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Mon, 27 Sep 2021
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This is your brain on poverty: Sanders and Warren probe insidious consequences of being poor

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcmte.
© Unknown
While most Americans think of poverty in material terms, said the senate's lone independent, its effects were more insidious and long-lasting.

The U.S. Senate subcommittee on primary health and aging met Wednesday morning to discuss the effects of poverty and stress on children, communities and health in America.

"Stress and poverty, wondering how I'm going to feed my family tomorrow, pay my bills get the income I need to survive, takes a toll on human life," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Recent studies have shown that stress caused by poverty can influence brain development in children and lay the groundwork for physical health problems that show up later in life.

"Lack of choice and the increased stress that low-income people experience increases their level of cortisol (the primary stress hormone), and we know that higher levels of cortisol are correlated with cardiovascular disorders and other chronic illnesses, including diabetes," said Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland.

Comment: "Poverty is the worst form of violence." Mahatma Gandhi

No Entry

Don't want to help support Israeli brutality? 6 things you can stop buying right now

Sabra hummus
© Tanya Patrice/Flickr
Sabra hummus
Buying products like SodaStream machines helps fuel Israel's control over Palestinians.

When tax time rolls around each year, every American citizen gives $21.59 in military aid to Israel, according to the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation. But that's not the only way American citizens contribute to the Israeli military, which has occupied Palestinian land for 46 years, and the West Bank settlement project that accompanies the occupation.

Consumers may not know it, but buying products like Sabra hummus and Sodastream helps fuel Israel's military control over Palestinians. Some companies have factories located in one of the 125 officially recognized settlements in occupied Palestine, which are illegal under international law. Other companies contribute to the maintenance of an occupation through cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), whose main goal is to protect illegal settlements and exercise dominion over the lives of millions of Palestinians. Buying these products gives profits to companies who exploit Palestinian land and resources.

Here are six consumer products and companies that help keep the Israeli occupation rolling along. All of them have been targeted by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led international campaign to isolate Israel for its violations of international law. BDS groups have called on consumers to boycott these products as a way of sending an economic signal to Israel.

1. Sodastream

This soda-making company is ubiquitous nowadays. Sodastream products, which turn water into sparkling water and other flavored drinks, have been incredibly successful in the U.S. According to CNN, sales of their products have skyrocketed, with the company bringing in $436 million in 2012, a 51% increase from the previous year. The company, which was bought by an Israeli company that eventually sold it to a private equity firm, has touted itself an environmentally friendly company

But the less-progressive side of Sodastream lies in the location of its factory. The main facility where Sodastream products are made is in the industrial settlement area of Mishor Adumim, which is right outside Jerusalem and even closer to the mega-settlement of Ma'ale Adumim. Mishor Adumim serves Ma'ale Adumim by providing the settlement with employment for Israelis and business for nearby Israeli companies.

Sodastream claims it's not violating international law by operating in a settlement because its factory benefits the local population of Palestinians. It's true that Sodastream employs Palestinian laborers. But according to Who Profits?, an Israeli-based organization that tracks occupation profiteers, "the workers in the SodaStream factory suffer from harsh working conditions." Palestinian workers are seen as a cheap labor force to be exploited, and have complained that when they protest for better wages, they are fired.

By bolstering Ma'ale Adumin, Sodastream's factory in Mishor Adumim contributes to the death of any chance for a viable and contiguous Palestinian state. Ma'ale Adumim was strategically built as a settlement that cuts off easy access between Ramallah and Bethlehem, two important cities in the West Bank.

For those who love Sodastream but are looking for an alternative, have no fear. A number of similar products allow consumers to make their own bubbly water without giving money to a company operating on occupied land. The alternatives include Cuisinart's beverage maker and a company named SodaSparkle.


Police State: Store video camera catches repeated police harassment against employee

© C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald Staff
Earl Sampson, who has been stopped by police more than 250 times in the past five years, stands near one of the coolers he was stocking at 207 QuickStop in July 2012 when the Miami Gardens police walked in and arrested him for trespassing.
Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years. He's been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times.

Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana. Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.

Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens. But Sampson isn't loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.

So how can he be trespassing when he works there?

