Friday, 31 October 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG
  • 'Tis the Season to Be Frightened

    Ebola, Dengue fever, West Nile virus ... Republican ideology created some of these threats in the first place, or managed to make others worse. The climate crisis, which Republicans dismiss en masse, is a key ingredient in all of them.

  • The 0.01 Percent's "I Reap All" Accounts

    At least 9,000 wealthy Americans have amassed $5 million-plus sized IRAs. Multimillionaires and billionaires are shielding vast fortunes from taxation with monstrously huge IRAs.

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.

An Open Letter:
Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick said in a radio interview on April 15, 2014: "I respect the authority of the Supreme Court to make those decisions" that have corrupted politics, like McCutcheon. I write the Governor to clarify his position, and to express opposition to this statement.
To "respect" authority in the abuse of its power is to align oneself with and further enable that same abuse. Experience shows that resisting rather than respecting such abuse, especially in the case of the U.S. Supreme Court, has the effect of curbing it.

Converting a democracy into a plutocracy is a crime of constitutional dimensions. If the Governor does sincerely believe that the Roberts Court legitimately has the power to amend the Constitution for this purpose, I would like him to point out precisely where in the Constitution that power is given to five unelected judges? Article V seems to have a different, much more difficult, process in mind than the vote of a single Supreme Court justice in a 5-4 decision. The constitutional process involves an intentionally – and for any such major political change all but impossibly – difficult 2/3 vote of each house of Congress. Then three-fourths of the state legislatures must ratify Congress' proposal. The elected representatives of those bodies, through their legislative acts, give not the remotest sign of agreeing with the Roberts 5 about the constitutional validity of allowing big money into politics.

Five judges' radical amendment of the Constitution by their series of seven decisions to which the Governor gives his "respect" flouts the established process for making such an enormous constitutional change.

In what the New York Times describes as "a net neutrality turnaround" the Obama administration's new FCC chairman is proposing rules that will create an Internet for the wealthy. The new plan to create a pay to play Internet came to light Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.

Under the plan wealthy corporations will be able to purchase faster service, while those that cannot do so will have slower service. Rather than an open Internet for all the US will be moving to a class-based Internet. Of course, this will mean that when Netflix and other corporations purchase faster Internet, the consumers who use their service will be paying more to watch movies and download information. As a result, more money will be funneled from working Americans to wealthy telecom giants.

SANTA FE—Yesterday, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program's Medical Advisory Board voted unanimously to add neurodegenerative dementia including Alzheimer's disease (AD) to the list of medical conditions eligible for the Medical Cannabis Program. The Secretary of Health will have the final decision. Medical cannabis is currently available to Alzheimer's patients in thirteen of the states that authorize its use.

The Drug Policy Alliance filed the petition on behalf of all New Mexicans who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Although Alzheimer's disease was specifically petitioned for, the board chose to expand their recommendation to include all types of neurodegenerative dementia.

Inexplicably, some still argue that there's no scientific consensus on anthropogenic – i.e., man-made - climate disruption (ACD). Perhaps it's necessary to first define consensus.

Merriam-Webster defines consensus as "a general agreement" or "the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned." Clearly, consensus does not mean unanimity. Nor is it normally understood to denote a simple (50% plus 1) majority. So, at what point does an opinion become "consensual"? At 75% of those qualified to speak on a particular matter? At 80%?

San Francisco, CA - The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) today filed an unprecedented lawsuit in the U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco to hold the United States government accountable for its flagrant violations of the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The small island nation, once used as a testing ground for nuclear bombs, says the United States has repeatedly broken its promise to pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons. Article VI of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires the U.S. to pursue negotiations "in good faith" for an end to the nuclear arms race "at an early date" and for nuclear disarmament.

The New York Times this morning has an interesting article on this year's West Point graduates. With the end of the war in Iraq (at least for us) and the winding down of the Afghan conflict (again, at least for us), West Point graduates face the prospect of not being immediately deployed to a shooting war. The article paints this as grim times, at least for the graduates, many of whom are seeking opportunities in the Special Forces for a better chance at earning "coveted" combat badges and patches.

And this is precisely the problem with a professional military that is self-defined as "warriors." Its members desire war: a chance, so they think, to test themselves in the crucible of combat. They want to be where the action is, even if that action is ill-advised or even illegal under international law.

When Jonathan Schell, the most cogent moral philosopher of the nuclear age, died of cancer last month, it left a rift in the moral fabric of our small planet, a hole similar in size to those left by the three Alberts—Camus, Einstein and Bigelow. Never heard of Bert Bigelow? He was the Harvard grad who in 1958 twice tried to sail his ketch, the Golden Rule, into the waters of the South Pacific where nuclear weapons were being tested—and found time as well to be beaten up by racist thugs alongside Congressman John Lewis while protesting for civil rights.

