Thursday, 29 September 2016 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

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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.

Last August the president began his air war against the Islamic State, which controls two Iraqi provincial capitals and the city of Falluja. Obama declared that his purpose was to "dismantle" the IS. By April of this year, the Pentagon's 4,050 missile and bombing strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria had cost over $2.1 billion, over $8 million a day, but without any success. Then on May 16, after assuring the country that "I will not allow the US to be dragged into another war in Iraq," the president sent a group of US commandos on their first raid into Syria. Since Congress has not declared war, this unauthorized attack and intensification would make Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon proud. Can the Nobel Committee withdraw a Peace Prize for cause?

Jun 25

Snake Oil Won't Cure Inequality

By Jim Hightower, OtherWords | Op-Ed

At last, America's political leaders now feel the pain of the poor and empathize with the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class.

For years, politicians paid no attention to the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. But it's recently emerged as a central issue for such Republican presidential contenders as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. They're publicly lamenting the wealth gap and - by golly - proposing solutions.

As the centennial anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement rapidly approaches, the time is now to reflect upon its vast implications. Officially recognized as the Asia Minor Agreement, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was negotiated and agreed upon between 1915 and 16 by the British diplomat Mark Sykes and the French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Arab provinces outside of the Arabian Peninsula were divided into two regions. Region (a) was placed under the French "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Syria and Jordan; region (b) was placed under the British "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Iraq. 

Like many millions of Americans, I will not be voting in the 2016 presidential election. And while the pundits bemoan voter apathy as a leading cause for the mass no-shows on Election Day, I will be on the sidelines because I will not be permitted to participate. I am a felon, and in prison, and even when I am released, I might never be allowed to vote again.

Though the election is over a year away, with the recent announcements of both Democratic and Republican potential nominees, the question of the disenfranchisement of over 5 million American citizens has once again come to the fore. It doesn't seem possible that millions of Americans have been stripped of their right to participate in that most fundamental duty and right of citizenship: the right to vote. But that's a reality that I, and millions of others convicted of crimes, face upon release from prison. And it's the question Americans need to ask of themselves: do they want to see felons completely disengaged from the society they are re-entering, or do they want to see a population "connected to civic life"?

As crews continue to clean Santa Barbara beaches from the 100,000-gallon oil spill that began when a corroded pipeline ruptured off Refugio State Beach on May 19, environmental and community groups are urging Governor Jerry Brown and state officials to stop increased offshore drilling that would depend on the same oil pipeline that burst last month. 

While Governor Brown, other state officlals and the mainstream media continue to falsely portray California as a "green" state, the devastation of the oilspill shows the fragility of California's ocean waters - and exposes the failure of state and federal  officials to stop a disaster like this, due to the capture of the state's regulatory apparatus by Big Oil.

According to the mostly ignored and hardly covered piece of news from a couple of weeks ago, it turns out that 11 of the 28 European Union countries have been scolded by the European Commission for failing to implement a new set of rules intended to prop up failed banks. Known as the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), the stated purpose of the newly required rules is to purportedly protect taxpayers from having to cover the losses of any possible future bank failures, similar to the failures that occurred back in 2008. Taking the place of the more conventional taxpayer-funded "bail-outs," banks would see their losses recapitalized with the newly-minted practice of the "bail-in."

A bail-in, in case you aren't familiar with it, is the emerging alternative to the well-known bail-out. Back in 2008 when a slew of "too big to fail" (TBTF) banks crumbled due to $147 barrels of oil and the bursting of the housing bubble, the entire financial system was put at risk and was deemed to be in need of a rescue. What occurred was an influx of money from outside sources to cover the bank losses, one example being the $700 billion life-line from the US government (which essentially means from the US taxpayer). This is known as a bail-out.

Washington, DC – The dome was encased in a rigid web of scaffolding as I rushed by. Looking up at it on my way to the corner of Independence Avenue and New Jersey Avenue SE, I saw a country trying to hide a fatal illness. It's beyond repair, I mumbled to myself, thinking about the deep underlying rot I see everywhere I look.

