Thursday, November 24, 2016

Evidence against Marcos propaganda is substantial and obvious

What you didn’t know: Pro-Marcos propaganda too hip for its own good

By Lisandro Claudio
June 2, 2016
Published in Rappler

The original definition of hipster (prior to indie rock and beards) was someone “in the know.” Unlike plebs who fell for mainstream ideas about politics and culture, hipsters were said to know better. Pro-Marcos apologists thrive off a similar sense of privileged exclusivity. They are proud of having access to secret knowledge denied to them by “yellow” media and armchair academics.

I would have admired this nonconformity had it been grounded on credible information. Unfortunately, Marcos apologia is too hip for its own good.

A good example of this bloated sense of knowing is the contrarian website, Get Real Philippines. Run by an anonymous Sydnesider called Benign0, GRP claims to promote “hard to swallow observations about Philippine society” made by “smart people” who “clarify the muddled and challenge the traditional.”

The site is explicit about its intellectual elitism and often makes the claim that Filipinos are idiots. Amid this sea of stupidity, Benign0 believes that Marcos supporters are “young, educated, upwardly-mobile Filipinos.” The observation is false (Marcos' support base is older and polls at top universities reveal, at best, divided support for BBM), but now is not the time to quibble. What is curious is Benign0’s insinuation of an aspiration: to be young, educated, and upwardly mobile is to be pro-Marcos.

Again, its warped sense of exclusivity makes people rally to the banners of Batac. You get a similar version of this arrogance on the website,, which also claims that many Filipinos are “bobotantes (stupid voters),” while arguing that the bearers of truth are OFWs (particularly in America) who have found enlightenment.

Reality loop

I’m an open minded-guy and, despite doctoral research on the Marcos regime, I’m sure I missed out on some things. Moreover, like Benign0, I am not invested in the glorification of People Power and the Aquinos, having previously researched Cojuangco-Aquino skullduggery in Hacienda Luisita. So in the spirit of openness, I asked Benign0 for sources.

I first asked him if he could name a single university-published, peer-reviewed book that endorses the Marcos regime, and got a non sequitur for a reply. I prodded further, asking, “So, no book?” to which he simply replied, “Nope.”

Failing to spur dialogue, I asked him for his sources on Philippine politics during the Marcos period. He remained dismissive: “What I read in my own time is my business. What I publish via is all u got.” As for bothering with academic sources, Benign0 believes that “Ph history academe is a tiny community of inbred minds.”

Herein lies the problem with Marcos apologists: Since they have rejected verifiable sources of information, they often place themselves in a reality loop. The source of good information for Get Real Philippines is none other than Get Real Philippines.

Consistency of sources

But let us give the website the benefit of the doubt and trace their sources for them. One of Benign0’s most recent posts has the sensationalist title, “The TRUTH about Martial Law: Young Filipinos no longer believe that it was all bad!”

For an article claiming to spread the “truth,” it is odd that it only has two sources. The first is a rambling Facebook post from an academic that has primarily published on forestry and not martial history. The second more credible source is Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao. Benign0 is delighted that Tiglao, rather than holding Marcos accountable for torture and extra judicial killings, instead blames “Communist chief Jose Maria Sison...because he deployed” activists “who were barely out of their teens to foment unrest and revolt in the countryside.”

According to Benign0, we should trust Tiglao because he was actually there during martial law, unlike “has-been celebrities like Jim Paredes and Leah Navarro.” (Actually, they were there too.) Under Benign0’s logic, credibility is best established by one’s proximity to the event. Let us assume his logic once more.

If proximity establishes credibility, surely the Bobi Tiglao writing in 1988 would be more credible than the Bobi Tiglao of today. That younger Bobi Tiglao was categorical in his essay, “The Consolidation of the Dictatorship,” in which he claimed, “Together, unhampered by any democratic process of accountability and fully aware of the climate of feat and intimidation that kept the Filipino people perpetually intimidated, Marcos and the military effectively maintained 14 years of plunder and terrorism.” Benign0 failed to examine the consistency of his sources.

Verification vs manipulation

Why are historians like myself obsessed with these sources anyway? Because the historical record is easily manipulated and we need means of verification.