Compared to giants like Schell, Bert Bigelow, or General Lee Butler, a former head of the Strategic Air Command who now advocates for nuclear abolition, the people who presume to military, political and industrial leadership here and abroad sometimes seem, from top to bottom, like a bunch of corrupt, deluded, hypocritical flunkies.

Apr 25

Forest Defense Sing Along With the Humboldt Board of Supervisors

By Redwood Forest Defense, SpeakOut | Press Release

Redwood Forest Defense, a grassroots non-violent direct action group committed to protecting the forest and best known for the tree-sits outside of Trinidad, came to today's Humboldt Board of Supervisors meeting in mass to demand, in song, that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors increase the riparian zone protections under the general plan as well as urge the timber companies that are operating in Humboldt County to cease their clear-cutting, deforestation activities.

A member of RFD opened with a statement directed to the Board regarding their position of authority to make positive change.(see below) Following the statement multiple ukuleles, a flute, and a harmonica wailed as twelve community members sang to Humboldt County to bring an end to Green Diamond Resource Company's destructive and short sighted forestry practices. Even Supervisor Rex Bohn added to the atmosphere by beat-boxing with the music on his microphone.

April 22, 2014, Boston - Last night, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged the full First Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge appellate panel dismissing CCR's First Amendment challenge to the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). The AETA punishes anyone found to have caused the loss of property or profits to a business or other institution that uses or sells animals or animal products, or to "a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise." The law makes no distinction between loss caused by criminal acts and loss caused by boycotts and other constitutionally-protected activity. In its ruling, the panel said that the plaintiffs could not challenge the AETA because the statute states that it does not punish "any expressive conduct."

"The plain language of the AETA punishes purposefully causing an animal enterprise to lose profit, regardless of whether the loss is due to a boycott, civil disobedience, property destruction, or freeing animals," said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Rachel Meeropol. "Congress can't cure such a fundamental encroachment on the First Amendment by adding a sentence to the statute saying that it doesn't violate the First Amendment."

Washington, DC - Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued a directive barring intelligence community (IC) employees from speaking to the media about intelligence-related matters, including unclassified matters, without authorization. The directive, issued in March, was first posted yesterday by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

The directive threatens IC employees making unauthorized contacts with the media with security clearance revocation or termination. The overbroad and vague directive loosely defines the media to include those "engaged in the collection, production or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security." That definition could not only include reporters for traditional outlets, but bloggers and activists who write about the intelligence community. The directive requires IC employees to report any inadvertent contact with the broadly defined "media" to superiors.

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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.

An Open Letter:
Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick said in a radio interview on April 15, 2014: "I respect the authority of the Supreme Court to make those decisions" that have corrupted politics, like McCutcheon. I write the Governor to clarify his position, and to express opposition to this statement.
To "respect" authority in the abuse of its power is to align oneself with and further enable that same abuse. Experience shows that resisting rather than respecting such abuse, especially in the case of the U.S. Supreme Court, has the effect of curbing it.

Converting a democracy into a plutocracy is a crime of constitutional dimensions. If the Governor does sincerely believe that the Roberts Court legitimately has the power to amend the Constitution for this purpose, I would like him to point out precisely where in the Constitution that power is given to five unelected judges? Article V seems to have a different, much more difficult, process in mind than the vote of a single Supreme Court justice in a 5-4 decision. The constitutional process involves an intentionally – and for any such major political change all but impossibly – difficult 2/3 vote of each house of Congress. Then three-fourths of the state legislatures must ratify Congress' proposal. The elected representatives of those bodies, through their legislative acts, give not the remotest sign of agreeing with the Roberts 5 about the constitutional validity of allowing big money into politics.

Five judges' radical amendment of the Constitution by their series of seven decisions to which the Governor gives his "respect" flouts the established process for making such an enormous constitutional change.

In what the New York Times describes as "a net neutrality turnaround" the Obama administration's new FCC chairman is proposing rules that will create an Internet for the wealthy. The new plan to create a pay to play Internet came to light Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.

Under the plan wealthy corporations will be able to purchase faster service, while those that cannot do so will have slower service. Rather than an open Internet for all the US will be moving to a class-based Internet. Of course, this will mean that when Netflix and other corporations purchase faster Internet, the consumers who use their service will be paying more to watch movies and download information. As a result, more money will be funneled from working Americans to wealthy telecom giants.

SANTA FE—Yesterday, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program's Medical Advisory Board voted unanimously to add neurodegenerative dementia including Alzheimer's disease (AD) to the list of medical conditions eligible for the Medical Cannabis Program. The Secretary of Health will have the final decision. Medical cannabis is currently available to Alzheimer's patients in thirteen of the states that authorize its use.

