Thursday, 28 May 2015 / 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.

"Nope, nope, nope," was Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott's answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingyarefugees stranded at sea.

Abbott's logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world's most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. "Don't think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good," he said.

G7 finance ministers gather in Dresden, Germany, to discuss promoting "sustainable growth" in the face of growing globaldebt. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is among the ministers gathering. The meeting takes place amid debt crises in the Eurozone and the developing world. The ministers meet after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported slow economic growth and increased debt burdens during the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings.

"‎It's impossible to experience sustainable growth, when wealthy and poor countries are struggling with unsustainable debts," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, who is in Dresden for the meetings.

Mr. Warren Buffet believes that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not the best answer to alleviatingpoverty in America. Instead, he calls for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and names this as a better alternative. All things considered, his suggestion makes as much sense as someone bringing a lone fire extinguisher to put out a forest fire.

The EITC is an excellent federal program, but its expansion is not a long-term solution to addressing poverty in America. A living wage is and will remain the best method to reduce poverty.

For several decades, state and local governments have been showering private businesses with tax breaks and direct subsidies based on the theory that this practice fosters economic development and, therefore, job growth.  But does it?  New York State's experience indicates that, when it comes to producing jobs, corporate welfare programs are a bad investment. This should be instructive to state and local officials across the US.

In May 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with enormous fanfare, launched a campaign to establish Tax-Free NY - a scheme providing tax-free status for ten years to companies that moved onto or near the state's public college and university campuses.  According to Cuomo, this would "supercharge" the state's economy and bring job creation efforts to an unprecedented level.  It was "a game-changing initiative," the governor insisted, and - despite criticism from educators, unions, and some conservatives - local officials fell into line. Reluctant to oppose this widely-touted jobs creation measure, the state legislature established the program - renamed Start-Up NY and including some private college campuses - that June.

May 28

Wine Empire Replaces Redwood Empire

By Shepherd Bliss, Truthout | Op-Ed

Northern California's Sonoma County has been known historically as part of the natural Redwood Empire. Wineindustry lobbyists re-branded it "Wine Country." Its economy has been so colonized by outside investors who extract water and resources from the environment and export their products and profits, that re-branding would be appropriate. A more accurate description would be that Sonoma County is now part of the multi-national WineEmpire.

Local residents and nature have been dominated by these outside investors; they reap the benefits, while the environment and residents pay the costs. They have de-localized, industrialized, commercialized, urbanized and commodified a once diverse agrarian place and culture with their excessive wine production and tourism.

What happens when a bunch of lawyers intent on distinguishing combatants from civilians discover, by interviewing hundreds of civilians, that it cannot be done?

Does it become legal to kill everyone or no one?

The United States is perhaps the principal nuclear weapons proliferator in the world today, openly flouting binding provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article I of the treaty forbids signers from transferring nuclear weapons to other states, and Article II prohibits signers from receiving nuclear weapons from other states.       

As the UN Review Conference of the NPT was finishing its month-long deliberations in New York last week, the US delegation distracted attention from its own violations using its standard red herring warnings about Iran and North Korea - the former without a single nuclear weapon, and the latter with 8-to-10 (according to those reliable weapons spotters at the CIA) but with no means of delivering them.

The case of Farkhunda's brutal killing is now closed. Thousands came to the streets of Kabul to demand justice for horrendous and vicious crime of misogyny against Farkhunda. The justice system of Afghanistan swiftly prosecuted the civilians and the police officers. Now, we know the result.

49 people were brought to trial. 27 were found not guilty - eighteen civilians and nine police officers. 12 convictions have been given to civilians - eight guilty of violence against women and four sentenced to death for mob killing. 10 police officers have been convicted for their failure in protecting Farkhunda and dereliction of duty after failing to stop the public lynching. After the brutal killing of Farkhunda, the height of the anger and violence perpetuated by a group of men in the capital city of Kabul stroked a cord in the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Particularly women protested the injustice from Kabul to Hamburg to the Afghan community of Fremont in California.

Even when the mainstream corporate media gets something right, they're still not telling you the whole story. There is one deep, dark issue about the mainstream media that is almost never talked about. Lee Camp shows the biggest Media Fails ever.

"We prepare for our extinction in order to assure our survival." - Jonathan Schell (American author)

The terrifying film, "The Man Who Saved the World," has been showing in London. Stanislaw Petrov, who appears himself in the film, was the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Russian early warning system when the electronic alarms blared deafeningly and insistently in his command center. All checks confirmed that there was no malfunction. They confirmed a nuclear attack from the US was on its way. It was not possible to wait for radar confirmation of the incoming ballistic missiles because by that time it would be too late to retaliate. Petrov knew that if he reported the alarm to the high command, they would immediately order a retaliatory strike1 initiating a globalnuclear war and the end of most of the human race. On his own imitative, he decided that he did not trust the computers and did nothing.

