Saturday, 22 November 2014 / 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.

May 16

The Limits of Military Power

By Lawrence S Wittner, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Is overwhelming national military power a reliable source of influence in world affairs?

If so, the United States should certainly have plenty of influence today. For decades, it has been the world's Number 1 military spender. And it continues in this role. According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $640 billion on the military in 2013, thus accounting for 37 percent of world military expenditures. The two closest competitors, China and Russia, accounted for 11 percent and 5 percent respectively. Thus, last year, the United States spent more than three times as much as China and more than seven times as much as Russia on the military.

WASHINGTON, DC—On Thursday, May 22, 2014, Lyme disease victims from around the U.S. will unite at the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) headquarters for the 2014 Mayday Project protest. They will demand IDSA update its controversial guidelines for Lyme disease to reflect the current state of science and that IDSA acknowledge the evidence for a chronic form of Lyme disease that is resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Mayday coordinator Josh Cutler has been fighting late stage neurological Lyme disease for eight years. This condition affects the brain, the central nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system that regulates blood pressure and other vital functions. Cutler was rushed to the emergency room on a dozen occasions and at one point was confined to a wheelchair. According to the IDSA, Cutler cannot possibly still have Lyme because he was treated according to their guideline's recommendations.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California - Shareholders and activists from around the country and region are rallying today at Google's shareholder meeting, calling on the tech giant to stay true to its stated commitments to transparency, an open Internet and climate action by disclosing its lobbying spending and leaving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – two powerful groups that oppose those values. They are also urging Google to support good jobs for subcontracted security officers on its own campus, many of whom struggle to make ends meet despite the company's staggering wealth. Groups will be using the hashtags #DontFundEvil and #DontBeEvil.

This morning and the previous two mornings, activists handed out fliers to Google employees at bus stops informing them of the company's prodigious political spending on lobbying and its funding of groups that oppose taking action on climate change. Advocates also shed light on the company's footprint in the local Bay Area community, where the eviction and affordability crises are escalating as companies like Google draw more high-income people to the region without supporting the right of longtime residents to stay. In San Francisco, Google is also perpetuating a two-tier system that privileges private over public transportation.

Most people have never heard of low ferritin, let alone appreciate the subtle causes behind it. Yet, there is a fairly high probability that the average civilized person suffers from "low iron stores" to some degree whether officially diagnosed or not.

Low ferritin is merely a medical test marker which identifies the amount of iron in the blood. There are a series of falling Dominos that lead to the condition itself. And then there are other consequences which can follow, if the cause is not recognized and left untreated, symptoms which fall below the threshold of awareness until serious.

May 15

What Is at Stake: India's Elections

By Manash Bhattacharjee, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The parliamentary elections in India have thrown up sharp divisions among the intellectual class. Writers, scholars, editors and media journalists have been closely scrutinized for their views and positions. Some have pretended to play Swiss, but it is evident that neutrality is merely a game, as biases seep through articles and programs. There are subtle ways of maneuvering truth, and projecting our political version of that truth. No one can escape the marks of allegiances, even if they are sometimes strategic and aimed at safeguarding petty, personal interests. It is risky to be on the bad books of the future government. Playing a see-saw game of neutrality becomes the best way to ensure minimum damage in the future. Such considerations have shrunk the ethical and political horizon of the intellectual class and the media. A lot of people seem to be shifting according to the vagaries of opinion and exit polls as much as the spectacles on television. As if there are no political ideas at stake beyond these fishy estimates of numbers and the circuses political parties indulge in to gain infantile attention. It is incredible how elections stir people's appetite for cheap theatre.

On 13th of May 2014 Turkey faced with the biggest coal mine explosion in the country's history. It is reported that there are more than thousand mine workers trapped inside the privately owned mine and death toll rises every single second. More than 230 mine workers died, is the last information we have received. There is a 15 years old boy, Kemal Yıldız among the deceased and more than 80 injured mine workers and rescue team members are at the hospital.

Unfortunately, there are no healthy official announcements about the death toll and the cause of the accident from the authorities. The families of the mine workers are waiting anxiously in front of the collapsed pit or in front of the hospital, hoping to hear that their loved ones are rescued.

May 14

Mothering Between A Rock and Prison

By Zachary Norris and Eveline Shen, SpeakOut | News Analysis

This Mother's Day, Shanesha Taylor, a 25-year old homeless and unemployed mother, will be fighting for her freedom and her children for committing the unspeakable crime: trying to feed her family. Without childcare or family support, Shanesha left her children, ages two and six-months, in a parked car while she went for a job interview. In that 45-minute window, a passerby reported her unsupervised children to the Scottsdale, Arizona police who promptly arrested her on felony charges for child abuse.

Outraged by the authorities' harsh treatment, 45,000 strangers nationwide signed a petition urging charges be dropped, and raised over $100,000 to cover Shanesha's attorney's fees. "It's just baffling that she somehow is considered a victim," says Jerry Cobb from Maricopa County Attorney's Office. What's baffling is the authorities' ignorance of structural circumstances that create a poverty trap for poor single mothers.

It's interesting to imagine what John Lennon might have said about a world in which government agencies – and others – monitor private conversations. Not much of a stretch, really, as he'd experienced it for himself. Lennon always was ahead of his time.

"All I want is the truth," he might say. He'd phrased the challenge – directed at the "establishment" – in an early 1970s song about the lies that were being sold to the public: "Gimme Some Truth."

Today, if you were to visit Jack Kerouac Alley in downtown San Francisco, you'd find a colorful mural painted on the side of the City Lights Bookstore. The mural does not depict the day Bob Dylan strolled the alley with Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, or any of the other literary rebels and artists that are so deeply connected with the bookstore and the space. The mural recreates a piece of community artwork that was destroyed in April 1998 when armed forces violently attacked the indigenous village of Taniperla, a Zapatista community in Chiapas, Mexico. As movement art, the mural is an act of public memory, an act of resistance, a connection with the past and a commitment to a shared vision of the future. With simple colors and its own humble voice, the recreated mural has been speaking out to us and communities of struggle everywhere for years: no estan solos-estamos contigo. You are not alone - we are with you.

I was deeply disturbed last week when US Secretary of State John Kerry, in response to criticism from former Senate colleagues, felt compelled to walk back his warning that Israel risked becoming an "apartheid state" if it failed to make peace with the Palestinians. What troubled me most was that Kerry, after acknowledging that many Israelis have offered the same warning, apologized for using the word "apartheid" saying that "it is a word best left out of the debate here at home." In other words, Israelis can have this debate, but we can't.

This affair brought to mind a comment I heard from former Senator Joseph Lieberman back in 2000 in which he acknowledged that it was easier to debate issues like settlements and Jerusalem in the Israeli Knesset than to have the same debates in the US Senate. The question is, how can the US lead Israeli-Palestinian peace-making when we can't criticize Israel or have an honest debate about their policies?

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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.

May 16

The Limits of Military Power

By Lawrence S Wittner, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Is overwhelming national military power a reliable source of influence in world affairs?

If so, the United States should certainly have plenty of influence today. For decades, it has been the world's Number 1 military spender. And it continues in this role. According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $640 billion on the military in 2013, thus accounting for 37 percent of world military expenditures. The two closest competitors, China and Russia, accounted for 11 percent and 5 percent respectively. Thus, last year, the United States spent more than three times as much as China and more than seven times as much as Russia on the military.

WASHINGTON, DC—On Thursday, May 22, 2014, Lyme disease victims from around the U.S. will unite at the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) headquarters for the 2014 Mayday Project protest. They will demand IDSA update its controversial guidelines for Lyme disease to reflect the current state of science and that IDSA acknowledge the evidence for a chronic form of Lyme disease that is resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Mayday coordinator Josh Cutler has been fighting late stage neurological Lyme disease for eight years. This condition affects the brain, the central nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system that regulates blood pressure and other vital functions. Cutler was rushed to the emergency room on a dozen occasions and at one point was confined to a wheelchair. According to the IDSA, Cutler cannot possibly still have Lyme because he was treated according to their guideline's recommendations.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California - Shareholders and activists from around the country and region are rallying today at Google's shareholder meeting, calling on the tech giant to stay true to its stated commitments to transparency, an open Internet and climate action by disclosing its lobbying spending and leaving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – two powerful groups that oppose those values. They are also urging Google to support good jobs for subcontracted security officers on its own campus, many of whom struggle to make ends meet despite the company's staggering wealth. Groups will be using the hashtags #DontFundEvil and #DontBeEvil.

This morning and the previous two mornings, activists handed out fliers to Google employees at bus stops informing them of the company's prodigious political spending on lobbying and its funding of groups that oppose taking action on climate change. Advocates also shed light on the company's footprint in the local Bay Area community, where the eviction and affordability crises are escalating as companies like Google draw more high-income people to the region without supporting the right of longtime residents to stay. In San Francisco, Google is also perpetuating a two-tier system that privileges private over public transportation.

Most people have never heard of low ferritin, let alone appreciate the subtle causes behind it. Yet, there is a fairly high probability that the average civilized person suffers from "low iron stores" to some degree whether officially diagnosed or not.

