Saturday, 21 January 2012

Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview | Politics News | Rolling Stone

Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview

Under house arrest in England, the WikiLeaks founder opens up about his battle with the 'Times,' his stint in solitary and the future of journalism

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By Michael Hastings
January 18, 2012 8:00 AM ET
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Assange poses for a portrait at his undisclosed location in the English countryside.
Max Vadukul

It's a few days before Christmas, and Julian Assange has just finished moving to a new hide-out deep in the English countryside. The two-bedroom house, on loan from a WikiLeaks supporter, is comfortable enough, with a big stone fireplace and a porch out back, but it's not as grand as the country estate where he spent the past 363 days under house arrest, waiting for a British court to decide whether he will be extradited to Sweden to face allegations that he sexually molested two women he was briefly involved with in August 2010.

Assange sits on a tattered couch, wearing a wool sweater, dark pants and an electronic manacle around his right ankle, visible only when he crosses his legs. At 40, the WikiLeaks founder comes across more like an embattled rebel commander than a hacker or journalist. He's become better at handling the media – more willing to answer questions than he used to be, less likely to storm off during interviews – but the protracted legal battle has left him isolated, broke and vulnerable. Assange recently spoke to someone he calls a Western "intelligence source," and he asked the official about his fate. Will he ever be a free man again, allowed to return to his native Australia, to come and go as he pleases? "He told me I was fucked," Assange says.

"Are you fucked?" I ask.

Assange pauses and looks out the window. The house is surrounded by rolling fields and quiet woods, but they offer him little in the way of escape. The British Supreme Court will hear his extradition appeal on February 1st – but even if he wins, he will likely still remain a wanted man. Interpol has issued a so-called "red notice" for his arrest on behalf of Swedish authorities for questioning in "connection with a number of sexual offenses" – Qaddafi, accused of war crimes, earned only an "orange notice" – and the U.S. government has branded him a "high-tech terrorist," unleashing a massive and unprecedented investigation designed to depict Assange's journalism as a form of international espionage. Ever since November 2010, when WikiLeaks embarrassed and infuriated the world's governments with the release of what became known as Cablegate, some 250,000 classified diplomatic cables from more than 150 countries, the group's supporters have found themselves detained at airports, subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, and ordered to turn over their Twitter accounts and e-mails to authorities.

Assange was always deeply engaged with the world – and always getting into trouble. Born in a small town in Queensland, he spent much of his youth traveling around Australia with his mother and stepfather, who ran a theater company. As a teenager, he discovered computers – his first was a Commodore 64 – and became one of the world's foremost hackers, going by the name Mendax, Latin for "nobly untruthful." After breaking into systems at NASA and the Pentagon when he was 16, he was busted on 25 counts of hacking, which prodded him to go straight. But as he traveled the world, working as a tech consultant through much of the 1990s, he continued putting his computer skills to use ensuring freedom of information – a necessary condition, he believes, for democratic self-rule.

"From the glory days of American radicalism, which was the American Revolution, I think that Madison's view on government is still unequaled," he tells me during the three days I spend with him as he settles into his new location in England. "That people determined to be in a democracy, to be their own governments, must have the power that knowledge will bring – because knowledge will always rule ignorance. You can either be informed and your own rulers, or you can be ignorant and have someone else, who is not ignorant, rule over you. The question is, where has the United States betrayed Madison and Jefferson, betrayed these basic values on how you keep a democracy? I think that the U.S. military-industrial complex and the majority of politicians in Congress have betrayed those values."

In 2006, Assange founded WikiLeaks, a group of hackers and activists that has been dubbed the first "stateless news organization." The goal, from the start, was to operate beyond the reach of the law, get their hands on vital documents being censored by governments and corporations, and make them available to the public. After a series of initial successes – publishing leaks about Iceland, Kenya and even a Pentagon document warning of WikiLeaks – Assange rocked the U.S. military in April 2010 with the release of "Collateral Murder," a video that revealed an American helicopter in Iraq opening fire on unarmed civilians, killing two journalists and several others. He quickly followed up with the release of hundreds of thousands of classified files related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, creating an international firestorm. But soon after he began releasing the diplomatic cables, which were widely credited with helping to spark the Arab Spring, he was detained and imprisoned after spending a week with two female supporters in Stockholm, entangling him in a yearlong legal battle to win his own freedom.

