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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.

Apr 02

Shame

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough.

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

The Ukraine conflict continues to fester, raising tensions in the region to levels not seen since the Cold War. Now the warring parties have agreed to a cease-fire and an approach to further negotiations towards a political solution. Despite this opportunity to move towards peace, the United States, NATO and Russia are throwing fuel on the fire.

The US is sending troops to Ukraine to train Ukraine's armed forces, NATO is holding joint military maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and Russia is conducting massive exercises of its own that include forward deployment of nuclear-capable missiles and bombers. It's time for the countries that are providing support from outsideUkraine to halt and reverse all actions that contribute to this warand to the growing confrontation in Europe.

Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka "Pygmies" and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse.

These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers - and sometimes soldiers and police - who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support.

Chicago, Illinois - In an unprecedented act of political repression, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointees at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) have banned CTA workers from sharing literature related to the 2015 Mayoral race.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 10,000 CTA employees and has endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor, CTA posted memos in bus garages and rail terminals barring employees from communications normally protected by the First Amendment. CTA's General Counsel also penned letters warning that fines could be issued if off-duty workers handed out literature to their co-workers in non-work areas of CTA property.

Sixteen major media organizations and human rights organization Reprieve have today asked a US federal court to dismiss a White House attempt to suppress classified videos of force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay.
 
In a series of filings today at the DC Court of Appeals, lawyers for Reprieve and the media outlets - which include the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press and Reuters - asked the court to dismiss an appeal by the Obama Administration against a landmark ruling last year ordering the videotapes to be made public.

Apr 01

Coming to America?

By DH Garrett, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I wonder when we will arrive…

We've been here a few hundred years already (Native Americans aside) and yet very few of us have really set foot on this continent. Jackboots yes. Bare - caressing, vulnerable, sensitive, strong- bare feet, no. We are certainly "on" the continent: we've clear-cut it, mountain-top removed it, asphalted it, concreted it, bulldozed it, mined it, terra-formed it, damned it, sucked it dry, shit industrial shit on it, mono-cropped it, and murdered entire species and cultures; all to fill some primal need for our own creature comforts, at the expense of the comfort of all other creatures and that of most of our fellow human beings.

Washington, DC – With monsters on the loose slinging blobs of corporate cash, frantic investors ask, "Who can rescue us from this dark money menace?" In the crowd, a woman remembers rumors that the chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has special powers to curb corporate political spending. "Mary Jo White is the superhero we need to end this menace," another onlooker shouts. "Where is Mary Jo White?"

That's the narrative of a month-long ad campaign launched today by investors and public interest organizations. The goal is to persuade the SEC to require publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending.

The UK government is refusing to guarantee that it will not misuse the intercepted lawyer-client communications of two renditionvictims in their legal cases again the British government.

Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, from Pakistan, are bringing legal action against the Britishgovernment for its complicity in their torture and rendition. The men were captured in Iraq in 2004 by British forces, before being rendered by the US to Bagram prison, Afghanistan. They endured a decade of secret US detention and torture in Bagram before their release last May without charge or trial.

U.S. Right to Know sent letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting aninvestigation of a possible cover up for Monsanto, and whether USDA scientists are being harassed when their work runs counter to the interests of the agrichemical industry.

The letters are in reaction to a March 27 Reuters article that, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, "some scientists working for the federal government are finding their research restricted or censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests."

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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.

Apr 02

Shame

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough.

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

The Ukraine conflict continues to fester, raising tensions in the region to levels not seen since the Cold War. Now the warring parties have agreed to a cease-fire and an approach to further negotiations towards a political solution. Despite this opportunity to move towards peace, the United States, NATO and Russia are throwing fuel on the fire.

The US is sending troops to Ukraine to train Ukraine's armed forces, NATO is holding joint military maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and Russia is conducting massive exercises of its own that include forward deployment of nuclear-capable missiles and bombers. It's time for the countries that are providing support from outsideUkraine to halt and reverse all actions that contribute to this warand to the growing confrontation in Europe.

Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka "Pygmies" and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse.

These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers - and sometimes soldiers and police - who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support.

Chicago, Illinois - In an unprecedented act of political repression, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointees at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) have banned CTA workers from sharing literature related to the 2015 Mayoral race.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 10,000 CTA employees and has endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor, CTA posted memos in bus garages and rail terminals barring employees from communications normally protected by the First Amendment. CTA's General Counsel also penned letters warning that fines could be issued if off-duty workers handed out literature to their co-workers in non-work areas of CTA property.

Sixteen major media organizations and human rights organization Reprieve have today asked a US federal court to dismiss a White House attempt to suppress classified videos of force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay.
 
In a series of filings today at the DC Court of Appeals, lawyers for Reprieve and the media outlets - which include the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press and Reuters - asked the court to dismiss an appeal by the Obama Administration against a landmark ruling last year ordering the videotapes to be made public.

Apr 01

Coming to America?

By DH Garrett, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I wonder when we will arrive…

We've been here a few hundred years already (Native Americans aside) and yet very few of us have really set foot on this continent. Jackboots yes. Bare - caressing, vulnerable, sensitive, strong- bare feet, no. We are certainly "on" the continent: we've clear-cut it, mountain-top removed it, asphalted it, concreted it, bulldozed it, mined it, terra-formed it, damned it, sucked it dry, shit industrial shit on it, mono-cropped it, and murdered entire species and cultures; all to fill some primal need for our own creature comforts, at the expense of the comfort of all other creatures and that of most of our fellow human beings.

Washington, DC – With monsters on the loose slinging blobs of corporate cash, frantic investors ask, "Who can rescue us from this dark money menace?" In the crowd, a woman remembers rumors that the chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has special powers to curb corporate political spending. "Mary Jo White is the superhero we need to end this menace," another onlooker shouts. "Where is Mary Jo White?"

That's the narrative of a month-long ad campaign launched today by investors and public interest organizations. The goal is to persuade the SEC to require publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending.

The UK government is refusing to guarantee that it will not misuse the intercepted lawyer-client communications of two renditionvictims in their legal cases again the British government.

Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, from Pakistan, are bringing legal action against the Britishgovernment for its complicity in their torture and rendition. The men were captured in Iraq in 2004 by British forces, before being rendered by the US to Bagram prison, Afghanistan. They endured a decade of secret US detention and torture in Bagram before their release last May without charge or trial.

U.S. Right to Know sent letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting aninvestigation of a possible cover up for Monsanto, and whether USDA scientists are being harassed when their work runs counter to the interests of the agrichemical industry.

The letters are in reaction to a March 27 Reuters article that, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, "some scientists working for the federal government are finding their research restricted or censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests."