Health

Thumbnail image for Ocean Acidification Could Cause Many Species To Go Extinct

Ocean Acidification Could Cause Many Species To Go Extinct

by John Lawrence 08.26.2014 Environment

By John Lawrence

As the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere continues to increase, a certain portion of that gets absorbed by the oceans. This year alone some two and a half billion tons of CO2 will be absorbed by the oceans. That represents seven pounds pumped into the seas by every American.

Oceans cover seventy percent of the earth’s surface, and everywhere the oceans and the atmosphere come into contact there is an exchange of gases. When this exchange is in balance, there is no problem. But when the atmosphere’s gaseous composition has been changed, which it has since the industrial revolution, the exchange becomes lopsided. More COgoes into the ocean than comes out.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, humans have burned through enough fossil fuels to add 365 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere. Deforestation has added another 180 billion tons. Each year we add another nine billion tons or so, and that amount has been increasing 6 percent annually. Today the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is 400 parts per million (PPM). This is higher than it has been at any time in the last 800,000 years.

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As Abortion Rights Shrink, What’s the Best Language to Use to Protect Women’s Options?

by Source 08.19.2014 Activism

As leaders like Planned Parenthood are dropping “pro-choice” language, is there a smart alternative—and should there be one?

By Alyssa Figueroa / AlterNet

Planned_Parenthood_HCR
Across America, reproductive freedom is shrinking. Even with Alabama’s recent court victory protecting abortion rights in that deep red state, the overwhelming trend is very discouraging.

Red-state Republicans have shut down clinics in states like Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld protesters’ right to harass women going to clinics. State legislatures haveenacted 21 new abortion restrictions so far this year. Worse yet, recent research has found that while many young women support the substance of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the right to end pregnancies, they are still apt to label themselves pro-life.

What’s going wrong? There’s no one answer. But a striking development is that the reproductive health movement is backing away from its longtime “pro-choice” label. Planned Parenthood has recently decided to drop it in favor of newer messaging that seeks to connect abortion with a wide range of women’s issues.

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Thumbnail image for Kaiser Family Foundation: 3.4 Million Uninsured Californians Now Covered

Kaiser Family Foundation: 3.4 Million Uninsured Californians Now Covered

by Source 07.31.2014 Government

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

The Kaiser Family Foundation has been conducting a longitudinal panel survey on the uninsured in California. The organization focused on that state because California has had such a large portion of the nation’s uninsured, and its experience has national implications. As does the finding that, thanks to California’s success with Obamacare, there are 3.4 million fewer uninsured people now.

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Thumbnail image for Premiere Video Learning Tool Gives Power Back to the Communities

Premiere Video Learning Tool Gives Power Back to the Communities

by At Large 07.31.2014 Activism

Environmental Health Coalition Launches “Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Community Planning to Overcome Injustice”

By Environmental Health Coalition

On Monday, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an organization fighting toxic pollution in San Diego and Tijuana, released its video learning tool to empower residents to speak up and advocate for positive changes to their communities. Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Community Planning to Overcome Injustice is a bilingual video demonstrating the impacts of discriminatory land-use in San Diego and teaching community members how to achieve environmental justice in seven empowering steps.

This series of strategic planning techniques has led to great successes for low-income communities of color in San Diego. In Old Town National City, this process guided residents to provide input and influence policy in their community to achieve a collective vision. In 2006, residents successfully advocated for adoption of an ordinance to phase out heavy polluters from a predominately residential area in close proximity to a local elementary school. In 2010, the city implemented the Westside Specific Plan, bringing affordable housing units within walking distance of public transit and vastly improving the quality of life in Westside National City.

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Thumbnail image for As the Downtown Drama on Minimum Wage Plays Out, Fast Food Workers Talk Civil Disobedience

As the Downtown Drama on Minimum Wage Plays Out, Fast Food Workers Talk Civil Disobedience

by Doug Porter 07.28.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Mayor Faulconer and his Chamber of Commerce puppeteers may not be willing to acknowledge it, but the train has left the station when it comes to minimum wages. They may think they can stop it, but they are wrong. The momentum to do something, anything about rampant economic inequality in the US is reaching critical mass.

Hizzoner met privately with advocates for increasing the minimum wage and earned sick leave on Friday, telling them while he appreciated their concerns, he was planning on vetoing an ordinance proposed by City Council President Todd Gloria. Any veto will likely be overridden by the Democratic super-majority on the Council.

