Daily Archives: September 27, 2009

Critics: Pandemic emergency bill tramples privacy rights

metrowestdailynews.com | Sep 26, 2009

By Nancy Reardon

BOSTON —Mandatory vaccinations, home searches without a warrant and forced quarantine for those who resist.

Critics of a pandemic preparedness bill pending in the Legislature say it would allow all those things and sets the stage for a medical police state where any response to an epidemic of flu or other illness has the potential to steamroll civil liberties.

The bill’s supporters and its sponsor, Sen. Richard Moore, D-Uxbridge, have found themselves in recent weeks defending against attacks from talk show hosts and Internet critics with an anti-Big Government bent. In the category of unlikely bedfellows: the ACLU has joined the opposition.

Moore and other supporters say the bill is largely borrowed from public health laws and court rulings already on the books. They say that rumors and lies have led people to overreact to the legislation, and cite as an example the statement that the bill makes vaccinations mandatory. While he says his own bill doesn’t mandate vaccination, Moore points to a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Massachusetts smallpox case that said states could require people to get vaccinated.

Critics responded that the bill’s language is too broad and vague in many key areas, and that supporters were splitting hairs in defending it. No, vaccination is not mandatory, but people who do not get vaccinated after the governor declares a health emergency can be placed under quarantine, and failure to observe the quarantine can result in arrest.

Senate Bill No. 2028 – An Act Relative to Pandemic and Disaster Preparation and Response in the Commonwealth – passed the Senate by a unanimous vote on April 30 with almost no public notice. It is awaiting debate and vote on the House floor.

Christopher Ott, spokesman for the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU, which opposes the bill, said, “We feel it’s just a bad idea to legislate out of fear and in a hurry.”

But the bill is not new and not a response to the H1N1 flu.

Moore first filed it about six years ago in response to the threat of anthrax attacks after Sept. 11, 2001. Rewritten versions have passed the Senate three times, but the bill has yet to make it through the legislative process.

The emergency measures outlined in the bill wouldn’t be automatically activated even in a swine flu outbreak, said Jared Cain, a spokesman for Moore.

“The circumstances would have to be pretty grim,” he said, before it became operative.

On Sept. 9, John Auerbach, the state’s commission of public health, wrote a letter to legislators to clarify the matter.

“If the H1N1 pandemic develops … there would be NO NEED (his capitals) for a declaration of the type of public health emergency as envisioned in Senate Bill 2028,” he wrote.

The legislation, he said, is designed for situations on the level of the SARS outbreak or the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.

But critics point out that the bill itself does not say it wouldn’t be used for any type of flu outbreak regardless of how widespread or deadly it was.

State Sen. Robert Hedlund, R-Weymouth, voted for the bill in April but now says he has changed his mind. When it comes back to the Senate for a final vote, he said he plans to vote against it if no changes are made by the House or a joint conference committee.

“I think it needs to be defined what constitutes a public health threat. That’s very vague,” he said. “A lot of the definitions and criteria have to be firmed up.”

The bill was initially based on the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act completed in December 2001 by the Centers for Law and Public’s Health, a collaboration between Johns Hopkins and Georgetown universities.

According to the center, that model legislation has been introduced in whole or in part in 171 bills in 44 states.

Cain, Moore’s spokesman, said the bill doesn’t include anything not already on the books in Massachusetts. It consolidates many health laws and regulations into one act to outline how the state should deal with public health crises and what the state health commissioner would be empowered to do, he said.

Current laws, Cain said, are very broad on who would be in charge and what would take place.

“There are dozens of public health laws this bill borrows from,” he said. “But it’s all based on Massachusetts General Laws.”

Senate Bill 2028 says that anyone who refuses to get a vaccination recommended by public health officials may be quarantined. It also allows arrest without a warrant or entry into any house or building without a warrant if an officer has probable cause to believe there is a violation of a quarantine.

The prospect of warrantless search and arrest riles critics, who call is an illegal expansion of the state’s existing regulations for quarantine.

