Monday, 22 December 2014 / 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.

Dec 11

De-Normalizing Rape

By Robert Augustus Masters, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The subject of rape seems to be having a long overdue moment that it very much deserves. From the problem of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military, to rapes by trusted priests, sports mentors, and teachers, to recent celebrity sexual assault scandals (Bill Cosby and CBC radio host, Jian Ghomeshi), and as of this past weekend in New Delhi, India, rapes by hail-a-ride Uber drivers—there is a growing national (and global) awareness of rape. However, despite its horrors, rape easily gets normalized, as if it were just part of life, a distant fact coexisting with other not-so-pleasant facts, like unemployment rates and faraway natural disasters. The question is: How can we transform the historical cultural sanctioning of rape so as not to trivialize it, and prevent it from becoming a background hum to which we’re all but numb?

One of the biggest problems with rape is that throughout its devastating history it has been sanctioned in numerous and widespread contexts. Over time, this institutionalization of rape has sadly numbed too many segments of contemporary society to its tragic reality, at worst legitimizing its continued practice and at best enabling a culture of noninterference with sexual violence. As obvious as it may sound, we need to know what we actually are speaking of when we use the word rape. Using the word rape to describe activities other than actual rape lessens the impact that such violation should have on us, and strays dangerously close to normalizing it.

Dec 11

Luck Is Not a Security Policy

By Robert F. Dodge, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Next week we hope to see the beginning of the end.

We live under the constant threat every moment of every day of nuclear annihilation. The existence of 16,300 nuclear weapons on the planet places our very survival in great peril. Whether by plan or accident a nuclear attack has no meaningful medical or humanitarian response. As chronicled by Eric Schlosser in his book Command and Control, the number of times we have come close to nuclear disaster is mind boggling and it is a matter of sheer luck that we have not experienced a nuclear catastrophe. Luck is not a security policy and ultimately will run out unless we change our thinking and work to abolish nuclear weapons entirely.

"A man who has committed a mistake and does not correct it is committing another mistake." -Confucius

Half a trillion dollars. With that kind of money we could buy Facebook, Scandinavia, General Motors (again), the Chinese Politburo and all the good bits of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. And, with luck, Taylor Swift. Instead, we’re getting a trouble-plagued new fighter jet that is running $163 billion over budget and close to a decade behind schedule. Worse, by the time it is finally put into service, it is quite possible that it will not be able to perform the missions for which it was intended. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the King-of-All-Jackass-Defense-Programs, the F-35 Lightning II.

It looks like individual choice is not supposed to get in the way of corporate profits in the world of Michael Froman and US trade policy. In a Washington Post article on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP), US Trade Representative Michael Froman is quoted as saying:

"We’re not trying to force anybody to eat anything ... we do feel like the decision as to what is safe should be made by science."

WASHINGTON – Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) will publicly release a report Thursday showing that Burger King’s planned “inversion” will allow the company and its leading shareholders to dodge an estimated $400 million to $1.2 billion in US taxes between 2015 and 2018. This contradicts the assertion by CEO Daniel Schwartz that Burger King’s plan to become a Canadian company “is really not about taxes.”

The report is especially topical because Tim Hortons, the Canadian corporation with which Burger King is merging, has announced shareholders will vote on the deal on Tuesday, Dec. 9, and that it expects the deal to close Friday, Dec. 12.

Dec 11

We are Quicksilver, We are Water

By Michael Nigro, SpeakOut | Photo Essay

(Photo: Michael Nigro)

Less than a week ago, this Unarmed Civilian (me), became a One-Armed-Unarmed-Civilian. Nothing broken, thankfully, just a torn up shoulder. December 8, 2014, (Day 1 of the Week of Outrage) was the first night back on the street for me after being injured. Below is the story of that first night, written from the ER in Brooklyn, NY.

