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.
Freedom came early for former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge on Friday, February 13. It was expected that Burge would begin his parole on Valentine's Day, but it appears the system would rather not attend to such matters on a Saturday. So, rather than make Burge wait it out through a long weekend, the system cut this confirmed torturer yet another break, and gave him a head start on his new life.
And so it goes.
As an abolitionist, I do not expect justice from carceral solutions. But like anyone who values black and brown lives, I am always pained by the disparities that manifest themselves within this system, not because indictments or prison sentences heal societal wounds, but because the disproportionate administration of carceral penalties is a constant reminder that, under this system, some lives matter, while others are deemed utterly disposable.
President Obama sent language to Congress on Wednesday seeking an Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) for military action against ISIS, which seeks Congressional approval for war in the Middle East for the next three years.
National Priorities Project, a non-partisan and non-profit research group that tracks federal and military spending, released the following statement from Executive Director Doug Hall in response to the president's request.
Whether saying "I love you" or preparing to make that big commitment, a gift of jewelry can mean even more this Valentine’s Day. A new comprehensive survey of the jewelry retail industry, offers jewelry shoppers a way to make informed consumer choices and to support peace in war-torn Congo.
Tiffany & Co. and Signet Jewelers (parent company of retailers Zales, Jared, and Kay) are leading the way to help build a conflict-free gold trade and support mining communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Three other jewelry super-sellers, J.C. Penney, Cartier, and Target, are also taking important initial steps.
On Monday, February 9th, Matt DeHart’s parents, Paul and Leann, received notice by mail from the Refugee Protection Division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board that the family’s claim for Refugee Protection had been denied. The family fled the United States after Matt was interrogated and tortured during an FBI espionage investigation in which child pornography charges were hastily filed after Matt was detained at the Canadian border, an action which was triggered by an espionage alert.
The Refugee Protection Division determined that because they found no “credible and trustworthy evidence” to support the US government’s child pornography charges against Matt, the DeHarts weren’t excluded from refugee protection on the basis of those criminal charges. However, the determinative issue for the board was whether they considered the DeHarts would be afforded adequate protections by the United Sates.
The Growing Threat of Big Corporations and Multinationals
The corporation was a creation of government to provide a vehicle for economic growth. It was intended to provide a means of pooling capital from investors to develop businesses that would benefit the state by providing jobs and economic benefits.Corporations were more attractive to investors than partnerships because, in a corporation, the shareholders have no responsibility for the business's debts or other liabilities. Their potential losses are limited to their investment.
This Thursday, February 12th, representatives from all 28 EU member states will meet in Brussels to deliberate renewal of sanctions launched in response to Russian involvement in Ukraine. Regardless of the EU decision, one thing is clear: the strategy of economic sanctions has failed, as it historically always has. It's a tactic which harms the citizens of the targeted nation, but fails to pressure the leadership. And as one can see in Russia, sanctions often even reinforce the targeted leaders by feeding them a scapegoat for their problems.
President Obama in the State of the Union praised the sanctions "demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy," but the results don't look good: the war in Ukraine rages more violently than ever, with rebels capturing Donetsk Airport and shelling Mariupol; Kiev has been losing as much as $10 million a day and borrowed new funds from the IMF; so many Ukrainians flee to Russia that the parliament has authorized local commanders to shoot deserters and is considering drafting women; and Putin's popularity at home is as strong as ever. Though the ruble has collapsed, the pro-Russian foothold in Ukraine remains steadfast, and Obama's SOTU self-congratulation seems as unearned as Bush's 2003 "Mission Accomplished."
Washington, DC - In testimony (PDF) today at a hearing on aggregate campaign limits, two Public Citizen experts are urging the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to rein in out-of-control election spending.
Some of the remedies Public Citizen recommends came from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who supported the court decisions that have unraveled decades of campaign finance law even as he called on policymakers to shore up the system.
It was less than a year ago when the mainstream media was chock-full of headlines like this one: 'Brain changes associated with casual marijuana use in young adults, study finds.' The alarmist headlines were in response to a controversial paper published by researchers at Harvard University in Boston and Northwestern University in Chicago which alleged to have found differences in brain morphology in a cohort of 20 college-age marijuana users as compared to 20 non-users. The study's investigators attributed the differences to subjects' cannabis use.
But a funny thing happened when a team of scientists from the University of Colorado and the University of Kentucky tried to replicate these results in a separate, larger sample (158 participants) of subjects after rigorously controlling for both groups' use of alcohol.
In a video, recently removed from the Internet, the public relations firm Ketchum bragged about its success in spinning the media to get positive coverage of GMOs, and admitted “we closely monitor the conversation” on social media accounts of GMO skeptics. Ketchum is Russia’s PR firm in the United States.
In the video, Ketchum boasts about how, following its work, “positive media coverage has doubled” on GMOs, and “we’re now on the first page of [Google] search results.”
San Francisco— The Center for Biological Diversity today called on Gov. Jerry Brown to immediately shut down thousands of oil and gas wells that are illegally injecting fluids into protected California aquifers, as well as hundreds of illegally operating oil industry waste-disposal wells.
“The oil industry is contaminating California’s water supplies and violating federal law on a massive scale and it needs to end now,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “Gov. Brown has a moral and legal duty to immediately shut down every single illegal production and wastewater disposal well. The size of this problem shows how big a threat the oil industry’s toxic waste is to California’s precious water supplies.”