David Ramirez Alvarez is Second Secretary in the Cuban Embassy, representing Cuba’s cultural and political forces sectors. He will be presenting an historical and current analysis of the Cuban health care system, how it differs from our profit-driven system, how Cuba provides comprehensive primary and quaternary health services in the face of a decades’ long illegal and brutal U.S. blockade and still has better outcomes than ours. Ramirez Alvarez will also address how the training of health care providers and scientists in Cuba is intimately connected to the socialist culture derived from the Cuban Revolution. Is a socialist culture necessary to displace our capitalist health care system?
In Julian Assange’s extradition case, Magistrate Judge Venessa Baraitser determined he would not survive imprisonment in a U.S. Supermax facility – that he is very likely to commit suicide. One of the final witnesses in the 4 week extradition trial in 2020 was an American lawyer whose client Abu Hamza was held in ADX Colorado where Julian is likely to be sent. Abu Hamza has no hands. He was extradited from the U.K. following assurances by the U.S. that the prison system was able to deal with the special requirements of such a prisoner. His lawyer testified that despite assurances he would not be placed in total isolation, that is indeed where he was kept, under Special Administrative Measures, and the U.S. had also failed to delivered on other undertakings to protect his human rights – he did not have a toilet in his cell he could operate – he was stripped of all dignity, contrary to guarantees.
Last week, my students and I worked with several unhoused persons who had been recently living in dangerous, unhealthy apartments or homes in our community of Indianapolis. One, a young mother of a toddler with another baby soon on the way, had just left a home where eight people across three generations were living. The house had no central heat, so space heaters were the only source of warmth during a month when the temperature dipped below zero for several days. Those heaters and everything else electrical in the house were linked to a complex web of extension cords connected to a solitary working outlet.
Minneapolis, MN — On January 11, 2024, community members gathered to discuss the future of the Smith Foundry in Minneapolis’ East Phillips neighborhood. The iron-casting facility has been found to violate health regulations, thereby likely threatening the well-being of people living nearby. In November, residents had called for the closure of the foundry after discovering records from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicating that the company had been exceeding Minnesota emission limits of particulate matter since 2018 — without notifying the state. Despite the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) pledging to meet regularly with the community, MPCA authorities were absent from the meeting, citing a “conflict of interest” and a lack of staff.
If there hadn’t been construction planned for the bridge that crosses over Leslie Run, one of the creeks that runs through the middle of East Palestine, Ohio, Rick Tsai and Randy DeHaven might not have noticed the worst contamination they’d seen in the creek in weeks. A backhoe had hoisted a chunk of earth from the bank of the creek, leaving a pool about eight feet across and deep enough to come up to the knees of Tsai’s rubber fishing waders. What it also left, in Tsai’s words, was an opportunity for a sort of “geological sample” — evidence that oil and chemicals still lingered in the soil and in the creeks six months after a catastrophic derailment.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza have surpassed three months, fostering the most dangerous place in the world to be a child as death and destruction fills every corner of the besieged enclave. According to Jason Lee, Save the Children’s director for the occupied Palestinian territory, children are much more vulnerable to explosives. They will also need much more time and effort to recover from the injuries they cause. “Small children caught up in explosions are particularly vulnerable to major, life-changing injuries. They have weaker necks and torsos, so less force is needed to cause a brain injury,” Lee said in a statement.
After heavy rains and hail storms ushered in the beginning of harsh winter weather in Gaza earlier this week, displaced people in Rafah have been faced with even more challenges as tents flooded, and they found themselves homeless and freezing, without their winter clothes. “Most of those who evacuated from the northern area left without bringing their winter clothes,” wrote Gaza-based journalist Hind Khoudary, on Twitter. “They have been knocking on the doors of people whose houses were not bombed, asking for clothes.” One enormous problem that the displaced are facing is a lack of sanitation in overcrowded shelters—according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is an average of one shower per 700 people and one toilet per 150 people in Gaza, which has contributed to the rapid spread of infectious diseases.
