Tuesday, 30 June 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.

On March 8, 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13692, which declared a national emergency, calling Venezuela "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," and imposed sanctions on several Venezuelan officials. Now that he has publicly backpedaled on his claim, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls on him to immediately withdraw the executive order.

On April 9, the day before the Summit of the Americas began in Panama City, President Obama backtracked on that claim. In an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE that received little coverage, Obama stated, "Venezuela is not a threat to the US and the US is not a threat to Venezuela." Nevertheless, the EO remains in effect. Such a false declaration that a country poses a national security threat to the United States violates domestic and international law and serves only to further isolate the US in the region.

We still don't know the names of the racist police officers that brutally murdered Freddie Gray. All we know is that they have been suspended with pay. We are told that we cannot rush to judgment, for what would otherwise become of 'due process'? However, we now know that there is another person to blame, another subject involved in and responsible for, the tragic, torturous and horrific death - the lynching of Freddie Gray, and that is Freddie Gray himself.

From the Washington Post to Fox News and other media outlets, we learn that, according to a prisoner who was in the police van with Freddie Gray during that terrible and murderous ride, Freddie Gray was "banging against the walls" of the vehicle. This other prisoner now says that he believed Freddie Gray was "intentionally trying to injure himself." Articles reporting on this don't say that the second prisoner had no idea of what had happened during Gray's arrest, that his spine had been injured, and his legs were rendered useless. So they don't say that the banging against the walls of the police van was simply a way to somehow deal with the excruciating and unsustainable pain caused by his spine injury. During the 'rough ride' in the van, Freddie Gray was trying to exit his body, bring it back to a healthy state, or perhaps break it even more, in an attempt to stop that impossible condition of pain, impossible to sustain, stop the nightmare which these six racist and murderous police officers had brought upon him. No - rather, in the lying fashion typical of mainstream media, in the deliberate thoughtlessness typical of the law and the police, they go from one absurdity to the other trying to convince an audience whose stupidity and gullibility they offensively assume. So they say that the document, the second prisoner's statement, was "written by a Baltimore police investigator."

If you haven't heard it from your friends, kids, grandkids or even the paperboy, 71 percent of people have some sort student loan debt and the average is nearly $33,000.

Student debt is reaching a crisis point in the US.

Apr 30

Welcome to Where?

By Matt Mullins , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Imagine yourself in these shoes… you and your family live imprisoned behind concrete walls twice the height of the Berlin wall, grimly underlined with razor wire and punctuated by sniper towers. Each tower stands foreboding like a giant inquisitor sneering down over a barren, ravished land; their bullet proof glass eyes cruelly manned by young patriots ready to burn lead holes through human skulls. The occupying force frequently closes the roads and highways you use for work, to see family and friends or hope to God don't needto reach a hospital. Yet the citizens of the occupying force pass freely on these same roads.

Apr 30

Foundation Myths

By Nicholas Mele, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Since 2001, the United States sees myriad existential threats to our nation from lone terrorists to rogue states like North Korea to China and Russia. The American response to this has been to act in line with what Walter Wink called The Myth of Redemptive Violence. The original form of the myth tells of the creation of an ordered world through killing: violence defeats chaos and enables ordered societies to flourish. Violence, in the form of war, then looks like the best way to overcome threats. As Stephen Kinzer pointed out recently, there are in fact few or no such doomsday threats. We need to look at the world with eyes open to the complexity of the conflicts and injustices in the world, and we need to widen our sense of the options available to us.

Citigroup shareholder votes today on two resolutions aimed at reforming the way the bank does business in Washington, DC, highlight the increased demand nationwide for corporations to disclose details of their political spending, Public Citizen said.

The first resolution asks Citigroup to disclose more information about its lobbying activities. The second asks the company to disclose which of its executives are eligible for bonuses should they leave the bank for high-ranking positions in government. Both resolutions, which were filed by shareholders, address a troubling pattern of influence-peddling by the bank, made worse by the shadow of Citigroup's 2008 taxpayer bailout.

Apr 30

Lake Apopka: Ecocide, Rural Oligarchy and Slavery

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In April 17-18, 2015, I attended a conference in Orlando, Florida. Beyond Pesticides, a non-profit environmental organization in Washington, DC, since 1981, sponsored the forum.

Before the conference started, some fifty people took a bus tour of rural Florida, especially exploring the lush agricultural region around Lake Apopka, Florida's fourth largest lake. I entered the bus with apprehension. I had heard bad things were taking place in central Florida.

Patients, family members and activists stood with legislators today as they announced the introduction of Assembly bill A.7060 that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medicalmarijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, comes 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law on July 5, and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.

Apr 30

Observing Colombia's Peace Negotiations

By William Edstrom, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Peace negotiations are moving forward in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian central government and the FARC, the Fuerzas Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia, aka, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Progress includes a joint agreement to clean up the thousands of landmines that litter the Colombian landscape and an end to the conscription of soldiers under the age of 17. Many issues remain on the table such as reparation; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; lingering questions of whether or not to hold criminals accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide; an effective mechanism for the return of property to people who fled their property in fear, the disarmament - or not - of FARC.

Apr 29

The Baltimore Rebellion and Newton's Third Law of Motion

By Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D., SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body." Or, as it is more commonly stated, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. - Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion 1687

Sparked by the not so mysterious April 19th death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore police, citizens of WestBaltimore and others took to the streets in yet another seemingly endless display of urban unrest. Reporters from mainstream media outlets such as CNN are unable to place the unrest in any substantive historical context.

