Wednesday, 01 July 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.

Washington DC - The President of international soccer's governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), is resigning amid corruption allegations. Sepp Blatter led FIFA for 17 years before resigning June 2 after winning re-election to another term as the organization's leader. Just before his resignation, Swiss authorities arrested seven FIFA executives as part of an FBI probe that indicted 14 people on bribery and corruption charges. Twenty-six banks are named in the indictment, including major US firms such as Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.

The economic justice periodical In These Times recently ran this important article on the mass rolling strike wave of teachers and educators across Washington State - including now some 65 different union locals - who are standing up to a lawless state legislature that refuses to obey a court order to fully fund education. As I point out in the article, Washington State has the most unequal tax structure and it is time we taxed the rich to fund our schools.

I'll begin by noting that most terrorism has not been perpetrated by Islamic-identified people. In fact, despite the relentless deluge of publicity to the contrary, Islamic-identified people commit only a fraction of the world's terrorism.

Most terrorism is large scale. In the 20th and 21st centuries most terrorism is high tech and airborne...whether over Guernica or Dresden or Nagasaki or Hiroshima or Tokyo or Laos or Viet Nam or Baghdad or Gaza. Airborne violence primarily murders civilians. Airborne terror is shooting fish in a barrel.

Legislators passed three amendments today to prohibit the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. A fourth amendment failed. The House also passed an amendment last night ending the DEA's controversial bulk data collection program. It also passed three amendments cutting $23 million from the DEA's budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses. 

"There's unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency's power and budget come under deeper scrutiny."

Jun 04

Wall Street's Psychic Adventurers

By Jeffrey R McCord, Truthout | Op-Ed

Old timers recall the days when investment decisions were based on presumably sound principles of securities and financial analyses back when the federal Glass-Steagall Act separated commercial banking from investment banking. In those storied times, the sources and uses of a given corporation's revenues and profits, its industry's performance and outlook, and macro-economic trends were among fact-based data used to make seemingly rational decisions. And the more regulated market was perceived to be pretty efficient and fair.

Those principals of financial management and regulations arose from the 1929 Market Crash and earlier catastrophes. Several classic scams and bubbles were immortalized in "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," published in London in 1841 by Charles MacKay, LL.D. MacKay, a Scottish journalist and scholar, informed the 19th century world in detail of such financial follies as the British "South Sea Bubble," Dutch "Tulipomania," and the lesser-known French "Mississippi Scheme." 

Legislators voted by a simple voice vote last night to end the DEA's controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA's budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses. 

Representatives debated four amendments to prohibit the DEA and Justice Department from undermining state marijuana laws - and those votes will happen later today. 

Jun 04

Women Crossing the Korean Divide: Reflections and Resolutions

By Women Cross DMZ International Delegation, Truthout | Op-Ed

Thirty women peace makers from 15 countries made a historic crossing of the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) from North to South Korea on May 24th International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament. We called global attention to the need for a peace treaty to finally end the Korean War; to reunite families long separated by Korea's division; and to assure women's participation in the peace process. Because most citizens of North and South Korea are not allowed to cross the DMZ, international women crossed theDMZ on their behalf in solidarity with Korean women's desires for peace and reunification of Korea.

The delegation included prominent women leaders, including two Nobel Peace Laureates, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, who led citizen movements of women to bring peace to their countries, feminist author activist Gloria Steinem, as well as seasoned peace activists, human rights defenders, spiritual leaders, and Korea experts.

Today, as Ministers meet to further a controversial and little known proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on the sidelines of the annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting, Wikileaks released a trove of negotiating texts, including annexes covering a wide range of issues on domestic regulation, financial services, air and maritime transportation, electronic commerce, transparency, telecommunications, professional services, and the natural movement of persons (called "Mode 4" in trade agreements). 

The TISA negotiating texts are supposed to remain secret for five years after the deal is finalized or abandoned. Today, the secrecy charade has collapsed, and the risks to Wall Street oversight are exposed for all to see.

Now 18 hours past a critical business deadline, I have wasted the last 90 minutes after my state-of-the-art wireless keyboard started hashing my password log-ins and erasing my in-box.

Two months ago, I had to take a second mobile phone contract in order to use an old but rugged and reliable phone as backup to my almost state-of-the-art smart phone. The new phone has fabulous features, but is increasingly temperamental, frequently loses signal and the battery lasts less than six hours.

Poverty is on the rise in America and is creating a phenomenon known as the "poverty trap." Public schools are having to deal with its negative effects more and more every year. This is important for schools because poverty greatly decreases student learning ability, and public schools and teachers must become more creative at finding ways to mitigate the negative effects of poverty in the classroom. During an era of increasing public education "reform," it's important to keep poverty in mind as a factor of student achievement.

The US is currently one of only three countries in the OECD community (out of 34) that spend as little on welfare for families in poverty, that do as little for helping children in poverty, and that do not equalize educational opportunity for children in poor communities (1). This must change if the United States is going to be economically competitive with other industrialized countries in the future.

