Monday, 20 October 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG
  • The Evaporation of Democracy

    In our globalized world, new forms of colonization are emerging, and popular control over decisions that affect people's freedom and well-being is becoming increasingly weaker.

  • Paying the Price of Tar Sands Expansion

    Despite all the reasons to keep tar sands in the ground, the refining equipment tax credit has helped put tar sands development in the US on the rise, accelerating climate change at the expense of US taxpayers.

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.

Oct 14

It's the Stupid, Stupid

By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers | Op-Ed

Barack Obama is not stupid and he says he doesn't want his administration to do "stupid things" in foreign policy. So why, then, has he done a reckless, stupid thing by starting a new, two-theater war in the Middle East? And why does that war in Syria have to commence right now as an existential necessity?

Even though I don't agree, I can at least somewhat understand a rush to war when it comes to Iraq. The corruption and vacuum of leadership in that country opened up a rich shaft for the extremist jihadis of ISIS to mine -- and they are moving inexorably toward Baghdad. But what was the absolute moral hurry to bomb inside Syria?; you mean the operation couldn't have waited a few weeks so there could be a full-scale national debate, both in Congress and in the American polity in general, about the wisdom of such a dangerous move? 

Dear Community Studies,

I want to start off by thanking each of you three wonderful women for all of the work you do. Each of you have inspired me in different ways to continue on my path towards helping make the world a better and more peaceful place. I am disappointed, but also excited, to announce that I will be taking a Leave of Absence from the University of California, Santa Cruz this Fall. I have put 3 weeks of critical thinking into this decision, and it has received support from 3 people—two UCSC affiliates and one activist—whose work in and for this world I greatly admire. I consider them my friends and mentors and they have ensured their continued support for my decision and path even if I am not a student of this institution.

I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock since I have recently shown discontent for the UCSC institution. The last two times I have thought about withdrawing from the University I would get excited; and both times I was convinced to stay back in I got sad. This ushered me to really think about what it was that bothered me about being a student of UCSC. While I was never quite able to put my finger on what it was that haunted me on campus, I knew there was something evil working around me. Learning about neoliberalism in Mary-Beth’s Economic Justice class in Fall 2014 was terrifying (you may recall this, Mary Beth). I learned how many of the systems and markets running through our society are inextricably linked—big business, research institutions, the government, higher education, prisons, etc.—and that all of them are more prone to destroy a person’s humanity than enlighten them. At that point, I decided to learn and work from within the system and try to effect change that way.

It might help editorial page editor Fred Hiatt understand how the budget works. He is appalled because "reactionary defenders" of Social Security think that seniors should be able to get the benefits they paid for. (I wonder if it's reactionary to think that Peter Peterson type billionaires should be able to get the interest on the government bonds that they paid for.)

Anyhow, the basis for Hiatt's fury is that John Podesta, now a top advisor to President Obama, is boasting about entitlements having been brought under control. To Hiatt this is outrageous.

Washington, DC - The Annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Meetings are focusing on building an inclusive global economy and creating jobs. Ahead of the meetings, IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde called for "bolder policies to inject a 'new momentum'" into the global economy. LaGarde warned of high debt and unemployment and increased geopolitical risks associated with conflict and disease.

"The risks the IMF raises are real. We need to address inequality if we are going to grow the global economy," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization, Jubilee USA.

Islam is again in the news. This time, the controversy has been spawned by debates over how we in the United States, particularly progressives, "talk about Islam." Bill Maher, Sam Harris and others have argued that we betray our Progressive principles when we fail to denounce anti-progressive beliefs or practices in the Muslim world. In fact, the glaring racism of Maher or Harris is more harmful to progressive views than anything that happens in Bangladesh. First, the views of Maher and others are genuinely racist and not merely impolite. Secondly, such views are not only inimical to progressive thought, but to the progressive agenda.

A progressive believes that socio-economic conditions precede cultural, political and even intellectual ones. Nothing is set in stone. Things change and, hopefully, for the better. We give things a chance to get better when all participate in the conversation to change laws for the better of society as a whole. When only a few people participate in this conversation, that inhibits the potential for things to get better, since experiences are limited and interests are powerful. In the tradition of Rousseau, everyone should participate, as the more experiences we accumulate and deliberate upon, the more robust our discussion and the greater our ability to build upon what we know, in other words progress.

On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility.  The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare.  Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging the commander to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones) for surveillance and attacks.

The prosecutor, USAF Captain Daniel Saunders, said that if Kelly and Walker would plead guilty to the charge, he would seek a punishment of one month in prison and a $500 fine.  Kelly and Walker told the prosecutor that they could accept a “no contest” plea but were not willing to plead guilty.  The prosecutor then said he would recommend a three month prison sentence and a $500 fine.  The judge refused to accept a “no contest” plea.  Kelly and Walker then requested a trial which has been set for December 10, 2014.