Thousands took to the streets of NYC on December 3, 2014, the night after a grand jury voted not to file any charges against NYPD officer David Pantaleo - the cop who took the life of Eric Garner by putting him in an illegal chokehold

On Dec 10, 9 mothers who have lost children to police terror will come to Washington to demand justice and accountability.  Join the mothers, CODEPINK.com, Hands Up Coalition, DC. Com and #DC Ferguson for a vigil at the Department of Justice at 5 pm on December 10th to commemorate the lives of their sons and all others who have been lost to police brutality.  President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have ignored thousands of e-mails asking to meet with the African-American mothers coming to Washington, DC whose sons have been murdered by police.

An arrest will occur during the demonstration. Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She is considered the “mother of the 21st century civil rights and whistleblower law: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR.)  The No FEAR law was unanimously passed by Congress in 2002.  Time Magazine said “Inside Marsha Coleman-Adebayo there’s a streak of Rosa Parks.”

On International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, two peace activists, charged with criminal trespass, will be tried in Jefferson City, Mo. The charge is based on an action at Whiteman Air Force Base last June 1st protesting US use of weaponized drones which are remotely piloted from the base. The trial testimony is expected to reflect a Nov. 24, 2014, report that for every intended target of a US drone strike, 28 unidentified persons are also killed.  Drones change the nature of warfare, turning whole regions into battlefields where merely suspected militants, often uninvolved in combat, are identified and executed, without trial, from obscuring distances and with no chance to surrender.

The activists are Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and Georgia Walker, director of Journey to New Life, which helps former prisoners obtain jobs and housing in Kansas City, Mo.

Geneva, Switzerland 10 December 2014 – On the Occasion of Human Rights Day, the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) draws global attention to the fundamental human right to education, which directly enhances sustainable development and is a critical means to combat poverty. The right to education is unequivocally enshrined in core international agreements and treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Despite the widespread global recognition, the international community as a whole is not on track to meet the most fundamental education target of achieving universal primary education – as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 58 million children are still out of school,[1] the majority of whom are girls. [2] IFUW urges all stakeholders and policy makers, especially within the fields of education and international development, to adopt, implement, accelerate, and adequately finance measurable plans of action to increase access to, and completion of, all levels of education for all people. IFUW calls for particular commitment and support for at-risk groups, especially girls and women with disabilities, those of rural, indigenous or migrant background, and those displaced by war. 

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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.

Dec 11

De-Normalizing Rape

By Robert Augustus Masters, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The subject of rape seems to be having a long overdue moment that it very much deserves. From the problem of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military, to rapes by trusted priests, sports mentors, and teachers, to recent celebrity sexual assault scandals (Bill Cosby and CBC radio host, Jian Ghomeshi), and as of this past weekend in New Delhi, India, rapes by hail-a-ride Uber drivers—there is a growing national (and global) awareness of rape. However, despite its horrors, rape easily gets normalized, as if it were just part of life, a distant fact coexisting with other not-so-pleasant facts, like unemployment rates and faraway natural disasters. The question is: How can we transform the historical cultural sanctioning of rape so as not to trivialize it, and prevent it from becoming a background hum to which we’re all but numb?

One of the biggest problems with rape is that throughout its devastating history it has been sanctioned in numerous and widespread contexts. Over time, this institutionalization of rape has sadly numbed too many segments of contemporary society to its tragic reality, at worst legitimizing its continued practice and at best enabling a culture of noninterference with sexual violence. As obvious as it may sound, we need to know what we actually are speaking of when we use the word rape. Using the word rape to describe activities other than actual rape lessens the impact that such violation should have on us, and strays dangerously close to normalizing it.

Dec 11

Luck Is Not a Security Policy

By Robert F. Dodge, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Next week we hope to see the beginning of the end.

We live under the constant threat every moment of every day of nuclear annihilation. The existence of 16,300 nuclear weapons on the planet places our very survival in great peril. Whether by plan or accident a nuclear attack has no meaningful medical or humanitarian response. As chronicled by Eric Schlosser in his book Command and Control, the number of times we have come close to nuclear disaster is mind boggling and it is a matter of sheer luck that we have not experienced a nuclear catastrophe. Luck is not a security policy and ultimately will run out unless we change our thinking and work to abolish nuclear weapons entirely.

