Wednesday, 01 October 2014 / 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.

Sep 25

Two Afghan Stories

By WJ Astore, Contrary Perspective | Op-Ed

Two Afghan stories this week suggest much about US progress in winning hearts and minds there.  The first involves Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan’s departing president, the “Mayor of Kabul,” Karzai asserted that “America did not want peace for Afghanistan, because it had its own agendas and goals here.”  It’s easy to paint Karzai as a dissembling ingrate, which is exactly what the American ambassador to Afghanistan did in response. But it truly says something that Karzai, the recipient of more than $100 billion in developmental aid from the US for Afghanistan (not including military aid!), portrays the US as working against the interests of the Afghan people.  There’s one heart and mind the US plainly didn’t win.

The second story involves three Afghan officers, one major and two captains, on a training mission at Camp Edwards in Massachusetts. The three officers, carefully vetted by US Central Command, decided they had had enough of working with America. They drove to New York and attempted to enter Canada at Niagara Falls, seeking asylum, or so it seems.  There are three more hearts and minds the US plainly didn’t win.

Oakland – Reforming California’s sentences for low-level crimes would alleviate prison and jail overcrowding, make communities safer, strengthen families, and shift resources from imprisoning people to treating them for the addictions and mental health problems at the root of many crimes, according to a study released today. 

Rehabilitating Corrections in California, a Health Impact Assessment of reforms proposed by a state ballot initiative, predicts the changes would reduce crime, recidivism, racial inequities in sentencing, and save the state and its counties $600 million to $900 million a year – but only if treatment and rehabilitation programs are fully funded and implemented properly.

Sep 25

A Tipping Point for the Good

By William C. Baker, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

We've known for a long time that the Earth is warming, but it could be worse than we thought. A recent report from the World Meteorological Association concludes that carbon pollution and the buildup of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are increasing much faster than projected. And this pollution is putting communities across the country at a higher risk of droughts, intense storms, floods, and other problems brought on by global warming.

In the Chesapeake Bay region, we're on the front lines of climate change. Streets in Norfolk, Virginia, home to nearly a quarter of a million people and the world's largest naval base, routinely flood during heavy rains. Wind- and wave-pushed storm surges make the flooding even worse. And scientists estimate sea levels in Norfolk will rise another foot and a half within the next 50 years. 

The US is racing down a slippery slope towards war in Iraq and Syria. Since Aug. 8, the US has conducted more than 124 airstrikes in Iraq. Approximately 1,000 US troops are now on the ground in Iraq, with at least 350 more currently on their way.

President Obama initially said the bombing was part of a humanitarian mission to assist the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq being threatened by ISIS, the fundamentalist Islamic army that now controls wide swaths of Iraq and Syria. But Obama has now announced an open-ended bombing campaign, and he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry into the region to build military and political coalitions to sustain a long term war against ISIS.

Sep 24

Now, What Climate Action?

By Bill Henderson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Naomi and Jim, AndersonBows and Roger, and maybe Lord Stern

Now that we all agree that climate change is happening, has become an emergency after at least two decades of denial and procrastination, and requires urgent action, I suggest that presently there is no informing dialogue about the full spectrum of climate change danger with the full spectrum of possible solutions.

Sep 24

Zionism and the Educational Elites

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Part I - The Zionists Have a Problem

Due to Israel's brutal racism and repeated attacks on Palestinian civilians, it is losing popular support internationally. As this happens, the Zionists appear to be intensifying pressure on societal and political elites, particularly in the US and other Western states, to maintain policies that support and protect Israel's criminal behavior. Their vehicle for achieving this goal has always been financial gifts and donations to elite individuals and institutions. These gifts and donations help grease the wheels, so to speak, of the systems of power through which the elites operate, and create a monetary dependency on, among others, Zionist donors. It also creates an obligation to respond to these donors' needs. The result is a growing disconnect between evolving popular attitudes toward Israel and the static positions held and actions taken by the elites.

American Zionist leaders are aware of this gap and they take it seriously. However, they have a problem in that open debate and the offering of evidence can no longer win the argument for their side. In short, the Zionists don't have a monopoly anymore on the story of how Israel came to be and Palestine came not to be. And without that monopoly, the imperialist origins and ongoing racist nature of Israel are can no longer be concealed.

I’ve written or edited several books in my life and each of them have been special, especially since most were banned by Tucson’s school district during the state’s infamous battle in Arizona to eliminate Raza Studies, However, this one, Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother, released early by the University of Arizona Press, seems to be a little more special. Perhaps it is so because it speaks to a topic that recognizes no borders and connects peoples from across this continent, and it is a story that arguably goes back some 7,000 years.

