Friday, 31 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.

At the April 29th demonstration in solidarity with the Baltimore Uprising the NYPD have returned to Bloomberg/Kelly-era tactics of criminalizing protest, and the next day Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose election many progressives hoped was the end of that era, unflinchingly defended them.

"I've been to a number of protests in my day, and one thing's clear, when the police give you instruction, you follow the instructions," he said in the nearly one-hour long press conference almost entirely on the subject. "When the police believe there's a scenario that could be unruly and lead to violence, of course they need to exercise measures to avoid that."

The United States must accept responsibility for the damage its military actions have caused and recognize there are alternatives for the future. 

In the nearly decade and a half since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, carried out bombing campaigns throughout the Middle East, and launched special operations strikes throughout the world. 

At least since 2001, a prime goal of the U.S. national interest has been reducing the influence and power of "terrorist" groups which have shown themselves willing and capable of attacking U.S. territory and nationals. Among these groups are al-Qaeda and its derivatives, al-Nusra, and ISIS (the so-called Islamic State). How to properly achieve this goal is open to debate (for instance, the use of drones to kill their leaders almost certainly makes the U.S. more enemies than it eliminates), but one sure way of not addressing this national interest is adopting policies that benefit the very groups that are your sworn foes, or turning a blind eye to alleged "allies" who aid them. 

This might sound like common sense, however in practice U.S. government's policies in the region have for decades been counterproductive and plagued by specialinterest intervention. In other words, U.S. politicians and bureaucrats have pushed policies that have actually aided America's foes.

May 05

Arresting the Wrong Suspects

By John LaForge, Truthout | Op-Ed

Here at the United Nations, talk is focused on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (N-P.T.). At about11 a.m. Apr. 28, I was handcuffed with 21 other nuclear realists after blocking an entrance to the US Mission. I say "realists" because US media won't pay much attention to US violations of nuclear weapons treaties unless somebody is taken off to jail.

Barrels of ink are used detailing Iran's non-existent nuclear arsenal. The US has about 2,000 nuclear weapons ready to launch and used as ticking time bombs every day by presidents - the way gunslingers can get the dough without ever pulling the trigger. Deterrence it is not.

California Governor Jerry Brown spent this year's Earth Day at the elite Iron Horse Winery in the Sebastopol countryside. It was a great photo opportunity and promotion for the winery. Iron Horse is known for donations to President Bill Clinton and other politicians, with whom it has cozy relationships, and from whom it receives favors, such as these visits. I operate a small berry and apple farm nearby and teach sustainable agriculture, mainly to college students.

"Hope Amid Drought" headlined the April 20 pro-wine industry daily Press Democrat's (PD) report on this winery event of some 200 people. "Brown says innovation, efficiency will get state through water shortage," the article notes. Iron Horse Vineyards CEO Joy Sterling "said the 300-acre winery…epitomized the environmental stewardship honored on Earth Day." She spoke about their "love of the land."

Gov. Jerry Brown today announced an important new plan to reduce California's greenhouse gas pollution by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But the governor's executive order on climate change isundermined by his support for fracking and dangerous oil production. Leading climate experts have called on the governor to impose a moratorium on fracking in the state.

"Gov. Jerry Brown deserves credit for this important step toward fighting global warming, but the governor continues to undermine his own plans by backing fracking," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "Fracking pollution threatens to blow a huge hole in California's target for reducing planet-warming emissions. No plan to prevent climate disruption can succeed if it doesn't include a rapid transition away from fracking and other dangerousoil and gas production."

May 04

MRFF Agree: Navy Went Too Far

By Staff, Chaplain Alliance | Press Release

Dr. Ron Crews, USA (Ret.), executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, released a joint statement Friday, which reads in part as follows:

"We have testified before the same Congressional panels. We have spoken out on the same incidents in the services.  And, we are always on opposing sides, but in this instance it is easy for us both to say that the Navy went too far and is clearly in violation of the Constitutional religious liberty rights of American sailors at the Recruit Training Command."

In response to the killing of Freddie Gray, Mya Hall, and others by the Baltimore Police Department, the protests in the street, and the mobilization of the National Guard to enforce a nightly curfew the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) issued the following statement:

"Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old Black man who was brutally and senselessly beaten by six officers of the Baltimore Police Department.  Gray's injuries were so horrific that his spine was severed during the encounter, and he later died from the injuries that he sustained.  Just a few weeks prior, Mya Hall, a Black trans woman, was killed by the same police department..."

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Indonesian embassies in London, Paris and other cities today to call for an end to West Papua's 50 years of isolation.

Supporters of Tapol, Amnesty International, Free West Papua Campaign and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples' rights, wore black to protest the media black-out in Papua, and carried placards brandishing slogans such as "Stop the killings, open Papua".