Opponents of the measure are also threatening an initiative drive, which would have the effect of postponing implementation until a vote takes place in June, 2016. They are pointing to self-sponsored surveys saying as many as 14% of businesses would leave the city should the increases occur.

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Thumbnail image for Pulling Back the Curtain of Production Concealment

Pulling Back the Curtain of Production Concealment

by Source 07.26.2014 Business

By Erik Loomis / Lawyers, Guns & Money

Concealment.

This is primary benefit of outsourcing work and supplies from the United States. That goods are produced far, far away from the eyes of consumers benefits the corporations tremendously.

It means that when the Rana Plaza factory in Savar, Bangladesh collapses, no Americans see the deaths that result from a system that provides them cheap clothing at Wal-Mart, Gap, and other retailers. That’s very different from the Triangle Fire, when New Yorkers were outraged when they personally saw the deaths of the women who made their clothing. They acted and conditions in the textile factories improved.

Today, most of us have absolutely no idea what the conditions of work are in the places that make our clothing, that grow our food, that produce our paint and glass and steel and auto parts. That’s exactly how companies want it. …

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Thumbnail image for Dude, Is It Legal Yet?

Dude, Is It Legal Yet?

by At Large 07.24.2014 Business

The answer is ‘Yes!’  as Washington and Colorado have moved to legalization, nine states have decriminalized and twenty-three have introduced medical marijuana legislation.

By Marc Snelling / OB Rag

Dude, is it legal yet?

People have been saying this since the seventies.  Speaking to activists from this era, it seems many felt that legalization of marijuana in the US was imminent in the early seventies. But other than Alaska in 1975 (re-criminalized in 1991) the seventies did not see legalization of marijuana come to pass.

The activists of the seventies (Baby Boomers) have now been joined by the next generation – the children of the seventies (Gen X).  With these two generations working together public support for legal marijuana is now over 50% and is on the rise.  Victories in the battle to change US laws continue as both generations of activists work towards change.

Today the answer to ‘Dude, is it legal yet?’ is becoming ‘Yes!’ for more and more people as Washington and Colorado have moved to legalization, nine states have decriminalized and twenty-three have introduced medical marijuana legislation.

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Thumbnail image for California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

by Source 07.22.2014 Environment

By Abrahm Lustgarten / ProPublica

California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state’s drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

The state’s Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal “poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources.” The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells.

The action comes as California’s agriculture industry copes with a drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2 billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California Davis.

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Thumbnail image for Summer gardens coming on strong in San Diego!

Summer gardens coming on strong in San Diego!

by Susan Taylor 07.19.2014 Culture

By Susan Taylor

Hello fellow gardeners. How does your garden grow? Here in San Diego it is mid summer with temperatures in the mid 90s, five miles in from the beach and further east. Watering enough? Perhaps you have over watered your tomato vines as I have resulting in way more vine than fruit. Might be time to fertilize your beds with an organic fertilizer or fish emulsion. If you have garden veggies that are looking stressed from the heat and are not productive, do pull them out-there’s time to re-plant beans, squash, basil and other herbs.

In San Diego it is still too early for fall planting, let’s hang back a bit. If you have stone fruits they should be ripening nicely and good luck with keeping the birds from getting their fair share! This wasn’t a good year in my garden for apricots but there’s enough peaches for sure; I say there’s some peach crisp and jam in the household’s future unless I keep eating them out of hand from the trees.

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Thumbnail image for The Little Thing Our Cities Can Do to Inspire Millions More People to Bike

The Little Thing Our Cities Can Do to Inspire Millions More People to Bike

by Source 07.13.2014 Health

Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles.

By Jay Walljasper / AlterNet

You can see big changes happening across North America as communities from Fairbanks to St. Petersburg transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just cars and trucks.

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users—busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”

Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means— and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special bike traffic lights and painted crossings at intersections.  Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.

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Thumbnail image for Carl DeMaio’s Solutions for the Border Refugee Crisis? “Send ‘em Home” and “Send Me Money”

Carl DeMaio’s Solutions for the Border Refugee Crisis? “Send ‘em Home” and “Send Me Money”

by Doug Porter 07.11.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Reasonable voices are making themselves heard over the rabble clamoring for a quick and dirty solution to the Central American refugee crisis. Carl DeMaio, who’s running for San Diego’s 52nd Congressional seat, isn’t one of them.