The actual title of this book is Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl. Translated, it means  – Nuestro Maíz sagrado es Nuestra Madre – Our Sacred Maíz is our Mother. Only the English appears on the front cover. However, Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl does appear on the title page, along with the names of 9 Indigenous elders or teachers who contributed maíz origin/creation/migration stories from throughout Abya Yala, Cemanahuac or Pacha Mama – from throughout the continent: Veronica Castillo Hernandez, Maestra Angelbertha Cobb, Luz Maria de la Torre, Paula Domingo Olivares, Tata Cuaxtle Felix Evodio, Maria Molina Vai Sevoi, Francisco Pos, Irma Tzirin Scoop and Alicia Seyler.

Who would have thought that the president elected on an anti-Iraq war stance and promises to represent the polar opposite of the Bush administration would love war so much? As horrendous as the Bush administration was, there is no point in using the "Obama has inherited Bush's mess" rhetoric to counter the latter claim. In an interview with Democracy Now (and via various other forums) four-star General Wesley Clark exposed a memo with a 5 year plan that was to be adopted shortly after September 11th 2001. The plan involved toppling the governments of 7 countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. The expectation that plans like these would come to an end when Obama was elected was a naïve yet hopeful aspiration that many shared.

The British government has been warned it may face legal action if it fails to consult Parliament and the public on the redeployment of drones outside declared warzones. 

Questions have been raised by Saeed Al Yousefi, a Yemeni man from a province that is a frequent target of US strikes, about the fate of at least ten armed Reaper drones currently based in Afghanistan. Ministers have so far declined to reveal where the weapons, which are piloted remotely from US bases in Nevada and Lincolnshire, will be used after December 2014, when UK operations in Afghanistan finish.

Washinton, DC - Wal-Mart is running an illegal scheme to prod employees into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns, Public Citizen, Common Cause and two Wal-Mart employees and shareholders charged today.

In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the public interest organizations and employee-shareholders Cynthia Murray and Evelin Cruz detailed a program in which Wal-Mart reportedly solicits managers for contributions to its political action committee (PAC). In exchange, the company reportedly donates twice the amount of those contributions exclusively to its Associates in Critical Need Trust. The trust – fully controlled by Wal-Mart – was started in 2001 by the company to help employees facing financial distress.

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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.

Sep 25

Two Afghan Stories

By WJ Astore, Contrary Perspective | Op-Ed

Two Afghan stories this week suggest much about US progress in winning hearts and minds there.  The first involves Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan’s departing president, the “Mayor of Kabul,” Karzai asserted that “America did not want peace for Afghanistan, because it had its own agendas and goals here.”  It’s easy to paint Karzai as a dissembling ingrate, which is exactly what the American ambassador to Afghanistan did in response. But it truly says something that Karzai, the recipient of more than $100 billion in developmental aid from the US for Afghanistan (not including military aid!), portrays the US as working against the interests of the Afghan people.  There’s one heart and mind the US plainly didn’t win.

The second story involves three Afghan officers, one major and two captains, on a training mission at Camp Edwards in Massachusetts. The three officers, carefully vetted by US Central Command, decided they had had enough of working with America. They drove to New York and attempted to enter Canada at Niagara Falls, seeking asylum, or so it seems.  There are three more hearts and minds the US plainly didn’t win.

Oakland – Reforming California’s sentences for low-level crimes would alleviate prison and jail overcrowding, make communities safer, strengthen families, and shift resources from imprisoning people to treating them for the addictions and mental health problems at the root of many crimes, according to a study released today. 

Rehabilitating Corrections in California, a Health Impact Assessment of reforms proposed by a state ballot initiative, predicts the changes would reduce crime, recidivism, racial inequities in sentencing, and save the state and its counties $600 million to $900 million a year – but only if treatment and rehabilitation programs are fully funded and implemented properly.

Sep 25

A Tipping Point for the Good

By William C. Baker, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

We've known for a long time that the Earth is warming, but it could be worse than we thought. A recent report from the World Meteorological Association concludes that carbon pollution and the buildup of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are increasing much faster than projected. And this pollution is putting communities across the country at a higher risk of droughts, intense storms, floods, and other problems brought on by global warming.

In the Chesapeake Bay region, we're on the front lines of climate change. Streets in Norfolk, Virginia, home to nearly a quarter of a million people and the world's largest naval base, routinely flood during heavy rains. Wind- and wave-pushed storm surges make the flooding even worse. And scientists estimate sea levels in Norfolk will rise another foot and a half within the next 50 years. 