Moore’s office says the bill applies to a public health situation the probable cause standard that already allows search and arrest without a warrant in other situations. While the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guards against unwarranted searches and seizures, the concept of “exigent circumstances” has developed over time through case law. Emergency situations requiring swift action, the courts have held, may make a warrantless search constitutional if probable cause exists.

Under existing law, a quarantine order cannot be enforced unless the state health department or a local health board applies to a Superior Court judge for an judicial order empowering health authorities to take specific actions.

Ott, of the ACLU, said the organization believes “heavy-handed law enforcement is not the way to go.”

The bill would also empower the state health commissioner to restrict or prohibit public assemblies.

Cain said Moore’s intention was to require people to stay home from work or school, and give the health commissioner authority to close schools.

Critics, however, point out that the bill does specify those limits or intents.

When asked if it would apply to any public meeting, Cain said, “We’re talking about an ebola-type situation. Nobody is going to think about having public meetings if this is the case.”

ACLU: Education, not law enforcement

Opponents of a proposed pandemic and emergency preparedness bill say health officials miss the mark when they treat public health as a matter of national or state security.

The state chapter of the ACLU, which opposes the bill, compares it to the federal Patriot Act passed after Sept. 11, 2001. The group says the pandemic bill now pending in the Legislature may be another case where “people ask some serious questions as time goes by.”

“We believe pandemic preparation should focus on educating people and that heavy-handed law enforcement is not the way to go,” said Christopher Ott, ACLU spokesman.

George Annas, a medical ethics expert at the Boston University School of Public Health, co-authored a report in January 2008 that argued against a law enforcement approach to public health crises.

The report found that measures that prohibit activities or force quarantines “breed public distrust and encourage the people who are most in need of care to evade public health authorities.”

A bill pending in the state legislature would allow anyone suspected of violating a health order such as quarantine to be subject or arrest or have his home searched or seized.

Annas said this week the best approach for the state is educating people and making sure it can deliver health services and provide enough voluntary vaccinations.

“The notion that the police have any business in public health is on its face bizarre,” he said. “The police have enough to do without worrying about health care.”

The pending pandemic response bill – and the public’s confusion over what it would do – only serves to “panic people,” Annas said.

Chavez seeks Africa’s help for New World Order

Chavez Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Africa-South America Summi

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (L) visits Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at his tent at the venue of the Africa-South America Summit in Margarita Island September 25, 2009. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

Chavez has governed for just over 10 years and makes no bones about his aim to stay in office for decades more while he works to turn Venezuela into a socialist state.

Reuters | Sep 26, 2009

By Frank Jack Daniel and Fabian Cambero

PORLAMAR, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosted some of Africa’s longest-serving leaders at a sleek Caribbean resort on Saturday for a summit he says will help end U.S. and European economic dominance.

High-profile guests included Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, who is celebrating four decades in office and had a white limousine flown to Venezuela to meet him at the airport, and 85-year-old Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since leading it from British colonialism nearly 30 years back.

Chavez has governed for just over 10 years and makes no bones about his aim to stay in office for decades more while he works to turn Venezuela into a socialist state.

He said the two-day meeting of African and South American leaders, which also includes many recently elected presidents, would help the mainly poor nations build stronger trade ties and rely less on Europe and the United States.

Chavez said Europe and the United States were empires that have imposed poverty on much of the world.

“We are going to create two great poles of power,” Chavez told reporters at the luxury Hilton resort on Venezuela’s Margarita island late on Friday. We are “seeking a world with no more imperialism where we will be free, uniting to escape poverty.”

The presidents of Brazil and South Africa also attended the summit. Their model of business-friendly economics mixed with a focus on the poor is more popular among many African countries than Chavez’s radical message.

Some analysts say the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as BRIC nations, could eclipse the economies of the world’s richest countries by 2050.

The leaders at the summit were likely to agree on supporting stronger links between the two continents and calling for reform of global institutions like the United Nations and World Bank to give poor countries more clout.

Gaddafi, whose entourage arrived in two matching Airbus passenger jets and pitched a large Bedouin tent beside the Hilton’s pool, on Wednesday told the United Nations that big powers had betrayed the U.N. charter with their vetoes and sanctions.

