Sunday, June 28, 2009

Open Letter to President Obama and Members of Congress re U.S. Health Care Reform

I am a United States citizen currently a legal resident of Ireland. In order to achieve residency I had to live here one-year and give proof of my income (currently just under the U.S. poverty level for a single person--pension & SSI). Once residency was granted (eight-years ago), the only restriction was that I may not seek or accept employment here. However, as a resident of Ireland, I am entitled to all the benefits provided its retired citizens -- free health care, free prescriptions, free dental care, free eye exam and glasses, a travel pass that allows me to travel free all over the island by bus or rail. And, due to my low-income, I receive a rent subsidy.

Two-years ago, I needed orthopedic surgery to replace my right knee. Once diagnosed, I waited only two-months for the operation. When completed I was in hospital for ten-days then went to a resident nursing facility for one-week where I received daily physical therapy. One-year ago, I was diagnosed as having pulmonary embolisms in both lungs and was hospitalized for twelve-days. The cost to me of these hospital stays, nursing facility, therapy and administered medication, was zero.

I currently am taking several prescribed medications but have no idea what they cost as I obtain them free from my local pharmacy. Appointments at my local clinic to see the physician of my choice are also free.

Sadly, the end result of having all the benefits I receive in Ireland renders it financially impossible for me to even consider moving back to the U.S. Needless to say, I do not intend to become an economic burden on my family who, themselves, have had difficulty maintaining their own heads above the financial flood of these past few years. Therefore, unless there is resolution of the health care crisis in the U.S., including remedying the paucity of the current Medicare Program, a move back to California in 2012 when I turn eighty is near impossible.

At minimum, one would hope that the United States, which has a GNP/GDP immensely greater than that of Ireland, would at least provide its retired citizens the free medical and prescription benefits I enjoy here.

My question to you is: Why am I denied the free medical care and prescription medication in my own country that I am provided by my resident country?

Best wishes,
Margie Bernard

Thursday, June 25, 2009

U.S./Iran History -- A Cautionary Tale

As the familiar adage states: Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. As so aptly stated in this article by the Editors of Black Power, so much of what former U.S. administrations did in Iran in the past is haunting our present.

What The 1953 U.S.-Backed Overthrow Has To Do With Today
"In 1953, the US overthrew Iran's democratically elected leader. Obama is proceeding more cautiously."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Link by Link - As Blogs Are Censored, It’s Kittens to the Rescue -

This article about attempts by governments to censor what information its citizens send and receive via the internet provides all the fodder needed to guard and protect this invaluable source of people-to-people communication.

Link by Link - As Blogs Are Censored, It’s Kittens to the Rescue -

Friday, June 19, 2009

I.F. Stone -- Izzy Remembered

The last time Izzy and I spoke was by happenstance when we were both on a bus from Bethesda, MD to Washington, DC. on our way to the Institute for Policy Studies where Izzy was to speak.

I had been an avid reader of his I.F. Stone Weekly during the 60's & 70's and realize that today, more than ever, we need journalists of his ilk---those that speak truth to power.

In an interview on the 20th anniversary of Stone's death, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews D.D. Guttenplan, author of American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone, a new biography of Stone.


"Twenty years ago today, I.F. Stone died at the age of eighty-one. He was the premier investigative reporter of the twentieth century, a self-described radical journalist. I.F. Stone's legacy of work spanned the New Deal, World War II, McCarthyism, the Cold War, Israel-Palestine, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and beyond. He scooped reporters right and left. As the FBI tracked him, he tracked down the story. He is best remembered for his self-published I.F. Stone's Weekly. At its peak in the 1960s, the one-man publication had a circulation of about 70,000. We speak to his biographer, D.D. Guttenplan, and air historic recordings of I.F. Stone at the 1965 Vietnam teach-in in Berkeley, CA, and on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour."

