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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.

Several years later, Iraq's desolation continues. On August 16, 90 people were killed and more were wounded in attacks across the country. Media sources reported on the bloodbath (nearly 200 Iraqis were killed this month alone), but without much context...But the dead, before they were killed, were people with names and faces. They were fascinating individuals in their own right, deserving of life, rights and dignity. Many are children, who knew nothing of Iraq's political disputes, invited by US wars and occupation and fomented by those who feed on sectarianism.

We often forget this. Those who refuse to fall into the trap of political extremes still tend to process and accept violence in one way or another. We co-exist with tragedy, with the belief that bombs just go off randomly and that surviving victims cannot be helped. We somehow accept the idea that refugees cannot be repatriated and the hungry cannot be fed.

Aug 23

Guns or Butter?

By Bryan K. Bullock , Speakout | Op-Ed

The US media and the politicians they support love to talk about governments who "kill their own people." But ironically we are killing our "own people" as we speak. By focusing on austerity measures which cut instead of invest, they are effectively limiting the life chances of millions of Americans. People have lost and are losing their homes, jobs, social service benefits and yet $24 million goes to people who are linked with the outfit behind the events of 9-11: al Quaeda. But even if al Quaeda was not being supported in Syria by America, the mere fact that people in this country are desperately trying to hold their lives together while their government funds foreign mercenaries is and should be, totally unacceptable.

In the last half of the 20th Century, America cunningly exported itself overseas, marketing its images, ideologies, products and religions with ingenuity and zeal, but what it has not been able to fully assess or prepare for are the effects in reverse. For if Americanization is a large part of globalization, the Easternization of the West, too, is the other side of the phenomenon.

I take it as some cosmic law of exchange that if Disneyland pops up in Hong Kong and Tokyo, Buddhist temples can sprout up in Los Angeles, home of the magic kingdom. Indeed, it comes as no surprise to many Californians that scholars have agreed that the most complex Buddhist city in the world is nowhere in Asia but Los Angeles itself, where there are more than 300 Buddhist temples and centers, representing nearly all of Buddhist practices around the world.

For the second time in a decade, the believability ratings for major news organizations have suffered broad-based declines. In the new survey, positive believability ratings have fallen significantly for nine of 13 news organizations tested. This follows a similar downturn in positive believability ratings that occurred between 2002 and 2004...

These are among the major findings of a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted July 19-22 among 1,001 adults. The survey asks people to rate individual news organizations on believability using a 4-point scale. A rating of 4 means someone believes "all or most" of what the news organization says; a rating of 1 means someone believes "almost nothing" of what they say.

The believability ratings for individual news organizations – like views of the news media generally – have long been divided along partisan lines. But partisan differences have grown as Republicans' views of the credibility of news outlets have continued to erode. Today, there are only two news organizations – Fox News and local TV news – that receive positive believability ratings from at least two-thirds of Republicans.

WikiLeaks just released excerpts from a top secret government document titled: "Official Rules and Strategies of American Politics". Most Americans don't realize politics is a game and like any legitimate game, it has official rules and strategies. Obviously our politicians don't want us to know the secret inner workings of this complex game. Outraged members of Congress urged the UK to storm Ecuador's London embassy and arrest Julian Assange for crimes against humanity.

A senator on the Foreign Relations Committee angrily condemned Assange saying, "Releasing embarrassing video of a US Apache helicopter cutting innocent Iraqis to pieces with a 30mm cannon was appalling, but Assange has now gone way beyond the bounds of human decency." Despite several members of Congress threatening to use the Espionage Act against any media daring to publish these excerpts, our editorial staff decided Americans must know the truth.

Aug 22

You Say You Want a Revolution of Values?

