Friday, 24 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.

Jerry Brown, once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, has in his third administration transformed himself into "Big Oil Brown." 

According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The "Governor Moonbeam" nickname "was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting 'the moonbeam' vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional."

The word genocide, coined in 1944 in an effort to describe what the Nazis called "the final solution" and what today we call the Holocaust, attempted to distinguish the crime of killing people of a certain identity in such great numbers that you tried eliminating them as a group. Earlier in that century, there had been the mass murder of Armenians by the Turks, an event Hitler once cynically reminded associates was not even remembered only a few decades later.

Some would include in the category the terrible starvation induced in Ukraine by Soviet agricultural policies and ineptitude, an event which indeed killed millions, or the ruthless policies of Mao's China which caused many millions of peasants to starve. But these events, utterly nightmarish as they were, begin to lose the legitimate sense of genocide. Although we cannot rightly call these genocides, they remain depravity on a colossal scale, but I am not sure the distinction is one with great meaning, and certainly not for any of the victims. After all, when nations go to war, the job defined for each soldier is to kill as many of the people from another land as possible. Our great wars now typically kill vast numbers, and it is just a fact of history that since the 19th century we have moved from killing mainly other soldiers to killing mainly civilians.   

Jun 19

The First Kill

By Jeriah Bowser, The Hampton Institute | Op-Ed

You never forget your first kill. Mine happened on a desolate stretch of backcountry gravel road several miles outside of a tiny town in Utah that nobody has ever heard of. I remember the day clearly; it is permanently etched into my memory like a hot ember on the back of my eyelids. It was mid-March in the desert, which means stifling hot days and bitter cold nights. The sun was high in the sky and there was a slight haze which tinted the landscape in hues of red and orange, an appropriate palette for the scenario which was to soon unfold. The wind was unusually strong that day, blowing tumbleweeds and clouds of dust across the barren and desolate terrain and kicking up dust-devils, or Chindi. According to the indigenous Diné peoples of this area, Chindi are the spirits of departed peoples, and they carry either positive or malicious messages, based on the direction they are spinning. Some, if sent by a witch, are messengers of death or sickness. Since it is hard to determine the intention or direction of a Chindi, it is best to just avoid them at all costs.

Washington, D.C.- The United States remains the only high-income country that does not mandate paid family and medical leave. Each year, more than 2.5 million working Americans are unable to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition or who was injured during military service, for pregnancy, to bond with a new child, or for their own illness or disability. Anew report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research demonstrates that a federal paid leave program could effectively close this gap.

The report, “Documenting the Need for a National Paid Family and Medical Leave Program,” by Helene Jorgenson and Eileen Appelbaum, analyzes the Department of Labor’s 2012 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Survey and documents the unmet need leaves of private-sector workers in the United States.

Jun 18

Rare Earth Paradise

By Sandy Lyon, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Will we dig up paradise to be able to try to tweet a picture of paradise? To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question of our time.

So all those little pieces that make up your electronic do-dads, iPhones, Smartphones, Awesome Blackberries and computers and such. All those little pieces need something called “rare earth minerals”. Why? I’m not sure, but they need them to work. Without them there’s no tweeting amazing mountain pictures, or sunsets or your friend sticking out her tongue. No selfies from high atop Mt. Everest. No email, no instant messages, without rare earth minerals. What’s a gal to do?!

The German occupation of Europe in the 1940s was brutal. Millions of people died. Europe was devastated. However, no European country suffered as much as Greece.

The Greeks were the first Europeans who won a victory against fascism. They defeated the Italian allies of the Germans. They fought bravely against the attacking Germans and kept fighting them throughout the occupation of their country, 1941-1944.

Los Angeles - The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) of The United Methodist Church, which manages an investment portfolio of over $20 billion, has instructed its investment manager to sell immediately all shares in G4S, due in part to concerns about the company's involvement in human rights violations in the Israeli prison system and the military occupation of Palestinian territories.




