Friday, 03 July 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.

Jun 23

A Doctor's Degree at 102

By Victor Grossman, Truthout | Op-Ed

The frail, white-haired little lady stepping slowly up onto the stage of the Babylon cinema theater in Berlin – to giant applause – was not wearing a collegiate cap and gown. But she had undoubtedly made academic history. Two weeks earlier Ingeborg Rapoport had been awarded a doctor’s degree – at the age of 102! And after 78 years!

Her amazing story had just been show in a full-length TV documentary film to an audience filling every last seat. Not so many had known the Rapoports, wife and late husband, but all had read the news item a few days earlier about how she had properly defended her dissertation of 1938 about diphtheria and paralysis, then gone to the university in Hamburg two weeks later to receive a degree denied her many years ago. That news story filled the theater.

Books about how World War I started, and to a lesser degree how World War II started, have tended in recent years to explain that these wars didn'tactually come as a surprise, because top government officials saw them coming for years. But these revised histories admit that the general public was pretty much clueless and shocked.

The fact is that anyone in the know or diligently seeking out the facts could see, in rough outline, the danger of World War I or World War II coming years ahead, just as one can see the threats of environmental collapse and World War III approaching now. But the general public lacked a decent understanding prior to the first two world wars and lacks it now on the looming dangers created by environmental destruction and aggressive flirtation with World War III.

Pakistan needs to be consistent on Muslim hot-zones worldwide and not just in Palestine.

The Rohingya Muslim situation offers Pakistan two distinct choices: It can either sever diplomatic ties with Myanmar over the "slow genocide," orrecognize the Jewish State of Israel as extending to its pre-1967 borders. A failure to act now will confirm Pakistan's status as a money-stuffed mouthpiece of the Arab League. 

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member and activist Scott Olsen was the featured guest on Tim "Sole" Holland's podcast titled Solecast on June 3, 2015. The Occupy Wall Street movement galvanized after the life-threatening attack on Olsen when he was put into a coma after being hit in the head with a bean bag round shot by police at an Occupy Oakland protest on October 25, 2011. In March 2015, Olsen was awarded 4.5 million by the city of Oakland after a federal lawsuit was filed concerning his injury. Olsen discussed IVAW, militarization of the police, Occupy Oakland, ISIS, the surveillance state and creating cultures of resistance. 

Remember the World Trade Organization, which slipped into the shadows after massive Seattle protests in 1999? The same day last week that Congress initially blocked the possibility of fast track approval for the TPP trade agreement, the House voted to overturn rules requiring country-of-origin labeling for meat. Those supporting the vote said they were responding to a World Trade Organization ruling, judging US country-of-origin labeling unfair competition with meat coming from foreign countries like Canada and Mexico, and therefore a violation. They said they had no choice for fear of triggering sanctions or lawsuits from countries exporting meat across our borders.

I don't know about you, but I like knowing whether my meat comes from Iowa or Uzbekistan, Montana or Mexico, Kentucky or Kenya. So do 93% of Americans, according to a Consumer's Union survey. People like supporting US farmers, cutting down distance travelled, knowing there will be at least minimal inspection standards, even if the delights of e coli occasionally slip through. It seems commonsensical that we'd want at least the chance to become informed consumers, whether with the origins of our meat, GMO-derived crops, or the amount of sugar and calories in our baked goods.

Jun 22

Corporations Over People

By Laura Finley, Peace Voice | Op-Ed

Here we go again. Another court decision favoring businesses over human rights. Sadly, it is no shock that the Supreme Court is friendlier to business more than anything or anyone else. From its 2010 Citizens United blunder that allowed even greater corporate influence on our political process to the 2014 Hobby Lobby case affirming the "religious beliefs" of private corporations, the court's continual siding with corporate entities over individual rights is maddening and ludicrous, but not surprising.  Now, we learn that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in favor of employers in a case that addressed whether persons with lawful medical marijuana cards can be fired for testing positive for the substance.

In a 6-0 decision, Colorado's highest court ruled that an employer's zero tolerance law trumped the state's medical marijuana legislation. The court held that employers can fire employees for testing positive for the substance even if usage was lawful under state law and occurred when the individual was off duty. Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic after a car accident, has been lawfully using medical marijuana to control leg spasms. Dish Network, his employer, fired him in 2010 after he tested positive on a random drug test. Coats had informed his employer before the test about his use of medical marijuana and displayed his state-certified medical marijuana card.

