Monday, 29 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.

Aug 29

What Makes a Hate Group?

By Brian Terrell, Speakout | Op-Ed

"As a matter of fact, you have had a person attend your protests in Camp Douglas who has threatened to kill our Deputies." This piece of startling news was revealed to me in a letter from Juneau County, Wisconsin, Undersheriff Craig Stuchlik dated July 25. I had written to the sheriff's department requesting documents under the Open Records Law and for an explanation of the department's response to a demonstration at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base near the town of Camp Douglas, where my colleague at Voices for Creative Nonviolence Kathy Kelly and I had been arrested onFebruary 23.

Last week, NASA released a follow-up study on its 2014 report that exposed a huge methane hotspot looming over the Four Corners. In the original report, NASA did not know what was causing this highly unusual density of methane pollution. The agency's latest report drilled deeper to find the source of the pollution: the oil and gas industry.

The anti-heroes of rock and rap, Prophets of Rage, are set to galvanize Brooklyn, New York, this Saturday, August 27. Comprised of members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, their nationwide "Make America Rage Again" tour touches directly on the complex topic of politics and how it is used to push people around.

In 2016, the financial sector (comprising of finance, insurance and real estate) has contributed as much as $637 million in 2016 to candidates, candidate committees and outside spending groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The startling statistics reveal that this sector has dominated the list of largest campaign contributors across 13 sectors since 1990. A bulk part of this money has been raised in the form of soft/outside money, which has increased 17 times since 2010. The increase from $17.9 million in 2010 to $309.41 million in 2016 has largely been a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in 2010.

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. Now enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive, pro-corporate "free trade" agreement negotiated mostly in secret by large corporate players in the world economy. It was negotiated over seven years in closed-door sessions excluding the press, policy makers, and the public.

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.

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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.

Aug 29

What Makes a Hate Group?

By Brian Terrell, Speakout | Op-Ed

"As a matter of fact, you have had a person attend your protests in Camp Douglas who has threatened to kill our Deputies." This piece of startling news was revealed to me in a letter from Juneau County, Wisconsin, Undersheriff Craig Stuchlik dated July 25. I had written to the sheriff's department requesting documents under the Open Records Law and for an explanation of the department's response to a demonstration at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base near the town of Camp Douglas, where my colleague at Voices for Creative Nonviolence Kathy Kelly and I had been arrested onFebruary 23.

Last week, NASA released a follow-up study on its 2014 report that exposed a huge methane hotspot looming over the Four Corners. In the original report, NASA did not know what was causing this highly unusual density of methane pollution. The agency's latest report drilled deeper to find the source of the pollution: the oil and gas industry.

The anti-heroes of rock and rap, Prophets of Rage, are set to galvanize Brooklyn, New York, this Saturday, August 27. Comprised of members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, their nationwide "Make America Rage Again" tour touches directly on the complex topic of politics and how it is used to push people around.

In 2016, the financial sector (comprising of finance, insurance and real estate) has contributed as much as $637 million in 2016 to candidates, candidate committees and outside spending groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The startling statistics reveal that this sector has dominated the list of largest campaign contributors across 13 sectors since 1990. A bulk part of this money has been raised in the form of soft/outside money, which has increased 17 times since 2010. The increase from $17.9 million in 2010 to $309.41 million in 2016 has largely been a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in 2010.

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. Now enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive, pro-corporate "free trade" agreement negotiated mostly in secret by large corporate players in the world economy. It was negotiated over seven years in closed-door sessions excluding the press, policy makers, and the public.

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.