Thursday, 08 December 2016 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

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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.

Public education is no longer a top priority in the state of Oregon. At least that's the message students, parents and teachers got when a majority of voters nixed Measure 97, a corporate tax ballot measure, on November 8. Measure 97 would have levied a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on C corporations with Oregon sales of more than $25 million. Had it passed, it would have raised approximately $6 billion a biennium, adding to the $19 billion state general fund. It proposed to build on Oregon's corporate minimum tax structure and capture business revenues that currently are lost due to tax breaks and sheltered income. Under 97, a business filing as a C corporation would have paid $1.15 million instead of the $50,000 owed under the existing corporate excise tax.

Elon Musk, the billionaire investor and inventor at the head of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has a long track record of clickbait-friendly pronouncements. His plans for solar roofing are no different. Framing the new product in the same revolutionary terms he uses for self-driving Tesla cars or colonizing Mars, Musk promises shingle-sized solar panels that cost less to manufacture than a traditional roof and reduce energy consumption. Musk's vision for American rooftops is interesting enough, but in hindsight, the date of his announcement is even more so: October 28, just 11 days before the United States elected a climate change denier to be its next president.

On the evening of December 4, the camp at Standing Rock celebrated. Traditional songs and drumming resounded through the valley and speakers offered congratulations and prayers of gratitude around the sacred fire. Earlier that day, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will deny the easement for a crucial section of the Dakota Access pipeline to be built under the Missouri River.

The Army Corps of Engineers has denied the easement permit needed to complete the Dakota Access pipeline. The struggle is not over yet, but this is a major victory for Standing Rock. Might the large number of people, Indians and non-Indians alike, sending prayers for life on Mother Earth actually have had a role?  I can only share my observations and experiences of the hours before the decision.

Dec 02

Don't Forget the World's Poor

By Catherine Weaver, Speakout | Op-Ed

Like many moments in this post-truth political era, Trump's missives reveal not only the absence of a solid policy stance on international development assistance, but also misconceptions of what we actually do with our aid and how it serves our interests. Yet, as president, he will wield enormous power over our global development agenda, from appointing or nominating leaders on development in the White House cabinet, State Department and the heads of the world's largest aid agencies; to working directly with Congress to set the agenda and budget for our foreign aid.

The Trump team grows larger and, with it, the weight of just how grand defensive actions will need to be. Everything appears at risk -- the economy, the planet, safety, well-being, the ongoing struggle for civil rights. The big orange elephant in the room is that this is bigger than Donald Trump. Our political system can't find the common good, and this relates to design, not just him. The winner-take-all electoral system divides us into winners and losers and creates a situation where no one really wins.

Dec 01

Notes on (the New) Activism

By Paddy O'Halloran, Speakout | Op-Ed

The election of Donald Trump has spurred a number of protests, some of them very large, in cities across the United States. Many of the people venting their frustration are participating in protests for the first time. A whole section of the US population has almost overnight discovered that it wants to be political. In protests, on social media and in conversations, it is clear that the liberal white middle class is prepared to mobilize politically, for the first time, really, since the antiwar movement fizzled out under the Nixon administration.

Colin Kaepernick is not a novelty. Far from an anomaly, the 49ers quarterback is part of a storied history of Black political protest. From refusing to stand for the National Anthem, to exercising his right not to vote, Kaepernick's actions are part of lineage of skepticism over mainstream politics. The presidential election, of course, represents the height of mainstream politics. Blackskepticism, however, should not be read as lack of interest in politics, but rather a struggle to expand what is meant by politics. Black skepticism says that if voting is the only way to be political, then we're in trouble.

The increasing costs and unaffordability of insurance and health care for Americans remain an urgent issue in our society. It is obvious to all that patients are still not protected by good insurance coverage at affordable rates, and that the very name of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or ACA and Obamacare) is a misnomer. The cost of health care keeps rising at rapid rates as insurers, hospitals and drug companies blame others for these increases.

On Monday, the Water Protectors Legal Collective (WPLC) -- the legal support team behind the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline -- filed a class action lawsuit against Morton County, the Morton County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies for use of excessive force against Water Protectors.

