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Tidbits - January 21, 2016 - Sanders' Health for All Plan; Flint's Water; Richard Levins - Presente!; A Park for Pete Seeger; Action for Puerto Rico, for Saudi Arabia; Ursula Le Guin; and more...

Reader Comments: Sanders' Health for All Plan; Deportations; Flint's Water; Richard Levins - Presente!; Add Your Name - End All U.S. Support for the Government of Saudi Arabia; Your Action Needed - A Park for Pete Seeger; Action for Puerto Rico; Ursula K. Le Guin Rips Bundy Militia in 194 words; Making All of the World's Art Accessible to Anyone Online - Ansel Adams photography; and more...

Tidbits, Reader Comments, and Announcements - January 21, 2016,Portside
Sander's gets talking Universal Health Care Plan which is freaking the F-bomb out of Hillary's campaign..... "He wants to dismantle ACA and start all over again!!! We cannot go back there ever again!!!!" what does that tell us? The candidate is starting to get somewhat more real about his brand (and it is a brand) of social democracy. This would amount to a national governmental attempt to address basic questions of private and public ownership of wealth, power and privilege. Interesting.
Larry Aaronson
Sanders figures are almost exactly what Physicians for a National Health Program reported several years ago after doing an analysis on single payer. What's more, an analysis of HR 676 (Rep. John Conyers' plan) rendered similar numbers. If this wrinkled old retired longshoreman was able to ferret out those facts, why weren't media hacks able to do the same? That is a rhetorical question. Drug companies, for-profit hospitals, and insurers all buy TV advertising space. The media does not want to bite the hand that feeds it, even if that means withholding the truth from we the people.
Richard Austin
Act to stop the Deportation Raids! Thanks!
Journalists today are faced with a daunting task: doing their job in a toxic political atmosphere. It has sometimes reached bizarre proportions. A woman supporting Donald Trump, when told by the reporter interviewing her that what Trump had said was false, she thought for a moment then replied, 3Yes, but he'll get things done. It is evident from the wide support Trump is receiving that she is not alone in the abandonment of reason in this campaign.
However, that does not relieve journalists from their responsibility to hold politicians to account for lies, misstatements and half-truths. That is their calling. Not doing so gives credence to bullies like Donald Trump < who, despite his professed 3hatey for the media, gets more coverage than anyone else in this tortuous election campaign.
Seymour Joseph
This news "junkie" is terribly disappointed.  Al Jazeera has filled in where MSNBC has completely become a disaster (and that includes resident "liberals" Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow.)  Free Speech is wonderful but it doesn't have much hard news.  It will be sorely missed.
Claire Carsman
[Matt Wuerker is the Politico cartoonist and illustrator, the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning (a finalist in 2009 & 2010) and Herblock Prize in 2010]
The Snyder strip was right-on except;  the governor never wears a tie when dealing with state's part of his "lack of respect" feeling for Detroit, Flint, and other Michigan elements.
Stephen Kober
This is all good and may bring about some changes. However as far as I'm concerned, until leftists/progressives or whatever they want to call themselves develop and build their own economy not a whole lot will change. The only place on earth where something like that has taken place was in the Modrigons in Spain. Even they are not a panacea .I don't think there is such a thing. If anyone thinks that anyone who controls wealth is going to give that up and share is dreaming. Yes some things can be made better but it is limited unless you control your own wealth.
William Friesen
En realidad la sociedad norteamericana es un crisol de ciudadanos de todo el mundo. Sus fuerzas militares están colmadas de latinoamericanos y afroamericanos. Que buscan la acepatación por una sociedad racista y discriminante. Y su fundamento productivo igual se basa en la fuerza de trabajo de migrantes.
Maria Guadalupe Moreno Piñon
Very useful - especially for those who grew up after the Vietnam War.
The U.S. gov't used many forms of chemical warfare against the Vietnamese people and land, with terrible results.
Diane Laison
Lots of variety. Not surprised.
Mary Jo Comerford
Concerned about what's in store for the working class if things don't take a revolutionary direction an soon....Read about this new year of ours and the crisis of Imperialism..
William Proctor
This is frightening.
Ken Roseman
Makes a lot of sense to me -- I've observed the approach of demographic suicide for years now, and wondered why so few, especially among Israeli politicians, have seemed to recognize it's coming.
Joanne Perriens
Rest in Power to Dr. Richard Levins, who passed away yesterday. He was an inspiring scientist who worked to unite science with revolutionary movements in his time. His work has inspired us to pursue a long and challenging effort to reorganize Science for the People, as this organization was a leading light in exposing the complicity of scientists in global oppression, while demonstrating the capacity of scientists to engage in revolutionary work stateside, in Vietnam, China, Nicaragua, and elsewhere. Thanks for all you did Dr. Levins!
See a recent talk of his here:

Richard Levins (1930-2016), one of our authors, has died. Levins, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, was a "red diaper baby" - namely his parents, being communists, raised him as such. His wife - Rosario Morales - involved him in the politics of her native Puerto Rico, where he was active in the anti-war and independence struggles. Levins trained as a biologist, and with his colleague Richard Lewontin, published a landmark book - The Dialectical Biologist (Harvard University Press, 1985) - 'part makes up the whole, and whole makes up the part," they wrote, drawing from the Marxist tradition and against the positivism of their colleagues. Levins, a member of the Communist Party, was a warm and delightful man. When we asked him to collect some of his essays for a LeftWord volume in 2007, he was thrilled. The book - Talking About Trees: Science, Ecology and Agriculture in Cuba (2008) - is our tribute to this wonderful scientist. The book opens with an essay - the Living the 11th Thesis - which is a lovely memoir of this radical scientist. Thanks for your life and work. We salute you.