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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.

"Nope, nope, nope," was Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott's answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingyarefugees stranded at sea.

Abbott's logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world's most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. "Don't think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good," he said.

G7 finance ministers gather in Dresden, Germany, to discuss promoting "sustainable growth" in the face of growing globaldebt. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is among the ministers gathering. The meeting takes place amid debt crises in the Eurozone and the developing world. The ministers meet after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported slow economic growth and increased debt burdens during the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings.

"‎It's impossible to experience sustainable growth, when wealthy and poor countries are struggling with unsustainable debts," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, who is in Dresden for the meetings.

Mr. Warren Buffet believes that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not the best answer to alleviatingpoverty in America. Instead, he calls for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and names this as a better alternative. All things considered, his suggestion makes as much sense as someone bringing a lone fire extinguisher to put out a forest fire.

The EITC is an excellent federal program, but its expansion is not a long-term solution to addressing poverty in America. A living wage is and will remain the best method to reduce poverty.

For several decades, state and local governments have been showering private businesses with tax breaks and direct subsidies based on the theory that this practice fosters economic development and, therefore, job growth.  But does it?  New York State's experience indicates that, when it comes to producing jobs, corporate welfare programs are a bad investment. This should be instructive to state and local officials across the US.

In May 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with enormous fanfare, launched a campaign to establish Tax-Free NY - a scheme providing tax-free status for ten years to companies that moved onto or near the state's public college and university campuses.  According to Cuomo, this would "supercharge" the state's economy and bring job creation efforts to an unprecedented level.  It was "a game-changing initiative," the governor insisted, and - despite criticism from educators, unions, and some conservatives - local officials fell into line. Reluctant to oppose this widely-touted jobs creation measure, the state legislature established the program - renamed Start-Up NY and including some private college campuses - that June.

May 28

Wine Empire Replaces Redwood Empire

By Shepherd Bliss, Truthout | Op-Ed

Northern California's Sonoma County has been known historically as part of the natural Redwood Empire. Wineindustry lobbyists re-branded it "Wine Country." Its economy has been so colonized by outside investors who extract water and resources from the environment and export their products and profits, that re-branding would be appropriate. A more accurate description would be that Sonoma County is now part of the multi-national WineEmpire.

Local residents and nature have been dominated by these outside investors; they reap the benefits, while the environment and residents pay the costs. They have de-localized, industrialized, commercialized, urbanized and commodified a once diverse agrarian place and culture with their excessive wine production and tourism.

What happens when a bunch of lawyers intent on distinguishing combatants from civilians discover, by interviewing hundreds of civilians, that it cannot be done?

Does it become legal to kill everyone or no one?

The United States is perhaps the principal nuclear weapons proliferator in the world today, openly flouting binding provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article I of the treaty forbids signers from transferring nuclear weapons to other states, and Article II prohibits signers from receiving nuclear weapons from other states.       

As the UN Review Conference of the NPT was finishing its month-long deliberations in New York last week, the US delegation distracted attention from its own violations using its standard red herring warnings about Iran and North Korea - the former without a single nuclear weapon, and the latter with 8-to-10 (according to those reliable weapons spotters at the CIA) but with no means of delivering them.

The case of Farkhunda's brutal killing is now closed. Thousands came to the streets of Kabul to demand justice for horrendous and vicious crime of misogyny against Farkhunda. The justice system of Afghanistan swiftly prosecuted the civilians and the police officers. Now, we know the result.

49 people were brought to trial. 27 were found not guilty - eighteen civilians and nine police officers. 12 convictions have been given to civilians - eight guilty of violence against women and four sentenced to death for mob killing. 10 police officers have been convicted for their failure in protecting Farkhunda and dereliction of duty after failing to stop the public lynching. After the brutal killing of Farkhunda, the height of the anger and violence perpetuated by a group of men in the capital city of Kabul stroked a cord in the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Particularly women protested the injustice from Kabul to Hamburg to the Afghan community of Fremont in California.

Even when the mainstream corporate media gets something right, they're still not telling you the whole story. There is one deep, dark issue about the mainstream media that is almost never talked about. Lee Camp shows the biggest Media Fails ever.

"We prepare for our extinction in order to assure our survival." - Jonathan Schell (American author)

The terrifying film, "The Man Who Saved the World," has been showing in London. Stanislaw Petrov, who appears himself in the film, was the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Russian early warning system when the electronic alarms blared deafeningly and insistently in his command center. All checks confirmed that there was no malfunction. They confirmed a nuclear attack from the US was on its way. It was not possible to wait for radar confirmation of the incoming ballistic missiles because by that time it would be too late to retaliate. Petrov knew that if he reported the alarm to the high command, they would immediately order a retaliatory strike1 initiating a globalnuclear war and the end of most of the human race. On his own imitative, he decided that he did not trust the computers and did nothing.