Assange agreed to a lengthy interview at his new home, on the condition that the location be kept secret, along with the identities of the core WikiLeaks staffers who have stuck by him since he ran into trouble in Sweden. Though he continues to run the group from captivity, working on what he calls a new set of scoops concerning the private-surveillance industry, the media furor over his personal life has turned him into a pariah among many former supporters, making it difficult for WikiLeaks to raise money. He's been called a rapist, an enemy combatant, and an agent of both Mossad and the CIA. His two most prominent collaborators – The New York Times and The Guardian – have repeatedly tarred him as a sexual deviant with bad personal hygiene, while continuing to happily sell books and movie rights about his exploits. His own personality has also proved divisive: He's charming, brilliant and uncompromising, but he has inspired intense hatred among former colleagues, who portray him as a megalomaniac whose ego has undermined the cause.

When I arrive for my last day with Assange, I'm 45 minutes early. Most of his staff have gone home for the holidays, and he's alone in the house with only his personal assistant to keep him company. Assange is huddled over a laptop in the dining room he has turned into his office, monitoring what has become his sole focus over the past few days: the trial of Bradley Manning, the 24-year-old Army private alleged to have provided the diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Assange has two lawyers representing him in the Maryland courtroom, and his name has been mentioned virtually every day during the initial hearing. The government's strategy, it has become clear, is to pressure Manning to implicate Assange in espionage – to present his work at WikiLeaks as the act of a spy, not a journalist.

When Assange comes into the living room and sits on the couch, a small Jack Russell terrier jumps up onto his lap and remains there for most of the next five hours. "You use two recorders," Assange says, looking at the digital recorders I've put down on the small coffee table. "I usually use three." But as soon as we start the interview, the phone rings. It's Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, who had attended the Manning trial with Assange's lawyers. Ellsberg is in a car driving back to Washington, D.C. "I can hear you," Assange shouts, ducking into the dining room. "Can you hear me?"

Five minutes later he returns, energized by his talk with America's most famous whistle-blower. "Where were we?" he says. His assistant brings in two cups of coffee, and the interview begins.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Journey Folki > Welcome

Journey Folki > Folk Arts > Radio Shows! > Rokker Radio Show

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Down on the farm nothing is simple | Alex Thomson's View

Down on the farm nothing is simple

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For a start, there isn’t even an accurate word to describe the people who live there. Gypsies won’t do it – since ethnically they are Irish and some object to the term anyhow. Travellers? Well possibly – but the whole issue here centres upon their wish to live, stay put in east Essex – and not travel very much at all.

dalefarm gates alex 602x200 Down on the farm nothing is simple

But that’s Dale Farm for you – nothing is clear. Nothing is easy. Everything surrounded by a swirl of allegations and standpoints. And all of that argued out for years in various courts. Ending up in agonising high court hearings in London where legal teams and a judge laboured over the legal differences between hard-standing…tarmac…and bunding (rough piles of earth and rubble). it was torture for me just listening and trying to make sense.

“Yeah,” sighs Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, “you know I think that was the worst month of my life.”

Down at Dale Farm some – most – of the travellers would probably say the eviction itself was worse, three months ago.

Yet if you go there now you’ll be astonished, not at what has changed, but at how little seems to have been achieved.

Far from ending the illegal encampment of houses and caravans, it has simply moved from the illicit plot charged by riot cops last October, about 30 yards down the road. And there they remain, rows of caravans parked up on the old approach road to the site of the protest and eviction.

21 caravan 620 Down on the farm nothing is simple

Close by, caravans are jammed into the plots of legal houses. These travellers don’t do gardens. Each small house has a large hard-standing of bricks to take several caravans and that is exactly what they all now have. It is overcrowded, illegal under planning laws according to the council.

Officials were there on the day we filmed, carefully counting up the numbers of caravans . Yes, you’ve got it, another vast eviction from here is being planned sometime from next month onwards. Perhaps millions more in public money will be expended.

Already the council has spent £4.2m on moving a group of caravans a matter of a few yards. Then you have to add in the policing bill – and Essex Constabulary remain at the site day in, day out, clocking up the hours, clocking up the meter for the taxpayer.

Gallery: A protest in pictures

And the cleared illegal site itself? An extarordinary morass of earth walls several feet high – “bunding” in council speak – a rampart earthed up around every one of the fifty or so emptied plots. Some are filling up with rain water now.

In one, three traveller children are playing, using a pallet as a raft on the filthy brown water on a Thursday morning in the middle of the school term. Twisted sharp metal and concrete pokes through the earthen walls.

At one end, sewage backs up in the inspection covers near the septic tanks of the first house left untouched by the eviction. It’s not a great place for children to play. But the council says if there’s any health issue nobody has complained and anyhow, people should not let kids play there: “I wouldn’t let my child play in this area – there must be some level of parental responsibility here about this,” says Mr Ball.

