Thursday, 03 September 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.

The New York Times gave readers only part of the story in an article on the Democratic primary race for governor of Rhode Island. It notes that state Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo is currently the frontrunner.

On Sept. 21, 2014, the People’s Climate March will commence in New York City as world leaders gather for a United Nations emergency summit on climate change. Thousands of organizations have signed on and many demonstrations have been planned across the country on that day. Perhaps more than one million people will descend on Manhattan Sept. 21 to support environmental and human survival. Almost inevitably, someone from the media or a prior or the current administration will throw around the label “tree hugger” and no one will be shocked. In preparation for the march and in reflecting on the perceived negativity of this label, I’ve been thinking about the heroines of the Chipko (“tree-hugging”) movement in India.

In 1730, Amrita Devi watched men with axes enter her village with an order from the Maharajah — to cut down trees needed to build his new palace. The trees were the villagers’ source of life, the only green in an otherwise barren landscape. The forest shielded the people from the desert, protected their fragile water supply and provided fodder for the cows and twigs for the fire. What’s more, the trees and animals were sacred and not to be harmed, according to the rules of their Hindu sect.

Arms companies which provide key components for the drones used by the US to carry out secret strikes in violation of international law bought access to last week's NATO summit, research by legal charity Reprieve has found.
 
Among the firms which paid up to £300,000 to ‘exhibit’ at the summit in Newport, Wales were:

  • General Dynamics, manufacturer of the Hellfire missiles used in the vast majority of drone strikes.
  • Raytheon, manufacturer of the targeting system for the ‘Reaper’ drone which, along with the ‘Predator,’ is used by the CIA and other covert agencies to carry out strikes outside of warzones.
  • Lockheed Martin, which acts as a contractor to provide support services for the Reaper and Predator.
  • MBDA, a European firm which is producing ‘Brimstone,’ a variant of the Hellfire missile which it is promoting for use by Reaper and Predator drones.
Sep 09

The New Realpolitik

By Erin Niemela, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The re-emergence of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his latest book, "World Order," has prompted accolades and resentments from across the political spectrum. "World Order" is realism re-emerging in a time of American idealistic, "moral" foreign policy. Kissinger campaigns once again for the Westphalian model of world peace in which nation-states draw borders, balance power, demonstrate mutual respect for sovereignty and work to manage conflict, and peace, accordingly.

Kissinger's realism and humility, as Time Magazine's Walter Isaacson emphasizes in his Sept. 6 overview of the book, are probably in order for a nation constantly intruding violently in a multitude of conflicts under the guise of democracy, human rights and policing morality.

The promise of American democracy is colliding with the unpleasant reality of an emerging American plutocracy.

Fueled by - and reinforcing - staggering inequalities of wealth, income and power, the American political system is betraying Lincoln’s great pledge that our country would be one of, by and for the people.

Thanks to a series of US Supreme Court decisions, most notably Citizens United, the super-rich and giant corporations are pouring money into our elections at record levels.

Truthout contributor and historian Jeffrey R. McCord has written and self-published a genre-crossing and bending first novel, "Undocumented Visitors in a Pirate Sea; An Investigation of Certain Caribbean Phenomena by Dr. Thayer Harris." The book blends history, UFO lore, science fiction, sailing and travel lore, the fractures of the national security state and idiosyncrasies of border policing into a potent sort of literary beachside rum punch, complete with a happy paper parasol. McCord responded to the an e-interview that follows.

Sep 09

Healing Rwanda Through Community-Based Sociotherapy

By Jean de Dieu Basabose, SpeakOut | News Analysis

After the genocide and war that destroyed the social fabric among Rwandans, different approaches have been used to restore hope, heal the wounds of the past and build social cohesion. "Community based sociotherapy" is one of the approaches introduced by the Byumba Anglican Diocese operating in the Northern Province of Rwanda.

Community based sociotherapy is understood as a way to help people come together to overcome or cure their problems. The approach helps people in a group format, where group members are given an opportunity to help their companions to overcome problems, as well as solve their own. Community based sociotherapy was first introduced in Rwanda in 2005. The program has been remarkably successful in assisting Rwandans in dealing with the consequences of genocide and war.

Sep 08

How to Achieve Gross Global Happiness

By Roger Copple, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Here are seven problems that prevent Gross National Happiness, the overall happiness of a nation. Solving these national problems and then taking the necessary steps to achieve world peace will usher in Gross Global Happiness.