If you wish to add your name to the statement, see the emerging list of signers and their affiliations, please go to the Campaign for Peace and Democracy website. Individuals having difficulty signing on should contact CPD directly at; organizations that wish to endorse the statement should also contact CPD by email.  
We call on the Obama administration to end the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia and to stop providing the Saudi regime with military and diplomatic support. The execution in January of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an opponent of both Sunni and Shiite sectarianism and an advocate of a non-violent strategy, is only the most recent example of the barbarity of the Saudi dictatorship; the government carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, many of them by grisly beheadings. (1) Saudi Arabia's outrageous oppression of women is well known and, as Amnesty International has documented, the regime systematically represses dissent with flogging and other forms of torture, equates criticism of the government and other peaceful activities with terrorism, and continues to discriminate against the country's Shia minority. Washington has issued only pro-forma expressions of "concern" about these human rights violations, while in practice maintaining solid support for the Saudi regime.
The Saudi Kingdom has long played a reactionary role across the Middle East with such actions as supporting Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to the bitter end and then supporting the repressive Sisi regime that came to power in a coup. When the Arab Spring spread to Bahrain, the Saudi government sent troops into that country to buttress the brutal repression of protesters. In Yemen, the Saudis are engaging in indiscriminate bombings resulting in the death of thousands of innocent civilians. Notwithstanding Saudi Arabia's reactionary domestic and regional policies, the Obama administration has approved new arms sales agreements with the regime, amounting to $50 billion, while American companies train thousands of Saudi military personnel. And Washington supports Saudi Arabia's deadly war in Yemen, supplying bombs (including deadly cluster bombs), refueling, and logistical assistance.
Washington justifies its alliance with the Saudis and other dictators in the name of defeating ISIS and preserving regional "stability." But the effect of U.S. policy is the opposite. Authoritarian regimes, both secular and sectarian, that have been consistently or intermittently supported by Washington -- like those in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Iran under the Shah, and Iraq both before and after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein -- have fueled the rise of Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other murderous theocratic movements. The only way such groups can be decisively and sustainably defeated is by the victory of grassroots movements for democracy and social justice across the region -- from Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Iran, Syria and beyond.
The United States and other Western powers bear responsibility for enabling the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda not only because of their support for repressive regimes, but also because of their disastrous military interventions. In addition, the West has pressured countries throughout the Middle East to adopt harsh neoliberal policies that have cut social programs and reduced the already miserable living standards of ordinary people. When most of the mass movements of the Arab Spring for democracy and basic economic rights were crushed, jihadism gained in appeal. Moreover, Israel's denial of the basic rights of the Palestinian people -- a policy that receives massive support from Washington -- has produced legitimate anger across the region, anger that has often been hijacked by authoritarian fundamentalists in the absence of a progressive solution.
To be sure, the United States and the other Western countries are not solely responsible for the rise of groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Other regional powers like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran share responsibility, and Russia, by backing Assad's brutal dictatorship, has made its own catastrophic contribution. However, a new democratic, peaceful and just U.S. foreign policy could start to reverse the horrific downward spiral of politics in the Middle East. An important element of such a policy would be for the United States to end all forms of support for the Saudi government. At the same time, we offer our solidarity and support to the brave Saudi women and men -- many of them behind bars -- who are working for democratic change, as we offer support to all movements in the Middle East that struggle for democracy and challenge inequality and repression. They are our hope.
1. Although many of the 47 prisoners executed by Saudi Arabian authorities on Jan. 2, 2016 were beheaded, at this writing the Saudi government has given no information as to how al-Nimr was put to death or released his body to his family. The text of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy statement, which had originally stated that al-Nimr was beheaded, has been changed to reflect the lack of clarity on this issue.
After this year, I never want to see Donald Trump's name again.
You can't seem to open a newspaper these days without finding a headline about his latest hateful proposal. He doesn't reflect the values we hold in our district - but right now, we're stuck with a park named after him.
My friends in the state Senate say it's high time that Donald J. Trump State Park got a new name, and I couldn't agree more.
Our community should honor people who have made our country a better place for everyone. That's why I want to rename the park after local hero Pete Seeger - the man who fought to clean up the Hudson River, helped voice the anthem of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and deserves this lasting tribute.
If you're as tired of seeing Trump's name as I am, add your name to urge New York officials to rename Donald J. Trump State Park after Pete Seeger!
Let's join in Pete's mission by sending a strong message that our community won't tolerate Trump's bigotry.
Sean Patrick Maloney
Hi - my name is Oliver, and I work at Artsy. While researching Ansel Adams, I found your page. I wanted to briefly tell you about Artsy's Ansel Adams page, and about our mission.
We strive to make all of the world's art accessible to anyone online. Our Ansel Adams page, for example, provides visitors with Adams's bio, over 90 of his works, exclusive articles, as well as up-to-date Adams exhibition listings. The page even includes related artist & category tags, plus suggested contemporary artists, allowing viewers to continue exploring art beyond our Adams page.
I'm contacting certain website & blog owners, and asking them to help us achieve our mission by adding a link to Artsy's Ansel Adams page. In addition to spreading the word about our page, I believe your site visitors would enjoy this content.
"A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed."
-Ansel Adams
Join us for a discussion about the results of the elections, new challenges for the Bolivarian process, and building International Solidarity.
Friday, January 22nd at 7:00pm
SEIU Local 1199
330 West 42nd Street
First Floor
New York
We say NO to colonialism and to the illegal occupation of our nation. We say NO to the attacks of Wall Street, the vulture funds and Washington against our people and our nation. WE say it's time for Puerto Rico to become an INDEPENDENT and FREE NATION!
Saturday, January 30, 2016 - 2:30 to 4:00pm
26 Federal Plaza on Broadway in Lower Manhattan
A Call to Action on Puerto Rico is a collective of groups and individuals of the Puerto Rican diaspora seeking solutions to the crisis in Puerto Rico from an anti-colonial perspective. Through educational activities and demonstrations the group promotes real action emerging from the communities for the well being of our people on the island.

