleman’s assessment, and it was, “of course, briefed to the President and Vice President.” Undaunted, Bush made his congratulatory speech and then surreptitiously said to CIA director George Tenet: “I said he was important. You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you?”

After his involuntary contribution to the advanced arts of interrogation, Zubaydah became a resident of our penal colony at Guantánamo Bay, which the president has made an entirely law-free zone, much like the CIA’s secret prisons. But after two Supreme Court decisions contradicted the commander in chief in his assertion of unfettered war powers, the Bush administration reluctantly set up a transparently prosecutorial kangaroo court there.

In April of last year, appearing before a status-review tribunal to determine whether he had been accurately designated as an enemy combatant, Zubaydah testified, as reported in the New York Times, that as a Palestinian, and because of American support for Israel, “I have been an enemy of yours since I was a child.”

However, he insisted that as a longtime adherent of “defensive jihad”—and despite what he’d said after being waterboarded—”I disagreed with the Al Qaeda philosophy of targeting innocent civilians like those at the World Trade Center. . . . I never conducted nor financially supported, nor helped in any operation against America.”

He explained that he’d made false statements while being tortured by the CIA. Asked by the president of the tribunal, an Air Force colonel, “Can you describe a little bit more about what those treatments were?”, Zubaydah obliged.

Not surprisingly, his answers are not part of the transcript. I expect that Attorney General Michael Mukasey would consider those waterboarding details to be “state secrets” involving highly classified “sources and methods.”

Paul Gimigliano, a professional Pinocchio (i.e., spokesman) for the CIA, said that however Zubaydah described his treatment, “The United States does not conduct or condone torture. The agency’s terrorist interrogation program has been implemented lawfully, with great care and close review.”

If you have any doubts, just ask Attorney General Mukasey, whose department is conducting a close review (but close for whose sake?) of the destroyed CIA interrogation tapes starring Abu Zubaydah. But the Justice Department says that it cannot tell us how long this inquiry—which is being conducted in conjunction with the CIA—will take.

That’s not surprising in view of the intricate tapestry of cover-ups woven by both agencies and by the White House. With so little time remaining before the next administration takes over, a special independent prosecutor must be appointed before more criminal evidence disappears.

According to a December 30 investigation by The New York Times, as “interrogations of Abu Zubaydah had gotten rougher” in the CIA secret prison, “each new tactic [had to be] approved by cable from headquarters.”

CIA headquarters? Justice Department headquarters? White House lawyers? Names, please!

There’s another crucial dimension to uncovering the effects of what Zubaydah— terrified that he was about to drown— allegedly revealed during those “rougher” interrogations: There are several cases of purported terrorists before our courts who are being prosecuted on the basis of Zubaydah’s desperate testimony in that CIA black site.

For example, American citizen José Padilla was arrested at O’Hare Airport in 2002, after allegedly conspiring with Zubaydah and Al Qaeda to set off a “dirty bomb” in the United States. Padilla—himself relentlessly tortured while being held for years as an “unlawful enemy combatant”—first appeared in court on those charges before none other than Michael Mukasey, at the time a federal judge in New York. Mukasey ordered him imprisoned on a material-witness warrant, based in part on the information that had been proffered by Zubaydah under waterboarding. Then, suddenly, Padilla was taken out of the federal-court system by order of George W. Bush and vanished for years without even a hearing or charges or access to a lawyer.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, says: “It is not clear whether Mukasey knew Zubaydah’s statements were obtained by torture. But since he issued the warrant, Mukasey has a real or apparent conflict of interest” as one of the heads of the current investigation into the CIA- destroyed torture videos. Mukasey has appointed a career federal prosecutor to head the investigation and report back to him.

Cohn adds: “[Mukasey] has said it is premature to appoint an outside special counsel. But like the Nixon administration, the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to investigate itself. Congress should be pressured to pass a new independent-counsel stature.”

There are bipartisan constitutional lawyers beginning to apply that pressure, but there will be passionate resistance from Congressional Republicans. Do you think that Democratic Congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will give a damn?

January 13, 2008

The Difference Between Being Educated and Being Influenced and What it Means for How You Vote

Filed under: elections, mediawatch, politics, Ron Paul — Tags: , , , — sesame seed @ 11:57 pm

A comment on how the media is treating this election, ignoring Ron Paul (which, if most poeple knew for the economic and diplomatic changes he is for, would vote for him) and making the de facto rae Hillary or Obama or both v. Giuliani.

