Tuesday, 04 August 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.

May 18

Donetsk: A Defiant and Besieged City

By Joshua Tartakovsky, Truthout | Op-Ed

A visit to Donetsk reveals that unlike Western media portrayals, the city stands behind the rebels and refuses to accept the authority or legitimacy of the Kiev government which openly stated its admiration for Ukrainian fascist leaders. Donetsk is keen on resisting attempts at subjugation by Kiev. Its population continues to struggle to go on with its daily life as residential neighborhoods are frequently shelled. While Russia undoubtedly lends its support to the self-proclaimed republic via various means, it would be incorrect to say that the local population does not stand behind the republic.

In a recent visit to the Donbass in East Ukraine, a group of journalists including myself visited Donetsk in order to better understand its reality for ourselves. The trip was organized by Europa Objektiv, a German-Russian NGO whose mission is to provide journalists with a tour of the frequently misrepresented region.

We submit these letters as mothers, advocates and organizers in solidarity with Shanesha Taylor. Shanesha is a mother who was convicted in Arizona last year for child abuse, for being homeless and having no childcare available to her while she interviewed for a badly needed job. She got the job, and her children were unharmed in the car, (their home at the time), but still she faces a decade of probation, payment to the state of thousands of dollars in what is being called "restitution", and the threat of jail. Shanesha returns to court Friday, May 15th.

A senior FBI official and former US attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the FBI director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.

Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama administration's efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration's hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.

With Pennsylvania's Supreme Court primary less than a week away, television ad buys have reached at least $1,456,975, according to Federal Communications Commission records analyzed by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake.

In this primary, 12 candidates are vying for three open seats - the most open at one time in thecourt's history - making it likely that this year's election cycle will be among the most expensive in state history. (The most expensive election to date was in 2007, where TV spending totals reached $4.6 million with two open seats and one retention election.) Two of the three seats up for election this cycle were vacated due to scandal, and the November general election will determine the ideological makeup of the court.

May 14

Open Letter to the Environmental Justice Community Rallying in Raleigh Today

By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, NAACP | Open Letter

We in the NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement are glad to stand with you as we make the moral case for environmental justice.

I am pleased to welcome you to Raleigh to the People's House. We are especially pleased to have Robert Kennedy, Jr. here, who has been a long-time fighter for environmental justice.

We must stand together to fight to protect our land, water, air - every part of our environment.

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on a blatantly unconstitutional nationwide ban on abortion care after 20 weeks (H.R. 36), which is a threat to women's lives and health, and at odds with medical standards of care.

This bill was introduced in January 2015 and pulled from floor consideration at the eleventh hour because its extreme policies caused controversy even among anti-choice politicians. Now, its sponsors have put forth a new version of the bill – purporting to "fix" the bill's most dangerous clauses. However, the new version of H.R. 36 is even worse than the prior version, revealing that there is only one thing that extreme anti-choice politicians can agree upon: denying women accessible medical care.

Employee turnover costs businesses millions of dollars each year. However, many employers don't accurately track this expense, which could be reduced by improving workplace conditions. To help business owners understand the cost of turnover, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) have released an updated turnover calculator. This dynamic tool allows employers to calculate turnover costs by responding to 10 simple questions.

When employees leave or are laid off, companies incur numerous expenses searching for and on-boarding their replacements; these include advertising, recruiting, background checks, benefits administration, training, and lost productivity while new employees become proficient at their jobs.

Saudi Arabia has been urged to spare the lives of two juveniles and an ageing politicalactivist, after plans emerged to execute at least one of them this Thursday (14th).

Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime, and two juveniles, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon, were arrested during a 2012 crackdown on anti-government protests in the Shiite province of Qatif. After a trial marred by irregularities, Mr Al Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion on charges including 'insulting the King' and delivering religious sermons that 'disrupt national unity'. This week, it emerged that the authorities plan to execute him on Thursday, despite protests from the UN and Saudi human rights organizations.

This week the US Senate approved a joint budget plan for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, by a vote of 51-48 with all Senate Democrats and two Republicans voting against it. The US House of Representatives approved the same plan last week by 226-197, which was opposed by 14 Republicans and every Democrat. This budget framework is not binding, but it serves as a blueprint for making decisions about spending and revenues in the coming fiscal year. To see how your US Representative(s) voted click here; for your US Senators click here.

Instead of asking the wealthy and corporations to pay one additional cent in taxes - in fact it would cut their taxes - the plan aims to balance the budget in 10 years by cutting more than $5 trillion from vital services for low-and middle-income Americans and by disinvesting in America’s future by slashing funding for infrastructure, research and education.

May 13

The State of the Global Economy

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The slump that started in 2007 is now known as the Great Recession. Some people such as the Nobel Laureate and Princeton Economics Professor Paul Krugman call it a depression. Regardless of what you call it, it is clear to most that even after eight years of money printing and huge budget deficits, the global economy is still stagnating. According to the latest estimate from the government, US GDP growth was practically zero in the first quarter of this year.

 Now one of America's top economists, Professor Ravi Batra, explains why conventional economic approaches have been a dismal failure and why they would never restore world economies to their pre-2007 prosperity.