Len Gridley sees all this through his garden fence. Once the most vociferous campaigner to get the travellers off the illegal site, he says what the council have done now is worse than the original illegal camp:

“It’s a bomb site. It’s like world war two. Like a bomber has just come over and left craters all over the place.”

It’s come to something when the actions of the council have managed to unite the travellers concerns about the site with those of their loudest critic – but that’s how it is here three months on.

21 Dale 620 Down on the farm nothing is simple

“We want a site that’s culturally-sensitive to travellers’ needs and that’s it. We don’t want bricks and mortar – just to be given a site and left in peace. We have nowhere else to go,” says Michelle Sheridan whose current caravan is not a hundred yards from her former home, now one of Len Gridleys ‘second world war craters’.

The council insists this is all temporary. There’ll be another wave of expensive expulsions from the second illegal site the travellers have moved to — and the original cleared site will be returned to the greenbelt land it once was.

Oh no they won’t, say travellers’ advisors and campaigners. They plan an appeal in the courts to get back onto the old site at Dale Farm and rebuild with the protection of the law once and for all.

Oh no they won’t counters Basildon Council for whom this is some kind of Alamo – defend at all costs.The council says it’s fighting for councils across the UK. If they go down on this one and retreat and allow people to flaunt the law, then no council will be able to deal honestly with a single planning application.

As ever there is truth and lack of candour from all sides. The council talks about a kind of crusade to uphold the law yet has a worse mess on its hands now then when it started out on this business.

The travellers talk about discrimination and being outcasts and suffering, as they cruise around in gleaming 4 x 4 jeeps, shiny new BMWs, Mercs and even the odd Porsche.

As ever, down on the farm nothing is quite what anybody says it is. The problem the nation thought had gone away three months ago – has in fact, only just begun.

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Downgrade cannabis says drug expert during visit to Stroud (From Stroud News and Journal)

Downgrade cannabis says drug expert during visit to Stroud

PROFESSOR David Nutt, the ex-government drug adviser who provoked a media storm when he said taking ecstasy was no less dangerous than horse riding, renewed his criticisms of politicians and policymakers during a talk in Stroud last week.

The approach of successive governments towards drug policy had been out of step with scientific opinion and consequently the classification of illicit substances fails to reflect their relative harm, he argued.

In his lecture entitled, ‘Science and non-science in the current drug and alcohol laws,’ Professor Nutt focused particular scrutiny on the 2009 re-classification of cannabis as a Class B drug.

That decision to upgrade the drug, Professor Nutt said, was motivated less by scientific evidence and more by political considerations and a desire to appease a hostile tabloid press.

Contrasting the risks associated with cannabis with those from consuming alcohol, the eminent psychiatrist argued that the policy of criminalising cannabis defied common sense.

Alcohol was responsible for 8,000 deaths a year, he said, while cannabis could only be implicated in a handful of deaths.

Professor Nutt, currently a researcher at Imperial College London, said the dramatic increase in liver disease in recent years coupled with the £30 billion annual cost to the taxpayer of alcohol misuse, meant drink posed a far greater risk to society than cannabis use. "There has been a 20 times increase in the number of people using cannabis in the last forty years, yet we are not seeing a surge in the number of deaths.

"One of the reasons we have always argued cannabis is safer than alcohol is because you cannot overdose on cannabis," he said. The drug expert claimed lobbyists working on behalf of the drinks industry possessed too much power and were able to shape government drug policy and legislation to their liking.

All it would take to bring about a change, he said, was for politicians to start exercising a ‘little political courage’.

He urged the government to challenge the status quo, saying that drug policy should be influenced by scientific facts rather than politicians’ fears of being castigated by the popular press.

A graduate of Cambridge University, Professor Nutt had to endure the glare of the media spotlight when in 2009 he was dismissed from his post as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) by then Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who accused him of campaigning against government policy.

Elements of the print press loudly applauded his sacking with one red-top dubbing him ‘Professor Poison’, while Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips declared him part of ‘a manipulative, subversive and largely dangerous clique’ – a suggestion he laughed off with a wry smile at the talk last Thursday, January 19.

The treatment he received at the hands of the raucous British tabloids went beyond personal insults however, as he revealed at the event in St Laurence Church Hall.

Professor Nutt, a father of four, claimed one newspaper accessed his sons’ Facebook accounts and published personal information about his family shortly after he was fired.