The Iranian Nightmare
Roja Bandari, 16/06/09

These past days have been a nightmare. I and my fellow Iranians have been watching the small amount of democracy present in Iran erased within a day. Everything we hear from Iran is heartbreaking but more than anything, I have been anxiously watching the international media. Although some reports are accurate, many huge mainstream media sources still frame the events in a way that really feels as if they are twisting the knife in our wounds.

What media does in this situation can make a difference in saving lives in Iran. If those in power in Iran realize that the western media has become sympathetic to them, they will be as brutal as they desire. I'm asking you to please use all your resources and connections to raise awareness about a few things and spread the word.

Some media are framing the protests as "people whose candidates didn't win are now angry". This is not true. People (including myself) are not angry because Mousavi didn't win. We are angry because we feel the election was stolen. We are in the streets to defend our right to decide a president (at least out of the 4 we could choose from). We are angry because something has happened that is changing our system fundamentally.

The allegations of fraud are portrayed as only brought up by Mousavi or only the reformists. But the other conservative candidate, Mr. Rezaei, has in fact filed a complaint about this election as well, asserting that the vote counts don't make sense. So this is not a complaint among two candidates, or two sides. This is about committing electoral fraud.

Some call the peaceful protests "riots." People are not rioting. Yesterday's protest which ended in killing of innocent people was a "silent" protest. People were walking in complete silence for the majority of the march. We are not hooligans. We are citizens who are very aware of what is happening and we will not stay quiet.Protesters are portrayed as pro-western and young. While most are young, and many might be interested in improving relations with the west, this is an inaccurate generalization. In pictures of large protests you can see older people, and you see many who seem more religious. It's really not about the west.

If Iranian state media (currently completely in the hands of a certain political segment) post any news in this regard, most mainstream media regurgitate it exactly, amplifying their voice and making it resonate all around the world. Often it is propaganda that gets amplified which is carefully crafted with the aim of crushing the protests. Most Iranians have no doubt that the results are fraudulent. A president with 24 million votes, does not face such persistent protests with people, whole families even, coming out in the face of blind violence. If you cheat a whole nation people will not accept it.

Maybe there is a subconscious attitude among western spectators that thinks Iranians can not take the results of a democratic election if it's not who they liked most. But we are not savages, in fact that is exactly why people are in the streets. If the right to vote was taken away in the US or Europe, everyone would be protesting. That's why Iranian people are coming out day after day after day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Anti-War Democrats Who Stood Firm

Below is a list of those anti-war Democrats who, to paraphrase Jeremy Scahill, didn't sell out and support the White House's request for increased funding for the Afganistan War. They need to receive our thanks and continued support. This is an excerpt from a longer article that may be found at the link at the end.

The 'Anti-War' Democrats Who Sold Out
By Jeremy Scahill June 16, 2009

Tuesday's vote was another one of those moments in Congress where heroes are made, like the day when Sen. Russ Feingold stood alone as the sole Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act. To paraphrase Bush, it was one of those days when we truly discover who is for war and who is against it.

Below are the Democrats who stood against Obama's expanding war the day their votes mattered: Tammy Baldwin, Michael Capuano, John Conyers, Lloyd Doggett, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Michael Honda, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Eric Massa, Jim McGovern, Michael Michaud, Donald Payne, Chellie Pingree, Jared Polis, Jose Serrano, Carol Shea-Porter, Jackie Speier, John Tierney, Nikki Tsongas, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Peter Welch, and Lynn Woolsey.

Jeremy Scahill is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Reuniting Families Act ~ H.R. 2709 / S. 3514 | Democrats Abroad

Reuniting Families Act ~ H.R. 2709 / S. 3514 Democrats Abroad.

This legislation proposed by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) in the House and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in the Senate is one of the priorities of Democrats Abroad which, collectively, are considered by the DNC as the 51st State of the Union.

I am currently Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad Ireland and urge you to contact your US Congressperson and US Senator to support passage of this legislation.