Saturday, 01 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.

A group of prominent U.S. peace activists, civil rights attorneys and human rights activists have signed an Open Letter to the people and government of Iran. The Open Letter is being circulated online in the next days. Thousands of people, enraged by the unprecedented action of the 47 Senators to sabotage the negotiations with Iran, are expected to add their names. The campaign was initiated by the anti-war ANSWER Coalition. 

The letter states, "Their real aim in scuttling and sabotaging the current negotiations between the United States and Iran, perhaps unprecedented in the form they have chosen, is to create more conflict including the danger of military action against Iran."

This is not my geography teacher, or, more accurately it is not at all how I remember him. A series of APA images published by the British Daily Mail and other newspapers showed Hamad al-Hasanat lying dead in a mosque, surrounded by a group of Hamas fighters. On top of his lifeless body, as worshipers came to offer a final prayer before burial, rested an assault rifle.

Hasanat was buried among the refugees of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip. He died on 2 March, at the age of 80. 

Mar 13

Pacifica Stands in for All Public Media

By Ernesto Aguilar, Truthout | News Analysis

Pacifica, the embattled progressive radio network, has been the recipient of bad press and suggestions that it should simply be allowed to go into bankruptcy. This first-ever internal look by a high-level insider puts Pacifica's troubles in the context of public media facing challenges from digital, funding cuts and declining revenue. Pacifica leaders contend the network is still important and must be supported.

The in-house bouts of Pacifica Radio spilled into the proverbial street recently, when the California Attorney General was asked to audit the oldest non-commercial independent radio network in the US. Truthout is one of many outlets that has featured Pacifica's arguments, recriminations and sordid dramas. One can't help but read with interest.

Mar 13

Trauma Center Now: Why We Shut Down Michigan Avenue

By Veronica Morris Moore and Victoria Crider, Transformative Spaces | Op-Ed

As I  try to compile a list of reasons why I was a part of the civil disobedience direct action that blocked northbound traffic on the Magnificent Mile on the night of Thursday, March 5, all I can immediately think of is "why not?" But for the purpose of this statement I'll try to stick to reasons that are unique and relative to my role in the Trauma Center Campaign.

The main reason I volunteered my body for the human chain that blocked northbound traffic on Michigan Avenue is because I am committed to pressuring the University of Chicago to reopen its level 1 trauma center at the UChicago's medical facility. Since Fearless Leading by the Youth began the fight to restore this vital service in our community, all our efforts have been met with is traditional racist excuses. UofC spokespeople say, "the service will be a significant burden that will undercut other services already provided to the community." For me, a black queer youth (under 25), this is unacceptable.

Mar 12

Expert Global Commission Responds to One-Sided Tax Debate

By Staff, Fact Coalition | Press Release

(New York) Responding to widespread anger about corporate tax avoidance, the impacts of such avoidance on inequality and poverty, and concerns that current tax reform processes are inadequate, a new nonpartisan body— the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT)—has been established to propose reforms from the perspective of the public interest.

The inaugural meeting of the Commission will take place in New York on March 18-19, 2015. The Commission's Chair, former UN Under-Secretary-General José Antonio Ocampo, says: "The world has changed but the international tax system has not. Corporations play governments against each other, for example, in encouraging race-to-the-bottom tax incentives, and the public loses out. There are billions of dollars at stake. This Commission will shed light on where the rules of the game, and the institutions that govern them, need to change."

Mar 12

Getting Past the Issue of Being Jewish - an Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

On 5 March 2015 the New York Times (NYT) carried a front page story about a second-year student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) named Rachel Beyda. Ms. Beyda, who is Jewish, was seeking appointment as a member on the university's Judicial Board - a student committee that considers judicial questions in reference to the activities of student government. 

As the story goes, Ms. Beyda's application was originally rejected because a majority of the board felt that her association with organizations such as Hillel, a group that uncritically supports Israel's apartheid-style culture and maintains anti-democratic rules and procedures of its own, would represent a conflict of interest and result in possible bias on her part. Given the tension on many campuses, including UCLA, between those who support and oppose Israeli policies and behavior - tensions which occasionally result in student organizations being disciplined - it was not an unreasonable assumption. Unfortunately, the student board members who questioned Ms. Beyda's affiliations made it appear that their concerns flowed from her religion and ethnicity. 

Wall Street bonuses rose 3 percent last year, despite a 4.5 percent decline in industry profits. The size of the bonus pool was 27 percent higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage.

The 2014 bonus pool is so large it far exceeds the amounts needed to lift the wages of all 2.9 million restaurant servers and bartenders, all 1.5 million home health and personal care aides, or all 2.2 million fast food preparation and serving workers up to $15 per hour.

