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Under Lock & Key

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Hoke Correctional Institution] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 15]
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Sleep deprivation to control oppressed

I am currently in the hole, and on May 19 after the 6 p.m. shift change two second-shift Correctional Officers came on duty here on the lockup unit. Almost immediately these two COs began making their rounds, which was unusual. It seemed every few minutes one of them was knocking on our cell door asking if we were alright, which was certainly unusual. As the day turned into night I noticed these annoying visits did not stop. Around 11:40 p.m. I was awoken several times. I then asked the CO what was going on, why she keeps waking us up every few minutes. She advised me that the shift captain ordered that every prisoner in solitary will be awakened every 30 minutes to ensure no one slips into a diabetic coma. I was flabbergasted by their reasoning for depriving us of sleep.

This prison has recently become a medical unit, but not all of the prisoners here are sick; 75% of us are completely healthy. Nonetheless, there are 20 of us on lockup, and only one prisoner is diabetic. Around 2:30 a.m. the shift captain was making her rounds. I got her attention and I asked who authorized this new practice and its policy. She advised me that she was ordered by our current assistant superintendent that until further notice we shall be awakened every 30 minutes to assure we are responsive. We are suffering, and as a result of us being deprived of sleep we lack the sense of concentration. It seems our assistant superintendent can and does alter the rules at will. No one questions or challenges his decisions or his authority. Nonetheless, we just want the proper sleep we are entitled to. I filed a grievance on this issue with no reply as of yet. I want to let others know what we are going through here at Hoke Hell.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Hoke "Correctional" Institution's purpose is to "correct" and control the behavior of people who they see as a potential threat to their structure of domination. Sleep deprivation, just like psych meds, nutrient-lacking food, and environmental toxins, is one form of physically attacking the humyn brain, with potentially long-term health effects. It's a joke that this is common practice in places that claim to be about "correcting" people, when they are clearly about degrading people for easier control.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [Texas]
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Race and Abuse in Texas Prisons

The Texas prison system is fucked up. We were the last state to get telephones in the units. Our governor called phone privileges pacifiers. We inmates have so few privileges it is sad. I believe we are the only state that doesn't pay the inmates to work. we get "good time credits" but the good time credits don't count if you are an aggravated offender or if your custody level is high.

Texas definitely endorses slavery. If you refuse to work they take away what few privileges we do have. I have now been in this cell for three weeks without drinking water. If I want any water I have to get it out of the toilet like I am a dog. Grievances don't work here because when we get them back they all have the same answer on them "officer denies allegation no further action will be taken at this time."

Censorship is crazy here. They ban books by Mao, Lenin and Stalin. But we can get books on genocide, ethnic cleansing, Adolph Hitler, and the K. I have actually seen a book called The Hitler We Loved and Why by Christof Friedrich and Eric Thompson. Friedrich is a Nazi sympathizer and should have been imprisoned for his active role in genocide. I am including an article from the Austin American Statesman on the redundancy of the censorship. The article is titled Variety of Books Banned in Prison.

Medical conditions here are no better. Back in January I was being treated for H. Pylori virus. It is a virus that lives in well water. The system has prevented us from filing a class action lawsuit on it. They claim that we could have got it in the free world. While I was being treated for H. Pylori half the unit along with myself came down with the Novo Virus. The officials said that we got it from the food. What I can't understand is why only half the unit came down with it and the other half didn't.

Now I want to take a little time talking about racism. It is not just corporate white colonizers that are the bigots. But it goes on in every nationality. We need to set aside skin color and look at the bigger pictures. Communist leadership and rule was formed to go against imperialism and capitalist bullshit. It is not a movement against whites. From what I understand, Marx, Lenin and Stalin were all white. There are too many people of the Latino and Black race who are caught up in the imperialist and capitalist movement for it to be only the whites to be put down like they are in some of the articles. When it comes to the U$ imperialists the only color that I can see is green. So stop hating on skin color. The only way we can make a change is to put race aside. Remember, we are all red inside.

