Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Marijuana Cancer Cure Cult

comments_imageCOMMENTS: 18

The Marijuana

Cancer Cure Cult

It's not as far-fetched as it sounds, but some enthusiasts
may be going too far.
January 26, 2010 |
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In his 1971 State of the Union speech, President Richard

Nixon declared war on cancer, prompting passage of the

National Cancer Act, aimed at making the "conquest of

cancer a national crusade." Just four years later, scientists

from the National Cancer Institute published a study

demonstrating that a group

of compounds taken from a common, widely cultivated

plant shrank lung tumors that had been implanted in mice,

extending their survival.

In a world that made sense, this plant and the anticancer

drugs it produced would have been rushed into further

testing, and we'd have known in a few years whether they

had potential as treatments for human cancers. Instead,

research proceeded at a glacial pace, with almost no

further progress till the 1990s. Since then, vast quantities

of lab and animal data have confirmed those early findings,

but studies of these plant compounds in actual human

beings with cancer remain nearly nonexistent.

What got in the way was Nixon's other war, the "war on

drugs." The plant in question was cannabis sativa

-- marijuana -- public enemy number one in that other war,

and discovering that marijuana had beneficial properties

was the last thing the U.S. government wanted to do.

Dr. Manuel Guzman of Complutense University in Madrid,

lead author of the only human study yet published of a

cannabinoid as cancer treatment, puts it slightly more

diplomatically. The lack of immediate followup to those

early reports "remains a mystery to me," he says. Guzman

cites a number of obstacles to human trials, including the

fact that cannabinoids are "still seen by many doctors and

regulatory agencies as drugs of abuse," as well as "lots of

paperwork" and a lack of commercial interest in natural

compounds that can't be patented.

Complicating things further, the relative vacuum created

by the lack of human studies and the hostility of the U.S.

government to the whole question of marijuana's beneficial

effects has left the field wide open for zealots who promote

cannabis as a "cure" for cancer as if it were already a

proven fact rather than a possibility in desperate need of

serious study.

A Protective Effect?

Instead of researching cannabinoids as anticancer drugs,

federal officials have continued to falsely imply that

marijuana causes lung cancer. For example, a 2002

brochure for parents, "Talk to Your Child About Marijuana,"

still available on the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Web site, advises, "Smoking marijuana is as least as bad as

smoking cigarettes."

In fact, the largest, most well-controlled studies have

consistently failed to find an increased risk of lung cancer or

other typically tobacco-related cancers among marijuana

smokers. These include a 65,000-patient 1997 study

conducted at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California and

a 2006 case-control study (in which patients with cancer

were matched with similar patients without cancer to

compare risk factors) from the UCLA lab of Dr. Donald

Tashkin, one of the world's leading experts on the

pulmonary effects of drugs.

In the UCLA study, there was a consistent trend -- albeit

short of statistical significance -- toward lower cancer risk

among even the heaviest marijuana smokers. This was a

surprise to some, given that marijuana smoke contains

many of the same carcinogenic compounds as tobacco

smoke. The researchers wrote:

Although purely speculative, it is possible that
such inverse associations may reflect a protective
effect of marijuana. There is recent evidence from
cell culture systems and animal models that 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and other cannabinoids
may inhibit the growth of some tumors by
modulating key signaling pathways leading to
growth arrest and cell death, as well as by inhibiting tumor angiogenesis. These antitumoral associations have been observed for several types of
malignancies including brain, prostate, thyroid,
lung, and breast.

In an October 2003 review in the journal Nature Reviews:

Cancer, Guzman detailed the extensive body of test-tube

and animal research showing that cannabinoids inhibit

tumors of the lung, uterus, skin, breast, prostate and brain

(including gliomas, the type of tumor that killed Sen.

Edward Kennedy). He also noted: "Cannabinoids have

favorable drug-safety profiles and do not produce the

generalized toxic effects of conventional chemotherapies.

Cannabinoids are selective antitumor compounds, as they

can kill tumor cells without affecting their non-transformed


Such selectivity is exactly what you want in an anticancer

drug. The reason chemotherapy can be so awful is that most

chemo drugs aren't selective enough; they kill cancer cells,

but are also toxic to healthy cells, leading to vomiting, hair

loss and other miseries.

The 'Cure'?

Nearly all of the evidence about cannabinoids as anticancer

drugs comes from lab studies using cell cultures or animals

with experimentally implanted tumors. The annals of

medical research are littered with drugs that looked

promising in the lab but didn't work in people. Still, that

doesn't stop some enthusiasts from touting cannabis as a

cure for cancer, sometimes making even open-minded

scientists and medical marijuana advocates nervous.

When I worked at the Marijuana Policy Project, we

received several impassioned emails imploring us to tell

Sen. Kennedy that cannabis could cure his brain tumor.

Others touted Canadian Rick Simpson's "Healing Hemp

Oil" Web site, Phoenix Tears.