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.

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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.

At the April 29th demonstration in solidarity with the Baltimore Uprising the NYPD have returned to Bloomberg/Kelly-era tactics of criminalizing protest, and the next day Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose election many progressives hoped was the end of that era, unflinchingly defended them.

"I've been to a number of protests in my day, and one thing's clear, when the police give you instruction, you follow the instructions," he said in the nearly one-hour long press conference almost entirely on the subject. "When the police believe there's a scenario that could be unruly and lead to violence, of course they need to exercise measures to avoid that."

The United States must accept responsibility for the damage its military actions have caused and recognize there are alternatives for the future. 

In the nearly decade and a half since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, carried out bombing campaigns throughout the Middle East, and launched special operations strikes throughout the world. 

At least since 2001, a prime goal of the U.S. national interest has been reducing the influence and power of "terrorist" groups which have shown themselves willing and capable of attacking U.S. territory and nationals. Among these groups are al-Qaeda and its derivatives, al-Nusra, and ISIS (the so-called Islamic State). How to properly achieve this goal is open to debate (for instance, the use of drones to kill their leaders almost certainly makes the U.S. more enemies than it eliminates), but one sure way of not addressing this national interest is adopting policies that benefit the very groups that are your sworn foes, or turning a blind eye to alleged "allies" who aid them. 

This might sound like common sense, however in practice U.S. government's policies in the region have for decades been counterproductive and plagued by specialinterest intervention. In other words, U.S. politicians and bureaucrats have pushed policies that have actually aided America's foes.

May 05

Arresting the Wrong Suspects

By John LaForge, Truthout | Op-Ed

Here at the United Nations, talk is focused on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (N-P.T.). At about11 a.m. Apr. 28, I was handcuffed with 21 other nuclear realists after blocking an entrance to the US Mission. I say "realists" because US media won't pay much attention to US violations of nuclear weapons treaties unless somebody is taken off to jail.

Barrels of ink are used detailing Iran's non-existent nuclear arsenal. The US has about 2,000 nuclear weapons ready to launch and used as ticking time bombs every day by presidents - the way gunslingers can get the dough without ever pulling the trigger. Deterrence it is not.

California Governor Jerry Brown spent this year's Earth Day at the elite Iron Horse Winery in the Sebastopol countryside. It was a great photo opportunity and promotion for the winery. Iron Horse is known for donations to President Bill Clinton and other politicians, with whom it has cozy relationships, and from whom it receives favors, such as these visits. I operate a small berry and apple farm nearby and teach sustainable agriculture, mainly to college students.

"Hope Amid Drought" headlined the April 20 pro-wine industry daily Press Democrat's (PD) report on this winery event of some 200 people. "Brown says innovation, efficiency will get state through water shortage," the article notes. Iron Horse Vineyards CEO Joy Sterling "said the 300-acre winery…epitomized the environmental stewardship honored on Earth Day." She spoke about their "love of the land."

Gov. Jerry Brown today announced an important new plan to reduce California's greenhouse gas pollution by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But the governor's executive order on climate change isundermined by his support for fracking and dangerous oil production. Leading climate experts have called on the governor to impose a moratorium on fracking in the state.

"Gov. Jerry Brown deserves credit for this important step toward fighting global warming, but the governor continues to undermine his own plans by backing fracking," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "Fracking pollution threatens to blow a huge hole in California's target for reducing planet-warming emissions. No plan to prevent climate disruption can succeed if it doesn't include a rapid transition away from fracking and other dangerousoil and gas production."

May 04

MRFF Agree: Navy Went Too Far

By Staff, Chaplain Alliance | Press Release

Dr. Ron Crews, USA (Ret.), executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, released a joint statement Friday, which reads in part as follows:

"We have testified before the same Congressional panels. We have spoken out on the same incidents in the services.  And, we are always on opposing sides, but in this instance it is easy for us both to say that the Navy went too far and is clearly in violation of the Constitutional religious liberty rights of American sailors at the Recruit Training Command."

In response to the killing of Freddie Gray, Mya Hall, and others by the Baltimore Police Department, the protests in the street, and the mobilization of the National Guard to enforce a nightly curfew the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) issued the following statement:

"Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old Black man who was brutally and senselessly beaten by six officers of the Baltimore Police Department.  Gray's injuries were so horrific that his spine was severed during the encounter, and he later died from the injuries that he sustained.  Just a few weeks prior, Mya Hall, a Black trans woman, was killed by the same police department..."

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Indonesian embassies in London, Paris and other cities today to call for an end to West Papua's 50 years of isolation.

Supporters of Tapol, Amnesty International, Free West Papua Campaign and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples' rights, wore black to protest the media black-out in Papua, and carried placards brandishing slogans such as "Stop the killings, open Papua".

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.