Thursday, 29 September 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.

UN independent human rights experts on migrants, Francois Crépeau, and on trafficking in persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, react to the announcement made at the end of the emergency European Union summit on migrants yesterday.

The decision made yesterday by EUleaders overwhelmingly continues to focus on the securitization of borders. Increasing repression of survival migration has not worked in the past and will not work now.

The unique approach of Boston School Bus Union, Steelworkers Local 8751 offers a much needed new blueprint for building power within poor and working class communities. This particular union marks the spot where organized labor meets oppressed and marginalized people where they are. During my travels to Boston, it was quite inspiring to see a local union work hand in hand with neighborhood youth against police violence. It was quite encouraging to see the rank-and-file of the Boston school bus drivers work with parents and community members to organize against school closings and badly timed budget cuts to public education.

In recent months HIV/AIDS infection rates have skyrocketed in rural Indiana, in large part because of the sharing of syringes used for the injection of the prescription painkiller Opana, heroin, and other drugs. In response Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence allowed one county to implement a 30-day syringe exchange program to reduce infection rates.

Governor Pence extended the program another 30 days this week, but advocates have pointed out that a temporary program in just one county is not enough to stop an epidemic. The legislature is considering legislation to make sterile syringes available on a broader and permanent basis.

New York - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement in response to a front-page story in The Washington Post about the Obama administration's plans to close the Guantanamo prison camp:

"We are encouraged by the Obama administration's restated commitment to closing the prison before the president leaves office, but are concerned that the Pentagon is working against closure and that the White House is being too slow to respond..."

Apr 24

The Carcinogenic Murder of Audrey Moore

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I met Audrey Moore in April 2014. She and a few other Oregon environmentalists invited me to talk about my book, "Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA" (Bloomsbury Press, 2014, paper 2015).

The reason why these Oregonians wanted to hear me talk about regulation and the Environmental Protection Agency is simple. They read "Poison Spring" and found its message spoke to their needs. They appreciated my clearing the confusion about regulation. Who regulates whom? Is the government regulating the industry or the industry the government?

Patent monopolies provide the pharmaceutical industry with incentives for innovation and research. However, they can also encourage a range of rent-seeking behaviors that impose significant costs.

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research assesses the cost associated with one form of rent-seeking, the mismarketing of drugs. This can occur when a drug company seeks narrow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a drug then promotes its use for other purposes. In addition, companies may conceal evidence that their drugs are less effective than claimed or possibly even harmful. The authors of the report find that in the case of just five drugs, this form of rent-seeking has resulted in cumulative costs of morbidity and mortality of $382 billion.

Apr 24

Gradual Injustice

By David Swanson, Let's Try Democracy | Op-Ed

Chris Woods' excellent new book is called Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars. The title comes from a claim that then-President George W. Bush made for drone wars. The book actually tells a story of gradual injustice. The path from a U.S. government that condemned as criminal the type of murder that drones are used for to one that treats such killings as perfectly legal and routine has been a very gradual and completely extra-legal process.

Drone murders started in October 2001 and, typically enough, the first strike murdered the wrong people. The blame game involved a struggle for control among the Air Force, CENTCOM, and the CIA.

Apr 23

Primary Season 2015: A Call to Action

By Mathias Quackenbush, Truthout | Op-Ed

With big money shaping our choice of candidate, Hillary Clinton's coronation as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate is the measure of her likelihood of defending the interests of the corporatocracy. Now is the time to hold her accountable and shape the terms of debate via grassroots activism.

As readers are likely aware, Hillary Clinton recently announced her presidential candidacy. This may just reflect the viewpoint of a writer who operates in an activist echo chamber, but chances are that for most people reading, of interest was not the candidacy itself, but the fact that this announcement was treated as a somehow surprising or notable development. Hasn't #ReadyforHillary been a thing for years now? As Joseph Mulkerin notes in his recent op-ed, MSNBC started referring to her as the "presumptive nominee" as early as 2013.

Internal records released by the US Bureau of Land Management concerning the armed stand-off with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy give little clue of what led up to the confrontation and even less of what changed as a result. The records were given to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) as a result of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against BLM.

In the year following a failed attempt by BLM to seize Bundy's cattle, which had been illegally grazing on 160,000 BLM and National Park Service acres for more than a decade, the agency has been largely silent and had not responded to a PEER FOIA request for explanatory documents.

