Monday, 03 August 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.

During the hour that it took the world's elite G7 politicians discussing climate change to wander through an enchanting meadow of flowers in Germany's Bavarian Alps earlier this week, at least 800 people died prematurely from the impact of air pollution, most of it caused by the burning of non-renewable fossil fuels.

Wanting to show the world – particularly voters at home – that they care about the seven-million people a year dying from various pollution and carbon related causes, the leaders of the world's richest countries, including Canada, signed a joint declaration calling for a global phasing-out of fossil fuels 85 years from now.

The votes on behalf of fast track legislation in the House of Representatives don't seem to add up. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told the New York Times, "We're not quite there, but we're getting close," regarding the vote count, while Speaker of the House John Boehner said on June 3rd, "I don't think we're quite there yet."

The razor-thin margins in the House mean that a handful of substantive provisions still up for debate could swing the margin one way or the other.  For example, the provision in fast track that would cut $700 million from Medicare in order to fund Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers displayed by trade is generating plenty of opposition. Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan plans to address a range of other unresolved key issues via a customs enforcement bill that he plans to move separately from the fast track legislation. As Ryan's spokesman Brendan Buck recently said: "the customs and enforcement bill has always been the vehicle with which we've planned to reconcile differences between the two chambers on a range of issues." 

Jun 11

Changing Captains on the Left

By Victor Grossman, Truthout | Op-Ed

That weekend of wealthy, powerful heads of state and other bosses high up in the Bavarian Alps, and the vigorous protests from opposing crowds kept out of earshot downhill, largely stole media thunder this past weekend. Far lower in altitude and attention, with almost no thunder from the media or otherwise, another meeting was held in less scenic West German Bielefeld. It was a congress of DIE LINKE, the Left Party. Yet a gathering of arguably the only opposition force with any real clout in Germany, with representatives of its 60,000 members, was important enough.

What media attention it did receive centered on one question: "Will he or won't he?" The "he" was Gregor Gysi. In 1989 this bald-headed little lawyer, a skilled speaker with sharp wit and tongue, played a key role, if not THE key role, in salvaging the devastated remains of the East German ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and, instead of dissolving it, transforming it into a democratic, undogmatic organization renamed Party of Democratic Socialism, with a range of accepted different views, formerly denounced as factions. 

Writing about and reporting the Middle East is not an easy task, especially during these years of turmoil and upheaval. But I cannot remember another time in recent history we needed journalists to shine, to challenge conventional wisdom, to think in terms of contexts, motives, alliances, not ideological, political or financial interests.

From the start, when addressing the issue of the Middle East, the actual entity of  "Middle East" is itself highly questionable. It is arbitrary, and can only be understood within proximity to some other entity, Europe, which colonial endeavors imposed such classifications on the rest of the word. Colonial Europe was the center of the globe and everything else was measured in physical and political distance from the dominating continent. 

Just hours after innocent juvenile Aftab Bahadur was hanged in the early hours of this morning, Pakistan'Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal for Shafqat Hussain- who was convicted as a juvenile and sentenced to death based on a 'confession' extracted after days of torture.

A black warrant had been issued for Shafqat Hussain earlier this week and his execution scheduled for 4am Tuesday morning, but a last-minute stay was issued. Shafqat's juvenility and torture have never been fully investigated - despite the fact that earlier this year the concerns led Pakistan's President, Mamnoon Hussain, to order a stay of execution and an inquiry.

This morning at 0430 Pakistan time (0030 UK time), Aftab Bahadur was executed in Lahore, after the Pakistani authorities refused to allow his lawyers to secure key evidencethat Mr Bahadur was innocent.

Mr Bahadur was just 15 years old when he was sentenced to death for murder, following a conviction which was overwhelmingly based on 'evidence' extracted under torture.