In a series of videos, letters and other materials on the

site, Simpson -- who has had repeated run-ins with law

enforcement over his cannabis-related activities and was,

according to a Dec. 14 posting, staying in Europe

indefinitely to avoid arrest -- promotes what he calls

"hemp oil" as a "simple herbal cure for cancer. I have

used these extracts

to cure three areas of skin cancer on my own body, also,

I have cured cancers for others." Simpson also touts hemp

oil for pain and a variety of other conditions.

The site includes video and written instructions for making

the preparation. The procedure involves using a solvent

such as naphtha or isopropyl alcohol to extract the THC

from marijuana, then boiling off the solvent using a rice

cooker to leave a thick oil with a high THC concentration.

Simpson warns readers away from conventional cancer

treatments: "Hemp oil has a very high success rate in the

treatment of cancer, unfortunately many people who come

to me have been badly damaged by the medical system

with their chemo and radiation etc. The damage such

treatments cause have a lasting effect and people who

have suffered the effects of such treatments are the

hardest to cure."

He offers numerous stories and testimonials describing

seemingly hopeless cancers cured by hemp oil, but no

controlled, scientific experiments.

And critics find plenty to worry about. First, they note,

despite warnings and disclaimers on the site, the

procedure for making the medicine is risky. Mitch

Earleywine, author of Understanding Marijuana and a

professor of psychology at the State University of

New York at Albany, calls the do-it-yourself procedure

"outrageously dangerous. Even if you don't light yourself

on fire, you may end up with leftover solvent that would

slowly poison the healthiest of us."

There's a reason scientists don't base conclusions on

anecdotes, Earleywine explains. "Cancer remits

spontaneously sometimes, which is a good thing.

Unfortunately, it leads to superstitious conditioning so

people think that whatever they did last must be the

source of the cure. Especially with some cancers, where

a great many people die, all the spontaneous recoveries

associated with hemp oil get remembered while all those

that don't either get forgotten or attributed to the horrors

of the disease."

Earleywine stresses that he is not dismissing the possibility

that some form of cannabis might be an effective cancer

treatment. "THC killing tumors is actually true," he says,

"but we're not at the human stage [of research]."

Simpson is dismissive of critics who cite the lack of human

studies. "How are you going to do controlled studies when

it is illegal in Canada to do so?" he said in an emailed

response to questions.

In fact, researcher Mark Ware of McGill University in

Montreal has done clinical trials of medical cannabis in

Canada, including a study comparing several different

cannabis preparations in use by chronic pain patients.

Simpson calls the idea of spontaneous cancer remissions

"nonsense." As for possible risks of his preparation, he

argues, "It is irresponsible to give people liver toxic

chemicals, chemotherapy and radiation, so if they are

talking about irresponsible why do not look at their own

medical system? It is not irresponsible to save peoples

lives with a harmless natural, non-addictive medicine

from nature. If you watch our documentary, you will see

that I use a simple water purification process to get rid

of solvent residue. I have been ingesting oil for over

eight years and I have supplied this oil to thousands of

people who also have experienced no problems with

solvent residue."

While cautious about reports that are "solely anecdotal,"

Paul Armentano, deputy director and resident science

wonk at the National Organization for the Reform of

Marijuana Laws, lays blame for the lack of proper data

at the foot of prohibition. "It is a shame that lone

individuals must try and engage in the work that the

medical establishment should be undertaking, yet have

turned a blind eye to," he says. "Unfortunately, what we

have is speculation rather than hard science, and we only

have the politicization of cannabis to blame."

The Long and Winding Research Road

The one human study of a cannabinoid cancer treatment

published thus far was conducted by Dr. Guzman and

colleagues and published online in June 2006 by the

British Journal of Cancer. The scientists infused a THC

solution directly into the tumors of nine patients with

glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly form of brain cancer,

for whom standard treatments had failed. This small

pilot study wasn't aimed at proving that THC worked,

simply that it was safe to administer to these otherwise

doomed patients .

It proved entirely safe, with no negative effects attributed

to the THC and no "overt psychoactive effects." And while

there were no miracle cures, there were glimmers of

possible efficacy. In one patient with an "extremely

aggressive" cancer, tumor growth was curbed for nine

weeks. In another, symptoms improved, although tumor

growth was not stopped. And in some cases, lab tests with

cells taken from tumor biopsies showed that THC

decreased the number of viable cancer cells.

Guzman and colleagues noted that THC may not be the

best cannabinoid to use as a cancer treatment, as others

have been shown more potent in lab tests. And while the

direct infusion technique delivered a high THC

concentration to specific locations, it may not have

reached all parts of these large tumors.

Still, the results were positive enough that the researchers

urged further tests, including studies of cannabinoids in

combination with other cancer drugs. Guzman is hoping to

do more studies, but notes that with all the bureaucratic,

procedural and financial hurdles, "The way ahead is long

and winding."

