Tuesday, 01 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.

Mar 29

Take Me Out

By Rochelle Lefkowitz, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

You almost had to be on Mars last week to have missed San Francisco 49er rookie Chris Borland making football history. He did not make a breathtaking play. Instead, the talented, promising young inside linebacker quit the NFL at age 24.

Why did he do that? Chris Borland hadn't stopped loving football. It turns out he'd had two concussions before the NFL draft in college, then a third during practice. Instead of waiting until he fell victim, like too many pro-football players, to grave, irreversible brain damage, Borland announced his proactive retirement. Despite the thrill of the game, great pride in his team, the roar of the crowd and future millions, he'd concluded the risk was not worth the reward.

Last week, legislators in hub airport states of Illinois, Georgia and North Carolina all advanced proposals to end valuable handouts, loopholes and tax breaks worth over $93 million per year to United, Delta and American Airlines.

On Wednesday, March 18, a majority of the North Carolina Senate signed onto an economic incentive bill that would let American Airlines’ handout expire at the end of the year. The break is a cap on the amount of sales tax on jet fuel American pays, expected to be worth $15.5 million next year.

The weather this year has been bizarrely ruthless. Boston just recently hit the most snowfall EVER in their history - which means this year saw more racist snowmen police officers than ever before. California is apparently one year away from running out of water completely, which will leave their wet t-shirt contests dreadfully dry. A dry t-shirt contest? Are you kidding me?? I'd rather play naked Twister in a Panamanian mosquito breeding ground! 

Drought! Blizzards! Floods! Climate change is… fucked up. I didn't want to believe it but then I saw a report from NASA saying "Climate change is fucked up." Sure, NASA didn't use those exact words,but they wanted to. I consider myself NASA's id. 

Indiana's Republican Governor, Mike Pence, said on Wednesday he would consider implementing a syringe service program to help combat escalating HIV infection rates in Scott County, Indiana. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently determined that HIV infection rates have soared in Scott County on account of the sharing of syringes used for the injection of heroin and other drugs.

Governor Pence expressed support for syringe service programs as part of a heroin emergency plan that he is expected to announce today. Governor Pence's announcement came just hours after Republican Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed legislation that would create syringe service programs in local jurisdictions that formally approve them.

Finland, Minnesota - The OrganicConsumers Association (OCA) issued the following statement today in response to plans by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to reintroduce a federalbill to preempt states'rights to enactGMOlabelinglaws, and create a voluntary non-GMOlabeling scheme.

"The Pompeo bill, aptly dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, is not only anti-consumer, but anti-democracy and anti-state'rights as well.

I defied my advanced age last week to board a  special train, with a thousand mostly young people, and join in the big "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt/Main, Germany's big banking city. The trip,  though not the usual 4 ½ but seven hours, retained till well into the night a spirit of happy anticipation.

The occasion was the opening of a giant new European Central Bank building, over four years and $1.4 billion in the making, one more modernistic banking skyscraper to reshape the city's skyline, with two adjacent towers reaching up 201 meters (660 ft.).

Prior to announcing his bid for the presidency, in which he plans on raising an army of Christian conservatives to remake the US, TexasRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz was dumb founded by an unlikely heckler: a 3-year-old girl. Standing before a small group of people, Cruz was hell-bent on criticizing President Obama's foreign and domestic policies. After claiming that signing a nuclear enrichment treaty with Iran would cause another Holocaust, he then declared, "The Obama economy is a disaster… Obamacare is a train wreck and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind-the whole world is on fire!" 

Mar 26

Who Stands Behind?

By Elle Kurancid, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Cairo - To introduce the photograph above (unpublished until now), I was tempted to reiterate the scenes of "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross," an execution video released on February 15, 2015, by militants who pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group (IS or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

The five-minute video marches on with the decapitations of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Chadian man purportedly on a Libyan beach. Like me, perhaps you recall the bloody ideology gripping 42 men on camera: half of them wearing Gitmo-inspired orange jumpsuits, their lips moving in prayer with hands bound while kneeling in the sand, each of them paired with an IS executioner standing close behind.

All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country's first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, the state has benefitted from a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs, while Denver has experienced a decrease in crime rates.

Now, a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance brings another jolt of good news by providing comprehensive data on marijuana arrests in Colorado before and after the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012.

Imagine if an American presidential candidate made a plea to his supporters on election day with the following statement: "The Republican administration is in danger. Black voters are going en masse to the polls. Liberal NGOs are bringing them on buses."

Even in a country where Chris Matthews is a media celebrity and Pamela Geller is an intellectual, the statement would be scandalous, a political death wish even. In Israel, however, the opposite is true.