According to David Wildman, United Methodist Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice at the General Board of Global Ministries, "This is the first time that a United Methodist general agency has included human rights violations related to Israel's illegal settlements and military occupation in a decision to divest from a company. We celebrate this strong human rights message both to G4S specifically and to other companies whose business operations support longstanding human rights abuses against Palestinians."



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. and foreign herders will benefit from a decision today by the D.C. Circuit to invalidate U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rules that permit employers to pay herders far less than other agricultural workers and allow lower standards for employer-provided housing, Public Citizen said.

“Today’s decision will force the DOL to reconsider the unjust employment standards that it set for sheep and cattle herders,” said Julie Murray, an attorney at Public Citizen and counsel for the plaintiffs. “It is a victory for U.S. and foreign herders alike, who toil for unconscionably low pay and are often forced to live in abysmal housing conditions.”

In the title of a recent piece at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald asked, "What Excuse Remains for Obama's Failure to Close Gitmo?" Greenwald makes the argument that, given the Obama administration's willingness to bypass Congress - and the law - by releasing five Taliban prisoners in exchange for American POW Sgt. Bowe Berghdal, the president's line about being unable to close the globally despised detention center without congressional assent has been rendered worthless. 

Logically, Greenwald is obviously right. If the Obama administration asserts the authority to ignore the statute requiring it provide thirty days' notice to Congress before releasing detainees, as it evidently does, then the long-standing excuse about its hands being tied on this issue may be dismissed as pure political posturing. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, 20 organic farm and consumer groups filed a legal petition with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to protect the authority and permanence of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The petitioners object to recent changes to the NOSB charter, renewed on May 8, 2014, that undermine the mandatory and continuing duties of the Board as established by Congress under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.

The NOSB, a diverse 15-member stakeholder body, intended to safeguard the integrity of the organic food label, was created by Congress with independent authorities that operate outside the discretion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Petitioners maintain that in renewing the charter under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), USDA mistakenly re-categorized the NOSB as a time-limited Advisory Board subject to USDA’s discretion and a narrowing of responsibilities.

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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.

Jerry Brown, once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, has in his third administration transformed himself into "Big Oil Brown." 

According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The "Governor Moonbeam" nickname "was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting 'the moonbeam' vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional."

The word genocide, coined in 1944 in an effort to describe what the Nazis called "the final solution" and what today we call the Holocaust, attempted to distinguish the crime of killing people of a certain identity in such great numbers that you tried eliminating them as a group. Earlier in that century, there had been the mass murder of Armenians by the Turks, an event Hitler once cynically reminded associates was not even remembered only a few decades later.

Some would include in the category the terrible starvation induced in Ukraine by Soviet agricultural policies and ineptitude, an event which indeed killed millions, or the ruthless policies of Mao's China which caused many millions of peasants to starve. But these events, utterly nightmarish as they were, begin to lose the legitimate sense of genocide. Although we cannot rightly call these genocides, they remain depravity on a colossal scale, but I am not sure the distinction is one with great meaning, and certainly not for any of the victims. After all, when nations go to war, the job defined for each soldier is to kill as many of the people from another land as possible. Our great wars now typically kill vast numbers, and it is just a fact of history that since the 19th century we have moved from killing mainly other soldiers to killing mainly civilians.   

Jun 19

The First Kill

By Jeriah Bowser, The Hampton Institute | Op-Ed

You never forget your first kill. Mine happened on a desolate stretch of backcountry gravel road several miles outside of a tiny town in Utah that nobody has ever heard of. I remember the day clearly; it is permanently etched into my memory like a hot ember on the back of my eyelids. It was mid-March in the desert, which means stifling hot days and bitter cold nights. The sun was high in the sky and there was a slight haze which tinted the landscape in hues of red and orange, an appropriate palette for the scenario which was to soon unfold. The wind was unusually strong that day, blowing tumbleweeds and clouds of dust across the barren and desolate terrain and kicking up dust-devils, or Chindi. According to the indigenous Diné peoples of this area, Chindi are the spirits of departed peoples, and they carry either positive or malicious messages, based on the direction they are spinning. Some, if sent by a witch, are messengers of death or sickness. Since it is hard to determine the intention or direction of a Chindi, it is best to just avoid them at all costs.

