Thursday, 25 August 2016 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Drug prices in the US are already approaching a crisis point for many patients unable to afford their prices, often despite being insured. These examples indicate how serious this problem has become.

A few years ago, when California was going through a major budget crisis and money for education was being cut back dramatically, many students protesting the cuts claimed that education was a right. Conservatives shot back that education wasn't a right, it was a privilege. If education is a right, then how did we get that right? And if I have a right to an education, who has a duty to give it to me?

Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton "ended welfare as we knew it." In practical terms, this roughly doubled the number of those in extreme poverty. Philosophically, the move signaled that the Democratic Party believed that the "war on poverty" was a battle best fought by "the market." Yet the promotion of equal opportunity -- and especially racial integration -- has always been a task that we have entrusted to our elected officials.

Florida prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda threw the case against George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013. The prosecutor discredited his key witnesses and excluded an eyewitness to the murder. This writing examines parts of his closing argument to jurors and reveals the excluded eyewitness.

All over the globe, including here in the US, there is a resurgence of muscular authoritarian politics. How that trend unfolds and is enforced varies country by country, but the core is recognizably neo-fascist, to a lesser or greater degree, often emerging from the extreme right wing. This rise of authoritarianism is as true in Turkey as it is in Russia, in the turbulent greater Middle East as it is in the Philippines -- and, of course, as it is in the Trump movement in America. To be sure, there are occasional left-wing strongmen as well, but these days, most of theautocratic rulers seem to congregate on the far-right edge of the political spectrum.

I share your frustration and your anger over the outcome of the Democratic (?) National Convention. I've had my share. There is a place for anger; but there is also a way to use it. Anger is power. The revolution launched by Senator Sanders has accomplished amazing results. The point is now to recognize the beauty and power of our momentum -- and, as Martin Luther King, Jr. says, harness our anger "under discipline," meaning convert it into determination. Let's think what that might look like now.

Aug 11

Using Violence to Achieve Political Aims

By Edward Hunt, Speakout | News Analysis

With incidents of political violence occurring on a frequent basis across the world, officials in the Obama administration repeatedly face a difficult question: Is it ever legitimate to use violence to achieve political aims? On July 19, 2016, State Department spokesman Mark Toner presented one answer. Today, "we would certainly want to caution anybody who thinks that violence is a plausible way to achieve any political aims," Toner stated. Hoping to discourage people from turning to violence, Toner insisted that the Obama administration opposed the use of violence in political affairs. "I think it's a pretty common dictate of ours to say that there's no military solution to any crises, political or otherwise," he noted.

Eight days after the murder of Paul O'Neal, the footage from that day was released by the Independent Police Review Authority IPRA. Paul O’Neal was an 18-year-old blk man who was killed by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The same council that dragged its feet for five years for accountability for Dante Servin, who murdered Rekia Boyd and still wasn't held accountable. The same council who told the loved ones of those killed by police that they can't speak for more than two minutes. IPRA is illegitimate and doesn't care about blk life. 

Attica Correctional Facility, built in the northwest of the state of New York, 342 miles away from the capital, between the cities of Buffalo and Rochester, became famous for a bloody rebellion in September 1971. The inmates took over the place and made 42 staff members hostage. The state police, under the command of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, broke into the prison, acting ruthlessly. When the battle ended, the dead bodies of 33 prisoners and 10 guards, as well as countless injured prisoners, occupied the courtyards and the cells. The uprising was caused by the murder of black activist George Jackson, imprisoned in San Quentin, California, two weeks earlier. A trail of penitentiary uprisings served as a response to police brutality.

Two years ago, a mine waste dam in British Columbia, Canada, breached, releasing 24 million cubic meters of mine waste (or tailings) sludge into the Fraser River watershed, a group of lakes and rivers that bear salmon and sustain the livelihoods of First Nation communities. The disaster at the Mount Polley mine should have served as a wake-up call for stronger regulations and scrutiny of an industry that too often remains out of the public spotlight. Unfortunately, far too little has been done to prevent such a disaster from reoccurring.

