News Release Archive - 2009

Will Egypt Prevent Marchers from Entering Gaza?

HEDY EPSTEIN
DANA BALICKI
ANN WRIGHT
MEDEA BENJAMIN
Balicki, Wright and Benjamin are with the group CODEPINK, which is organizing the Gaza Freedom March on Dec. 31. A delegation to Gaza will begin in Cairo on Dec. 27, one year after the start of the “Cast Lead” bombing of Gaza by Israel.

Among the people going on the delegation are: author Alice Walker, musician Roger Waters, Filipino member of parliament Walden Bello, ElectronicIntifada.net founder Ali Abunimah, IPA communications director Sam Husseini and Epstein, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and author of Remembering Is Not Enough. After World War II, she worked at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which tried the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates.

CODEPINK recently put out a statement: “Citing escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us on Dec. 20 that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,360 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now.

“Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we’ve encountered — and overcome — before. No delegation, large or small, that has entered Gaza over the past 12 months has received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.”

The number for the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C. is (202) 895-5400; the contact person is Omar Youssef.

PHILIP FARAH
Farah, who has family in Gaza and grew up in Jerusalem, is a spokesperson for the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace. They are holding a march and vigil in downtown Washington, D.C. in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March that involves several groups including Jewish Voice for Peace.

He said today: “As people all around the world sing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ the Palestinians in Bethlehem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian territories continue to be oppressed. Nowhere is that more bitter than in Gaza, where over 1,300 Palestinians were killed during 22 days of bombings. Living conditions in Gaza remain desperate as Israel continues to impose its siege on 1.5 million Palestinians, preventing almost anyone from leaving the strip and making it virtually impossible to rebuild or repair the thousands of homes and businesses that were demolished during the attack.”

Background: See the new report from Amnesty International, which states: “The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action to secure the ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and recovery, say a group of 16 leading humanitarian and human rights groups in a new report released today (22 December) ahead of the anniversary of the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza (27 December-18 January).”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Doctors and Nurses Calling for Defeat of Health Insurance Bill

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., M.P.H.
DAVID HIMMELSTEIN, M.D.
OLIVER FEIN, M.D.
MARK ALMBERG
Woolhandler and Himmelstein are professors of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program. Fein is president of the group; Almberg is communications director.

Addressing the Senate in an open letter, they write: “We ask that you defeat the bill currently under debate, and immediately move to consider the single-payer approach — an expanded and improved Medicare-for-All program — which prioritizes the advancement of our nation’s health over the enhancement of private, profit-seeking interests. …

“Congress’ capitulation to insurers — along with concessions to the pharmaceutical industry — fatally undermines the economic viability of reform. The bill would inflate the already crushing burden of insurance-related paperwork that currently siphons $400 billion from care annually.” See the full letter to the Senate.

KAREN HIGGINS, CHARLES IDELSON
Higgins is co-president of National Nurses United, and Idelson is a spokesperson for the group, which released a statement today: “The 150,000 member National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in the U.S., today criticized the healthcare bill now advancing in the U.S. Senate saying it is deeply flawed and grants too much power to the giant insurers.”

Higgins, a registered nurse, said today: “It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the healthcare crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry.” See a comprehensive statement and analysis of the Senate bill.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Afghanistan: * Just War? * Five Times GDP

DANIEL C. MAGUIRE
Maguire is professor of moral theological ethics at Marquette University and is the author of The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy.

He recently wrote that in Obama’s Nobel Prize address the president “hoisted his petard on the classical ‘just war theory,’ a theory that, properly understood, condemns his decision to send yet more kill-power into Afghanistan. This theory, which is much misused and little understood, is designed to build a wall of assumptions against state-sponsored violence, i.e. war. It puts the burden of proof on the warrior where it belongs. It gives six conditions necessary to justify a war. Fail one, and the war is immoral.” See Maguire’s analysis of the six conditions.

