Friday, 06 May 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.

Estonia's general elections were held last month. The victory of the neoliberal Reform Party exacerbated a certain longlasting socio-political discrepancy of the country. While Estonia is perceived as a Nordic state by our politicians, Estonian society is distinctly Eastern European. The 2008 economic crises saw Estonia turn to one of the harshest austerity regimes in the EU - which resulted in insecurity and increasing social darwinism. With more public sector reforms to come and the end to austerity nowhere in sight, a Nordic future marked by welfare and cohesion remains as deceptive as ever. One can't escape the feeling that the possibility for even a modest change has been squandered.

Washington, DC - A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) examines recent IMF research on gains from multilateraltradeliberalization, as under the WTO. This research shows that gains would be equal only to about 0.014 percent of consumption, or about 43 cents per person, per month, in the United States. The CEPR paper, "The Gains from Trade in a New Model from the IMF: Still Very Small" by David Rosnick, examines modeling by the IMF, which claims to find that WTO agreements to liberalize trade are worth more than previously thought. CEPR's paper shows that in fact the gains are relatively small.

On March 26, I was in Nevada in my role as event coordinator for Nevada Desert Experience, preparing for the annual Sacred Peace Walk, a 65-mile trek through the desert from Las Vegas to the nuclear Test Site at Mercury,Nevada, an event that NDE has sponsored each spring for about 30 years. Two days before the walk was to begin, a car load of us organizers traced the route.

The last stop but one on the traditional itinerary is the "Peace Camp," a place in the desert where we usually stay the last night before crossing Highway 95 into what is now known as the Nevada National Security Site.

The Drug Policy Alliance and Learn Liberty have teamed up to tell the emotional story of Sophia Nazzarine, a 7-year-old girl suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy, in a new video.

Between clips of Sophia singing and playing with her parents in her hometown of Cincinnati, the audience is shown saddening footage of Sophia seizing as a newborn, while her parents describe their discovery of Sophia's epilepsy and their exhaustive struggle to find an effective treatment.

Apr 22

A Day for Our Mother Earth

By Tom H Hastings, Truthout | Op-Ed

How many holidays do we have? MLK Day in January, Valentines Day in February, Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Day in May, and so forth. Of those few examples, two were declared in my adulthood. New holidays take time to catch on and embed themselves in the culture. They can stray from their roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to promote war. Thanksgiving is for football.

The first Earth Day, in 1970, was the launch of a new holiday with deep challenger social meaning for many of us. I was 19. I was excited that this new holiday reflected my values, the ones I was raised to hold, the ones that had worked forward from many indigenous leaders to John Muir to Aldo Leopold to Rachel Carson. My Dad taught me the number one value and tactic in life: always leave the campsite a bit nicer than when you found it. We camped across the country and that was our ritual; we broke camp and made sure the site was free of garbage but also had a bit more firewood left for the next ones than what we found.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wastewater permits issued recently on Indianlands are illegal and should be rescinded, according to an appeal filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The permits allow mass discharge of waters laced with toxic oil and gas drilling chemicals into a stream, for consumption by wildlife and livestock. The PEER petition to EPA's Environmental Appeals Board highlights EPA's approval of surface disposal of drilling wastewater without even identifying the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") fluids, let alone setting effluent limits for the harmful contaminants contained within, contrary to its own regulations.

In mid-March, EPA finalized new water discharge permits for nearly a dozen oil fields on or abutting the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming (EPA has Clean Water Act jurisdiction on tribal lands). 

Majorities hope that more transparency and data sharing by government will help journalists cover government and make officials more accountable, but very few think that government agencies are doing a great job of providing useful data, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The representative survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults finds there are public divisions about the possible impact of open-data initiatives by government that often are shaped by people’s levels of trust in government.  For instance, only 23% of the public trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time.  In addition, people’s partisan views about the trustworthiness are a factor in their beliefs about government transparency and data initiatives: Democrats are more hopeful than Republicans.

As negotiations continue between the governments of the United States and Cuba over the normalization of relations, the U.S. State Department has claimed Cuba is willing to discuss the extradition of political refugee Assata Shakur. While it may seem that Cuba would gladly make such a seemingly minor concession in return for the promise of normalized relations, this would greatly underestimate the Cuban government's commitment to upholding its principles. Shakur need not worry that Cuba will cave for expediency's sake and send her back to the country she escaped from after being harassed and persecuted for years.

According to The Guardian, a State Department spokesman said Cuba had agreed to discuss fugitives, including Shakur, whose original name was Joanne Chesimard. She was granted political asylum by Cuba in 1984 after escaping from prison in New Jersey five years earlier.

Israel's Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has demanded that notoriously racist club Beitar Jerusalem, the bad boy of Israeli soccer, retract recent statements that it would maintain its policy of not hiring Palestinian players because of opposition by the team's militant, racist fan base.

The demand comes as Israel is fighting an attempt by the Palestine Football Association (PFA) to get the Jewish state suspended from FIFA at next month's congress of the world soccer body. The PFA charges that Israel hinders the development of Palestinian soccer by obstructing travel of Palestinian players between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as abroad.

In a scathing decision, a U.S. Department of Labor judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency improperly sought to conceal exonerating evidence and illegally retaliated against a whistleblower.  In the ruling posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a U.S. Department of Labor administrative law judge catalogued a trove ofmisconduct by EPA lawyers covering years of litigation.

The April 15, 2015 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Linda Chapman involved EPA senior chemist Cate Jenkins, who had reported fraudulent agency limits on corrosive dust and improper testing and cover-up of the toxic properties of the dust emanating from the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster which contributed to deaths and illnesses of First Responders.  Judge Chapman found that EPA had "failed to produce literally thousands of documents" in a campaign of concealment. 