Walking in the shadow of the Capitol Building in the day's rising heat, my ears were still ringing. Made uneasy by the inadequate yet intensifying public scrutiny faced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the captive government agency that receives its funding from the very industry it purports to regulate, the rule-makers there no longer allow its outspoken critics inside the room where monthly public meetings are held. Instead, we're relegated to an overflow room where we have to watch the meeting's proceedings on a screen. That's where I'd just come from.

Jun 24

Peace Activists Relaunch Protest Ship

By Arnold Oliver, PeaceVoice | News Analysis

Along the rugged coast of northern California's Humboldt County, maritime history is being made. June 20th marked the launch ceremony of the rebuilt sailing ketch, the Golden Rule, after four years of hard work by a restoration team led by Veterans for Peace. As we shall see, the Golden Rule is no ordinary sailboat.

If you are old enough, you may recall that in the 1950's, the U.S. military used the Marshall Islands as the primary site for its atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. As is now known, those huge nuclear detonations in the Western Pacific were wreaking havoc on the environment and human health. In fact, with each monstrous explosion, readily detectable clouds of radioactive fallout wafted around the planet, and contamination began to turn up in cows' and mothers' milk. Increasingly, skepticism grew about government assurances that there was no danger.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member and activist Scott Olsen was the featured guest on Tim "Sole" Holland's podcast titled Solecast on June 3, 2015. The Occupy Wall Street movement galvanized after the life-threatening attack on Olsen when he was put into a coma after being hit in the head with a bean bag round shot by police at an Occupy Oakland protest on October 25, 2011. In March 2015, Olsen was awarded 4.5 million by the city of Oakland after a federal lawsuit was filed concerning his injury. Olsen discussed IVAW, militarization of the police, Occupy Oakland, ISIS, the surveillance state and creating cultures of resistance. 

Pakistan needs to be consistent on Muslim hot-zones worldwide and not just in Palestine.

The Rohingya Muslim situation offers Pakistan two distinct choices: It can either sever diplomatic ties with Myanmar over the "slow genocide," orrecognize the Jewish State of Israel as extending to its pre-1967 borders. A failure to act now will confirm Pakistan's status as a money-stuffed mouthpiece of the Arab League. 

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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.

Last August the president began his air war against the Islamic State, which controls two Iraqi provincial capitals and the city of Falluja. Obama declared that his purpose was to "dismantle" the IS. By April of this year, the Pentagon's 4,050 missile and bombing strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria had cost over $2.1 billion, over $8 million a day, but without any success. Then on May 16, after assuring the country that "I will not allow the US to be dragged into another war in Iraq," the president sent a group of US commandos on their first raid into Syria. Since Congress has not declared war, this unauthorized attack and intensification would make Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon proud. Can the Nobel Committee withdraw a Peace Prize for cause?

Jun 25

Snake Oil Won't Cure Inequality

By Jim Hightower, OtherWords | Op-Ed

At last, America's political leaders now feel the pain of the poor and empathize with the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class.

For years, politicians paid no attention to the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. But it's recently emerged as a central issue for such Republican presidential contenders as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. They're publicly lamenting the wealth gap and - by golly - proposing solutions.

As the centennial anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement rapidly approaches, the time is now to reflect upon its vast implications. Officially recognized as the Asia Minor Agreement, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was negotiated and agreed upon between 1915 and 16 by the British diplomat Mark Sykes and the French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Arab provinces outside of the Arabian Peninsula were divided into two regions. Region (a) was placed under the French "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Syria and Jordan; region (b) was placed under the British "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Iraq. 

Like many millions of Americans, I will not be voting in the 2016 presidential election. And while the pundits bemoan voter apathy as a leading cause for the mass no-shows on Election Day, I will be on the sidelines because I will not be permitted to participate. I am a felon, and in prison, and even when I am released, I might never be allowed to vote again.

Though the election is over a year away, with the recent announcements of both Democratic and Republican potential nominees, the question of the disenfranchisement of over 5 million American citizens has once again come to the fore. It doesn't seem possible that millions of Americans have been stripped of their right to participate in that most fundamental duty and right of citizenship: the right to vote. But that's a reality that I, and millions of others convicted of crimes, face upon release from prison. And it's the question Americans need to ask of themselves: do they want to see felons completely disengaged from the society they are re-entering, or do they want to see a population "connected to civic life"?