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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.

Public education is no longer a top priority in the state of Oregon. At least that's the message students, parents and teachers got when a majority of voters nixed Measure 97, a corporate tax ballot measure, on November 8. Measure 97 would have levied a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on C corporations with Oregon sales of more than $25 million. Had it passed, it would have raised approximately $6 billion a biennium, adding to the $19 billion state general fund. It proposed to build on Oregon's corporate minimum tax structure and capture business revenues that currently are lost due to tax breaks and sheltered income. Under 97, a business filing as a C corporation would have paid $1.15 million instead of the $50,000 owed under the existing corporate excise tax.

Elon Musk, the billionaire investor and inventor at the head of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, has a long track record of clickbait-friendly pronouncements. His plans for solar roofing are no different. Framing the new product in the same revolutionary terms he uses for self-driving Tesla cars or colonizing Mars, Musk promises shingle-sized solar panels that cost less to manufacture than a traditional roof and reduce energy consumption. Musk's vision for American rooftops is interesting enough, but in hindsight, the date of his announcement is even more so: October 28, just 11 days before the United States elected a climate change denier to be its next president.

On the evening of December 4, the camp at Standing Rock celebrated. Traditional songs and drumming resounded through the valley and speakers offered congratulations and prayers of gratitude around the sacred fire. Earlier that day, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will deny the easement for a crucial section of the Dakota Access pipeline to be built under the Missouri River.

The Army Corps of Engineers has denied the easement permit needed to complete the Dakota Access pipeline. The struggle is not over yet, but this is a major victory for Standing Rock. Might the large number of people, Indians and non-Indians alike, sending prayers for life on Mother Earth actually have had a role?  I can only share my observations and experiences of the hours before the decision.

Dec 02

Don't Forget the World's Poor

By Catherine Weaver, Speakout | Op-Ed

Like many moments in this post-truth political era, Trump's missives reveal not only the absence of a solid policy stance on international development assistance, but also misconceptions of what we actually do with our aid and how it serves our interests. Yet, as president, he will wield enormous power over our global development agenda, from appointing or nominating leaders on development in the White House cabinet, State Department and the heads of the world's largest aid agencies; to working directly with Congress to set the agenda and budget for our foreign aid.

The Trump team grows larger and, with it, the weight of just how grand defensive actions will need to be. Everything appears at risk -- the economy, the planet, safety, well-being, the ongoing struggle for civil rights. The big orange elephant in the room is that this is bigger than Donald Trump. Our political system can't find the common good, and this relates to design, not just him. The winner-take-all electoral system divides us into winners and losers and creates a situation where no one really wins.

Dec 01

Notes on (the New) Activism

By Paddy O'Halloran, Speakout | Op-Ed

The election of Donald Trump has spurred a number of protests, some of them very large, in cities across the United States. Many of the people venting their frustration are participating in protests for the first time. A whole section of the US population has almost overnight discovered that it wants to be political. In protests, on social media and in conversations, it is clear that the liberal white middle class is prepared to mobilize politically, for the first time, really, since the antiwar movement fizzled out under the Nixon administration.

Colin Kaepernick is not a novelty. Far from an anomaly, the 49ers quarterback is part of a storied history of Black political protest. From refusing to stand for the National Anthem, to exercising his right not to vote, Kaepernick's actions are part of lineage of skepticism over mainstream politics. The presidential election, of course, represents the height of mainstream politics. Blackskepticism, however, should not be read as lack of interest in politics, but rather a struggle to expand what is meant by politics. Black skepticism says that if voting is the only way to be political, then we're in trouble.

The increasing costs and unaffordability of insurance and health care for Americans remain an urgent issue in our society. It is obvious to all that patients are still not protected by good insurance coverage at affordable rates, and that the very name of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or ACA and Obamacare) is a misnomer. The cost of health care keeps rising at rapid rates as insurers, hospitals and drug companies blame others for these increases.

On Monday, the Water Protectors Legal Collective (WPLC) -- the legal support team behind the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline -- filed a class action lawsuit against Morton County, the Morton County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies for use of excessive force against Water Protectors.