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BARDA awards $3 billion in vaccine contracts for eradicated smallpox

May 17th, 2011

By Rady Ananda

At the 64th World Health Assembly underway right now in Geneva thru May 24, a major review of smallpox experimentation will be presented where leaders are expected to call for the destruction of all remaining samples, since the disease has not surfaced in over 40 years.

Meanwhile, two biopharm companies are in a spat over a US government awarded contract to develop a smallpox vaccine, as the U.S. continues to refuse to submit to international arms control inspections of its "dual use" biodefense-bioweapons labs.

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Israeli Violence Marks Nakba Day

May 17th, 2011

by Stephen Lendman

For Palestinians worldwide and millions supporting them, Nakba Day commemorates loss of their homeland, initially 78% in 1948, then the rest 19 years later in 1967.

Speaking for many, Audeh Rantisi recounted the horror, saying:

"I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July 1948," weeks after Israel's May 14 Yom Ha'atzmaut, its Declaration of Independence at the expense of displaced and slaughtered Palestinians.

"The pain sears my memory," he said, "and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try."

Many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians endured brutality, harassment, humiliation, and loss of their entire world, what Edward Said called "a slow death," shattered lives, and the incalculable horror of it all.

Explaining the horrific toll, Rantisi added:

"First, Israeli soldiers forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes near the Mediterranean coast, even though some families had lived in the same houses for centuries." "Then without (food or) water, we stumbled into the hills and continued for three deadly days. The Jewish soldiers followed, occasionally shooting over our heads to scare us and keep us moving. Terror-filled my 11-year old mind as I wondered what would happen. I remember overhearing my father and his friends express alarm about the recent massacres by Jewish terrorists. Would they kill us, too?"

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More problems with glyphosate: Rice growers sound alarm

May 16th, 2011

By Rady Ananda

Adding to the natural rice industry’s woes after Bayer CropScience contaminated a third of the US rice supply with transgenic rice in 2006, the widespread application of Bayer’s glufosinate and Monsanto’s glyphosate is reducing crop yields, and burning and deforming rice plants that survive. [Image: Glyphosate deforms the growing points on rice plants.]

The Mississippi Rice Council (MRC) has sounded a national alarm over damage caused by aerial drift of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, calling for severely restricted aerial application.

MRC president Mike Wagner recently told crop dusters at this year’s Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association annual meeting that glyphosate is wreaking havoc on the natural rice industry where “non-transgenic rice is planted in a sea of genetically modified crops that are tolerant to glyphosate.”

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Strong Unions - The Worst Nightmare for the Financial Elite

May 16th, 2011

Michael Collins

Man wouldn't pay you unless he had to. Chris Rock

The antiunion movement in the United States keeps us underpaid and represents a serious impediment to economic growth. Despite that, the antiunion sentiment remains strong among the political establishment and their patrons. Why?

Worker rights and a decent wage represent a toxic brew to the ruling elite. In the past, they expressed their antiunion position in a crude fashion. From the 1870's through the 1920's, industrialists fought union growth with hired thugs and complicit law enforcement officials. Organizers and union members were harassed, maimed, and killed throughout the country for simply acting on the right to organize and participate in a union.

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US gets bad marks in Amnesty International annual report

May 16th, 2011

Mary Shaw

On May 12, Amnesty International (AI) released its annual report on the state of human rights in the world. The report examines the human rights records of 159 countries around in the world during 2010.

The United States of America got some bad marks again this year, primarily related to human rights violations in the "war on terror" and our continued use of the death penalty.

"US President Obama's promise that the Guantanamo detention centre would be closed by January 2010 was not fulfilled," AI notes in the report. "By the end of the year, 174 people remained held in the prison. The only Guantanamo detainee so far transferred to the US mainland for prosecution in a federal court was tried and convicted. Two Guantanamo detainees were convicted by military commission during the year after pleading guilty. Revised rules, issued in April, governing military commission proceedings for so-called 'war on terror' suspects showed that there was little hope that the US administration would make substantial reforms and uphold human rights."

Also in the "war on terror", AI's report criticizes the Obama administration for its failure to prosecute the instigators of torture and other human rights violations by the Bush administration: "[I]n the USA, those responsible for crimes under international law committed as part of the 'war on terror', such as torture and enforced disappearance, were not held to account. In November, former President George W. Bush admitted that he had authorized the use of 'water-boarding' (a form of torture in which the process of drowning a detainee is begun) during his administration. Nevertheless, accountability and remedy for human rights violations committed as part of the USA's programme of secret detention and rendition remained non-existent. In November, the US Department of Justice announced, without further explanation, that no one would face criminal charges in relation to the destruction in 2005 of 92 tapes depicting evidence of 'water-boarding' and other torture techniques used against two detainees held in 2002."

Regarding the death penalty, AI's report notes that "[46] prisoners - 45 men and one woman - were put to death in the USA during the year. This brought to 1,234 the total number of executions carried out since the US Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in 1976." AI describes the death penalty as "the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights, and calls for worldwide abolition of the death penalty "to end the cycle of violence created by a system riddled with economic and racial bias and tainted by human error."

In this year's report, AI has again exposed the US not as a nation of laws and justice, but as a nation of impunity and injustice.

I am ashamed for my country, as every citizen of conscience should be.

You can obtain a copy of the report, or browse the report by region or by country, at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/annual-report/2011

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views on politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail: mary@maryshawonline.com

Solidarity with Palestine

May 16th, 2011

Link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/28/60minutes/main20058368.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

by Stephen Lendman

Ahead of May 15 Nakba commemorations, massive crowds assembled in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square in solidarity. They displayed banners, proclaiming, "The People want the Rafah Crossing opened," and "Palestine is a Arab state."

They also waved Palestinian flags, chanting "Solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada" and "National Unity" ahead of a planned weekend march to Gaza. More on that below.

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The tide has turned in favor of the Assad government

May 15th, 2011

Franklin Lamb From Damascus

As many of us observe the great Arab and Islamic awakening of 2011 in stunned amazement, as it rapidly spreads across the region, this observer agrees with those who declare, “ well it’s about time—Godspeed to the rebels and goodbye to the despots.”

Indeed, most of the despots had been installed and propped-up by the US government and its allies without many American citizens’ awareness or liking.

What I continue to find in Syria and what I saw during my first 24 hours in Damascus shocked me. It was not at all what one expected to find having read a fair bit of the Western and some of the Arab media reports, and arriving from the Syria-Lebanon border at Maznaa.

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