Thursday, 03 September 2015 / 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.

Sonoma County Winegrowers bought an expensive, full-page, color ad, using tax dollars, this July in the daily Santa Rosa Press Democrat and in various weeklies. It ignited a firestorm of protest with angry letters to editors and online comments storming publications that ran it.

The ad, which ran on July 12, claims that the industry is "sustainable" and "growing a better place to live, work and play." It offers no proof or third party verification by an independent agency not employed by the wine industry.

The Koch Bros. have a new and exciting way in which they want to destroy America. It has to do with the fact that they're frustrated they can't buy our national parks. Step one - put astroturf op-eds in local newspapers as well as the NY Times. Step two - Tear apart the remaining green space in the country. 

Compelled by this research and evidence, the US Congress took the important step of including language in the 2014 and 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that would prevent aid to Ethiopia from supporting activities that result in forced evictions.

Despite such moves, all who speak out against such atrocities are labeled as terrorists and locked up in Ethiopian jails. Mr. Okello Akway Ochalla, the former governor of Gambella, is one such individual who has been languishing in the Kilinto prison for over a year now following his kidnapping from South Sudan by Ethiopian security forces.

Montana - where I'm fortunate to live and work - is often called "the last best place." The moniker is a tribute to what makes our state unique: vast expanses of undeveloped land on a scale that can be found in few places in the lower 48. This unspoiled wildness makes Montana an incredible place to explore and an invaluable area for wildlife conservation.

In the northwest corner of the state is a place that epitomizes some of the best features of our nation's remaining wild spaces.

Separated by over 500 miles, Detroit and Baltimore share a few common qualities. Both once thriving steel towns, the cities now face major economic problems. While a recent Pew poll ranked Detroit worse than Baltimore across several important indicators such as unemployment, median household income, poverty and those without health insurance, both of these cities with large African-American populations are hurting. This is particularly evidenced by one indicator not featured in Pew's poll that nonetheless speaks volumes about the overall health of each city - residents of both cannot afford to pay their water bills.

Jul 20

The Iran Engagement Critics

By Mel Gurtov, Speakout | Op-Ed

One of the predictable outcomes of any US effort to reset relations with an adversary is that allies start whining about their vulnerability and demanding some sort of compensation for it. Thus, no sooner was the nuclear deal with Iran concluded than the Israelis, Saudis and other Middle East partners criticize it as representing abandonment and emboldening Iran to become a stronger meddler in neighbors' affairs. All sorts of dire predictions about horrendous consequences are already on record, clearly intended to influence the Obama administration to give these folks something for their pain - like money, arms (both of which they get in abundance) and especially new commitments.

Over the last several years, a surprising number of high-ranking military officers have been investigated, punished or fired over conduct unbecoming, sexual harassment, sexual violence, retaliation against subordinates, recruiting fraud and financial improprieties. In 2014, a Pentagon study found that reports of rapes and sexual assaults in the military increased 8 percent, and this came on the heels of a 50 percent increase in reported rapes and sexual assaults in 2013.

Since the Wall Street banks nearly destroyed the American and global financial system in 2008, families and consumers of all walks of life have found themselves working harder than ever before. The collapse of the economy has taken a toll on so many levels of our daily lives - our communities, retirement funds, consumer culture, the way we view our government, basic lifestyle needs, our hope as a democracy.

Supporters of Paul Singer, an US billionaire hedge fund manager, will describe him as an esteemed investor, philanthropist and tireless political activist. Mr. Singer's critics however, commonly refer to him as a fundraising terrorist, vulture capitalist and the "inventor of vulture funds," due to his infamous practice of finding countries in dire economic distress, buying its debt and demanding full payment.

These nefarious vulture funds have acquired millions of dollars from developing countries all over the world thus leaving the countries in a worse economic state.

When we began our project "Women Cross the DMZ," we knew the landmines in the DMZ would be nothing compared to the explosions of anger, vitriol and hate from those who oppose any contact with North Korea. Some US and South Korean government officials, academics, media talking heads and paid bloggers would have their knives out for any group that dared challenge the dangerous status quo on the Korean peninsula. No surprise that the knives have been attempting to slice away at the remarkable worldwide publicity our trip to both North and South Korea created.