The US is racing down a slippery slope towards war in Iraq and Syria. Since Aug. 8, the US has conducted more than 124 airstrikes in Iraq. Approximately 1,000 US troops are now on the ground in Iraq, with at least 350 more currently on their way.

President Obama initially said the bombing was part of a humanitarian mission to assist the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq being threatened by ISIS, the fundamentalist Islamic army that now controls wide swaths of Iraq and Syria. But Obama has now announced an open-ended bombing campaign, and he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry into the region to build military and political coalitions to sustain a long term war against ISIS.

Sep 24

Now, What Climate Action?

By Bill Henderson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Naomi and Jim, AndersonBows and Roger, and maybe Lord Stern

Now that we all agree that climate change is happening, has become an emergency after at least two decades of denial and procrastination, and requires urgent action, I suggest that presently there is no informing dialogue about the full spectrum of climate change danger with the full spectrum of possible solutions.

Sep 24

Zionism and the Educational Elites

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Part I - The Zionists Have a Problem

Due to Israel's brutal racism and repeated attacks on Palestinian civilians, it is losing popular support internationally. As this happens, the Zionists appear to be intensifying pressure on societal and political elites, particularly in the US and other Western states, to maintain policies that support and protect Israel's criminal behavior. Their vehicle for achieving this goal has always been financial gifts and donations to elite individuals and institutions. These gifts and donations help grease the wheels, so to speak, of the systems of power through which the elites operate, and create a monetary dependency on, among others, Zionist donors. It also creates an obligation to respond to these donors' needs. The result is a growing disconnect between evolving popular attitudes toward Israel and the static positions held and actions taken by the elites.

American Zionist leaders are aware of this gap and they take it seriously. However, they have a problem in that open debate and the offering of evidence can no longer win the argument for their side. In short, the Zionists don't have a monopoly anymore on the story of how Israel came to be and Palestine came not to be. And without that monopoly, the imperialist origins and ongoing racist nature of Israel are can no longer be concealed.

I’ve written or edited several books in my life and each of them have been special, especially since most were banned by Tucson’s school district during the state’s infamous battle in Arizona to eliminate Raza Studies, However, this one, Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother, released early by the University of Arizona Press, seems to be a little more special. Perhaps it is so because it speaks to a topic that recognizes no borders and connects peoples from across this continent, and it is a story that arguably goes back some 7,000 years.

The actual title of this book is Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl. Translated, it means  – Nuestro Maíz sagrado es Nuestra Madre – Our Sacred Maíz is our Mother. Only the English appears on the front cover. However, Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl does appear on the title page, along with the names of 9 Indigenous elders or teachers who contributed maíz origin/creation/migration stories from throughout Abya Yala, Cemanahuac or Pacha Mama – from throughout the continent: Veronica Castillo Hernandez, Maestra Angelbertha Cobb, Luz Maria de la Torre, Paula Domingo Olivares, Tata Cuaxtle Felix Evodio, Maria Molina Vai Sevoi, Francisco Pos, Irma Tzirin Scoop and Alicia Seyler.

Who would have thought that the president elected on an anti-Iraq war stance and promises to represent the polar opposite of the Bush administration would love war so much? As horrendous as the Bush administration was, there is no point in using the "Obama has inherited Bush's mess" rhetoric to counter the latter claim. In an interview with Democracy Now (and via various other forums) four-star General Wesley Clark exposed a memo with a 5 year plan that was to be adopted shortly after September 11th 2001. The plan involved toppling the governments of 7 countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. The expectation that plans like these would come to an end when Obama was elected was a naïve yet hopeful aspiration that many shared.

The British government has been warned it may face legal action if it fails to consult Parliament and the public on the redeployment of drones outside declared warzones. 

Questions have been raised by Saeed Al Yousefi, a Yemeni man from a province that is a frequent target of US strikes, about the fate of at least ten armed Reaper drones currently based in Afghanistan. Ministers have so far declined to reveal where the weapons, which are piloted remotely from US bases in Nevada and Lincolnshire, will be used after December 2014, when UK operations in Afghanistan finish.

Washinton, DC - Wal-Mart is running an illegal scheme to prod employees into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns, Public Citizen, Common Cause and two Wal-Mart employees and shareholders charged today.

In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the public interest organizations and employee-shareholders Cynthia Murray and Evelin Cruz detailed a program in which Wal-Mart reportedly solicits managers for contributions to its political action committee (PAC). In exchange, the company reportedly donates twice the amount of those contributions exclusively to its Associates in Critical Need Trust. The trust – fully controlled by Wal-Mart – was started in 2001 by the company to help employees facing financial distress.