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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.

May 18

Donetsk: A Defiant and Besieged City

By Joshua Tartakovsky, Truthout | Op-Ed

A visit to Donetsk reveals that unlike Western media portrayals, the city stands behind the rebels and refuses to accept the authority or legitimacy of the Kiev government which openly stated its admiration for Ukrainian fascist leaders. Donetsk is keen on resisting attempts at subjugation by Kiev. Its population continues to struggle to go on with its daily life as residential neighborhoods are frequently shelled. While Russia undoubtedly lends its support to the self-proclaimed republic via various means, it would be incorrect to say that the local population does not stand behind the republic.

In a recent visit to the Donbass in East Ukraine, a group of journalists including myself visited Donetsk in order to better understand its reality for ourselves. The trip was organized by Europa Objektiv, a German-Russian NGO whose mission is to provide journalists with a tour of the frequently misrepresented region.

We submit these letters as mothers, advocates and organizers in solidarity with Shanesha Taylor. Shanesha is a mother who was convicted in Arizona last year for child abuse, for being homeless and having no childcare available to her while she interviewed for a badly needed job. She got the job, and her children were unharmed in the car, (their home at the time), but still she faces a decade of probation, payment to the state of thousands of dollars in what is being called "restitution", and the threat of jail. Shanesha returns to court Friday, May 15th.

A senior FBI official and former US attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the FBI director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.

Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama administration's efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration's hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.

With Pennsylvania's Supreme Court primary less than a week away, television ad buys have reached at least $1,456,975, according to Federal Communications Commission records analyzed by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake.

In this primary, 12 candidates are vying for three open seats - the most open at one time in thecourt's history - making it likely that this year's election cycle will be among the most expensive in state history. (The most expensive election to date was in 2007, where TV spending totals reached $4.6 million with two open seats and one retention election.) Two of the three seats up for election this cycle were vacated due to scandal, and the November general election will determine the ideological makeup of the court.

May 14

Open Letter to the Environmental Justice Community Rallying in Raleigh Today

By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, NAACP | Open Letter

We in the NC NAACP and Forward Together Moral Movement are glad to stand with you as we make the moral case for environmental justice.

I am pleased to welcome you to Raleigh to the People's House. We are especially pleased to have Robert Kennedy, Jr. here, who has been a long-time fighter for environmental justice.

We must stand together to fight to protect our land, water, air - every part of our environment.

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on a blatantly unconstitutional nationwide ban on abortion care after 20 weeks (H.R. 36), which is a threat to women's lives and health, and at odds with medical standards of care.

This bill was introduced in January 2015 and pulled from floor consideration at the eleventh hour because its extreme policies caused controversy even among anti-choice politicians. Now, its sponsors have put forth a new version of the bill – purporting to "fix" the bill's most dangerous clauses. However, the new version of H.R. 36 is even worse than the prior version, revealing that there is only one thing that extreme anti-choice politicians can agree upon: denying women accessible medical care.

Employee turnover costs businesses millions of dollars each year. However, many employers don't accurately track this expense, which could be reduced by improving workplace conditions. To help business owners understand the cost of turnover, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) have released an updated turnover calculator. This dynamic tool allows employers to calculate turnover costs by responding to 10 simple questions.

When employees leave or are laid off, companies incur numerous expenses searching for and on-boarding their replacements; these include advertising, recruiting, background checks, benefits administration, training, and lost productivity while new employees become proficient at their jobs.

Saudi Arabia has been urged to spare the lives of two juveniles and an ageing politicalactivist, after plans emerged to execute at least one of them this Thursday (14th).

Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime, and two juveniles, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon, were arrested during a 2012 crackdown on anti-government protests in the Shiite province of Qatif. After a trial marred by irregularities, Mr Al Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion on charges including 'insulting the King' and delivering religious sermons that 'disrupt national unity'. This week, it emerged that the authorities plan to execute him on Thursday, despite protests from the UN and Saudi human rights organizations.

This week the US Senate approved a joint budget plan for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, by a vote of 51-48 with all Senate Democrats and two Republicans voting against it. The US House of Representatives approved the same plan last week by 226-197, which was opposed by 14 Republicans and every Democrat. This budget framework is not binding, but it serves as a blueprint for making decisions about spending and revenues in the coming fiscal year. To see how your US Representative(s) voted click here; for your US Senators click here.

Instead of asking the wealthy and corporations to pay one additional cent in taxes - in fact it would cut their taxes - the plan aims to balance the budget in 10 years by cutting more than $5 trillion from vital services for low-and middle-income Americans and by disinvesting in America’s future by slashing funding for infrastructure, research and education.

May 13

The State of the Global Economy

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The slump that started in 2007 is now known as the Great Recession. Some people such as the Nobel Laureate and Princeton Economics Professor Paul Krugman call it a depression. Regardless of what you call it, it is clear to most that even after eight years of money printing and huge budget deficits, the global economy is still stagnating. According to the latest estimate from the government, US GDP growth was practically zero in the first quarter of this year.

 Now one of America's top economists, Professor Ravi Batra, explains why conventional economic approaches have been a dismal failure and why they would never restore world economies to their pre-2007 prosperity.