JO COMERFORD
Executive director of the National Priorities Project, Comerford just wrote the piece “$57,077.60: Surging by the Minute,” which states: “We could have dedicated that $30 billion [of escalation costs] to job creation. According to a recent report issued by the Political Economy Research Institute, that sum could generate a whopping 537,810 construction jobs or 541,080 positions in healthcare, or fund 742,740 teachers or employ 831,390 mass transit workers. …

“In Afghan terms, our upcoming single year of war costs represents nearly five times that country’s gross domestic product or $3,623.70 for every Afghan woman, man, and child.” http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175179

The UN estimates Afghanistan’s 2008 per capita GDP at $466, the CIA at $800.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Copenhagen: * Rich Dumping on Poor? * Police Arresting Activists

The Guardian (UK) today published a piece headlined “Friends of the Earth Among Activists Barred from Copenhagen Conference Center: Security intensifies ahead of mass action to invade summit as 115 world leaders arrive for high-level talks.”

ANNE PETERMAN
Peterman is executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project, based in Vermont. She said: “The domination by corporations, the refusal of the rich countries of the world to take responsibility for the problems they have created and the emphasis on profit-oriented false solutions, have led to a total disenchantment with the process.”
The group with others issued a statement deploring the arrests of accredited participants: “UN COP critics silenced with police action as talks enter final days.” See climatevoices.wordpress.com

SIMONE LOVERA
Based in Paraguay, Lovera is co-founder of the Global Forest Coalition. She said today: “At this point the process [in Copenhagen] has become ridiculously corrupt; many groups have been barred from the meetings. In the streets, police are beating up totally peaceful people.”

NICOLA BULLARD
Bullard, senior associate with the group Focus on the Global South, said that the process is Copenhagen is not achieving “climate justice. … By climate justice we mean that corporate globalization must be stopped and governments must begin just transitions into a low carbon economy. This means food and energy sovereignty, localization of production and consumption and full recognition of indigenous peoples and local community rights.”

LIDY NACPIL
International coordinator of Jubilee South, Nacpil is based in the Philippines. She said: “We should see the problem of climate change as a debt that is owed by the rich countries to the rest of the world, to the developing nations especially. … [It’s] clearly the responsibility of rich countries, of corporations, for creating the problem, for taking up the atmospheric space more than what they are entitled to, so that the rest of the world, the developing world especially, is deprived of that space and now have to deal with the impacts of the problem that they [the rich countries] created.” Nacpil was interviewed on Democracy Now, which is broadcasting from Copenhagen, earlier this week.

Nacpil and other analysts and activists from around the world are reachable via Hallie Boas, hallie@globaljusticeecology.org, and Orin Langelle, orinl@globaljusticeecology.org, who are with the Global Justice Ecology Project. Profiles of those available for interviews are posted at New Voices on Climate Change.

The Guardian (UK) last week broke a story about an apparent behind-the-scenes agreement that would further empower rich countries: “Copenhagen Climate Summit in Disarray after ‘Danish Text’ Leak: Developing countries react furiously to leaked draft agreement that would hand more power to rich nations, sideline the UN’s negotiating role and abandon the Kyoto protocol.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Senators’ Global Warming Proposal

Sens. John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham yesterday had a news conference where they talked about a “framework” for legislation on global warming. Said Lieberman: “You remember the artist formerly known as Prince? This is the market-based system for punishing polluters previously known as ‘cap and trade.'”

DAPHNE WYSHAM
Wysham is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is a content adviser to the new short film “The Story of Cap and Trade” .

Wysham said today: “While tens of thousands of concerned global citizens are gathered in Copenhagen, grappling with the staggering impacts already being felt by the poorest people globally due to climate change, the best our Senate can do is reiterate support for a target that will get America nowhere near what is required of us to achieve climate stability. Instead of leading, we are surrendering to what is most expedient for our most heavily subsidized industries — the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.

“The [senators’] statement suggests strong support for nuclear power. The amount of money and energy required to store the carbon emitted by coal — if the technology is ever proven — and nuclear power would be far better spent on investments in energy resources we know will be with us forever — namely, wind, solar, and other non-fossil and non-nuclear-based energy resources.

“The statement also claims it supports the inclusion of a significant quantity of ‘verifiable offsets’ — which is, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an oxymoron. Carbon offsets are akin to ‘subprime mortgages’: They will drive speculators to invest in an invisible, highly corruptible, unverifiable market while doing nothing to stabilize our climate.