I recall, with particular awkwardness, my first talk at a socialist student gathering at the University of Washington in Seattle nearly two decades ago. When I tried to offer an authentic view of the situation in Palestine from the viewpoint of a refugee, my hosts were hardly impressed.

However, the head of the student group knew how to move the crowd. He spoke of Palestinian and Israeli proletariat classes, which, according to him were ultimately fighting against the same enemy, the neoliberal capitalist elites shamelessly subduing the working classes in both Palestine and Israel. But what the audience loved the most was his sweeping statements about the working classes of Algeria, Congo and South America that were somehow all magically tied back to Palestine.

October 8, 2014 - At a City Council hearing about the treatment of adolescents in New York City jails, the New York Civil Liberties Union will today testify about ways to improve the brutal conditions suffered by minors incarcerated at Rikers Island, particularly those in solitary confinement, and the need for educational services critical for rehabilitation.

“Adolescents are growing and need support to become healthy adults and productive members of our community,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Solitary confinement is the harshest punishment in this country apart from the death penalty, and vulnerable adolescents are especially likely to suffer lasting consequences. The young people at Rikers will one day be released back to our neighborhoods. For their good and for the city’s good, we must ensure that they get the tools they need for healthy growth, education and development.”

It is easy to forget that there are no maps of the world, only maps of worldviews. And even though blind materialism and economic utility seems to reign in many parts of the world, there still exist sacred geographies: places of perceptual beliefs and traditions that feature geopolitical realities which provide meaning. Turkey is no exception to this universal principle. A principle in which the seeker encounters historical identities, purposeful living, and a sense of belonging to a larger integrated community.

It was to be expected, then, when Turkish lawmakers voted to authorize military force against the Islamic State in Syria and Levant (ISIL). At issue was ISIL's fatal mistake of threatening to overrun and destroy the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I who founded the Turkish-Ottoman Empire. As part of the 1921 Treaty of Ankara, which ended the Franco-Turkish War, Turkey kept Suleyman Shah's tomb, making it a Turkish enclave guarded by elite Turkish troops.

A major supplier to the NHS is at risk of becoming involved in American executions, after Alabama altered its lethal injection ‘cocktail’ to include a drug for which they are the only US supplier yet to put in place sufficient distribution controls.
 
Mylan pharmaceuticals, which describes itself as a “leading developer and supplier of generic medicines [to] wholesalers and throughout the National Health Service,”  is a US Government-approved manufacturer of rocuronium bromide, a paralysing agent which Alabama now plans to use as the second part of a three-stage lethal injection process.

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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.

Oct 14

It's the Stupid, Stupid

By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers | Op-Ed

Barack Obama is not stupid and he says he doesn't want his administration to do "stupid things" in foreign policy. So why, then, has he done a reckless, stupid thing by starting a new, two-theater war in the Middle East? And why does that war in Syria have to commence right now as an existential necessity?

Even though I don't agree, I can at least somewhat understand a rush to war when it comes to Iraq. The corruption and vacuum of leadership in that country opened up a rich shaft for the extremist jihadis of ISIS to mine -- and they are moving inexorably toward Baghdad. But what was the absolute moral hurry to bomb inside Syria?; you mean the operation couldn't have waited a few weeks so there could be a full-scale national debate, both in Congress and in the American polity in general, about the wisdom of such a dangerous move? 

Dear Community Studies,

I want to start off by thanking each of you three wonderful women for all of the work you do. Each of you have inspired me in different ways to continue on my path towards helping make the world a better and more peaceful place. I am disappointed, but also excited, to announce that I will be taking a Leave of Absence from the University of California, Santa Cruz this Fall. I have put 3 weeks of critical thinking into this decision, and it has received support from 3 people—two UCSC affiliates and one activist—whose work in and for this world I greatly admire. I consider them my friends and mentors and they have ensured their continued support for my decision and path even if I am not a student of this institution.

I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock since I have recently shown discontent for the UCSC institution. The last two times I have thought about withdrawing from the University I would get excited; and both times I was convinced to stay back in I got sad. This ushered me to really think about what it was that bothered me about being a student of UCSC. While I was never quite able to put my finger on what it was that haunted me on campus, I knew there was something evil working around me. Learning about neoliberalism in Mary-Beth’s Economic Justice class in Fall 2014 was terrifying (you may recall this, Mary Beth). I learned how many of the systems and markets running through our society are inextricably linked—big business, research institutions, the government, higher education, prisons, etc.—and that all of them are more prone to destroy a person’s humanity than enlighten them. At that point, I decided to learn and work from within the system and try to effect change that way.

It might help editorial page editor Fred Hiatt understand how the budget works. He is appalled because "reactionary defenders" of Social Security think that seniors should be able to get the benefits they paid for. (I wonder if it's reactionary to think that Peter Peterson type billionaires should be able to get the interest on the government bonds that they paid for.)