King Mswati III of Swaziland, who was crowned in 1987, was also due to appear on Margarita, along with the leaders of Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Algeria, among others.

In total, 28 African and South American leaders were expected to be present by Saturday afternoon.

Chavez seems to be going all out to provoke his foes.

On Friday, Venezuela said Iran helped identify its uranium reserves, just hours after the West accused Tehran of building a secret nuclear fuel plant.

Chavez says he opposes nuclear weapons, but that the developed world does not have the right to stop other countries from developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

A major oil exporter, Venezuela is seeking to widen Chavez’s ALBA alliance of mainly Latin American leftist governments to include African states.

Chavez promised this month to build a refinery in Mauritania and sell crude to Mali and Niger in West Africa, a region that is emerging as a major new oil frontier considered of strategic importance to oil companies.

(Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Will Dunham)

Legal action could lift the lid on Northern Ireland’s Freemasons

belfasttelegraph.co.uk | Sep 21, 2009

33rd_Jewel_logo_grandlodge of IrelandThe internal workings of one of the most secretive institutions in Ireland, the Masonic Order, may be publicly exposed after a writ was issued in the High Court in Belfast against a provincial grand master and the general secretary in Dublin.

News of the unprecedented legal action comes as The Lost Symbol, the new novel by Dan Brown about the pursuit of “ancient mysteries” hidden in Washington DC by the Freemasons, hit the shelves and sold millions in its first week of publication.

The legal proceedings by father and son Stewart and Brian Hood has rocked the arcane world of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland.

Neither party would discuss the issues behind the High Court action but sources within the Masonic say it relates to serious disagreements and disciplinary actions within the Antrim provincial lodge that arose more than two years ago.

A writ naming Barry Lyons, the grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Ireland, whose headquarters is in Molesworth Street in Dublin, is expected to be served in the coming days.

Mr Lyons is named in the writ lodged in the High Court in Belfast on September 10, which afforded the order 21 days to have an appearance entered on behalf of the Grand Lodge. In February 2007, the Antrim provincial lodge was rocked after secretly taped recordings of meetings held in its Rosemary Street Hall in Belfast were sent in the post to members of the lodge. The PSNI was asked to investigate the incident but detectives told the Masons that they were unable to establish that a criminal offence had been committed.

Since then there have been attempts to resolve the issues that have caused friction within the Antrim Masons, which is thought to have around 7,000 members.

Within the Masons, the official line has been that the dispute was resolved through Grand Lodge-directed mediation, but the High Court writ issued 10 days ago by the Hoods against John Dunlop, the provincial grand master of Antrim and the general secretary of the Masons in Ireland, has stunned the membership.

Businessman Brian Hood declined to discuss any details of the action, but did say: “I can confirm that my father and I have laid the writ. We are happy to be Freemasons but are appalled at the conduct of the management of the provincial lodge of Antrim.

“It is our intention to have a court hearing. If we cannot get a fair hearing and justice within the Masonic Order, then we have to seek justice elsewhere and take steps to have injustice addressed.”

In a quarterly communication in June 2007, posted on its website, the Grand Lodge of Ireland included a minute referring to the dispute in Antrim.

“The assistant grand master reported on the findings of the sub-committee chaired by himself, set up to consider complaints between Brethren in Antrim and Senior Provincial Grand Lodge Officers in Antrim,” it said.

In June of last year, the Grand Lodge website assured members that the dispute in the Antrim Lodge had been resolved.

When asked last week whether the Antrim provincial grand master and the general secretary would defend the writ, a member of staff at the Masons Rosemary Street office in Belfast would only say: “We are not making any comment at the moment.”

New Zealanders start petition to stop water fluoridation

Kapiti residents start anti-fluoridation petition

wellington.scoop.co.nz | Sep 26, 2009

A group of concerned Kapiti residents have chosen to start a petition to ask the Kapiti District Council to stop the fluoridation of Raumati, Paraparaumu and Waikanae.

