Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Free George Ryan!

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for George Ryan, the ex-Governor of Illinois, who is currently in prison. Whether it was his principled opposition to the death penalty and his commutation of the death sentences of over 100 on death row or his trips to Cuba to seek trade and better relations - I'm not exactly sure.

But when I heard about U.S. District Court Rebecca Pallmeyer’s decision to keep Ryan behind bars (with the holidays upon us), well that just pissed me off. Here's an old man with a wife who's dying of cancer, and the judge can't let him out. That's just plain cruel and I don't get it. It's plain wrong.

Free George Ryan!

FBI delivers subpoenas to four more anti-war, solidarity activists as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Expands Witch Hunt

The FBI came unannounced to knock on doors at two apartments in Chicago this morning. FBI agent Robert Parker, under orders from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office, delivered a subpoena to Maureen Murphy. Murphy, like several other individuals served subpoenas, is an organizer with the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago.

This continues the repression unleashed by Fitzgerald on the anti-war movement since September 24th, when fourteen subpoenas were delivered to anti-war, labor, and solidarity activists in coordinated raids involving more than 70 federal agents. Armed FBI agents raided homes, taking computers, phones, passports, documents, notebooks, and even children’s artwork. A total of 23 subpoenas have been served to activists around the country.

Maureen Murphy said, “Along with several others, I am being summoned to appear before the Grand Jury on Tuesday, January 25th, in the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. We are being targeted for the work we do to end U.S. funding of the Israeli occupation, ending the war in Afghanistan and ending the occupation of Iraq. What is at stake for all of us is our right to dissent and organize to change harmful US foreign policy." Ms. Murphy is also the Managing Editor of the widely-read website, The Electronic Intifada.

In addition, three women in Minneapolis - Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sara Martin - are threatened with reactivated subpoenas by Fitzgerald’s office and new Grand Jury dates. Tom Burke of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression explained, “It is likely the three individuals, like all the others so far, will continue to refuse to take part in Fitzgerald’s witch hunt. Fitzgerald can then call for putting them in jail as long as he wants.”

For more information: www.stopfbi.net

Contact: Tom Burke, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, 773-844-3612

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Campaign for Better Health Care reacts to VA ruling

Today, a federal district judge in Virginia became the first judge in the country to declare one provision of the Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate, unconstitutional.

Judge Henry E. Hudson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, owns a sizable stake of the Republican political consulting firm Campaign Solutions, Inc. Campaign Solutions’ clients from the most recent election cycle include John Boehner, Michelle Bachmann, John McCain, and many other GOP candidates who ran on the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia attorney general who filed the lawsuit that Hudson ruled in favor of today, is a Campaign Solutions client who in 2010 paid the firm $9,000 for services rendered.

Despite his ruling on the individual mandate, Judge Hudson declined a request by the plaintiff to freeze implementation of the law pending appeal - meaning that the continuing rollout of the new law will not be stopped because of this ruling.

Prior to today's Virginia federal court ruling, 14 other federal district judges rejected lawsuits charging that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Today’s ruling bears no more authority than the other 14 court rulings by federal judges who all determined that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional or rejected the lawsuits on procedural grounds.

Statement from Jim Duffett, Executive Director, CBHC:
"Just like they did with the Civil Rights Act and the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote, the opponents of fairness will continue to try every means available to overturn federal law that has brought fairness, equally and justice to our great nation.

Just like in these historical cases, if this case even makes it to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will rule like the other 14 federal judges have ruled. Today's ruling is more political hype than sound legal judgment."

Statement from Illinois Director of Insurance Michael McRaith:
“Americans want health insurers to cover sick people. In Illinois, where health insurers can and do deny any applicant for any reason other than "race, color, religion or national origin," families and businesses in every part of the State recognize that change is needed. The requirement that an individual have insurance requires the healthy to participate in the insured pool before turning sick, thereby making insurance prices more stable and affordable. If people were allowed to buy insurance after being diagnosed with illness, many people would wait. That delayed participation in the risk pool would drive up the cost of insurance, make coverage financially impractical for many, and destroy the private insurance market.

For these reasons, we will move forward with implementation in a professional manner designed to improve coverage options for employers and families and to enhance our private health insurance market. In short, the VA decision has no more impact on Department efforts than did the Michigan court decision supporting the mandate."

Palmer House Hilton workers strike

Palmer House Hilton workers strike