No system of verification is perfect, but professional historians believe that peer-reviewed academic studies are the best vetted and, therefore, most verifiable sources of information.

Peer review is usually an anonymous process where experts in the field check and evaluate an academic text before it is published in either a professional journal or a university press. Those who have gone through it know that it is a grueling process, involving the scrutiny of the smallest facts.

I do not know of any peer-reviewed study – published here or abroad – that argues martial law was good for our country. If either Benign0 or the angry guy at FlippinFlips can refer me to one, I would be genuinely open to reading and engaging in dialogue. Surely they can find at least one. After all, Herr FlippinFlips loves to remind his followers that, as an American, he has access to more books than those of us back home.

While I await their sources, I will provide everyone with a partial list of my own. And to make sure I don’t get accused of forwarding the biases of local professors, I will only cite works published abroad by foreign authors (though I will insist that local academics are just as qualified).

Here goes:

1. McCoy, Alfred W. Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State. Madison and London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2009.

In the middle chapters of this book, University of Wisconsin history Professor Al McCoy details how Marcos had a direct hand in corrupting our military and enabling the torture of civilians. In “brutalizing” the military and giving them unlimited power, Marcos made it difficult for successive presidents to reign in their violent tendencies. Previously McCoy also proved that Marcos’s record of war heroism was faked.

2. Thompson, Mark R. The Anti-Marcos Struggle: Personalistic Rule and Democratic Transition in the Philippines. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995.

Professor Thompson is the acting head of Political Science at the City University of Hong Kong. This is the book version of his groundbreaking PhD thesis at Yale University, which argues that the Marcos regime was “sultanistic.” Instead of forming a professional political class, Marcos used corruption to strengthen his family and other oligarchs.

3. Anderson, Benedict. “Cacique Democracy in the Philippines: Origins and Dreams.” New Left Review 169, No. 3 (1988): 3-31.

Cornell University’s Benedict Anderson is the fourth most cited social scientist in the world and was the leading commentator on Southeast Asian politics of his generation. This article proves that critics of Marcos are not all “yellowtards,” as Anderson is also very critical of Cory Aquino. In this polemic, Anderson argues that Marcos made himself the warlord of the entire Philippines, turning the military into his own private army.

4. Boyce, James K. The Political Economy of Growth and Impoverishment in the Marcos Era. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.

Boyce is a professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a leading expert in developmental economics. Anybody who claims the economy was better during Marcos’ time should read this book. Boyce argues that Marcos increased inequality and reduced the real wages of Filipino workers and farmers. The net effect: more poverty.

5. Caouette, Dominique. “Constructing and Controlling People’s Power from the Grassroots: Philippine Social Movement Activism in Historical Perspective.” Montreal: University of Montreal: Cerium, 2011.

University of Montreal Political Scientist Dominique Caouette wrote the most comprehensive history of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA. In this article, he shows how Marcos’ repressive policies led to the burgeoning of the NPA. It reminds me of an old joke from decades ago: Marcos was the Communist Party’s number one recruiter. Ngayon, kung maayos talaga nung panahon ni Marcos, bakit sobrang daming NPA noon? (If the situation was really good during the time of Marcos, how come there were so many NPA then?)

As I said, this is just a partial list. I can give you dozens more, because the evidence against Marcos propaganda is substantial and obvious. To the pseudo-hipsters and contrarians, knowing bad history is not hip; it’s just stupid. Wanna be better than others? Read more and read right. Because, in the end, the truth is always sexier. –

Lisandro Claudio is a Research Associate at the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University. He is also an Affiliated Assistant Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Your smartphone is a civil rights issue

In the spring of 2016, a legal battle between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation captured the world's attention.

Apple has built security features into its mobile products which protect data on its devices from everyone but the owner. That means that criminals, hackers and yes, even governments are all locked out. For Apple's customers, this is a great thing. But governments are not so happy. You see, Apple has made a conscious decision to get out of the surveillance business. Apple has tried to make surveillance as difficult as possible for governments and any other actors.