Today, in the final days of the Bonn Climate Change Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Corporate Accountability International delivered a resounding call to the parties of the UNFCCC on behalf of hundreds of other organizations and hundreds of thousands people:  protect the treaty and climate policymaking from the undue influence of the globe's biggest polluters.

The call comes as record droughts and rainfall as well as relentless heatwaves claim lives around the globe and some of the world's biggest polluters attempt to co-opt the treaty process and influence negotiating outcomes.

Exposing Lies of Empire by Andre Vltchek is an 800-page tour of the world between 2012 and 2015 without a Western tour guide. It ought to make you spitting-mad furious, then grateful for the enlightenment, and then ready to get to work.

The 4% of us humans who have grown up in the United States are taught that our government means well and does good. As we begin to grasp that this isn't always so, we're duly admonished that all governments do evil -- as if we were being simplistic and self-centered to blame Washington for too much.

Jun 10

Criminalizing Criticism: A Zionist Project

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

From the 1920s on into the 1990s, the Zionists controlled the storyline in the West on the Israel-Palestine conflict. This meant that their version of history was the only version as far as most of the people in the West were concerned. Consequentially, they had an uncontested media field to label the Palestinians and their supporters as "terrorists" - the charge of anti-Semitism was not yet widely used. Also, as a consequence of their monopoly, the Zionists did not bother to engage in public debate. 

Then, over the last twenty years the Zionists slowly lost their monopoly. In part this was due to the fact that in 1993 the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist and renounced terrorism, and in the following years many of the Arab states made or offered peace. However, the Israelis did not respond in kind. In particular they failed to respond in a fair and just way to U.S.-sponsored peace efforts. Why so?

Documents released today by Syngenta include a letter from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant to Syngenta, suggesting as a part of a corporate merger that, "We would also propose a new name for the combined company to reflect its unique global nature."

"Monsanto wants to escape its ugly history by ditching its name," said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know, a consumer group. "This shows how desperate Monsanto is to escape criticism: of its products, which raise environmental and health concerns, as well as concerns about corporate control of agriculture and our food system."

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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.

During the hour that it took the world's elite G7 politicians discussing climate change to wander through an enchanting meadow of flowers in Germany's Bavarian Alps earlier this week, at least 800 people died prematurely from the impact of air pollution, most of it caused by the burning of non-renewable fossil fuels.

Wanting to show the world – particularly voters at home – that they care about the seven-million people a year dying from various pollution and carbon related causes, the leaders of the world's richest countries, including Canada, signed a joint declaration calling for a global phasing-out of fossil fuels 85 years from now.

The votes on behalf of fast track legislation in the House of Representatives don't seem to add up. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told the New York Times, "We're not quite there, but we're getting close," regarding the vote count, while Speaker of the House John Boehner said on June 3rd, "I don't think we're quite there yet."

The razor-thin margins in the House mean that a handful of substantive provisions still up for debate could swing the margin one way or the other.  For example, the provision in fast track that would cut $700 million from Medicare in order to fund Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers displayed by trade is generating plenty of opposition. Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan plans to address a range of other unresolved key issues via a customs enforcement bill that he plans to move separately from the fast track legislation. As Ryan's spokesman Brendan Buck recently said: "the customs and enforcement bill has always been the vehicle with which we've planned to reconcile differences between the two chambers on a range of issues." 

Jun 11

Changing Captains on the Left

By Victor Grossman, Truthout | Op-Ed

That weekend of wealthy, powerful heads of state and other bosses high up in the Bavarian Alps, and the vigorous protests from opposing crowds kept out of earshot downhill, largely stole media thunder this past weekend. Far lower in altitude and attention, with almost no thunder from the media or otherwise, another meeting was held in less scenic West German Bielefeld. It was a congress of DIE LINKE, the Left Party. Yet a gathering of arguably the only opposition force with any real clout in Germany, with representatives of its 60,000 members, was important enough.

