Tuesday, 28 April 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.

Washington DC - January 12 marks the five-year anniversary of Haiti's 2010 earthquake. The 7.0 quake killed an estimated 230,000 people, injured 300,000 more and displaced 1.5 million Haitians. The earthquake also took an enormous toll on Haiti's economy. The year before the disaster, Haiti's economy grew 3.5 percent - the year after the quake, its growth was negative 5 percent. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

"Too many people died during the earthquake because they lived in unsafe conditions," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA. "This anniversary reminds us that poverty makes natural disasters even more deadly."

As Josh Gerstein first reported, the government has just asked the judge in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, Leonie Brinkema, to declare James Risen unavailable as a witness. After having defended their own right to call Risen as a witness all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming all the way they need Risen to prove their case, they're now saying Sterling should not be able to call him.

"Mr. Risen's under-oath testimony has now laid to rest any doubt concerning whether he will ever disclose his sources or sources for Chapter 9 of State of War (or, for that matter, anything else he's written). He will not. As a result, the government does not intend to call him as a witness at trial. Doing so would simply frustrate the truth-seeking function of the trial. This is true irrespective of whether he is called by the government or the defense–he is unavailable to both parties."

Jan 13

A New Generation Reclaims MLK Day

By Kelly Hayes, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The Black Lives Matter protests have moved at such a swift pace in recent months that's it's hard for me to be certain when I first heard that a national call had been issued, and that January 15th would be a day of action aimed at reclaiming the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What I do remember clearly is what a young black organizer said as it was brought up in my presence for the first time: "If we're reclaiming his radical legacy, I'm in."

Chicago's young black organizers, who have mobilized with great speed and ingenuity since nationwide protests erupted in August, have been especially creative in their tactics and radical in their messaging. While some of the language employed in their chants and speak outs has included talk of indicting police officers like Darren Wilson, youth organizers from BYP 100 and We Charge Genocide, among others, have also broadened the dialogue around police violence to include the language of de-incarceration, transformative justice, and calls for an all out systems change.

2015's opening offers an appropriate time to examine high technology and its development of weapons of mass destruction and other threats to the Earth. My own background to write about these issues includes being raised in the Southern military family that gave its name to Ft. Bliss, Texas. I served briefly as an officer in the US Army, resigned my commission to protest the American War on Vietnam, and have engaged in an extensive study of the military. This includes teaching courses on "War and Peace" at Sonoma State University and contributing chapters and poems to half a dozen books on war.

The United States military has long had the fastest and most powerful supercomputers. The New York Times reported on June 9, 2008, that the military's "new machine is more than twice as fast as the previous fastest supercomputer, the IBV Blue Gen/L, which is based at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory," a national security and weapons center.

We need to slow the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) approval process down until after the 2016 elections. After the final full terms are made public, the voters should decide this issue using our democratic electoral processes. We need this to be a campaign issue in the Senate, House and Presidential elections. It will increase voter turnout (which is good for American democracy) and give the decision real legitimacy.

There are many stakeholders in this deal. Large international corporations, domestic corporations, small businesses, American workers, farmers, consumers, citizens who care about the environment, those with intellectual property, citizens concerned with food safety, those concerned with preserving control of our economy as expressed via our democratic elections, taxpayers and many more elements of our society are stakeholders. Most of these stakeholders have been largely left out of the secretive process of drafting the TPP trade pact.

Jan 12

Reproductive Sovereignty or Bust!

By Carol Downer, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

A radical feminist group's goal is reproductive sovereignty.

Sovereignty means being independent or autonomous. A nation is sovereign when it has its own set of laws that it can enforce within its boundaries without interference. A woman is sovereign when she can decide her own destiny without State interference.

The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 did not give women reproductive sovereignty; it gave us the right to an abortion, but States can regulate if, how and when we get abortion. For example, some State legislatures require minors to get parental consent, and now some States are closing down abortion clinics through oppressive regulations.

New York—More than 50 former state attorneys general today strongly urged the Federal Communications Commission to establish reasonable rates for prisoner phone calls to help prisoners maintain connections with family members, a factor known to reduce recidivism.

These former law enforcement officials—51 in all—signed on to a letter submitted to the FCC as part of the agency’s public comment session on a petition to have calls made within a state set at reasonable rates. The agency previously capped the price of prisoner phone calls between states. The letter was circulated by Columbia Law School’s National State Attorneys General Program and its director, James E. Tierney, who signed as the former Attorney General of Maine, in collaboration with the Human Rights Defense Center, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of people held in US detention facilities.

Jan 12

Dude, Where's My Peace Dividend?

By Robert T. Hinds, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

 In the 1970s and 1980s, Americans were conditioned with the idea that the extraordinary growth in military expenditure for the U.S. to “win the arms race” with the USSR would somehow lead to a “peace dividend.”  That’s what the elected officials of the United States and its NATO allies called it.  Eventually the Soviet Union did collapse under the weight of its own economic dysfunction and hyper-militaristic bureaucracy.  When the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, compelled by massive nonviolent noncooperation with the dictatorial regime, it seemed that the leaders of the world might finally declare the peace dividend we had all been expecting.  Mankind as a whole seemed to have hope that the specter of nuclear war had vanished and that a constitutional democracy could operate as a benevolent superpower.

It wasn’t long before President Bush Sr. replaced the old war with a new one.  The New York Times disclosed official transcripts of a conversation between US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, and Saddam Hussein where she said, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait.  James Baker (Secretary of State) has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.”

Occasionally, I wind up writing about topics that I don’t believe actually fit the focus of my overall work. This generally happens because an issue is crowding out other dialogue in the spaces I move in, or because a failure to speak means leaving a serious wound untended. This is one of those times.

A terrible tragedy played itself out in Paris. Twelve people were killed. Some were law enforcement officers, one was a maintenance worker, but most were employed by a satirical newspaper. In the wake of their deaths, many have felt compelled to lift up their work, as if supportive hashtags and the reposting of images that offend the religious sensibilities of others will somehow prevent the victims of this tragedy from having died in vain.

These days Congress has plenty in common with the Sumo ring - called a dohyo - where large, powerful men rely on leverage, size, and power to push opponents out of the dohyo.

Such is the case in our Senate particularly, where a new majority of 54 Republicans, including several senators hoping to become president - the Sumo yokozuna - have begun to crouch, ready to charge at the discretionary spending of entitlement programs critically important to millions of people.

There are a number of rituals that Sumo wrestlers - like our Senators - engage in both before and during their bouts. One example, is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) pledging to return to the legislative etiquette of using the committee process and membership debate rather than negotiating behind closed doors.

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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.

Washington DC - January 12 marks the five-year anniversary of Haiti's 2010 earthquake. The 7.0 quake killed an estimated 230,000 people, injured 300,000 more and displaced 1.5 million Haitians. The earthquake also took an enormous toll on Haiti's economy. The year before the disaster, Haiti's economy grew 3.5 percent - the year after the quake, its growth was negative 5 percent. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

"Too many people died during the earthquake because they lived in unsafe conditions," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA. "This anniversary reminds us that poverty makes natural disasters even more deadly."

As Josh Gerstein first reported, the government has just asked the judge in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, Leonie Brinkema, to declare James Risen unavailable as a witness. After having defended their own right to call Risen as a witness all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming all the way they need Risen to prove their case, they're now saying Sterling should not be able to call him.

"Mr. Risen's under-oath testimony has now laid to rest any doubt concerning whether he will ever disclose his sources or sources for Chapter 9 of State of War (or, for that matter, anything else he's written). He will not. As a result, the government does not intend to call him as a witness at trial. Doing so would simply frustrate the truth-seeking function of the trial. This is true irrespective of whether he is called by the government or the defense–he is unavailable to both parties."

Jan 13

A New Generation Reclaims MLK Day

By Kelly Hayes, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The Black Lives Matter protests have moved at such a swift pace in recent months that's it's hard for me to be certain when I first heard that a national call had been issued, and that January 15th would be a day of action aimed at reclaiming the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What I do remember clearly is what a young black organizer said as it was brought up in my presence for the first time: "If we're reclaiming his radical legacy, I'm in."

Chicago's young black organizers, who have mobilized with great speed and ingenuity since nationwide protests erupted in August, have been especially creative in their tactics and radical in their messaging. While some of the language employed in their chants and speak outs has included talk of indicting police officers like Darren Wilson, youth organizers from BYP 100 and We Charge Genocide, among others, have also broadened the dialogue around police violence to include the language of de-incarceration, transformative justice, and calls for an all out systems change.