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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.

Sonoma County Winegrowers bought an expensive, full-page, color ad, using tax dollars, this July in the daily Santa Rosa Press Democrat and in various weeklies. It ignited a firestorm of protest with angry letters to editors and online comments storming publications that ran it.

The ad, which ran on July 12, claims that the industry is "sustainable" and "growing a better place to live, work and play." It offers no proof or third party verification by an independent agency not employed by the wine industry.

The Koch Bros. have a new and exciting way in which they want to destroy America. It has to do with the fact that they're frustrated they can't buy our national parks. Step one - put astroturf op-eds in local newspapers as well as the NY Times. Step two - Tear apart the remaining green space in the country. 

Compelled by this research and evidence, the US Congress took the important step of including language in the 2014 and 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that would prevent aid to Ethiopia from supporting activities that result in forced evictions.

Despite such moves, all who speak out against such atrocities are labeled as terrorists and locked up in Ethiopian jails. Mr. Okello Akway Ochalla, the former governor of Gambella, is one such individual who has been languishing in the Kilinto prison for over a year now following his kidnapping from South Sudan by Ethiopian security forces.

Montana - where I'm fortunate to live and work - is often called "the last best place." The moniker is a tribute to what makes our state unique: vast expanses of undeveloped land on a scale that can be found in few places in the lower 48. This unspoiled wildness makes Montana an incredible place to explore and an invaluable area for wildlife conservation.

In the northwest corner of the state is a place that epitomizes some of the best features of our nation's remaining wild spaces.

Separated by over 500 miles, Detroit and Baltimore share a few common qualities. Both once thriving steel towns, the cities now face major economic problems. While a recent Pew poll ranked Detroit worse than Baltimore across several important indicators such as unemployment, median household income, poverty and those without health insurance, both of these cities with large African-American populations are hurting. This is particularly evidenced by one indicator not featured in Pew's poll that nonetheless speaks volumes about the overall health of each city - residents of both cannot afford to pay their water bills.

Jul 20

The Iran Engagement Critics

By Mel Gurtov, Speakout | Op-Ed

One of the predictable outcomes of any US effort to reset relations with an adversary is that allies start whining about their vulnerability and demanding some sort of compensation for it. Thus, no sooner was the nuclear deal with Iran concluded than the Israelis, Saudis and other Middle East partners criticize it as representing abandonment and emboldening Iran to become a stronger meddler in neighbors' affairs. All sorts of dire predictions about horrendous consequences are already on record, clearly intended to influence the Obama administration to give these folks something for their pain - like money, arms (both of which they get in abundance) and especially new commitments.

Over the last several years, a surprising number of high-ranking military officers have been investigated, punished or fired over conduct unbecoming, sexual harassment, sexual violence, retaliation against subordinates, recruiting fraud and financial improprieties. In 2014, a Pentagon study found that reports of rapes and sexual assaults in the military increased 8 percent, and this came on the heels of a 50 percent increase in reported rapes and sexual assaults in 2013.

Since the Wall Street banks nearly destroyed the American and global financial system in 2008, families and consumers of all walks of life have found themselves working harder than ever before. The collapse of the economy has taken a toll on so many levels of our daily lives - our communities, retirement funds, consumer culture, the way we view our government, basic lifestyle needs, our hope as a democracy.

Supporters of Paul Singer, an US billionaire hedge fund manager, will describe him as an esteemed investor, philanthropist and tireless political activist. Mr. Singer's critics however, commonly refer to him as a fundraising terrorist, vulture capitalist and the "inventor of vulture funds," due to his infamous practice of finding countries in dire economic distress, buying its debt and demanding full payment.

These nefarious vulture funds have acquired millions of dollars from developing countries all over the world thus leaving the countries in a worse economic state.

When we began our project "Women Cross the DMZ," we knew the landmines in the DMZ would be nothing compared to the explosions of anger, vitriol and hate from those who oppose any contact with North Korea. Some US and South Korean government officials, academics, media talking heads and paid bloggers would have their knives out for any group that dared challenge the dangerous status quo on the Korean peninsula. No surprise that the knives have been attempting to slice away at the remarkable worldwide publicity our trip to both North and South Korea created.