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | News Analysis

War engages me because of its unique relationship to morality. Killing is a long-standing taboo. Killing is often if not always the worst thing that can be done to someone. But killing on a larger scale, organizing numerous people to kill numerous other people is often treated very differently. When a government kills its own people, that's generally considered an outrage. But when a government kills another nation's people, that's not always viewed as a moral problem. In fact a government killing its own people is often used as a justification for another nation to come in and kill more of the first nation's people. Killing in war, and lesser crimes in war, are given a moral pass or even praised. A U.S. military sniper bragged on the debut episode this week of NBC's war reality show "Stars Earn Stripes" that he had "160 kills." Not that he killed 160 people. The people are erased in his language. "I have 160 kills." And the show itself is a dramatization of U.S. news coverage of U.S. wars, in which the only participants are Americans. The 95% of victims in our one-sided slaughters are rarely mentioned in U.S. news coverage, and on this new war-o-tainment show the heroic warriors attack empty fields, blow up guard towers with no guards, kick in doors of uninhabited houses, and spend so much time talking about how "real" it all is that none of them seem to notice that there are no enemies or victims to be found.

Aug 22

Social Security and Medicare on the Chopping Block

By Emergency Labor Network, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Despite the many expressed fears that the Apocalypse awaits us and the alarmist predictions that we are about to go over the proverbial cliff when it comes to funding Medicare, Social Security and the other safety net programs, the fact is that the U.S. is awash in money, as proven by the fact that the banks and major corporations are sitting on several trillion dollars which could be used to solve the funding crisis for safety net programs in a heartbeat. [Please see below for a list of additional sources for such funding.] There is absolutely no justification for cutting any of these programs. In fact they should be expanded and improved.

But the stark reality that all supporters of maintaining and expanding Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and other safety net programs must face is this: There is a clear-cut consensus among major Congressional leaders "on both sides of the aisle" ─ and with the president being a principal actor ─ on the need to make significant cuts in these programs in the period ahead.

London -- On Friday, I visited Ecuador's embassy here in the capital of the former British empire and saw a building surrounded by a phalanx of cops, with several of them at the front door. The embassy is in an upscale neighborhood near Harrods department store. The intimidating police presence was ordered by a Conservative government that waxes eloquent about the need to respect (British) embassies overseas.

The intensified police deployment is only part of Britain's response to Ecuador's decision -- after a long review -- to grant political asylum on human rights grounds to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took refuge in the embassy two months ago. The British government has made it clear that it will not allow Ecuador to provide safe passage and asylum to an individual who -- for the "crime" of publishing -- has heard powerful U.S. voices in politics and media call for his murder.

Denver—A new report released today by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP), documents that Amendment 64, the Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, would provide the state savings and tax revenue of nearly $60 million in its first year. According to the report, the state is conservatively projected to save and earn up to $120 million annually after 2017.

Amendment 64 proposes a system to regulate and tax marijuana in Colorado similarly to alcohol. In addition to state and local sales taxes, the initiative directs the General Assembly to enact an excise tax of up to 15 percent on wholesale sales of non-medical marijuana. This limit can be increased after 2017. The general state and local coffers will receive all but $80 million of that revenue. The other $40 million is earmarked to a Capital School Construction Fund.

Aug 21

The Global 1%: Exposing the Transnational Ruling Class

By Kimberly Seoiro and Peter Phillips, Project Censored | News Analysis

The Occupy Movement has developed a mantra that addresses the great inequality of wealth and power between the world's wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of us, the other 99 percent. While the 99 percent mantra undoubtedly serves as a motivational tool for open involvement, there is little understanding as to who comprises the 1 percent and how they maintain power in the world. Though a good deal of academic research has dealt with the power elite in the United States, only in the past decade and half has research on the transnational corporate class begun to emerge.

Foremost among the early works on the idea of an interconnected 1 percent within global capitalism was Leslie Sklair's 2001 book, The Transnational Capitalist Class. Sklair believed that globalization was moving transnational corporations (TNC) into broader international roles, whereby corporations' states of orgin became less important than international argreements developed through the World Trade Organization and other international institutions. Emerging from these multinational corporations was a transnational capitalist class, whose loyalities and interests, while still rooted in their corporations, was increasingly international in scope.

