Sunday, 25 September 2016 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

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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.

President Obama will be hosting a Leaders' Summit on Refugees next week. The crisis in Syria will no doubt take center stage, with ISIS (also known as Daesh) and Bashar al-Assad being widely discussed. But how much focus will be put on the historic drought that precipitated the Syrian refugees fleeing their homes? Will climate change be discussed as a leading cause of both current and, especially, future waves of refugees? Will the president once again acknowledge our country's central role in creating the kind of climate change that is making such droughts and unusual climatic events more common?

Sep 15

Moral Idiocy in the Halls of Power

By Lawrence Davidson, Speakout | Op-Ed

It was on August 12, 1949 that the nations of the world, with Nazi atrocities still in mind, updated what are known as the Geneva Accords. This constituted an effort to once again set limits on the wartime behavior of states and their agents. Among other things, the accords set the range of acceptable behavior toward prisoners of war, established protections for the wounded and the sick, and the necessary protections to be afforded civilian populations within and approximate to any warzone. Some 193 countries, including the United States, have ratified these agreements. Now, as of August 2016, they are 67 years old. Have they worked? The answer is, in all too many cases, no.

Caring for the health and safety of our children and families is common ground where Americans on the left and the right meet. Yet, during this election cycle, few candidates seem willing to talk about the health and safety risks caused by toxic industries. Instead, the false split between environment and jobs is used to divide people ... and to allow major corporations to continue to poison our children.

Donald Trump's continued leveraging of US xenophobia as a presidential campaign strategy has relied heavily on a particular strain of Mexiphobia, which continues to bring new and hateful manifestations as the days go by. The root origins of this atmosphere of Anglo-anxiety lie in a century-and-a-half of official government and societal amnesia around the true history of our shared physical landscape with the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos) -- and the reality that Trump'signominious wall might instead be placed along a much farther Northern border (like up near Oregon for instance).

A surprising amount has been written about the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) recent decision to grant collective bargaining rights to graduate student employees at private universities, likely because many of the authors attended the prestigious institutions affected by the decision. However, most of the articles have generated little in the way of new insight, which is a pity because there's much that could be said about the landmark Columbia University decision.

Bresha Meadows is a child who, after years of horrific violence and persistent attempts to escape that violence, defended herself and her family against her father's abuse. Previously, Bresha had sought help from family members. She'd sought help from the police. She had tried to leave home. Yet the threats and rampant physical violence continued, and finally, she acted in defense of her own survival and the survival of her mother and sisters.

Sep 08

Talib Kweli on Curbing Racism and Resisting Gentrification

By Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec, Speakout | Interview

From the emergence of slavery as an institution to the reminders of its effects through our society today in the form of mass incarceration, police brutality, and pervasive hate crimes toward African Americans, racism has been a driving force in American society since before the founding of this country. In the past couple of years, racism has been a focal point in mainstream media, as stories about murders and police shootings, as well as about protests and activists, have incited controversy within a country still deeply divided on the issue. But with all the media attention, very few solutions have been rendered to fix underlying racist mentalities, and the oppressive systems that perpetuate it.

Sep 07

Looking Toward the End of US Empire

By Kathy Kelly, Speakout | Op-Ed

It seems that some who have the ears of US elite decision-makers are at least shifting away from wishing to provoke wars with Russia and China. In recent articles, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Thomas Graham, two architects of the US cold war with Russia, have acknowledged that the era of uncontested US global imperialism is coming to an end. Both analysts urge more cooperation with Russia and China to achieve traditional, still imperial, US aims. Mr. Graham recommends a shifting mix of competition and cooperation, aiming toward a "confident management of ambiguity." Mr. Brzezinski calls for deputizing other countries, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to carry out the combined aims of the US, Russia and China so that this triumvirate could control other people’s land and resources. 

This has been the uncompromising view of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who as chairman of the key Senate Finance Committee in 2008 and 2009 played a leading role in shaping the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As described in my 2010 book, Hijacked: The Road to Single Payer in the Aftermath of Stolen Health Care Reform, he and his committee kept a single-payer option off the table, and even called the police to arrest eight activists who showed up for a hearing before his committee on health care options. ElizabethFowler, a former health insurance industry insider as vice president for public policy for WellPoint, was the lead author of the Senate Finance Committee bill that made sure that the industry would be well served by the legislation.

When it comes to the criminal legal system, some situations are so unique there exists no means for judicial relief. It is as if a bizarre, hypothetical case presented to law students to highlight the limits of due process suddenly came to reality -- in Washington State. For years, Kenny Kozol has fought for his brother Steven's exoneration, believing as the Supreme Court long ago maintained in Marbury v. Madison, that "every right, when withheld, must have a remedy, and every injury its proper redress."  

