Wednesday, 29 June 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.

Commenting on the release of a newaccount by a Guantanamo detainee of his torture at the hands of the CIA, Cori Crider, an attorney at international human rights NGO Reprieve - which represents victims of rendition and torture operations - said:

"It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study." 

Today, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill passed by the House last month that ends the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel, co-directors of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, are available for your coverage.

"For the first time since 9/11, Congress has placed significant limits on the government's ability to spy on Americans," said Elizabeth Goitein. "Once signed into law, the USA Freedom Act will end the NSA's indiscriminate collection of Americans' phone records. If faithfully implemented, it will also narrow the collection of other types of business records under Section 215 and other foreign intelligence authorities. It will introduce a measure of transparency into FISA Court decisions and give the court's judges the option of conducting more balanced proceedings."

The research is in! An extensive Princeton University study shows that the American people have no impact on which laws get passed. Lee Camp breaks down the specifics and explains why this means we should be more active and less apathetic than ever before!

Poverty is on the rise in America and is creating a phenomenon known as the "poverty trap." Public schools are having to deal with its negative effects more and more every year. This is important for schools because poverty greatly decreases student learning ability, and public schools and teachers must become more creative at finding ways to mitigate the negative effects of poverty in the classroom. During an era of increasing public education "reform," it's important to keep poverty in mind as a factor of student achievement.

The US is currently one of only three countries in the OECD community (out of 34) that spend as little on welfare for families in poverty, that do as little for helping children in poverty, and that do not equalize educational opportunity for children in poor communities (1). This must change if the United States is going to be economically competitive with other industrialized countries in the future.

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry's interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

Jun 02

On Ramstein: An Open Letter From US Citizens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

By Elsa Rassbach, Judith Bello, Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern, SpeakOut | Open Letter

This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.

The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported byThe Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.

I first met Ahmed in early 2012, in a small park in Gaza's Shuja'ya neighborhood - a place where my friends and I usually meet whenever there is a power cut in our neighborhood. The night air was dry and cool and I was waiting for my friends to arrive. On that particular day, however, they were late. Being the person I am, I patiently waited for them. I found a medium-sized rock with a flat surface at the corner of the park and decided to sit while I lost myself in a sea of thoughts. I was planning a prank to scare one of my best friends, Hamza.

In the still darkness, I was sure nobody would ever notice me. I saw someone approaching and immediately thought of Hamza. I could already feel the excitement deep in the pit of my stomach as I imagined his face when I pulled my prank on him. But much to my surprise, I saw Ahmed instead.

Jun 01

"Mad Max": Beyond Furiosa

By Dawn Tefft, Truthout | Film Review

Make no mistake, Mad Max: Fury Road is resplendent with women kicking ass. Some of the most powerful images in the film are of Imperator Furiosa smearing engine oil on her head, making tough decisions about strategy in the middle of battle and shooting men dead. But the movie features even more feminist elements than assigning guns and strategic minds to women.

Mad Max: Fury Road, unlike most movies in any genre, but especially the action genre, shows that women can occupy a range of roles. Whereas Katie McDonough, writing in Salon, sees the feminist bent of the movie undermined to a certain degree by the personalities of the wives in the movie, their characters actually create a necessary space for the idea that women can be strong even without adopting speech and actions culturally associated with manhood.

In the same region where questionable "marine protected areas" were created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, state and federal government crews are cleaning up a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline spans four miles wide and there is still some seepage, according to authorities.

Jun 01

Does Egypt Have a Government?

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

Military officers often take over countries, but only a fool would call the result a government. Governments do not have to be democratic, but they do have to be rule-based. The rules can come in the form of generic laws or customs, but in all cases they have to be promulgated, that is, be publicly set forth. In addition, obedience to the rules has to rest on something more than fear. If whatever system is running the show is subject to the whim of an individual or group of individuals, or operates through rules known only to the police, or relies mostly on terror, it is not a government. It is a despotism of some sort. Most instances of military rule fit the description of despotism. Speaking of such regimes as governments is just so much nonsense.  

By the way, dictionary definitions of government are usually inadequate, restricting themselves to vague statements like "a particular system used to control a country." If the mafia took over Italy, would you understand their form of control as government?