Low ferritin is merely a medical test marker which identifies the amount of iron in the blood. There are a series of falling Dominos that lead to the condition itself. And then there are other consequences which can follow, if the cause is not recognized and left untreated, symptoms which fall below the threshold of awareness until serious.

May 15

What Is at Stake: India's Elections

By Manash Bhattacharjee, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The parliamentary elections in India have thrown up sharp divisions among the intellectual class. Writers, scholars, editors and media journalists have been closely scrutinized for their views and positions. Some have pretended to play Swiss, but it is evident that neutrality is merely a game, as biases seep through articles and programs. There are subtle ways of maneuvering truth, and projecting our political version of that truth. No one can escape the marks of allegiances, even if they are sometimes strategic and aimed at safeguarding petty, personal interests. It is risky to be on the bad books of the future government. Playing a see-saw game of neutrality becomes the best way to ensure minimum damage in the future. Such considerations have shrunk the ethical and political horizon of the intellectual class and the media. A lot of people seem to be shifting according to the vagaries of opinion and exit polls as much as the spectacles on television. As if there are no political ideas at stake beyond these fishy estimates of numbers and the circuses political parties indulge in to gain infantile attention. It is incredible how elections stir people's appetite for cheap theatre.

On 13th of May 2014 Turkey faced with the biggest coal mine explosion in the country's history. It is reported that there are more than thousand mine workers trapped inside the privately owned mine and death toll rises every single second. More than 230 mine workers died, is the last information we have received. There is a 15 years old boy, Kemal Yıldız among the deceased and more than 80 injured mine workers and rescue team members are at the hospital.

Unfortunately, there are no healthy official announcements about the death toll and the cause of the accident from the authorities. The families of the mine workers are waiting anxiously in front of the collapsed pit or in front of the hospital, hoping to hear that their loved ones are rescued.

May 14

Mothering Between A Rock and Prison

By Zachary Norris and Eveline Shen, SpeakOut | News Analysis

This Mother's Day, Shanesha Taylor, a 25-year old homeless and unemployed mother, will be fighting for her freedom and her children for committing the unspeakable crime: trying to feed her family. Without childcare or family support, Shanesha left her children, ages two and six-months, in a parked car while she went for a job interview. In that 45-minute window, a passerby reported her unsupervised children to the Scottsdale, Arizona police who promptly arrested her on felony charges for child abuse.

Outraged by the authorities' harsh treatment, 45,000 strangers nationwide signed a petition urging charges be dropped, and raised over $100,000 to cover Shanesha's attorney's fees. "It's just baffling that she somehow is considered a victim," says Jerry Cobb from Maricopa County Attorney's Office. What's baffling is the authorities' ignorance of structural circumstances that create a poverty trap for poor single mothers.

It's interesting to imagine what John Lennon might have said about a world in which government agencies – and others – monitor private conversations. Not much of a stretch, really, as he'd experienced it for himself. Lennon always was ahead of his time.

"All I want is the truth," he might say. He'd phrased the challenge – directed at the "establishment" – in an early 1970s song about the lies that were being sold to the public: "Gimme Some Truth."

Today, if you were to visit Jack Kerouac Alley in downtown San Francisco, you'd find a colorful mural painted on the side of the City Lights Bookstore. The mural does not depict the day Bob Dylan strolled the alley with Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, or any of the other literary rebels and artists that are so deeply connected with the bookstore and the space. The mural recreates a piece of community artwork that was destroyed in April 1998 when armed forces violently attacked the indigenous village of Taniperla, a Zapatista community in Chiapas, Mexico. As movement art, the mural is an act of public memory, an act of resistance, a connection with the past and a commitment to a shared vision of the future. With simple colors and its own humble voice, the recreated mural has been speaking out to us and communities of struggle everywhere for years: no estan solos-estamos contigo. You are not alone - we are with you.

I was deeply disturbed last week when US Secretary of State John Kerry, in response to criticism from former Senate colleagues, felt compelled to walk back his warning that Israel risked becoming an "apartheid state" if it failed to make peace with the Palestinians. What troubled me most was that Kerry, after acknowledging that many Israelis have offered the same warning, apologized for using the word "apartheid" saying that "it is a word best left out of the debate here at home." In other words, Israelis can have this debate, but we can't.

This affair brought to mind a comment I heard from former Senator Joseph Lieberman back in 2000 in which he acknowledged that it was easier to debate issues like settlements and Jerusalem in the Israeli Knesset than to have the same debates in the US Senate. The question is, how can the US lead Israeli-Palestinian peace-making when we can't criticize Israel or have an honest debate about their policies?