“Finally, the statement disparages the role of government regulation and claims that a ‘market approach’ is preferable. If ever there was a time to not place all of our faith in Wall Street traders to solve our nation’s problems, this is it.”

Wysham recently wrote the piece “Cap and Trade Should Go the Way of the DoDo Before We Do.”

A debate is being held this evening in Copenhagen on “cap and trade” at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) with:

* Dirk Forrister, now managing director of Natsource LLC, an environmental fund management and advisory firm and previously chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force in the Clinton administration and the energy program manager at Environmental Defense Fund

* Michael Dorsey, assistant professor in Dartmouth College’s Environmental Studies Program and the director of the college’s Climate Justice Research Project

For live video, see here

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama’s Nobel Prize vs. Policies

The following analysts are available to talk about Obama administration policies and the advancement of peace:

JODY WILLIAMS
Nobel Laureate Williams is now chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. She recently wrote the piece “United States’ shameful land mine policy: By refusing to join the Mine Ban Treaty, Obama shows disregard for international humanitarian law,” which states: “Obama’s position on land mines calls into question his expressed views on multilateralism, respect for international humanitarian law and disarmament. How can he, with total credibility, lead the world to nuclear disarmament when his own country won’t give up even land mines?”

Williams was the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, for which she was awarded, along with the organization, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

NORMAN SOLOMON
Currently in Washington, D.C., Solomon is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He was in Afghanistan in late summer. Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

KATHY KELLY
Kelly is co-coordinator of the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She is a signatory to a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee signed by dozens of peace groups. The letter states “we … are distressed that President Obama, so close upon his receipt of this honor, has opted to escalate the U.S. war in Afghanistan with the deployment of 30,000 additional troops. We regret that he could not be guided by the example of a previous Nobel Peace Laureate, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who identified his peace prize as ‘profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time…’ Declaring his opposition to the Vietnam War, Dr. King insisted that ‘no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war … We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways.'”

On Saturday, Kelly will speak at a rally in front of the White House against the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

“The Story of Cap and Trade”

DAPHNE WYSHAM
Wysham is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is a content adviser to the new short film “The Story of Cap and Trade.”

Wysham recently wrote the piece “Cap and Trade Should Go the Way of the DoDo Before We Do,” which states: “President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. will offer an unprecedented pledge to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 at the Copenhagen climate talks in December may seem impressive at first blush. But look closely, and you’ll see the ‘cuts’ he has offered are, at least in the short-term, essentially meaningless. The reason is twofold. First: The cuts start from a 2005 baseline, when the baseline the scientific community has put forward is 1990. As a result, these cuts translate to a mere 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, when what we need is a 25-40 percent cut in U.S. emissions below 1990 levels by 2020.

“Reason number two: Even these measly cuts could all be met by the buying and selling of an invisible, unverifiable, entirely manmade commodity: the carbon offset. …

“The bottom line is this: climate change is serious, and we can’t afford to hand the fate of the planet over to the very polluters, banks, and traders that have gotten us into this mess. If we don’t wake up soon to the flaws of cap and trade and work on real solutions now, all species — our own included — may go the way of the dodo.”

See coverage of Copenhagen talks in the Climate Chronicle.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

New Evidence on Honduran Election

The Real News reports that contrary to the claims of many, including the U.S. representative to the Organization of American States, the official polling data suggest that the turnout in the recently boycotted Honduran election was under 50 percent. See: “Honduran Elections Exposed.”

JESSE FREESTON
Freeston is a reporter for The Real News who has produced several segments on Honduras since the June coup.

LAURA CARLSEN, in Mexico City
Carlsen, who was in Honduras during the recent boycotted election, notes the findings of The Real News in her new piece “‘Honduran Elections’: A Parody on Democracy.”

She warns that with many accepting false claims of the coup government, an escalating human rights crackdown now may occur in Honduras.

Carlsen is director of the Americas Program for the Center for International Policy; she is based in Mexico City.