What media attention it did receive centered on one question: "Will he or won't he?" The "he" was Gregor Gysi. In 1989 this bald-headed little lawyer, a skilled speaker with sharp wit and tongue, played a key role, if not THE key role, in salvaging the devastated remains of the East German ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and, instead of dissolving it, transforming it into a democratic, undogmatic organization renamed Party of Democratic Socialism, with a range of accepted different views, formerly denounced as factions. 

Writing about and reporting the Middle East is not an easy task, especially during these years of turmoil and upheaval. But I cannot remember another time in recent history we needed journalists to shine, to challenge conventional wisdom, to think in terms of contexts, motives, alliances, not ideological, political or financial interests.

From the start, when addressing the issue of the Middle East, the actual entity of  "Middle East" is itself highly questionable. It is arbitrary, and can only be understood within proximity to some other entity, Europe, which colonial endeavors imposed such classifications on the rest of the word. Colonial Europe was the center of the globe and everything else was measured in physical and political distance from the dominating continent. 

Just hours after innocent juvenile Aftab Bahadur was hanged in the early hours of this morning, Pakistan'Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal for Shafqat Hussain- who was convicted as a juvenile and sentenced to death based on a 'confession' extracted after days of torture.

A black warrant had been issued for Shafqat Hussain earlier this week and his execution scheduled for 4am Tuesday morning, but a last-minute stay was issued. Shafqat's juvenility and torture have never been fully investigated - despite the fact that earlier this year the concerns led Pakistan's President, Mamnoon Hussain, to order a stay of execution and an inquiry.

This morning at 0430 Pakistan time (0030 UK time), Aftab Bahadur was executed in Lahore, after the Pakistani authorities refused to allow his lawyers to secure key evidencethat Mr Bahadur was innocent.

Mr Bahadur was just 15 years old when he was sentenced to death for murder, following a conviction which was overwhelmingly based on 'evidence' extracted under torture.

Today, in the final days of the Bonn Climate Change Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Corporate Accountability International delivered a resounding call to the parties of the UNFCCC on behalf of hundreds of other organizations and hundreds of thousands people:  protect the treaty and climate policymaking from the undue influence of the globe's biggest polluters.

The call comes as record droughts and rainfall as well as relentless heatwaves claim lives around the globe and some of the world's biggest polluters attempt to co-opt the treaty process and influence negotiating outcomes.

Exposing Lies of Empire by Andre Vltchek is an 800-page tour of the world between 2012 and 2015 without a Western tour guide. It ought to make you spitting-mad furious, then grateful for the enlightenment, and then ready to get to work.

The 4% of us humans who have grown up in the United States are taught that our government means well and does good. As we begin to grasp that this isn't always so, we're duly admonished that all governments do evil -- as if we were being simplistic and self-centered to blame Washington for too much.

Jun 10

Criminalizing Criticism: A Zionist Project

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

From the 1920s on into the 1990s, the Zionists controlled the storyline in the West on the Israel-Palestine conflict. This meant that their version of history was the only version as far as most of the people in the West were concerned. Consequentially, they had an uncontested media field to label the Palestinians and their supporters as "terrorists" - the charge of anti-Semitism was not yet widely used. Also, as a consequence of their monopoly, the Zionists did not bother to engage in public debate. 

Then, over the last twenty years the Zionists slowly lost their monopoly. In part this was due to the fact that in 1993 the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist and renounced terrorism, and in the following years many of the Arab states made or offered peace. However, the Israelis did not respond in kind. In particular they failed to respond in a fair and just way to U.S.-sponsored peace efforts. Why so?

Documents released today by Syngenta include a letter from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant to Syngenta, suggesting as a part of a corporate merger that, "We would also propose a new name for the combined company to reflect its unique global nature."

"Monsanto wants to escape its ugly history by ditching its name," said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know, a consumer group. "This shows how desperate Monsanto is to escape criticism: of its products, which raise environmental and health concerns, as well as concerns about corporate control of agriculture and our food system."