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.
Where’s the big money in privatization? Take it from the teachers.
I am a graduate of the Class of 1954 of the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville Connecticut. Reunion planners invited me to speak on a panel to which all of the eight classes (since 1939) holding reunions were invited. Those of us on the panel were asked to talk about our "career paths" and "passions" in a session called, “A Road Less Traveled.” This was held on June 14 in Hotchkiss’s A. Whitney Griswold Science Building. The two other panelists were all Hotchkiss graduates at least forty years younger than myself, an editor from Huffington Post, and a Naval aviator/“Strike Warfare Watch Officer” who “executed daily 100 sorties” over Iraq from the US carrier Ronald Reagan. (In what appears to be the familiar revolving door between the military and private industry, he is now Senior Manager of Tactical Air Support, Inc, where he is “Systems Engineering Consultant for US Navy/NAVAIR client” – not mentioned at Hotchkiss.) What follows is the full version of my talk, which had to be cut to a shorter length for delivery. I spoke first.
Ten years ago, Clint Brooks, Hotchkiss Class of 1956, an NSA lifer -- former CIA head Porter Goss was in the same Hotchkiss class -- was invited to give the keynote address to this this reunion for all classes ending in 4 or 9. (Since this was not a reunion year for Brooks, he must have been specially invited by Hotchkiss to give this keynote.) I was in the audience. It was like something right out of Dr. Strangelove: Brooks had developed the “Clipper Chip” which gives NSA secret back-door access to communications; “It would defeat the purpose if we gave the [public the] knowledge of how the algorithm worked.” Brooks’s NSA coerced manufacturers to build Clipper Chips into privately manufactured phones, computers, etc., letting NSA in through this back door. At Hotchkiss, Brooks’s 55-minute PowerPoint rant in support of Bush’s “war on terrorism” got adoring attention from the Bearcat crowd (as they like to call themselves), which shouted down a mildly critical questioner.
Washington, DC – Today, hundreds of low-wage federal contract workers working for fifty companies doing business at federal sites – like the National Zoo, Pentagon and Union Station – walked off their jobs today. Led by an army of working women dressed like Rosie the Riveter, they marched through the Smithsonian National Zoo, where workers are joining the Good Jobs Nation campaign for the first time. This is the 8th strike by low-wage federal contract workers in the past year.
These New Rosies are calling on President Obama to allow them to collectively bargain, so they don’t need to keep striking to win living wages, health care, and paid time off to care for their families.
Stephen Harper's Conservative Government approved the Enbridge Corporation's Northern Gateway Pipeline despite the fact that 80% of BC residents and the vast majority of Canadians are opposed to this proposal to pipe Alberta Tarsands Bitumen through British Columbia to load onto Supertankers that must navigate the coastal waters of western Canada. This song draws attention to many of the issues we must address today!
In 1989 the World Meteorological Association warned, "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war." Our corporate-controlled "democracy" has utterly failed to respond to that burgeoning crisis.
For 25 years, our national leaders have failed to respond to an evident worldwide catastrophe.
If we are to respond to the challenge of planetary scale climate change, we must take notice of that failure and respond to the evidence that the democratic process, as it exists today, is incapable of producing any rational response to the world's most serious problems.
June 23, 2014, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement by Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei in response to the release of the Department of Justice memo outlining the Obama administration’s legal justification for the drone killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi. The Second Circuit released the memo in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by New York Times reporters and the ACLU. Ms. Kebriaei was CCR’s lead counsel on two lawsuits with the ACLU challenging the killing of Al-Aulaqi, Al-Aulaqi v. Obama and Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta.
In response to the presumed kidnapping of three young Israelis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck back with a vengeance. While directly blaming Hamas for the act, he also declared the Palestinian Authority ultimately responsible. Netanyahu quickly launched "Operation Brother's Keeper"— an antiseptic name for a full scale assault on the entire Palestinian population in the occupied territories. Hundreds of Hamas leaders have been arrested and now are being held without charge. Entire communities have been closed off, victims of illegal collective punishment. Checkpoints have intensified. Within some cities, door to door searches are underway. Homes have been destroyed and families dispossessed. Fear is widespread, as is anger.
By any measure, the kidnapping (and I am assuming that is what it was) was a wicked and stupid act. Wicked, because attacking civilians, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, is never acceptable. In no way, can the action be justified as moral, responsible, or an act of resistance.
Relations between the U.S. and Brazil have been in the doghouse since documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that Brazil was one of the biggest targets of NSA spying. The abuses included mass collection of millions of Brazilians’ email and phone records, spying on President Dilma Rousseff’s personal communications, and targeting the computer systems of Brazil's Petrobras – the latter with obvious commercial benefits for U.S. corporations.
Dilma summed it all up rather succinctly in a blunt speech at the United Nations last September, denouncing “a situation of grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties; of invasion and capture of confidential information concerning corporate activities, and especially of disrespect to national sovereignty.”
The problem of long wait times for veterans seeking care at some (but not all) Veterans Health Administration facilities has been front-page news for the past several weeks, and seems to be resulting in an unusually prompt response from a normally gridlocked Congress. The wait times and the consequent attempts to cover them up seem to have multiple causes.
First, there is the uneven but growing demand for some types of services, resulting from casualties suffered in the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Then there are predictable increases in the demand for services due to the aging of veterans from past military conflicts. This increased demand has been somewhat but not completely offset by the attrition in the number of veterans from past wars due to normal mortality as they age.
Far-call'd our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!
TOKYO – On March 29, 2014, the Japan Times (JP), which collaborates with the New York Times, enabled a de facto war criminal, a compulsive liar, and a disgraceful former statesmen going around soliciting in Nippon. Tony Blair, the ex-prime minister of Britain, who is (co-)responsible for the violent occupation of Iraq, published a pathetic moral piece entitled 'The ideology of those who kidnap schoolgirls' .