The failed mayoral candidate and former city councilman has posted a “Secure Our Borders Now” petition on Facebook. You’re supposed to think that by signing this appeal the gov’t will know that you support “ ensuring the United States remains secure from the threat of drugs, guns, and criminals coming through our borders.” Fill out the form, hit send, and voila! Carl’s donation page appears, while your plea goes into a virtual dumpster.

It took some effort but Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis got DeMaio’s actual position (beyond weasel words) on this issue: “Send them home. Don’t give them hearings for asylum. Don’t screen them to ensure they’re not being trafficked.”

I suppose we can now add “send me money” to that list.

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Thumbnail image for Hilarious DIY Birth Control Solutions for Hobby Lobby Female Employees

Hilarious DIY Birth Control Solutions for Hobby Lobby Female Employees

by Source 07.08.2014 Business

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling, here are some homemade solutions for female Hobby Lobby workers to prevent pregnancy.

By Jill Richardson / AlterNet

With the recent Supreme Court decision, allowing closely held corporations like Hobby Lobby to refuse to cover certain forms of birth control in their employee insurance plans, female employees might wonder how they will keep from getting pregnant. Not a problem! They can use their employee discounts to purchase low-cost items at any Hobby Lobby to make any number of DIY craft birth control projects.

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Thumbnail image for California Cap and Trade Funds for Low income Communities: Real or Imagined?

California Cap and Trade Funds for Low income Communities: Real or Imagined?

by Source 07.02.2014 Activism

By Jim Bliesner

California is leading the world in its pursuit of reducing carbon emissions, the identified culprit in causing global warming. California has not only established benchmarks for major industries for their reduction of carbon but has legislated a fining system for those who do not comply with the benchmarks.

If a major polluter, say Sempra Energy cannot meet its goal of reduced emissions, it has the option to pay the state for the excess. The payment goes into a statewide Cap and Trade fund (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund). Those funds in turn are to be allocated to activities that reduce carbon emissions.

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Thumbnail image for How About Sidewalk-Counseling the Conservative Movement?

How About Sidewalk-Counseling the Conservative Movement?

by Source 07.01.2014 Activism

By Dante Atkins / Daily Kos

This past Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of McCullen v. Coakley. The decision came down in favor of the plaintiff, an anti-abortion grandmother who challenged a Massachusetts law requiring a 35-foot protest-free buffer zone around abortion-providing medical facilities. The plaintiff successfully contended that such a buffer zone violated her free speech rights as they applied to the concept of peaceful “sidewalk counseling”—a somewhat Orwellian turn of phrase for the often-abusive methods anti-abortion activists use in their attempts to dissuade women from seeking the medical care to which they have a legal right.

Lawyers for the commonwealth argued unsuccessfully that the buffer zone law was necessary to protect patients and staff from violence and intimidation, while plaintiffs argued (and the court agreed) that there were already laws in place to deal with the more aggressive forms of “counseling” that these protesters might offer. And in an ideal world, one in which every act of intimidation and violence was prosecuted to its fullest extent, the court’s unanimous decision might be the correct one.

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Thumbnail image for Will This Congress Be the One to Finally End Decades of Drug War Madness?

Will This Congress Be the One to Finally End Decades of Drug War Madness?

by Source 06.29.2014 Government

They’re talking a lot about pot these days.

By Helen Redmond / AlterNet

For decades the ability to study the medicinal effects of marijuana have been obstructed by the federal government. But in a sign that the marijuana landscape is changing, a bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress wrote a letter to Sylvia Matthews Burwell, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, asking her to remove barriers to obtaining the drug for research purposes. (The full letter appears at the bottom of this article.)

According to a press release by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon):

“Currently, scientists not funded by the NIH seeking to conduct research on marijuana are subject not only to the review process that applies to other Schedule I substances, but to an additional review process by the Department of Health and Human Services that allows for access to the only source of marijuana grown in the United States that can be legally used for research.”

The Public Health Service (PHS) review protocol applies only to marijuana.

Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This is ludicrous and shows how out of touch both the DEA and the federal government are.

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Thumbnail image for Major Federal Health Official Admits That Prohibition Has Harmed Research Into Marijuana’s Benefits

Major Federal Health Official Admits That Prohibition Has Harmed Research Into Marijuana’s Benefits

by Source 06.22.2014 Government

There would be far more literature about cannabis’ efficacy if the feds didn’t impede studies.

