Archive for March, 2010

Patrick Kennedy Speaks Out Against the War

This speech by Kennedy is only about three minutes long but is very much worth the time it takes to hear.

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Kucinich on the Many Reasons to Kill the Current Health Care Bill

(David Edwards and Sahil Kapur, Raw Story, March 9, 2010)
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“The congressman told Raw Story in January that Democrats “lost the initiative the minute that our party jumped into bed with the insurance companies.” He alleged that the proposals on the table would further escalate income inequality in the United States. “$70 billion dollars a year, and no guarantees of any control over premiums, forcing people to buy private insurance, five consecutive years of double-digit premium increases.” . . . The proposal the White House and Democrats are coalescing around comprises subsidies for lower-income individuals and a mandate that they purchase insurance. It also bans insurers from dropping sick people from their plans or denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. . . . An ardent proponent of a single-payer or Medicare-for-all system, Kucinich reiterated his view that the current template offers private insurers “a version of a bailout” and predicted they’ll continue “socking it to consumers.” . . . “I told the president twice in two different meetings that I couldn’t support the bill if it didn’t have a robust public option and at least if it didn’t have something that was going to protect consumers from these rampant premium increases,” he added. . . . The Ohio congressman left no doubt that he plans to oppose the bill again, even if he were to cast the swing-vote. “If that sounded like a no, you’re correct,” he told guest host Lawrence O’Donnell, declaring the effort was like “building on sand.” . . . The congressman told Raw Story in January that Democrats “lost the initiative the minute that our party jumped into bed with the insurance companies.” He alleged that the proposals on the table would further escalate income inequality in the United States.

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Billionaires and Mega-Corporations Behind Immense Land Grab in Africa

(John Vidal, Mail & Guardian,March 10, 2010)
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Ethiopia is only one of 20 or more African countries where land is being bought or leased for intensive agriculture on an immense scale in what may be the greatest change of ownership since the colonial era. . . .  An Observer investigation estimates that up to 125 million acres of land — an area more than double the size of the UK — has been acquired in the last few years or is in the process of being negotiated by governments and wealthy investors working with state subsidies. . . . The land rush, which is still accelerating, has been triggered by the worldwide food shortages which followed the sharp oil price rises in 2008, growing water shortages and the European Union’s insistence that 10% of all transport fuel must come from plant-based biofuels by 2015. . . . In many areas the deals have led to evictions, civil unrest and complaints of “land grabbing”. . . . “The foreign companies are arriving in large numbers, depriving people of land they have used for centuries. There is no consultation with the indigenous population. The deals are done secretly. The only thing the local people see is people coming with lots of tractors to invade their lands.” . . . Since 2008 Saudi investors have bought heavily in Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya. Last year the first sacks of wheat grown in Ethiopia for the Saudi market were presented by al-Amoudi to King Abdullah. . . . Some of the African deals lined up are eye-wateringly large: China has signed a contract with the Democratic Republic of Congo to grow 7-million acres of palm oil for biofuels. Before it fell apart after riots, a proposed 3 million acres deal between Madagascar and the South Korean company Daewoo would have included nearly half of the country’s arable land. . . . Land to grow biofuel crops is also in demand. “European biofuel companies have acquired or requested about 10 million acres in Africa. This has led to displacement of people, lack of consultation and compensation, broken promises about wages and job opportunities,” . . . Development experts are divided on the benefits of large-scale, intensive farming. Indian ecologist Vandana Shiva said in London last week that large-scale industrial agriculture not only threw people off the land but also required chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, intensive water use, and large-scale transport, storage and distribution which together turned landscapes into enormous mono-cultural plantations. . . . “We are seeing dispossession on a massive scale. It means less food is available and local people will have less. There will be more conflict and political instability and cultures will be uprooted. The small farmers of Africa are the basis of food security. The food availability of the planet will decline,” she says.

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Slowly, states are lessening limits on marijuana

(William M. Welchand & Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY, March 8, 2010)
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California became the first state to allow marijuana for medical use when voters approved a statewide ballot issue in 1996, and its provisions are so broad that tens of thousands of people have obtained a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana for ailments from cancer to arthritis. . . .  Now California’s Legislature is considering a bill that would make it the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use as well. It is unlikely to pass this year, but Gray and other advocates hope to have a proposition on the November ballot that would legalize marijuana use for anyone 21 or older. California would levy taxes that the state tax board says could raise $1.3 billion or more a year for the deficit-plagued state, while saving tens of millions in prison and law-enforcement costs. Sponsors of the ballot issue have turned in 690,161 signatures on petitions for verification, far more than the 433,971 valid signatures required to get on the ballot. . . . A 2009 statewide Field Poll found 56% support pot making pot legal for recreational use and taxing it.

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Literary Review: “Hallucinogens – A Reader”

(psypressuk.com, Reviews & research in psychedelic literature)
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Originally published in 2002 ‘Hallucinogens: A reader’ is a collection of psychedelic texts edited by Charles Grob, M.D. and includes contributions from such notables as Ralph Metzner and Terence McKenna. It covers a wide range of topics like society, shamanism and research and manages to avoid the pitfalls of being too topically restrictive, or too linguistically complex.