He said he is now hoping to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, which has been tasked with examining the standards and ethics of the press in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

Discussing Alan Johnson’s decision to relieve him of his duties, Professor Nutt appeared somewhat bemused by the whole furore.

"They said I was getting involved in policy and as a scientist I should not do that," he said.

"They said they lost confidence in me which is political speak for saying I would not toe the line."

Action against domestic violence in Bulgaria

History of the problem:
- There are many, many cases in the last 10 years in Bulgaria where the basic human rights of women and children are not only abused but where even obvious crimes go unpunished.
Domestic violence is not sentenced as a serious crime.... And 25% of Bulgarian women suffers it. Women do not feel protected by the country's laws so they to do not call the Police. There are no restraining orders for domestic violence in Bulgaria.
- Human trafficking is another serious problem which our jurisdiction can’t handle. (for example our team worked on a couple of cases of baby selling. There were no sentences in both of the cases)

SOPA Is Dead: Smith Pulls Bill

SOPA Is Dead: Smith Pulls Bill

Lamar Smith, the chief sponsor of SOPA, said on Friday that he is pulling the bill “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith (R-Texas) said. “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”

Smith also released the following statement on Friday:

“We need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products. The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore. American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60% of U.S. exports. The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack.

“The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store. It is illegal and the law should be enforced both in the store and online.

“The Committee will continue work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property. We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.”

SEE ALSO: Who Did the Most to Bury SOPA? [POLL]

The move comes after widespread protest on the Internet on Wednesday by Wikipedia, Reddit and others. The sites signaled their displeasure with the bill by going dark. That day, several Congressmen dropped their support for SOPA and its Senate counterpart, PIPA. The latter bill has also been taken off the table for now.

SEE ALSO: Could SOPA Rise From the Dead? | RIP SOPA: The Internet Kills Its Attackers

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a statement Friday morning.

Smith’s stance comes just two days after he told The Wall Street Journal that he didn’t plan to back down on SOPA, telling the newspaper he expected to “move forward” with the bill in February.

SEE ALSO: Facebook ‘Relieved’ That SOPA Is Dead

Undercover police had children with activists | UK news | The Guardian

Undercover police had children with activists

Disclosure likely to intensify controversy over long-running police operation to infiltrate and sabotage protest groups

Bob Lambert, believed to be holding the son he fathered while working as an undercover policeman
Bob Lambert (far left), with his child. The undercover police officer had a relationship with a woman who is now taking action against the police

Two undercover police officers secretly fathered children with political campaigners they had been sent to spy on and later disappeared completely from the lives of their offspring, the Guardian can reveal.

In both cases, the children have grown up not knowing that their biological fathers – whom they have not seen in decades – were police officers who had adopted fake identities to infiltrate activist groups. Both men have concealed their true identities from the children's mothers for many years.

One of the spies was Bob Lambert, who has already admitted that he tricked a second woman into having a long-term relationship with him, as part of an intricate attempt to bolster his credibility as a committed campaigner.

The second police spy followed the progress of his child and the child's mother by reading confidential police reports which tracked the mother's political activities and life.

The disclosures are likely to intensify the controversy over the long-running police operation to infiltrate and sabotage protest groups.

Police chiefs claim that undercover officers are strictly forbidden from having sexual relationships with the activists they are spying on, describing the situations as "grossly unprofessional" and "morally wrong".

But that claim has been undermined as many of the officers who have been unmasked have admitted to, or have been accused of, having sex with the targets of their surveillance.

Last month eight women who say they were duped into forming long-term intimate relationships of up to nine years with five undercover policemen started unprecedented legal action. They say they have suffered immense emotional trauma and pain over the relationships, which spanned the period from 1987 to 2010.

Until now it was not known that police had secretly fathered children while living undercover. One of them is Lambert, who adopted a fake persona to infiltrate animal rights and environmental groups in the 1980s.

After he was unmasked in October, he admitted that as "Bob Robinson" he had conned an innocent woman into having an 18-month relationship with him, apparently so that he could convince activists he was a real person. She is one of the women taking the legal action against police chiefs.

Now the Guardian can reveal that in the mid-1980s, just a year into his deployment, Lambert fathered a boy with another woman, who was one of the activists he had been sent to spy on.

The son lived with his mother during the early years of his life as his parents' relationship did not last long. During that time, Lambert was in regular contact with the infant, fitting visits to him around his clandestine duties.

After two years, the mother married another man and both of them took responsibility for raising the child. Lambert says the woman was keen that he give up his legal right to maintaining contact with his son and cut him out of her new life. He says the agreement was reached amicably and he has not seen or heard of the mother or their son since then.