People aren’t getting informed, they’re just getting influenced. There’s a big difference between being educated and being influenced. And I think we have a lot of influenced people; I wouldn’t say we have a lot of educated people. The consequences for democracy are huge. When once in democracy we believed we needed a commonly, communally educated populace, now we have sold that ideal out and are settling for an influenced population, a highly suggestible population who will go along with pretty much anything as long as you sell it to them.

December 21, 2007

Mercola on Media: Why Media Consolidation is Bad for Your Health

Media outlets and Big Pharma demonstrate incredible collusion, to say the least. They are serving up disinformation concerning your most vital resource, your health.

Dr. Mercola’s newsletter is one of the best on the internet to help you 1. sort out disinformation; 2. get on the road to better health; 3. learn how to think logically and holistically (a corollary of 1 & 2).

Why You Are Being Deceived by the News Media

http://v.mercola.com/blogs/public_blog/Why-You-Are-Being-Deceived-by-the-News-Media-20815.aspx

In the last 15 years, your sources for news have shrunk drastically.

Whereas in 1983, 50 corporations ruled the U.S. news media, by 2004 this number decreased to a minuscule six corporations.

When Ben Bagdikian predicted this more than 20 years ago in his book The Media Monopoly, he was called “alarmist”. But when he updated his book in the 1990’s, there were already fewer than two dozen media corporations controlling almost all of America’s newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted that the number would fall even farther, and was greeted with skepticism. But his critics have been proven wrong as an increasingly small number of corporations control an increasingly huge percentage of the media market.

I

Media Reform Information Center

Dr. Mercola’s Comment:

Today, your mind is controlled by Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, Viacom (formerly CBS) and General Electric’s NBC. These are the top owners of the entire media industry, which includes everything you read and hear in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. Is this a problem?

You bet it is!

There is Virtually No Competition in the Media Market Today Whatsoever

With a paltry six mega-corporations deciding what’s news and what’s not, you end up with a watered-down, hyped-up, “Paris-Hilton-Daily-Blow-By-Blow” censored for entertainment-value type information, which somehow now passes for news.

The Internet has Become the Last Bastion of Independent, Free-Thinking News

And health-related information is no exception to this rule. These mega-companies wield incredible power when it comes to slamming down the natural health industry and dumbing down the public. You have seen proof of it on numerous occasions already, with their “shocking news that vitamins are bad for your health” articles, just as an example.

I am proud to be a top-ranked independent voice in the vastness of corporate monopoly, offering information to empower you with alternative choices that can revolutionize your health, open your eyes to the truth, and keep you safely out of the pharmaceutical sickness loop.

http://www.mercola.com/2003/nov/22/reuters.htm

World’s Largest Media Source Controlled by World’s Largest Drug Company

 
By Dr. Joseph MercolaReuters supplies the global business community and news media with a range of products including real-time financial data, transaction systems, access to numeric and textual historical databases, news and pictures. In my view they are the strongest news collection agency in the world, and they supply the majority of the news you hear on the radio, see on TV or read in the paper. They are also a major source of news for my Web site and my blog.

Three years ago Glaxo Wellcome-SmithKline merged with Beecham to create the world’s largest drug company. This company is one of the primary distributors of hepatitis B vaccine, which I frequently warn about.

Well, a Texas attorney provided me with some documentation that shows a strong link between Glaxo and Reuters. As shown on the GlaxoSmithKline Web site, Sir Christopher Hogg is Glaxo’s non-executive chairman. Sir Christopher Hogg was born in 1936 and has an MBA from Harvard. Interestingly, Sir Christopher is also the non-executive chairman at Reuters.

It does not take much intelligence to understand that Reuters, the world’s primary source of news information, is heavily prejudiced in favor of the drug company. We have a major uphill battle to fight against these forces. Fortunately, the Internet and technology has seriously leveled the playing field and is one of the primary reasons why I remain highly confident that we are making more than a dent in the process.

For one, this newsletter is starting to make a difference. Earlier this year I began promoting raw milk and it started to make a national impact–so much so that an investigative reporter from the Wall Street Journal did an extensive interview with me for a recent front-page story on the topic. National Fox News also did an extensive interview with me on the same topic. Interestingly, both of these organizations neglected to include me in their final stories.

The important point to realize though is that this newsletter–and you–are making a difference. The major national media is starting to pay attention. They have no choice. We have to capture media attention to expand the message of health care freedom from the drug company tyranny. SO, please continue to encourage all your friends and relatives to sign up for the free newsletter so you and your children can have a healthier future.

