First I'll start with a compelling, well written story on the Angola Three, members of the Black Panther Party who were put under solitary confinement for over a combined 100 years for their peaceful protests and organization in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were convicted of killing prison guard Brent Wallace even though there is no physical evidence linking them to the killing according to NPR.

An 18,000-acre former slave plantation in rural Louisiana, Angola is the largest prison in the US. Today, with African Americans composing over 75% of Angola’s 5,108 prisoners, prison guards known as “free men,” a forced 40-hour workweek, and four cents an hour as minimum wage, the resemblance to antebellum US slavery is striking.


Prison authorities sanctioned prisoner rape, and according to former Prison Warden Murray Henderson, the prison guards actually helped facilitate a brutal system of sexual slavery where the younger and physically weaker prisoners were bought and sold into submission. As part of the notorious “inmate trusty guard” system, responsible for killing 40 prisoners and seriously maiming 350 from 1972-75, some prisoners were given state-issued weapons and ordered to enforce this sexual slavery, as well as the prison’s many other injustices. Life at Angola was living hell—a 20th century slave plantation.

The Angola Panthers organized non-violent hunger strikes and work strikes in retaliation to these conditions. Prison authorities put them in solitary confinement to break their influence.

U.S. manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies have dumped at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that are often municipal sources for drinking water.

As part of its ongoing PharmaWater investigation about trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, AP identified 22 compounds that show up on two lists: the EPA monitors them as industrial chemicals that are released into rivers, lakes and other bodies of water under federal pollution laws, while the Food and Drug Administration classifies them as active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Currently municipalities do not test water for trace pharmaceuticals. Last year the Associated Press did an investigation finding trace pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas. They concluded that 46 million people have drugs in their drinking water. Now it goes a step further, with these claims that companies are dumping these chemicals in waterways. Scientific studies have proven the effects these chemicals have on wildlife. Even though there are only trace amounts, you have to consider this is a mixture of drugs and trace amounts over a lifetime add up. For these reasons I try not to regularly drink tap water. Your Britta filter won't do a thing. Of course most bottling companies are no better and it's very difficult to find their filtering process. I recommend reverse osmosis which will filter these chemicals, as well as things like fluoride that you shouldn't be ingesting. I found that Alhambra drinking water is filtered through reverse osmosis so I purchase their 2.5 gallon jugs. The ultimate goal is to get my own reverse osmosis filtration system going, or purchasing drinking water from Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley, Ca that sells reverse osmosis filtered water, therefore reducing the use of disposable plastics.

U.S. media was all over criticizing the Iranian government for detaining American/Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi. Saberi was sentenced for 8 years, accused of being a U.S. spy. An order will immediately release her. Salon's Glenn Greenwald compares this case to cases of journalists being detained by the U.S. and how little media coverage there is. The media is the first to criticize a foreign government, but when it comes to criticizing the U.S. where they have some influence, they remain silent.

In another unwelcome move the Obama administration is leaning toward a decision to make it up the Federal Reserve when a firm is "too big to fail." This is worrisome since the Federal Reserve is a private/public institution with personal interests in the financial market. I see this as consolidating this power even further from the hands of the people than it already is. Not that the people had the power already, but at least the representatives that were elected could technically be held responsible for their decisions.

Law Professor Jonathan Turley stated that intervies Dick Cheney has done can be used against him in court by admitted the Bush administration knew about the details of the torture program and authorized it. Obama has mentioned he won't prosecute Bush officials but the political winds can always change.

Lawmakers in the lower house in France have passed a bill that would allow Internet connections to be cut of those who repeatedly download illegal music and movies. This is the first time such a bill has been passed. Critics say the bill would not allow offenders to challenge charges against them.

A U.S. soldier gunned down 5 fellow troops at a stress clinic in Baghdad. Hopefully this will further bring to light the stresses soldiers are facing these days from lengthy deployments. Will we see a resurgence of the post Vietnam years where soldiers are thrown to the streets to deal with their PTSD by themselves? I recommend watching Battle for Haditha which addresses this topic and stresses U.S. troops are under.

Conservative talk show host Michael Savage has been banned from Britain. What I find most interesting is that Savage is based in San Francisco and was part of leftist circles in his youth and at one time discussed medicinal benefits of marijuana. I think this shows how he is just an opportunist playing an act to make money.

After a year of President Medvedev Amnesty International says there have been no improvements with justice in Russia despite Medvedev's commitment to restore the rule of law. More interestingly, Medvedev has a LiveJournal. I would totally add him as my friend if it weren't all in Russian.

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