Lambert did not tell her or the child that he was a police spy as he needed to conceal his real identity from the political activists he was spying on. The Guardian is not naming the woman or the child to protect their privacy.

Lambert was married during his secret mission, which continued until 1988.

The highly secretive operation to monitor and disrupt political activists, which has been running for four decades, has come under mounting scrutiny since last year following revelations over the activities of Mark Kennedy, the undercover police officer who went rogue after burying himself deep in the environmental movement for seven years.

Police chiefs and prosecutors have set up 12 inquiries over the past year to examine allegations of misconduct involving police spies, but all of them have been held behind closed doors. There have been continuing calls, including from the former director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald, for a proper public inquiry.

The second case involves an undercover policeman who was sent to spy on activists some years ago. He had a short-lived relationship with a political activist which produced a child.

He concealed his real identity from the activist and child as he was under strict orders to keep secret his undercover work from her and the other activists in the group he infiltrated. He then disappeared, apparently after his superiors ended his deployment. Afterwards, she remained under surveillance as she continued to be politically active, while he carried on with his police career.

The Guardian understands that as he had access to the official monitoring reports, he regularly read details of her life with a close interest. He watched as she grew older and brought up their child as a single parent, according to an individual who is aware of the details of the case.

The policeman has been "haunted" by the experience of having no contact with the child, whom he thought about regularly, according to the individual.

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Friday, 20 January 2012

Food stamp families to critics: Walk in our shoes |

Food stamp families to critics: Walk in our shoes

JESSE WASHINGTON    Comment on this article 28
Published: January 19, 2012

Some have advanced degrees and remember middle-class lives. Some work selling lingerie or building websites. They are white, black and Hispanic, young and old, homeowners and homeless. What they have in common: They're all on food stamps.

As the food stamp program has become an issue in the Republican presidential primary, with candidates seeking to tie President Barack Obama to the program's record numbers, The Associated Press interviewed recipients across the country and found many who wished that critics would spend some time in their shoes.

Most said they never expected to need food stamps, but the Great Recession, which wiped out millions of jobs, left them no choice. Some struggled with the idea of taking a handout; others saw it as their due, earned through years of working steady jobs. They yearn to get back to receiving a paycheck that will make food stamps unnecessary.

"I could never have comprehended being on food stamps," said Christopher Jenks, who became homeless in his hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul after a successful career in sales and marketing.

He refused to apply for several years, even panhandling on a freeway exit ramp before finally giving in. A few months ago, while living in his car, he began receiving $200 per month.

"It's either that or I die," said Jenks, who grew up in a white, middle-class family and lost his job in the recession. "I want a job. So do a lot of other Americans that have been caught up in this tragedy."

In 2011, more than 45 million people — about one in seven Americans — received benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the most ever. Fewer than 31 million people collected the benefits about three years earlier.

Forty-nine percent of recipients are white, 26 percent are black and 20 percent are Hispanic, according to Census data.

Food assistance emerged as a campaign issue after statements by GOP candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum about African-Americans, the poor and Obama, whom Gingrich labeled the "best food stamp president in American history."

Critics accused Gingrich of seeking votes by invoking racial stereotypes about black welfare recipients with comments like "the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps." Challenged at a GOP debate this week on whether the rhetoric was insulting, Gingrich insisted it was not and received a standing ovation from the South Carolina audience.

Linda Miles is grateful to have food stamps, although she's not happy about why she needs them. An Army veteran with a master's degree, Miles, who is black, was laid off as a substitute teacher in Philadelphia amid deep budget cuts. After facing an empty refrigerator for too long, she recently started receiving $200 per month in food aid.

"Food stamps are essential, especially with the economy in the shape it's in," she said. "I pay taxes. I don't steal anything from the government. I paid my dues to society; I'm a veteran. You took something from me by taking away my job. I wouldn't need food stamps if you hadn't taken my job."

Miles started an unpaid internship this week, and also was certified to work in early childhood care while she looks for a permanent job.

"I'm not one of these people who sit on their butt and just collect a check," Miles said. "I've got a resume three pages long."

Ronnie McHugh was watching the GOP debate from home in Spring City, Pa. When Gingrich received the standing ovation, McHugh got so angry that she turned off the TV.

"I'd give a million dollars if I could find a job. I'm 64 years old, and no one wants to hire me," said McHugh, who is white, divorced, has no savings and lives off $810 per month in Social Security.

"I would like them to sit in my shoes," she said of the debate audience. "I would tell them I had a husband who made $150,000 a year, I had a good salary. We were both laid off at the same time by the same company, and I've never been able to rally from that."