“Fluoridation has got to stop. It is harmful to health and a violation of human rights” says Daniela D-Ronberg, spokesperson for the newly-formed Kapiti Fluoridation-free Campaign

“I am particularly worried that we are still allowing this when the American Health Authorities are advising that babies are getting too much fluoride through the normal tap water when making up baby formula. Fluoride cannot be boiled out.” says Daniela D-Ronberg The last two studies[1][2] in New Zealand that looked at dental fluorosis (the first outward sign of fluoride poisoning) showed that 30% of children in fluoridated areas had some form of dental fluorosis as compared with only 15% in non-fluoridated areas.

This petition has come as a result of Tuesday’s film night where residents were able to watch two half hour videos on fluoridation. These videos consisted of an interview with an award winning BBC journalist and an overview of fluoridation by professionals such as doctors, dentists and scientists from around the world.

Daniela D-Ronberg says “All of continental Europe does not allow water fluoridation. Anyone supporting fluoridation needs to watch these two videos before they can consider themselves to be making an informed decision. Otherwise they are coming from a position of ignorance.”

The group intend to circulate both an electronic and a paper-based petition over the next few months which they will present to Council at the end of the year.

Maost rebels spread across rural India aided by Jesuit priest

Jesuit priest Ambrose Pinto says the Maoists and Naxalites have a legitimate claim to a share of the profits

Canwest News | Sep 21, 2009

Maoist communism may be as dead as Mao Zedong himself in China, but in India it is alive and in brutal good health.

Maoists, often called Naxalites for the town of Naxalbari where peasants took up arms against oppressive landowners in 1967, operate in 20 of Indian’s 28 states.

In many of India’s poorest areas, especially its forests, the Maoists have established parallel administrations, collecting taxes, running crude court systems and dispensing rough justice, often through the barrel of a gun.

Naxalite guerrillas have been in an almost constant state of war with government police, special army units and official armed vigilantes for over 20 years. Thousands of people have died in those decades and nearly 600 people have been killed in over 1,400 incidents this year alone.

But despite the sustained anti-insurgent campaign by government forces, the Maoist grip on poor, rural India has been growing year-by-year.

They now operate “People’s Governments” in a swathe of territory across central India sometimes called the “Compact Revolutionary Zone” or the “Naxal Belt.”

There are somewhat startling estimates with which many officials agree that the Maoists control a much higher percentage of India than the 11 per cent of neighbouring Pakistan said to be controlled by the Taliban.

Last week Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government is losing the battle against the Maoists.

“I have constantly held that in many ways, left-wing extremism poses perhaps the gravest internal security threat our country faces,” Singh told a conference of police chiefs in New Delhi.

Singh said the Maoists appear to have a growing appeal among many segments of Indian society, especially the rural poor, but also tribal communities and left-leaning urban intelligentsia.

The state of the insurrection rapidly became a South Asian regional issue last week when Home Affairs MinisterPalaniappan Chidambaram, who is responsible for internal security forces, added that the Maoists have safe havens in neighbouring states and easy access to sophisticated weapons in Southeast Asia.

There were immediate expressions of outrage from neighbouring Nepal, where local Maoists have become part of government after waging a successful civil war.

Chidambaram undoubtedly included Nepal in his comments, but he was also pointing to India’s troubled northeastern region where dozens of separatist groups operate and where many people have close ethnic ties to Tibet, China and Burma.

In many ways the rise of Maoism in India echoes unrest in China where last year there were over 70,000 “mass incidents” involving over 1,000 people.

In both India and China these acts of rebellion are by the legion of the poor who have not benefited from their nations’ economic advances and whose scant resources are being pillaged by those with power.

The difference is that in China the Communist Party has expended every effort to ensure that no nationwide or even regional organization that could marshal and direct the unrest is allowed to come into being.

But India is a democracy with a long tradition of left-wing and communist parties.

The Maoists have purposefully operated outside the broad church of India’s parliamentary politics and in some states they have been declared terrorist organizations.

Maoist leaders deny they are terrorists. “We’re fighting a people’s war,” one Naxalite leader told a local journalist recently. “We want the proletariat to rule, not imperialistic governments.”