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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.

Commenting on the release of a newaccount by a Guantanamo detainee of his torture at the hands of the CIA, Cori Crider, an attorney at international human rights NGO Reprieve - which represents victims of rendition and torture operations - said:

"It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study." 

Today, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill passed by the House last month that ends the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel, co-directors of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, are available for your coverage.

"For the first time since 9/11, Congress has placed significant limits on the government's ability to spy on Americans," said Elizabeth Goitein. "Once signed into law, the USA Freedom Act will end the NSA's indiscriminate collection of Americans' phone records. If faithfully implemented, it will also narrow the collection of other types of business records under Section 215 and other foreign intelligence authorities. It will introduce a measure of transparency into FISA Court decisions and give the court's judges the option of conducting more balanced proceedings."

The research is in! An extensive Princeton University study shows that the American people have no impact on which laws get passed. Lee Camp breaks down the specifics and explains why this means we should be more active and less apathetic than ever before!

Poverty is on the rise in America and is creating a phenomenon known as the "poverty trap." Public schools are having to deal with its negative effects more and more every year. This is important for schools because poverty greatly decreases student learning ability, and public schools and teachers must become more creative at finding ways to mitigate the negative effects of poverty in the classroom. During an era of increasing public education "reform," it's important to keep poverty in mind as a factor of student achievement.

The US is currently one of only three countries in the OECD community (out of 34) that spend as little on welfare for families in poverty, that do as little for helping children in poverty, and that do not equalize educational opportunity for children in poor communities (1). This must change if the United States is going to be economically competitive with other industrialized countries in the future.

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry's interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

Jun 02

On Ramstein: An Open Letter From US Citizens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

By Elsa Rassbach, Judith Bello, Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern, SpeakOut | Open Letter

This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.

The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported byThe Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.

I first met Ahmed in early 2012, in a small park in Gaza's Shuja'ya neighborhood - a place where my friends and I usually meet whenever there is a power cut in our neighborhood. The night air was dry and cool and I was waiting for my friends to arrive. On that particular day, however, they were late. Being the person I am, I patiently waited for them. I found a medium-sized rock with a flat surface at the corner of the park and decided to sit while I lost myself in a sea of thoughts. I was planning a prank to scare one of my best friends, Hamza.

In the still darkness, I was sure nobody would ever notice me. I saw someone approaching and immediately thought of Hamza. I could already feel the excitement deep in the pit of my stomach as I imagined his face when I pulled my prank on him. But much to my surprise, I saw Ahmed instead.

Jun 01

"Mad Max": Beyond Furiosa

By Dawn Tefft, Truthout | Film Review

Make no mistake, Mad Max: Fury Road is resplendent with women kicking ass. Some of the most powerful images in the film are of Imperator Furiosa smearing engine oil on her head, making tough decisions about strategy in the middle of battle and shooting men dead. But the movie features even more feminist elements than assigning guns and strategic minds to women.

Mad Max: Fury Road, unlike most movies in any genre, but especially the action genre, shows that women can occupy a range of roles. Whereas Katie McDonough, writing in Salon, sees the feminist bent of the movie undermined to a certain degree by the personalities of the wives in the movie, their characters actually create a necessary space for the idea that women can be strong even without adopting speech and actions culturally associated with manhood.

In the same region where questionable "marine protected areas" were created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, state and federal government crews are cleaning up a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline spans four miles wide and there is still some seepage, according to authorities.

Jun 01

Does Egypt Have a Government?

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

Military officers often take over countries, but only a fool would call the result a government. Governments do not have to be democratic, but they do have to be rule-based. The rules can come in the form of generic laws or customs, but in all cases they have to be promulgated, that is, be publicly set forth. In addition, obedience to the rules has to rest on something more than fear. If whatever system is running the show is subject to the whim of an individual or group of individuals, or operates through rules known only to the police, or relies mostly on terror, it is not a government. It is a despotism of some sort. Most instances of military rule fit the description of despotism. Speaking of such regimes as governments is just so much nonsense.  

By the way, dictionary definitions of government are usually inadequate, restricting themselves to vague statements like "a particular system used to control a country." If the mafia took over Italy, would you understand their form of control as government?