"If they had a chance to sit in my shoes, they would be happy to have a program to help people who did work all their life."

Some critics say the Obama administration's policies have pushed people into dependency on food stamps. Eligibility rules were broadened in 2002 and 2008 before Obama took office; his 2009 stimulus package relaxed some work requirements and temporarily increased payouts.

For others, the recession, which pushed the unemployment rate as high as 10 percent and increased poverty, is the primary culprit.

The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger has seen a doubling of enrollments in suburban counties, with a smaller increase in the city itself. "These are much higher-income areas," said Julie Zaebst, the coalition's policy center manager. "This is part of the evidence showing that the most important reason for the growth in the program was the recession."

It was an injury that pushed Russell Johnson of Morgantown, W.Va., over the edge. He held down a steady refrigeration job until he fell off a roof six years ago. On Wednesday, he and his wife, Carolyn, used their food stamp card to buy $64.71 worth of groceries. That was more than half of their $102 monthly benefit.

"It's not enough, but it helps," Carolyn said. "I think it's a great program for the people who need it."

The Johnsons, who are white, maintain a big garden, hunt, fish and buy in bulk, like the 50-pound sack of potatoes in their cart. Carolyn also is disabled; they receive $763 per month in total disability payments.

They are furious with Gingrich. "I'd rather work than be on food stamps, but, I mean, my body says no. So what am I gonna do?" Russell said. "If I sit for too long, my back starts hurting and my leg goes numb. If I stand too long, the same old thing. And if I walk too much, my legs give out like they ain't even there."

He said the people criticizing food assistance eat at fancy restaurants and pay $25 for a sack of potatoes.

"Me, I'm dang lucky to get to go to McDonald's," Russell said.

About half of those receiving food aid are children. In Fresno, Calif., Josephine Gonzales has received assistance since becoming pregnant with her first child last fall. She is trained as a medical assistant and previously worked at an elementary school, but hasn't found a new job since giving birth.

"I use food stamps because I'm a single mom and I don't work, so I need a way to survive," said Gonzales, who is Hispanic. "Instead of spending the little cash I have on food, I can spend it on diapers and other things for my baby. It's just a small help. It's not making our lives luxurious."

Twanda Graham of Montgomery, Ala., started receiving food stamps when she graduated from high school 22 years ago. She has worked all that time, currently in a clothing store. She is unmarried with four children, and said she does not earn enough to feed her family.

Graham, who is black, believes she is paying for her assistance with taxes withheld from her paycheck: "They are not giving me anything for free."

Victoria Busby of Oklahoma City is a white single mom with two children. She has received food assistance intermittently since her first child was born two years ago. A high school graduate, she works part-time building websites for a manufacturing company, and aspires to become a nurse.

She is not ashamed about receiving aid. "I don't feel bad about it because my children need to eat. It's helped quite a bit."

Sophia Clark is a film school graduate in New York City who works part time at Victoria's Secret while she freelances on movie productions. In December she began receiving $130 per month because she couldn't afford to buy food after paying for rent, college loans and her cell phone.

"It was never, ever my intention to rely on public assistance in any way," said Clark, who is black and unmarried with no children.

Clark was recently entertaining a guest in the Bronx apartment she shares with her uncle when the dinner conversation turned to food stamps. The guest emphatically stated that his tax dollars should not feed people who prefer welfare over work.

She asked the guest if he had enjoyed the pasta with homemade pesto sauce. He had. "Do you find me a lazy person?" Clark asked. Not at all, the guest replied.

"Well," Clark said, "you just ate a dinner that was purchased with food stamps."



Chris Jenks:

Hunger Coalition:


Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. He is reachable at or jwashington(at)


Associated Press writers Jeff Amy in Jackson, Miss., Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala., Carrie Schedler in Indianapolis, Vicki Smith in Morgantown, W.Va., Tim Talley in Oklahoma City and Gosia Wozniacka in Fresno, Calif., contributed to this report.

Dietitians Are Buying Coke’s Line: Sugar, Fluoride, Artificial Colors are SAFE for Children! | Welcome to the Alliance for Natural Health - USA

Dietitians Are Buying Coke’s Line: Sugar, Fluoride, Artificial Colors are SAFE for Children!

June 14, 2011

coke ADAWe wish we could say we are surprised. Registered dietitians are now being given formal education by the Coca-Cola Company on how safe its ingredients are.