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Speakout

Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Drug prices in the US are already approaching a crisis point for many patients unable to afford their prices, often despite being insured. These examples indicate how serious this problem has become.

A few years ago, when California was going through a major budget crisis and money for education was being cut back dramatically, many students protesting the cuts claimed that education was a right. Conservatives shot back that education wasn't a right, it was a privilege. If education is a right, then how did we get that right? And if I have a right to an education, who has a duty to give it to me?

Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton "ended welfare as we knew it." In practical terms, this roughly doubled the number of those in extreme poverty. Philosophically, the move signaled that the Democratic Party believed that the "war on poverty" was a battle best fought by "the market." Yet the promotion of equal opportunity -- and especially racial integration -- has always been a task that we have entrusted to our elected officials.

Florida prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda threw the case against George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013. The prosecutor discredited his key witnesses and excluded an eyewitness to the murder. This writing examines parts of his closing argument to jurors and reveals the excluded eyewitness.

All over the globe, including here in the US, there is a resurgence of muscular authoritarian politics. How that trend unfolds and is enforced varies country by country, but the core is recognizably neo-fascist, to a lesser or greater degree, often emerging from the extreme right wing. This rise of authoritarianism is as true in Turkey as it is in Russia, in the turbulent greater Middle East as it is in the Philippines -- and, of course, as it is in the Trump movement in America. To be sure, there are occasional left-wing strongmen as well, but these days, most of theautocratic rulers seem to congregate on the far-right edge of the political spectrum.

I share your frustration and your anger over the outcome of the Democratic (?) National Convention. I've had my share. There is a place for anger; but there is also a way to use it. Anger is power. The revolution launched by Senator Sanders has accomplished amazing results. The point is now to recognize the beauty and power of our momentum -- and, as Martin Luther King, Jr. says, harness our anger "under discipline," meaning convert it into determination. Let's think what that might look like now.

Aug 11

Using Violence to Achieve Political Aims

By Edward Hunt, Speakout | News Analysis

With incidents of political violence occurring on a frequent basis across the world, officials in the Obama administration repeatedly face a difficult question: Is it ever legitimate to use violence to achieve political aims? On July 19, 2016, State Department spokesman Mark Toner presented one answer. Today, "we would certainly want to caution anybody who thinks that violence is a plausible way to achieve any political aims," Toner stated. Hoping to discourage people from turning to violence, Toner insisted that the Obama administration opposed the use of violence in political affairs. "I think it's a pretty common dictate of ours to say that there's no military solution to any crises, political or otherwise," he noted.

Eight days after the murder of Paul O'Neal, the footage from that day was released by the Independent Police Review Authority IPRA. Paul O’Neal was an 18-year-old blk man who was killed by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The same council that dragged its feet for five years for accountability for Dante Servin, who murdered Rekia Boyd and still wasn't held accountable. The same council who told the loved ones of those killed by police that they can't speak for more than two minutes. IPRA is illegitimate and doesn't care about blk life. 

Attica Correctional Facility, built in the northwest of the state of New York, 342 miles away from the capital, between the cities of Buffalo and Rochester, became famous for a bloody rebellion in September 1971. The inmates took over the place and made 42 staff members hostage. The state police, under the command of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, broke into the prison, acting ruthlessly. When the battle ended, the dead bodies of 33 prisoners and 10 guards, as well as countless injured prisoners, occupied the courtyards and the cells. The uprising was caused by the murder of black activist George Jackson, imprisoned in San Quentin, California, two weeks earlier. A trail of penitentiary uprisings served as a response to police brutality.

Two years ago, a mine waste dam in British Columbia, Canada, breached, releasing 24 million cubic meters of mine waste (or tailings) sludge into the Fraser River watershed, a group of lakes and rivers that bear salmon and sustain the livelihoods of First Nation communities. The disaster at the Mount Polley mine should have served as a wake-up call for stronger regulations and scrutiny of an industry that too often remains out of the public spotlight. Unfortunately, far too little has been done to prevent such a disaster from reoccurring.