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MA. Legislators Consider Regulating High Security Bioterror Research, Many Hopeful Sanity Will Prevail
bioterror.jpgState Representative Frank Smitzik was forced to make liberal use of his gavel chairing the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture public hearing on HR 1397 -An Act to Protect Public Health and the Environment from Toxic Biological Agents- earlier this month as an enthusiastic crowd of over 300 fans of the resolution repeatedly burst into applause when they felt their side had scored a good point.

Representative Gloria Fox, whose 7th Suffolk district includes the proposed site of labratory, is sponsoring the bill. In her opening comments at the june 9 hearing, describing HR 1397, which would provide comprehensive state regulation for BSL4 labs in Massachusetts, Fox acknowledged the large diverse crowd that had come out to show their support, “We have students, scientists, public health experts, and community activists as well as politicians here today,” Fox said.

BUMC has been working to open its laboratory in the South End of Boston, on the border of Roxbury for over two years. The NIAID grant funded project would be only the fifth level 4 laboratory operating in the United States.

According to a press release from Fox’s office, “presently there are no federal or state laws that regulate high security laboratories.”
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21 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Social Welfare : Technology
Opinion: America's Corporate Benedict Arnolds
BENDICT.jpg“That’s un-American” is the cry heard whenever the unwritten code of American values is breached, Compassion, fairness and equal opportunity are hallmarks, and although you might not be able to recite chapter and verse of the code, you know when it is broken.

On this the 204th anniversary of the death of Benedict Arnold, one of America’s most famous traitors, it’s time to consider whether some of America’s largest corporations that pay little or no federal taxes, have indeed become traitors.

Large corporations are in full retreat from paying their fair share of taxes. In 2003, corporations paid just 7% of the cost of the US government, according to a study by Citizens for Tax Justice.

It wasn’t always this way. At the end of the Second World War, a time when paying taxes was viewed as a patriotic duty, corporations paid half the cost of the federal government. Even as recently as the 1970s, corporate taxes accounted for 20% of federal treasury receipts.
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16 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Politics : Social Welfare
Holyoke struggles to keep wastewater as a public utility
kelda.jpgKelda may sell Aquarion, US profits fall 21% in 2004.
Holyoke deal falls on even shakier ground.

The UK Independent reports “Kelda mulls the sell-off of its not so profitable US subsidiary” as Aquarion reports a 21% fall in profits in 2004. Residents and DPW workers in Holyoke, Massachusetts, facing a 20-year, $176 million contract with Aquarion Services Company, should be worried. The main selling points of the contract have been the purported savings to ratepayers and the sweetheart deal promised to the current workers, which maintains existing pay and benefits. Workers will already lose civil service protection in the Aquarion deal, and what more will they lose if Aquarion is sold? Can Aquarion really save the city millions if under the gun to show a profit to Kelda shareholders?
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31 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Labor : Social Welfare
Smashing the State, Chuck Turner Style
chuck.jpgThe angry anarchists tore through Boston’s business district, their banners flying high, their rambunctious chants demanding that the people take to the streets in protest of two years of war in Iraq. O­n the front lines, linked arm in arm with the anarchists, was good old Chuck - Boston’s notorious city councilor. With a bald head, stylish white goatee, and leather jacket, the African-American politician has represented Boston’s District Seven, encompassing much of Boston’s minority community, since 1999. “I’m still impressed by […] Chuck Turner MARCHING with the unpermitted march, then standing up in between cops and the youth they sought to beat or arrest, and going over to the jail, and staying there until 10:30 PM or so,” said Amatul in an o­nline discussion of the March 20th protest posted o­n the website of the Boston Independent Media Center (Indymedia), a local anti-authoritarian news agency. “I really liked his vibe.”
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20 May 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare
Solidarity shines through on a rainy May Day, Part 2
brocktonkids.jpgSunday, May 1st BOSTON- Felix Arroyo, Maria Elena Letona of Centro Presente, and many others spoke in front of a damp but festive crowd of more than 500 representing immigrant communities from all over Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts this Sunday in Copley Square. For this one day a year and, as one young speaker expressed, hopefully for the other 364, widely disparate immigrant communities joined together to address and rally around the issues that affect them all.

Counter protestors did show up, but were largely ignored at their spot far to one side of the rally, save for the corporate press who can’t resist portraying every political story as a perfectly evenly balanced battle of wits. Sorry, not this time.

What I saw was a building of community. People who, usually divided by neighborhood, disparate needs, cultures, or languages, came together to address some issues common to all.
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03 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Labor : Race : Social Welfare
Anti-Vivisection Activists Had A Busy Month
P4150039withbanner.jpgOn Saturday, April 16 and Saturday, April 30 members of animal rights groups such as The Animal Defense League of Boston (ADL), The Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition (MARC) and Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN) marched, rallied, chanted and otherwise expressed their disdain for the animal experimentation that happens with help from their tax dollars in their own home state.

viv·i·sec·tion - n. -The act or practice of cutting into or otherwise injuring living animals, especially for the purpose of scientific research. [from dictionary.com]

Harvard Medical School's "New England Regional Primate Research Center" or NERPRC was the focus of these protests although many universities and private companies in Massachusetts experiment on animals, including M.I.T., Tufts University, and Charles River Laboratories.
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02 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare
May Day and the Haymarket martyrs
3martyrs_photos.gifMay Day - the real labor day

"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voice you are throttling today."
- August Spies from the gallows.

May 1st, International Workers' Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in every country except the United States and Canada. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour work day.

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.
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30 Apr 2005 | Filed under: News / International : Labor : Organizing : Race : Social Welfare
Your Risk, Their Gain: Wall Street CEOs Lobby for Social Security Privatization
Would you be upset if someone spent millions of dollars to put your future retirement funds into a casino, while taking no risks with their own future?

Say hello to the Wall Street CEOs whose companies are aggressively lobbying for Social Security privatization. Because of their bloated compensation packages, these CEOs pay Social Security taxes only a few days a year.
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13 Apr 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Politics : Social Welfare
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