But if more human studies aren't happening yet, lab work

continues to produce intriguing results. Just this month,

the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics published a

new study providing the first evidence that combination

cannabinoid therapy is more potent than using THC or

other cannabinoids as single agents.

Sean McAllister and colleagues from the California Pacific

Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco tested

THC, cannabidiol (CBD) and both drugs combined on

human glioblastoma cell lines. In two of the three cell lines

tested, the THC/CBD combination proved the most potent

-- more so than would be expected by just adding the

anticancer effects of the two drugs together, suggesting

a synergistic action.

"Combinations, compared to individual drug treatments

with specific cannabinoid-based compounds, may represent

an improvement for the treatment of patients with

glioblastoma and perhaps additional cancers," McAllister

says. "It is also possible that other constituents of

Cannabis sativa which are not structurally related to

cannabinoids could improve antitumor activity when


That leads to an obvious question: Why not use the whole

plant -- whether smoked, vaporized, or in some sort of

extract like Simpson's? "In regard to brain cancer, it is

highly unlikely that effective concentrations of either

Δ9-THC or CBD could be reached by smoking cannabis,"

McAllister says. "In regard to additional cancers, I feel

defined formulations and dosing will be needed in order

to effectively treat patients."

McAllister says his team is moving toward "clinical trials

in both breast and brain cancer, but it is a slow process."

The next step, he says, will be to try to replicate his

test-tube results in animals. "No agency in the U.S. would

allow me to move forward to clinical trials without some

form of proof of concept data in a relevant preclinical in

vivo model."

That may be an accurate assessment, but Armentano

thinks it's too cautious "given the long established safety

of cannabinoids, including THC which is already a legal

pharmaceutical, and CBD, which is non-psychoactive, is

not a central nervous system depressant and has no risk

of overdose."

Not only is there abundant evidence that cannabinoids kill

cancer cells, Armentano says, "Investigators now even

understand the mechanism of action; in other words, they

know how and why cannabinoids kill cancerous cells and

halt the spread of malignant tumors."

The question of whether these cannabis compounds can

cure cancer in people, he says, "ought to have been already

answered decades ago."

Bruce Mirken is a San Francisco-based writer and media

consultant who served as director of communications for

the Marijuana Policy Project from 2001 to2009.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bill Moyers Journal | Labor's State of the Union

This program has already aired but you should be able to find it on line or on demand...........Scott

by: t r u t h o u t | Programming Guide

Bill Moyers Journal

PBS Airtime: Friday, January 22, 2010, at 9:00 p.m. EST on PBS (check local listings).

America's workers need jobs, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is calling on them to stand up and fight. Trumka joins Bill Moyers to offer his perspective on the State of the Union and explains why he thinks President's Obama's plans - and the Republicans' agenda alike - might mean a lost decade for America. Trumka has previously worked as a coal miner, a lawyer and president of the United Mine Workers of America. Also on the program: Are America's elections now up for sale? The Journal explores what the Supreme Court's decision means for campaign finance reform and the future of our democracy with progressive legal experts Monica Youn and Zephyr Teachout. Monica Youn directs the campaign finance reform/money in politics project at NYU's Brennan Center for Law and Justice and Zephyr Teachout teaches law and politics at Fordham University's School of Law.

All republished content that appears on Truthout has been obtained by permission or license.

GRITtv: Senator Sanders on Firing Fed Chairman Bernanke, Economy Fixes (Video)

Laura Flanders, GRITtv: "Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has been an outspoken leader in the Senate on everything from the fight for single-payer health care reform to blocking Fed Chair Ben Bernanke's reappointment. The Vermont legislator has won election and re-election by continually communicating with and fighting for the people, and he offers his advice to progressives and to President Obama in this exclusive interview with GRITtv."
Read the Article

Jim Hightower | The Supreme Coup

by: Jim Hightower, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Despite 234 years of progress toward the American ideal of equality for all, we still have to battle unfairness.

How happy, then, to learn that a handful of our leaders in Washington took bold and forceful action last week to lift another group of downtrodden Americans from the pits of injustice, helping them gain more political and governmental power. I refer, of course, to corporations.

Say what? Corporations should get more power over our elected officials?

"Free the corporate money," cried the movement's leaders, demanding that America sever the few legal restraints that remain on corporate efforts to buy our elections. "Si, se puede," chanted these assertive champions of corporate supremacy -- "Yes, we can!"

So, they did. "They" being the five doctrinaire corporatists who now form the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. Let's remember their names: Sam Alito, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. These five men, on their own whim, have executed a black-robed coup against the American people's democratic authority.

They took an obscure case involving a minor violation of election funding law and turned it into a constitutional upheaval. Rushing their handpicked case through the system, they issued a 5-4 decision on Jan. 21 that overturns a century of settled American law and more than two centuries of deep agreement in our Land of the Free that the narrow interests of corporations must be subjugated to the public interest.

Indeed, the founders of our Republic saw corporate power as an inherently selfish and perpetual danger to democracy, and most leaders of that day believed that corporate entities should have no role whatsoever in politics. Thomas Jefferson bluntly declared in 1816 that the country must "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations."