There are really two smartphone operating systems in the global smartphone market: iOS and Android. iOS is made by Apple. Android is made by Google. Apple has spent a lot of time and money to make sure that its products are as secure as possible. Apple encrypts all data stored on iPhones by default, and text messages sent from one Apple customer to another Apple customer are encrypted by default without the user having to take any actions.

What this means is that, if the police seize an iPhone and it has a password, they'll have a difficult time getting any data off of it, if they can do it at all. In contrast, the security of Android just really isn't as good. Android phones, or at least most of the Android phones that have been sold to consumers, do not encrypt data stored on the device by default, and the built-in text messaging app in Android does not use encryption. So if the police seize an Android phone, chances are, they'll be able to get all the data they want off of that device.

Two smartphones from two of the biggest companies in the world; one that protects data by default, and one that doesn't.

Apple is a seller of luxury goods. It dominates the high end of the market. And we would expect a manufacturer of luxury goods to have products that include more features. But not everyone can afford an iPhone. That's where Android really, really dominates: at the middle and low end of the market, smartphones for the billion and a half people who cannot or will not spend 600 dollars on a phone.

But the dominance of Android has led to what I call the "digital security divide." That is, there is now increasingly a gap between the privacy and security of the rich, who can afford devices that secure their data by default, and of the poor, whose devices do very little to protect them by default.

So, think of the average Apple customer: a banker, a lawyer, a doctor, a politician. These individuals now increasingly have smartphones in their pockets that encrypt their calls, their text messages, all the data on the device, without them doing really anything to secure their information. In contrast, the poor and the most vulnerable in our societies are using devices that leave them completely vulnerable to surveillance.

In the United States, where I live, African-Americans are more likely to be seen as suspicious or more likely to be profiled, and are more likely to be targeted by the state with surveillance. But African-Americans are also disproportionately likely to use Android devices that do nothing at all to protect them from that surveillance. This is a problem.

We must remember that surveillance is a tool. It's a tool used by those in power against those who have no power. And while I think it's absolutely great that companies like Apple are making it easy for people to encrypt, if the only people who can protect themselves from the gaze of the government are the rich and powerful, that's a problem. And it's not just a privacy or a cybersecurity problem. It's a civil rights problem.

So the lack of default security in Android is not just a problem for the poor and vulnerable users who are depending on these devices. This is actually a problem for our democracy. I'll explain what I mean.

Modern social movements rely on technology -- from Black Lives Matter to the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street. The organizers of these movements and the members of these movements increasingly communicate and coordinate with smartphones. And so, naturally governments that feel threatened by these movements will also target the organizers and their smartphones. Now, it's quite possible that a future Martin Luther King or a Mandela or a Gandhi will have an iPhone and be protected from government surveillance. But chances are, they'll probably have a cheap, $20 Android phone in their pocket.

And so if we do nothing to address the digital security divide, if we do nothing to ensure that everyone in our society gets the same benefits of encryption and is equally able to protect themselves from surveillance by the state, not only will the poor and vulnerable be exposed to surveillance, but future civil rights movements may be crushed before they ever reach their full potential.

Thank you.


Helen Walters: Chris, thank you so much. I have a question for you. We saw recently in the press that Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook covers over his camera and does something with his headphone mic jack. So I wanted to ask you a personal question, which is: Do you do that? And, on behalf of everyone here, particularly myself, Should we be doing that? Should we be covering these things?

Christopher Soghoian: Putting a sticker -- actually, I like Band-Aids, because you can remove them and put them back on whenever you want to make a call or a Skype call. Putting a sticker over your web cam is probably the best thing you can do for your privacy in terms of bang for buck. There really is malware, malicious software out there that can take over your web cam, even without the light turning on. This is used by criminals. This is used by stalkers. You can buy $19.99 "spy on your ex-girlfriend" software online. It's really terrifying. And then, of course, it's used by governments. And there's obviously a sexual violence component to this, which is that this kind of surveillance can be used most effectively against women and other people who can be shamed in our society. Even if you think you have nothing to hide, at the very least, if you have children, teenagers in your lives, make sure you put a sticker on their camera and protect them.