By Paul Armentano / AlterNet

Those who work in marijuana policy reform have long been aware that federal regulations and agencies significantly impede investigators’ ability to conduct clinical studies of cannabis, in particular those protocols designed to evaluate the plant’s therapeutic potential. During recent testimony on Capitol Hill, Nora Volkow, the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, admitted this fact publicly to members of Congress. (View the entire June 20 hearing, titled “Mixed Signals: the Administration’s Policy on Marijuana, Part Four,” here.)

Though Volkow appeared Friday before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform ostensibly to speak about her recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine (a paper I previously critiqued for AlterNet here), she spent a significant portion of her time defending her agency’s virtual stranglehold on investigators’ ability to engage in cannabis-specific clinical research.

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Thumbnail image for The Dirty Energy War: Gov’t Shutdown Threat as the Koch Brothers Scheme in Dana Point

The Dirty Energy War: Gov’t Shutdown Threat as the Koch Brothers Scheme in Dana Point

by Doug Porter 06.18.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

President Obama’s address to eight thousand graduates at the University of California Irvine campus this weekend made it perfectly clear he’s no longer willing to play games when it comes to regulating emissions.  Saying ‘denying climate change is like arguing the moon is made of cheese’, he issued a call to action on global warming.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are issuing their own call to action. According to a report in the New Republic, senior members in the House GOP are seriously contemplating using appropriations bills necessary to keep the government open in order to block proposed EPA regulations on coal emissions. Pursuing this strategy could set the stage for a budget showdown, including a partial government shutdown.

Why the desperation? Perhaps because the people with the money to fund conservative causes say fighting to save dirty energy is a priority. A mere twenty miles south of the UC Irvine event, the Koch brothers told donors at a secret meeting in Dana Point this past weekend about the newest weapon in their political arsenal, a super PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund.

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Thumbnail image for Increase In C-Sections Matches Rise In Fetal Protection Efforts, Reproductive Legislation

Increase In C-Sections Matches Rise In Fetal Protection Efforts, Reproductive Legislation

by Source 06.17.2014 Gender

Think you always have a choice over how to give birth? Think again.

By Michele Goodwin / AlterNet

When most women become pregnant, understandably they believe the choice of how they give birth will remain theirs; whether to deliver vaginally or through cesarean surgery or where to give birth, at home or at a hospital. Decades ago, those decisions were well within the domain of pregnant patients whose reproductive liberty and autonomy interests gained constitutional recognition in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

After all, whose body is it anyway? But what may have seemed clear-cut decades ago, is now put to the test by doctors and lower courts.

Decades ago, refusing to undergo cesarean surgery was not a crime. That’s another matter now in the wake of recent “fetal protection” enactments that make it a crime for a pregnant woman to engage in any conduct that might threaten harm to a fetus. Some doctors believe this applies to how a woman gives birth.

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Thumbnail image for June Notes from the Garden

June Notes from the Garden

by Susan Taylor 06.14.2014 Activism

Gardening is the new front porch in urban America- share yours!

By Susan Taylor

Here’s good news for everyone. Ninety-five percent of all the insects you find in your garden are beneficial! Before you use or purchase any chemical (read toxic) solutions, you can first check online at the UCDavis Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site. Take a photo of your suspicious little bug and check it at the IPM website to be sure what your insect is and what, if anything, to do about it. Often times you can put some water and a drop or two of dish soap into a plastic spray bottle and that will do the trick (aphids come to mind). Remember to spray UNDER the leaves as well as the tops. I find this website very reassuring because I can’t remember everything, but I can remember where to look for information.

It is early June here in San Diego and you can still plant all your summer vegetables. …

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Thumbnail image for Continuity of Care in Danger for Seniors and People with Disabilities

Continuity of Care in Danger for Seniors and People with Disabilities

by Source 06.10.2014 Government

Don’t Let California’s Diversity Slip Through the In-Home Supportive Service Safety Net

By Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

When it comes to delivering care to the aging population of a diverse state like California, a one-size fits all approach isn’t the best for our seniors or the most cost-effective for state taxpayers.

California’s successful In-Home Supportive Services program meets the needs of fragile seniors and people with disabilities throughout our state – particularly areas of great linguistic and ethnic diversity like the Mid-City South Bay communities found in the 80th Assembly District that I represent – by delivering client-driven care that respects each person’s language and cultural needs.

But if two proposals contained in the May Revision of the state budget are enacted, the IHSS program will be eroded and health of seniors like 86-year old Nam Nguyen of City Heights will be compromised.