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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.

Estonia's general elections were held last month. The victory of the neoliberal Reform Party exacerbated a certain longlasting socio-political discrepancy of the country. While Estonia is perceived as a Nordic state by our politicians, Estonian society is distinctly Eastern European. The 2008 economic crises saw Estonia turn to one of the harshest austerity regimes in the EU - which resulted in insecurity and increasing social darwinism. With more public sector reforms to come and the end to austerity nowhere in sight, a Nordic future marked by welfare and cohesion remains as deceptive as ever. One can't escape the feeling that the possibility for even a modest change has been squandered.

Washington, DC - A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) examines recent IMF research on gains from multilateraltradeliberalization, as under the WTO. This research shows that gains would be equal only to about 0.014 percent of consumption, or about 43 cents per person, per month, in the United States. The CEPR paper, "The Gains from Trade in a New Model from the IMF: Still Very Small" by David Rosnick, examines modeling by the IMF, which claims to find that WTO agreements to liberalize trade are worth more than previously thought. CEPR's paper shows that in fact the gains are relatively small.

On March 26, I was in Nevada in my role as event coordinator for Nevada Desert Experience, preparing for the annual Sacred Peace Walk, a 65-mile trek through the desert from Las Vegas to the nuclear Test Site at Mercury,Nevada, an event that NDE has sponsored each spring for about 30 years. Two days before the walk was to begin, a car load of us organizers traced the route.

The last stop but one on the traditional itinerary is the "Peace Camp," a place in the desert where we usually stay the last night before crossing Highway 95 into what is now known as the Nevada National Security Site.

The Drug Policy Alliance and Learn Liberty have teamed up to tell the emotional story of Sophia Nazzarine, a 7-year-old girl suffering from uncontrolled epilepsy, in a new video.

Between clips of Sophia singing and playing with her parents in her hometown of Cincinnati, the audience is shown saddening footage of Sophia seizing as a newborn, while her parents describe their discovery of Sophia's epilepsy and their exhaustive struggle to find an effective treatment.

Apr 22

A Day for Our Mother Earth

By Tom H Hastings, Truthout | Op-Ed

How many holidays do we have? MLK Day in January, Valentines Day in February, Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Day in May, and so forth. Of those few examples, two were declared in my adulthood. New holidays take time to catch on and embed themselves in the culture. They can stray from their roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to promote war. Thanksgiving is for football.

The first Earth Day, in 1970, was the launch of a new holiday with deep challenger social meaning for many of us. I was 19. I was excited that this new holiday reflected my values, the ones I was raised to hold, the ones that had worked forward from many indigenous leaders to John Muir to Aldo Leopold to Rachel Carson. My Dad taught me the number one value and tactic in life: always leave the campsite a bit nicer than when you found it. We camped across the country and that was our ritual; we broke camp and made sure the site was free of garbage but also had a bit more firewood left for the next ones than what we found.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wastewater permits issued recently on Indianlands are illegal and should be rescinded, according to an appeal filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The permits allow mass discharge of waters laced with toxic oil and gas drilling chemicals into a stream, for consumption by wildlife and livestock. The PEER petition to EPA's Environmental Appeals Board highlights EPA's approval of surface disposal of drilling wastewater without even identifying the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") fluids, let alone setting effluent limits for the harmful contaminants contained within, contrary to its own regulations.

In mid-March, EPA finalized new water discharge permits for nearly a dozen oil fields on or abutting the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming (EPA has Clean Water Act jurisdiction on tribal lands). 

Majorities hope that more transparency and data sharing by government will help journalists cover government and make officials more accountable, but very few think that government agencies are doing a great job of providing useful data, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The representative survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults finds there are public divisions about the possible impact of open-data initiatives by government that often are shaped by people’s levels of trust in government.  For instance, only 23% of the public trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time.  In addition, people’s partisan views about the trustworthiness are a factor in their beliefs about government transparency and data initiatives: Democrats are more hopeful than Republicans.

As negotiations continue between the governments of the United States and Cuba over the normalization of relations, the U.S. State Department has claimed Cuba is willing to discuss the extradition of political refugee Assata Shakur. While it may seem that Cuba would gladly make such a seemingly minor concession in return for the promise of normalized relations, this would greatly underestimate the Cuban government's commitment to upholding its principles. Shakur need not worry that Cuba will cave for expediency's sake and send her back to the country she escaped from after being harassed and persecuted for years.

According to The Guardian, a State Department spokesman said Cuba had agreed to discuss fugitives, including Shakur, whose original name was Joanne Chesimard. She was granted political asylum by Cuba in 1984 after escaping from prison in New Jersey five years earlier.

Israel's Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has demanded that notoriously racist club Beitar Jerusalem, the bad boy of Israeli soccer, retract recent statements that it would maintain its policy of not hiring Palestinian players because of opposition by the team's militant, racist fan base.

The demand comes as Israel is fighting an attempt by the Palestine Football Association (PFA) to get the Jewish state suspended from FIFA at next month's congress of the world soccer body. The PFA charges that Israel hinders the development of Palestinian soccer by obstructing travel of Palestinian players between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as abroad.

In a scathing decision, a U.S. Department of Labor judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency improperly sought to conceal exonerating evidence and illegally retaliated against a whistleblower.  In the ruling posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a U.S. Department of Labor administrative law judge catalogued a trove ofmisconduct by EPA lawyers covering years of litigation.

The April 15, 2015 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Linda Chapman involved EPA senior chemist Cate Jenkins, who had reported fraudulent agency limits on corrosive dust and improper testing and cover-up of the toxic properties of the dust emanating from the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster which contributed to deaths and illnesses of First Responders.  Judge Chapman found that EPA had "failed to produce literally thousands of documents" in a campaign of concealment.