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.

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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.

UN independent human rights experts on migrants, Francois Crépeau, and on trafficking in persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, react to the announcement made at the end of the emergency European Union summit on migrants yesterday.

The decision made yesterday by EUleaders overwhelmingly continues to focus on the securitization of borders. Increasing repression of survival migration has not worked in the past and will not work now.

The unique approach of Boston School Bus Union, Steelworkers Local 8751 offers a much needed new blueprint for building power within poor and working class communities. This particular union marks the spot where organized labor meets oppressed and marginalized people where they are. During my travels to Boston, it was quite inspiring to see a local union work hand in hand with neighborhood youth against police violence. It was quite encouraging to see the rank-and-file of the Boston school bus drivers work with parents and community members to organize against school closings and badly timed budget cuts to public education.

In recent months HIV/AIDS infection rates have skyrocketed in rural Indiana, in large part because of the sharing of syringes used for the injection of the prescription painkiller Opana, heroin, and other drugs. In response Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence allowed one county to implement a 30-day syringe exchange program to reduce infection rates.

Governor Pence extended the program another 30 days this week, but advocates have pointed out that a temporary program in just one county is not enough to stop an epidemic. The legislature is considering legislation to make sterile syringes available on a broader and permanent basis.

New York - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement in response to a front-page story in The Washington Post about the Obama administration's plans to close the Guantanamo prison camp:

"We are encouraged by the Obama administration's restated commitment to closing the prison before the president leaves office, but are concerned that the Pentagon is working against closure and that the White House is being too slow to respond..."

Apr 24

The Carcinogenic Murder of Audrey Moore

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I met Audrey Moore in April 2014. She and a few other Oregon environmentalists invited me to talk about my book, "Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA" (Bloomsbury Press, 2014, paper 2015).

The reason why these Oregonians wanted to hear me talk about regulation and the Environmental Protection Agency is simple. They read "Poison Spring" and found its message spoke to their needs. They appreciated my clearing the confusion about regulation. Who regulates whom? Is the government regulating the industry or the industry the government?

Patent monopolies provide the pharmaceutical industry with incentives for innovation and research. However, they can also encourage a range of rent-seeking behaviors that impose significant costs.

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research assesses the cost associated with one form of rent-seeking, the mismarketing of drugs. This can occur when a drug company seeks narrow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a drug then promotes its use for other purposes. In addition, companies may conceal evidence that their drugs are less effective than claimed or possibly even harmful. The authors of the report find that in the case of just five drugs, this form of rent-seeking has resulted in cumulative costs of morbidity and mortality of $382 billion.

Apr 24

Gradual Injustice

By David Swanson, Let's Try Democracy | Op-Ed

Chris Woods' excellent new book is called Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars. The title comes from a claim that then-President George W. Bush made for drone wars. The book actually tells a story of gradual injustice. The path from a U.S. government that condemned as criminal the type of murder that drones are used for to one that treats such killings as perfectly legal and routine has been a very gradual and completely extra-legal process.

Drone murders started in October 2001 and, typically enough, the first strike murdered the wrong people. The blame game involved a struggle for control among the Air Force, CENTCOM, and the CIA.

Apr 23

Primary Season 2015: A Call to Action

By Mathias Quackenbush, Truthout | Op-Ed

With big money shaping our choice of candidate, Hillary Clinton's coronation as the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate is the measure of her likelihood of defending the interests of the corporatocracy. Now is the time to hold her accountable and shape the terms of debate via grassroots activism.

As readers are likely aware, Hillary Clinton recently announced her presidential candidacy. This may just reflect the viewpoint of a writer who operates in an activist echo chamber, but chances are that for most people reading, of interest was not the candidacy itself, but the fact that this announcement was treated as a somehow surprising or notable development. Hasn't #ReadyforHillary been a thing for years now? As Joseph Mulkerin notes in his recent op-ed, MSNBC started referring to her as the "presumptive nominee" as early as 2013.

Internal records released by the US Bureau of Land Management concerning the armed stand-off with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy give little clue of what led up to the confrontation and even less of what changed as a result. The records were given to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) as a result of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against BLM.

In the year following a failed attempt by BLM to seize Bundy's cattle, which had been illegally grazing on 160,000 BLM and National Park Service acres for more than a decade, the agency has been largely silent and had not responded to a PEER FOIA request for explanatory documents.

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.