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Posts tagged ‘Obama’

Don’t Abandon Wolves

Don’t Abandon Wolves

The Obama Administration is on the verge of stripping most Endangered Species Act protections away from gray wolves. If this happens, wolf management will be turned over to the states — something that’s already proven itself disastrous!

Please help wolves in their 11th hour!

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State management for wolves already happened in the Northern Rockies, and it’s been a disaster. Over 1,700 wolves have been ruthlessly hunted down and killed in just the last two years. If the federal government goes through with their plan to strip wolves of ESA protections, this could happen in part of the U.S. where wolf populations are even more fragile than in the Rockies.

Don’t let the Obama administration abandon wolves! Sign the petition urging the Obama Administration to keep wolves fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Thank you for taking action,

Kayla C. c
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

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Most Notorious Prison Camp

Dear friends across the US,

In 24 hours, President Obama could finally move to close Guantanamo — the most notorious prison camp on earth.

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With inmates on a 100-day hunger strike and massive calls for Obama to act, our president has been pushed to respond with a major speech about the prison. If enough of us demand a plan — he could free the prisoners already cleared for release, and appoint a White House official with one mission: close Guantanamo down!

We’re at a tipping point. Sign up to demand Obama close this shameful gulag down, and share the shocking facts below so others join this urgent call:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_us/?bMPbqab&v=25082

The facts speak for themselves:
Detainees in Guantanamo now: 166
Detainees facing active charges: 6
Detainees cleared for immediate release, but stuck in the camp: 86
Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike: 103
Hunger strikers strapped down and force fed: 30
Prisoners who have died in custody: 9
Children the US has held at Guantanamo: 21
Detainees tried in civilian court: 1
“Unreleasable” detainees who can’t be tried for lack of evidence or torture: 50
Prisoners released by the Bush administration: 500+
Prisoners released by the Obama administration: 72
Current annual cost to US taxpayers: $150 million
Days since Obama first pledged to close Gitmo: 1579
Days since first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo: 11 years, 4 months, 11 days

For years, Obama has blamed the US Congress for the failure to close Guantanamo. But since Congress granted the Defense Department waiver authority that allows prisoners who have been cleared to be transferred out, Obama himself can free these 86 men. And while he will need Congressional cooperation to close the prison completely, if he truly wants to shut it down, he can task someone at the White House right now to show it is a priority and make it happen.

Sign now to demand Obama announce a plan to close Guantanamo, and then let’s up the pressure by flooding the White House with calls in these final hours — it’s time we end this shame!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/obama_shut_down_gitmo_us/?bMPbqab&v=25082

When he first campaigned to become US president, Obama promised to close Guantanamo down. This illegal and repulsive prison has led to far too much suffering and fuelled great divisions and hate in our world. Enough is enough. Let’s get Obama to act and close this painful scar on humanity.

With hope and determination,

Dalia, Joseph, Allison, Bissan, Nick, Alice, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

U.S. Healthcare Near the Bottom

U.S. Healthcare Worse Than Almost All Other Industrialized Countries
by Carey L. Brown
Inter Press Service/Nation of Change
11 January 2013

U.S. citizens suffer from poorer health than nearly all other industrialized countries, according to the first comprehensive government analysis on the subject, released Wednesday.

Of 17 high-income countries looked at by a committee of experts sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the United States is at or near the bottom in at least nine indicators.

These include infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, and adolescent pregnancies, as well as more systemic issues such as injuries, homicides, and rates of disability.

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Together, such issues place U.S. males at the very bottom of the list, among those countries, for life expectancy; on average, a U.S. male can be expected to live almost four fewer years than those in the top-ranked country, Switzerland. U.S. females fare little better, ranked 16th out of the 17 high-income countries under review.

“We were stunned by the propensity of findings all on the negative side – the scope of the disadvantage covers all ages, from babies to seniors, both sexes, all classes of society,” Steven H. Woolf, a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and chair of the panel that wrote the report, told IPS.

“It’s unclear whether some of these patterns will be experienced by other countries in the years to come, but developing countries will undoubtedly begin facing some of these issues as they take on more habits similar to the United States. Currently, however, even countries in the developing world are outpacing the U.S. in certain outcomes.”

Although the new findings offer a uniquely comprehensive view of the problem, the fact is that U.S. citizens have for decades been dying at younger ages than those in nearly all other industrialized countries. The committee looked at data going back to the 1970s to note that such a trend has been worsening at least since then, with women particularly affected.

“A particular concern with these findings was about adolescents, about whom we document very serious issues that, again, stand out starkly from other counties,” Woolf says.

Beyond insurance

The unusually high levels of population who lack health insurance in the U.S. would certainly seem to be one factor at work here. In 2010, some 50 million people, around 16 percent of the population, were uninsured – a massive proportion compared with the rest of the world’s high-income countries.