In the lead up to COP21, also known as the Paris Conference and the latest installment of the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," a lot of people and organizations in France have been actively building on the theme of how to save the environment, reaching out to young and old through multidimensional activities to raise consciousness about the crisis in the public eye. Alternatiba has been giving people the opportunity to experience real alternatives to avert climate change since its first Village des alternatives (Alternatives Village) in Bayonne, in the Basque region ofFrance, in October 2013. The Villages have since spread to other countries in Europe, and reached the other side of the world in Tahiti and La Réunion.

Pedaling their emblematic four-person quadricyles, the 2015 Tour Alternatiba kicked off on 5 June in Bayonne and will completely encircle France before turning inland to reach Paris on 26 September, ahead of the COP21, which starts in November. Under the aegis of Coalition Climat 21 (Climate Coalition 21) and the subtitle "Our children will thank us," the travelling caravan will bring educational villages to real villages throughout the country, providing diverse forms of instruction, information and discussion about climate change.

Jun 22

ICE: Stop Deporting Domestic Violence Survivors

By Sandy Espino Valenciano and Alexis Nava Teodoro, Truthout | Video

Why is the Obama administration ripping a Northern California mom away from her four children – even though she was the victim of a violent crime?

We are rallying behind a mom named Rosa whom San Francisco-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have wrongfully separated from her family for nearly two months. This same office, has the power to use Prosecutorial Discretion-- to reunite Rosa with her family. 

 

Venezuelan Indians blocked the landing strip of Canaima National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in protest at illegal miners destroying their lives and lands.

Over the last decade, illegal mining for gold, diamonds and other minerals – some run by armed gangs claiming to be members of Colombia's guerrilla army FARC – has spread like wildfire through the Venezuelan Amazon, affecting tribessuch as the Yanomami, Hoti, Eñepa, Yekuana and Arekuna.

The long-running, multi-party dispute over control of islets in the South China Sea (SCS) is worsening both in rhetoric and provocative activity. Meeting in late May at the Shangri-La Dialogue on regional security, US and Chinese defense officials sparred over responsibility for the increased tension, though they stopped short of issuing threats.  In fact, all sides to the dispute say they want to avoid violence, prefer a diplomatic resolution, and support freedom of navigation. 

Both the US and China insist that the dispute notwithstanding, their relationship overall is positive and enduring.  But China, claiming indisputable sovereignty over the SCS, is backing its claim in ways that alarm the US and several Asian governments: construction of an air strip on the Spratly Islands, a land reclamation project that has artificially expanded its claimed territory, and most recently emplacement of two mobile artillery vehicles.

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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.

Jun 23

A Doctor's Degree at 102

By Victor Grossman, Truthout | Op-Ed

The frail, white-haired little lady stepping slowly up onto the stage of the Babylon cinema theater in Berlin – to giant applause – was not wearing a collegiate cap and gown. But she had undoubtedly made academic history. Two weeks earlier Ingeborg Rapoport had been awarded a doctor’s degree – at the age of 102! And after 78 years!

Her amazing story had just been show in a full-length TV documentary film to an audience filling every last seat. Not so many had known the Rapoports, wife and late husband, but all had read the news item a few days earlier about how she had properly defended her dissertation of 1938 about diphtheria and paralysis, then gone to the university in Hamburg two weeks later to receive a degree denied her many years ago. That news story filled the theater.

Books about how World War I started, and to a lesser degree how World War II started, have tended in recent years to explain that these wars didn'tactually come as a surprise, because top government officials saw them coming for years. But these revised histories admit that the general public was pretty much clueless and shocked.

The fact is that anyone in the know or diligently seeking out the facts could see, in rough outline, the danger of World War I or World War II coming years ahead, just as one can see the threats of environmental collapse and World War III approaching now. But the general public lacked a decent understanding prior to the first two world wars and lacks it now on the looming dangers created by environmental destruction and aggressive flirtation with World War III.

Pakistan needs to be consistent on Muslim hot-zones worldwide and not just in Palestine.

The Rohingya Muslim situation offers Pakistan two distinct choices: It can either sever diplomatic ties with Myanmar over the "slow genocide," orrecognize the Jewish State of Israel as extending to its pre-1967 borders. A failure to act now will confirm Pakistan's status as a money-stuffed mouthpiece of the Arab League. 

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member and activist Scott Olsen was the featured guest on Tim "Sole" Holland's podcast titled Solecast on June 3, 2015. The Occupy Wall Street movement galvanized after the life-threatening attack on Olsen when he was put into a coma after being hit in the head with a bean bag round shot by police at an Occupy Oakland protest on October 25, 2011. In March 2015, Olsen was awarded 4.5 million by the city of Oakland after a federal lawsuit was filed concerning his injury. Olsen discussed IVAW, militarization of the police, Occupy Oakland, ISIS, the surveillance state and creating cultures of resistance. 