Most Media Coverage of Drugs Highly Biased

 
A study of how the mainstream mass media covers health found that many news stories on drugs fail to report side effects or researchers’ financial ties to the companies that make the medications. The researchers looked at 207 newspaper and TV stories from 1994 to 1998 on three drugs: aspirin; Zocor, a cholesterol-lowering drug; and Fosamax, an osteoporosis drug.In the 170 stories that cited experts or scientific studies, half included at least one expert or study with financial ties to the drug’s manufacturer. Of those, only 40 percent reported the potential conflict of interest. The study also found that fewer than half the news stories reported the drugs’ side effects and only 30 percent noted their cost.This report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, whose incoming editor has been charged by the FDA for an apparent conflict of interest involving a drug company. He has admitted that he may have made a mistake last year when he praised a new asthma drug made by a company that had hired him to evaluate studies about the medication.

Additionally, forty percent of the stories studied did not report the numbers behind the claims of medical benefits. Also, 83 percent of the studies reported only the relative benefit, 2 percent reported only the absolute benefit, and only 15 percent reported both.

For example, many 1996 stories about a Fosamax study said the drug would cut an osteoporosis patient’s risk of a broken hip in half – the relative benefit. But most failed to include the absolute reduction in risk, from a 2 percent chance of a hip fracture to 1 percent.

Reporting only the relative benefit is an approach that has been shown to increase the enthusiasm of doctors and patients for long-term preventive treatments and that could be viewed as potentially misleading. In addition, while most of the top medical journals require researchers to report their financial ties to drug companies, some studies do not include the information because a researcher fails to disclose it.

New England Journal of Medicine 2000; 342: 1668-1671.

COMMENT: Here we have it again. NEJM comes up with two winner articles documenting the incredible influence that the drug companies have on the media. With their new editor coming in my guess is that we will not see these types of articles published again in the near future.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be fooled. That is the purpose of this newsletter, to give you the truth behind the health news you see on TV or read in the paper or periodicals. I have access to the same wire feeds that the news media does, but no drug company is funding me to influence what I have to say. If you feel that this service is helpful and would like to help your friends and relatives receive the truth behind the headlines you can encourage them to subscribe to the newsletter by clicking on the button below. My goal is to have this news reach as many people as possible. If a significant mass of people understand the truth we will be able to change the way health care is done in this country. I believe the goal is achievable as the Internet levels the playing field. It will happen eventually, but you can facilitate that process by helping to spread the word.

http://www.mercola.com/2003/apr/2/drug_companies.htm

More Drug Company Conflict of Interests

A government review of widely prescribed anti-depressant drugs may not be trustworthy as most of the members have ties to the drug manufacturers.

The side effects of Seroxat, Prozac and other antidepressant drugs in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class were undergoing an “intensive review” because many patients have reported severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to come off Seroxat.

Additionally, the drugs have been associated with a small number of suicides, committed shortly after patients, who were not previously in severely depressed states, began taking the drugs.

However, two of the four scientists on the review board hold shares in GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of Seroxat. Two other members of the review team were involved in the promotional press launch of Seroxat, and the chairman of the team was one of the signatories to a paper that concluded withdrawal symptoms from SSRIs are rare and relatively mild.

In addition, the review will not take into account first-hand evidence from patients, only reports from their doctors.

The team was drawn from the committee on the safety of medicines, which is part of the Department of Health’s medicines control agency. The committee maintains that team members leave the room if they have personal interests such as shareholdings to an aspect of the discussion.

Reportedly, several members of the team did declare personal interests and left the room during some discussions, however meeting minutes showed that all members did not declare all of their manufacturer connections.

The medicines control agency stated that the system for preventing conflicts of interests works well and that there has been no evidence showing that team members did not act with integrity.

The Guardian March 17, 2003


Dr. Mercola’s Comment

The traditional medical paradigm is fatally flawed. Relying on drugs and surgeries to correct diseases caused by poor diet and stress is a prescription for disaster.

If you haven’t seen the signs around you please take notice. Health costs are rising through the roof, and shortly we will be spending over 2 trillion dollars a year for health care in the U.S.

It is safe to estimate that over three-fourths of this money is wasted on short-term fixes, primarily drugs and surgeries, which in no way address the long-term cause of the problem.

If those funds were redirected to optimize food and stress concerns, we would have more than enough funds left over to help the more than 40 million uninsured Americans.

The above article provides a solid review of the pervasive influence of drug companies.

By being aware of their self-interested motives you can keep yourself from falling into their deceptive traps.

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