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CORI Checks Haunt Millions in Massachusetts
Around 2 million people in Massachusetts have criminal records that are accessible by potential employers, public housing officials, and sometimes any member of the public. Last Wednesday, the local Union of Minority Neighborhoods kicked off a campaign to change the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system by holding a public organizing meeting. In this radio piece, Ronald -- a Boston native who's spent 25+ years in jail -- talks about the difficulties, underlying racism, and possible reforms to CORI checks in Massachusetts.
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11 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Race
Second Case of Mad Cow Disease Hits the U.S.
cow_downed3.jpgAUDIO: A year and a half after the first case of mad cow disease was discovered in this country, the U.S. government came forward Friday, June 24th, with news of the second case of Mad Cow Disease in the US. According to an initial report, this cow, at least eight years old, was found crippled and covered in manure, apparently suffering from dementia. She was discovered last November. U.S. officials took tissue samples, incinerated her corpse, and declared her free of the disease after initial tests. However, a recent round of tests conducted at a lab in England determined this cow did have the disease.

Meanwhile, outbreaks of the bird flu loom on the horizon. While relatively harmless levels of the flu, which is carried by chickens, cycle through U.S. farms on a regular basis, very harmful levels may appear in U.S. chickens soon. Two bird flu pandemics actually claimed the lives of over 100, 000 people in the U.S. during the 20th century. Some researchers are warning that another pandemic is coming again.
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03 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Social Welfare
Millionaires and War
Was there ever a time when Congressional tax cuts for multi-millionaires were more unseemly?

Recently President Bush spoke about the war in Iraq on national TV, asking Americans to be patient and to bear in silence the heavy sacrifice of American soldiers’ lost lives. That number is getting close to 2000.
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02 Jul 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Politics : Social Welfare
Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
melida 1.gifOn June 22, Rhode Island governor Donald Carcieri vetoed the Family Childcare Providers Business Opportunity Act of 2005. The act would have allowed the state's 1,300 licensed and hundreds of other unlicensed home-based day care providers, members of the union SEIU 1199, to bargain collectively with the state for wages and benefits.

As wages fall behind inflation for most workers, and welfare payments are eliminated, the home based day care workers have become essential for working parents in Rhode Island. The day care fees are subsidized for thirteen thousand parents by the state, although these subsidies are being cut to pay for tax cuts for the richest Rhode Islanders. But the day care workers are poorly compensated for their central role in the state's economy. The Day Care Justice Co-Op, an organization of day care workers that preceeded the union drive, found that after deducting for the cost of childrens' toys, books, food, safety equipment, and sometimes assistants, the day care workers, mostly black and latina women, ended up with a wage of only $2.76 per hour, less than the legal minimum wage.
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28 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Gender : Labor : Race : Social Welfare
Food Not Bombs Holds 25th Anniversary Gathering in Philly
Audio: Philadelphia was recently the home of the 25th anniversary gathering of an international, grassroots, volunteer-run free-food project called Food Not Bombs. Food not bombs shares free food in cities all around the country – from Portland, to New York, to San Antonio – by rescuing waste from markets and redistributing it to hungry people. Homefries in Boston has more on the gathering -- including several interviews -- in the posted mp3.
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26 Jun 2005 Modified: 27 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Politics : Social Welfare
Review: Batman Shrugged
batman copy.jpgWhat if Ayn Rand and Mussolini got together to write a Hollywood movie? The result would look something very like Batman Begins--the new blockbuster prequel to the Batman screen franchise.

Now, admittedly, the Batman worldview--be it in comic, graphic novel, or movie form--has never been very progressive. But its timeless noir myth about a good-but-flawed man fighting for his own kind of justice in a cruel world has resonated with people across the political spectrum for decades now. Because it's hard to argue that there aren't nasty criminals, bad cops and corrupt politicians out there in dire need of some comeupance. And I'm sure it was refreshing back in the 1930s when the original comic series was launched to see a hero comfortable enough with his sexuality to fight crime in a tight-fitting bat suit.

Still this latest Batman film outing leaves much to be desired--despite the many promising innovations that have steered the movie series away from the fantastical and towards the more recognizable, but still properly archetypal, settings and plot devices that clearly relate to viewers everyday lives. Director Christopher Nolan, famed for the 2001 cult hit, Memento, actually made realism his mantra for the movie--according to interviews on the Batman Begins website. For example, aside from a futuristic monorail system and a Dickensian paupers' quarter ("The Narrows"), Batman's hometown, Gotham, looks pretty much like any modern metropolis. It's also worth noting that, surprisingly, there was not a single recognizable "product shot" in entire film. Not a Coke (or Nokia, or Lexus) logo in sight.
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24 Jun 2005 Modified: 27 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Review / Media
In Philadelphia, Biotech Devils Gone Home, Protesters Still in Jail - Update
5015.jpgAs the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) held their June 19-22 international corporate convention in downtown Philadelphia, people from across the country converged to bring attention to BIO's closed-door agenda of medicine for profit, genetically engineered agriculture and bioweapons proliferation.

Philly Indymedia reported that as many as 13 people got arrested, including one minor. Seven of them are still in jail with outrageous jail bails bonds ranging from 9,000 to 100,000 dollars.

While chasing protesters in front of the Convention Center, Philadelphia Police Officer Paris Williams had a cardiac arrest and passed away. According to both demonstrators and police, he was not involved in the scuffle.

SEE FULL ARTICLE FOR UPDATES
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23 Jun 2005 Modified: 24 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights
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
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