News Releases

Supreme Court Targets Wetlands


TARAH HEINZEN,, @foodandwater
Heinzen is legal director of Food & Water Watch. On Thursday, the group issued a statement: “Today the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Sackett v. EPA, a case that challenged long-established Clean Water Act protections for wetlands. The decision greatly limits such protections, drastically narrowing the ability of the Clean Water Act to restrict commercial development of sensitive areas. Wetlands are critical to protecting clean water, providing habitat, and controlling flooding. Today’s decision will leave tens of millions of acres of wetlands without protection across the country, and will likely also remove protections for small streams.”

Heinzen added: “We are outraged, though sadly not surprised, that this ultra-right-wing Supreme Court would choose to decimate long-standing common-sense protections for sensitive wetlands throughout the country. Wetlands play an integral role in protecting downstream waterways and reducing flooding — which will only worsen as climate change makes extreme weather more frequent. Today’s decision rejects this established science in favor of corporate developers’ profiteering.

“The Biden administration and states must get creative and use every tool at their disposal to protect our rivers, streams and wetlands from this devastating decision.”

Is There a Ceiling on Military Spending? New Report: 62 Percent of Budget on War and Militarism


The National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies just released a “critical new analysis of the militarized budget” in the United States, “The Warfare State: How Funding for Militarism Compromises our Welfare.”

The new report found that this past year, “out of a $1.8 trillion federal discretionary budget, the U.S. spent a staggering $1.1 trillion — or 62 percent — of that budget on militarism and war.”

The group notes: “Threats to cut spending for vital domestic programs have featured prominently in the debt ceiling debate in recent weeks, but spending on militarism has been almost entirely exempt from the discussion. Meanwhile, clawing back failed military, homeland security and law enforcement spending could instead fund programs and measures to address the true needs of American communities.”

Other findings: “Less than $2 out of every $5 in federal discretionary spending was available to fund investment in people and communities. …

“The U.S. spent $16 on the military and war for every $1 that was spent on diplomacy and humanitarian foreign aid. …

“The U.S. spent $51.1 billion for homeland security, approximately half of which goes to ICE ($8.8 billion) and CBP ($17.4 billion).”

“When we invest so heavily in militarism at home and abroad, we deprive our own communities and people of solutions to problems that pose immediate security threats,” said co-author Lindsay Koshgarian, Program Director of the National Priorities Project. “We underfund programs to end poverty, provide affordable housing, bolster public education, and protect clean air and water at our peril. Spending on militarism takes up the majority of the federal discretionary budget, and it has grown faster than all other spending. If we keep up these patterns, we are hurtling toward a future where we can’t afford the basics of a civilized society.”

“We keep hearing that our government can’t afford nice things — or necessary things — for everyone. And yet militarized spending in the U.S. has almost doubled over the past two decades, and the military budget is now approaching its highest point since World War II,” said co-author Ashik Siddique, Research Analyst at the National Priorities Project.

Alliyah Lusuegro, Outreach Coordinator of the National Priorities Project added: “Tens of billions of dollars are funneled into ICE and CBP every year in an effort to militarize the border, separate families, and detain and deport immigrants and people seeking asylum.”

Is Biden Prolonging the Yemen War?


Ryan Grim of The Intercept writes in “The Yemen War Can Be Over — If Biden Wants It” that: “The U.S. is slow-walking peace negotiations, effectively pushing for a resumption of the war.”

Grim writes: “Everybody else directly or indirectly involved — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Houthis, China, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, etc. — appears to want to put the war behind them. A ceasefire has held for more than a year, and peace talks are advancing with real momentum, including prisoner exchanges and other positive expressions of diplomacy. Yet the U.S. appears very much not to want the war to end; our proxies have been thumped on the battlefield and are in a poor negotiating position as a result.

“Reading between the lines, the U.S. seems to be attempting to slow-walk and blow up the peace talks. Triggering a resumption of hostilities would unleash yet another Saudi-led bombing campaign that could win U.S. proxies better terms when it comes to control of the strategically positioned Yemeni coastline. (The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden link the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean at the southwestern corner of Yemen, an area so geopolitically important to the flow of oil and international traffic that the U.S. has one of its largest bases, in Djibouti, across the strait.)…

“The Houthis, for their own political and literal survival, need the blockade lifted. If the talks drag on for too long, the Houthis are likely to resume cross-border strikes. Everybody on all sides knows that, which is why the Saudis appear eager to get to a final deal, while the U.S. keeps throwing up new conditions.”

