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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.

Jul 19

Borders: Imaginary Lines, Real Exploitation

By Alexandros Orphanides, Speakout | Op-Ed

There are approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States; of those, about 70 percent were born in Mexico or the countries of Central America. It is being sparsely reported that US immigration officials have began executing raids on the homes of Central American mothers and children who crossed the border "illegally." Most people take borders for granted, but unlike mountains or rivers, they are not natural. Borders are first imagined, and then drawn, entrenched and legitimized by people. Like all constructs, they tell us a lot about the creators. 

Jul 18

Archimedes' Mirrors in the Mojave Desert

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, Speakout | Op-Ed

The Mojave solar thermal plant is simply too large. Size adds cost, complexity, and central control to a technology with its own potential difficulties and dangers. In fact, errors can turn the solar mirrors into burning mirrors. Second, the Mojave mirrors affect about 150 species of animals and plants that used to live in those 3,500 acres of land. Some of those species are endangered animals and plants. Yes, millions of dollars have been set aside for mitigation, especially for the protection of the endangered desert tortoises. Nevertheless, thousands of birds die, probably burnt to death, yearly at the Mojave plant.

Jul 18

Are Voter ID Laws Undermining US Democracy?

By Thomas J. Scott, Speakout | Op-Ed

A fundamental institutional mechanism that has been at the center of political struggles since the late 18th century involves the right to vote. Throughout US history, the right to vote has not been absolute. How voting rights have been defined, implemented, and extended to a growing and increasingly diverse body politic has been a continuously contested political space involving racial, gender, and class struggle. The right to vote is the crucible of democratic participation, normalizing citizen engagement and the expression of economic, social, and political grievances.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence organized a 150-mile peace walk between May 28 to June 10, from downtown Chicago to Thomson Prison, a new supermax federal prison due to open next summer -- with 1,900 solitary confinement cells. The US currently incarcerates 2.3 million people -- that's 10 percent of the population, or 25 percent of world prisoners. Nationally, Black and Latino people are five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, and in Illinois it's 15 times more likely.

Jul 15

Black Lives Matter Protesters March in DC

By Tim Tolka, Speakout | Op-Ed

In response to the brutal murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, Black Lives Matter activists associated with a group called DMV Protest organized a march in Washington, DC, around the Department of Justice (DOJ) headquarters chanting non-stop on Friday, July 8. Before the march got started, people took turns speaking into a megaphone. There were about 40 people. Many held candles. The atmosphere was subdued. Although the crowd was multicultural, only African Americans came forward to speak.

At its Orlando, Florida, meeting last weekend, the Democratic National Committee platform committee voted down a proposed amendment to include single-payer health care in the party platform by a vote of 92 to 62, even though public support for single-payer includes 81 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of US residents. As Michael Lighty of National Nurses United said at the time: "If this is controversial in this room, it is the only room of Democrats in which it is controversial." Hillary Clinton's whips in the room were urging on the negative votes.

I am sitting at the foot of the north stairs of the Washington State Capitol, outside Gov. Jay Inslee's office. I am one of 17 parents and grandparents who are here in the early part of a three-day fast forclimate and our children's future. We are joined by a number of others fasting at home. We share many feelings. Grief over the many losses our world faces because our parental generations have not honestly addressed theclimate crisis. Deep concern for what we are leaving our children and grandchildren. Even a measure of hope that our modest act of self-denial can have an impact.

On Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's official website, he promises to lead the fight against government corruption: "New York government is ranked as the most corrupt in America. It is a disgraceful distinction." But it seems that Astorino is part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. Astorino issued a revocable license to the Houston, Texas, based oil pipeline company Spectra Energy Partners, LP, to expand the existing Algonquin Pipeline through Westchester County's Blue Mountain Reservation, ignoring the proper channels of the parkland alienation process, which would require a vote at the state level for approval. For this, it appears Astorino was amply compensated. 

This has been the mantra of market advocates for many years under the theory of consumer-directed health care (CDHC), which posits that patients will be more judicious in their use of health care if they have "more skin in the game" (ie. through more cost-sharing). It has been repeated so often and for so long as to become a meme: a self-replicating myth or slogan that by constant repetition becomes part of everyday language, without regard to its merit.

In an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a surrogate for Donald Trump (the former being a millionaire and the latter a billionaire), would like you to believe they know the mindset of blue-collar Americans. News flash: They don't. Simply put, people like Senator Santorum and Trump know how to exploit blue-collar fear and anger for their personal benefit.