The Alito-Kennedy-Roberts-Scalia-Thomas cabal, however, has unceremoniously dumped the wisdom of the founders, along with volumes of American judicial precedent, to assert that poor little corporations today are victims of political "censorship" by Congress, states and cities that have outlawed the use of corporate funds in elections. Such restrictions, ruled the five usurpers, violate the "free speech rights" of corporations, putting corporate interests at a disadvantage with other political interests.

Disadvantage? This would be hilarious, were it not so dangerous. No other group in American has anywhere near the voice and raw political power that corporations exert every day. Campaign donations from individual corporate executives (and from their PACs, 527s, front groups and other channels) total hundreds of millions of dollars each election year, effectively shouting down the voices of ordinary folks (the Wall Street bailout being but one sterling example).

Yet the Court has just handed these political powerhouses their wildest dream: access to the multi- trillion- dollar ocean of funds held within the corporate entities themselves. Every business empire -- from Wall Street to Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil to the China Overseas Shipping Company (yes, the five wise guys even waved foreign corporations into our political funfest) -- can now open the spigots of their vast corporate treasuries and send a raging torrent of their special interest cash into any and all of our national, state and local elections.

Two legal perversions are at work here. First, the Court has equated the freedom to spend money with the freedom of speech. But if money is speech, those with the most money get the most speech. That's plutocracy, not democracy, and it's totally alien to our Constitution, as well as a gross distortion of the crucial principle of one person-one vote.

Second, a corporation literally cannot speak. It has no lips, tongue, breath or brain. Far from being a "person," a corporation is nothing but a piece of paper -- a legal construct created by the state as a mechanism for its owners to make money.

Actual people in the mechanism (shareholders, executives, workers, retirees, lenders, et al.) can and do speak politically -- in many diverse voices that express very different viewpoints. But the corporate entity, which the court cabal is trying to turn into a Frankenstein monster, is inanimate, incapable of thought, inherently mute and, in itself, no more deserving of human rights than a trash can would be.

Copyright 2010

All republished content that appears on Truthout has been obtained by permission or license.

The Passing of Howard Zinn

This past week we lost another voice that we could not afford to lose. Howard Zinn has moved on but has left us with a wealth of knowledge, research, and insight that we need to take heed of. Below are links to articles from across the board concerning his passing.

Howard, thank will be remembered and missed.............Scott


Howard Zinn: How I Want to Be Remembered...

Matthew Rothschild: Thank You, Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, People's President & American Patriot

Our country lost one of its greatest patriots yesterday, and I lost a friend and longtime role model and inspiration, when historian and activist Howard Zinn passed away. I still remember as if it were yesterday the first time I ever saw him.

Howard Zinn, Historian who Challenged Status Quo, Dies at 87


Howard Zinn: On Human Nature and Aggression

Howard Zinn (1922-2010): A Tribute to the Legendary Historian with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Anthony Arnove

Howard Zinn: A Just Cause, Not a Just War

Daniel Ellsberg: A Memory of Howard

Elizabeth DiNovella: Remembering Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn: A Public Intellectual Who Mattered
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: "In 1977 I took my first job in higher education at Boston University. One reason I went there was because Howard Zinn was teaching there at the time. As a high school teacher, Howard's book, 'Vietnam: the Logic of Withdrawal,' published in 1968, had a profound effect on me."
Read the Article

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Howard Zinn's last advice to America: A Broad Coalition for Independence From the Corporations & the Military

imagining a coalition aimed at "independence from the military-corporate alliance," with a platform that includes strong planks on climate, jobs, health, ending the present wars, major reductions in the military, transforming campaign finance, and ending the filibuster.

By Harvey Wasserman
How the great Howard Zinn made all our lives better
Howard Zinn was above all a gentleman of unflagging grace, humility and compassion.He was a warm, unfailingly friendly compadre. He shared a beautiful partnership with his wonderful wife Roz, a brilliant, thoroughly committed social worker about whom he once said: "You and I just talk about changing the world. She actually does it."

By arn specter
A Tribute to Howard Zinn
Howard Zinn, noted teacher, historian and activist, passed on to Spirit on Wednesday, Jan.27, 2010. This is my tribute to him.

Howard Zinn Dead at 87

Zinn, author of People's History of the United States, recently behind the History channel's The People Speak, passed away while traveling. An interview with Zinn was published two days before his death.

By Chris Floyd
Class Acts: Farewell to Chroniclers of American Reality
America lost two distinctive and important voices this week, two writers whose works dealt with absolutely vital but virtually ignored elements of the nation's history and character: the 'marginal' classes and the ruling class. Without the histories of Howard Zinn and the fiction of Louis Auchincloss, we would have a poorer understanding of the forces that form and move our society.