The credentialing arm of the American Dietetic Association, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), has approved a program created by the The Coca-Cola Company Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness.This covers what it calls “urban myths” about the safety of food ingredients. Participating in this program will earn registered dietitians Continuing Professional Education unit credits.

“Children’s Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions & Evidence Collide,” tells dietitians that fluoride, sugar, artificial colors and nonnutritive sweeteners have been “carefully examined for their effects on children’s health, growth, and development.” The presenter, Dr. Ronald Kleinman, “explores prevalent misconceptions about these food ingredients” and suggests ways the dietitian can help quell unnecessary “concern among parents about their children’s health.”

At first glance, Dr. Kleinman should know what he is talking about. He is physician-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, chief of the Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Nutrition Unit, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Couldn’t sound better, could it? But he has also received a great deal of money from industry sources—like artificial infant formula manufacturers Mead Johnson and Nestle Ltd. His study on optimal duration of breastfeeding was funded by Gerber Products. He also served as a paid expert witness for Gerber when they were sued for deceptive advertising. And he contributed to a brochure intended for children entitled “Variety’s Mountain” produced by the Sugar Association.

Now he’s being sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company and telling dietitians that the ingredients in Coke which everyone is alarmed about are safe. The dietitians, in turn, will be telling parents that their fears are unfounded, and Coke can sell more Coke to kids.

Program materials include gems like “[a] majority of studies so far have not found a link between sugar and behavior in children generally or children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” This is certainly news to us, since we have seen many studies that say the opposite. Apparently the dietitians are to teach us that any connection between artificial colors and neurotoxicity, or fears of the dangers of fluoride, are imaginary and come from hysterical (or at least unduly concerned) parents.

As we reported recently, sugar and artificial sweeteners are anything but safe. Fluoride poses a significant risk to the kidneys. And commonly used food dyes pose risks which include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. Even the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an organization that supports nuking food, agrees with this. And the British government and European Union have taken actions that are virtually ending the use of dyes throughout Europe.

The ADA is sponsored by the soda and junk food industries—which we feel greatly tarnishes the organization’s credibility. And you may recall that the ADA has mounted a state-by-state campaign to make sure that its Commission is the only one which will be accepted as a credentialing body for both registered dietitians and nutritionists.

There are, of course, significant philosophical differences between nutritionists and dietitians—they represent two different fields of study and practice. By accepting only a single credentialing agency—one run by the dietitians, not nutritionists—state boards are establishing a “one-size-fits-all” standard which removes all competition, essentially handing the ADA a government mandated monopoly over nutritional therapy.

Unfortunately, the Nevada bill we told you about last month passed both the Assembly and the Senate and was signed by the governor on June 5th. While some amendments were made, the most troubling parts of the bill still remain: only registered dietitians can practice “dietetics,” which is defined by the law to include nutrition assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, counseling, intervention, monitoring and treatment—everything that a good nutritionist does and should do.

We also told you about an ADA bill in New York, S.3556. The state’s Senate Finance Committee met on June 13 and decided to pass the bill to the Rules Committee so that it could be considered on the Senate floor. They are trying to rush these bills through, because next week the Assembly is scheduled to finish its work for the year, unless the chair calls a special session in the fall. Please click on our New York Action Alert here.

The ADA’s power grab is a complete travesty. We will keep fighting it state by state until we restore competition in nutritional counseling and stop gagging PhD-trained nutritionists who don’t become dietitians.


Torture killing at Kerobokan Penitentiary, same prison as Australian Schapelle Corby | Adelaide Now

Torture killing at Kerobokan Penitentiary, same prison as Australian Schapelle Corby


Bali's Kerobokan prison. Picture: File Source: Supplied

BALI Police are investigating a brutal murder at Kerobokan Penitentiary - the same prison that Australian Schapelle Corby is in.

The Jakarta Globe reports that a group of 13 inmates allegedly tortured and killed a 28-year-old prisoner, who had only been in the prison for one day.

The paper quoted Adj. Sr. Comr. Benny Arjanto, the Badung district police chief, who said the police had seized a bamboo pole, cane, four lighters and a plank of wood as evidence.

"The victim was sadistically tortured during this period, in which the perpetrators stubbed out lit cigarettes on his genitals among other things," he said.

He said police believed the death was a revenge killing.