I’ve written a lot about the corrupt, inefficient and failing Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP.) Most recently, the mainstream media have lauded the BOP’s new director, Colette Peters, who was brought in to “clean the place up.” Peters is a former successful director of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The idea was that, rather than promote somebody from within the BOP to lead it, which has been done time and time again and which has failed time and time again, maybe a fresh face from outside could bring a new perspective and could turn the BOP around. That hasn’t happened. If anything, Peters has been ignored by her subordinates and, in many cases, circumvented.
In Northern Alberta, Canada, sit the Athabasca tar sands—the world’s largest known reservoir of crude bitumen, and a major driver of Canada’s economy. The vast majority of Canadian oil production comes from extracting and processing the crude bitumen found in the tar sands. But while Canada prospers off the tar sands industry, Indigenous communities downstream are in the grips of its toxic impact. It is well documented that the people of Fort Chipewyan, in northern Alberta, have been struck by disproportionately high rates of cancer, and their proximity to the tar sands has long been the suspected dominant factor contributing to their sickness.
The negative impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment, and the climate are “intractable and not fixable,” according to a newly published report. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is the process used by oil and gas drillers that involves injecting water, sand, and chemicals underground at extreme pressure to extract oil and gas trapped in shale rock. Fracking, along with advances in horizontal drilling, ushered in an enormous oil and gas production boom beginning about 15 years ago, leading to the U.S. becoming the largest oil and gas producer in the world. But the scientific literature on its impacts has grown larger with each passing year, shedding light on the vast human and environmental toll left in the industry’s wake.
In the 1970s, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a young professor at the New York University School of Medicine, researched the health impacts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) produced by gas stoves. In a series of studies, Goldstein and his colleagues identified a higher incidence of respiratory problems among schoolchildren from homes with gas stoves. Fifty years on, Goldstein, now emeritus professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh, recently told NPR “it’s way past time that we were doing something about gas stoves.”
Activist and founder of the CODEPINK women’s group, Medea Benjamin, stated that the Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, kidnapped by the United States, “has a commitment to himself, to his dignity, to his honor and his major commitment is with the Venezuelan people.” Benjamin, who had the opportunity to visit the special envoy in the Miami federal prison recently, commented on her impressions during the most recent webinar of Hands Off Venezuela, organized by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign of the Fire This Time Movement of Canada. Medea Benjamin highlighted that Saab remains “firm, with his head held high.”
October 18, 2023 - This morning/lunchtime over 60 health professionals gathered outside JP Morgan Chase’s London Embankment offices to highlight the bank’s leading investment role in the new fossil fuel extraction which is driving increasing levels of climate-related death and suffering. Health for Extinction Rebellion, who have a long running campaign against JP Morgan’s fossil fuel investments, sought to emphasise, through their action today, the intolerable and growing human health impacts of the climate and ecological crisis, and the complicity of firms, like JP Morgan, who continue to drive fossil fuel extraction.
Almost two years after the Navy’s massive jet fuel spill from the 80-year-old Red Hill underground fuel tank facility and one month before the October 16, 2023 defueling begins of the 104 million gallons remaining in 14 of the 20 massive fuel tanks, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro has finally held 14 Navy officials “accountable” for the Red Hill disaster, but he did not fire, suspend, dock the pay or reduce the rank of any of the 14 for the toxic contamination of the drinking water of 93,000 and the pollution in the aquifer for the city of Honolulu!!!! Instead, the 14 have received reprimand through Letters of Censure and Letters of Instruction (whatever that is)—and revocation of end of Red Hill tour medals.
In rural West Virginia, largely hidden among steep hills, stands a $255 million facility designed to transform fracking waste into freshwater and food grade quality salts. Proponents hailed it as one of the most important environmental projects undertaken by the oil and gas industry in recent U.S. history. But local conservation groups and residents remained skeptical from the start, warning that the plant could leak toxic waste into water and air, harming human health and ecosystems in a largely forested region where tight-knit communities live close to the land. The facility, called Clearwater, was built by the Denver, Colorado-based oil and gas extraction company, Antero Resources, and an affiliate of Veolia, the multinational French waste, water and energy management company.