People's Historian and Progressive Hero Howard Zinn Dies

National treasure, and acclaimed author of "People's History of the United States" passed away at age 87. READ MORE

By / AlterNet

10 Ways to Stop Corporate Dominance of Politics

10 Ways to Stop Corporate Dominance of Politics

It's not too late to limit or reverse the impact of the Supreme Court's disastrous decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
— tags:

Clean coal, illustration by Chris Clark

Corporate power influences many political decisions, from energy and climate policy to health care reform.

Illustration by Chris Clark

The recent Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate spending in politics just may be the straw that breaks the plutocracy’s back.

Pro-democracy groups, business leaders, and elected representatives are proposing mechanisms to prevent or counter the millions of dollars that corporations can now draw from their treasuries to push for government action favorable to their bottom line. The outrage ignited by the Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission extends to President Obama, who has promised that repairing the damage will be a priority for his administration.

But what can be done to limit or reverse the effect of the Court’s decision? Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Amend the U.S. Constitution to declare that corporations are not persons and do not have the rights of human beings. Since the First Amendment case for corporate spending as a free speech right rests on corporations being considered “persons,” the proposed amendment would strike at the core of the ruling’s justification. The push for the 28th Amendment is coming from the grassroots, where a prairie fire is catching on from groups such as Public Citizen, Voter Action, and the Campaign to Legalize Democracy.
  2. Require shareholders to approve political spending by their corporations. Public Citizen and the Brennan Center for Justice are among the groups advocating this measure, and some members of Congress appear interested. Britain has required such shareholder approval since 2000.
  3. Pass the Fair Elections Now Act, which provides federal financing for Congressional elections. This measure has the backing of organizations representing millions of Americans, including, the NAACP, the Service Employees International Union, and the League of Young Voters. Interestingly, the heads of a number of major corporations have also signed on, including those of Ben & Jerry’s, Hasbro, Crate & Barrel, and the former head of Delta Airlines.
  4. Give qualified candidates equal amounts of free broadcast air time for political messages. This would limit the advantages of paid advertisements in reaching the public through television where most political spending goes.
  5. Ban political advertising by corporations that receive government money, hire lobbyists, or collect most of their revenue abroad. A fear that many observers have noted is that the Court’s ruling will allow foreign corporations to influence U.S. elections. According to The New York Times, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) are exploring this option.
  6. Impose a 500 percent excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns. Representative Alan Grayson (D-Florida) proposes this, calling it "The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act."
  7. Prohibit companies from trading their stock on national exchanges if they make political contributions and expenditures. Another one from Grayson, which he calls "The Public Company Responsibility Act."
  8. Require publicly traded companies to disclose in SEC filings money used for the purpose of influencing public opinion, rather than for promoting their products. Grayson calls this "The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act."
  9. Require the corporate CEO to appear as sponsor of commercials that his or her company pays for, another possibility from the Schumer-Van Hollen team, according to The New York Times
  10. Publicize the reform options, inform the public of who is making contributions to whom, and activate the citizenry. If we are to safeguard our democracy, media must inform and citizens must act.

The measures listed above—and others that seek to reverse the dominance of money in our political system—will not be easy. But grassroots anger at this latest win for corporate power is running high. History shows that when the public is sufficiently aroused, actions that once seemed impossible can, in hindsight, seem inevitable.

Fran KortenFran Korten wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Fran is publisher of YES! Magazine.

Communities Take Power :: How small-town citizens are claiming the right to govern themselves by challenging laws stacked in favor of corporations.

Envision Spokane :: Communities around the country are using local law to promote the rights of citizens over those of corporations.

YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. Korten, F. (2010, January 25). 10 Ways to Stop Corporate Dominance of Politics. Retrieved January 30, 2010, from YES! Magazine Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License

Five Supreme Court Judges Do Da Corporate Takeover Hustle, And They Must Be Stopped‏

This the second in a series of action alerts about the fundamental
willful and pernicious errors underlying the decision by 5 agenda
driven right wing judges on the Supreme Court to gut all restraints
on corporate meddling in our elections. Each of these successive
alerts will analyze additional derelict aspects of this shameful and
truly dangerous decision, to further demonstrate why we the people
must speak out and act to reverse it.

In the first alert we made the triable case (which no attorney has
written us to dispute) that failing to even bother to distinguish
between domestic and foreign owned corporations, and knowingly
leaving America vulnerable to the latter BY their ruling, was de
facto an act of treason by The Supreme Court 5.

This alert will focus on the abandonment of every prudent rule of
judicial review, in favor of haste and the most extreme form of
judicial activism, again with specific page number references to the
opinion itself.

There are TWO critical action pages related to this, which we are
asking each of our participants to submit and also pass on to
everyone you know, which will send your message by fax to all your
own members of Congress, and President Obama too. You do not need
your own fax machine to participate, the action pages do all this for
you automatically in real time.

Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People

Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5

The most bedrock principle of appellate review is that first an
appellant must have PRESERVED the issue for appeal, by arguing and
getting a ruling on the point of law from the court below,
necessitating fact finding by the lower court to create a "record".
Innumerable appellants since the beginning of time have had the door
to review slammed in their face with the admonition that if they HAD
preserved the issue then and only then could a higher court review

And in particular, appellate courts have traditionally been loathe to
making their own findings of fact (and only in a corrective way)
absent very clear error by the Court below, which is as it should be.
The role of a higher court is to apply the law to the facts, and make
rulings of what the LAW is, not make their own findings of fact. And
this is supremely true of the Supreme Court.

So even beyond the outrageousness of the result, it is at least
outrageous the way it was reached, and how that reach was justified.
As justification, The Supreme Court 5 asserted that some legal
emergency existed requiring a broader inquiry in this case,
resurrecting a claim already ABANDONED by the appellant in the court
below (opinion p. 12). Why directly overturning precedents at least
20 years old would suddenly be such an emergency they do not explain.

And when you actually read the opinion, the only pressure really on
the Supreme Court was because so-called Citizens United was bound to
LOSE on the case they did preserve (opinion pp. 10-11). The Supreme
Court 5 wanted that party to win. This was in itself an over the top
act of judicial activism. But even beyond that they were hell bent on
undoing as much as 100 years of campaign finance regulation (Stevens'
dissent p. 3). Even the most conservative commentators agree this is
what they have in fact done.

Appellate courts have been known on occasion to comment (in no
binding way) that if an appellant HAD made a particular argument they
might have been receptive to it, a kind of higher court invitation
for someone to bring an actual case, an actual "controversy". And
then there would be a factual record in some subsequent case. But
here there was no controversy on the issue on which the ruling was
based, for it had already been WAIVED a priori, thereby denying the
Supreme Court any jurisdiction to rule on it (Consitution Article
III, Section 2, Clause 1).

But even further assuming that the Supreme Court was justified in
reopening a can of worms already discarded, the appropriate procedure
would have been to return the case to the lower court with
instructions, what is called a "remand", and which is done all the
time after a ruling of LAW, for the court below to make findings of
fact and conduct further proceedings, so that there would be a
factual record for them to review, should the appellant wish to
appeal to the higher court again in the case of an unfavorable ruling
by the lower court.

All these prudent judicial things are exactly what the Supreme Court
5 did NOT do. Instead, they called for hurry up further briefing on
the new question of law THEY wanted to rule on (Stevens' dissent p.
4), in a vacuum of insufficient facts to make those arguments of law.
Instead, they set a scary new purported standard of review that says
they basically can make rulings on any point of law THEY want to
raise, whether developed in a lower court by an appellant or not.

This is truly frightening! It means that these five absolute
dictators in black robes have now asserted the unheard of prerogative
to make their own law pretty much any time they like, if only
tangentially related to appellant's actual arguments on appeal
(opinion pp. 13-14), a profoundly dangerous NEW standard, to become a
new stare decisis if not immediately challenged and reversed by their
removal from office. It means they now assert unchecked prerogative
to make their own findings of fact whenever necessary to reach the
result THEY want to reach.

And they must be stopped. The Supreme Court 5 must be impeached
before they go even further off the deep end. Whatever else within
the law that Congress can do to counteract this decision must be
done, and to make sure such a thing can never, ever happen again.

So please submit both action pages above now. The next alert in this
series will analyze the totally bogus basis of the so-called facts
the Supreme Court pulled out of sheer hot air in this case.


In the meantime we are making available for no charge (not even
shipping) your choice of one of two new bumper stickers. Take a
"Corporations Are NOT The People" bumper sticker, OR a "Impeach The
Supreme Court 5" bumper sticker for free. Of course if you can make a
contribution (or if you want both), please DO contribute what you
can, which is what allows us to send these out for free to anyone who
cannot make a donation right now.

We have engaged one of the top commercial printers in the country for
printing these, they have gone to press using the highest quality 4
color process, the proofs are absolutely gorgeous, and we will be
taking delivery shortly of the first run.

So you can still request your bumper sticker from the return page
after you submit either of the action pages above to get in on the
first shipping. Or you can do directly to this page and get them

Bumper Stickers for no charge:

Facebook participants can also submit the action pages at

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And on Twitter, just send the following Twitter reply for the
Corporations Are Not The People action

@cxs #p1029

And this Twitter reply for the Impeach The Supreme Court 5 action

@cxs #p1030

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Why I Quit Working in Porn

By Miya , SeXis Magazine. Posted December 28, 2009.

I didn’t leave the porn industry because I object to porn. I left because I love it.
More stories by Miya

Sixteen naked young women stared at me from a contact sheet of photographs. Some stood tall; others cocked their hips in a coy slouch. One girl with short, curly hair smiled broadly. The rest seemed to be searching for something in the camera.

I scanned through each photo, noting hair color and style. I looked for tattoos and piercings, for stretch marks and scars. I searched for the right one.

Each girl held a paper with a name scrawled on it—not in front of her, but to the side.

They didn’t want to hide their tits.