Remember the World Trade Organization, which slipped into the shadows after massive Seattle protests in 1999? The same day last week that Congress initially blocked the possibility of fast track approval for the TPP trade agreement, the House voted to overturn rules requiring country-of-origin labeling for meat. Those supporting the vote said they were responding to a World Trade Organization ruling, judging US country-of-origin labeling unfair competition with meat coming from foreign countries like Canada and Mexico, and therefore a violation. They said they had no choice for fear of triggering sanctions or lawsuits from countries exporting meat across our borders.

I don't know about you, but I like knowing whether my meat comes from Iowa or Uzbekistan, Montana or Mexico, Kentucky or Kenya. So do 93% of Americans, according to a Consumer's Union survey. People like supporting US farmers, cutting down distance travelled, knowing there will be at least minimal inspection standards, even if the delights of e coli occasionally slip through. It seems commonsensical that we'd want at least the chance to become informed consumers, whether with the origins of our meat, GMO-derived crops, or the amount of sugar and calories in our baked goods.

Jun 22

Corporations Over People

By Laura Finley, Peace Voice | Op-Ed

Here we go again. Another court decision favoring businesses over human rights. Sadly, it is no shock that the Supreme Court is friendlier to business more than anything or anyone else. From its 2010 Citizens United blunder that allowed even greater corporate influence on our political process to the 2014 Hobby Lobby case affirming the "religious beliefs" of private corporations, the court's continual siding with corporate entities over individual rights is maddening and ludicrous, but not surprising.  Now, we learn that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in favor of employers in a case that addressed whether persons with lawful medical marijuana cards can be fired for testing positive for the substance.

In a 6-0 decision, Colorado's highest court ruled that an employer's zero tolerance law trumped the state's medical marijuana legislation. The court held that employers can fire employees for testing positive for the substance even if usage was lawful under state law and occurred when the individual was off duty. Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic after a car accident, has been lawfully using medical marijuana to control leg spasms. Dish Network, his employer, fired him in 2010 after he tested positive on a random drug test. Coats had informed his employer before the test about his use of medical marijuana and displayed his state-certified medical marijuana card.

In the lead up to COP21, also known as the Paris Conference and the latest installment of the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," a lot of people and organizations in France have been actively building on the theme of how to save the environment, reaching out to young and old through multidimensional activities to raise consciousness about the crisis in the public eye. Alternatiba has been giving people the opportunity to experience real alternatives to avert climate change since its first Village des alternatives (Alternatives Village) in Bayonne, in the Basque region ofFrance, in October 2013. The Villages have since spread to other countries in Europe, and reached the other side of the world in Tahiti and La Réunion.

Pedaling their emblematic four-person quadricyles, the 2015 Tour Alternatiba kicked off on 5 June in Bayonne and will completely encircle France before turning inland to reach Paris on 26 September, ahead of the COP21, which starts in November. Under the aegis of Coalition Climat 21 (Climate Coalition 21) and the subtitle "Our children will thank us," the travelling caravan will bring educational villages to real villages throughout the country, providing diverse forms of instruction, information and discussion about climate change.

Jun 22

ICE: Stop Deporting Domestic Violence Survivors

By Sandy Espino Valenciano and Alexis Nava Teodoro, Truthout | Video

Why is the Obama administration ripping a Northern California mom away from her four children – even though she was the victim of a violent crime?

We are rallying behind a mom named Rosa whom San Francisco-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have wrongfully separated from her family for nearly two months. This same office, has the power to use Prosecutorial Discretion-- to reunite Rosa with her family. 

 

Venezuelan Indians blocked the landing strip of Canaima National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in protest at illegal miners destroying their lives and lands.

Over the last decade, illegal mining for gold, diamonds and other minerals – some run by armed gangs claiming to be members of Colombia's guerrilla army FARC – has spread like wildfire through the Venezuelan Amazon, affecting tribessuch as the Yanomami, Hoti, Eñepa, Yekuana and Arekuna.

The long-running, multi-party dispute over control of islets in the South China Sea (SCS) is worsening both in rhetoric and provocative activity. Meeting in late May at the Shangri-La Dialogue on regional security, US and Chinese defense officials sparred over responsibility for the increased tension, though they stopped short of issuing threats.  In fact, all sides to the dispute say they want to avoid violence, prefer a diplomatic resolution, and support freedom of navigation. 

Both the US and China insist that the dispute notwithstanding, their relationship overall is positive and enduring.  But China, claiming indisputable sovereignty over the SCS, is backing its claim in ways that alarm the US and several Asian governments: construction of an air strip on the Spratly Islands, a land reclamation project that has artificially expanded its claimed territory, and most recently emplacement of two mobile artillery vehicles.