MIM(Prisons) responds: While we share this reader's call for unity among all people fighting for communism, we do not agree that whites should be equated with other nationalities within U$ borders. The reality of Amerika is national oppression, and whites enjoy the role of oppressor. Historically, being Amerikan has been defined by pseudo-scientific ideas of race. As other groups become more integrated into the amerikan nation, the idea of race could become less significant, but Amerika would still be the oppressor nation.

We don't believe in race, so we would never say that whites can't join the revolutionary struggle, but when we talk about whites as a group we have to recognize their role as an oppressor nation. Whites do have to work against their national interests to join the revolutionary struggle. Similarly, all free U$ citizens have class/economic interests that they must work against to join the revolutionary struggle.

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[Medical Care] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California]
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Medical care is a sham

The medical and mental health services in here is bad news. Either by sham or lack of care, or none at all. I have bad allergies and a doctor here at CSP-SAC [California State Prison - Sacramento] took me off my allergy medication to treat it. And even worse, a guy who had cancer was taken off his meds that treats his cancer.

For a time, between 1997 and 2001, I was constantly cell extracted and beaten by prison officials just for filing grievances/litigation and standing up for yard, showers, store, mail, medical, law library access, etc.

At this current time I am back in the hole. I've been here a little over a year for not accepting a celly. As I stand up to oppression I stand high to death or victory.

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[Spanish] [Medical Care] [California]
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Tratamiento adecuado negado

Yo personalmente he tenido complicaciones de salud los ultimos dos años, specificamente infecciones estómacales (dos veces). Me diagnosticaron con H-Pylori (Helico Infección Bacterial) que basicamente viene de comida sucia en los cubiertos. Se sabe que esta infección causa cáncer estómacal si no es tratado apropiadamente. Adicionalmente he estado sintiendo quemazón en las areás privadas, en cual la prisión del estado de Florida y la union correción institución ha continuadamente corrido los mismos examenes, nunca intentando otra forma de tratamiento en cual solo causando que sufra más.

Repetidamente me han cobrado $3 por ir a ver el doctor solo para ser negado tratamiento adecuado. El personal medico igual que el personal de seguridad (los guardias) sigen actuando como que los reclamas de mi enfermedad medica es un problema mental y no un problema fisico, hasta que recientemente despues de dos años fui visto por el urologista y solo por el apoyo de mi familia y de continuadas quejas me dijeron que tenía calculo renal. Solo quiero decir que quien seas y donde estes todos podemos contribuir a la lucha para derechos basicos y con determinación podemos obtener o lograr nuestras metas y conquistar.

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[Medical Care] [California] [ULK Issue 12]
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Medical negligence leads to finger loss

Greetings to all who support what is right! My story goes like this: I recently noticed a friend of mine with a very large bump on his hand due to a brown recluse spider bite. I asked him, "what happened?" He told me that he filled out an emergency medical request form and informed medical staff of the type of spider and its location.

Well, no one responded to even look at it until 19 days had passed. I asked him if they were going to treat it and he said, "yes, they did." They had given him a couple band-aids and a small packet of ointment. Well, this morning I saw him again. They had to amputate 3 of his fingers because the poison from the spider bite had caused severe damage over such a prolonged period of time. However, if they would have responded sooner, then he wouldn't have lost his fingers.

A law came out some time ago called "The Plata Case" which entitles all inmates in CDCR to fair and prompt medical attention, as well as other medical treatments. For the most part, the staff are still negligent, and when they are confronted with that particular issue they say "due to budget cutbacks, we are short of staff!" They cling on to any reason to blame the budget so their job income can be more. A lot can be done to save my friend's fingers, but when I see the attitudes of the medical staff and the way they treat the inmates in a non-professional manner, it's obvious they are unloading their aggressions and animosities on the inmates needing medical attention.