HW: Wow. Thank you so much. CS: Thank you.

HW: Thanks, Chris.


Source: TED Talks

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Trump Won Over White Working Class

Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism is Killing Them (Literally)

By Juan Cole
Nov. 9, 2016

The Democratic Party has been the Establishment for eight years, and the Clintons have arguably been the Establishment for 24 years. Since the late 1990s, members of the white working class with high school or less have seen their life-chances radically decline, even to the point where they are dying at much higher rates than they have a right to expect.

A year ago Anne Case and Angus Deaton, Princeton University economists, published a study with the startling finding that since 1999 death rates have been going up for white Americans aged 45-54. It is even worse than it sounds, since death rates were declining for the general population.

One of the big reasons for this increased death rate has been increased use of opiods and other drugs, leading to overdoses, along with liver disease from drinking too much alcohol and increased suicide rates. The problems were especially acute among working class and rural whites with only high school or less, and later studies found that they extended to younger members of this social class in their 20s and 30s. Loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs was clearly a primary reason for this despair.

Compared to 1999, white workers, according to another recent study in the Commonwealth Foundation: “have lower incomes, fewer are employed, and fewer are married.” This study found other causes for the increased death rates than just the ones mentioned above, but didn’t deny the Princeton findings. Here is their chart:

The only comparison I can think of to this situation is what happened to Russians in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russian Federation had a population of nearly 150 million in 1990 and thereafter fell to about 144 million. The end of the Soviet Union caused their confidence in the future to collapse and the end of the old economic system created very high unemployment. They stopped having children and drank themselves to death.

Neoliberalism– putting the market in charge of social policy and actually encouraging industries to move abroad for higher profit margins (but for fewer industrial jobs at home)– had much the same effect on the white working class as the fall of the Soviet system had on the Russian working class. Look at what happened to the proportion of the US economy accounted for by industry when Neoliberal policies became dominant:

People who argue that the working class in the US is coddled, with too many benefits and is too well-paid infuriate me. German workers have good benefits and pay, and German industry is thriving in a way that American industry is not. It is about the overall policies enacted by the government.

And consider these conclusions of Mark Levinson of the Congressional Research Service:
  • The United States’ share of global manufacturing activity declined fro m 28% in 2002, following the end of the 2001 U.S. recession, to 16.5% in 2011 . Since then, the U.S. share has risen to 17.2%. These estimates are based on the value of each country’s manufacturing in U.S. dollars ; part of the decline in the U.S. share was due to a 23% decline in the value of the dollar between 2002 and 2011, and part of the rise since 2011 is attributable to a stronger dollar.
  • China displaced the United States as the largest manufacturing country in 2010 . Again, part of China’s rise by this measure has been due to the appreciation of its currency, the renminbi , against the U.S. dollar.
  • Manufacturing output , measured in each country’s local currency adjusted for inflation, has grown more slowly in the United States over the past decade than in China, Japan, Germany, and Mexico.

And among the prime operators of the Neoliberal system were the Clintons.

There is an intervening irony. The one thing that helped working class whites with their increasing health problems was Obamacare. But that help was blunted by the Republican statehouses that refused to support it. So some of the rage of the workers about Obamacare was connived at by the GOP, which didn’t want them to have health care in the first place. (The GOP only really represents big business, which didn’t want to pay for it).

The rage of these workers accounted for the unpredictability of the 2016 election, since they voted in very large numbers for Donald Trump. (There were lots of other constituencies for Trump, but many of them were longstanding GOP groups; the white working class mostly voted Democratic). What appealed to them in Trump’s message was
  1. protectionism and slamming trade partners like China and Japan, which Trump and his audience saw as having gained unfair advantages
  2. Attacks on NAFTA and TPP and making an issue of industries and jobs lost to Mexico and China.
  3. Attacks on Hillary Clinton over her massively well paid speeches to the big banks on Wall Street, whose shenanigans had cost many in the white working class their homes.
  4. Anti-immigrant sentiment, the sense of losing jobs and cultural supremacy to incoming workers.

