Tuesday, 27 September 2016 / 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 new report released today reveals the dramatic extent of the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying efforts towards EU decision-makers, withthe industry spending an estimated 15 times more than civil society actors working on public health or access to medicines.

"Policy prescriptions: the firepower of the EU pharmaceutical lobby and implications for public health" by Corporate Europe Observatory probes the privileged access to decision-making in Brussels enjoyed by the sector.

The heartbreaking pictures of three-year-old Aylan Kurdhi symbolize everything that is wrong with war. Following #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik ("humanity washed ashore") is a painful confrontation with what some might call the "collateral damage" of war. When we look at the images of this toddler through the tears in our eyes, it is time to deconstruct some myths about war. Aren't we used to hearing and believing that war is part of human nature; wars are fought for freedom and defense; wars are inevitable; and wars are fought between militaries?

Although grassroots activism has dealt it a blow, the Senate Intelligence Committee's Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) keeps shambling along like the zombie it is. In July, Senator McConnell vowed to hold a final vote on the bill before Congress left for its six-week long summer vacation. In response, EFF and over 20 other privacy groups ran a successful Week of Action, including over 6 million faxes opposing CISA, causing the Senate to postpone the vote until late September.

Sep 04

Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions

By Sylvia Frain, Speakout | News Analysis

On Saturday morning, August 29, 2015, the United States Navy signed the Record of Decision, the final document needed for the implementation of one of the largest "peacetime" military build-ups in US history. This will cost between $8 and 9 billion, with only $174 million for civilian infrastructure, which Congress has not released yet. As a central aspect of the United States' foreign policy "Pivot to the Pacific," the build-up will relocate thousands of Marines and their dependents from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam.

There were more US air strikes reported in Afghanistan in August than Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia combined. More than half the 32 reported attacks in Afghanistan came in the space of a week. The US was providing air support to Afghan security forces trying to stop a second district in the southern province of Helmand falling under Taliban control.

Sitting across the table confined to a wheelchair, Miguel spoke fondly of El Salvador. But his fond memories turned to anguish andgrief when he spoke of Ignacio Martin-Baro, and five other Jesuit brothers assassinated by US-trained Salvadoran death squads in 1989. Martin-Baro, a Jesuit psychologist, not only mirrored the popular protests against poverty and dehumanizing institutions that had marginalized the working poor and oppressed, but developed Liberation Psychology.

In the field I teach, Peace and Conflict Studies, we examine alternatives to violence or the threat of violence in the management of conflict. We are a transdisciplinary field, that is, we don't only draw from an interdisciplinary set of research findings - e.g. Anthropology, Economics, Education, History, Law, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology - but we do so with certain provisos.

Last week, the European Commission 'released' very heavily redacted documents concerning their contacts with the tobacco industry on EU trade negotiations, including the ongoing EU-Japan and EU-US trade talks. In all four documents (correspondence with and minutes of meetings with tobacco lobbyists) virtually all the content is removed (blacked out) including the names of all tobacco lobbyists and Commission officials involved.

In mid-September, UN member states are expected to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which picks up where the Millennium Development Goals left off. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, announcing the Agenda recently (August 3) after several years of lead-up and negotiations, called it the UN's "to-do list" for the next 15 years.

Imagine getting a "gratuity deduction" on taxes for tips at restaurants, barbershops, taxis, apartment maintenance staffers or governmental services (state, federal, local) rendered to us. Or "gifts" to expedite any kind of license, permit or ear of a public official. Or, if the move were to go global, reimbursements to the rural poor for having to pay private water companies.

GET DAILY TRUTHOUT UPDATES
Optional Member Code

FOLLOW togtorsstottofb


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 new report released today reveals the dramatic extent of the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying efforts towards EU decision-makers, withthe industry spending an estimated 15 times more than civil society actors working on public health or access to medicines.

"Policy prescriptions: the firepower of the EU pharmaceutical lobby and implications for public health" by Corporate Europe Observatory probes the privileged access to decision-making in Brussels enjoyed by the sector.

The heartbreaking pictures of three-year-old Aylan Kurdhi symbolize everything that is wrong with war. Following #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik ("humanity washed ashore") is a painful confrontation with what some might call the "collateral damage" of war. When we look at the images of this toddler through the tears in our eyes, it is time to deconstruct some myths about war. Aren't we used to hearing and believing that war is part of human nature; wars are fought for freedom and defense; wars are inevitable; and wars are fought between militaries?

Although grassroots activism has dealt it a blow, the Senate Intelligence Committee's Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) keeps shambling along like the zombie it is. In July, Senator McConnell vowed to hold a final vote on the bill before Congress left for its six-week long summer vacation. In response, EFF and over 20 other privacy groups ran a successful Week of Action, including over 6 million faxes opposing CISA, causing the Senate to postpone the vote until late September.

Sep 04

Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions

By Sylvia Frain, Speakout | News Analysis

On Saturday morning, August 29, 2015, the United States Navy signed the Record of Decision, the final document needed for the implementation of one of the largest "peacetime" military build-ups in US history. This will cost between $8 and 9 billion, with only $174 million for civilian infrastructure, which Congress has not released yet. As a central aspect of the United States' foreign policy "Pivot to the Pacific," the build-up will relocate thousands of Marines and their dependents from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam.

There were more US air strikes reported in Afghanistan in August than Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia combined. More than half the 32 reported attacks in Afghanistan came in the space of a week. The US was providing air support to Afghan security forces trying to stop a second district in the southern province of Helmand falling under Taliban control.

Sitting across the table confined to a wheelchair, Miguel spoke fondly of El Salvador. But his fond memories turned to anguish andgrief when he spoke of Ignacio Martin-Baro, and five other Jesuit brothers assassinated by US-trained Salvadoran death squads in 1989. Martin-Baro, a Jesuit psychologist, not only mirrored the popular protests against poverty and dehumanizing institutions that had marginalized the working poor and oppressed, but developed Liberation Psychology.

In the field I teach, Peace and Conflict Studies, we examine alternatives to violence or the threat of violence in the management of conflict. We are a transdisciplinary field, that is, we don't only draw from an interdisciplinary set of research findings - e.g. Anthropology, Economics, Education, History, Law, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology - but we do so with certain provisos.

Last week, the European Commission 'released' very heavily redacted documents concerning their contacts with the tobacco industry on EU trade negotiations, including the ongoing EU-Japan and EU-US trade talks. In all four documents (correspondence with and minutes of meetings with tobacco lobbyists) virtually all the content is removed (blacked out) including the names of all tobacco lobbyists and Commission officials involved.

In mid-September, UN member states are expected to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which picks up where the Millennium Development Goals left off. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, announcing the Agenda recently (August 3) after several years of lead-up and negotiations, called it the UN's "to-do list" for the next 15 years.

Imagine getting a "gratuity deduction" on taxes for tips at restaurants, barbershops, taxis, apartment maintenance staffers or governmental services (state, federal, local) rendered to us. Or "gifts" to expedite any kind of license, permit or ear of a public official. Or, if the move were to go global, reimbursements to the rural poor for having to pay private water companies.