Of course, after a rancorous debate and more than a decade of political infighting, in 2010 President Barack Obama did succeed in putting in place broad legislation that will bring the number of uninsured in the United States down significantly.

Further, Obama’s winning of a second term in office, coupled with a recent decision by the Supreme Court, will now undercut most attempts by critics to roll back Obama’s new health-care provisions.

And yet, according to the new findings, the insurance issue has relatively little impact on the overall state of poor health in the United States. (In fact, those 75 years old or more can expect to live longer than those in other countries, a clear indication of the tremendous money and effort that has gone into end-of-life care.)

“Even advantaged Americans – those who are white, insured, college-educated, or upper income – are in worse health than similar individuals in other countries,” the report states. Likewise, “Americans who do not smoke or are not overweight also appear to have higher rates of disease than similar groups in peer countries.”

Indeed, some of the few categories in which U.S. citizens are found to do better than their peers in other countries include smoking less tobacco and drinking less alcohol. They also appear to have gained greater control over their cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

At the same time, people in the United States have begun to suffer inordinately from a host of other problems that can contribute to a spectrum of additional health concerns.

Sky-high obesity rates, for instance, are undergirded by findings that people in the U.S. on average consume more calories per person than in other countries, as well as analysis that suggest that the U.S. physical environment in recent decades has been built around the automobile rather than the pedestrian.

Health disadvantage

Confusingly, people in the United States not only record far lower health indicators on average when compared to other high-income countries, but also score far lower on seemingly unrelated issues related to environmental safety – for instance, experiencing inordinate numbers of homicide and car accidents.

The committee clearly had trouble putting together these seemingly disparate datasets.

“No single factor can fully explain the U.S. health disadvantage,” the report states. “More likely, the U.S. health disadvantage has multiple causes and involves some combination of inadequate health care, unhealthy behaviors, adverse economic and social conditions, and environmental factors, as well as public policies and social values that shape those conditions.”

According to Samuel Preston, a demographer and fellow committee member, “The bottom line is that we are not preventing damaging health behaviors. You can blame that on public health officials or on the health care system … but put it all together and it is creating a very negative portrait.”

Read entire article and other stories at Nation of Change.

Keep Your Word Mr. President

Dear Gabriel,

“Don’t blow it.” That’s what I want to say to President Obama.

This is the moment that will define the future of the United States’ commitment on human rights. President Obama’s second term will determine whether the post 9/11 stains on the United States’ human rights record are an anomaly or the “new normal.”

President Obama promised to support and advance human rights. Let’s hold him to it.

When he was first elected in 2008, President Obama promised a new dawn of American leadership. As a new president, he acknowledged that the protection of human rights cannot rest on exhortation alone.

He offered the promise of an administration that would respect human rights — closing the Guantánamo prison, bringing detention practices in line with international law, repudiating secrecy and ensuring that human rights weren’t traded away in the name of national security.

It really isn’t a choice for the President to make. Under international law, the U.S. government is obligated to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, and ensure accountability for violations of those rights.

Tell President Obama to live up to his promises and uphold human rights.

The prison at Guantánamo, indefinite detention, unfair trials, unlawful killings with drones and other human rights violations committed by the U.S government undermine the rule of law in the U.S. and around the world. These abuses also create a climate in which other countries can point to a double-standard to justify their own human rights abuses with the refrain, ‘if the U.S. government does that, why shouldn’t we?’

By taking bold steps to restore respect for human rights President Obama can help ensure justice, security and accountability here in the U.S. and around the world. That’s why he must take three bold actions immediately:

Close the prison at Guantánamo
Stop unlawful killing with drones
Ensure the UN adopts a strong Arms Trade Treaty

President Obama has been given a second chance to keep his promises on human rights. Please stand with us today and call on the president to live up to those promises.

Thank you for everything you do to protect and advance human rights.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Unethical Supreme Court

The High Court’s Supremely Unethical Activists
Nation of Change
by Joe Conason

How the Supreme Court majority will rule on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act may well have been foretold months or perhaps years ago — not so much by their questions during argument this week, as by their flagrant displays of bias outside the court, where certain justices regularly behave as dubiously as any sleazy officeholder.

While the public awaits the high court’s judgment on the constitutionality of health care reform, it is worth remembering how cheaply Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in particular have sullied the integrity of their lifetime appointments, and how casually Chief Justice John Roberts and their other colleagues tolerate such outrages.

What is most scandalous in Washington, as a wise pundit once suggested, are the things politicians do that are perfectly legal but shouldn’t be — an observation that applies with particular force to the Supreme Court, which is not subject to the ethics restrictions applied to lesser judges on the federal bench. That was why Scalia and Thomas, for instance, could appear as guests of honor at a fundraising dinner for the right-wing Federalist Society — which was sponsored by Bancroft PLLC, a major firm involved in litigation against the Affordable Care Act — on the very same day last November that they reviewed an appeal brief on the case from Paul Clement, the Bancroft attorney whose arguments they received so cordially this week.