As crews continue to clean Santa Barbara beaches from the 100,000-gallon oil spill that began when a corroded pipeline ruptured off Refugio State Beach on May 19, environmental and community groups are urging Governor Jerry Brown and state officials to stop increased offshore drilling that would depend on the same oil pipeline that burst last month. 

While Governor Brown, other state officlals and the mainstream media continue to falsely portray California as a "green" state, the devastation of the oilspill shows the fragility of California's ocean waters - and exposes the failure of state and federal  officials to stop a disaster like this, due to the capture of the state's regulatory apparatus by Big Oil.

According to the mostly ignored and hardly covered piece of news from a couple of weeks ago, it turns out that 11 of the 28 European Union countries have been scolded by the European Commission for failing to implement a new set of rules intended to prop up failed banks. Known as the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), the stated purpose of the newly required rules is to purportedly protect taxpayers from having to cover the losses of any possible future bank failures, similar to the failures that occurred back in 2008. Taking the place of the more conventional taxpayer-funded "bail-outs," banks would see their losses recapitalized with the newly-minted practice of the "bail-in."

A bail-in, in case you aren't familiar with it, is the emerging alternative to the well-known bail-out. Back in 2008 when a slew of "too big to fail" (TBTF) banks crumbled due to $147 barrels of oil and the bursting of the housing bubble, the entire financial system was put at risk and was deemed to be in need of a rescue. What occurred was an influx of money from outside sources to cover the bank losses, one example being the $700 billion life-line from the US government (which essentially means from the US taxpayer). This is known as a bail-out.

Washington, DC – The dome was encased in a rigid web of scaffolding as I rushed by. Looking up at it on my way to the corner of Independence Avenue and New Jersey Avenue SE, I saw a country trying to hide a fatal illness. It's beyond repair, I mumbled to myself, thinking about the deep underlying rot I see everywhere I look.

Walking in the shadow of the Capitol Building in the day's rising heat, my ears were still ringing. Made uneasy by the inadequate yet intensifying public scrutiny faced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the captive government agency that receives its funding from the very industry it purports to regulate, the rule-makers there no longer allow its outspoken critics inside the room where monthly public meetings are held. Instead, we're relegated to an overflow room where we have to watch the meeting's proceedings on a screen. That's where I'd just come from.

Jun 24

Peace Activists Relaunch Protest Ship

By Arnold Oliver, PeaceVoice | News Analysis

Along the rugged coast of northern California's Humboldt County, maritime history is being made. June 20th marked the launch ceremony of the rebuilt sailing ketch, the Golden Rule, after four years of hard work by a restoration team led by Veterans for Peace. As we shall see, the Golden Rule is no ordinary sailboat.

If you are old enough, you may recall that in the 1950's, the U.S. military used the Marshall Islands as the primary site for its atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. As is now known, those huge nuclear detonations in the Western Pacific were wreaking havoc on the environment and human health. In fact, with each monstrous explosion, readily detectable clouds of radioactive fallout wafted around the planet, and contamination began to turn up in cows' and mothers' milk. Increasingly, skepticism grew about government assurances that there was no danger.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member and activist Scott Olsen was the featured guest on Tim "Sole" Holland's podcast titled Solecast on June 3, 2015. The Occupy Wall Street movement galvanized after the life-threatening attack on Olsen when he was put into a coma after being hit in the head with a bean bag round shot by police at an Occupy Oakland protest on October 25, 2011. In March 2015, Olsen was awarded 4.5 million by the city of Oakland after a federal lawsuit was filed concerning his injury. Olsen discussed IVAW, militarization of the police, Occupy Oakland, ISIS, the surveillance state and creating cultures of resistance. 

Pakistan needs to be consistent on Muslim hot-zones worldwide and not just in Palestine.

The Rohingya Muslim situation offers Pakistan two distinct choices: It can either sever diplomatic ties with Myanmar over the "slow genocide," orrecognize the Jewish State of Israel as extending to its pre-1967 borders. A failure to act now will confirm Pakistan's status as a money-stuffed mouthpiece of the Arab League.