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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.

Several years later, Iraq's desolation continues. On August 16, 90 people were killed and more were wounded in attacks across the country. Media sources reported on the bloodbath (nearly 200 Iraqis were killed this month alone), but without much context...But the dead, before they were killed, were people with names and faces. They were fascinating individuals in their own right, deserving of life, rights and dignity. Many are children, who knew nothing of Iraq's political disputes, invited by US wars and occupation and fomented by those who feed on sectarianism.

We often forget this. Those who refuse to fall into the trap of political extremes still tend to process and accept violence in one way or another. We co-exist with tragedy, with the belief that bombs just go off randomly and that surviving victims cannot be helped. We somehow accept the idea that refugees cannot be repatriated and the hungry cannot be fed.

Aug 23

Guns or Butter?

By Bryan K. Bullock , Speakout | Op-Ed

The US media and the politicians they support love to talk about governments who "kill their own people." But ironically we are killing our "own people" as we speak. By focusing on austerity measures which cut instead of invest, they are effectively limiting the life chances of millions of Americans. People have lost and are losing their homes, jobs, social service benefits and yet $24 million goes to people who are linked with the outfit behind the events of 9-11: al Quaeda. But even if al Quaeda was not being supported in Syria by America, the mere fact that people in this country are desperately trying to hold their lives together while their government funds foreign mercenaries is and should be, totally unacceptable.

In the last half of the 20th Century, America cunningly exported itself overseas, marketing its images, ideologies, products and religions with ingenuity and zeal, but what it has not been able to fully assess or prepare for are the effects in reverse. For if Americanization is a large part of globalization, the Easternization of the West, too, is the other side of the phenomenon.

I take it as some cosmic law of exchange that if Disneyland pops up in Hong Kong and Tokyo, Buddhist temples can sprout up in Los Angeles, home of the magic kingdom. Indeed, it comes as no surprise to many Californians that scholars have agreed that the most complex Buddhist city in the world is nowhere in Asia but Los Angeles itself, where there are more than 300 Buddhist temples and centers, representing nearly all of Buddhist practices around the world.

For the second time in a decade, the believability ratings for major news organizations have suffered broad-based declines. In the new survey, positive believability ratings have fallen significantly for nine of 13 news organizations tested. This follows a similar downturn in positive believability ratings that occurred between 2002 and 2004...

These are among the major findings of a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted July 19-22 among 1,001 adults. The survey asks people to rate individual news organizations on believability using a 4-point scale. A rating of 4 means someone believes "all or most" of what the news organization says; a rating of 1 means someone believes "almost nothing" of what they say.

The believability ratings for individual news organizations – like views of the news media generally – have long been divided along partisan lines. But partisan differences have grown as Republicans' views of the credibility of news outlets have continued to erode. Today, there are only two news organizations – Fox News and local TV news – that receive positive believability ratings from at least two-thirds of Republicans.

WikiLeaks just released excerpts from a top secret government document titled: "Official Rules and Strategies of American Politics". Most Americans don't realize politics is a game and like any legitimate game, it has official rules and strategies. Obviously our politicians don't want us to know the secret inner workings of this complex game. Outraged members of Congress urged the UK to storm Ecuador's London embassy and arrest Julian Assange for crimes against humanity.

A senator on the Foreign Relations Committee angrily condemned Assange saying, "Releasing embarrassing video of a US Apache helicopter cutting innocent Iraqis to pieces with a 30mm cannon was appalling, but Assange has now gone way beyond the bounds of human decency." Despite several members of Congress threatening to use the Espionage Act against any media daring to publish these excerpts, our editorial staff decided Americans must know the truth.

Aug 22

You Say You Want a Revolution of Values?