Lawrence Davidson, an expert on the Middle East and American Foreign Policy, talked with Truthout about the recent headlines concerning ISIS/ISIL as well as the legacy of the Bush Administration. We are reaping the terrible consequences of the fatal and immoral error of invading Iraq. All questions surrounding ISIS fluctuate rapidly in conjunction with evolving tribal and on the ground situations. Usually the West underestimates the strength of militancy and the vulnerability of a too-big-to-fail foreign policy with proxy client forces.

Davidson helps to uncover unsubstantiated reports, media tropes, and calls into question old and unfounded disinformation. Media filtering is very much built in, as Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky described the "propaganda model" in Manufacturing Consent. This is also true in Ukraine, where the involvement of neo-Nazi thugs out of Kiev and the government's intentional attack on innocents in the Eastern portion of the country has received minimal news coverage only.

Sep 08

Democracy Under the Gun Across Asia

By Mel Gurtov, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

“Communist Party, you choke people,” reads the placard raised by a demonstrator in Hong Kong the other day.  He and a few thousand others belonging to Occupy Central (in Chinese, the organization is called Heping zhan zhong, or Peacefully Occupy the Center) have been protesting for months against anticipated restrictions imposed by Beijing on elections for chief executive of Hong Kong. Now those restrictions have been enacted.  By tightening the rules concerning nominations for the position, China’s legislature has made it fairly impossible for an independent-minded leader to be elected.  Pro-democracy forces in the city had hoped that by 2017, they would gain control on the basis of one person, one vote.  But the system is now rigged to deny that principle in practice.  The new rules reflect just how scared China’s leadership is of losing control over a key city.

It is now seventeen years since authority over Hong Kong passed from Britain to China.  Unlike other so-called autonomous regions of China, Hong Kong has enjoyed an unusual degree of political, social and economic freedom in keeping with its long-running stature as an international crossroads and Beijing’s pledge not to interfere with the city’s way of life for 50 years.  “One country, two systems,” Deng Xiaoping promised following China’s takeover.  But Beijing’s control has never been remote; it has maintained predominant influence over who runs Hong Kong and by which rules, and Hong Kongers are fully aware that China’s military can be quickly deployed should widespread “instability” occur.

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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.

The New York Times gave readers only part of the story in an article on the Democratic primary race for governor of Rhode Island. It notes that state Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo is currently the frontrunner.

On Sept. 21, 2014, the People’s Climate March will commence in New York City as world leaders gather for a United Nations emergency summit on climate change. Thousands of organizations have signed on and many demonstrations have been planned across the country on that day. Perhaps more than one million people will descend on Manhattan Sept. 21 to support environmental and human survival. Almost inevitably, someone from the media or a prior or the current administration will throw around the label “tree hugger” and no one will be shocked. In preparation for the march and in reflecting on the perceived negativity of this label, I’ve been thinking about the heroines of the Chipko (“tree-hugging”) movement in India.

In 1730, Amrita Devi watched men with axes enter her village with an order from the Maharajah — to cut down trees needed to build his new palace. The trees were the villagers’ source of life, the only green in an otherwise barren landscape. The forest shielded the people from the desert, protected their fragile water supply and provided fodder for the cows and twigs for the fire. What’s more, the trees and animals were sacred and not to be harmed, according to the rules of their Hindu sect.

Arms companies which provide key components for the drones used by the US to carry out secret strikes in violation of international law bought access to last week's NATO summit, research by legal charity Reprieve has found.
 
Among the firms which paid up to £300,000 to ‘exhibit’ at the summit in Newport, Wales were:

  • General Dynamics, manufacturer of the Hellfire missiles used in the vast majority of drone strikes.
  • Raytheon, manufacturer of the targeting system for the ‘Reaper’ drone which, along with the ‘Predator,’ is used by the CIA and other covert agencies to carry out strikes outside of warzones.
  • Lockheed Martin, which acts as a contractor to provide support services for the Reaper and Predator.
  • MBDA, a European firm which is producing ‘Brimstone,’ a variant of the Hellfire missile which it is promoting for use by Reaper and Predator drones.
Sep 09

The New Realpolitik

By Erin Niemela, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The re-emergence of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his latest book, "World Order," has prompted accolades and resentments from across the political spectrum. "World Order" is realism re-emerging in a time of American idealistic, "moral" foreign policy. Kissinger campaigns once again for the Westphalian model of world peace in which nation-states draw borders, balance power, demonstrate mutual respect for sovereignty and work to manage conflict, and peace, accordingly.