The Democratic Party’s refusal to do anything about Wall Street mega-fraud in 2009 and after came home to roost. In other words, the Clintons were inextricably entangled in the very policies that white workers saw as having ruined their lives. And objectively speaking, they weren’t wrong.

And the white working class punished the Democratic Party for not being a Left party.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

What Does US Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Know about Science?

Scientific American asks US presidential candidates 20 top questions about science, engineering, technology, health and environmental issues. Here's what Jill Stein answered:

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

1. Innovation

Science and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII. But some reports question America’s continued leadership in these areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation?
Virtually every component of our 2016 Platform contains elements likely to have positive effects on innovation. These include our climate action plan, our free public education and cancellation of student debt proposals, and our Medicare for All plank. Vast resources will be freed for investment in public R&D by reduced Pentagon spending. Millions of people currently hobbled by poverty and underperforming schools will be able for the first time in American history to bring their talents to bear on the problems of the 21st century. A just economy, with living wages and paid sick leave, can be far more innovative than one where innovation is determined by a relative handful of corporate executives and Pentagon planners.

2. Research

Many scientific advances require long-term investment to fund research over a period of longer than the two, four, or six year terms that govern political cycles. In the current climate of budgetary constraints, what are your science and engineering research priorities and how will you balance short-term versus long-term funding?
The greatest challenge currently before us is climate change. We will place innovative breakthroughs in the science and technology associated with mitigation of greenhouse gases and the building of a resilient society that can withstand current and future climate change at the very top of our research priorities.

Presidents are able to affect long term R&D priorities by creating institutions focused on research like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health that are to some extent insulated from short-term political cycles. We will revisit these institutions--their charge, focus, and operations--to ensure that they're performing as expected. We will look for opportunities and mechanisms whereby science policy can be made more democratic, and more responsive to the preferences and needs of average citizens.

3. Climate Change

The Earth’s climate is changing and political discussion has become divided over both the science and the best response. What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?
Climate change is the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced. Here is how we will act to address it:

Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems.

• Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.

• Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy.

• End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.

• Support a strong enforceable global climate treaty that limits global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and provides just financial compensation to developing countries.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted.

4. Biodiversity

Biological diversity provides food, fiber, medicines, clean water and many other products and services on which we depend every day. Scientists are finding that the variety and variability of life is diminishing at an alarming rate as a result of human activity. What steps will you take to protect biological diversity?
Protecting biodiversity is an extremely important and often overlooked priority. Here is how we will act to protect biodiversity:

• Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

• Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on new GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

• Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.

• Support conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials and the use of closed-loop, zero waste processes.

5. The Internet

The Internet has become a foundation of economic, social, law enforcement, and military activity. What steps will you take to protect vulnerable infrastructure and institutions from cyber attack, and to provide for national security while protecting personal privacy on electronic devices and the internet?
The Internet and the access to information it provides is an extremely important resource for the entire world. Here is how we will protect and improve the Internet:

• Protect the free Internet. Oppose the Online Piracy Act and all other legislation that would undermine freedom and equality on the Internet.

• Vigorously defend net neutrality.

• Support public broadband Internet.

• Negotiate international treaty banning cyberwarfare; create a new UN agency tasked with identifying the sources of cyber attacks.

6. Mental Health

Mental illness is among the most painful and stigmatized diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates it costs America more than $300 billion per year. What will you do to reduce the human and economic costs of mental illness?
As part of a Medicare for All universal health care system we need a mental health care system that safeguards human dignity, respects individual autonomy, and protects informed consent. In addition to full funding for mental health care, this means making it easier for the chronically mentally ill to apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income, and funding programs to increase public awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of the mentally ill and differently abled.

We must ensure that the government takes all steps necessary to fully diagnose and treat the mental health conditions resulting from service in combat zones, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

We will also release prisoners with diagnosed mental disorders to secure mental health treatment centers, and ensure psychological and medical care and rehabilitation services for mentally ill prisoners.

7. Energy

Strategic management of the US energy portfolio can have powerful economic, environmental, and foreign policy impacts. How do you see the energy landscape evolving over the next 4 to 8 years, and, as President, what will your energy strategy be?
Our Green New Deal plan prioritizes a rapid transition to 100% clean renewable energy. Our energy strategy will also include:

• Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

• Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled energy.

