Wednesday, 04 May 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.

At Chevron's AGM in San Ramon, California today, 4 percent of shareholders supported the first-of-its-kind proposal to return capital to shareholders rather than pursue ever more risky carbon extraction investments.

Julian Poulter, CEO of the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP), said: "Big pension funds voting against Resolution 7 will look back and realise they missed an opportunity to limit wasted capital, which is surely more important than having the evidence to sack senior management once the carbon crash begins."

Across the country, in the face of mounting budget deficits, states are more aggressively going after poor people who have already served their criminal sentences and jailing them for failing to pay their legal debts. These modern-day debtors' prisons impose devastating human costs, waste taxpayer money and resources, undermine our criminal justice system, are racially skewed, and create a two-tiered system of justice.

Washington DC - The presidents of the AFL-CIO and North America's Building Trades Unions today sharply condemned Mayor Bill de Blasio's 421a proposal, which expands a lucrative tax giveaway for wealthy developers while failing to require a standard of middle-class wages for working families.

"Mayor de Blasio has been traveling the country talking about income inequality as the country's biggest problem," said Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions.

A new independent report on the state of human rights in Sri Lanka - the first since the end of the country's 26-year civil war in 2009 - finds that a silent war continues in which thousands of Tamils, mostly Hindus and Christians, are still internally displaced and subject to military occupation and fierce discrimination by the predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese majority.

The conflict ended violently after the government's bloody military offensive that led to the surrender of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and left widespread destruction, the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and the displacement of the entire population living in rebel-controlled territories.

What happens when a bunch of lawyers intent on distinguishing combatants from civilians discover, by interviewing hundreds of civilians, that it cannot be done?

Does it become legal to kill everyone or no one?

May 28

Wine Empire Replaces Redwood Empire

By Shepherd Bliss, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Northern California's Sonoma County has been known historically as part of the natural Redwood Empire. Wineindustry lobbyists re-branded it "Wine Country." Its economy has been so colonized by outside investors who extract water and resources from the environment and export their products and profits, that re-branding would be appropriate. A more accurate description would be that Sonoma County is now part of the multi-national WineEmpire.

Local residents and nature have been dominated by these outside investors; they reap the benefits, while the environment and residents pay the costs. They have de-localized, industrialized, commercialized, urbanized and commodified a once diverse agrarian place and culture with their excessive wine production and tourism.

For several decades, state and local governments have been showering private businesses with tax breaks and direct subsidies based on the theory that this practice fosters economic development and, therefore, job growth. But does it? New York State's experience indicates that, when it comes to producing jobs, corporate welfare programs are a bad investment. This should be instructive to state and local officials across the US.

In May 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with enormous fanfare, launched a campaign to establish Tax-Free NY - a scheme providing tax-free status for ten years to companies that moved onto or near the state's public college and university campuses.

Mr. Warren Buffet believes that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not the best answer to alleviatingpoverty in America. Instead, he calls for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and names this as a better alternative. All things considered, his suggestion makes as much sense as someone bringing a lone fire extinguisher to put out a forest fire.

The EITC is an excellent federal program, but its expansion is not a long-term solution to addressing poverty in America. A living wage is and will remain the best method to reduce poverty.

G7 finance ministers gather in Dresden, Germany, to discuss promoting "sustainable growth" in the face of growing globaldebt. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is among the ministers gathering. The meeting takes place amid debt crises in the Eurozone and the developing world. The ministers meet after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported slow economic growth and increased debt burdens during the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings.

"‎It's impossible to experience sustainable growth, when wealthy and poor countries are struggling with unsustainable debts," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, who is in Dresden for the meetings.

"Nope, nope, nope," was Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott's answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingyarefugees stranded at sea.

Abbott's logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world's most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. "Don't think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good," he said.

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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.

At Chevron's AGM in San Ramon, California today, 4 percent of shareholders supported the first-of-its-kind proposal to return capital to shareholders rather than pursue ever more risky carbon extraction investments.

Julian Poulter, CEO of the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP), said: "Big pension funds voting against Resolution 7 will look back and realise they missed an opportunity to limit wasted capital, which is surely more important than having the evidence to sack senior management once the carbon crash begins."

Across the country, in the face of mounting budget deficits, states are more aggressively going after poor people who have already served their criminal sentences and jailing them for failing to pay their legal debts. These modern-day debtors' prisons impose devastating human costs, waste taxpayer money and resources, undermine our criminal justice system, are racially skewed, and create a two-tiered system of justice.

Washington DC - The presidents of the AFL-CIO and North America's Building Trades Unions today sharply condemned Mayor Bill de Blasio's 421a proposal, which expands a lucrative tax giveaway for wealthy developers while failing to require a standard of middle-class wages for working families.

"Mayor de Blasio has been traveling the country talking about income inequality as the country's biggest problem," said Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions.

A new independent report on the state of human rights in Sri Lanka - the first since the end of the country's 26-year civil war in 2009 - finds that a silent war continues in which thousands of Tamils, mostly Hindus and Christians, are still internally displaced and subject to military occupation and fierce discrimination by the predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese majority.

The conflict ended violently after the government's bloody military offensive that led to the surrender of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and left widespread destruction, the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and the displacement of the entire population living in rebel-controlled territories.

What happens when a bunch of lawyers intent on distinguishing combatants from civilians discover, by interviewing hundreds of civilians, that it cannot be done?

Does it become legal to kill everyone or no one?

May 28

Wine Empire Replaces Redwood Empire

By Shepherd Bliss, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Northern California's Sonoma County has been known historically as part of the natural Redwood Empire. Wineindustry lobbyists re-branded it "Wine Country." Its economy has been so colonized by outside investors who extract water and resources from the environment and export their products and profits, that re-branding would be appropriate. A more accurate description would be that Sonoma County is now part of the multi-national WineEmpire.

Local residents and nature have been dominated by these outside investors; they reap the benefits, while the environment and residents pay the costs. They have de-localized, industrialized, commercialized, urbanized and commodified a once diverse agrarian place and culture with their excessive wine production and tourism.

For several decades, state and local governments have been showering private businesses with tax breaks and direct subsidies based on the theory that this practice fosters economic development and, therefore, job growth. But does it? New York State's experience indicates that, when it comes to producing jobs, corporate welfare programs are a bad investment. This should be instructive to state and local officials across the US.

In May 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with enormous fanfare, launched a campaign to establish Tax-Free NY - a scheme providing tax-free status for ten years to companies that moved onto or near the state's public college and university campuses.

Mr. Warren Buffet believes that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not the best answer to alleviatingpoverty in America. Instead, he calls for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and names this as a better alternative. All things considered, his suggestion makes as much sense as someone bringing a lone fire extinguisher to put out a forest fire.

The EITC is an excellent federal program, but its expansion is not a long-term solution to addressing poverty in America. A living wage is and will remain the best method to reduce poverty.

G7 finance ministers gather in Dresden, Germany, to discuss promoting "sustainable growth" in the face of growing globaldebt. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is among the ministers gathering. The meeting takes place amid debt crises in the Eurozone and the developing world. The ministers meet after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported slow economic growth and increased debt burdens during the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings.

"‎It's impossible to experience sustainable growth, when wealthy and poor countries are struggling with unsustainable debts," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, who is in Dresden for the meetings.

"Nope, nope, nope," was Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott's answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingyarefugees stranded at sea.

Abbott's logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world's most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. "Don't think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good," he said.