After Venezuela accused the United States of plotting another coup, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki rejected the claim as "ludicrous." She said, "As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means." The response from reporters may surprise you. 

On Democracy Now!, we get reaction from Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of "The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela" and the forthcoming book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know."

"I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect." Audre Lorde

As a member of the Afrikan-Canadian community in the city of Toronto, I am quite puzzled by the exuberant display of irrationality and misplaced expectations over the possibility of the appointment of either Deputy Chief Peter Sloly or Deputy Chief Mark Saunders as the next police chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS). These two cops are both Afrikan-Canadians.

Mar 11

Libya, ISIS and the Unaffordable Luxury of Hindsight

By Ahmad Barqawi, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Who are you?" the late Muammar Gaddafi once rhetorically asked in a famous speech of his towards the end of his reign; (rightly) questioning the legitimacy of those seeking to over-throw his government at the time, calling them extremists, foreign agents, rats and drug-addicts. He was laughed at, unfairly caricatured, ridiculed and incessantly demonized; a distasteful parody video poking fun at the late Libyan leader even went viral on social media; evidently the maker of the video, an Israeli, thought the Libyan colloquial Arabic word "Zenga" (which means an Alleyway) sounded funny enough that he extracted it from one of Gaddafi's speeches, looped it on top of a hip-hop backing track and voilà... he got himself a hit video which was widely (and shamefully) circulated with a "revolutionary" zeal in the Arab world. We shared; we laughed; he died.

But the bloody joke is on all of us; Gaddafi knew what he was talking about; right from the get-go: he accused the so-called Libyan rebels of being influenced by Al-Qaeda ideology and Ben Laden's school of thought; no one had taken his word for it of course, not even a little bit. I mean why should we have? After all, wasn't he a vile, sex-centric dictator hell-bent on massacring half of the Libyan population while subjecting the other half to manic raping sprees with the aid of his trusted army of Viagra-gobbling, sub-Saharan mercenaries? At least that's what we got from the visual cancer that is Al Jazeera channel and its even more acrid Saudi counterpart Al-Arabiya in their heavily skewed coverage of NATO's vicious conquest of Libya. Plus Gaddafi did dress funny; why would anyone trust a haggard, weird-looking despot dressed in colorful rags when you have well-groomed Zionists like Bernard-Henri Lévy, John McCain and Hillary Clinton at your side, smiling and flashing the victory sign in group photo-ops, right?

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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 group of prominent U.S. peace activists, civil rights attorneys and human rights activists have signed an Open Letter to the people and government of Iran. The Open Letter is being circulated online in the next days. Thousands of people, enraged by the unprecedented action of the 47 Senators to sabotage the negotiations with Iran, are expected to add their names. The campaign was initiated by the anti-war ANSWER Coalition. 

The letter states, "Their real aim in scuttling and sabotaging the current negotiations between the United States and Iran, perhaps unprecedented in the form they have chosen, is to create more conflict including the danger of military action against Iran."

This is not my geography teacher, or, more accurately it is not at all how I remember him. A series of APA images published by the British Daily Mail and other newspapers showed Hamad al-Hasanat lying dead in a mosque, surrounded by a group of Hamas fighters. On top of his lifeless body, as worshipers came to offer a final prayer before burial, rested an assault rifle.

Hasanat was buried among the refugees of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip. He died on 2 March, at the age of 80. 

Mar 13

Pacifica Stands in for All Public Media

By Ernesto Aguilar, Truthout | News Analysis

Pacifica, the embattled progressive radio network, has been the recipient of bad press and suggestions that it should simply be allowed to go into bankruptcy. This first-ever internal look by a high-level insider puts Pacifica's troubles in the context of public media facing challenges from digital, funding cuts and declining revenue. Pacifica leaders contend the network is still important and must be supported.

The in-house bouts of Pacifica Radio spilled into the proverbial street recently, when the California Attorney General was asked to audit the oldest non-commercial independent radio network in the US. Truthout is one of many outlets that has featured Pacifica's arguments, recriminations and sordid dramas. One can't help but read with interest.

Mar 13

Trauma Center Now: Why We Shut Down Michigan Avenue

By Veronica Morris Moore and Victoria Crider, Transformative Spaces | Op-Ed

As I  try to compile a list of reasons why I was a part of the civil disobedience direct action that blocked northbound traffic on the Magnificent Mile on the night of Thursday, March 5, all I can immediately think of is "why not?" But for the purpose of this statement I'll try to stick to reasons that are unique and relative to my role in the Trauma Center Campaign.