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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.

President Obama will be hosting a Leaders' Summit on Refugees next week. The crisis in Syria will no doubt take center stage, with ISIS (also known as Daesh) and Bashar al-Assad being widely discussed. But how much focus will be put on the historic drought that precipitated the Syrian refugees fleeing their homes? Will climate change be discussed as a leading cause of both current and, especially, future waves of refugees? Will the president once again acknowledge our country's central role in creating the kind of climate change that is making such droughts and unusual climatic events more common?

Sep 15

Moral Idiocy in the Halls of Power

By Lawrence Davidson, Speakout | Op-Ed

It was on August 12, 1949 that the nations of the world, with Nazi atrocities still in mind, updated what are known as the Geneva Accords. This constituted an effort to once again set limits on the wartime behavior of states and their agents. Among other things, the accords set the range of acceptable behavior toward prisoners of war, established protections for the wounded and the sick, and the necessary protections to be afforded civilian populations within and approximate to any warzone. Some 193 countries, including the United States, have ratified these agreements. Now, as of August 2016, they are 67 years old. Have they worked? The answer is, in all too many cases, no.

Caring for the health and safety of our children and families is common ground where Americans on the left and the right meet. Yet, during this election cycle, few candidates seem willing to talk about the health and safety risks caused by toxic industries. Instead, the false split between environment and jobs is used to divide people ... and to allow major corporations to continue to poison our children.

Donald Trump's continued leveraging of US xenophobia as a presidential campaign strategy has relied heavily on a particular strain of Mexiphobia, which continues to bring new and hateful manifestations as the days go by. The root origins of this atmosphere of Anglo-anxiety lie in a century-and-a-half of official government and societal amnesia around the true history of our shared physical landscape with the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos) -- and the reality that Trump'signominious wall might instead be placed along a much farther Northern border (like up near Oregon for instance).

A surprising amount has been written about the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) recent decision to grant collective bargaining rights to graduate student employees at private universities, likely because many of the authors attended the prestigious institutions affected by the decision. However, most of the articles have generated little in the way of new insight, which is a pity because there's much that could be said about the landmark Columbia University decision.

Bresha Meadows is a child who, after years of horrific violence and persistent attempts to escape that violence, defended herself and her family against her father's abuse. Previously, Bresha had sought help from family members. She'd sought help from the police. She had tried to leave home. Yet the threats and rampant physical violence continued, and finally, she acted in defense of her own survival and the survival of her mother and sisters.

Sep 08

Talib Kweli on Curbing Racism and Resisting Gentrification

By Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec, Speakout | Interview

From the emergence of slavery as an institution to the reminders of its effects through our society today in the form of mass incarceration, police brutality, and pervasive hate crimes toward African Americans, racism has been a driving force in American society since before the founding of this country. In the past couple of years, racism has been a focal point in mainstream media, as stories about murders and police shootings, as well as about protests and activists, have incited controversy within a country still deeply divided on the issue. But with all the media attention, very few solutions have been rendered to fix underlying racist mentalities, and the oppressive systems that perpetuate it.

Sep 07

Looking Toward the End of US Empire

By Kathy Kelly, Speakout | Op-Ed

It seems that some who have the ears of US elite decision-makers are at least shifting away from wishing to provoke wars with Russia and China. In recent articles, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Thomas Graham, two architects of the US cold war with Russia, have acknowledged that the era of uncontested US global imperialism is coming to an end. Both analysts urge more cooperation with Russia and China to achieve traditional, still imperial, US aims. Mr. Graham recommends a shifting mix of competition and cooperation, aiming toward a "confident management of ambiguity." Mr. Brzezinski calls for deputizing other countries, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to carry out the combined aims of the US, Russia and China so that this triumvirate could control other people’s land and resources. 

This has been the uncompromising view of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who as chairman of the key Senate Finance Committee in 2008 and 2009 played a leading role in shaping the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As described in my 2010 book, Hijacked: The Road to Single Payer in the Aftermath of Stolen Health Care Reform, he and his committee kept a single-payer option off the table, and even called the police to arrest eight activists who showed up for a hearing before his committee on health care options. ElizabethFowler, a former health insurance industry insider as vice president for public policy for WellPoint, was the lead author of the Senate Finance Committee bill that made sure that the industry would be well served by the legislation.

When it comes to the criminal legal system, some situations are so unique there exists no means for judicial relief. It is as if a bizarre, hypothetical case presented to law students to highlight the limits of due process suddenly came to reality -- in Washington State. For years, Kenny Kozol has fought for his brother Steven's exoneration, believing as the Supreme Court long ago maintained in Marbury v. Madison, that "every right, when withheld, must have a remedy, and every injury its proper redress."