While few analysts believe the Maoists could attract enough support to overthrow the government as they did in Nepal, there are many who see justice in their cause.

Even Singh, during his speech last week, acknowledged that the problem is as much about poverty as it is security.

Writing in a Catholic newspaper last week, Jesuit priest Ambrose Pinto said that at the heart of the problem is a battle between two models of development. Prime Minister Singh and mainstream national and state administrations are pursuing a “neo-liberal” model which encourages foreign investment and welcomes multi-national corporations. This approach, says Pinto, has seen tens of thousands of local and tribal people displaced to make way for such things as steel mills, power plants, mine developments and special economic zones. The global recession has caused havoc with this approach, spurred unemployment, misery and impoverishment, andprovided recruits for the Maoists, he said.

“It is this model that the Naxals and Maoists are opposing,” wrote Pinto. “They are asking for a local model of development that would not destroy the life and livelihood of the people.”

Pinto says the Maoists and Naxalites have a legitimate claim to a share of the profits from the resources of their land.

The first step towards meeting this just cause and ending the insurrection, Pinto says, is to reform the Forest Land Act to give tribal peoples clear ownership of the land on which they live and a real claim to a proper share of profits from enterprises in those areas.

This, he says, should be a prelude to a broader program of land reform that would give local people protection against the looting of their legitimate resources by multinational and influential Indian corporations.

Chavez promotes closer Africa-South America ties

Muammar Gaddafi  shakes hands with Hugo Chavez during the summit on regional conflicts in Tripoli August 31, 2009. REUTERS Zohra Bensemra

Muammar Gaddafi (R) shakes hands with Hugo Chavez during the summit on regional conflicts in Tripoli August 31, 2009. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

AP | Sep 25, 2009


PORLAMAR, Venezuela — Some 30 African and South American leaders are seeking to build on their alliances at a summit that gives Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a chance to extend his influence across the Atlantic.

Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, on his first visit to the Americas, set up camp in a trademark Bedouin tent and met with Chavez inside it Friday night. Other leaders also held talks in private ahead of the summit’s start on Saturday.

The two-day meeting on Venezuela’s Margarita Island is aimed at addressing a wide range of common concerns, from poverty solutions to calls for reform at the United Nations.

Chavez has called it “a summit of great importance for the struggles of the South.”

Presidents are discussing plans for cooperation in energy, trade, finance, agriculture, mining, education and other areas.

“Africa and South America — We’re going to form two of the large poles of power in that … multipolar world that has begun to be born,” Chavez said as he arrived for the summit Friday night. He said that by uniting, the two regions can confront a legacy of poverty left “by the empires of the North — by the empires of Europe, by the U.S. empire.”

The meeting gives Chavez an opportunity to attempt a greater leadership role outside Latin America while critiquing U.S. influence and promoting socialist-inspired policies.

“South-South” cooperation has been a buzzword at the summit, which brings together two regional blocs: the African Union and South America’s fledgling Unasur group.

African leaders including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika gathered at a beachside hotel amid crowds of bodyguards and aides. South American presidents from Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Bolivia’s Evo Morales were also attending.

Chavez called Gadhafi and Bouteflika the historic “liberators” of their countries and said socialism — both in Africa and in Latin America — will be “the path to the world’s salvation.”

A first, smaller gathering of African and Latin American leaders was held in Nigeria in 2006. The timing this year — immediately after the U.N. General Assembly in New York and G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh — suggests it may turn out to be a forum for many non-G-20 nations to respond and focus on their concerns about the way the global financial crisis is being handled.

Deals to work together in tapping energy and mineral resources are also expected.

Chavez has already announced that Venezuela may help build an oil refinery in Mauritania that could process 30,000 to 40,000 barrels per day and supply fuel to Mali, Niger and Gambia.

It is unclear how much the South American oil exporter is prepared to invest in energy projects in Africa since it is coping with a sharp drop in its revenues due to lower crude prices.