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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.

Mar 29

Take Me Out

By Rochelle Lefkowitz, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

You almost had to be on Mars last week to have missed San Francisco 49er rookie Chris Borland making football history. He did not make a breathtaking play. Instead, the talented, promising young inside linebacker quit the NFL at age 24.

Why did he do that? Chris Borland hadn't stopped loving football. It turns out he'd had two concussions before the NFL draft in college, then a third during practice. Instead of waiting until he fell victim, like too many pro-football players, to grave, irreversible brain damage, Borland announced his proactive retirement. Despite the thrill of the game, great pride in his team, the roar of the crowd and future millions, he'd concluded the risk was not worth the reward.

Last week, legislators in hub airport states of Illinois, Georgia and North Carolina all advanced proposals to end valuable handouts, loopholes and tax breaks worth over $93 million per year to United, Delta and American Airlines.

On Wednesday, March 18, a majority of the North Carolina Senate signed onto an economic incentive bill that would let American Airlines’ handout expire at the end of the year. The break is a cap on the amount of sales tax on jet fuel American pays, expected to be worth $15.5 million next year.

The weather this year has been bizarrely ruthless. Boston just recently hit the most snowfall EVER in their history - which means this year saw more racist snowmen police officers than ever before. California is apparently one year away from running out of water completely, which will leave their wet t-shirt contests dreadfully dry. A dry t-shirt contest? Are you kidding me?? I'd rather play naked Twister in a Panamanian mosquito breeding ground! 

Drought! Blizzards! Floods! Climate change is… fucked up. I didn't want to believe it but then I saw a report from NASA saying "Climate change is fucked up." Sure, NASA didn't use those exact words,but they wanted to. I consider myself NASA's id. 

Indiana's Republican Governor, Mike Pence, said on Wednesday he would consider implementing a syringe service program to help combat escalating HIV infection rates in Scott County, Indiana. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently determined that HIV infection rates have soared in Scott County on account of the sharing of syringes used for the injection of heroin and other drugs.

Governor Pence expressed support for syringe service programs as part of a heroin emergency plan that he is expected to announce today. Governor Pence's announcement came just hours after Republican Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed legislation that would create syringe service programs in local jurisdictions that formally approve them.

Finland, Minnesota - The OrganicConsumers Association (OCA) issued the following statement today in response to plans by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to reintroduce a federalbill to preempt states'rights to enactGMOlabelinglaws, and create a voluntary non-GMOlabeling scheme.

"The Pompeo bill, aptly dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, is not only anti-consumer, but anti-democracy and anti-state'rights as well.

I defied my advanced age last week to board a  special train, with a thousand mostly young people, and join in the big "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt/Main, Germany's big banking city. The trip,  though not the usual 4 ½ but seven hours, retained till well into the night a spirit of happy anticipation.

The occasion was the opening of a giant new European Central Bank building, over four years and $1.4 billion in the making, one more modernistic banking skyscraper to reshape the city's skyline, with two adjacent towers reaching up 201 meters (660 ft.).

Prior to announcing his bid for the presidency, in which he plans on raising an army of Christian conservatives to remake the US, TexasRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz was dumb founded by an unlikely heckler: a 3-year-old girl. Standing before a small group of people, Cruz was hell-bent on criticizing President Obama's foreign and domestic policies. After claiming that signing a nuclear enrichment treaty with Iran would cause another Holocaust, he then declared, "The Obama economy is a disaster… Obamacare is a train wreck and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind-the whole world is on fire!" 

Mar 26

Who Stands Behind?

By Elle Kurancid, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Cairo - To introduce the photograph above (unpublished until now), I was tempted to reiterate the scenes of "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross," an execution video released on February 15, 2015, by militants who pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group (IS or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

The five-minute video marches on with the decapitations of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Chadian man purportedly on a Libyan beach. Like me, perhaps you recall the bloody ideology gripping 42 men on camera: half of them wearing Gitmo-inspired orange jumpsuits, their lips moving in prayer with hands bound while kneeling in the sand, each of them paired with an IS executioner standing close behind.

All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country's first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, the state has benefitted from a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs, while Denver has experienced a decrease in crime rates.

Now, a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance brings another jolt of good news by providing comprehensive data on marijuana arrests in Colorado before and after the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012.

Imagine if an American presidential candidate made a plea to his supporters on election day with the following statement: "The Republican administration is in danger. Black voters are going en masse to the polls. Liberal NGOs are bringing them on buses."

Even in a country where Chris Matthews is a media celebrity and Pamela Geller is an intellectual, the statement would be scandalous, a political death wish even. In Israel, however, the opposite is true.