Wednesday, 05 August 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.

Patients, family members and activists stood with legislators today as they announced the introduction of Assembly bill A.7060 that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medicalmarijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, comes 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law on July 5, and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.

Apr 30

Observing Colombia's Peace Negotiations

By William Edstrom, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Peace negotiations are moving forward in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian central government and the FARC, the Fuerzas Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia, aka, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Progress includes a joint agreement to clean up the thousands of landmines that litter the Colombian landscape and an end to the conscription of soldiers under the age of 17. Many issues remain on the table such as reparation; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; lingering questions of whether or not to hold criminals accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide; an effective mechanism for the return of property to people who fled their property in fear, the disarmament - or not - of FARC.

Apr 29

The Baltimore Rebellion and Newton's Third Law of Motion

By Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D., SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body." Or, as it is more commonly stated, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. - Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion 1687

Sparked by the not so mysterious April 19th death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore police, citizens of WestBaltimore and others took to the streets in yet another seemingly endless display of urban unrest. Reporters from mainstream media outlets such as CNN are unable to place the unrest in any substantive historical context.

For the sake of a functioning and accountable corporate democracy, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require disclosure of corporate political spending, 57 organizations and investors said in a letter (PDF) today. The groups ranged from environmental groups to asset managers to religious organizations.

"The resources of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to write numerous rules, police the markets, and react to changes in company structure," the letter stated. "To enact its mandate to protect investors, theSEC needs to require material disclosures of critical business information for investors, and this includes being able to react quickly to the changing practices and priorities of corporate entities."

Apr 29

Peasant Sovereignty?

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, Independent Science News | News Analysis

In May 2014, the Spain-based international agrarian organization, Grain, reported that small farmers not only "feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland," but they are also the most productive farmers on Earth. For example, small farmers and peasants in nine European countries outproduce large farmers. The "productivity of small farms [in Europe] is at least twice that of big farms." This remarkable achievement is not limited to Europe. Grain says: "if all farms in Kenya had the current productivity of the country's small [peasant] farms, Kenya's agricultural production would double. In Central America and Ukraine, it would almost triple. In Russia, it would be increased by a factor of six."

Grassroots leaders of Baltimore's Human Rights Organization, the United Workers, are calling for dialogue and reconciliation with neighbors and city policy makers to address the systemic racism and poverty that has plagued the City for 40 years and get below the surface of this evolving and troubling crisis in our city.

Why do 40,000 properties sit vacant while 4,000 are homeless, and another 154,000 face foreclosure and eviction annually?  Why do 62% of job seekers report that they are unable to find a job that offers a living wage, and almost one in four cited their own criminal histories as a barrier to employment?

An unprecedentedly united movement of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith, Internet freedom and other organizations escalated their campaign to defeat Fast Track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) today with a joint 2,009-group letter urging Congress to oppose it. 

As the TPP text leaks revealed that the pact replicates and expands on the most damaging provisions of past U.S. trade pacts, thousands of organizations nationwide have educated their members about the TPP's threats to American jobs and wages, food safety, affordable medicines, the environment, financial stability and more. The pact also replicates the labor and environmental framework first established in George W. Bush's final trade agreements, which recent U.S. government reports reveal has proved ineffective. These facts have generated wide opposition to the agreement and undermined the White House effort to characterize it as "progressive."

The Greek tragic playwright Aeschylus was a combat veteran.  More than 2,400 years ago he said, "The first casualty of war is truth." As our nation approaches the 40th anniversary of the end of the VietnamWar (April 30, 2015), a major effort is underway to change how we view the war, how history records it, how future Americans will think about it.  Much celebration and re-interpretation will take place. Our government, military and some veteran and civilian groups are working to recast the war in honorable and moral terms and help veterans and all Americans look at it through more positive lenses.

Let us try to heal that first casualty and view the Vietnam War through the lens of truth.  Consider these ten facts and their related myths about the Vietnam War.

Apr 28

The Science Fiction of Freddie Gray

By Dominique Hazzard, Black Youth Project | Op-Ed

Imagine, for a second, that Maryland governor Larry Hogan called for a state of emergency when Freddie Gray’s spine was broken and his voice box was smashed he arrested for no reason.

Imagine that such violence toward a black life was so out of the ordinary, so horrifying, so damning, such a sign that swift and meaningful change was necessary, that it was enough to make an elected leader say, “This has crossed the line. The police state is out of control. We need to suspend our normal  operations and get some help from the National Guard. We need some outside resources to help quell these people, these actors of the state who are disturbing the peace.” Imagine that, in the absence of years of racial oppression, Baltimore ever knew peace in the first place.

What would you do if your loved one was struggling with an addiction? And not just struggling, but potentially dying? How much would you pay? The answer is, when you're in crisis, a lot.

When I agreed to direct THE BUSINESS OF RECOVERY, I didn't know exactly what I'd find. It's no secret that excessive alcohol accounted for 88,000 American deaths and drugs overdoses another 39,000 deaths. But the degree to which this health crisis seems to be worsening as an entire unchecked industry arose around it captured my attention. While the addiction treatment industry grew into a $34 billion a year business, overdose death rates had tripled in the past 25 years. How was this possible? I had to know what was really happening behind the veil of treatment.