Obama science chief: Abortion can save planet

Obama Science

AP Photo: J. Scott Applewhite

John Holdren’s textbook says forced sterilization may become necessary

WorldNetDaily | Sep 21, 2009

By Jerome R. Corsi

Despite the claims of some media watchdogs, President Obama’s science czar contended in a textbook he co-authored that involuntary birth-control measures, including forced sterilization, may be necessary and morally acceptable under certain conditions, such as widespread famine brought about by “climate change.”

John Holdren argued in the 1970s college textbook obtained by WND, “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment,” that, “Compulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea, but the alternatives may be much more horrifying.”

The book, last revised in a 1977 edition, was co-authored with Malthusian population alarmist Paul R. Ehrlich and Ehrlich’s wife, Anne.

The authors also advocated abortion as an acceptable form of population control and proposed that the best survival strategy for a pregnant woman is to abort her baby.

“When performed today under appropriate medical circumstances by a qualified physician … abortion is much safer than a full-term pregnancy,” Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote.

To support the argument, the authors noted the death rate in the U.S. for legal abortion in the first trimester was then less than two in 100,000, increasing to 12 per 100,000 in the second-trimester, “still only half the maternal death rate for childbirth.”

“Ecoscience,” the once popular college textbook, now has become rare, with the only copy currently available on Amazon.com offered for $649.

The scarcity of the politically explosive text is reminiscent of the controversial anti-war book John Kerry co-authored in 1971 with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a volume that reached price heights during the Democratic senator’s 2004 presidential run and is even today selling on Amazon.com in the rare hardcover edition for $199.

Instead of publishing a new edition now that Holdren has risen to the position of White House science czar, Holdren and his White House supporters have tried to distance him from the views expressed in the book, arguing it is now more than three decades old.

Moreover, a statement released by the White House argued that while the textbook discussed compulsory methods of population control, including forced abortion and sterilization, the Ehrlichs and Holdren never advocated involuntary birth control but preferred milder, voluntary population control measures.

In a Sept. 9 item by Media Matters asserting Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity falsely claimed Holdren advocated compulsory population control, the left-leaning media watchdog insisted Holdren merely “discusses ‘compulsory control of family size’ including abortion and sterilization as a possible consequence for countries whose expanding birth rates are not curbed by ‘milder methods.”

Media Matters refers to the St. Petersburg Times’ fact-check website, Politifact.com, which addressed similar claims in July by Fox News host Glenn Beck, who said Holdren’s textbook proposed forced abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population.

“We think a thorough reading shows that these ideas were presented as approaches that had been discussed,” Politifact.com wrote. “They were posed as suggestions or proposals. In fact, the authors make clear that they did not support coercive means of population control. Clearly, nowhere in the book do the authors advocate forced abortions.”

A close reading of “Ecoscience,” however, shows the authors clearly stated their acceptance of abortion as an effective population-control technique.

“An abortion is clearly preferable to adding one more child to an overburdened family or an overburdened society, where the chances that it will realize its potential are slight,” Holdren and the Erhlichs argued on page 760 of the 1977 edition of “Ecoscience.”

“There is little question that legalized abortion can contribute to a reduction in birth rates,” the authors wrote on page 761. “Liberalization of abortion policies in those countries where it is still largely or entirely illegal is therefore justifiable both on humanitarian and health grounds and as an aid to population control.”

Moreover, Holdren and the Ehrlichs indicate that should population growth continue uncontrolled, the consequences of “global warming,” including widespread famine, may make compulsory population control measures necessary.

Holdren and the Ehrlichs concede compulsory population control measures if implemented to prevent disasters resulting from uncontrolled population growth will be distasteful to those with moral objections.

Arguing that voluntary measures of family planning and birth control might not be enough, Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote on page 783 that compulsory birth control methods would need to be implemented when “massive famines, political unrest, or ecological disasters make their initiation imperative.”

In further defining this “disaster exception” in which compulsory methods, including forced abortions and sterilization, might become acceptable, if not necessary, Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote on the same page: “In such emergencies, whatever measures are economically and technologically expedient will be likeliest to be imposed, regardless of their political or social acceptability.”

