Vaclav Havel is one of my very few heroes.
Is going to Afghanistan this Sunday, and will be posting from there for a month.
If you’d like to meet him, he plans to attend Philadelphia’s Drinking Liberally on Sept. 28th.
Could it be they just don’t want to know how bad it is?
The Israeli parliament is considering several new laws that could seriously impact the ability of citizens to criticise the government, according to rights groups. Human Rights Watch is reporting a crackdown on political activists who criticise Israeli’s treatment of the Palestinians. In what rights groups consider part of an alarming pattern, Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, recently admitted to spying on a young Australian activist in the West Bank. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports from Jerusalem.
Can’t imagine why anyone would want to protest things like this!
For this stupid and inflammatory cover.
Have we stopped Afghanistan from imposing Sharia law? No, we have not. Will it get any better if we stay? No, it will not.
The fact is, and will always be, that the media and political establishment only gets itself worked up about female oppression and other human rights abuses WHEN THEY WANT AN EXCUSE TO START OR MAINTAIN A WAR.
US researchers have developed a promising new technique that might one day enable doctors to regrow broken or diseased joints in patients.
Writing in the The Lancet, US researchers say they have regrown the forelimb thigh joint of rabbits using their own stem cells.
Scientists say they have shown “proof of principle” for the technique which could replace hips. It was the first time an entire joint surface had been regenerated with the return of functions, they said.
The research could benefit patients with damaged hips, shoulders or knees.
The team removed the limbs from 10 rabbits and replaced them with an artificial limb-shaped skeleton.
This was soaked with chemicals which attract bone and cartilage stem cells.
Four weeks later the rabbits had regrown their joints and were able to move normally.
“This is the first time an entire joint surface was regenerated with return of functions including weight bearing and locomotion,” said Professor Jeremy Mao of Columbia University Medical Center, New York.
“Regeneration of cartilage and bone both from the host’s own stem cells, rather than taking stem cells out of the body, may ultimately lead to clinical applications. In patients who need the knee, shoulder, hip or finger joints regenerated, the rabbit model provides a proof of principle,” he said.
Researchers have artificially grown a range of tissue on scaffolding using stem cells for many years, but these have been grown in laboratories. The lab grown tissue has been quite small and has had no veins or arteries to supply them with blood.
More recently, however, several groups of researchers have successfully grown tissue inside animals, where blood vessels naturally form as the tissue grows.
The US group is the latest to have shown that this is a promising technique – and is the first to have grown a large amount of good quality bone and cartilage into successful working joints.
According to Professor Patrick Warnke, a stem cell researcher and plastic surgeon at Bond University in Australia, there is technically no reason why trials should not begin on human patients, for example as an alternative to hip replacements.
But he said there were ethical issues to be considered before beginning clinical trials.
“A hip replacement would definitely cure any potential recruit to any clinical trial. On the other hand you have an experimental treatment that may turn out to be a better option – but may not work at all,” he said.
Rich Trumka, the current president of the AFL/CIO, has been fighting to protect Social Security for a very long time. (Take a look at this video from 1994, when he asks, “Where is the crisis?” and points out that Social Security is the target of “draconian” proposals while it was in surplus.)
He is one of a very few voices standing up for working people in this country, and here’s the speech he made yesterday to the Washington Press Club:
Good morning. Working people around the country know the value of Social Security, and the Labor Movement has long been one of its staunchest supporters.
The American Federation of Labor was there in 1935, advocating for passage of the Social Security Act. In the decades following, the AFL-CIO played a lead role in designing the evolving Social Security system — supporting efforts to strengthen and broaden the program, and opposing weakening of its protections. During the last Administration, we were key to defeating privatization.
In a misplaced effort to reduce the deficit, Social Security is under attack again –this time by proposals to raise the retirement age. And the right wing spin machine has convinced many Americans that Social Security won’t be there for them, anyway.
Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, goes door to door every night talking to thousands of people a week. What they hear is that working families — including young people — are deeply worried about their retirement security. They are hearing that their Social Security benefits may be cut — and they don’t see how they can possibly make up the difference.
At a time when retirement is less secure for working Americans than it has been in many generations, only Social Security remains a defined and stable retirement benefit — not to mention the important family protections it provides when a worker is injured or dies. Unions know exactly what is happening to retirement income in this country because we see it at the bargaining table. Fewer traditional pensions. More riskier 401(k) plans — not a great benefit for workers with stagnant incomes who find it difficult or impossible to save. Now is the time, to strengthen, not weaken, Social Security.
Raising the eligibility age for a full Social Security benefit would be disastrous for millions of Americans. It is a benefit cut, plain and simple. It is a cut that is unnecessary and one that Americans can ill-afford.
For those born in 1960 or later, the retirement age for a full Social Security benefit is now 67, rather than 65. These younger workers have already been hit with a 13 percent benefit cut — and some now want to impose another cut on top of that.
A 62-year old worker who would receive $800 a month if the retirement age for a full benefit were 65, will get only $700 a month when that retirement age becomes 67.
Further increasing the retirement age for a full benefit to 69 (and some are even saying 70) means another 13% cut in benefits — for a total benefit cut of more than 25% for anyone who is now 50 or younger. That probably includes many of you in this room.
An age increase is a particular hardship for workers in physically demanding jobs who don’t qualify for disability — workers like my father who spent his life in the mines and couldn’t work another day by the time he qualified for Social Security — and those older workers who may no longer be able to find work due to age discrimination.
I know that America can do better than this. And that’s why the AFL-CIO, as part of a broad campaign, is mobilizing to protect Social Security. I look forward to working with our many coalition partners to create a secure retirement for our baby boomers, our children, and grandchildren.
This is a significant step forward for justice on the tribal reservations, especially the women who are the victims of widespread domestic violence and sexual crimes:
A measure designed to ease stubbornly high rates of violent crime, including rape and sexual assault, within Indian reservations will be signed into law by President Obama on Thursday.
Advocates of the Tribal Law and Order Act, which took three years to put together and passed the Senate last week, say it will ensure that more crimes, including murders and serious assaults, are reported and prosecuted amid worries that many cases go unpunished.
The measure gives tribal courts tougher sentencing powers and sets stricter rules to gather and collect more data on crimes. Special U.S. prosecutors will be appointed to tackle what advocates of the law describe as an epidemic of violence.
The president is due to sign the bill into law during a ceremony at the White House on Thursday afternoon.
Supporters said the current congressional session was the most active in decades in improving conditions for Indian reservations. Earlier this year, Obama signed a law that boosted health-care provisions for Indian communities.
The reservations overall have violent-crime rates of more than twice the national average, according to a congressional investigation.
Indian Country Today has more:
Also, tribes prosecuting individuals for crimes that could land them in jail for more than a year must provide defendants with the same right to a lawyer that they would have in state or federal court.
“The 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act notably did not include a right to counsel even though it is a constitutional (6th Amendment) right that also applies to the states,” said Navajo lawyer Chris Stearns. “My understanding is that this giant exception was made because back then no one thought that tribes would be able to pay for attorneys, or that there were even attorneys around at all on the reservation.”
[...] Whitney Phillips, a spokeswoman for Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., a major champion of the bill in the House, said tribes that don’t have the resources to provide defense counsel or house inmates for longer sentences can continue to operate under the existing one-year sentencing provisions in the Indian Civil Rights Act, which does not require that defense counsel be provided.
“Because the provision is optional, it will not place any additional costs on tribes who choose not to participate in the enhanced sentencing provision,” Phillips said.
Hannah August, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said the law will not cost tribes anything unless they choose to exercise the enhanced sentencing authority it provides.
Of course, that places the cost burden on the tribes, and not all of them can afford it. So they’ll be “allowed” to maintain a two-tiered system of justice if they can’t pay for the better version — which, come to think of it, makes them just like the rest of our country!