Author Archives: ew

About ew

ew came of age during the winddown to the Vietnam War, and like many other Americans, as soon there wasn't an issue that didn't affect him personally, he became indifferent. This gradually changed during the Reagan and Bush I years, continued through the Clinton years and finally came to a head with the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001. He works as a freelance consultant/tester for various music hardware and software companies, and lives in Minnesota.

Lame-Duck Dems Must Lift Debt Limit, Advocates Say as GOP Doubles Down on Social Security Threats

“Democrats must do whatever it takes to defeat Republican attacks on our earned Social Security benefits,” said one advocate. “That means raising the debt ceiling this year, before Republicans take control of the House.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-30-2022 by Common Dreams

#StoptheShutdown Press Conference with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in 2019. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Progressives on Wednesday warned that time is running out for Democratic leaders to take Republicans at their word regarding slashes to social safety net programs, as U.S. Sen. John Thune indicated the GOP will use a potential fight over the debt ceiling next year as leverage to push cuts—unless the Democrats act now to raise the debt limit while they still control the Senate and House.

Thune (R-S.D.), who is the number-two Republican in the Senate as the chamber’s minority whip, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the party has a “long list” of policy priorities for the next Congress, which will commence on January 3. The party plans to put forward budget reforms including to federal programs which they have long claimed, erroneously, are unsustainable. Continue reading

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90+ Groups Warn ‘Kids Online Safety Act’ Could Have ‘Damaging’ Effects

“Congress needs to pass real laws that rein in the abuses of Big Tech and protect everyone’s privacy and human rights rather than using kids as pawns to advance poorly drafted legislation in order to score political points,” said one critic.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 11-28-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Julia M Cameron/Pexels

Nearly 100 LGBTQ+ and human rights groups warned in a Monday letter to Congress that while “privacy, online safety, and digital well-being of children should be protected,” proposed legislation intended to do so would instead negatively impact all internet users.

Specifically, the letter says that the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) “would undermine those goals for all people, but especially children, by effectively forcing providers to use invasive filtering and monitoring tools; jeopardizing private, secure communications; incentivizing increased data collection on children and adults; and undermining the delivery of critical services to minors by public agencies like schools.” Continue reading

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Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

By Common Dreams  Published 11-26-2022

Slump D is a massive retrogressive thaw slump on Herschel island., Yukon Territory. Photo: Boris Radosavljevic/flickr/CC

As our world continues to warm up, vast areas of permafrost are rapidly melting, releasing material that’s been trapped for up to a million years. This includes uncountable numbers of microbes that have been lying dormant for hundreds of millennia.

To study these emerging microbes, scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research have now revived a number of these “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, including one thought to be nearly 50,000 years old – a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state capable of infecting other organisms.

The team behind the study, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie, says these ancient viruses are potentially a significant threat to public health, and further study needs to be done to assess the danger that these infectious agents could pose as the permafrost melts.

The researchers warned it may just be the tip of the iceberg:

“One-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground, referred to as permafrost,” researchers wrote in the paper.

“Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.”

According to Global News:

In 2014, the same researchers unearthed a 30,000-year-old virus trapped in permafrost, the BBC reported. The discovery was groundbreaking because after all that time, the virus was still able to infect organisms. But now, they’ve beaten their own record by reviving a virus that is 48,500 years old.

“If the authors are indeed isolating live viruses from ancient permafrost, it is likely that the even smaller, simpler mammalian viruses would also survive frozen for eons,” virologist Eric Delwart from the University of California, San Francisco told New Scientist.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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Indigenous People Push Back Against US ‘Thanksgiving Mythology’

“We will not stop telling the truth about the Thanksgiving story and what happened to our ancestors,” says Kisha James, whose grandfather founded the National Day of Mourning in 1970.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 11-24-2022 by Common Dreams

“Many of the conditions that prevailed in Indian Country in 1970 still prevail today,” Kisha James said in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 24, 2022, pointing to life expectancy, suicide, and infant mortality rates—along with the rising death rate for Native women. (Photo: screenshot/hate5six/YouTube)

The United American Indians of New England and allies gathered at noon Thursday at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts for the 53rd National Day of Mourning—an annual tradition that serves as “a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide.”

“We don’t have any issues with people sitting down with their family and giving thanks,” Kisha James—who is an enrolled member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and is also Oglala Lakota—told BBC. “What we do object to is the Thanksgiving mythology.” Continue reading

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After COP27, all signs point to world blowing past the 1.5 degrees global warming limit – here’s what we can still do about it

 

Young activists have been pushing to keep a 1.5-Celsius limit, knowing their future is at stake.
AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

 

Peter Schlosser, Arizona State University

The world could still, theoretically, meet its goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, a level many scientists consider a dangerous threshold. Realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.