"A man who has committed a mistake and does not correct it is committing another mistake." -Confucius

Half a trillion dollars. With that kind of money we could buy Facebook, Scandinavia, General Motors (again), the Chinese Politburo and all the good bits of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. And, with luck, Taylor Swift. Instead, we’re getting a trouble-plagued new fighter jet that is running $163 billion over budget and close to a decade behind schedule. Worse, by the time it is finally put into service, it is quite possible that it will not be able to perform the missions for which it was intended. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the King-of-All-Jackass-Defense-Programs, the F-35 Lightning II.

It looks like individual choice is not supposed to get in the way of corporate profits in the world of Michael Froman and US trade policy. In a Washington Post article on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP), US Trade Representative Michael Froman is quoted as saying:

"We’re not trying to force anybody to eat anything ... we do feel like the decision as to what is safe should be made by science."

WASHINGTON – Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) will publicly release a report Thursday showing that Burger King’s planned “inversion” will allow the company and its leading shareholders to dodge an estimated $400 million to $1.2 billion in US taxes between 2015 and 2018. This contradicts the assertion by CEO Daniel Schwartz that Burger King’s plan to become a Canadian company “is really not about taxes.”

The report is especially topical because Tim Hortons, the Canadian corporation with which Burger King is merging, has announced shareholders will vote on the deal on Tuesday, Dec. 9, and that it expects the deal to close Friday, Dec. 12.

Dec 11

We are Quicksilver, We are Water

By Michael Nigro, SpeakOut | Photo Essay

(Photo: Michael Nigro)

Less than a week ago, this Unarmed Civilian (me), became a One-Armed-Unarmed-Civilian. Nothing broken, thankfully, just a torn up shoulder. December 8, 2014, (Day 1 of the Week of Outrage) was the first night back on the street for me after being injured. Below is the story of that first night, written from the ER in Brooklyn, NY.

Thousands took to the streets of NYC on December 3, 2014, the night after a grand jury voted not to file any charges against NYPD officer David Pantaleo - the cop who took the life of Eric Garner by putting him in an illegal chokehold

On Dec 10, 9 mothers who have lost children to police terror will come to Washington to demand justice and accountability.  Join the mothers, CODEPINK.com, Hands Up Coalition, DC. Com and #DC Ferguson for a vigil at the Department of Justice at 5 pm on December 10th to commemorate the lives of their sons and all others who have been lost to police brutality.  President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have ignored thousands of e-mails asking to meet with the African-American mothers coming to Washington, DC whose sons have been murdered by police.

An arrest will occur during the demonstration. Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She is considered the “mother of the 21st century civil rights and whistleblower law: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR.)  The No FEAR law was unanimously passed by Congress in 2002.  Time Magazine said “Inside Marsha Coleman-Adebayo there’s a streak of Rosa Parks.”

On International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, two peace activists, charged with criminal trespass, will be tried in Jefferson City, Mo. The charge is based on an action at Whiteman Air Force Base last June 1st protesting US use of weaponized drones which are remotely piloted from the base. The trial testimony is expected to reflect a Nov. 24, 2014, report that for every intended target of a US drone strike, 28 unidentified persons are also killed.  Drones change the nature of warfare, turning whole regions into battlefields where merely suspected militants, often uninvolved in combat, are identified and executed, without trial, from obscuring distances and with no chance to surrender.

The activists are Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and Georgia Walker, director of Journey to New Life, which helps former prisoners obtain jobs and housing in Kansas City, Mo.

Geneva, Switzerland 10 December 2014 – On the Occasion of Human Rights Day, the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) draws global attention to the fundamental human right to education, which directly enhances sustainable development and is a critical means to combat poverty. The right to education is unequivocally enshrined in core international agreements and treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Despite the widespread global recognition, the international community as a whole is not on track to meet the most fundamental education target of achieving universal primary education – as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 58 million children are still out of school,[1] the majority of whom are girls. [2] IFUW urges all stakeholders and policy makers, especially within the fields of education and international development, to adopt, implement, accelerate, and adequately finance measurable plans of action to increase access to, and completion of, all levels of education for all people. IFUW calls for particular commitment and support for at-risk groups, especially girls and women with disabilities, those of rural, indigenous or migrant background, and those displaced by war.