Saturday, 25 October 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.

On June 20, the 221st Presbyterian Church General Assembly voted to divest $21 million USD from three companies complicit in the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine — Motorola Solutions, HP and Caterpillar. Exactly one month before this historic vote, at a protest for political prisoner rights and commemorating the Nakba outside of Ofer Military Prison near Ramallah, two Palestinian children were shot dead by the Israeli military. 

When friends and family of one of the children killed heard about the Presbyterian Church USA vote to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation, they decided to show their plea for support for this overture by making a visual statement. And who best to make this statement than the next generation, whose future is severed by a segregation wall, detention of peaceful protestors, and wrongful killing and torture, never mind lack of access to freedom of travel, all of which are supported by the very same American companies - Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and HP - which the Church is invested in?  

Santa Barbara, California - The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), a non-partisan association of America's big cities, on June 23, 2014 unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums at its 82nd annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. According to USCM President Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California, "These resolutions, once adopted, become official USCM policy."

The resolution notes that on April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed landmark cases in the International Court of Justice against all nine nuclear-armed nations, claiming that they failed to comply with their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law to pursue negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons. They also filed a companion case in U.S. Federal District Court.

EU heads of state gathering today and tomorrow will discuss the European Energy Security Strategy promoting a number of massive infrastructure projects which include gas pipelines, LNG terminals and storage facilities even though their overall environmental impact has not been adequately assessed. Environmentalists are currently battling the European Commission over this issue in Court.

The European Council is expected to give its green light to the European Commission for further work on defining the key security of supply infrastructure projects. However, a mandatory Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is lacking for the entire PCI list. The list consists of 248 different projects across Europe where the key security of supply projects have been selected from.

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) praised final congressional action by the House of Representatives to restore intelligence community whistleblower protections that had been removed from the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) of 2012. The bill, once signed into law, would create the first enforceable statutory whistleblower rights for government workers at intelligence agencies.

Title VI of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2014, S. 1681 was passed late yesterday in the House of Representatives after being passed last week in the Senate. The bill expands and codifies actions detailed in Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 19, issued by President Obama in October 2012, as well as some internal agency regulations. The president is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days. These protections are stronger than those within PPD 19, which does not explicitly protect disclosures to Congress.

Jun 25

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poem

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

with no troops at his command

was brought down by an assassin’s hand.

That’s how the war began.

In an earlier paper (blog post here), I argued that corporate political contributions can in many cases be challenged by shareholders as conflicted transactions that further insiders’ personal interests (e.g., lower individual income taxes) rather than the best interests of the corporation. The argument (to simplify) was that if a political contribution is in the CEO’s individual interests, the resulting conflict of interest should make the business judgment rule inapplicable, placing on the CEO the burden of proving that the contribution was actually in the best interests of the corporation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen strongly supports the DISCLOSE Act of 2014, reintroduced in the Senate today by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and 50 co-sponsors. A companion bill already is pending in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“The DISCLOSE Act is a straightforward disclosure measure,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “It does not and cannot offer itself as a fix to all the damage caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But the DISCLOSE Act can provide voters with the means to weigh the merits of campaign messages by casting light on the true funding sources behind those messages.”

Jun 25

The Carnage of Pollution

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Congressional supporters of the chemical industry in the House are sponsoring "The Chemicals in Commerce Act." Similar pro-industry legislation is circulating in the Senate.

These bills intend to continue and worsen the business-as-usual chemical poisoning and pollution of our society and the natural world. They make it difficult even for the pro-industry US Environmental Protection Agency and the states to even try protecting our health from the toxic touch of thousands of untested and hazardous chemicals already in commerce or in the pipeline. These bills are giant chemical industry loopholes punched through our already-tattered environmental protection.

Where’s the big money in privatization? Take it from the teachers.

2014.6.24.Infographic.crop

I am a graduate of the Class of 1954 of the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville Connecticut. Reunion planners invited me to speak on a panel to which all of the eight classes (since 1939) holding reunions were invited. Those of us on the panel were asked to talk about our "career paths" and "passions" in a session called, “A Road Less Traveled.” This was held on June 14 in Hotchkiss’s A. Whitney Griswold Science Building. The two other panelists were all Hotchkiss graduates at least forty years younger than myself,  an editor from Huffington Post, and a Naval aviator/“Strike Warfare Watch Officer” who “executed daily 100 sorties” over Iraq from the US carrier Ronald Reagan. (In what appears to be the familiar revolving door between the military and private industry, he is now Senior Manager of Tactical Air Support, Inc, where he is “Systems Engineering Consultant for US Navy/NAVAIR client” – not mentioned at Hotchkiss.) What follows is the full version of my talk, which had to be cut to a shorter length for delivery. I spoke first.

Ten years ago, Clint Brooks, Hotchkiss Class of 1956, an NSA lifer -- former CIA head Porter Goss was in the same Hotchkiss class -- was invited to give the keynote address to this this reunion for all classes ending in 4 or 9. (Since this was not a reunion year for Brooks, he must have been specially invited by Hotchkiss to give this keynote.) I was in the audience. It was like something right out of Dr. Strangelove: Brooks had developed the “Clipper Chip” which gives NSA secret back-door access to communications; “It would defeat the purpose if we gave the [public the] knowledge of how the algorithm worked.” Brooks’s NSA coerced manufacturers to build Clipper Chips into privately manufactured phones, computers, etc., letting NSA in through this back door. At Hotchkiss, Brooks’s 55-minute PowerPoint rant in support of Bush’s “war on terrorism” got adoring attention from the Bearcat crowd (as they like to call themselves), which shouted down a mildly critical questioner.