Full Story

Abortion Addict Confesses 15 Procedures in 16 Years

Repeat Abortions Baffle Experts, as Author Irene Vilar Explores Her ‘Impossible Motherhood’

ABC | Sep 21, 2009


Irene Vilar worries that her self-described “abortion addiction” will be misunderstood, twisted by the pro-life movement to deny women the right to choose.

Her book, “Impossible Motherhood,” which will be released by Other Press on Oct. 6, chronicles her own dark choices: 15 abortions in 16 years, much of it as a married woman.

As press on the book has begun to leak out, Vilar — a literary agent and editor — says she has already sensed “an inkling of hatred.”

Vilar has scheduled only closed-door interviews and will not do a book tour. At the urging of her husband, they have made sure all public property records do not reflect her name, so she cannot be targeted at their home.

“I am worried about my safety and the hate mail,” she told ABCNews.com in a telephone interview as her home-schooled children were at work on a painting project.

“No book like this has ever been written,” she told ABCNews.com. “I just imagine the ‘baby killer’ and I could be a poster child for that kind of fundamentalism. And there are my little kids in all of that.”

Today, at 40, the Latina author has two young children, but her troubled past continues to haunt her well into motherhood.

She grew up in the shadow of her notorious grandmother Puerto Rican nationalist Lolita Lebron, who stormed the Capitol steps with a gun in 1954. Lebron served 25 years in jail for the crime until receiving a pardon from President Carter in 1979.

Her mother committed suicide by throwing herself from a moving car when Vilar was 8 and two of her brothers were heroin addicts.

Mass Sterilization in Puerto Rico

Vilar’s story is set against the backdrop of the American-led mass sterilization program in her native Puerto Rico from 1955 to 1969, a fitting symbol for her struggle with her own reproduction.

By 1974, 37 percent of all Puerto Rican women of childbearing age had been permanently sterilized in that experiment.

“Women tend to repeat behaviors,” Vilar said of herself. Her mother’s forced hysterectomy without hormone treatment at the age of 33, led to depression and a Valium addition.

Vilar attended boarding school in New Hampshire and was just 15 when she left for Syracuse University, where she fell in love and later married her first husband, a tyrannical 50-year-old professor.

With a predilection for young women, he bragged that his relationships had never lasted more than five years and that having children killed sexual desire.

She says their emotionally dependent relationship was riddled with shame, self-mutilation and several suicide attempts.

Full Story

Catholic Freemason Lauds Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol


American Freemason Lauds Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol; Launches Website as Proof to Brown’s Claim

PRWeb | Sep 21, 2009

American Freemason and New York psychologist Dr. Patrick Swift launches website InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net as proof to one of Dan Brown’s claims regarding Freemasonry in the Lost Symbol. Swift is editor of the website, a member of George Washington Lodge #285 in New York City, and a practicing Catholic who previously studied to become a Jesuit priest.

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 21, 2009 — American Freemason and New York psychologist Dr. Patrick Swift launches website InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net as proof to one of Dan Brown’s claims regarding Freemasonry in the Lost Symbol. Swift is editor of the website, a member of George Washington Lodge #285 in New York City, and a practicing Catholic who previously studied to become a Jesuit priest.

In The Lost Symbol (http://www.thelostsymbol.com/), Dan Brown presents his main character Robert Langdon teaching that, “One of the prerequisites for becoming a Mason is that you must believe in a higher power. The difference between Masonic spirituality and organized religion is that the Masons do not impose a specific definition or name on a higher power.” Swift supports that statement as accurate, but says Brown takes artistic license as well. “He is absolutely correct to write that religious tolerance is one of the foundational principles of Freemasonry,” says Swift. “It’s what drew me to the Fraternity in the first place, and continues to inspire me today. I must say though that I’m no official voice for Freemasonry.”

“I have enormous respect for the Masons,” Brown told The Associated Press during a recent interview (Yahoo! News) (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090915/ap_en_ot/us_books_brown_masons). “In the most fundamental terms, with different cultures killing each other over whose version of God is correct, here is a worldwide organization that essentially says, `We don’t care what you call God, or what you think about God, only that you believe in a God and let’s all stand together as brothers and look in the same direction.”