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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.

Patients, family members and activists stood with legislators today as they announced the introduction of Assembly bill A.7060 that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medicalmarijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, comes 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law on July 5, and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.

Apr 30

Observing Colombia's Peace Negotiations

By William Edstrom, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Peace negotiations are moving forward in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian central government and the FARC, the Fuerzas Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia, aka, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Progress includes a joint agreement to clean up the thousands of landmines that litter the Colombian landscape and an end to the conscription of soldiers under the age of 17. Many issues remain on the table such as reparation; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; lingering questions of whether or not to hold criminals accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide; an effective mechanism for the return of property to people who fled their property in fear, the disarmament - or not - of FARC.

Apr 29

The Baltimore Rebellion and Newton's Third Law of Motion

By Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D., SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body." Or, as it is more commonly stated, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. - Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion 1687

Sparked by the not so mysterious April 19th death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore police, citizens of WestBaltimore and others took to the streets in yet another seemingly endless display of urban unrest. Reporters from mainstream media outlets such as CNN are unable to place the unrest in any substantive historical context.

For the sake of a functioning and accountable corporate democracy, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require disclosure of corporate political spending, 57 organizations and investors said in a letter (PDF) today. The groups ranged from environmental groups to asset managers to religious organizations.

"The resources of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to write numerous rules, police the markets, and react to changes in company structure," the letter stated. "To enact its mandate to protect investors, theSEC needs to require material disclosures of critical business information for investors, and this includes being able to react quickly to the changing practices and priorities of corporate entities."

Apr 29

Peasant Sovereignty?

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, Independent Science News | News Analysis

In May 2014, the Spain-based international agrarian organization, Grain, reported that small farmers not only "feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland," but they are also the most productive farmers on Earth. For example, small farmers and peasants in nine European countries outproduce large farmers. The "productivity of small farms [in Europe] is at least twice that of big farms." This remarkable achievement is not limited to Europe. Grain says: "if all farms in Kenya had the current productivity of the country's small [peasant] farms, Kenya's agricultural production would double. In Central America and Ukraine, it would almost triple. In Russia, it would be increased by a factor of six."

Grassroots leaders of Baltimore's Human Rights Organization, the United Workers, are calling for dialogue and reconciliation with neighbors and city policy makers to address the systemic racism and poverty that has plagued the City for 40 years and get below the surface of this evolving and troubling crisis in our city.

Why do 40,000 properties sit vacant while 4,000 are homeless, and another 154,000 face foreclosure and eviction annually?  Why do 62% of job seekers report that they are unable to find a job that offers a living wage, and almost one in four cited their own criminal histories as a barrier to employment?

An unprecedentedly united movement of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith, Internet freedom and other organizations escalated their campaign to defeat Fast Track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) today with a joint 2,009-group letter urging Congress to oppose it. 

As the TPP text leaks revealed that the pact replicates and expands on the most damaging provisions of past U.S. trade pacts, thousands of organizations nationwide have educated their members about the TPP's threats to American jobs and wages, food safety, affordable medicines, the environment, financial stability and more. The pact also replicates the labor and environmental framework first established in George W. Bush's final trade agreements, which recent U.S. government reports reveal has proved ineffective. These facts have generated wide opposition to the agreement and undermined the White House effort to characterize it as "progressive."

The Greek tragic playwright Aeschylus was a combat veteran.  More than 2,400 years ago he said, "The first casualty of war is truth." As our nation approaches the 40th anniversary of the end of the VietnamWar (April 30, 2015), a major effort is underway to change how we view the war, how history records it, how future Americans will think about it.  Much celebration and re-interpretation will take place. Our government, military and some veteran and civilian groups are working to recast the war in honorable and moral terms and help veterans and all Americans look at it through more positive lenses.

Let us try to heal that first casualty and view the Vietnam War through the lens of truth.  Consider these ten facts and their related myths about the Vietnam War.

Apr 28

The Science Fiction of Freddie Gray

By Dominique Hazzard, Black Youth Project | Op-Ed

Imagine, for a second, that Maryland governor Larry Hogan called for a state of emergency when Freddie Gray’s spine was broken and his voice box was smashed he arrested for no reason.

Imagine that such violence toward a black life was so out of the ordinary, so horrifying, so damning, such a sign that swift and meaningful change was necessary, that it was enough to make an elected leader say, “This has crossed the line. The police state is out of control. We need to suspend our normal  operations and get some help from the National Guard. We need some outside resources to help quell these people, these actors of the state who are disturbing the peace.” Imagine that, in the absence of years of racial oppression, Baltimore ever knew peace in the first place.

What would you do if your loved one was struggling with an addiction? And not just struggling, but potentially dying? How much would you pay? The answer is, when you're in crisis, a lot.

When I agreed to direct THE BUSINESS OF RECOVERY, I didn't know exactly what I'd find. It's no secret that excessive alcohol accounted for 88,000 American deaths and drugs overdoses another 39,000 deaths. But the degree to which this health crisis seems to be worsening as an entire unchecked industry arose around it captured my attention. While the addiction treatment industry grew into a $34 billion a year business, overdose death rates had tripled in the past 25 years. How was this possible? I had to know what was really happening behind the veil of treatment.