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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.

Jul 19

Borders: Imaginary Lines, Real Exploitation

By Alexandros Orphanides, Speakout | Op-Ed

There are approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States; of those, about 70 percent were born in Mexico or the countries of Central America. It is being sparsely reported that US immigration officials have began executing raids on the homes of Central American mothers and children who crossed the border "illegally." Most people take borders for granted, but unlike mountains or rivers, they are not natural. Borders are first imagined, and then drawn, entrenched and legitimized by people. Like all constructs, they tell us a lot about the creators. 

Jul 18

Archimedes' Mirrors in the Mojave Desert

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, Speakout | Op-Ed

The Mojave solar thermal plant is simply too large. Size adds cost, complexity, and central control to a technology with its own potential difficulties and dangers. In fact, errors can turn the solar mirrors into burning mirrors. Second, the Mojave mirrors affect about 150 species of animals and plants that used to live in those 3,500 acres of land. Some of those species are endangered animals and plants. Yes, millions of dollars have been set aside for mitigation, especially for the protection of the endangered desert tortoises. Nevertheless, thousands of birds die, probably burnt to death, yearly at the Mojave plant.

Jul 18

Are Voter ID Laws Undermining US Democracy?

By Thomas J. Scott, Speakout | Op-Ed

A fundamental institutional mechanism that has been at the center of political struggles since the late 18th century involves the right to vote. Throughout US history, the right to vote has not been absolute. How voting rights have been defined, implemented, and extended to a growing and increasingly diverse body politic has been a continuously contested political space involving racial, gender, and class struggle. The right to vote is the crucible of democratic participation, normalizing citizen engagement and the expression of economic, social, and political grievances.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence organized a 150-mile peace walk between May 28 to June 10, from downtown Chicago to Thomson Prison, a new supermax federal prison due to open next summer -- with 1,900 solitary confinement cells. The US currently incarcerates 2.3 million people -- that's 10 percent of the population, or 25 percent of world prisoners. Nationally, Black and Latino people are five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, and in Illinois it's 15 times more likely.

Jul 15

Black Lives Matter Protesters March in DC

By Tim Tolka, Speakout | Op-Ed

In response to the brutal murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, Black Lives Matter activists associated with a group called DMV Protest organized a march in Washington, DC, around the Department of Justice (DOJ) headquarters chanting non-stop on Friday, July 8. Before the march got started, people took turns speaking into a megaphone. There were about 40 people. Many held candles. The atmosphere was subdued. Although the crowd was multicultural, only African Americans came forward to speak.

At its Orlando, Florida, meeting last weekend, the Democratic National Committee platform committee voted down a proposed amendment to include single-payer health care in the party platform by a vote of 92 to 62, even though public support for single-payer includes 81 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of US residents. As Michael Lighty of National Nurses United said at the time: "If this is controversial in this room, it is the only room of Democrats in which it is controversial." Hillary Clinton's whips in the room were urging on the negative votes.

I am sitting at the foot of the north stairs of the Washington State Capitol, outside Gov. Jay Inslee's office. I am one of 17 parents and grandparents who are here in the early part of a three-day fast forclimate and our children's future. We are joined by a number of others fasting at home. We share many feelings. Grief over the many losses our world faces because our parental generations have not honestly addressed theclimate crisis. Deep concern for what we are leaving our children and grandchildren. Even a measure of hope that our modest act of self-denial can have an impact.

On Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's official website, he promises to lead the fight against government corruption: "New York government is ranked as the most corrupt in America. It is a disgraceful distinction." But it seems that Astorino is part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. Astorino issued a revocable license to the Houston, Texas, based oil pipeline company Spectra Energy Partners, LP, to expand the existing Algonquin Pipeline through Westchester County's Blue Mountain Reservation, ignoring the proper channels of the parkland alienation process, which would require a vote at the state level for approval. For this, it appears Astorino was amply compensated. 

This has been the mantra of market advocates for many years under the theory of consumer-directed health care (CDHC), which posits that patients will be more judicious in their use of health care if they have "more skin in the game" (ie. through more cost-sharing). It has been repeated so often and for so long as to become a meme: a self-replicating myth or slogan that by constant repetition becomes part of everyday language, without regard to its merit.

In an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a surrogate for Donald Trump (the former being a millionaire and the latter a billionaire), would like you to believe they know the mindset of blue-collar Americans. News flash: They don't. Simply put, people like Senator Santorum and Trump know how to exploit blue-collar fear and anger for their personal benefit.