Read the full story at The Jakarta Globe

Prisoner Died After Hours of Torture by Cellmates: Bali Police | The Jakarta Globe

Prisoner Died After Hours of Torture by Cellmates: Bali Police
Made Arya Kencana | January 17, 2012

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12:17pm Jan 19, 2012

What the heck.. happens world wide.. wherever wild animals roam regardless of 'religion' (how that entered the equation is beyond me) more so no doubt in 'lower economic environments' I'm no anthropologist or statition... I'd say the only place that is the exception, is perhaps one of Russia's maximum prisons where fraternization is completely impossible.. Can't remember the name. Fairly dehumanising, not much for rehabilitation.. but then that's probably the point. But then again no one gets hurt. Doesn't take a genius though to be aware American prisons are notorious for messed up crap on a daily basis. That said, I'd personally pay a life long mortgage sum so as never to be sent to an Asian prison, gods forbid.. Although if you gave me a spoon I may actually be set.

11:28pm Jan 18, 2012

happens in all jails to some degree i expect...???

8:35pm Jan 18, 2012


I think you need to retract that statement about Christian prisons in America. The only one I read about was to be in Oklahoma, a few years ago. Whether this proposal materialized or not...I don't know.

Like Kesiangan stated, this can happen in any part of the world, and I agree with him.

I am familiar with the Sermon on the Mount. Are you?

8:33pm Jan 18, 2012

Well, at least this matter is reported here. In the US they just reported it under "gangland violence": nothing to see, nothing to hear. The torture by cellmates is part of the punishment in the existing prison system all throughout the world. The dog pack aggresive behavious is enhanced with the prison environment. This is only one of the reported cases out of uncountable in the world, punishment doesn't work! Violence never works! What prison is trying to do is to suck-out the youth energy out of inmates, that bad energy is unleashed amongst inmates in prison. The fire & energy of the youth is best directed toward contribution to the society, all these criminals need is inspiration & the right direction, they don't know any better for the ones they're listening & model themselves after are those FPI - FUI thugs, police & village chiefs & gang heads. Human see Human do. Even with cctv no prison system can prevent violence, unless inmates are caged like animals, that won't work either.

7:32pm Jan 18, 2012

RTumenggung, you seem to be under the illusion that the west is Christian. It isn't. It is secular.

And what happens in western prisons happens because people are not living out the christian ethic.

"christian prisons"? I am not aware the christian church runs prisons or that prisons oin the west are specifically understood as affiliated with christianity.

I stand by what I said - whether or not people live it in the West or elsewhere - there are ideals in the Seromon on the Mount - google it and read it - that are unknown to many people in this country.

I find it intersting too when I google 'love' and find that the Koran urges people to be 'kind' - but not 'agape' - loving - self- giving; self-forgetful, self-sacrificing love - even to laying down your life for a friend and loving your enemies.

Love your enemies? I dont think the men in that cell would have understood that. And in this they are not alone. Such a logic is unknown to many here.

Denpasar. Bali Police are investigating a group of 13 inmates at the notorious Kerobokan Penitentiary over the brutal murder of another inmate there.

Adj. Sr. Comr. Benny Arjanto, the Badung district police chief, said on Tuesday that the 13 men were believed to have assaulted the victim, Edi Suwito, 28, over a 12-hour period on Jan. 11-12.

“The victim was sadistically tortured during this period, in which the perpetrators stubbed out lit cigarettes on his genitals among other things,” Benny said, adding that the perpetrators and the victims all shared the same cramped cell at Kerobokan.

He said Edi had only been at the prison for a day. He had been transferred there from the at-capacity Kuta Police jail. He had been arrested for alleged cellphone theft.

He was placed in the cell at 3 p.m. on Jan. 11 and immediately assaulted by the others, Benny said. Edi was found dead at 4 a.m. the next day.

“Among the items that we’ve seized as evidence include a bamboo pole, a cane, four lighters and a plank of wood,” Benny said.

He said the motive for the vicious attack appeared to be a long-running grudge between the victim and Ahmad Yusuf, one of the 13 other inmates.

“It appears the victim once conned the suspect’s family out of a sum of money, and the suspect had been holding a grudge since then,” he said.

Benny added that to try and cover up their attack, the inmates lied to prison officials and said that Edi had committed suicide by repeatedly banging his head into the wall.

“We didn’t buy that, especially because the autopsy showed all kinds of wounds that could not have been self-inflicted,” he said.

Police are also looking into why the assault was allowed to take place over a 12-hour period without prison officials noticing anything.

“We want to know where the prison guards were that whole time,” Benny said.

Bowo Nariwono, the Kerobokan warden, said his officers had not heard any noises coming from the cell that indicated someone inside was being killed.

“Maybe it was raining at the time so the guards didn’t hear any screams,” he said.

“Besides, that cell was in a block that was far away.”

He did not elaborate what it was far from or why no guards had patrolled the area.

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