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Thumbnail image for Big Tobacco Planned on Big Pot Sales in the 70s—They Were Just Waiting for Legalization

Big Tobacco Planned on Big Pot Sales in the 70s—They Were Just Waiting for Legalization

by Source 06.07.2014 Business

Documents reveal they’ve viewed marijuana as both a rival and potential product.

By Stanton Glantz / Alternet

It turns out that the history of Big Tobacco companies and marijuana is more intertwined than was previously known, according to a new study in The Milbank Quarterly. Based on previously secret tobacco industry documents, the study reveals that, since at least the 1970s, tobacco companies have been interested in marijuana as both a rival and potential product. As a result of litigation against the tobacco industry, more than 80 million pages of internal company documents became available at the University of California San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. This study, led by Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, is the first to systematically review these documents specifically about marijuana.

The authors write that “despite fervent denials, three multinational tobacco companies”—Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, and RJ Reynolds—have all “considered manufacturing cigarettes containing cannabis. “People have suspected for a long time that Big Tobacco was interested in marijuana,” says Glantz. “The documents we review show that they have been considering legalized marijuana as both a competitor and an opportunity.”

One of the goals of the study, say the authors, is to make policymakers and public health advocates aware that tobacco companies are prepared to enter the marijuana market with the intention of increasing its widespread use. As states like Colorado and Washington legalize the recreational use of marijuana (and many others are considering it), the authors make a compelling case for policymakers to adopt regulatory frameworks similar to existing tobacco laws in order to prevent youth initiation and tame market domination by companies seeking to maximize profits with the sales of another addictive substance.

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Thumbnail image for Woman Who Filmed Her Own Abortion: ‘We Need to Talk, Not Apologize’

Woman Who Filmed Her Own Abortion: ‘We Need to Talk, Not Apologize’

by Source 06.03.2014 Culture

Emily Letts discusses her abortion experience and why empathy is the key to the future of reproductive rights.

By Jaclyn Munson / AlterNet

[Earlier this month], Emily Letts changed the conversation about breaking the stigma associated with abortion and reproductive rights when she became the first person known to film her own surgical abortion. The YouTube video she made has since gone viral, and become the source of backlash. Letts spoke with AlterNet about her abortion experience and why empathy is the key to the future of reproductive rights.

When Emily Letts filmed her abortion, she did it at the Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, where she works as an abortion counselor. The center is located less than a quarter mile away from Options Pregnancy Care Center, a crisis pregnancy center listed as a resource on the New Jersey Right to Life website. Chapel Avenue separates the short walk between the centers but despite their proximity, what happens in these buildings and what they stand for are light years apart.

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Thumbnail image for Republican States Could Cut Uninsured Rate by 60 Percent With Medicaid Expansion

Republican States Could Cut Uninsured Rate by 60 Percent With Medicaid Expansion

by Source 06.03.2014 Economy

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

Over half—56 percent—of previously uninsured people got assistance to get coverage under Obamacare through expanded Medicaid, CHIP, or subsidized private coverage, and if the states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would reverse course, they could provide coverage to 59 percent of their currently uninsured populations. That’s one of the findings from a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on coverage after Obamacare’s implementation.

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Thumbnail image for Inside the U.S. House’s Historic Vote on Medical Marijuana

Inside the U.S. House’s Historic Vote on Medical Marijuana

by Source 06.01.2014 Editor's Picks

An amendment that would prohibit the Fed from interfering in state medical pot laws is still up in the air.

By April M. Short / AlterNet

The GOP-controlled House surprised just about everyone when it voted 218 to 189 for a pro-medical marijuana amendment on Friday. The amendment, tacked onto the much larger criminal justice funding bill (H.R. 4660), would prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) from using federal taxpayer funds to interfere with medical marijuana laws in 22 states that have passed them.

The House vote was historic. It was the first time since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that the majority of a chamber of Congress voted in favor of something that would alter national marijuana policy.

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Thumbnail image for CA Fracking Moratorium Bill Defeated by Oil Industry Lobby

CA Fracking Moratorium Bill Defeated by Oil Industry Lobby

by Source 05.30.2014 Activism

By Dan Bacher / Indybay.org

The California State Senate failed to pass SB 1132, legislation authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno that would have stopped hydraulic fracturing and other dangerous well stimulation methods while the state studied their risks.

The defeat of the legislation was undoubtedly due to the huge amounts of money dumped into lobbying the Legislature by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, and oil companies.

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