2015's opening offers an appropriate time to examine high technology and its development of weapons of mass destruction and other threats to the Earth. My own background to write about these issues includes being raised in the Southern military family that gave its name to Ft. Bliss, Texas. I served briefly as an officer in the US Army, resigned my commission to protest the American War on Vietnam, and have engaged in an extensive study of the military. This includes teaching courses on "War and Peace" at Sonoma State University and contributing chapters and poems to half a dozen books on war.

The United States military has long had the fastest and most powerful supercomputers. The New York Times reported on June 9, 2008, that the military's "new machine is more than twice as fast as the previous fastest supercomputer, the IBV Blue Gen/L, which is based at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory," a national security and weapons center.

We need to slow the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) approval process down until after the 2016 elections. After the final full terms are made public, the voters should decide this issue using our democratic electoral processes. We need this to be a campaign issue in the Senate, House and Presidential elections. It will increase voter turnout (which is good for American democracy) and give the decision real legitimacy.

There are many stakeholders in this deal. Large international corporations, domestic corporations, small businesses, American workers, farmers, consumers, citizens who care about the environment, those with intellectual property, citizens concerned with food safety, those concerned with preserving control of our economy as expressed via our democratic elections, taxpayers and many more elements of our society are stakeholders. Most of these stakeholders have been largely left out of the secretive process of drafting the TPP trade pact.

Jan 12

Reproductive Sovereignty or Bust!

By Carol Downer, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

A radical feminist group's goal is reproductive sovereignty.

Sovereignty means being independent or autonomous. A nation is sovereign when it has its own set of laws that it can enforce within its boundaries without interference. A woman is sovereign when she can decide her own destiny without State interference.

The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 did not give women reproductive sovereignty; it gave us the right to an abortion, but States can regulate if, how and when we get abortion. For example, some State legislatures require minors to get parental consent, and now some States are closing down abortion clinics through oppressive regulations.

New York—More than 50 former state attorneys general today strongly urged the Federal Communications Commission to establish reasonable rates for prisoner phone calls to help prisoners maintain connections with family members, a factor known to reduce recidivism.

These former law enforcement officials—51 in all—signed on to a letter submitted to the FCC as part of the agency’s public comment session on a petition to have calls made within a state set at reasonable rates. The agency previously capped the price of prisoner phone calls between states. The letter was circulated by Columbia Law School’s National State Attorneys General Program and its director, James E. Tierney, who signed as the former Attorney General of Maine, in collaboration with the Human Rights Defense Center, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of people held in US detention facilities.

Jan 12

Dude, Where's My Peace Dividend?

By Robert T. Hinds, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

 In the 1970s and 1980s, Americans were conditioned with the idea that the extraordinary growth in military expenditure for the U.S. to “win the arms race” with the USSR would somehow lead to a “peace dividend.”  That’s what the elected officials of the United States and its NATO allies called it.  Eventually the Soviet Union did collapse under the weight of its own economic dysfunction and hyper-militaristic bureaucracy.  When the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, compelled by massive nonviolent noncooperation with the dictatorial regime, it seemed that the leaders of the world might finally declare the peace dividend we had all been expecting.  Mankind as a whole seemed to have hope that the specter of nuclear war had vanished and that a constitutional democracy could operate as a benevolent superpower.

It wasn’t long before President Bush Sr. replaced the old war with a new one.  The New York Times disclosed official transcripts of a conversation between US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, and Saddam Hussein where she said, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait.  James Baker (Secretary of State) has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.”

Occasionally, I wind up writing about topics that I don’t believe actually fit the focus of my overall work. This generally happens because an issue is crowding out other dialogue in the spaces I move in, or because a failure to speak means leaving a serious wound untended. This is one of those times.

A terrible tragedy played itself out in Paris. Twelve people were killed. Some were law enforcement officers, one was a maintenance worker, but most were employed by a satirical newspaper. In the wake of their deaths, many have felt compelled to lift up their work, as if supportive hashtags and the reposting of images that offend the religious sensibilities of others will somehow prevent the victims of this tragedy from having died in vain.

These days Congress has plenty in common with the Sumo ring - called a dohyo - where large, powerful men rely on leverage, size, and power to push opponents out of the dohyo.

Such is the case in our Senate particularly, where a new majority of 54 Republicans, including several senators hoping to become president - the Sumo yokozuna - have begun to crouch, ready to charge at the discretionary spending of entitlement programs critically important to millions of people.

There are a number of rituals that Sumo wrestlers - like our Senators - engage in both before and during their bouts. One example, is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) pledging to return to the legislative etiquette of using the committee process and membership debate rather than negotiating behind closed doors.