Mar 30 2012

Weekly Digest – 03/30/12

Weekly Digest | Published 30 Mar 2012, 12:46 pm | Comments Off on Weekly Digest – 03/30/12 -

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Our weekly edition is a nationally syndicated one-hour digest of the best of our daily coverage.

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This week on Uprising:

* Gun Lobby and ALEC Push “Stand Your Ground” Laws Used to Justify Trayvon Martin’s Killing
* Children’s Defense Fund Highlights Effects of Gun Violence on Children
* Koch Brothers Exposed: The 1% at its Very Worst
* The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates

* * *

Gun Lobby and ALEC Push “Stand Your Ground” Laws Used to Justify Trayvon Martin’s Killing

Police video released on Thursday of George Zimmerman being taken into a police station about 35 minutes after he was detained for shooting Trayvon Martin may further erode Zimmerman’s claim that he shot the teenager in self-defense. The grainy video captures Zimmerman’s face and head, albeit from afar, and there are no obvious injuries to his nose and skull or blood stains on his shirt. Zimmerman told police that he was attacked by Martin and violently beaten in a struggle before shooting the boy on February 26th in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman’s attorney has said the video proves nothing, and that paramedics likely cleaned up Zimmerman’s wounds before police took him into custody.

Meanwhile, Illinois Congressman and former Black Panther, Bobby Rush, called for an end to racial profiling in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s killing from the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday. During his comments Rush took off his suit jacket and put on a grey hooded sweatshirt, after which he was interrupted by presiding Republican Congressman Greg Harper who called the Illinois Congressman out of order for violating a no-hat rule. Rush refused to stop speaking and was then ejected from the chamber. He later told CNN, “I don’t mind being out of order if it means standing up for truth and justice.”

The February 26th killing of Trayvon Martin continues to be met with calls for the arrest of his shooter George Zimmerman, and with a national solidarity movement against racial profiling. Martin’s death has also brought scrutiny on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows citizens to use deadly force in self-defense, without retreating, when they perceive a threat to their life. George Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense and the law puts the burden of proof on the state to prove otherwise. Florida was the first state to pass a Stand Your Ground law in 2005. Soon after, the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, drafted its own model bill under the name, “Castle Doctrine Act.”

ALEC is a private organization that brings together corporations, conservative advocacy groups, and elected officials to advance a legislative agenda. ALEC produces model bills, templates for various bills that are drafted with the input of private interests and introduced into state legislatures around the country by elected officials affiliated with ALEC. Since Florida enacted its Stand Your Ground law, 16 other states have adopted similar bills and ALEC has taken responsibility for the proliferation. The National Rifle Association is closely affiliated with ALEC and in 2008 ALEC resident fellow Michael Hough told the NRA news, “[ALEC] is a very pro-Second Amendment organization. …[some] of the things that we were pushing in states was the Castle Doctrine.”

GUEST: Brendon Fischer, Law Fellow and reporter with the Center for Media and Democracy

Visit www.prwatch.org and www.alecexposed.org for more information.

Children’s Defense Fund Highlights Effects of Gun Violence on Children

Trayvon Martin was only 17 years old when he was shot and killed in Florida, a state with some of the most lax gun control laws in the nation. He became one of thousands of children and teens in the US to be killed as a result of gun violence each year. The Children’s Defense Fund has just released a new report, “Protect Children, Not Guns,” dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin. The organization found that in 2009 just under 3,000 children and teens were killed after being shot. Eighty-five preschoolers were killed with guns in 2009, almost double the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty the same year. The report also finds that Black youth are more likely to be killed as a result of gun violence than their peers. In a stark juxtaposition, the Children’s Defense Fund reports that 44,038 black youth have been killed since 1979, which is 13 times more than the number of black Americans of all ages who died by lynching over an 86 year period from 1882 to 1968.

GUEST: Catherine Beane, Director of Policy and Practice for the Children’s Defense Fund

Visit www.childrensdefense.org for more information and to download the report.

Koch Brothers Exposed: The 1% at its Very Worst

When the Occupy Movement speaks about the 1 percent which has wreaked havoc on this country’s financial system, the billionaire Koch brothers immediately come to mind. Charles and David Koch have given hundreds of million dollars to fund a conservative agenda which promotes the interests of the richest 1 percent of Americans. Now, in Robert Greenwald’s new documentary, “Koch Brothers Exposed: The 1% at its very Worst” we get an incisive look at the tentacles of the Kochs’ influence throughout the American political and cultural landscape.

After inheriting the family oil business from their father, Charles and David Koch amassed an estimated fortune of $60 billion dollars through Koch Industries. The company has become the 2nd largest privately held multi-national corporation in the world owning companies that range from Georgia-Pacific paper company to fertilizers, chemicals, ranching, manufacturing and oil pipelines. Veteran film maker Robert Greenwald, in his film, shows how the Koch Brothers have spent their money to wield enormous power and advance an extreme right wing political agenda through massive donations to think tanks, legislators and political groups like Americans for Prosperity.

Employing more than 50,000 people in the US, Koch-funded think tanks, according to Greenwald, are working to dismantle unions, weaken social security and deregulate government to dilute environmental protections around the country. In fact, Koch Industries is one of the top ten polluters in the United States. Not satisfied with influencing the economic system within which their companies operate, the brothers also aspire to shape the cultural fabric of the country. Through groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs are working to demolish the public school system by funding efforts to resegregate schools in places like Wake County North Carolina and undermine minority voting rights in dozens of states.

GUEST: Robert Greenwald, producer and director of Koch Brothers Exposed, also founder of Brave New Films, which has produced such hard-hitting documentaries as as Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.

Visit www.kochbrothersexposed.com to order DVDs of the film.

Watch a trailer of Koch Brothers Exposed:

The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates

Autism affects 1 in 88 US children according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just yesterday. That number is up 25% from the CDC’s previous estimate in 2002 of 1 in 110 children developing the disorder. According to the CDC, boys are five times more likely than girls to be afflicted with autism and children with IQs above 85 are increasingly being diagnosed with it. Only 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism as recently as the early 1990s. The steadily climbing rate of the disorder has parents and public officials worried about what is causing autism, but the CDC says it cannot pinpoint a cause.

The definition of autism has expanded to include a range of behavioral disorders that fall along an autism spectrum, including Asperger’s syndrome. In Utah, the CDC found that 1 in 47 children were diagnosed with a disorder falling on the Autism spectrum, while in Alabama the rate was much lower at 1 in 120 kids. Zachary Warren of an Autism treatment and research facility at Vanderbilt University told the AP yesterday that significant disparities in rates between states may be explained by access to the health records of children in each area.

The cause of the Autism disorders is up for debate, with some arguing that genetics play a major role while others, controversially, blame childhood vaccines. But award winning journalist and E-Magazine editor Brita Belli has now detailed the links between environmental toxins and autism in a new book called “The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates.” In it, Belli interprets compelling evidence that everyday exposure to environmental toxins such as flame retardants used in furniture and electronics, are linked to rising autism rates. Those same chemicals are banned in other countries.

GUEST: Brita Belli, editor of E-Magazine, author of The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates, and an award winning journalist. Her blog about autism can be found online at www.autismandtoxins.com.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day:

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” — John F. Kennedy

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