Grim quotes Erik Sperling, executive director of Just Foreign Policy: “It’s surreal to think that the Biden administration is more hawkish on Yemen than the brutal regime of Mohammed bin Salman, but that’s the current reality,”

HASSAN EL-TAYYAB,, @HassanElTayyab

Legislative director for Middle East policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, El-Tayyab, said: “I’m very concerned that the administration is adding all these conditions to a full U.S. military exit and a Saudi-Houthi deal. I’m worried that they’d use the idea that we need to have a perfect inclusive peace as a precondition to lifting the blockade. … Yemenis should be allowed to chart their own future. It increasingly seems like the Biden administration would rather slow down diplomatic progress instead of finally just ending the Saudi-Houthi conflict.”

Residents on Strike At Hospital Hard-Hit by Covid


Resident doctors went on strike early this week at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, which was particularly hard hit by Covid-19 in 2020. This is the first doctors’ strike in New York City in 33 years. One hundred and fifty trainee doctors walked out to push back against the low pay they receive for “extremely long hours and grueling work.” The doctors are demanding pay parity with non-union physicians at Mount Sinai, the hospital that runs Elmhurst’s residency program. Elmhurst residents currently earn $7,000 less per year than non-union physicians at Mount Sinai. 

    Altenor is the communications director of the Committee of Interns and Residents / SEIU. 

Altenor told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Resident physicians have had enough––of profit-driven health care, of being exploited, of being asked to do too much with far too little. They are rising up and that is no more clear than at Elmhurst Hospital, where they are on strike for the first time in more than 30 years of CIR [Committee of Interns and Residents] history after bringing Queens through the pandemic. Mount Sinai can end their strike right now… by coming to a resolution that honors their labor.” 

In July, Mount Sinai residents will begin to make $11,000 more than Elmhurst residents currently make. (A first-year resident at Elmhurst makes $68,000; those at Mount Sinai will make $79,000.)

Rachel Nass, who is on the CIR picket line, writes that Elmhurst “residents are calling for good faith bargaining and movement towards their demand of pay parity with their fellow Mount Sinai residents across the river in Manhattan.”

Pakistan’s Khan Against the Generals — and the U.S.? 


Tariq Ali writes in “Khan Against the Generals” that: “For much of the past week, former Pakistani Prime Minster Imran Khan’s house in Lahore has been surrounded by armed police, and the Rangers — a repressive force straddling the police and Army but under civilian control — have been on standby. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has ruled that Khan should not be arrested, but he doubts he will stay out of jail for long. The entire leadership of his party, the PTI [Pakistan Movement for Justice], is currently behind bars. A state crackdown is in full swing.

“This marks a dramatic escalation of the political war between the PTI and the Army, along with its favoured politicians and the government it manoeuvred into place after removing Khan from office last April. The new administration is essentially a coalition of Pakistan’s dynastic parties led by Bhutto-Zardari and the Sharif family. Since it was installed, Khan has repeatedly accused the U.S. of orchestrating the congressional coup against him — motivated by his refusal to support their interventions in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Large numbers of anti-American protesters have taken to the streets, demanding his reinstatement. …

“Every opinion poll shows him sweeping the country at the next general election. On 8 May, a nervous Army leadership — by no means unified — and a Sharif government fearing a political wipeout, took the decision to arrest Khan by sending in a team of Rangers while he was in the High Court dealing with an old corruption case. He was immediately dragged off to a squalid prison.”

Ahmad just wrote the piece “Following failed kidnapping of Imran Khan, Pakistan’s regime desperately cracks down on dissent.” He states: “When the military briefly kidnapped Khan in May, the U.S. government refused to comment on the act, which amounted to a de facto endorsement.

“Since then, the State Department has only issued vague declarations on the need to respect the ‘rule of law’ and ‘democratic principles’ (despite the fact that the regime it is currently backing was not elected).

“However, there may be some divisions emerging in the Washington establishment over this whole gruesome affair in Pakistan.

“Even notorious neoconservative U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, who helped oversee the war on Afghanistan, has conceded that Pakistan is now a ‘military dictatorship.'”

Ahmad teaches law, religion, and world politics in Pakistan and is the director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Decoloniality.

Amoxicillin Shortages


In a recent opinion piece for STAT, pediatrician Nishant Pandya detailed how shortages of critical medicines––including amoxicillin, the generic antibiotic––harmed pediatric patients, their families and their providers during last winter’s “tripledemic,” or the confluence of flu, Covid-19, and RSV that overwhelmed hospitals and urgent care clinics. 

    Pandya is a pediatrician in New Haven, Conn. 

Pandya told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “I was inspired to write this article because of the tripledemic––the three viruses that spiked last year––which put a lot of strain on the healthcare system.” It was a stressful time for families as well as providers. “This was a whole other unexpected variable that was incredibly stressful. We couldn’t rely on frequently-used medications or trust that we could prescribe this medication and the patient could get it. I was confused and curious why a medicine so common and frequently used could be in shortage. Why wasn’t our system prepared to handle a bit of strain?”