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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.

On June 20, the 221st Presbyterian Church General Assembly voted to divest $21 million USD from three companies complicit in the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine — Motorola Solutions, HP and Caterpillar. Exactly one month before this historic vote, at a protest for political prisoner rights and commemorating the Nakba outside of Ofer Military Prison near Ramallah, two Palestinian children were shot dead by the Israeli military. 

When friends and family of one of the children killed heard about the Presbyterian Church USA vote to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation, they decided to show their plea for support for this overture by making a visual statement. And who best to make this statement than the next generation, whose future is severed by a segregation wall, detention of peaceful protestors, and wrongful killing and torture, never mind lack of access to freedom of travel, all of which are supported by the very same American companies - Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and HP - which the Church is invested in?  

Santa Barbara, California - The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), a non-partisan association of America's big cities, on June 23, 2014 unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums at its 82nd annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. According to USCM President Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California, "These resolutions, once adopted, become official USCM policy."

The resolution notes that on April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed landmark cases in the International Court of Justice against all nine nuclear-armed nations, claiming that they failed to comply with their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law to pursue negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons. They also filed a companion case in U.S. Federal District Court.

EU heads of state gathering today and tomorrow will discuss the European Energy Security Strategy promoting a number of massive infrastructure projects which include gas pipelines, LNG terminals and storage facilities even though their overall environmental impact has not been adequately assessed. Environmentalists are currently battling the European Commission over this issue in Court.

The European Council is expected to give its green light to the European Commission for further work on defining the key security of supply infrastructure projects. However, a mandatory Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is lacking for the entire PCI list. The list consists of 248 different projects across Europe where the key security of supply projects have been selected from.

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) praised final congressional action by the House of Representatives to restore intelligence community whistleblower protections that had been removed from the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) of 2012. The bill, once signed into law, would create the first enforceable statutory whistleblower rights for government workers at intelligence agencies.

Title VI of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2014, S. 1681 was passed late yesterday in the House of Representatives after being passed last week in the Senate. The bill expands and codifies actions detailed in Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 19, issued by President Obama in October 2012, as well as some internal agency regulations. The president is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days. These protections are stronger than those within PPD 19, which does not explicitly protect disclosures to Congress.

Jun 25

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poem

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

with no troops at his command

was brought down by an assassin’s hand.

That’s how the war began.

In an earlier paper (blog post here), I argued that corporate political contributions can in many cases be challenged by shareholders as conflicted transactions that further insiders’ personal interests (e.g., lower individual income taxes) rather than the best interests of the corporation. The argument (to simplify) was that if a political contribution is in the CEO’s individual interests, the resulting conflict of interest should make the business judgment rule inapplicable, placing on the CEO the burden of proving that the contribution was actually in the best interests of the corporation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen strongly supports the DISCLOSE Act of 2014, reintroduced in the Senate today by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and 50 co-sponsors. A companion bill already is pending in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“The DISCLOSE Act is a straightforward disclosure measure,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “It does not and cannot offer itself as a fix to all the damage caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But the DISCLOSE Act can provide voters with the means to weigh the merits of campaign messages by casting light on the true funding sources behind those messages.”

Jun 25

The Carnage of Pollution

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Congressional supporters of the chemical industry in the House are sponsoring "The Chemicals in Commerce Act." Similar pro-industry legislation is circulating in the Senate.

These bills intend to continue and worsen the business-as-usual chemical poisoning and pollution of our society and the natural world. They make it difficult even for the pro-industry US Environmental Protection Agency and the states to even try protecting our health from the toxic touch of thousands of untested and hazardous chemicals already in commerce or in the pipeline. These bills are giant chemical industry loopholes punched through our already-tattered environmental protection.

Where’s the big money in privatization? Take it from the teachers.

2014.6.24.Infographic.crop

I am a graduate of the Class of 1954 of the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville Connecticut. Reunion planners invited me to speak on a panel to which all of the eight classes (since 1939) holding reunions were invited. Those of us on the panel were asked to talk about our "career paths" and "passions" in a session called, “A Road Less Traveled.” This was held on June 14 in Hotchkiss’s A. Whitney Griswold Science Building. The two other panelists were all Hotchkiss graduates at least forty years younger than myself,  an editor from Huffington Post, and a Naval aviator/“Strike Warfare Watch Officer” who “executed daily 100 sorties” over Iraq from the US carrier Ronald Reagan. (In what appears to be the familiar revolving door between the military and private industry, he is now Senior Manager of Tactical Air Support, Inc, where he is “Systems Engineering Consultant for US Navy/NAVAIR client” – not mentioned at Hotchkiss.) What follows is the full version of my talk, which had to be cut to a shorter length for delivery. I spoke first.

Ten years ago, Clint Brooks, Hotchkiss Class of 1956, an NSA lifer -- former CIA head Porter Goss was in the same Hotchkiss class -- was invited to give the keynote address to this this reunion for all classes ending in 4 or 9. (Since this was not a reunion year for Brooks, he must have been specially invited by Hotchkiss to give this keynote.) I was in the audience. It was like something right out of Dr. Strangelove: Brooks had developed the “Clipper Chip” which gives NSA secret back-door access to communications; “It would defeat the purpose if we gave the [public the] knowledge of how the algorithm worked.” Brooks’s NSA coerced manufacturers to build Clipper Chips into privately manufactured phones, computers, etc., letting NSA in through this back door. At Hotchkiss, Brooks’s 55-minute PowerPoint rant in support of Bush’s “war on terrorism” got adoring attention from the Bearcat crowd (as they like to call themselves), which shouted down a mildly critical questioner.