ROBERT E. WHITE
A former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and Paraguay, White is president of the Center for International Policy. He just wrote the piece “Honduras and a Divided Latin America.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Jobs

PETER EDELMAN
A professor at Georgetown Law Center who was assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, Edelman is a co-author of the new report “Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It” from the Institute for Policy Studies.

He also just wrote the Washington Post piece (with Barbara Ehrenreich) “Why Welfare Reform Fails its Recession Test,” which states: “When President Bill Clinton signed welfare reform into law, he didn’t just end welfare as we knew it. For all practical purposes, it turned out, he brought an end to cash help of any kind for families with children in much of the country. While welfare reform was long ago declared a success in some quarters, it was deeply flawed from the beginning. The recession has shown how seriously unprepared it left us for hard times.”

JOHN CAVANAGH
KAREN DOLAN
via Tamar Abrams
Cavanagh is director of the Institute for Policy Studies. Dolan is a fellow with the group. They said today following Obama’s speech at the Brookings Institution: “While we applaud President Obama’s attention to the jobs crisis and acknowledgment of public fear and anxiety around unemployment, we think his focus on accelerating job creation only in the private sector is wrong-headed. The use of TARP money to help community banks loan to local small businesses is a good idea. But further than that, we need Congress to approve the use of TARP funds to fund the creation of millions of new public sector jobs.”

Among the findings of IPS’s new report “Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It” are:

“Levels of long-term unemployment, underemployment and discouraged workers are reaching historic levels.

“The percentage of poor children receiving temporary assistance under TANF (the main federal ‘welfare’ program) has fallen from 62 percent in 1995 to 22 percent in 2008, and the benefits in 2008 averaged only 29 percent of the money needed to reach the official poverty line.

“Even while labor force participation of mothers has increased, the supply of affordable child care has lagged behind, creating a significant barrier to employment for many, especially single mothers.

“Roughly 57 percent of unemployed people are receiving unemployment compensation; for those receiving benefits, amounts are less than half of wages, and many are losing work-related health benefits.

“The social safety net, eroded over the past 30 years, has failed millions of Americans. And the short-term fixes, such as the Recovery Act, are rescuing only a small percentage of those who need help.”

The study’s authors recommend “an immediate, bold, comprehensive emergency relief package,” including:

“A $40 billion public jobs program to create one million new jobs.

“Some $270 billion to cover state and local deficits, which could sustain vital funding for critical safety net programs and could save the jobs of millions of workers.

“Just over $100 billion for the expansion of programs that provide income or income equivalents to help people weather the storm: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Unemployment Insurance, and Food Stamps; and new policies to address the housing foreclosure crisis.”

One author details how the $400 billion package “could be funded by tax shifts to close offshore tax havens, curbing speculative stock trades, and raising the top marginal rate to the levels that preceded the most recent Bush tax cuts.” The authors also recommend a “longer-term strategy to end the scourge of poverty in our nation and to help all people achieve a living income, without regard to race, religion or gender.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Interviews Available from Copenhagen

In an unprecedented move, 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian are publishing one editorial on the urgent need to address climate change now: “The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. …”

The following analysts and activists now in Copenhagen for the global warming summit are available for interviews:

SIMONE LOVERA
Based in Paraguay, Lovera is co-founder of the Global Forest Coalition.

HALLIE BOAS
ORIN LANGELLE
Boas and Langelle are with the Global Justice Ecology Project — which is running a blog during the summit: climatevoices.wordpress.com — and can connect media to analysts and activists from around the world, including: Lidy Nacpil from the Philippines, Ana Filippini from Uruguay, Camila Moreno from Brazil, Anna Pinto from India and Ben Powless from Canada (Mohawk). Profiles of these and others available for interviews are posted at New Voices on Climate Change.

Background:
From the Independent (UK):
Climate Change Conspiracies: Stolen Emails Used to Ridicule Global Warming — Climate skeptics are blamed for disrupting crucial negotiations, say scientists

From the Guardian (UK):
Copenhagen Climate Change Talks Must Fail, says Top Scientist — Exclusive: World’s leading climate change expert says summit talks so flawed that deal would be a disaster

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167