In fact, Clement sat at a table “sandwiched between” the two justices. Scalia was seated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had told the Federalists that he would rely on them to help undo the “affront” represented by health care reform. And for good measure, Justice Samuel Alito enjoyed the event at another table nearby.

If they were mere federal district or appeals judges, neither Scalia nor Thomas would have been permitted to attend the Federalist celebration, while Alito’s attendance would have been questionable, to say the least. But members of the right-wing majority abuse their immunity from ethics regulation without sanction. Poised to reject the Affordable Care Act with the kind of sweeping opinion that could tear down decades of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, they merit the sharp scrutiny of their motives and conduct that they have largely escaped until now, even as they drift further and further toward the corporate right.

Investigative reports have revealed partisan and ideological ties that the justices themselves have sought to conceal, dating back to Scalia’s duck-hunting trip with then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who had pending before the court a lawsuit challenging the secrecy of his Energy Task Force.

No federal judge would have dared to rule in such circumstances, but Scalia dismissed the obvious appearance of conflict with an unbecoming sneer.

As Scott Horton reported in Harpers magazine, Scalia’s duck-hunting patrons in Mississippi had brought other vital matters before him to get their way, again in a manner that any self-respecting ethical jurist would instinctively abhor.

More recently, Scalia and Thomas were used as celebrity bait by the ultra-right Koch brothers, David and Charles, to draw well-heeled supporters to a secretive conference on undermining the Obama administration at a fancy Western resort. It would be hard to imagine any activity less appropriate for a Supreme Court justice, unless it was Thomas’ wife Ginny accepting huge payments from a tea party organization devoted to repeal of health care reform, which she did in 2010. The justices failed to report any of these screaming conflicts on their disclosure reports, compounding the offense with the coverup.

Read entire Op-ed at Nation of Change

History of US Healthcare

Healthcare history: How the patchwork coverage came to be.
by Bob Rosenblatt
Los Angeles Times
February 27, 2012

Workers swarmed through Henry J. Kaiser’s Richmond, Calif., shipyard in World War II, building 747 ships for the Navy. The war “had siphoned off the most hardy specimens,” a newspaper reported, so Kaiser was left with many workers too young, old or infirm to be drafted.

The workers needed to be in good health to be effective on the job, and Kaiser offered them care from doctors in company clinics and at company hospitals. The workers paid 50 cents a week for the benefit.

It was something new in industrial America — a bonus offered to attract scarce labor while wages were frozen during the war.

The war ended, the workers quit the shipyards, leaving behind hospitals and doctors but no patients. So the company decided to open the system to the public — and that’s how generations of Californians who never heard of Kaiser shipyards have since gotten medical care.

It is just one example of the way America’s health insurance system has grown into the strange patchwork program it is today.

Most of us get health insurance through our jobs, a system puzzling to the rest of the industrial world, where the government levies taxes and offers health coverage to all as a basic right of modern society. But for many Americans, their way feels alien — the heavy hand of government reaching into our business as some bureaucrat tells doctors and patients what to do.

We always seem to fight over the role of government in our healthcare. In 1918, California voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have organized a state-run healthcare program. Doctors fought it with a publication declaring that “compulsory social health insurance” was “a dangerous device invented in Germany, announced by the German Emperor from the throne in the same year he started plotting and preparing to conquer the world.”

The amendment was defeated by a huge margin.

This year’s presidential and congressional election campaigns will feature intense argument over the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in 2010, the most ambitious effort yet to bring health insurance to all Americans. Everyone is required to have health insurance, and all but the poorest citizens face a tax penalty if they don’t comply.

For liberals, the act is a culmination of the dream to complete the work of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. For conservatives, many of whom scornfully refer to the law as Obamacare, it is big government run amok. The first battleground will be in the U.S. Supreme Court next month, when the justices hear arguments on whether it is constitutional for the federal government to make citizens buy health insurance.

The long-standing tension between public and private healthcare in America has produced a unique and confusing way to provide protection against the cost of ill health.

It was Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party that first suggested, in the 1912 presidential campaign, that Americans would need help paying their medical bills.

Medicine was becoming safe and even effective. Doctors could treat typhoid and diphtheria. Hospitals were becoming places that could help you get better rather than serving as dumping grounds for the insane or warehouses for paupers.

Being able to treat sickness meant that healthcare started to cost more.

When FDR became president in 1933, the committees that developed the concept of Social Security for him also considered national health insurance. Roosevelt flirted with the idea but never threw political muscle behind it.