A healthcare provider to 9/11 victims and author of One Mountain, Many Paths, Swift promotes religious tolerance with his website and offers it as proof that at least one of Brown’s basic claims about Freemasonry is accurate. According to the website, the mission of InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net is to promote communication and constructive dialogue between people of faith – regardless of any difference in spiritual orientation, faith, creed, or religious denomination (details) (http://www.interfaithreligioustolerance.net/About.html).

“I feel compelled to speak out in support of religious tolerance because intolerance and bigotry threaten to tear our country and our world apart,” says Swift.  “Religious tolerance is a basic American value within our government and our Constitution. Founding Fathers like George Washington, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, and John Hancock understood the importance of this as Freemasons.”

Holding a firm belief that our likenesses vastly outnumber our differences, Swift compiled his award-winning book One Mountain, Many Paths (Double Eagle Press) in the wake of 9/11. Swift’s book contains uplifting quotes from the sacred texts of all the great religious traditions, organized into chapters such as “Love One Another” and “Love Your Enemy.” Swift is giving away free copies of his book online at InterfaithReligiousTolerance.net (http://www.interfaithreligioustolerance.net/).

A clinical psychologist at a major medical center in Manhattan with faculty appointments in neurology and rehabilitation medicine, Swift has cared for thousands of people from different faiths and offers diversity training to healthcare providers (details at PatrickSwift.com (http://www.patrickswift.com/). “One of my favorite stories involves a time when I worked with a Muslim physician from Pakistan to care for a Hindu patient from India, with me as a Catholic neuropsychologist from Texas. Religion doesn’t have to be a dividing force between us. It can actually bring us closer together.”

Click here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=af6WKMh-t7o) to watch Dr. Swift speak at a performing arts center in Ohio. See him on the O’Reilly Factor here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw1djiEEARA).

About Double Eagle Press LLC:

Established in 2006, Double Eagle Press’ mission is to produce hardcover, trade paperback, and e-book editions that make a positive difference in the world. Their consumers are people who care about the world in which they live and strive for peace and tranquility in their own lives. National and international book distribution is available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and The Bookmasters Group. Double Eagle Press publishes Interfaith Religious Tolerance.net and is solely responsible for its content.


Dr. Patrick Swift

Double Eagle Press LLC

(862) 205-1924


Contact Information
Patrick Swift
(862) 205-1924

Obama Leaves Bush-Cheney Repressive Apparatus Standing

progressive.org | Sep 21, 2009

By Matthew Rothschild

Civil libertarians cheered the election of Barack Obama, and with good reason.

Bush and Cheney had trampled all over our rights and liberties.

And as someone who taught constitutional law, Obama denounced the Presidential power grabs and pledged to address them.

But he hasn’t followed through on that pledge.

This week, the Senate is holding a hearing on the reauthorization of some expiring—and troubling–sections of the Patriot Act. The Obama Administration wants to reauthorize them nonetheless.

One of these is Section 215, which allows the FBI to slap National Security Letters on bookstores and libraries and thereby find out who has been checking out or buying which book. This is a violation of our right to privacy and to Free Speech, and Obama should know better.

Obama’s Administration is also making the outrageous claim that it can detain anyone it wants at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and then deny that person all access to due process and habeas corpus.

Nor has Obama made any move to rectify the blatant denial of due process that is embedded in the Military Commissions Act, which allows the President to designate anyone an enemy combatant and jail you. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, he can jail you as an “alien enemy combatant,” and you may never see a judge or a lawyer for the rest of your life.

Nor has Obama withdrawn National Security Presidential Directive 51, which gives to the President extraordinary powers over the other branches of government at every level in times of an emergency that he himself declares.

These examples strongly suggest that Obama doesn’t have the will to tear down the edifice of oppression that Bush and Cheney constructed.

As a result, we remain today a much less free country than we were eight years ago. And it looks like we’ll remain that way tomorrow.

Even if Obama doesn’t use these powers against us, a rightwing successor like Sarah Palin sure might.

This is one issue where libertarians and progressive need to get together on, in a hurry.