• End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.

8. Education

American students have fallen in many international rankings of science and math performance, and the public in general is being faced with an expanding array of major policy challenges that are heavily influenced by complex science. How would your administration work to ensure all students including women and minorities are prepared to address 21st century challenges and, further, that the public has an adequate level of STEM literacy in an age dominated by complex science and technology?
Education is critically important to the future of our world. Here is how we will ensure that our students receive the best education possible:

• Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university.

• Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude and eliminate economic barriers to higher education.

• Protect our public school systems from privatization.

• Replace Common Core with curriculum developed by educators, not corporations, with input from parents and communities.

• Restore arts, music and recreation to school curriculums.

• Ensure racially inclusive, sensitive and relevant curriculums.

• Recognize poverty as the key obstacle to learning. Ensure that kids come to school ready to learn: healthy, nourished, secure and free from violence.

• Increase federal funding of public schools to equalize public school funding.

9. Public Health

Public health efforts like smoking cessation, drunk driving laws, vaccination, and water fluoridation have improved health and productivity and save millions of lives. How would you improve federal research and our public health system to better protect Americans from emerging diseases and other public health threats, such as antibiotic resistant superbugs?
A Medicare For All single payer healthcare system would place health as the bottom line rather than industry profits, which is fundamental for improving public health.

A Medicare For All system would:

allow health data to be aggregated on a population-wide scale (much of it is currently held in secret as proprietary information by private companies like health insurers) so that trends and outbreaks could be monitored.
permit assessment of the health needs of the entire population to be determined so that priorities could be set based on areas of need and funds could be given to institutions that would focus on solutions to priority areas.
drive public policy to pursue a greater public health and preventative approach because having a healthier population would save money.
cover every person living in the United States and would remove financial barriers to care. This means that people with infectious diseases and other conditions that impact the population would have access to care when they need it.

10. Water

The long-term security of fresh water supplies is threatened by a dizzying array of aging infrastructure, aquifer depletion, pollution, and climate variability. Some American communities have lost access to water, affecting their viability and destroying home values. If you are elected, what steps will you take to ensure access to clean water for all Americans?
We need a national comprehensive water plan.

Clean water is a human right. The Green New Deal's focus on infrastructure will help prevent future poisoned drinking water crises like that in Flint, Michigan.

Rejuvenating the federal Superfund program will help clean up the polluted drinking water of millions of Americans.

11. Nuclear Power

Nuclear power can meet electricity demand without producing greenhouse gases, but it raises national security and environmental concerns. What is your plan for the use, expansion, or phasing out of nuclear power, and what steps will you take to monitor, manage and secure nuclear materials over their life cycle?
Nuclear fission technology is unsafe, expensive, and dirty from the mining of uranium to the disposal of spent fuel. As such we will end subsidies to the nuclear industry immediately and phase out nuclear power over a 10 year timeline. Existing nuclear waste will be handled with onsite dry cask storage of high-level waste into perpetuity. No transport of nuclear waste.

12. Food

Agriculture involves a complex balance of land and energy use, worker health and safety, water use and quality, and access to healthy and affordable food, all of which have inputs of objective knowledge from science. How would you manage the US agricultural enterprise to our highest benefit in the most sustainable way?
We need a food system that is healthy and sustainable. To this end, we will:

• Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone.

• Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

• Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

• Redirect the Dept of Agriculture to meet the needs of small farmers to realize these goals.

13. Global Challenges

We now live in a global economy with a large and growing human population. These factors create economic, public health, and environmental challenges that do not respect national borders. How would your administration balance national interests with global cooperation when tackling threats made clear by science, such as pandemic diseases and climate change, that cross national borders?
We need a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law and respect for human rights. By strengthening international institutions, we lay the groundwork for greater cooperation on critical challenges such as climate change and pandemic diseases.

14. Regulations

Science is essential to many of the laws and policies that keep Americans safe and secure. How would science inform your administration's decisions to add, modify, or remove federal regulations, and how would you encourage a thriving business sector while protecting Americans vulnerable to public health and environmental threats?
We will rely on evidence-based approaches to regulation. Science advisors will play a central role in our administration. We will appoint scientific review panels and committees.