It's a question the store's owner, Alex Saleh, 36, has been asking for more than a year as he watched Sampson, his other employees and his customers, day after day, being stopped and frisked by Miami Gardens police. Most of them, like Sampson, are poor and black.

Light Saber

Our Invisible Revolution - political currents coming to a boil?

© Shutterstock
"Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?" the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay "The Idea Is the Thing." "If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them."

Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public's imagination.

Revolution usually erupts over events that would, in normal circumstances, be considered meaningless or minor acts of injustice by the state. But once the tinder of revolt has piled up, as it has in the United States, an insignificant spark easily ignites popular rebellion. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows where or when the eruption will take place. No one knows the form it will take. But it is certain now that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, along with the abject failure to remedy the mounting state repression, the chronic unemployment and underemployment, the massive debt peonage that is crippling more than half of Americans, and the loss of hope and widespread despair, means that blowback is inevitable.


7 signs the national outcry against Walmart may lead to big changes

OUR Walmart protest
© indybay
Walmart workers are not backing down in their fight for better working conditions, and the nation is beginning to join them.

"People across the country are starting to see the real Walmart," said Q Knapp, a Texas Walmart worker who went on strike Wednesday. "And that's why I will continue to stand up because the time for change is now."

Indeed. If there were ever a time to make change at the nation's largest private employer, it's now. Walmart's overwhelming contempt for workers, expressed through its continued low wages and poor benefits, its retaliation against workers who organize, and its sole goal of profit - even pushing Black Friday deals up two hours to begin on 6pm Thanksgiving Day - has caused outrage. The outcry against Walmart's working conditions has been quickly picking up steam, becoming a national topic of conversation right in time for the 1,500 Black Friday protests scheduled across the country, where people will rally in front of stores to demand respect and fair treatment.

Knapp, who has worked at Walmart for 19 years, said she went on strike because she was "tired of being disrespected." She said that when her brother went to the hospital after having a heart attack, she received Walmart's approval to spend time in the hospital with him. But when she returned to work, she was disciplined for being absent. Knapp said she has also witnessed a fellow coworker get terminated after fighting for better working conditions.

"Walmart is a bully, and the only way to fight back against a bully is to speak up," Knapp said. "The message to Walmart is simple: we will not be silent."

And they haven't been. The workers are making a lot of noise and sparking a nationwide dialogue. Here are seven signs that their actions are turning the tide on workers' rights.

Gold Seal

In the real tally of violence, Palestinians have it much worse

© Haaretz
There is no Palestinian without a personal and familial history of injustice that was caused by, and is still caused by Israel.

Anyone who has worn a uniform past or in present, whether speaking on the record or off, immediately "knows" that the latest terror attack and what looks to soldiers as the latest attempted terror attack does not signify the beginning of a third Intifada. Or, they "know" it does signify such a beginning, and it's all because of the peace negotiations or because of Palestinian incitement, or both. Relying on the knowledgeable military brass is a fixed Israeli reflex; it is part of the balance of power and part of how the Israelis exert control over their subjects.

Whoever said 100,000 Palestinians have unfinished business with the Israel Defense Forces took it a step further creating the impression that he really knows and thinks, and does more than calculate tallies. But the starting point for calculation is somewhere else completely: There is no Palestinian whose score with the State of Israel is settled - whether he lives in forced exile or whether he lives within the borders of Israel, or in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. There is no Palestinian without a personal and familial history of injustice that was caused by, and is still caused by Israel. Just because the Israeli media does not report on all the injustices Israel causes day in and day out - even if only because they so numerous - does not mean they go away and neither does the anger they cause. Therefore, according to the correct calculation, the number of attacks by Palestinian individuals is relatively microscopic. This small number shows that for the vast majority of Palestinians - passing, murderous and hopeless revenge is not an option.


Colorado issues world's first recreational marijuana sales license

marijuana plant
© Shutterstock.com/RomboStudio
The world's first recreational marijuana retail license was granted to a dispensary in Colorado this week -- so start saving up, because the Rocky Mountain High will soon be for sale.

Annie's, located in the mountain and gambling town of Central City, was the recipient of the historic license.

The Central City pot shop is owned by Strainwise, which owns eight dispensaries in Colorado and hopes all eight shops are approved for the recreational license, according to Westword.

