Wednesday, 02 September 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.

A promise by Qatari labour and social affairs minister Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi to reform the Gulf state's controversial kafala or labour sponsorship system by the end of this year is likely to cut little ice with human rights and trade union activists who four years after Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup are demanding deeds rather than words.

Mr. Al-Khulaifi's promise comes amid an avalanche of media disclosures that suggest massive violation of world soccer body FIFA's bidding rules, involving substantial payments to soccer officials across the globe, vote swapping, and shady political deals between FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the Qatari leadership. The revelations coupled with a crackdown on critics of Qatar's labour system further call into question the Gulf state's sincerity.

Conservation groups filed their opening briefs this week challenging the Cadiz Water Project, a private groundwater-mining proposal that would siphon 16 million of gallons of water per year for up to 50 years from the Mojave Desert to feed urban sprawl in Southern California's Orange County.

Widely opposed by San Bernardino County residents, state and federal public agencies, and local businesses, Cadiz, Inc.'s ill-conceived plan threatens to dry up life-sustaining desert springs in the Mojave National Preserve, hurting vegetation and key habitat for iconic desert wildlife species, including desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, Mojave fringe-toed lizards and kit foxes.

"state of emergency," not to be confused with the one declared by the governor, should be continued in Baltimore, Maryland. Indeed, a state of emergency with a domestic Marshall Plan-like design ($13 billion 1948 post WWII European Recovery Program) should be declared in many other urban and rural communities in our nation. Too many communities are suffering from high levels of unemployment, especially among youth; childhood poverty; race and class-based police brutality and unwarranted imprisonment; business licensure patterns that concentrate liquor, lottery, fast food outlets, and instant cash and pawn shops in vulnerable sections of communities; indigenous population dislodging gentrification; inadequate social and public health infrastructures, inadequate funding of public education; and deteriorating cultural and family units.

May 06

Liars, Drones and May Day

By Victor Grossman, Truthout | Op-Ed

Who knew what? And when? Who told whom what? And how soon? Who knew what but didn't tell it when he should have? Or, more simply: Who's been lying and for how long?

Maybe quite a few! Supposedly new, supposedly unknown facts are emerging, though many people seem to have known them all along. The giant – or humongous – NSA apparatus of the USA has been spying on its European pals for years, not only in that endlessly lightless tunnel, the "fight against terrorism," but for plain, down-to-earth business secrets as well. Instead of angrily exposing such dirty work, or perhaps trying to limit it, the ill-famed German BND (Federal Intelligence Agency) happily joined hands (and tapes) with it, trading all kinds of secrets, maybe even that alleged tapping of Angela Merkel's private cell-phone. When that came out, German media and politicians waxed angrily indignant, they all demanded immediate stop signs while Merkel flew off to the White House in a huff to protest. Like most everybody, she soon cooled off; it seemed wiser to forgive and forget.

May 06

A Birth to Be Celebrated

By Tom Clifford, Truthout | News Analysis

A girl was born in Britain.

Her mother will try to give her princess as normal a childhood as possible. She knows it will be difficult, but her determination has won admirers and friends are determined to help out, as best they can. Few actually believe she can achieve this goal.

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."

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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.

A promise by Qatari labour and social affairs minister Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi to reform the Gulf state's controversial kafala or labour sponsorship system by the end of this year is likely to cut little ice with human rights and trade union activists who four years after Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup are demanding deeds rather than words.

Mr. Al-Khulaifi's promise comes amid an avalanche of media disclosures that suggest massive violation of world soccer body FIFA's bidding rules, involving substantial payments to soccer officials across the globe, vote swapping, and shady political deals between FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the Qatari leadership. The revelations coupled with a crackdown on critics of Qatar's labour system further call into question the Gulf state's sincerity.

Conservation groups filed their opening briefs this week challenging the Cadiz Water Project, a private groundwater-mining proposal that would siphon 16 million of gallons of water per year for up to 50 years from the Mojave Desert to feed urban sprawl in Southern California's Orange County.

Widely opposed by San Bernardino County residents, state and federal public agencies, and local businesses, Cadiz, Inc.'s ill-conceived plan threatens to dry up life-sustaining desert springs in the Mojave National Preserve, hurting vegetation and key habitat for iconic desert wildlife species, including desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, Mojave fringe-toed lizards and kit foxes.

"state of emergency," not to be confused with the one declared by the governor, should be continued in Baltimore, Maryland. Indeed, a state of emergency with a domestic Marshall Plan-like design ($13 billion 1948 post WWII European Recovery Program) should be declared in many other urban and rural communities in our nation. Too many communities are suffering from high levels of unemployment, especially among youth; childhood poverty; race and class-based police brutality and unwarranted imprisonment; business licensure patterns that concentrate liquor, lottery, fast food outlets, and instant cash and pawn shops in vulnerable sections of communities; indigenous population dislodging gentrification; inadequate social and public health infrastructures, inadequate funding of public education; and deteriorating cultural and family units.

May 06

Liars, Drones and May Day

By Victor Grossman, Truthout | Op-Ed

Who knew what? And when? Who told whom what? And how soon? Who knew what but didn't tell it when he should have? Or, more simply: Who's been lying and for how long?

Maybe quite a few! Supposedly new, supposedly unknown facts are emerging, though many people seem to have known them all along. The giant – or humongous – NSA apparatus of the USA has been spying on its European pals for years, not only in that endlessly lightless tunnel, the "fight against terrorism," but for plain, down-to-earth business secrets as well. Instead of angrily exposing such dirty work, or perhaps trying to limit it, the ill-famed German BND (Federal Intelligence Agency) happily joined hands (and tapes) with it, trading all kinds of secrets, maybe even that alleged tapping of Angela Merkel's private cell-phone. When that came out, German media and politicians waxed angrily indignant, they all demanded immediate stop signs while Merkel flew off to the White House in a huff to protest. Like most everybody, she soon cooled off; it seemed wiser to forgive and forget.

May 06

A Birth to Be Celebrated

By Tom Clifford, Truthout | News Analysis

A girl was born in Britain.

Her mother will try to give her princess as normal a childhood as possible. She knows it will be difficult, but her determination has won admirers and friends are determined to help out, as best they can. Few actually believe she can achieve this goal.

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."