Some guiding principles for our approach to regulation:

• Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

• Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation, as well as other technologies that promote the transition to a sustainable civilization.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.

15. Vaccination

Public health officials warn that we need to take more steps to prevent international epidemics from viruses such as Ebola and Zika. Meanwhile, measles is resurgent due to decreasing vaccination rates. How will your administration support vaccine science?
Vaccines are a critical part of our public health system. Vaccines prevent serious epidemics that would cause harm to many people and that is why they are a foundation to a strong public health system. Polio is an important example. So is H Flu—a bacteria that caused serious illness, including meningitis, in 20,000 children a year in the US, before development of the H flu vaccine. We need universal health care as a right to ensure that everyone has access to critical vaccines.

Experts like Douglas Diekema, MD MPH say that the best way to overcome resistance to vaccination is to acknowledge and address concerns and build trust with hesitant parents. To reverse the problem of declining vaccination rates, we need to increase trust in our public health authorities and all scientific agencies. We can do that by removing corporate influence from our regulatory agencies to eliminate apparent conflicts of interest and show skeptics, in this case vaccine-resistant parents, that the motive behind vaccination is protecting their children’s health, not increasing profits for pharmaceutical companies.

16. Space

There is a political debate over America’s national approach to space exploration and use. What should America's national goals be for space exploration and earth observation from space, and what steps would your administration take to achieve them?
We recognize the inspiration provided by space exploration and so we support:

1. the peaceful exploration of space

2. space-based systems to monitor environmental conditions on Earth

3. measures to ensure that space technology benefits all the people of Earth

Space exploration and science are international scientific endeavours requiring cooperation between many nations and peoples across borders. The peaceful exploration of space provides inspiration, education, and valuable scientific knowledge. Cooperation on space science and exploration is a promising path to peace. The US has an opportunity to continue leading in space science while ending space militarization. The US can lead international collaboration in space science and exploration without privatizing outer space or turning over space science and exploration efforts to corporations.

Climate science, including the study of other planets in our solar system and beyond, is essential for understanding how to address climate change on Earth. Space science, exploration, and Earth observation provide tools, technologies, and science to help address not only climate change but flooding, drought, storms, famine, and other crises. By focusing US space efforts away from corporate and military interests, we can work to create peace here on Earth and in space, prevent the deployment of space weapons and instead focus on technologies to solve problems on Earth, not create new ones.

Here are steps we will take to advance space exploration and science:

- Funding STEM education and forgiving student debt of STEM scholars so they can focus on science and research.

- signing of the International Treaty for the Demilitarization of Space.

- Ensuring scientists, not corporate or military interests, are driving the space exploration and science agenda

- Ensure funding of pure research, for the benefit of all humanity and our planet.

- Work closely with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on ensuring the peaceful exploration of space.

17. Opioids

There is a growing opioid problem in the United States, with tragic costs to lives, families and society. How would your administration enlist researchers, medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies in addressing this issue?
We will end the "war on drugs” and redirect funds presently budgeted for the "war on drugs" toward expanded research, education, counseling and treatment.

18. Ocean Health

There is growing concern over the decline of fisheries and the overall health of the ocean: scientists estimate that 90% of stocks are fished at or beyond sustainable limits, habitats like coral reefs are threatened by ocean acidification, and large areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What efforts would your administration make to improve the health of our ocean and coastlines and increase the long-term sustainability of ocean fisheries?
Our climate action and environmental protection plans will work to conserve fish stocks and coral reefs. Rapid response to climate change is the centerpiece of the Stein administration. From plastic trash to ocean acidification, we will move smartly to address ocean health with or without Congress.

19. Immigration

There is much current political discussion about immigration policy and border controls. Would you support any changes in immigration policy regarding scientists and engineers who receive their graduate degree at an American university? Conversely, what is your opinion of recent controversy over employment and the H1-B Visa program?
We support the H1-B Visa program. However, we must look at it in the context of overall immigration policy, trade, economic and military policies. In the big picture, we are concerned about a global economy in which people have to leave their home countries to find decent jobs. We support more just international development and demilitarization, so that people don’t have to go half way around the world to find just employment.