When I found the one, I circled her stage name with a red marker. Sharon. Sharon glowed with a light tan. Her hair shimmered with natural blond highlights. She smiled with her big blue eyes while her full lips curled in a faint grin. And her pale pink nipples stood pert—like perfect little gumdrops. She looked like a cheerleader. Athletic. Clean-cut. Shaved.

“Does she do anal?” I asked.

My boss rustled through some papers, and then shook his head. “No, but she does boy/girl.”


An Eye Full

Maybe you know me. I’m the one who stays quiet, simply listening, as other women discuss the evils of pornography. At risk of outing myself, I choose not to share my opinions. But I have quite a few. After all, I spent three years working behind the scenes for a company publishing porn websites and DVDs.

What started as a position copyediting business proposals for an empire of porn paysites quickly evolved when my boss noticed I had an eye for photography. When he began developing a new site focusing on a select handful of premium models, he assigned me with the task of selecting them.

I spent hours watching videos, fast-forwarding through long hardcore scenes, listening to interviews and sifting through thousands of images. My role was part quality assurance, part production manager and part casting director. I called photographers to criticize them for unrealistically faked cum shots and bad lighting. I emailed models to thank them for taking the time to fill out tedious surveys about their personalities and hobbies.

I sat in my office with my hand on my mouse and made decisions that would affect the budding careers of young models who would never know my name or face.

East End Girls

Eastern Europe supplies the porn industry with thousands of fresh faces each year. Thanks to several premier erotic photographers and adult production companies in Budapest and Prague, pretty girls don’t have to look far to find work. Though video is king, photography remains popular—especially for magazines and websites marketing to US audiences.

A college student from the Czech Republic can be transformed in a flash. Oksana becomes Andrea. Stepanka becomes Stephanie.

Though not mainstream, adult industry work doesn’t have quite the same stigma in most of Europe as it does in the US. The girls I surveyed and emailed preferred modeling and acting to dancing or escort work.

Of course, not all the girls are in it for part time work. Every year a handful makes it big, leaves the world of amateur style porn for the high end DVDs and glossy magazines. One or two become legitimate porn stars, usually leaving Eastern Europe for Los Angeles.

We chose to work with Eastern European models to cut costs. Once we put the word out, our European photographers submitted hundreds of models, most of which were far too experienced. They were already all over the web, with a dozen different stage names.

But a little over fifty were truly brand new to the industry. I began to narrow them down.

Break it Down

From thousands of miles away, in an unassuming office in a strip mall, I flipped through contact sheets and dozens of handwritten biographies on my hunt for the next big thing.

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See more stories tagged with: sex, women, porn, sexuality

Take Your Money Out of the Hands of the Banking Oligarchs

By Arianna Huffington and Rob Johnson, Move Your Money. Posted December 30, 2009.

How? For starters, you could move your money to a small bank.

Last week, over a pre-Christmas dinner, the two of us, along with political strategist Alexis McGill, filmmaker/author Eugene Jarecki, and Nick Penniman of the HuffPost Investigative Fund, began talking about the huge, growing chasm between the fortunes of Wall Street banks and Main Street banks, and started discussing what concrete steps individuals could take to help create a better financial system. Before long, the conversation turned practical, and with some help from friends in the world of bank analysis, a video and website were produced devoted to a simple idea: Move Your Money.

The big banks on Wall Street, propped up by taxpayer money and government guarantees, have had a record year, making record profits while returning to the highly leveraged activities that brought our economy to the brink of disaster. In a slap in the face to taxpayers, they have also cut back on the money they are lending, even though the need to get credit flowing again was one of the main points used in selling the public the bank bailout. But since April, the Big Four banks -- JP Morgan/Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo -- all of which took billions in taxpayer money, have cut lending to businesses by $100 billion.

Meanwhile, America's Main Street community banks -- the vast majority of which avoided the banquet of greed and corruption that created the toxic economic swamp we are still fighting to get ourselves out of -- are struggling. Many of them have closed down (or been taken over by the FDIC) over the last 12 months. The government policy of protecting the Too Big and Politically Connected to Fail is badly hurting the small banks, which are having a much harder time competing in the financial marketplace. As a result, a system which was already dangerously concentrated at the top has only become more so.

We talked about the outrage of big, bailed-out banks turning around and spending millions of dollars on lobbying to gut or kill financial reform -- including "too big to fail" legislation and regulation of the derivatives that played such a huge part in the meltdown. And as we contrasted that with the efforts of local banks to show that you can both be profitable and have a positive impact on the community, an idea took hold: why don't we take our money out of these big banks and put them into community banks? And what, we asked ourselves, would happen if lots of people around America decided to do the same thing? Our money has been used to make the system worse -- what if we used it to make the system better?

Everyone around the table quickly got excited (granted we are an excitable group), and began tossing out suggestions for how to get this idea circulating.