The shortage harmed both families and children, Pandya said, “and made us as providers use finite hours that we could have used to be with patients calling pharmacies. The pharmacies were overwhelmed. Pharmacies often didn’t know where stocks were. They can’t compare stocks between pharmacies.”

Pandya has two recommendations going forward. First, the U.S. has “only one manufacturer that produces amoxicillin. The majority of producers are international; different components are sourced from different areas. Increasing production [currently] requires changes in multiple locations, leading to delays.” Second, Pandya urges pharmacies to “create international [modes of] communication. At the moment, there is no centralized form of communication and no way to organize information” about medication stocks. 

Pandya notes that like many generic medicines, amoxicillin is produced in response to consumer demand. “Because it’s generic, it’s not profitable [for pharmaceutical companies]. Whenever there’s an unexpected spike in demand, we’re not ready to respond to it. We need to be able to respond to acute changes in health; we can’t just use predictions. It’s disappointing to learn that the heart of this challenge is due to critical medication not being profitable.”

The term “shortages” hides the reality of the problem, Pandya said. “There are human costs to these decisions that are made to maximize profit. There’s a harsh human cost, and people don’t see it unless you’re unfortunately sick or work in the healthcare industry.”

Biden in Hiroshima as His Policies Threaten Nuclear War


Joe Biden just arrived in Hiroshima for the G7 Summit.

Steinbach is co-founder of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area, which has regularly organized events with survivors of nuclear bombings in Japan.

He said today: “In the face of a U.S.-initiated proxy war in Ukraine that has brought the world to the brink of direct U.S.-Russian military confrontation and nuclear catastrophe, Biden’s visit to the A-bombed city of Hiroshima is an insult to peace-loving people worldwide, especially the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“The public is shockingly oblivious to the threat of global nuclear war. This is the most dangerous period, even exceeding the Cuban missile crisis. The proximate cause is the crisis in Ukraine, but the stage was largely set by the U.S. government killing a series of treaties. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, signed in 1972, was a bedrock. It made clear that ABM systems could only work in the context of a massive first strike. George W. Bush terminated the treaty in 2002 despite Russian objections.

“Largely as a result of public revulsion at the possibility of nuclear war and massive protests in the U.S. and Europe in the 1980s, Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987 — this made nuclear war less likely. But Trump ended that Treaty in 2019, provoking Russia.

“Biden now should re-enter those treaties. Instead, we saw the increased militarization of Ukraine and even President Zelensky indicating his desire for nuclear weapons in Munich in January of 2022. This further provoked Russia.

“If there’s one thing the survivors of nuclear bombings — hibakusha — keep reminding us, it’s that a nuclear war now will not be limited and will not be survivable. Because of SALT and START Treaties, the number of nuclear weapons has gone down — from 70,000 to less than 15,000 today. But today’s weapons are more accurate and larger — and more usable.”

Former National Security Officials in NYT ad: “War is a Racket”


On Tuesday, a group of former high-ranking national security fellows, the Eisenhower Media Network, released an open letter appearing as a full-page ad in the New York Times, calling for a diplomatic end to the Russia-Ukraine war.

The ad — which can be seen here — includes an important timeline of events and a map showing U.S./NATO military bases near Russia and a comparison of what that would look like if the “shoe were on the other foot.”

The letter states: “The immediate cause of this disastrous war in Ukraine is Russia’s invasion. Yet the plans and actions to expand NATO to Russia’s borders served to provoke Russian fears. And Russian leaders made this point for 30 years. A failure of diplomacy led to war. Now diplomacy is urgently needed to end the Russia-Ukraine War before it destroys Ukraine and endangers humanity.”

“Competent and wise diplomacy could have prevented the Ukraine War and it most likely could have ended it already,” Matthew Hoh, Associate Director, Eisenhower Media Network; Former Marine Corps officer, and State and Defense official said. Only diplomacy will end this stalemated war, there is no military victory possible for either side.”

“I worked in Space Command as a senior advisor to the Commander, where our land-based nuclear arsenal was under his command. This is the most fearful I have ever been of a nuclear escalation,” Dennis Fritz, Director at Eisenhower Media Network; Command Chief Master Sergeant of the US Air Force (retired) said. “My goal is to bring awareness to as many people as possible the backstory of how we got here and how ‘silence is complicit’ if I disagree with our current policy and role in the Russian/Ukraine conflict.”

Historically, the fellows say, Russia has been invaded by foreigners and is therefore wary of enlarged NATO borders. With that in mind, this situation should be considered with perspective and understanding versus weapons and destruction.

