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.
Washington DC - Economist Dean Baker, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, issued the following statement about the financial transactions tax (FTT) component of the new tax proposal from Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD):
"Representative Chris Van Hollen's proposal for a financial transactions tax, a key part of the new tax plan that he revealed this morning, is a move towards establishing a 21st century structure for financial markets. In the last four decades there has been an enormous reduction in the cost of financial transactions due to the development of computers and information technology. This has led to an explosion in trading volume. Much of this trading volume serves no purpose from the standpoint of the productive economy, yet it generates enormous incomes for the financial industry.
Monday evening I had planned to write about the PEGIDA movement in Germany. Although in Dresden, their city of origin, the number of bitter marchers protesting the "Islamization" of the West had increased stubbornly to 18,000, I began to report happily that everywhere else in Germany they had been greatly outnumbered. In Berlin, only 300 turned up - and turned tail in the face of 5000 opposing them. Even politicians who had ignored them, had castigated their opponents by speaking of "terrorists of the right and left" or had used code words to express similar anti-immigrant feelings (and win votes) now opposed them almost in unison. Berlin city leaders followed the Dresden Opera House example by turning off the lights on Brandenburg Gate in protest against the racists. Church leaders in Cologne did the same, plunging their giant cathedral into welcome darkness, while 400 marchers were halted by 10,000 opponents. Thus, except in Dresden, Monday marked a victory against the efforts to set one group against another by those who called instead for friendship, togetherness and a welcome to those seeking asylum and a new, decent life.
But then came Wednesday and Paris, with its atrocious murders at Charlie Hebdo. Like so many millions I was shocked and horror-stricken. But I was also frightened. Now the PEGIDA crowd would shout, "You see! We told you so!" Even before Wednesday, polls had shown 57% of non-immigrant Germans mistrustful of Muslims. But only small numbers had taken part in the virulent marches. How many would now join in with flags, crosses and slogans? How many right-leaning leaders would once again find their raucous voices? And how could they now be counteracted? Would the tragic shots fired in the rue Nicolas Appert echo menacingly down the Alleen and Strassen of Germany? How could we now put brakes to the locomotive of hatred, already rushing dangerously from one end of Europe to the other, spewing sparks for new conflagrations which could burn us all?
Washington DC - January 12 marks the five-year anniversary of Haiti's 2010 earthquake. The 7.0 quake killed an estimated 230,000 people, injured 300,000 more and displaced 1.5 million Haitians. The earthquake also took an enormous toll on Haiti's economy. The year before the disaster, Haiti's economy grew 3.5 percent - the year after the quake, its growth was negative 5 percent. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
"Too many people died during the earthquake because they lived in unsafe conditions," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA. "This anniversary reminds us that poverty makes natural disasters even more deadly."
As Josh Gerstein first reported, the government has just asked the judge in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, Leonie Brinkema, to declare James Risen unavailable as a witness. After having defended their own right to call Risen as a witness all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming all the way they need Risen to prove their case, they're now saying Sterling should not be able to call him.
"Mr. Risen's under-oath testimony has now laid to rest any doubt concerning whether he will ever disclose his sources or sources for Chapter 9 of State of War (or, for that matter, anything else he's written). He will not. As a result, the government does not intend to call him as a witness at trial. Doing so would simply frustrate the truth-seeking function of the trial. This is true irrespective of whether he is called by the government or the defense–he is unavailable to both parties."
The Black Lives Matter protests have moved at such a swift pace in recent months that's it's hard for me to be certain when I first heard that a national call had been issued, and that January 15th would be a day of action aimed at reclaiming the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What I do remember clearly is what a young black organizer said as it was brought up in my presence for the first time: "If we're reclaiming his radical legacy, I'm in."
Chicago's young black organizers, who have mobilized with great speed and ingenuity since nationwide protests erupted in August, have been especially creative in their tactics and radical in their messaging. While some of the language employed in their chants and speak outs has included talk of indicting police officers like Darren Wilson, youth organizers from BYP 100 and We Charge Genocide, among others, have also broadened the dialogue around police violence to include the language of de-incarceration, transformative justice, and calls for an all out systems change.
2015's opening offers an appropriate time to examine high technology and its development of weapons of mass destruction and other threats to the Earth. My own background to write about these issues includes being raised in the Southern military family that gave its name to Ft. Bliss, Texas. I served briefly as an officer in the US Army, resigned my commission to protest the American War on Vietnam, and have engaged in an extensive study of the military. This includes teaching courses on "War and Peace" at Sonoma State University and contributing chapters and poems to half a dozen books on war.
The United States military has long had the fastest and most powerful supercomputers. The New York Times reported on June 9, 2008, that the military's "new machine is more than twice as fast as the previous fastest supercomputer, the IBV Blue Gen/L, which is based at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory," a national security and weapons center.
We need to slow the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact) approval process down until after the 2016 elections. After the final full terms are made public, the voters should decide this issue using our democratic electoral processes. We need this to be a campaign issue in the Senate, House and Presidential elections. It will increase voter turnout (which is good for American democracy) and give the decision real legitimacy.
There are many stakeholders in this deal. Large international corporations, domestic corporations, small businesses, American workers, farmers, consumers, citizens who care about the environment, those with intellectual property, citizens concerned with food safety, those concerned with preserving control of our economy as expressed via our democratic elections, taxpayers and many more elements of our society are stakeholders. Most of these stakeholders have been largely left out of the secretive process of drafting the TPP trade pact.
A radical feminist group's goal is reproductive sovereignty.
Sovereignty means being independent or autonomous. A nation is sovereign when it has its own set of laws that it can enforce within its boundaries without interference. A woman is sovereign when she can decide her own destiny without State interference.
The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 did not give women reproductive sovereignty; it gave us the right to an abortion, but States can regulate if, how and when we get abortion. For example, some State legislatures require minors to get parental consent, and now some States are closing down abortion clinics through oppressive regulations.
New York—More than 50 former state attorneys general today strongly urged the Federal Communications Commission to establish reasonable rates for prisoner phone calls to help prisoners maintain connections with family members, a factor known to reduce recidivism.
These former law enforcement officials—51 in all—signed on to a letter submitted to the FCC as part of the agency’s public comment session on a petition to have calls made within a state set at reasonable rates. The agency previously capped the price of prisoner phone calls between states. The letter was circulated by Columbia Law School’s National State Attorneys General Program and its director, James E. Tierney, who signed as the former Attorney General of Maine, in collaboration with the Human Rights Defense Center, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of people held in US detention facilities.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Americans were conditioned with the idea that the extraordinary growth in military expenditure for the U.S. to “win the arms race” with the USSR would somehow lead to a “peace dividend.” That’s what the elected officials of the United States and its NATO allies called it. Eventually the Soviet Union did collapse under the weight of its own economic dysfunction and hyper-militaristic bureaucracy. When the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, compelled by massive nonviolent noncooperation with the dictatorial regime, it seemed that the leaders of the world might finally declare the peace dividend we had all been expecting. Mankind as a whole seemed to have hope that the specter of nuclear war had vanished and that a constitutional democracy could operate as a benevolent superpower.
It wasn’t long before President Bush Sr. replaced the old war with a new one. The New York Times disclosed official transcripts of a conversation between US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, and Saddam Hussein where she said, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait. James Baker (Secretary of State) has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.”