MIM(Prisons) adds: Plata v. Schwarzenegger, docket no. 3:01-cv-01351-TEH (N.D. Cal.), is a federal class action civil rights lawsuit alleging that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) medical services are inadequate and violate the Eighth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This case was filed in 2001 and as of early 2010 the state is still resisting as a federal receivership has recently taken over the CDCR's medical care. MIM(Prisons) promotes long legal battles that are strategically chosen to create space for the oppressed to organize and to expose the system. Almost nine years of court and prisoners of the state are still losing fingers and worse unnecessarily. Now that the system is exposed, the other side of our struggle is building the independent institutions of the oppressed that demonstrate better ways to do things.

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[Medical Care] [Gender] [New York] [ULK Issue 12]
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Gynecology: legacy of gender oppression

Medical Apartheid

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
by Harriet A. Washington
Doubleday Press, 2007.

I would like to contribute to ULK by adding to every issue a book of the month club to bring consciousness to those already down with MIM. My first book is called Medical Apartheid. It is about J. Marion Sims, a doctor (mad man), who operated on Afrikan wimmin here in the u.$. without anesthesia. He used at least 9 people to hold these sisters down against their will while he took out their ovaries. This caused a medical condition known as Vaginal Fistula, and earned him the moniker of "the father of gynecology."

The people who benefited from his experiments are none other than Caucasian women at that time. Caucasian women make up most of what MIM calls the gender aristocracy. While the patriarchy represents male power over the oppressed female gender, the gender aristocracy are those who support the patriarchy because they benefit from it despite their biological sex.

There is a statue of Sims erected in Central Park honoring his inhumane acts. Those of us living in NYC need to explain the true her-story of what he did to our children who may visit this statue on a field trip. We need to teach them her-story from the perspective of the real gender oppressed, not those who pose as "feminists" and attack the oppressed peoples.

It is important that our people become enlightened about this practice, which was just one example in this book of what we had to endure just for being Afrikan in the united $tates. From the times of slavery to examples in the 1990s, Afrikans have been used as guinea pigs and targeted for racist experiments. It is the gender oppressed who are especially targeted: wimmin, children and prisoners.

The author discusses "iatrophobia," which is the continued fear of doctors that Afrikan people experience under patriarchal imperialism. This fear is based in real life experience, but it also contributes to decreasing our access to needed medical care.

This book is very sad and will open a floodgate of tears for its readers. Hopefully through promoting books like this we can reach our brothers and sisters who wear blue, red, black and gold to stop thinking white!

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[Medical Care] [ULK Issue 12]
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Health Care Universe Excludes Most People

Stop Medical Oppression in Prisons
There has been a lot of talk about "health care reform" in the u.$. this year. Like other government-led reforms, there is no progressive side to this debate. It is between the wealthy libertarian individualists who want to retain the power to pay lots of money for highly specialized care on demand, and wealthy labor aristocracy activists who want to make sure the wealth of health care is shared out among Amerikan citizens. Neither side represents the interests of the world's oppressed. When they talk about "Universal Coverage" they are never talking about more than 15% of the world's population.

As we approach the end, the anti-climatic outcome of all the hyped media and political hoopla supports the theory that it was nothing but a distraction. This is a much safer debate than what would come out of discussions of Obama's expanding war on the Middle East and Central Asia. But we will indulge this topic for an issue of Under Lock & Key because we think our comrades have some interesting things to say about health care that is being left out of the amerikan dialogue, particularly in relation to the disproportionately incarcerated nations.

The connection between wealth and health

Under imperialism, the wealthier a country is the better health care the population can expect to receive, which results in a healthier population (measured by things like life expectancy and lower rates of key mortality indicators for children and for some common diseases). This is not just based on individual wealth, or ability to pay, but on national wealth that is accumulated by those that exploit other nations. Infrastructure such as water sanitation, hospitals and medical schools are all concentrated in the First World. This is a material benefit of imperialism that is not directly about income.