By Ryan Koronowski
January 19, 2016
Award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin has lived in Oregon for more than half a century, and has regularly visited the region surrounding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 45 years. Ever since armed militants took over the refuge in a dispute over ranching fees on public lands, Le Guin has "been following the situation very closely," she said in an email to ThinkProgress.
So when she saw an article titled "Effort to free federal lands" in the Sunday Oregonian, she did what any self-respecting, world-renowned author would do. 
She wrote an epic Letter to the Editor that was a spirited defense of American public lands:
The Oregonian's A1 headline on Sunday, Jan. 17, "Effort to free federal lands," is inaccurate and irresponsible. The article that follows it is a mere mouthpiece for the scofflaws illegally occupying public buildings and land, repeating their lies and distortions of history and law.
Ammon Bundy and his bullyboys aren't trying to free federal lands, but to hold them hostage. I can't go to the Malheur refuge now, though as a citizen of the United States, I own it and have the freedom of it. That's what public land is: land that belongs to the public - me, you, every law-abiding American. The people it doesn't belong to and who don't belong there are those who grabbed it by force of arms, flaunting their contempt for the local citizens.
Those citizens of Harney County have carefully hammered out agreements to manage the refuge in the best interest of landowners, scientists, visitors, tourists, livestock and wildlife. They're suffering more every day, economically and otherwise, from this invasion by outsiders.
Instead of parroting the meaningless rants of a flock of Right-Winged Loonybirds infesting the refuge, why doesn't The Oregonian talk to the people who live there?
Ursula K. Le Guin
Northwest Portland
Le Guin told ThinkProgress that the letter was printed unchanged, and she "got a pleasant note informing me it was to be published," but nothing more from the paper or the author. A request for comment to the Oregonian's public editor went unanswered as of publication.
The science fiction author is not alone in wanting the ranchers to return Malhuer to the public. Most Western voters, according to a recent poll, disagree with Bundy and do not want the states to take over public lands.
"We have been going out to the Steens Mountain area, on and near the Wildlife Refuge, for 45 years - first to teach summer classes at the field station, later just to be there in the grand high desert country," she said. "We spend a week every summer on a cattle ranch very close to Refuge lands. I am proud to consider the family who own the ranch and the local hotel as friends, and I have learned a great deal from them. The Refuge Headquarters is a quiet, fragile, beautiful little oasis that is particularly dear to us."
Le Guin, the Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning author of such sci-fi and fantasy classics as A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Dispossessed, often writes about political organization and environmentalism.
She believes the state and federal government "should speak up loud and clear in support and defense of the law-abiding citizens of Burns and the whole region."
"They should make it clear - by words first, then by deliberate actions - that ranting about the Constitution does not get you a permit to break the law, fail to pay your grazing fees, cut a rancher's fences, steal government cars, misuse public property, and keep a lot of good American citizens under a stupid, brutal reign of terror for (now) 18 days," she said. "How much longer? Enough is enough!"
The daily cost of the illegal occupation totals $133,400 per day, according to a ThinkProgress estimate
Le Guin said the standoff would go on as long as the government allows it to, "unless they choose to leave it up to the Bundy boys and their daddy and their buddies."
Asked if she thought Bundy and his "bullyboys" would take their spare time in the refuge to write any good fiction, Le Guin replied, "Yep. When pigs fly."