The Drug Policy Alliance filed the petition on behalf of all New Mexicans who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Although Alzheimer's disease was specifically petitioned for, the board chose to expand their recommendation to include all types of neurodegenerative dementia.

Inexplicably, some still argue that there's no scientific consensus on anthropogenic – i.e., man-made - climate disruption (ACD). Perhaps it's necessary to first define consensus.

Merriam-Webster defines consensus as "a general agreement" or "the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned." Clearly, consensus does not mean unanimity. Nor is it normally understood to denote a simple (50% plus 1) majority. So, at what point does an opinion become "consensual"? At 75% of those qualified to speak on a particular matter? At 80%?

San Francisco, CA - The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) today filed an unprecedented lawsuit in the U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco to hold the United States government accountable for its flagrant violations of the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The small island nation, once used as a testing ground for nuclear bombs, says the United States has repeatedly broken its promise to pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons. Article VI of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires the U.S. to pursue negotiations "in good faith" for an end to the nuclear arms race "at an early date" and for nuclear disarmament.

The New York Times this morning has an interesting article on this year's West Point graduates. With the end of the war in Iraq (at least for us) and the winding down of the Afghan conflict (again, at least for us), West Point graduates face the prospect of not being immediately deployed to a shooting war. The article paints this as grim times, at least for the graduates, many of whom are seeking opportunities in the Special Forces for a better chance at earning "coveted" combat badges and patches.

And this is precisely the problem with a professional military that is self-defined as "warriors." Its members desire war: a chance, so they think, to test themselves in the crucible of combat. They want to be where the action is, even if that action is ill-advised or even illegal under international law.

When Jonathan Schell, the most cogent moral philosopher of the nuclear age, died of cancer last month, it left a rift in the moral fabric of our small planet, a hole similar in size to those left by the three Alberts—Camus, Einstein and Bigelow. Never heard of Bert Bigelow? He was the Harvard grad who in 1958 twice tried to sail his ketch, the Golden Rule, into the waters of the South Pacific where nuclear weapons were being tested—and found time as well to be beaten up by racist thugs alongside Congressman John Lewis while protesting for civil rights.

Compared to giants like Schell, Bert Bigelow, or General Lee Butler, a former head of the Strategic Air Command who now advocates for nuclear abolition, the people who presume to military, political and industrial leadership here and abroad sometimes seem, from top to bottom, like a bunch of corrupt, deluded, hypocritical flunkies.

Apr 25

Forest Defense Sing Along With the Humboldt Board of Supervisors

By Redwood Forest Defense, SpeakOut | Press Release

Redwood Forest Defense, a grassroots non-violent direct action group committed to protecting the forest and best known for the tree-sits outside of Trinidad, came to today's Humboldt Board of Supervisors meeting in mass to demand, in song, that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors increase the riparian zone protections under the general plan as well as urge the timber companies that are operating in Humboldt County to cease their clear-cutting, deforestation activities.

A member of RFD opened with a statement directed to the Board regarding their position of authority to make positive change.(see below) Following the statement multiple ukuleles, a flute, and a harmonica wailed as twelve community members sang to Humboldt County to bring an end to Green Diamond Resource Company's destructive and short sighted forestry practices. Even Supervisor Rex Bohn added to the atmosphere by beat-boxing with the music on his microphone.

April 22, 2014, Boston - Last night, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged the full First Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge appellate panel dismissing CCR's First Amendment challenge to the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). The AETA punishes anyone found to have caused the loss of property or profits to a business or other institution that uses or sells animals or animal products, or to "a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise." The law makes no distinction between loss caused by criminal acts and loss caused by boycotts and other constitutionally-protected activity. In its ruling, the panel said that the plaintiffs could not challenge the AETA because the statute states that it does not punish "any expressive conduct."

"The plain language of the AETA punishes purposefully causing an animal enterprise to lose profit, regardless of whether the loss is due to a boycott, civil disobedience, property destruction, or freeing animals," said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Rachel Meeropol. "Congress can't cure such a fundamental encroachment on the First Amendment by adding a sentence to the statute saying that it doesn't violate the First Amendment."

Washington, DC - Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued a directive barring intelligence community (IC) employees from speaking to the media about intelligence-related matters, including unclassified matters, without authorization. The directive, issued in March, was first posted yesterday by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

The directive threatens IC employees making unauthorized contacts with the media with security clearance revocation or termination. The overbroad and vague directive loosely defines the media to include those "engaged in the collection, production or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security." That definition could not only include reporters for traditional outlets, but bloggers and activists who write about the intelligence community. The directive requires IC employees to report any inadvertent contact with the broadly defined "media" to superiors.