The main reason I volunteered my body for the human chain that blocked northbound traffic on Michigan Avenue is because I am committed to pressuring the University of Chicago to reopen its level 1 trauma center at the UChicago's medical facility. Since Fearless Leading by the Youth began the fight to restore this vital service in our community, all our efforts have been met with is traditional racist excuses. UofC spokespeople say, "the service will be a significant burden that will undercut other services already provided to the community." For me, a black queer youth (under 25), this is unacceptable.

Mar 12

Expert Global Commission Responds to One-Sided Tax Debate

By Staff, Fact Coalition | Press Release

(New York) Responding to widespread anger about corporate tax avoidance, the impacts of such avoidance on inequality and poverty, and concerns that current tax reform processes are inadequate, a new nonpartisan body— the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT)—has been established to propose reforms from the perspective of the public interest.

The inaugural meeting of the Commission will take place in New York on March 18-19, 2015. The Commission's Chair, former UN Under-Secretary-General José Antonio Ocampo, says: "The world has changed but the international tax system has not. Corporations play governments against each other, for example, in encouraging race-to-the-bottom tax incentives, and the public loses out. There are billions of dollars at stake. This Commission will shed light on where the rules of the game, and the institutions that govern them, need to change."

Mar 12

Getting Past the Issue of Being Jewish - an Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

On 5 March 2015 the New York Times (NYT) carried a front page story about a second-year student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) named Rachel Beyda. Ms. Beyda, who is Jewish, was seeking appointment as a member on the university's Judicial Board - a student committee that considers judicial questions in reference to the activities of student government. 

As the story goes, Ms. Beyda's application was originally rejected because a majority of the board felt that her association with organizations such as Hillel, a group that uncritically supports Israel's apartheid-style culture and maintains anti-democratic rules and procedures of its own, would represent a conflict of interest and result in possible bias on her part. Given the tension on many campuses, including UCLA, between those who support and oppose Israeli policies and behavior - tensions which occasionally result in student organizations being disciplined - it was not an unreasonable assumption. Unfortunately, the student board members who questioned Ms. Beyda's affiliations made it appear that their concerns flowed from her religion and ethnicity. 

Wall Street bonuses rose 3 percent last year, despite a 4.5 percent decline in industry profits. The size of the bonus pool was 27 percent higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage.

The 2014 bonus pool is so large it far exceeds the amounts needed to lift the wages of all 2.9 million restaurant servers and bartenders, all 1.5 million home health and personal care aides, or all 2.2 million fast food preparation and serving workers up to $15 per hour.

After Venezuela accused the United States of plotting another coup, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki rejected the claim as "ludicrous." She said, "As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means." The response from reporters may surprise you. 

On Democracy Now!, we get reaction from Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of "The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela" and the forthcoming book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know."

"I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect." Audre Lorde

As a member of the Afrikan-Canadian community in the city of Toronto, I am quite puzzled by the exuberant display of irrationality and misplaced expectations over the possibility of the appointment of either Deputy Chief Peter Sloly or Deputy Chief Mark Saunders as the next police chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS). These two cops are both Afrikan-Canadians.

Mar 11

Libya, ISIS and the Unaffordable Luxury of Hindsight

By Ahmad Barqawi, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Who are you?" the late Muammar Gaddafi once rhetorically asked in a famous speech of his towards the end of his reign; (rightly) questioning the legitimacy of those seeking to over-throw his government at the time, calling them extremists, foreign agents, rats and drug-addicts. He was laughed at, unfairly caricatured, ridiculed and incessantly demonized; a distasteful parody video poking fun at the late Libyan leader even went viral on social media; evidently the maker of the video, an Israeli, thought the Libyan colloquial Arabic word "Zenga" (which means an Alleyway) sounded funny enough that he extracted it from one of Gaddafi's speeches, looped it on top of a hip-hop backing track and voilà... he got himself a hit video which was widely (and shamefully) circulated with a "revolutionary" zeal in the Arab world. We shared; we laughed; he died.

But the bloody joke is on all of us; Gaddafi knew what he was talking about; right from the get-go: he accused the so-called Libyan rebels of being influenced by Al-Qaeda ideology and Ben Laden's school of thought; no one had taken his word for it of course, not even a little bit. I mean why should we have? After all, wasn't he a vile, sex-centric dictator hell-bent on massacring half of the Libyan population while subjecting the other half to manic raping sprees with the aid of his trusted army of Viagra-gobbling, sub-Saharan mercenaries? At least that's what we got from the visual cancer that is Al Jazeera channel and its even more acrid Saudi counterpart Al-Arabiya in their heavily skewed coverage of NATO's vicious conquest of Libya. Plus Gaddafi did dress funny; why would anyone trust a haggard, weird-looking despot dressed in colorful rags when you have well-groomed Zionists like Bernard-Henri Lévy, John McCain and Hillary Clinton at your side, smiling and flashing the victory sign in group photo-ops, right?