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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.

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 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 03

Pakistan Cannot Handle Educated Jihadists

By Mubashir Noor, Truthout | Op-Ed

Saad Aziz has the dubious honor of enhancing Pakistan's terrorism vocabulary. Before his May 21 confession to killing social activist Sabeen Mahmud, and gunning down Ismailis in Safoora Goth,Pakistan's political pendulum on terror swung between two stops: every hit on the homeland could be traced back to either the Taliban or India's intelligence agencies. A young man with an elite education and cosmopolitan upbringing could never be a jihadist. The fact that similar individuals were joining the Islamic State (IS) was dismissed as a first-world problem. Rich people would never go rogue in Pakistan; life was too good for them here!

Reborn fanatics like Saad Aziz and cohort Mohammed Ishrat are especially troublesome because they are hard to predict and don't conform to stereotypes. No one talks about the other killers, Haafiz Nasir or Tahir Hussain, because their socio-religious standing is within the present profile's margin of error. Local commentators are now dusting off precedents to downplay Aziz's actions, and comparing him to Omar Saeed Sheikh and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. These comparisons don't work because both of the latter embraced Al-Qaeda's original logic of jihad against the infidel occupiers of Muslims lands. Unlike Aziz, neither willfully targeted fellow Muslims, nor spewed anti-Shia hate. 

Commenting on the release of a newaccount by a Guantanamo detainee of his torture at the hands of the CIA, Cori Crider, an attorney at international human rights NGO Reprieve - which represents victims of rendition and torture operations - said:

"It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study." 

Today, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill passed by the House last month that ends the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel, co-directors of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, are available for your coverage.

"For the first time since 9/11, Congress has placed significant limits on the government's ability to spy on Americans," said Elizabeth Goitein. "Once signed into law, the USA Freedom Act will end the NSA's indiscriminate collection of Americans' phone records. If faithfully implemented, it will also narrow the collection of other types of business records under Section 215 and other foreign intelligence authorities. It will introduce a measure of transparency into FISA Court decisions and give the court's judges the option of conducting more balanced proceedings."

The research is in! An extensive Princeton University study shows that the American people have no impact on which laws get passed. Lee Camp breaks down the specifics and explains why this means we should be more active and less apathetic than ever before!

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.

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry's interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

Jun 02

On Ramstein: An Open Letter From US Citizens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

By Elsa Rassbach, Judith Bello, Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern, SpeakOut | Open Letter

This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.

The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported byThe Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.

I first met Ahmed in early 2012, in a small park in Gaza's Shuja'ya neighborhood - a place where my friends and I usually meet whenever there is a power cut in our neighborhood. The night air was dry and cool and I was waiting for my friends to arrive. On that particular day, however, they were late. Being the person I am, I patiently waited for them. I found a medium-sized rock with a flat surface at the corner of the park and decided to sit while I lost myself in a sea of thoughts. I was planning a prank to scare one of my best friends, Hamza.

In the still darkness, I was sure nobody would ever notice me. I saw someone approaching and immediately thought of Hamza. I could already feel the excitement deep in the pit of my stomach as I imagined his face when I pulled my prank on him. But much to my surprise, I saw Ahmed instead.

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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.

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 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 03

Pakistan Cannot Handle Educated Jihadists

By Mubashir Noor, Truthout | Op-Ed

Saad Aziz has the dubious honor of enhancing Pakistan's terrorism vocabulary. Before his May 21 confession to killing social activist Sabeen Mahmud, and gunning down Ismailis in Safoora Goth,Pakistan's political pendulum on terror swung between two stops: every hit on the homeland could be traced back to either the Taliban or India's intelligence agencies. A young man with an elite education and cosmopolitan upbringing could never be a jihadist. The fact that similar individuals were joining the Islamic State (IS) was dismissed as a first-world problem. Rich people would never go rogue in Pakistan; life was too good for them here!

Reborn fanatics like Saad Aziz and cohort Mohammed Ishrat are especially troublesome because they are hard to predict and don't conform to stereotypes. No one talks about the other killers, Haafiz Nasir or Tahir Hussain, because their socio-religious standing is within the present profile's margin of error. Local commentators are now dusting off precedents to downplay Aziz's actions, and comparing him to Omar Saeed Sheikh and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. These comparisons don't work because both of the latter embraced Al-Qaeda's original logic of jihad against the infidel occupiers of Muslims lands. Unlike Aziz, neither willfully targeted fellow Muslims, nor spewed anti-Shia hate. 

Commenting on the release of a newaccount by a Guantanamo detainee of his torture at the hands of the CIA, Cori Crider, an attorney at international human rights NGO Reprieve - which represents victims of rendition and torture operations - said:

"It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study." 

Today, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill passed by the House last month that ends the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel, co-directors of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, are available for your coverage.

"For the first time since 9/11, Congress has placed significant limits on the government's ability to spy on Americans," said Elizabeth Goitein. "Once signed into law, the USA Freedom Act will end the NSA's indiscriminate collection of Americans' phone records. If faithfully implemented, it will also narrow the collection of other types of business records under Section 215 and other foreign intelligence authorities. It will introduce a measure of transparency into FISA Court decisions and give the court's judges the option of conducting more balanced proceedings."

The research is in! An extensive Princeton University study shows that the American people have no impact on which laws get passed. Lee Camp breaks down the specifics and explains why this means we should be more active and less apathetic than ever before!

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.

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry's interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

Jun 02

On Ramstein: An Open Letter From US Citizens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

By Elsa Rassbach, Judith Bello, Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern, SpeakOut | Open Letter

This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.

The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported byThe Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.

I first met Ahmed in early 2012, in a small park in Gaza's Shuja'ya neighborhood - a place where my friends and I usually meet whenever there is a power cut in our neighborhood. The night air was dry and cool and I was waiting for my friends to arrive. On that particular day, however, they were late. Being the person I am, I patiently waited for them. I found a medium-sized rock with a flat surface at the corner of the park and decided to sit while I lost myself in a sea of thoughts. I was planning a prank to scare one of my best friends, Hamza.

In the still darkness, I was sure nobody would ever notice me. I saw someone approaching and immediately thought of Hamza. I could already feel the excitement deep in the pit of my stomach as I imagined his face when I pulled my prank on him. But much to my surprise, I saw Ahmed instead.