Eugene, the filmmaker among us, remarked that the contrast between the big banks and the community banks we were talking about was very much like the story in the classic Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life, where community banker George Bailey helps the people of Bedford Falls escape the grip of the rapacious and predatory banker Mr. Potter.

It was a lightbulb moment. And, unlike the vast majority of dinner conversations, the excitement over this idea didn't end with dessert. It actually led to something -- thanks in great part to Eugene and his remarkable team, who got to work and, in record time, created a brilliant, powerful, and inspiring video playing off the It's a Wonderful Life concept. (Watch it in the video player on the top right hand side of the screen).

Within a few days, the rest of the pieces fell into place, including an agreement with top financial analysts Chris Whalen and Dennis Santiago, who gave us access to their IRA (Institutional Risk Analytics) database. Using this tool, everyone will be able to plug in their zip code and quickly get a list of the small, solvent Main Street banks operating in their community.

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See more stories tagged with: banking, checking account, community banks

Find more Arianna at the Huffington Post.

Wall Street's 10 Greatest Lies of 2009

By Nomi Prins, AlterNet. Posted December 28, 2009.

Lies that justify screwing over Main Street.
More stories by Nomi Prins

On December 13, President Obama declared that he was not elected to help the “fat cats." But the cats got another version of that memo. A day later, 10 of them were supposed to partake in some White House face-time to talk about their responsibilities to the rest of the country, but only seven could make it. No-shows for the "very serious discussion" -- due to inclement New York weather or being too busy with internal bonus discussions to bother with the President -- were Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons.

Yes, Obama inherited a big financial mess from the Bush administration – which inherited its set-up from the Clinton administration (financial recklessness, it turns out, is non-partisan) -- but he and his appointees have spent the year talking about fighting risk and excess on Wall Street, while both have grown.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner patted himself on the back for making the "difficult and necessary” decisions of fronting Wall Street boatloads of money to cover its losses and capital crunch last fall. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (a Bush-Obama favorite) was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for saving the free world as we know it. And Congress is talking "sweeping reform" about a bill that leaves the banking landscape intact, save for some minor alterations. For starters, it doesn’t resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which separated risk-taking (once non-government-backed) investment banks from consumer oriented (government-supported) commercial banks.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is restructuring (the financial equivalent of re-gifting) old toxic assets into new ones, finding fresh ways to profit from credit derivatives trading, and paying itself record bonuses -- on our dime. Despite recent TARP payback enthusiasm, the industry still floats on trillions of dollars of non-TARP subsidies and certain players wouldn’t even exist today without our help.

Wall Street’s return to robustness and Main Street’s continued deterioration are the main takeaways for 2009 that stemmed from the 2008 choices to flush the financial system with capital and leave the real economy to fend for itself. Lies that exacerbate this divide only perpetuate its growth. With that, here is my top 10 list of lies. Please consider adding your own, and let’s all hope for a more honest New Year.

1) The economy has improved.

Earlier this month, Bernanke declared, “Having faced the most serious financial crisis and the worst recession since the Great Depression, our economy has made important progress during the past year. Although the economic stress faced by many families and businesses remains intense, with job openings scarce and credit still hard to come by, the financial system and the economy have moved back from the brink of collapse."

Sure, the economy is better -- if you work at Goldman Sachs or had an affair with Tiger Woods. But while Bernanke, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Geithner turned the Federal Reserve into a national hedge fund (cheap money backing toxic assets in secrecy), and the Treasury Department into a bank insurance policy, the rest of the real economy took hit after hit -- starting with jobs.

The national unemployment rate remains at double digits. Despite Washington’s bizarre euphoria about unemployment rates last month being better (they edged down in November to 10 percent from 10.2 percent in October), the number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance rose during the second week of December. After all the temporary holiday hires, that number will probably increase again. Plus, unemployment rates in 372 metropolitan areas are higher than they were last year.

2) If you give banks capital, they will lend it out.

On Jan. 13, 2009 Bernanke concluded that "More capital injections and guarantees may become necessary to ensure stability and the normalization of credit markets.” He said that "Our economic system is critically dependent on the free flow of credit." He was referring to the big banks. Not the little people.

Ten months later, though, he admitted that, "Access to credit remains strained for borrowers who are particularly dependent on banks, such as households and small businesses” and that “bank lending has contracted sharply this year."

In other words, big banks don’t share their good fortunes. Shocking. And as a result, bankruptcies are rapidly rising for businesses and individuals – a direct result of lack of credit coupled with other economic hardships like job losses.

Total bankruptcy filings for the first nine months of 2009 were up 35 percent to 1,100,035 vs. the same period in 2008. The number of business bankruptcies during the first three quarters of 2009 eclipsed all of 2008. Individual consumer filings totaled 373,308 during the third quarter of 2009 and were up 33 percent vs. the same period of 2008. Tell those people about the free flow of credit, Ben.

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See more stories tagged with: obama, lies, economic crisis, financial sector, finance reform

Nomi Prins is a senior fellow at the public policy center Demos and author of It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street.