Wealth also brings its own health problems in imperialist countries. Where people are "free" to eat at McDonalds and KFC whenever they want, and where it is actually cheaper to eat this food than to buy fresh vegetables, obesity and related diseases are a growing health problem, a problem poor countries can only dream about. Wealthy countries have the money to solve these and other health problems, but capitalism perpetuates illogical systems like subsidies for the Amerikan corn industry which let Amerikans buy unhealthy foods for less than they cost to produce. For this reason, overall health is something that all people can expect to improve under socialism, including the labor aristocracy and imperialist oppressor classes. Capitalism is inherently inefficient at meeting humyn need, even in the rich countries.

Amerikan individualism bad for Amerikan health

Despite spending the most on health care of all countries in the world (both overall and directly out of pocket), compared with other First World countries, the u.$. has one of the lowest percentages of its population covered by health care and has some of the worst health indicators when compared to those same wealthy countries.(1) The u.$. doesn't even make it in the top 40 countries for life expectancy. In the u.$. the health gap between rich and poor is far wider than most other First World countries.(2,3) And overall Amerikans live shorter lives than people in every western European and Nordic country except Denmark.(4) These numbers are all skewed by oppressed nation populations in prisons, ghettos, barrios and reservations where health care statistics are often comparable to the Third World. An example of this is the 50 year life-expectancy gap between Asian males and Black males in the u.$.(4) Other examples are in the reports from behind bars accompanying this issue of Under Lock & Key (ULK12 - January 2009).

Countries that provide health care have higher taxes than the u.$., but they also have no persynal medical bills, and generally have overall better health than the u.$. That Amerikans believe that the proposed "universal" medical coverage in this country would be a bad thing for Amerikan citizens is a wonder of political pundits and advertising. Individualism in Amerika is a disease that leads people to value extending the life of an 80-year-old man with terminal cancer for an extra month over preventing the deaths of 100 people from diabetes and cardiac conditions.

The way countries generally fund health care for all their citizens is through taxes. The same way most countries, including the united $tates, provide education, fire, road, sanitation, and other basic infrastructure services. This is most certainly not socialism. It is just capitalism taking care of its own citizens to the extent necessary to perpetuate capitalism. In First World countries this is a pretty high standard of living; in Third World countries this is often barely enough to sustain a workforce.

In the health care debate within Amerika there has been some confusing rhetoric about what will cost the government and the people of this country more money. In terms of keeping its well-off citizens happy for a price the imperialists can afford, ignoring Amerikan single-minded individualism and forcing through some sort of "universal" health care plan is probably in the best interests of this country. However, universal coverage for Amerikan citizens is basically off the table as an option, thanks in no small part to very heavy lobbying and financial contributions from the Amerikan health care industry. By the end of September almost $300 million was spent by health care industry lobbyists.(5)

The failures of the health care system in imperialist Amerika serve as a good example of why capitalist individualism is an impediment to the health and welfare of even its own citizens. But we communists are not interested in reforming health care in imperialist countries to better serve imperialist citizens, because there is no significant net improvement in humyn health to be had in that struggle.

Saving millions of lives through changes in health care is easy; it is only those who benefit from those deaths that stand in the way. Just like every other debate over taxes, Amerikans are fighting over how to spend the superprofits stolen from the death and suffering of the Third World. Real health care improvements cannot occur in the exploited nations until they have liberated themselves from the imperialist economy that enforces this relationship.

The myth of universal health care

For the oppressed people of the world there is no such thing as universal health care. The life expectancy of the oppressed is alarmingly lower than wealthy First World citizens. In early 2009, the World Bank estimated that 11 million children die each year from lack of health care, sanitation, food and clean water.(6) These are the most basic of health care needs.

Relatively cheap solutions to common problems could prevent far more deaths and suffering than any of the proposals for reshuffling superprofits in the united $tates. By dealing with these simple but massive problems first we would vastly increase our healthy population, which could better address the more complicated health care problems others face. But such an approach would require a system that serves humyn need. Not even a system that serves the need of every persyn in the elite 15% (i.e. all Amerikans) can unleash such powerful forces.