Erin Phillips, a spokesperson for Strainwise, told The Huffington Post that the dispensary company received a local license for Annie's and are waiting for approval of the state license for the pot shop.

The first recreational marijuana shops in Colorado will open their doors for the first time in U.S. history on Jan. 1, 2014.

"Colorado is moving forward and leaving marijuana prohibition behind," Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and co-director of Colorado's marijuana legalizing Amendment 64 campaign, told HuffPost. "For the first time in history, those who sell marijuana are receiving licenses from the state instead of rap sheets. Marijuana will be sold to adults by legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of drug cartels in the underground market."

"It will not be long before voters and lawmakers in other states decide to adopt similar policies," Tvert added. "Marijuana is an objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it is finally starting to be treated that way."


Police beat up college student for riding his bike on the sidewalk

Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk - that's the crime that left 20-year-old City College student D'Paris Williams battered after he was attacked by the San Francisco police.

Last Friday, Williams was riding his bicycle down the sidewalk on the street where he lived. He was coming back from the Make a Wish Foundation's Bat Kid festivities when two plainsclothes officers approached him. Uptown Almanac, a blog about San Francisco culture, described the scene:

The officers said something to DJ about riding his bicycle on the sidewalk as he was pulling up to his home in the complex. It is unclear whether the officers identified themselves or not, but did proceed to get out of their car, grab DJ from behind as he was entering the home and beat him for no apparent reason. A police search uncovered a cupcake and juice that DJ had just purchased from the corner store. ... He was immediately taken to S.F. General Hospital for treatment, and then to the 850 Bryant police station. ... Furthermore, three residents came to DJ's aid when they saw officers beating him up, only to find themselves also under attack by officers. By this time, uniformed backup had arrived on the scene. Including DJ, a total of four individuals were beaten and arrested by officers.

Williams' family said that Williams could not hear the officers because he was listening to music through his headphones. Williams sister, who was carrying a newborn, witnessed the scene. She was also pushed by officers when she approached the door where her brother was assaulted. After officers shoved Williams' head in his door, they dragged him to continue the beating.

Heart - Black

Psychopath: Prosecutors say Danvers High School teen raped Massachusetts math teacher before killing her

© Reuters
Philip Chism, 14, faces a first-degree murder charge
Philip Chism, 14, has been indicted. The 14-year-old is charged as an adult with murder in the death of Massachusetts math teacher Colleen Ritzer. He raped and killed her in a school bathroom before dumping the body in woods behind Danvers High School, cops say.

The 14-year-old accused of murdering his young math teacher at Danvers High School allegedly raped 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer before killing her, prosecutors said Thursday in outlining a first-degree murder indictment against Philip D. Chism.

Chism, a top junior varsity soccer player at the Massachusetts school, allegedly attacked Ritzer after she asked him to stay after school in October to prep for an upcoming test. The teen is accused of stabbing Ritzer to death in a school bathroom before dumping her body in a patch of woods behind the school.
© AP
Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer was allegedly raped before a 14-year-old student killed her with a box cutter.
Chism is charged as an adult on the murder count, the Essex County district attorney wrote in a statement, and faces the aggravated rape and armed robbery charges as a juvenile.

He allegedly stole her credit cards, iPhone and her underwear after sexually assaulting Ritzer with an object and killing her, prosecutors contend.

Eye 2

5-year-old girl found locked in cage, eating herself to survive in mobile home, another child's corpse found buried outside

Brian Gore, 29, and Shannon Gore, 25, face child abuse and murder charges.
The girl, believed to be between 5 or 6 years old, was discovered in a crib that was altered to serve as a type of cage. She was discovered in only a diaper and t-shirt and eating her dried skin.

UPDATE: Since this story was originally published in 2011, Brian and Shannon Gore plead guilty to aggravated malicious wounding and child abuse charges in March 2013. They were later sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison.

A young girl was found caged and attempting to eat herself in a mobile home in Virginia, and cops say her parents are responsible.

The malnourished girl, believed to be either 5 or 6, was discovered in a crib that was converted into a makeshift cage after police arrived at the home in Gloucester County to investigate a burglary last week.

The girl's parents, Brian and Shannon Gore, were arrested and charged with felony child abuse. The mother was also charged with attempted capital murder.