Part of the problem was evident at COP27, the United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

While nations’ climate negotiators were successfully fighting to “keep 1.5 alive” as the global goal in the official agreement, reached Nov. 20, 2022, some of their countries were negotiating new fossil fuel deals, driven in part by the global energy crisis. Any expansion of fossil fuels – the primary driver of climate change – makes keeping warming under 1.5 C (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times much harder. Continue reading

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Patients Push Biden HHS to Act as Pharma Firm Charges $190K for Lifesaving Prostate Cancer Drug

“HHS can clearly insist on limiting the U.S. price of Xtandi to the median price for other large high-income countries,” said advocates, “particularly since the drug has already generated more than $10 billion in sales from Medicare alone based upon these unconscionable pricing disparities.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 11-20-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: GlobalGiving

“Cancer does not wait, nor should cancer patients have to wait for years for their government to act.”

That’s the message patient advocates reiterated in a Friday letter asking the Biden administration to help them secure a lifesaving prostate cancer drug that costs nearly $190,000 per year despite its development being 100% taxpayer-funded.

Last year, prostate cancer patient Eric Sawyer petitioned U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to grant march-in rights—under which the government can grant patent licenses to companies other than a drug’s manufacturer—for enzalutamide, which is sold under the brand name Xtandi. Continue reading

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‘Morally Deplorable’: Biden Admin Recommends Immunity for MBS in Khashoggi Case

“The Biden administration has not only shielded MBS from accountability in U.S. courts, but has effectively issued him a license to kill more detractors and declared that he will never be held accountable.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-18-2022 by Common Dreams

President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz. Photo: Saudi Press Agency/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The Biden administration said in a U.S. federal court filing on Thursday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be granted sovereign immunity in a civil case brought by the fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a stance that human rights advocates condemned as a betrayal of the president’s vow to hold the Saudi leader accountable.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in the new filing that the White House “has determined that Defendant bin Salman, as the sitting head of a foreign government, enjoys head-of-state immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts as a result of that office and is entitled to immunity from the court’s jurisdiction of this suit while he holds that office.” Continue reading

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13 Senate Dems Join GOP in Voting to End Covid Emergency Declaration, Kick Millions Off Medicaid

One public health advocate warned that final passage of the resolution would “affect the cost of vaccines, tests, and treatments, restrict access to Medicaid and telehealth, and restart student loan payments.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-16-2022 by Common Dreams

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the midterm elections “a victory and a vindication” for Democrats after the results of the Nevada U.S. Senate race on November 13, 2022. Screenshot: NBC News

Thirteen members of the Senate Democratic caucus—including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer—joined Republicans on Tuesday in approving a resolution aimed at terminating the national emergency declaration for Covid-19, a move that would kick millions of people off Medicaid as experts warn of a winter infection and hospitalization surge.

While the White House said Tuesday that President Joe Biden will veto the resolution if it passes the House and reaches his desk, the Senate vote sparked outrage among public health experts and others who stressed the far-reaching implications of the resolution. Continue reading

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Amid Eli Lilly-Twitter Fiasco, Groups Call for End to Insulin Price Gouging

“The fake Eli Lilly account was right. Insulin should be free.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 11-14-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Brian J. Matis/flickr/CC

Dozens of progressive advocacy groups marked World Diabetes Day on Monday by urging Congress to pass legislation that would ensure people in the United States have access to the insulin on which their survival depends and prevent Big Pharma from price gouging on the lifesaving medicine.

In a letter addressed to Senate and House leaders, Public Citizen, T1International, and more than 50 other organizations wrote: “World Diabetes Day marks the birthday of Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin and famously sold its patent for $1 and stated, ‘Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.’ Despite its discovery more than 100 years ago and the generosity of Banting and the co-inventors, many people living in the United States still struggle to afford access to the insulin they need.” Continue reading

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Elon Musk’s Twitter is more dangerous than you think

Beyond Musk’s oft-repeated rants about free speech, may lie shadier plans to recoup the $44bn he paid for the site

By Adam Ramsay  Published 11-11-2022 by openDemocracy

The world is burning and Ukraine is trudging into a winter of war. Prices are spiralling and the NHS is limping. The US and Brazil have held the line against fascism, just, while Italy has fallen to the far right. Watching the disastrous takeover of Twitter by the world’s richest bam can feel a little frivolous. So what if it becomes a rich boy’s toy? It often felt like that anyway.

But the thing is, we can’t solve the world’s problems without talking, and social media has become the way we do that. At its best, a space beyond the increasingly oligarch-owned press where citizens of the world can chatter, gossip, joke and revolt; can organise into new collectives and explore new identities and senses of self. At its worst, well, I don’t need to tell you. Continue reading

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