“As Dan Ellsberg has warned courageously and unceasingly, we — the world — are at the nuclear brink again, perhaps closer to the edge than ever before. It only requires one step to go over and then our steps end forever,” Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) Lawrence Wilkerson said. “If that’s not sufficient reason for a return to diplomacy, our extinction is at hand; the timing is all that is in question.”

The letter states: “Why did the U.S. persist in expanding NATO despite such warnings? Profit from weapons sales was a major factor. Facing opposition to NATO expansion, a group of neoconservatives and top executives of U.S. weapons manufacturers formed the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Between 1996 and 1998, the largest arms manufacturers spent $51 million ($94 million today) on lobbying and millions more on campaign contributions. With this largesse, NATO expansion quickly became a done deal, after which U.S. weapons manufacturers sold billions of dollars of weapons to the new NATO members.

“So far, the U.S. has sent $30 billion worth of military gear and weapons to Ukraine, with total aid to Ukraine exceeding $100 billion. War, it’s been said, is a racket, one that is highly profitable for a select few.”

Venezuelans Fleeing Sanctions Turned Away at the U.S. Border


The Biden administration is under fire for turning away Venezuelan asylum seekers at the U.S. border.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research notes in “House Democrats Worried that Migration Surge Caused by U.S. Sanctions Could Cost Them in 2024” that: “Venezuelans and Cubans hurt by sanctions-caused damage are a rapidly increasing proportion of migration to the U.S. over the past year.”

Pine is visiting professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Department of Anthropology and Social Change, and co-editor of Asylum For Sale: Profit and Protest in the Migration Industry.

She just appeared on “Flashpoints” with Dennis Bernstein to discuss the influx of Venezuelan migrants at the U.S. border.

Describing the origins of the crisis, Pine said, “In 2015, Former President Obama issued the first sanctions, which are a form of collective punishment against Venezuela. Venezuela had a huge hit to its economy. It was not able to import food, it was not able to import medicine — even if it did have the money — because of U.S. unilateral coercive measures. So people started to leave.

“More recently, many Venezuelans have made the very dangerous trek through the Darien Gap toward Central America, Mexico, and ultimately the United States. They did this only to find that, while the United States has been using the increased migration of Venezuelans in a cynical, propagandistic way to claim they’re fleeing a dictatorship, the U.S. is not welcoming Venezuelans with open arms when they come.”

Pine noted that the asylum ban (preventing the majority of Venezuelan asylum seekers who don’t have access to the Biden administration’s limited parole program at the border from seeking refuge in the United States) stands in contrast with historical U.S. asylum-granting policy: “Citizens from countries that are perceived as enemies to the United States are more likely to be granted asylum than citizens from countries that are not perceived as enemies to the United States regardless of the actual level of violence that is targeting populations in the countries…

“Venezuelans are coming to the U.S. border thinking that they’re going to get a warm welcome because this is the rhetoric of the United States and they’re finding that the reality is very different.”

Pine remarked on the policies of the Biden administration: “The Biden replacements for Title 42 and Remain in Mexico are proving to be even more dangerous than Trump’s policies, and the administration has been deporting people without any due process at record pace.”

Changes to Texas End-of-Life Procedures


The Texas House has approved a bill to amend the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), a change that would change the procedure for Texas patients who are on life-sustaining treatments with no hope of recovery. Controversy over the current Advance Directives Act focuses on the ability of hospitals to discontinue life-sustaining treatments after 10 days if the attending physicians consider the treatment to be futile and cannot find a different facility to care for the patient, even if family members disagree with the choice. The new bill will increase the time from 10 days to 25 and update the process for ethics committee meetings.

TADA has been on the books since 1999, when it was passed as a compromise between medical professions and Texas anti-abortion-rights groups. The Texas Right to Life organization has consistently pushed for the law’s repeal. 

    Pope is an expert on medical law and clinical ethics with a focus on patient rights, healthcare decision-making, and end-of-life options.

Pope told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “These changes have been called for for a long time.  More than 40 bills have been introduced to amend this law since the early 2000s, and they almost all failed. This time is different; the amendment was pre-drafted and vetted by stakeholders, including Texas Right to Life and the Texas Medical Association. Those parties haven’t agreed on the bill since 1999.

“Across the country, states have increasingly acted to constrain the ability of clinicians to unilaterally take action to stop life-sustaining treatment over the patient or family objections. Fifteen years ago, there was a thought that more states would follow Texas and permit clinicians to stop treatment when it was futile, inappropriate, non-beneficial,” and so forth. “But in fact, the rights and legal ability of hospitals and clinicians to act over patient and family objections has been constrained in a number of states.” Until now, “Texas was unique in keeping that broad scope of permission for clinicians and hospitals to do what they thought was appropriate.”

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