20. Scientific Integrity

Evidence from science is the surest basis for fair and just public policy, but that is predicated on the integrity of that evidence and of the scientific process used to produce it, which must be both transparent and free from political bias and pressure. How will you foster a culture of scientific transparency and accountability in government, while protecting scientists and federal agencies from political interference in their work?
It is a major concern that many Americans don’t trust our scientific and regulatory agencies, and extremely unfortunate that there are valid reasons for this declining trust that must be addressed.

For example, the current FDA commissioner appointed by President Obama was a highly paid consultant for big pharmaceutical corporations, as Senator Sanders pointed out in opposing his nomination. In the case of Vioxx, the FDA approved a profitable pain reliever that caused up to 140,000 cases of heart disease, and even tried to silence its own scientists who discovered this deadly side effect.

The CDC actually accepts huge amounts of money from big pharmaceutical corporations, as an investigation by the British Medical Journal revealed. So many scientists, doctors and watchdog groups have flagged these clear conflicts of interest in the FDA, CDC and other federal agencies.

As President I would stop the revolving door and clean up these agencies so that the American people can trust that they’re putting people over profits, and science over lobbying interests.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Revolutionary taxes used to fund community services, never go to pockets of corrupt leaders--NDF

NPA has 'right' to collect revolutionary tax – NDF

By Bea Cupin
June 10, 2016

DAVAO, Philippines – The National Democratic Front (NDF) on Wednesday, June 8, asked for public understanding on the revolutionary tax its armed wing collects, saying the New People's Army (NPA) has the "right" to impose the levy in its "territory."

NDF spokesman Fidel Agcaoili made the appeal in a press conference after a forum at the Ateneo de Davao University, when asked about the NDF’s stand on the NPA's collection of “revolutionary tax” in the context of grumblings from businessmen based in Davao City.

“You have to understand [that] revolutionary movements, meron silang (they have)… political power operating in the countryside and elsewhere. And they have the right, [as] any state…they have the right to impose tax on any form of business that operates within its own territory,” Agcaoili explained.

“Alam 'nyo kasi 'yung (You know, the) revolutionary movement...that's why we're a revolutionary movement. We're trying to win a revolution in order to try and establish a state,” explained Agcaoili, who had earlier met with president-elect and outgoing city mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Agcaoili explained that taxes were needed for the movement to fund services for its communities.

“Yun naman tax na nakukuha, hindi naman napupunta sa bulsa, hindi katulad nitong sa kasulukuyang gobyerno, 'no? Hindi napupunta sa bulsa ng tao kundi napupunta sa bulsa... [instead] napupunta sa efforts ng community to establish new schools, establish new cooperatives, mga medical services sa communities. Doon, doon napupunta iyon,” he said.

(The taxes that are collected, they don’t go to the pockets of leaders, unlike this government. It doesn’t go to the pockets of people but instead, they go to efforts for the community to establish new schools, establish new cooperatives, medical services in] communities. That’s where the money goes.)

Besides, said Agcaoili, it was Duterte himself who told businessmen to just pay the NPA.

“Di ba sabi ni President Duterte, 'Bayaran na lang ninyo!' Siya nagsabi noon, hindi ako (Wasn’t it President Duterte who said: 'Just pay it!' He said that, not me),” he quipped, referring to a statement the long-time Davao mayor made in 2013 during a trade expo in the city.

Refusal to pay such taxes lead to NPA attacks on these businesses. Other companies, however, have refused to pay.

Duterte has branded himself as a “leftist” and is set to give Cabinet positions to nominees from the Left. He was also a student of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison.

Sison, who has been in exile for over 3 decades, had earlier expressed hope he would finally be able to come to the Philippines under a Duterte presidency.

The NDF is set to resume peace talks with the Philippine government under a Duterte administration. Key leaders of the longest-running insurgency in Asia are set to meet with 3 representatives of the incoming administration is Oslo, Norway next week.