The premature deaths and chronic illnesses of Third World people are a direct result of imperialist occupation and exploitation, serving as a tool of population control, both in numbers and in ability to take effective anti-imperialist action. Amerika sends billions of dollars in "aid" to foreign countries, and just a small fraction of this could provide clean water and sanitation and prevent rampant and debilitating diseases that exist only in Third World countries. The 1.5 million children who die each year from diarrhea could be saved with clean water and sanitation and cheap medical supplies, and 2 million who die from pneumonia need only existing vaccines and inexpensive antibiotics.(7) The Amerikan government rushes to send military aid and troops to ensure access to oil and stable pro-imperialist regimes, but can't be interested in spending a small fraction of that money to save the lives of these children.

Imperialist exploitation of the labor of people in the Third World is made possible by direct military intervention and funding for military regimes that are puppets to imperialism. And this has dire consequences for the health of the exploited around the world. For instance, Amerika's 20-year battle for control of Iraq has included sanctions and then military action that destroyed the infrastructure and health care in that country. From just the sanctions alone deaths among Iraqi infants and children under 5 doubled in 1991.(8)

Amerikan imperialist companies that provide health insurance for their Amerikan citizen workers don't even consider offering any kind of health care for their Third World workers, and those are the people most in need of health care. Workers in Haiti can expect to live only 62 years and in India only 64, and they have a high chance of dying of easily preventable diseases, but the Amerikan corporations many of them work for offer no help.(9) And while the Amerikan corporations, government and people are benefiting from the imperialist profits (often in the form of inexpensive goods & services) made off of the Mexican workers, they're not even discussing extending "Universal Coverage" health care to them.

Health Care for the people

The best example of health care truly serving the interests of the people existed in China between 1949 and 1976 when the communist government dramatically improved the health of the people. They did this by focusing on preventive care, sanitation, and education, combined with a massive campaign to get health care out to people in the countryside previously unable to access doctors.

Four basic guidelines for the organization of health care were developed at The People's Republic of China's first National Health Congress in August 1950:

  1. Medicine should serve the workers, peasants and soldiers
  2. Preventive medicine should take precedence over therapeutic medicine
  3. Chinese traditional medicine should be integrated with Western scientific medicine
  4. Health work should be combined with mass movements

Before 1949, life expectancy in China was just 35 years and the illiteracy rate was 80%. In 1979 life expectancy rose to 68 years and illiteracy had declined to less than 7%. As a part of the dramatic improvements in health, the Chinese infant mortality rate was reduced to a lower level than in New York City. Looked at another way, China achieved a drop in death rate per 1000 from 28 in 1949 to 6.3 in 1978.(10)

Essentially China achieved health for its population comparable with much wealthier countries by the end of the 1970s by focusing on serving the people rather than serving the profits of the wealthy. Building such a system of health care came only after the forceful removal of imperialist powers from China and the destruction of the former institutions of rule.


Notes:
(1) From the World Health Organization's World Health Statistics 2009 report: Globally in 2006, expenditure on health was about 8.7% of gross domestic product, with the highest level in the Americas at 12.8% and the lowest in the South-East Asia Region at 3.4%. This translates to about US$ 716 per capita on the average but there is tremendous variation ranging from a very low US$ 31 per capita in the South-East Asia Region to a high of US$ 2636 per capita in the Americas.
(2) Harvard Magazine, July/August 2008
(3) 2009 World Health Survey from the World Health Organization
(4) The Independent, July 17, 2008 report on American Human Development Index study
(5) CNNMoney.com, September 13, 2009, Health Care Lobbying: The Political Power Machine
(6) World Bank Press Release, Feb 12, 2009
(7) UNICEF, World Children's Report, November 19, 2009
(8) British Medical Journal, 1992 Feb 22;304(6825):455-6
(9) World Health Statistics 2009, from World Health Organization. Compare to the u$ at 78 years and France at 81.
(10) The Health of China, Ruth and Victor Sidel, 1982