In his introduction Charles S. Grob takes a look at two threads that helped create the history of what we call the psychedelic movement. These two elements are characterized by their earliest exponents: Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary. They amount to a different perspective on how those with the knowledge of psychedelics should proceed in attempting to ingratiate the experience into society as a legitimated, functioning and positive phenomena. . . . One of Terence McKenna more famous monologues ‘Psychedelic Society’ has been transcribed. . . . In amongst the widely known figureheads of the psychedelic movement included in this reader, like Albert Hoffman, Ralph Metzner and McKenna, there are several lesser known figures whose contributions are of real note. . . . Thomas Riedlinger does a wonderful exposition of two psychedelic novels, which are rarely classed as such: Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘Nausea’ (1938,) with its mescaline hell, reflecting the authors own experiences and ‘Exploring Inner Space’ (1961) by “Jane Dunlap”, a pseudonym for the famous nutritionist Adelle Davis. Davis underwent a quest for spiritual enlightenment using LSD. . . . Scientific method, case studies and religious implications in science are all explored by writers like Rick Strassman, Gary Fisher and Jeremy Narby. As a reader ‘Hallucinogens’ truly fulfils its potential. Not only by reiterating knowledge in new contexts but by showing the variety and depth to the boundaries that the psychedelic movement has pushed out into in the last fifty years. A collection of texts, such as this, that carefully outlines the flight of psychedelic research is a valuable tool.

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Boohbah, an interesting children’s show

I guess that the reason I’m blogging this here is to be sure that I can always find this link. While watching one of my grandchildren, I first became aware of this program. To put it simply, she was entranced by it … as was I.

For a two year old, this television program was an amazing experience of what seemed to be a very familiar world. And to me it brought back memories of a smoked NN-DMT experience or two. I’m not saying that this is “like” smoking DMT, but then again it’s not UNlike it either :-).

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Time for a Hippie Flip?

Here is a little poster that may have just the answer you are looking for.

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Oakland California Police Loose Composure, Beat Students

(Brandon Jourdan & David Martinez First Posted: 03- 8-10 )
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As police were attacking the crowd, Francois Zimany, a fifteen-year old high school student, fractured his skull after a 30 foot fall off the freeway. Questions have arisen over whether he fell, jumped, or was pushed by police off of the freeway.

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Oscar-Nominated Documentary ‘Food Inc.’

(Tara Lohan, AlterNet, March 6, 2010)
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Food Inc: Michael Pollan and Friends Reveal the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets

It turns out that figuring out the most simple thing — like what’s on your dinner plate, and where it came from — is actually a pretty subversive act. . . . That’s what director Robert Kenner found out while spending six years putting together the amazing new documentary, Food Inc., which features prominent food writers Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation). . . . Warning: Food Inc. is not for the faint of heart. While its focus is not on the gory images of slaughterhouse floors and filthy feedlots, what it does show about the journey of our food from “farm” to plate is not pretty. . . . The story’s main narrative chronicles the consolidation of our vast food industry into the hands of a few powerful corporations that have worked to limit the public’s understanding of where its food comes from, what’s in it and how safe it may be. . . . But it’s also a larger story about the people that have gotten in the way of the stampeding corporate herd

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Why Sex Addiction Is Total B.S.

(Raymond J. Lawrence, CounterPunch, March 6, 2010)
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<i>The idea of sexual pleasure as a harmful addiction parallels the most perverse aspects of Western religious history.</i> . . . Sex addiction is the latest star in America’s sexual burlesque. Sex addiction has of course been a malaprop from its first usage. . . . Applying such a metaphor to sexual pleasure creates a misleading and ominous innuendo. Sex is not an addictive substance. It’s a human interaction on which the survival of the species is dependent. It is also possibly the most pleasurable and sought after activity known to humankind, and arguably an experience no one should be deprived of. Most normal people consider more rather than less sexual pleasure to be a major objective in life. . . . Following the substance abuse mode implies that the only cure for an addiction to sexual pleasure would be a celibate or monastic life, a complete renunciation of the alleged addictive sexual pleasure. . . . The very idea of sexual pleasure as a harmful addiction plays precisely into the hands of one of the most perverse aspects of Western religious history, namely the teaching that sex is a work of the devil redeemed only by the act of procreation itself. Reliance on the notion of sex addiction in counseling and psychiatric treatment is ominous. . . . So now according to the working version of the new DSM-5, psychiatrists will be able to assess whether one is having too much sex, or even whether one simply wants too much sex. Or too little. They will presumably have some kind of measuring rod to determine what is too much or too little. . . . This new project, of assessing who might be wanting or getting too much sexual pleasure, or too little, should create many more jobs for psychiatrists. We’ve been needing something to improve the job market. Maybe this will do it. Perhaps psychiatry will now join hands with the worst elements of Christianity and recreate the medieval Christian dream, a world where the only sexual pleasure allowable is that accidentally associated with the desire to procreate.

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