Saturday, 18 April 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.

Mar 02

ISIS Derangement Syndrome

By David Swanson, World Beyond War | Op-Ed

Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

New "ag-gag" laws are criminalizing the filming of animal abuse on factory farms, which are the source of 99 percent of animal meat. Do they have the right to keep their animal cruelty secret, or do consumers have the right to know?

Lawyers for a US citizen disappeared in Yemen are calling on the Houthi government to confirm his well-being and end his enforced disappearance, on the day that marks a year since he was last seen.
 
Sharif Mobley, a father of two from New Jersey, was last seen by legal representatives from international human rights organisation Reprieve on 27 February 2014, as he awaited trial at Sana’a’s central prison. When they returned three weeks later, Reprieve staff were told that Mr Mobley had been transferred to another, secret location. All attempts by Mr Mobley’s lawyers to access him have since failed.

The former President of the Maldives and global climate activist Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed was arrested on February 22 on “terror” charges just days before he was to lead a mass demonstration against the current government. Both the UN and the EU have issued statements of concern over what now appears to be an escalation by entrenched power holders in the Maldives to stifle effective political opposition.  

Known to outsiders for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and five star luxury resorts, the Maldives is a nation of about 340,000 people spread across an archipelago of 26 atolls located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Its natural beauty is its biggest asset, given that nearly one-third of the country’s GDP is generated via tourism. But that beauty also has a way of obscuring the intense political struggles that have come to characterize everyday life for most Maldivians over the past 30 years.

"…when you select heroes about which black children ought to be taught, let them be black heroes who have died fighting for the benefit of black people. We never were taught about Christophe or Dessalines. It was the slave revolt in Haiti when slaves, black slaves, had the soldiers of Napoleon tied down and forced him to sell one half of the American continent to the Americans. They don't teach us that. This is the kind of history we want to learn." – Malcolm X

Cities and states across the United States have been taking various actions against drones, while the federal government rolls ahead with project fill the skies.

Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says "This is NOT what I/we asked for."

Feb 27

Measles, Merck and Fraud

By Marco Caceres, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The measles outbreak in the United States has fueled fear within the public and among legislators throughout the country intent on eliminating or severely restricting the right to informed consent by people who have questions about the efficacy, safety and scheduling of certain vaccines. Get a grip. It's measles, not Ebola.

Referring to the outbreak, here's what director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Anne Schuchat had to say last month: "This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. It's a problem of the measles vaccine not being used." She also said, "There's no harm in getting another MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine."

The lawn is mowed. This small detail cracks my heart into pieces. A silent scream wails in the hollow space of my ribs.

I am standing at the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Green grass slopes down to a pond. A grandfather helps a child circle the concrete walkways on a plastic scooter. Ducks paddle around a metal statue of cranes. The rusted iron of the metal cranes look charred and melting. The lumps and bubbles remind me of the hanging flesh of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. Like everything in the mundane city park, the cranes, upon close inspection, cannot hide the fact that this very spot was where the first nuclear bomb was built.

Despite polls showing overwhelming support for labeling for genetically engineered foods, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack proposed yesterday that consumers should use their smartphones to scan bar codes on food packages to find out whether their food contains GMOs.

Vlisack’s idea is sure to cheer the food industry, while denying Americans the right to know what is in our food. 

Among topics discussed on the show are the significance and likely fate of net neutrality, the commercialization of the Internet, and the future of our endangered print media and, for that matter, of serious journalism itself; the crippling effect of income inequality and the importance of grassroots activism in countering organized wealth in our society; the continuing encroachment of for-profit corporations into the public sector; and what a "post-capitalist democracy" might look like.

The Rag Blog's Roger Baker also participates in the discussion. Bob McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was the co-founder of the influential media reform organization, Free Press, that has played a major role in the fight for a free Internet. Bob was previously our guest on Rag Radio in February 2011.

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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.

Mar 02

ISIS Derangement Syndrome

By David Swanson, World Beyond War | Op-Ed

Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

New "ag-gag" laws are criminalizing the filming of animal abuse on factory farms, which are the source of 99 percent of animal meat. Do they have the right to keep their animal cruelty secret, or do consumers have the right to know?

Lawyers for a US citizen disappeared in Yemen are calling on the Houthi government to confirm his well-being and end his enforced disappearance, on the day that marks a year since he was last seen.
 
Sharif Mobley, a father of two from New Jersey, was last seen by legal representatives from international human rights organisation Reprieve on 27 February 2014, as he awaited trial at Sana’a’s central prison. When they returned three weeks later, Reprieve staff were told that Mr Mobley had been transferred to another, secret location. All attempts by Mr Mobley’s lawyers to access him have since failed.

The former President of the Maldives and global climate activist Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed was arrested on February 22 on “terror” charges just days before he was to lead a mass demonstration against the current government. Both the UN and the EU have issued statements of concern over what now appears to be an escalation by entrenched power holders in the Maldives to stifle effective political opposition.  

Known to outsiders for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and five star luxury resorts, the Maldives is a nation of about 340,000 people spread across an archipelago of 26 atolls located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Its natural beauty is its biggest asset, given that nearly one-third of the country’s GDP is generated via tourism. But that beauty also has a way of obscuring the intense political struggles that have come to characterize everyday life for most Maldivians over the past 30 years.

"…when you select heroes about which black children ought to be taught, let them be black heroes who have died fighting for the benefit of black people. We never were taught about Christophe or Dessalines. It was the slave revolt in Haiti when slaves, black slaves, had the soldiers of Napoleon tied down and forced him to sell one half of the American continent to the Americans. They don't teach us that. This is the kind of history we want to learn." – Malcolm X

Cities and states across the United States have been taking various actions against drones, while the federal government rolls ahead with project fill the skies.

Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says "This is NOT what I/we asked for."

Feb 27

Measles, Merck and Fraud

By Marco Caceres, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The measles outbreak in the United States has fueled fear within the public and among legislators throughout the country intent on eliminating or severely restricting the right to informed consent by people who have questions about the efficacy, safety and scheduling of certain vaccines. Get a grip. It's measles, not Ebola.

Referring to the outbreak, here's what director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Anne Schuchat had to say last month: "This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. It's a problem of the measles vaccine not being used." She also said, "There's no harm in getting another MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine."

The lawn is mowed. This small detail cracks my heart into pieces. A silent scream wails in the hollow space of my ribs.

I am standing at the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Green grass slopes down to a pond. A grandfather helps a child circle the concrete walkways on a plastic scooter. Ducks paddle around a metal statue of cranes. The rusted iron of the metal cranes look charred and melting. The lumps and bubbles remind me of the hanging flesh of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. Like everything in the mundane city park, the cranes, upon close inspection, cannot hide the fact that this very spot was where the first nuclear bomb was built.

Despite polls showing overwhelming support for labeling for genetically engineered foods, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack proposed yesterday that consumers should use their smartphones to scan bar codes on food packages to find out whether their food contains GMOs.

Vlisack’s idea is sure to cheer the food industry, while denying Americans the right to know what is in our food. 

Among topics discussed on the show are the significance and likely fate of net neutrality, the commercialization of the Internet, and the future of our endangered print media and, for that matter, of serious journalism itself; the crippling effect of income inequality and the importance of grassroots activism in countering organized wealth in our society; the continuing encroachment of for-profit corporations into the public sector; and what a "post-capitalist democracy" might look like.

The Rag Blog's Roger Baker also participates in the discussion. Bob McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was the co-founder of the influential media reform organization, Free Press, that has played a major role in the fight for a free Internet. Bob was previously our guest on Rag Radio in February 2011.