Washington, D.C.- The United States remains the only high-income country that does not mandate paid family and medical leave. Each year, more than 2.5 million working Americans are unable to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition or who was injured during military service, for pregnancy, to bond with a new child, or for their own illness or disability. Anew report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research demonstrates that a federal paid leave program could effectively close this gap.

The report, “Documenting the Need for a National Paid Family and Medical Leave Program,” by Helene Jorgenson and Eileen Appelbaum, analyzes the Department of Labor’s 2012 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Survey and documents the unmet need leaves of private-sector workers in the United States.

Jun 18

Rare Earth Paradise

By Sandy Lyon, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Will we dig up paradise to be able to try to tweet a picture of paradise? To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question of our time.

So all those little pieces that make up your electronic do-dads, iPhones, Smartphones, Awesome Blackberries and computers and such. All those little pieces need something called “rare earth minerals”. Why? I’m not sure, but they need them to work. Without them there’s no tweeting amazing mountain pictures, or sunsets or your friend sticking out her tongue. No selfies from high atop Mt. Everest. No email, no instant messages, without rare earth minerals. What’s a gal to do?!

The German occupation of Europe in the 1940s was brutal. Millions of people died. Europe was devastated. However, no European country suffered as much as Greece.

The Greeks were the first Europeans who won a victory against fascism. They defeated the Italian allies of the Germans. They fought bravely against the attacking Germans and kept fighting them throughout the occupation of their country, 1941-1944.

Los Angeles - The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) of The United Methodist Church, which manages an investment portfolio of over $20 billion, has instructed its investment manager to sell immediately all shares in G4S, due in part to concerns about the company's involvement in human rights violations in the Israeli prison system and the military occupation of Palestinian territories.




According to David Wildman, United Methodist Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice at the General Board of Global Ministries, "This is the first time that a United Methodist general agency has included human rights violations related to Israel's illegal settlements and military occupation in a decision to divest from a company. We celebrate this strong human rights message both to G4S specifically and to other companies whose business operations support longstanding human rights abuses against Palestinians."



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. and foreign herders will benefit from a decision today by the D.C. Circuit to invalidate U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rules that permit employers to pay herders far less than other agricultural workers and allow lower standards for employer-provided housing, Public Citizen said.

“Today’s decision will force the DOL to reconsider the unjust employment standards that it set for sheep and cattle herders,” said Julie Murray, an attorney at Public Citizen and counsel for the plaintiffs. “It is a victory for U.S. and foreign herders alike, who toil for unconscionably low pay and are often forced to live in abysmal housing conditions.”

In the title of a recent piece at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald asked, "What Excuse Remains for Obama's Failure to Close Gitmo?" Greenwald makes the argument that, given the Obama administration's willingness to bypass Congress - and the law - by releasing five Taliban prisoners in exchange for American POW Sgt. Bowe Berghdal, the president's line about being unable to close the globally despised detention center without congressional assent has been rendered worthless. 

Logically, Greenwald is obviously right. If the Obama administration asserts the authority to ignore the statute requiring it provide thirty days' notice to Congress before releasing detainees, as it evidently does, then the long-standing excuse about its hands being tied on this issue may be dismissed as pure political posturing. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, 20 organic farm and consumer groups filed a legal petition with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to protect the authority and permanence of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The petitioners object to recent changes to the NOSB charter, renewed on May 8, 2014, that undermine the mandatory and continuing duties of the Board as established by Congress under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990.

The NOSB, a diverse 15-member stakeholder body, intended to safeguard the integrity of the organic food label, was created by Congress with independent authorities that operate outside the discretion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Petitioners maintain that in renewing the charter under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), USDA mistakenly re-categorized the NOSB as a time-limited Advisory Board subject to USDA’s discretion and a narrowing of responsibilities.