After Harry S. Truman became president in 1945, he called on Congress to provide national health insurance but could never bring it to a vote. Opponents included the American Medical Assn., which in 1948 asked each of its members to kick in $25 to fund a campaign warning that Truman’s “socialized medicine” plan could lead to socialism throughout American life.

Health insurance, when it did emerge on a mass basis, came from the business world, as exemplified by the Kaiser shipyard story. World War II-era employers faced government-mandated wage freezes to prevent them from competing with dollars for scarce workers, which would drive up prices and cause inflation. But the IRS allowed companies to offer benefits up to 5% of the value of wages without counting them as taxable income.

The ruling became permanent in 1954, creating the foundation for the insurance system we have today.

After the war ended, the powerful labor union movement focused on expanding health coverage as well as boosting wages. Health insurance became a standard feature in labor contracts. Elsewhere in the economy, nonunion employers too decided it was a good tool to attract workers.

And then, in 1965, after years of hearings and campaigns, the federal government dived into healthcare in a big way.

For years, there had been talk of the needs of the elderly, who couldn’t afford the hospital bills that came with the ravages of old age. Old people were a sympathetic and deserving group for politicians. President Lyndon B. Johnson, armed with the power and prestige of a landslide victory in 1964 and the support of big Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, pushed through a legislative three-layer cake.

For people ages 65 and older, there would be Medicare Part A. It would pay their hospital bills with taxes collected from workers, just as the government collects taxes from workers to pay for Social Security retirement checks.

The second layer on the cake was Medicare Part B, set up in a fashion to win over doctors: They would receive their usual and customary fees for each thing they did for patients.

The third layer on the cake was Medicaid, a federal-state program of care for the poor.

Even after Medicare became law, there were great fears it might be too controversial to work. Would doctors refuse to see Medicare patients? Would Southern hospitals agree to dismantle their segregated wards and have patients of different races sharing the same rooms?

The doctors didn’t strike. And the hospitals were immediately integrated without protest.

Today, Medicare seems like the birthright of every American who reaches age 65. John Breaux, a former U.S. senator from Louisiana, likes to tell the story of an elderly woman who accosted him at an airport, declaring, “Don’t let the government mess with my Medicare.”

Seniors had their national health insurance, and the Democrats thought they had a winning issue. Bill Clinton entered his presidency in 1993 with an ambitious plan to extend national health insurance to everyone.

Hundreds of experts spent hours behind closed doors drawing up intricate plans. But Congress felt excluded and insulted, and the plan never came to a floor vote in the House or Senate. Its fate was sealed when the GOP made big gains in 1994, giving Clinton a Republican House to deal with for the rest of his presidency.

The big plan had failed.

When President Obama approached the health insurance dilemma, he avoided the Clinton tactic of creating a detailed blueprint without input from Congress.

Instead, he relied on the congressional process. It was filled with deals.

Read entire article at Los Angeles Times.

Better Fuel Efficiency

Dear Gabriel,

What will it take to cure our dangerous and unhealthy addiction to oil and reduce the threat of runaway global warming?

Stronger fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for American cars and trucks are essential – and your email right now to the Obama administration will help support their landmark new standards for cleaner cars and trucks.

Please take action today – you can stand up for better gas mileage, less oil, and a safer climate future – but you don’t have much time to act.

We have set a goal of generating 50,000 supportive comments before the public comment period for these standards closes on February 13th — just 10 days from now.

Please act now and send a strong message to anyone who would block this landmark step towards cleaner air.

The EPA and Department of Transportation have proposed tough new standards to require America’s fleet of passenger cars and trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025.

Together with the “Phase One” model year 2012-2016 rule finalized in 2010, these tough new standards will more than double America’s average fuel economy and are expected to:

Save families an estimated $8,200 in fuel savings over the lifetime of a new vehicle by 2025, for a total of $1.7 trillion in national fuel savings over the life of the program.
Reduce oil consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day by 2025 – more than our daily 2010 oil imports from the entire Persian Gulf.
Reduce carbon dioxide pollution by over 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – equivalent to the emissions from the United States in 2010.
Generating less pollution, putting more money in your wallet, reducing our addiction to oil, modernizing America’s fleet of cars and trucks – what’s not to like?

Please take action today to support stronger fuel economy standards.

This is a dramatic and bold proposal and the Obama administration has earned the support of automakers, autoworkers, consumers, environmental groups, and many other key stakeholders.

But, anti-environment ideologues in Washington oppose it and are searching for ways to block its implementation. That’s why we need your help today to ensure a cleaner future.

Please send an email today to help break our addiction to oil and to slash America’s dangerous climate pollution.

Cleaner cars, less oil, and healthier air are just a click away.

Thank you for your support,

Steve Cochran
Vice President, Climate and Air

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