Saturday, 30 May 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.

Chicago, Illinois - In an unprecedented act of political repression, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointees at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) have banned CTA workers from sharing literature related to the 2015 Mayoral race.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 10,000 CTA employees and has endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor, CTA posted memos in bus garages and rail terminals barring employees from communications normally protected by the First Amendment. CTA's General Counsel also penned letters warning that fines could be issued if off-duty workers handed out literature to their co-workers in non-work areas of CTA property.

Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka "Pygmies" and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse.

These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers - and sometimes soldiers and police - who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support.

The Ukraine conflict continues to fester, raising tensions in the region to levels not seen since the Cold War. Now the warring parties have agreed to a cease-fire and an approach to further negotiations towards a political solution. Despite this opportunity to move towards peace, the United States, NATO and Russia are throwing fuel on the fire.

The US is sending troops to Ukraine to train Ukraine's armed forces, NATO is holding joint military maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and Russia is conducting massive exercises of its own that include forward deployment of nuclear-capable missiles and bombers. It's time for the countries that are providing support from outsideUkraine to halt and reverse all actions that contribute to this warand to the growing confrontation in Europe.

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

Apr 02

Shame

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough.

On June 23, 2014, Andargachew Tsige was illegally detained at Sana'a airport in Yemen while traveling from Dubai to Eritrea on his British passport. He was swiftly handed over to the Ethiopian authorities, who had for years posted his name at the top of the regime's most-wanted list. Since then, he has been detained incommunicado in a secret location inside Ethiopia. His "crime" is the same as hundreds, perhaps thousands of others: publicly criticizing the ruling party of Ethiopia and their brutal form of governance.

Born in Ethiopia in 1955, Andargachew Tsige arrived in Britain at 24 as a political refugee. He is a Black, working-class British citizen with a wife and three children.

In yet another example of the revolving door between government, corporations and watercontractors that defines California politics, the powerful WestlandsWaterDistrict announced on March 27 that Johnny Amaral will join Westlands'staff as Deputy General Manager for External Affairs, effective May 1, 2015

Mr. Amaral is currently the Chief of Staff for Rep. Devin Nunes, who represents California's 22nd Congressional District and is best known for is sponsoring legislation to increase pumping Delta waterto corporate agribusiness and to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other species. 

Apr 01

John Bolton's Love of Bombs

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The year was 1968. I had just earned a master's degree in history at Georgetown University, where I had also helped found the university's chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate, because within days ofgetting the degree I was on US Army bus, along with about 30 others, heading from Washington, DC to Fort Holabird in Baltimore. At that time there was a military draft induction center there, and according to my low draft lottery number, my time had come.  

At Holabird, we piled into a classroom-like setting and were given a lecture by a rather over-muscled middle-aged sergeant with buzz haircut. He told us (I am paraphrasing from memory here) that: "the Vietnam war was absolutely necessary. If the commies got their way the domino effect would see all of Southeast Asia go Red."

U.S. Right to Know sent letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting aninvestigation of a possible cover up for Monsanto, and whether USDA scientists are being harassed when their work runs counter to the interests of the agrichemical industry.

The letters are in reaction to a March 27 Reuters article that, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, "some scientists working for the federal government are finding their research restricted or censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests."

The UK government is refusing to guarantee that it will not misuse the intercepted lawyer-client communications of two renditionvictims in their legal cases again the British government.

Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, from Pakistan, are bringing legal action against the Britishgovernment for its complicity in their torture and rendition. The men were captured in Iraq in 2004 by British forces, before being rendered by the US to Bagram prison, Afghanistan. They endured a decade of secret US detention and torture in Bagram before their release last May without charge or trial.

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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.

Chicago, Illinois - In an unprecedented act of political repression, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointees at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) have banned CTA workers from sharing literature related to the 2015 Mayoral race.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 10,000 CTA employees and has endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor, CTA posted memos in bus garages and rail terminals barring employees from communications normally protected by the First Amendment. CTA's General Counsel also penned letters warning that fines could be issued if off-duty workers handed out literature to their co-workers in non-work areas of CTA property.

Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka "Pygmies" and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse.

These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers - and sometimes soldiers and police - who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support.

The Ukraine conflict continues to fester, raising tensions in the region to levels not seen since the Cold War. Now the warring parties have agreed to a cease-fire and an approach to further negotiations towards a political solution. Despite this opportunity to move towards peace, the United States, NATO and Russia are throwing fuel on the fire.

The US is sending troops to Ukraine to train Ukraine's armed forces, NATO is holding joint military maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and Russia is conducting massive exercises of its own that include forward deployment of nuclear-capable missiles and bombers. It's time for the countries that are providing support from outsideUkraine to halt and reverse all actions that contribute to this warand to the growing confrontation in Europe.

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

Apr 02

Shame

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough.

On June 23, 2014, Andargachew Tsige was illegally detained at Sana'a airport in Yemen while traveling from Dubai to Eritrea on his British passport. He was swiftly handed over to the Ethiopian authorities, who had for years posted his name at the top of the regime's most-wanted list. Since then, he has been detained incommunicado in a secret location inside Ethiopia. His "crime" is the same as hundreds, perhaps thousands of others: publicly criticizing the ruling party of Ethiopia and their brutal form of governance.

Born in Ethiopia in 1955, Andargachew Tsige arrived in Britain at 24 as a political refugee. He is a Black, working-class British citizen with a wife and three children.

In yet another example of the revolving door between government, corporations and watercontractors that defines California politics, the powerful WestlandsWaterDistrict announced on March 27 that Johnny Amaral will join Westlands'staff as Deputy General Manager for External Affairs, effective May 1, 2015

Mr. Amaral is currently the Chief of Staff for Rep. Devin Nunes, who represents California's 22nd Congressional District and is best known for is sponsoring legislation to increase pumping Delta waterto corporate agribusiness and to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other species. 

Apr 01

John Bolton's Love of Bombs

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The year was 1968. I had just earned a master's degree in history at Georgetown University, where I had also helped found the university's chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate, because within days ofgetting the degree I was on US Army bus, along with about 30 others, heading from Washington, DC to Fort Holabird in Baltimore. At that time there was a military draft induction center there, and according to my low draft lottery number, my time had come.  

At Holabird, we piled into a classroom-like setting and were given a lecture by a rather over-muscled middle-aged sergeant with buzz haircut. He told us (I am paraphrasing from memory here) that: "the Vietnam war was absolutely necessary. If the commies got their way the domino effect would see all of Southeast Asia go Red."

U.S. Right to Know sent letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting aninvestigation of a possible cover up for Monsanto, and whether USDA scientists are being harassed when their work runs counter to the interests of the agrichemical industry.

The letters are in reaction to a March 27 Reuters article that, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, "some scientists working for the federal government are finding their research restricted or censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests."

The UK government is refusing to guarantee that it will not misuse the intercepted lawyer-client communications of two renditionvictims in their legal cases again the British government.

Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, from Pakistan, are bringing legal action against the Britishgovernment for its complicity in their torture and rendition. The men were captured in Iraq in 2004 by British forces, before being rendered by the US to Bagram prison, Afghanistan. They endured a decade of secret US detention and torture in Bagram before their release last May without charge or trial.