Social Justice

September 4, 2010

I am a Muslim, and it is my great pleasure to provide Bloomington Alternative readers with some basic information on the subject of Islam. It is important to clarify that my beliefs are my own. I am from Chicago, and I converted to Islam after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and then the Q’uran, and after much discussion with my girlfriend at the time, a person who is now my wife. I do not speak for anyone else.

Almost one in four people in the world today say they practice Islam. If you know someone who identifies as a Muslim, you can ask their opinion and gain understanding. Certainly, you will find that not all Muslims think alike.

Bloomington man says everyone sues, 'right down the line'

August 21, 2010

Randy Paul has a pail of gut-wrenching stories to tell about the brutal realities faced by chronically ill citizens in America's "health care system." Some involve family, others acquaintances. Still others involve pain and suffering. As bad, and usually worse, are the tales about creditors and reputation.

Take, for example, the time when Paul's middle daughter was 3, burning hot with fever, and the family's pediatrician wouldn't see her because mom and dad didn't have $36 to pay off an outstanding bill from another of their six kids. "I said, 'We don't have $36,'" Randy recalls. "'My wife and I together, if we added up all the money we have, it might come up to about 20 bucks.' We were that broke." The woman behind the window told them, "We won't see her."


August 19, 2010

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a public-interest, human-rights law firm, "The Obama administration has ... continued and enhanced the use of 'terrorism' prosecutions against animal rights and environmental activists, indicating that the 'Green Scare' - the repression of environmental activists by designating them terrorists - continues in full swing."

In Indiana the Green Scare has been in full swing with two legal cases associated with construction of the I-69 interstate extension. Criminal charges brought against two activists have been settled, but Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuits intended to chill political activism continue against 16 others.

U.S. Social Forum draws 15,000 progressive activists to Detroit

July 11, 2010

Editor's note: Bloomington Alternative contributor Linda Greene participated in last month's U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. What follows are some of her observations from the experience.

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"This is what democracy looks like!" is a familiar chant at progressive marches and rallies. The second U.S. Social Forum (USSF), held in Detroit on June 22-26, put the chant into practice. Some 15,000 activists of all colors and kinds gathered for what the USSF Web site billed as a "U.S. movement-building process."

"It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples' solutions to the economic and ecological crisis," the Web site says. "The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful, multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history."


July 11, 2010

An international criminal conspiracy occurs, with responsibility flowing up to and including the President of the United States. Victims are brutalized in secret, lives are lost, the rule of law flouted.

But no one is prosecuted since the only law enforcement official capable of bringing the criminals to justice is completely beholden to the very government leaders who would face charges.

The latest John Grisham thriller? A re-run of the show 24? Hardly.

The crime is torture, clearly prohibited by national and international law. The corrupt system is the existing structure of U.S. law enforcement. When executive branch misconduct occurs, an inherent conflict of interest is presented by investing prosecutorial discretion in a U.S. Attorney General appointed by, and serving at the pleasure of, the president.

June 27, 2010

In early June, the Bloomington City Council voted to boycott Arizona because of its new immigration law that targeted anyone who looked "illegal." Until I saw the Bloomington chamber's June 10 gutless response to rescind the city council's call for the boycott of Arizona because of the e-mails from outsiders who said they would boycott Bloomington businesses, I thought: "How heroic and progressive Bloomington was to go against the red-necked tide of the majority who support Arizona's actions."

Despite the Bloomington chamber's spineless, self-centered, self-serving actions, my family will make a point to visit Bloomington because it boycotts Arizona. Because of this brave decision, we plan to encourage our friends and family to visit, too, and encourage others to do the same.


April 25, 2010

When J.B. Handley told me about Jackson County, Ore., a few weeks ago, I wondered why no one had looked at autism rates there. The county of about 200,000 located just north of the California border has one of the largest populations of unvaccinated children in the nation. And, as Handley suggested, those kids' medical histories are natural subjects for studies on the cause-effect relation between autism and vaccines.

Well, as I contemplated whether I might find a way to follow up on this angle from 2,000 miles away, I learned that the PBS series FRONTLINE will air a documentary titled "The Vaccine War" this Tuesday, April 27, that will explore not only the conflict between the vaccine industry and parents who believe immunizations caused their children's autism, but also the situation in Jackson County.

In a news release on "The Vaccine War," FRONTLINE says it will lay bare the science of vaccine safety and examine the "increasingly bitter debate" between the "public health establishment" and a "formidable populist coalition of parents, celebrities, politicians and activists."


April 18, 2010

The public-speaking trick of looking directly over the heads of your audience reportedly gives the illusion of eye contact without the speaker having to actually engage with the folks in the room.

I was reminded of this technique while watching Governor Mitch Daniels' press conference the day after Congress passed health care reform into law. The governor was addressing Indiana media, but it was clear he was looking over the heads of Hoosiers to gaze longingly at the Republican donors and pundits who are sizing up 2012 presidential hopefuls.

There was a nationwide surplus of hysterical reactions to the health care legislation, but for sheer cynicism and callousness, our governor had few equals.


April 18, 2010

Wasichu is the Lakota (Sioux) word for "those who take the fat," the greedy ones. WellPoint/Anthem, the health insurance behemoth born of Blue Cross, is a wasichu corporation.

As the Blue Cross movement grew in the 1930s, one of the foundational standards established in 1937 was "No private investors should provide money as stockholders or owners." There was no concept of pre-existing condition. Excluding someone from health insurance because they might be likely to become ill (and need to actually use the policy) was felt to be immoral. Their mission was essentially charitable.

Over the following 50 years the Blues grew dominant, but in the late 1980s the marketplace began to change, and many state Blue plans found themselves in trouble. Blue Cross of California established a for-profit subsidiary in 1994, and that summer the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association changed its policies so that its licensees could convert to for-profit status and distribute their earnings to those who controlled the company. Enter WellPoint, under the guidance of Leonard Schaeffer.


April 4, 2010

One afternoon, the young boy from Lafayette came home from fifth grade classes to discover that his father had been deported.

Before going back to school the next day, the boy dried his eyes and steeled himself to pretend nothing had happened. Otherwise, the suspicion would be directed toward him and his mother and brothers.

Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, the boy stayed in Lafayette and stayed in school. He is now 19 years old, a high school graduate dreaming of attending college. He is also justifiably afraid of having his name appear in a newspaper article.

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