Kissinger's realism and humility, as Time Magazine's Walter Isaacson emphasizes in his Sept. 6 overview of the book, are probably in order for a nation constantly intruding violently in a multitude of conflicts under the guise of democracy, human rights and policing morality.

The promise of American democracy is colliding with the unpleasant reality of an emerging American plutocracy.

Fueled by - and reinforcing - staggering inequalities of wealth, income and power, the American political system is betraying Lincoln’s great pledge that our country would be one of, by and for the people.

Thanks to a series of US Supreme Court decisions, most notably Citizens United, the super-rich and giant corporations are pouring money into our elections at record levels.

Truthout contributor and historian Jeffrey R. McCord has written and self-published a genre-crossing and bending first novel, "Undocumented Visitors in a Pirate Sea; An Investigation of Certain Caribbean Phenomena by Dr. Thayer Harris." The book blends history, UFO lore, science fiction, sailing and travel lore, the fractures of the national security state and idiosyncrasies of border policing into a potent sort of literary beachside rum punch, complete with a happy paper parasol. McCord responded to the an e-interview that follows.

Sep 09

Healing Rwanda Through Community-Based Sociotherapy

By Jean de Dieu Basabose, SpeakOut | News Analysis

After the genocide and war that destroyed the social fabric among Rwandans, different approaches have been used to restore hope, heal the wounds of the past and build social cohesion. "Community based sociotherapy" is one of the approaches introduced by the Byumba Anglican Diocese operating in the Northern Province of Rwanda.

Community based sociotherapy is understood as a way to help people come together to overcome or cure their problems. The approach helps people in a group format, where group members are given an opportunity to help their companions to overcome problems, as well as solve their own. Community based sociotherapy was first introduced in Rwanda in 2005. The program has been remarkably successful in assisting Rwandans in dealing with the consequences of genocide and war.

Sep 08

How to Achieve Gross Global Happiness

By Roger Copple, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Here are seven problems that prevent Gross National Happiness, the overall happiness of a nation. Solving these national problems and then taking the necessary steps to achieve world peace will usher in Gross Global Happiness.

Lawrence Davidson, an expert on the Middle East and American Foreign Policy, talked with Truthout about the recent headlines concerning ISIS/ISIL as well as the legacy of the Bush Administration. We are reaping the terrible consequences of the fatal and immoral error of invading Iraq. All questions surrounding ISIS fluctuate rapidly in conjunction with evolving tribal and on the ground situations. Usually the West underestimates the strength of militancy and the vulnerability of a too-big-to-fail foreign policy with proxy client forces.

Davidson helps to uncover unsubstantiated reports, media tropes, and calls into question old and unfounded disinformation. Media filtering is very much built in, as Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky described the "propaganda model" in Manufacturing Consent. This is also true in Ukraine, where the involvement of neo-Nazi thugs out of Kiev and the government's intentional attack on innocents in the Eastern portion of the country has received minimal news coverage only.

Sep 08

Democracy Under the Gun Across Asia

By Mel Gurtov, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

“Communist Party, you choke people,” reads the placard raised by a demonstrator in Hong Kong the other day.  He and a few thousand others belonging to Occupy Central (in Chinese, the organization is called Heping zhan zhong, or Peacefully Occupy the Center) have been protesting for months against anticipated restrictions imposed by Beijing on elections for chief executive of Hong Kong. Now those restrictions have been enacted.  By tightening the rules concerning nominations for the position, China’s legislature has made it fairly impossible for an independent-minded leader to be elected.  Pro-democracy forces in the city had hoped that by 2017, they would gain control on the basis of one person, one vote.  But the system is now rigged to deny that principle in practice.  The new rules reflect just how scared China’s leadership is of losing control over a key city.

It is now seventeen years since authority over Hong Kong passed from Britain to China.  Unlike other so-called autonomous regions of China, Hong Kong has enjoyed an unusual degree of political, social and economic freedom in keeping with its long-running stature as an international crossroads and Beijing’s pledge not to interfere with the city’s way of life for 50 years.  “One country, two systems,” Deng Xiaoping promised following China’s takeover.  But Beijing’s control has never been remote; it has maintained predominant influence over who runs Hong Kong and by which rules, and Hong Kongers are fully aware that China’s military can be quickly deployed should widespread “instability” occur.