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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.

Washington DC - The President of international soccer's governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), is resigning amid corruption allegations. Sepp Blatter led FIFA for 17 years before resigning June 2 after winning re-election to another term as the organization's leader. Just before his resignation, Swiss authorities arrested seven FIFA executives as part of an FBI probe that indicted 14 people on bribery and corruption charges. Twenty-six banks are named in the indictment, including major US firms such as Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.

The economic justice periodical In These Times recently ran this important article on the mass rolling strike wave of teachers and educators across Washington State - including now some 65 different union locals - who are standing up to a lawless state legislature that refuses to obey a court order to fully fund education. As I point out in the article, Washington State has the most unequal tax structure and it is time we taxed the rich to fund our schools.

I'll begin by noting that most terrorism has not been perpetrated by Islamic-identified people. In fact, despite the relentless deluge of publicity to the contrary, Islamic-identified people commit only a fraction of the world's terrorism.

Most terrorism is large scale. In the 20th and 21st centuries most terrorism is high tech and airborne...whether over Guernica or Dresden or Nagasaki or Hiroshima or Tokyo or Laos or Viet Nam or Baghdad or Gaza. Airborne violence primarily murders civilians. Airborne terror is shooting fish in a barrel.

Legislators passed three amendments today to prohibit the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. A fourth amendment failed. The House also passed an amendment last night ending the DEA's controversial bulk data collection program. It also passed three amendments cutting $23 million from the DEA's budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses. 

"There's unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency's power and budget come under deeper scrutiny."

Jun 04

Wall Street's Psychic Adventurers

By Jeffrey R McCord, Truthout | Op-Ed

Old timers recall the days when investment decisions were based on presumably sound principles of securities and financial analyses back when the federal Glass-Steagall Act separated commercial banking from investment banking. In those storied times, the sources and uses of a given corporation's revenues and profits, its industry's performance and outlook, and macro-economic trends were among fact-based data used to make seemingly rational decisions. And the more regulated market was perceived to be pretty efficient and fair.

Those principals of financial management and regulations arose from the 1929 Market Crash and earlier catastrophes. Several classic scams and bubbles were immortalized in "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," published in London in 1841 by Charles MacKay, LL.D. MacKay, a Scottish journalist and scholar, informed the 19th century world in detail of such financial follies as the British "South Sea Bubble," Dutch "Tulipomania," and the lesser-known French "Mississippi Scheme." 

Legislators voted by a simple voice vote last night to end the DEA's controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA's budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses. 

Representatives debated four amendments to prohibit the DEA and Justice Department from undermining state marijuana laws - and those votes will happen later today. 

Jun 04

Women Crossing the Korean Divide: Reflections and Resolutions

By Women Cross DMZ International Delegation, Truthout | Op-Ed

Thirty women peace makers from 15 countries made a historic crossing of the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) from North to South Korea on May 24th International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament. We called global attention to the need for a peace treaty to finally end the Korean War; to reunite families long separated by Korea's division; and to assure women's participation in the peace process. Because most citizens of North and South Korea are not allowed to cross the DMZ, international women crossed theDMZ on their behalf in solidarity with Korean women's desires for peace and reunification of Korea.

The delegation included prominent women leaders, including two Nobel Peace Laureates, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, who led citizen movements of women to bring peace to their countries, feminist author activist Gloria Steinem, as well as seasoned peace activists, human rights defenders, spiritual leaders, and Korea experts.

Today, as Ministers meet to further a controversial and little known proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on the sidelines of the annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting, Wikileaks released a trove of negotiating texts, including annexes covering a wide range of issues on domestic regulation, financial services, air and maritime transportation, electronic commerce, transparency, telecommunications, professional services, and the natural movement of persons (called "Mode 4" in trade agreements). 

The TISA negotiating texts are supposed to remain secret for five years after the deal is finalized or abandoned. Today, the secrecy charade has collapsed, and the risks to Wall Street oversight are exposed for all to see.

Now 18 hours past a critical business deadline, I have wasted the last 90 minutes after my state-of-the-art wireless keyboard started hashing my password log-ins and erasing my in-box.

Two months ago, I had to take a second mobile phone contract in order to use an old but rugged and reliable phone as backup to my almost state-of-the-art smart phone. The new phone has fabulous features, but is increasingly temperamental, frequently loses signal and the battery lasts less than six hours.

Poverty is on the rise in America and is creating a phenomenon known as the "poverty trap." Public schools are having to deal with its negative effects more and more every year. This is important for schools because poverty greatly decreases student learning ability, and public schools and teachers must become more creative at finding ways to mitigate the negative effects of poverty in the classroom. During an era of increasing public education "reform," it's important to keep poverty in mind as a factor of student achievement.

The US is currently one of only three countries in the OECD community (out of 34) that spend as little on welfare for families in poverty, that do as little for helping children in poverty, and that do not equalize educational opportunity for children in poor communities (1). This must change if the United States is going to be economically competitive with other industrialized countries in the future.