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | News Analysis

War engages me because of its unique relationship to morality. Killing is a long-standing taboo. Killing is often if not always the worst thing that can be done to someone. But killing on a larger scale, organizing numerous people to kill numerous other people is often treated very differently. When a government kills its own people, that's generally considered an outrage. But when a government kills another nation's people, that's not always viewed as a moral problem. In fact a government killing its own people is often used as a justification for another nation to come in and kill more of the first nation's people. Killing in war, and lesser crimes in war, are given a moral pass or even praised. A U.S. military sniper bragged on the debut episode this week of NBC's war reality show "Stars Earn Stripes" that he had "160 kills." Not that he killed 160 people. The people are erased in his language. "I have 160 kills." And the show itself is a dramatization of U.S. news coverage of U.S. wars, in which the only participants are Americans. The 95% of victims in our one-sided slaughters are rarely mentioned in U.S. news coverage, and on this new war-o-tainment show the heroic warriors attack empty fields, blow up guard towers with no guards, kick in doors of uninhabited houses, and spend so much time talking about how "real" it all is that none of them seem to notice that there are no enemies or victims to be found.

Aug 22

Social Security and Medicare on the Chopping Block

By Emergency Labor Network, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Despite the many expressed fears that the Apocalypse awaits us and the alarmist predictions that we are about to go over the proverbial cliff when it comes to funding Medicare, Social Security and the other safety net programs, the fact is that the U.S. is awash in money, as proven by the fact that the banks and major corporations are sitting on several trillion dollars which could be used to solve the funding crisis for safety net programs in a heartbeat. [Please see below for a list of additional sources for such funding.] There is absolutely no justification for cutting any of these programs. In fact they should be expanded and improved.

But the stark reality that all supporters of maintaining and expanding Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and other safety net programs must face is this: There is a clear-cut consensus among major Congressional leaders "on both sides of the aisle" ─ and with the president being a principal actor ─ on the need to make significant cuts in these programs in the period ahead.

London -- On Friday, I visited Ecuador's embassy here in the capital of the former British empire and saw a building surrounded by a phalanx of cops, with several of them at the front door. The embassy is in an upscale neighborhood near Harrods department store. The intimidating police presence was ordered by a Conservative government that waxes eloquent about the need to respect (British) embassies overseas.

The intensified police deployment is only part of Britain's response to Ecuador's decision -- after a long review -- to grant political asylum on human rights grounds to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took refuge in the embassy two months ago. The British government has made it clear that it will not allow Ecuador to provide safe passage and asylum to an individual who -- for the "crime" of publishing -- has heard powerful U.S. voices in politics and media call for his murder.

Denver—A new report released today by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP), documents that Amendment 64, the Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, would provide the state savings and tax revenue of nearly $60 million in its first year. According to the report, the state is conservatively projected to save and earn up to $120 million annually after 2017.

Amendment 64 proposes a system to regulate and tax marijuana in Colorado similarly to alcohol. In addition to state and local sales taxes, the initiative directs the General Assembly to enact an excise tax of up to 15 percent on wholesale sales of non-medical marijuana. This limit can be increased after 2017. The general state and local coffers will receive all but $80 million of that revenue. The other $40 million is earmarked to a Capital School Construction Fund.

Aug 21

The Global 1%: Exposing the Transnational Ruling Class

By Kimberly Seoiro and Peter Phillips, Project Censored | News Analysis

The Occupy Movement has developed a mantra that addresses the great inequality of wealth and power between the world's wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of us, the other 99 percent. While the 99 percent mantra undoubtedly serves as a motivational tool for open involvement, there is little understanding as to who comprises the 1 percent and how they maintain power in the world. Though a good deal of academic research has dealt with the power elite in the United States, only in the past decade and half has research on the transnational corporate class begun to emerge.

Foremost among the early works on the idea of an interconnected 1 percent within global capitalism was Leslie Sklair's 2001 book, The Transnational Capitalist Class. Sklair believed that globalization was moving transnational corporations (TNC) into broader international roles, whereby corporations' states of orgin became less important than international argreements developed through the World Trade Organization and other international institutions. Emerging from these multinational corporations was a transnational capitalist class, whose loyalities and interests, while still rooted in their corporations, was increasingly international in scope.