Anyhow, the basis for Hiatt's fury is that John Podesta, now a top advisor to President Obama, is boasting about entitlements having been brought under control. To Hiatt this is outrageous.

Washington, DC - The Annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Meetings are focusing on building an inclusive global economy and creating jobs. Ahead of the meetings, IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde called for "bolder policies to inject a 'new momentum'" into the global economy. LaGarde warned of high debt and unemployment and increased geopolitical risks associated with conflict and disease.

"The risks the IMF raises are real. We need to address inequality if we are going to grow the global economy," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization, Jubilee USA.

Islam is again in the news. This time, the controversy has been spawned by debates over how we in the United States, particularly progressives, "talk about Islam." Bill Maher, Sam Harris and others have argued that we betray our Progressive principles when we fail to denounce anti-progressive beliefs or practices in the Muslim world. In fact, the glaring racism of Maher or Harris is more harmful to progressive views than anything that happens in Bangladesh. First, the views of Maher and others are genuinely racist and not merely impolite. Secondly, such views are not only inimical to progressive thought, but to the progressive agenda.

A progressive believes that socio-economic conditions precede cultural, political and even intellectual ones. Nothing is set in stone. Things change and, hopefully, for the better. We give things a chance to get better when all participate in the conversation to change laws for the better of society as a whole. When only a few people participate in this conversation, that inhibits the potential for things to get better, since experiences are limited and interests are powerful. In the tradition of Rousseau, everyone should participate, as the more experiences we accumulate and deliberate upon, the more robust our discussion and the greater our ability to build upon what we know, in other words progress.

On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility.  The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare.  Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging the commander to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones) for surveillance and attacks.

The prosecutor, USAF Captain Daniel Saunders, said that if Kelly and Walker would plead guilty to the charge, he would seek a punishment of one month in prison and a $500 fine.  Kelly and Walker told the prosecutor that they could accept a “no contest” plea but were not willing to plead guilty.  The prosecutor then said he would recommend a three month prison sentence and a $500 fine.  The judge refused to accept a “no contest” plea.  Kelly and Walker then requested a trial which has been set for December 10, 2014.

I recall, with particular awkwardness, my first talk at a socialist student gathering at the University of Washington in Seattle nearly two decades ago. When I tried to offer an authentic view of the situation in Palestine from the viewpoint of a refugee, my hosts were hardly impressed.

However, the head of the student group knew how to move the crowd. He spoke of Palestinian and Israeli proletariat classes, which, according to him were ultimately fighting against the same enemy, the neoliberal capitalist elites shamelessly subduing the working classes in both Palestine and Israel. But what the audience loved the most was his sweeping statements about the working classes of Algeria, Congo and South America that were somehow all magically tied back to Palestine.

October 8, 2014 - At a City Council hearing about the treatment of adolescents in New York City jails, the New York Civil Liberties Union will today testify about ways to improve the brutal conditions suffered by minors incarcerated at Rikers Island, particularly those in solitary confinement, and the need for educational services critical for rehabilitation.

“Adolescents are growing and need support to become healthy adults and productive members of our community,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Solitary confinement is the harshest punishment in this country apart from the death penalty, and vulnerable adolescents are especially likely to suffer lasting consequences. The young people at Rikers will one day be released back to our neighborhoods. For their good and for the city’s good, we must ensure that they get the tools they need for healthy growth, education and development.”

It is easy to forget that there are no maps of the world, only maps of worldviews. And even though blind materialism and economic utility seems to reign in many parts of the world, there still exist sacred geographies: places of perceptual beliefs and traditions that feature geopolitical realities which provide meaning. Turkey is no exception to this universal principle. A principle in which the seeker encounters historical identities, purposeful living, and a sense of belonging to a larger integrated community.

It was to be expected, then, when Turkish lawmakers voted to authorize military force against the Islamic State in Syria and Levant (ISIL). At issue was ISIL's fatal mistake of threatening to overrun and destroy the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I who founded the Turkish-Ottoman Empire. As part of the 1921 Treaty of Ankara, which ended the Franco-Turkish War, Turkey kept Suleyman Shah's tomb, making it a Turkish enclave guarded by elite Turkish troops.

A major supplier to the NHS is at risk of becoming involved in American executions, after Alabama altered its lethal injection ‘cocktail’ to include a drug for which they are the only US supplier yet to put in place sufficient distribution controls.
 
Mylan pharmaceuticals, which describes itself as a “leading developer and supplier of generic medicines [to] wholesalers and throughout the National Health Service,”  is a US Government-approved manufacturer of rocuronium bromide, a paralysing agent which Alabama now plans to use as the second part of a three-stage lethal injection process.