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[Medical Care] [California] [ULK Issue 12]
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Forced drugging in prison

I shudder to think that our "public servants" are expunging the minds of united states citizens with drugs, and that the courts are so inept as to resort to such insidious devices as forced druggings. Psychotropic drugs are nothing but a slow poison! It's a threat to one's life, health, mind, and religion. The courts may think they have a legal right to expunge the minds of freeborn citizens, but it's not only a flagrant violation of our rights, it's also attempted murder. Therefore I've elected to protest this atrocity with a hunger-to-starvation strike until this evil poisoning stops or I die. I would rather be dead than see myself slowly deteriorate to such a horrid degradation of life.

I've been informed that if I attempt this they will obtain a court order to force feed me through a tube running in my nose and down my throat while I'm strapped to a gurney. Then they will inject the drugs into me with a needle. Therefore, to save my mind, my health, and my life, I feel I have no choice but to plead almost anything that the courts and DA wants from me to stop this poisoning of my mind, body, and soul. It's ironic that this war on drugs is used to discredit some drugs and people, and then to force some horrid drugs on some people and call it lawful.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade makes an important connection between the various uses of drugs by the state. While many prisoners are suffering from physical ailments because they are denied health care that people on the outside have easy access to, others have no problem getting their "meds" that are often forced upon them to control their brain chemistry. Both situations attest to the terrible waste of life that the system perpetuates.

Also see an earlier report by another California comrade in Under Lock & Key 5: Using psychology to drug political prisoners

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[Medical Care] [Florida]
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Denied adequate treatment

I myself have had health complications for the past two years in which I've caught a stomach infection twice. I was diagnosed with H-Pylori (Helico bacteria infection) which basically comes from dirty food on utensils. It is known that this stomach infection can cause cancer if not appropriately treated. To go on further, I've been experiencing burning sensations in my private areas, for which the Florida State Prison and the Union Correctional Institution have continuously run the same tests, never attempting to try another course of treatment, which only causes more suffering.

I've been repeatedly charged a sum of $4 per entry of sick call only to be denied adequate medical treatment. Medical staff, as well as security staff, continue to act as if my complaint of medical illnesses are a mental issue, and not physical until just recently after two full years. I was seen by a urologist due to family support and the consistent inciting of grievances and was told I had kidney stones. So, whoever you are, and wherever you are just know that we all can contribute to struggles for basic rights and with determination we all can achieve our goals, and conquer.

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[Medical Care] [Florida]
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Paying for no care in prisons

I think everybody should get health care. I'm talking about immigrants and U.$. citizens with low incomes, because most of the people that work picking oranges, strawberries or any other job are immigrants not from America but from other countries. Without immigrants Amerikans cannot do their own work.

And as for us prisoners, I'm in a county jail in Florida and we are being overcharged when we need medical assistance or medical care. Just for putting in a sick call we have to pay $12 and if we get to see a doctor it's another $12. But before we see a doctor we have to file 3 times for sick call, which is bullshit because we have to pay $36 before we even see a doctor and then another $12 when we get to see them. The same goes if we need Motrin or Tylenol, just for 3 days of those pills we pay $12 for the sick call and $5 for the pills. That's $17 for 3 days of Motrin or Tylenol.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade's view of "everybody" is narrowed by u.$.-imposed borders. This is an incorrect perspective to take on health care within an imperialist economy where one nation's prosperity is built on others' demise. Not only is premature death in the Third World a direct result of exploitation by the imperialist nations, but it also plays a role in social control of the oppressed.

To demand health care for prisoners and others in north amerika not considered to be full citizens is a righteous challenge to the dominant debates. But don't stop there. Particularly in countries where the united $tates can afford to send billions of dollars in military equipment, such demands should be obligatory. Clean water, food and medical care for all are cheap and easy in comparison to military occupations.

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