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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.

On March 8, 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13692, which declared a national emergency, calling Venezuela "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," and imposed sanctions on several Venezuelan officials. Now that he has publicly backpedaled on his claim, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls on him to immediately withdraw the executive order.

On April 9, the day before the Summit of the Americas began in Panama City, President Obama backtracked on that claim. In an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE that received little coverage, Obama stated, "Venezuela is not a threat to the US and the US is not a threat to Venezuela." Nevertheless, the EO remains in effect. Such a false declaration that a country poses a national security threat to the United States violates domestic and international law and serves only to further isolate the US in the region.

We still don't know the names of the racist police officers that brutally murdered Freddie Gray. All we know is that they have been suspended with pay. We are told that we cannot rush to judgment, for what would otherwise become of 'due process'? However, we now know that there is another person to blame, another subject involved in and responsible for, the tragic, torturous and horrific death - the lynching of Freddie Gray, and that is Freddie Gray himself.

From the Washington Post to Fox News and other media outlets, we learn that, according to a prisoner who was in the police van with Freddie Gray during that terrible and murderous ride, Freddie Gray was "banging against the walls" of the vehicle. This other prisoner now says that he believed Freddie Gray was "intentionally trying to injure himself." Articles reporting on this don't say that the second prisoner had no idea of what had happened during Gray's arrest, that his spine had been injured, and his legs were rendered useless. So they don't say that the banging against the walls of the police van was simply a way to somehow deal with the excruciating and unsustainable pain caused by his spine injury. During the 'rough ride' in the van, Freddie Gray was trying to exit his body, bring it back to a healthy state, or perhaps break it even more, in an attempt to stop that impossible condition of pain, impossible to sustain, stop the nightmare which these six racist and murderous police officers had brought upon him. No - rather, in the lying fashion typical of mainstream media, in the deliberate thoughtlessness typical of the law and the police, they go from one absurdity to the other trying to convince an audience whose stupidity and gullibility they offensively assume. So they say that the document, the second prisoner's statement, was "written by a Baltimore police investigator."

If you haven't heard it from your friends, kids, grandkids or even the paperboy, 71 percent of people have some sort student loan debt and the average is nearly $33,000.

Student debt is reaching a crisis point in the US.

Apr 30

Welcome to Where?

By Matt Mullins , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Imagine yourself in these shoes… you and your family live imprisoned behind concrete walls twice the height of the Berlin wall, grimly underlined with razor wire and punctuated by sniper towers. Each tower stands foreboding like a giant inquisitor sneering down over a barren, ravished land; their bullet proof glass eyes cruelly manned by young patriots ready to burn lead holes through human skulls. The occupying force frequently closes the roads and highways you use for work, to see family and friends or hope to God don't needto reach a hospital. Yet the citizens of the occupying force pass freely on these same roads.

Apr 30

Foundation Myths

By Nicholas Mele, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Since 2001, the United States sees myriad existential threats to our nation from lone terrorists to rogue states like North Korea to China and Russia. The American response to this has been to act in line with what Walter Wink called The Myth of Redemptive Violence. The original form of the myth tells of the creation of an ordered world through killing: violence defeats chaos and enables ordered societies to flourish. Violence, in the form of war, then looks like the best way to overcome threats. As Stephen Kinzer pointed out recently, there are in fact few or no such doomsday threats. We need to look at the world with eyes open to the complexity of the conflicts and injustices in the world, and we need to widen our sense of the options available to us.

Citigroup shareholder votes today on two resolutions aimed at reforming the way the bank does business in Washington, DC, highlight the increased demand nationwide for corporations to disclose details of their political spending, Public Citizen said.

The first resolution asks Citigroup to disclose more information about its lobbying activities. The second asks the company to disclose which of its executives are eligible for bonuses should they leave the bank for high-ranking positions in government. Both resolutions, which were filed by shareholders, address a troubling pattern of influence-peddling by the bank, made worse by the shadow of Citigroup's 2008 taxpayer bailout.

Apr 30

Lake Apopka: Ecocide, Rural Oligarchy and Slavery

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In April 17-18, 2015, I attended a conference in Orlando, Florida. Beyond Pesticides, a non-profit environmental organization in Washington, DC, since 1981, sponsored the forum.

Before the conference started, some fifty people took a bus tour of rural Florida, especially exploring the lush agricultural region around Lake Apopka, Florida's fourth largest lake. I entered the bus with apprehension. I had heard bad things were taking place in central Florida.

Patients, family members and activists stood with legislators today as they announced the introduction of Assembly bill A.7060 that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medicalmarijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, comes 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law on July 5, and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.

Apr 30

Observing Colombia's Peace Negotiations

By William Edstrom, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Peace negotiations are moving forward in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian central government and the FARC, the Fuerzas Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia, aka, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Progress includes a joint agreement to clean up the thousands of landmines that litter the Colombian landscape and an end to the conscription of soldiers under the age of 17. Many issues remain on the table such as reparation; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; lingering questions of whether or not to hold criminals accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide; an effective mechanism for the return of property to people who fled their property in fear, the disarmament - or not - of FARC.

Apr 29

The Baltimore Rebellion and Newton's Third Law of Motion

By Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D., SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body." Or, as it is more commonly stated, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. - Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion 1687

Sparked by the not so mysterious April 19th death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore police, citizens of WestBaltimore and others took to the streets in yet another seemingly endless display of urban unrest. Reporters from mainstream media outlets such as CNN are unable to place the unrest in any substantive historical context.