Friday, 24 March 2017 / 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.

With Pennsylvania's Supreme Court primary less than a week away, television ad buys have reached at least $1,456,975, according to Federal Communications Commission records analyzed by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake.

In this primary, 12 candidates are vying for three open seats - the most open at one time in thecourt's history - making it likely that this year's election cycle will be among the most expensive in state history. (The most expensive election to date was in 2007, where TV spending totals reached $4.6 million with two open seats and one retention election.) Two of the three seats up for election this cycle were vacated due to scandal, and the November general election will determine the ideological makeup of the court.

A senior FBI official and former US attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the FBI director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.

Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama administration's efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration's hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.

May 13

Everyone Has to Practice Nonviolence Now

By Rev. John Dear, Truthout | Op-Ed

The death of unarmed Freddie Gray in police custody and the subsequent riots in Baltimore demonstrate the profound systemic injustice in our country, as well as the complete misunderstanding and widespread hypocrisy about nonviolence.

Everyone has to practice nonviolence. Everyone. From the people on the streets to the police, to church ministers and parents, but also our media spokespeople and elected officials. Including the president. And the military. Everyone, everywhere. The days of war, killing, shootings, bombings, torture, executions and nuclear weapons are coming to an end. The days of violence are over. Everyone has topractice nonviolence. That is our only future - if we are to have a future.

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs, has placed a mock "Help Wanted" ad in Roll Call seeking a new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to "prolong the failed war on drugs." Primary areas of job responsibility include "Mass Incarceration," "Police State Tactics," "Obstruction of Science," "Subverting Democracy" and "Undermining Human Rights." The ad comes in the wake of numerous DEA scandals and DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart's recent announcement she will resign sometime in May.

The fishing trawler "Marianne of Gothenburg" left Gothenburg, Sweden on May 10, 2015, to meet the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departed for a voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the Gaza Strip which is blockaded by Israel.

The "Marianne" will join other ships and together they will form the "Gaza Freedom
Flotilla 3" in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.

May 13

The State of the Global Economy

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The slump that started in 2007 is now known as the Great Recession. Some people such as the Nobel Laureate and Princeton Economics Professor Paul Krugman call it a depression. Regardless of what you call it, it is clear to most that even after eight years of money printing and huge budget deficits, the global economy is still stagnating. According to the latest estimate from the government, US GDP growth was practically zero in the first quarter of this year.

 Now one of America's top economists, Professor Ravi Batra, explains why conventional economic approaches have been a dismal failure and why they would never restore world economies to their pre-2007 prosperity.

This week the US Senate approved a joint budget plan for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, by a vote of 51-48 with all Senate Democrats and two Republicans voting against it. The US House of Representatives approved the same plan last week by 226-197, which was opposed by 14 Republicans and every Democrat. This budget framework is not binding, but it serves as a blueprint for making decisions about spending and revenues in the coming fiscal year. To see how your US Representative(s) voted click here; for your US Senators click here.

Instead of asking the wealthy and corporations to pay one additional cent in taxes - in fact it would cut their taxes - the plan aims to balance the budget in 10 years by cutting more than $5 trillion from vital services for low-and middle-income Americans and by disinvesting in America’s future by slashing funding for infrastructure, research and education.

Saudi Arabia has been urged to spare the lives of two juveniles and an ageing politicalactivist, after plans emerged to execute at least one of them this Thursday (14th).

Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime, and two juveniles, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon, were arrested during a 2012 crackdown on anti-government protests in the Shiite province of Qatif. After a trial marred by irregularities, Mr Al Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion on charges including 'insulting the King' and delivering religious sermons that 'disrupt national unity'. This week, it emerged that the authorities plan to execute him on Thursday, despite protests from the UN and Saudi human rights organizations.

2015 0508speakout2Today several important civil rights organizations released a statement that is critical of the decision by many parents and students to opt out of highstakes standardized tests. Though we understand the concerns expressed in this statement, we believe highstakestests are doing more harm than good to the interests of students of color, and for that reason, we respectfully disagree.

The United States is currently experiencing the largest uprising against high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s history. Never before have more parents, students, and educators participated in acts of defiance against these tests than they are today.  In New York State some 200,000 families have decided to opt their children out of the state test.  The largest walkout against standardized tests in U.S. history occurred in Colorado earlier this school year when thousands refused to take the end of course exams.  In cities from Seattle, to Chicago, to Toledo, to New York City, teachers have organized boycotts of the exam and have refused to administer particularly flawed and punitive exams.

On Saturday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called for the suspension of Colombia's aerial spraying program to eradicate illicit crop cultivation. This came after the recent release of a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization, which found that the main chemical used in the aerial spraying program, glyphosate, is likely carcinogenic to humans.

"Few presidents have been as bold as President Santos in calling for global alternatives to the failed drug war," said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "His suspension of the spraying program suggests that he recognizes the need to promote reforms not just on the global stage but at home as well."

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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.

With Pennsylvania's Supreme Court primary less than a week away, television ad buys have reached at least $1,456,975, according to Federal Communications Commission records analyzed by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake.

In this primary, 12 candidates are vying for three open seats - the most open at one time in thecourt's history - making it likely that this year's election cycle will be among the most expensive in state history. (The most expensive election to date was in 2007, where TV spending totals reached $4.6 million with two open seats and one retention election.) Two of the three seats up for election this cycle were vacated due to scandal, and the November general election will determine the ideological makeup of the court.

A senior FBI official and former US attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, has been selected by President Obama as interim director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Rosenberg has served as the chief of staff to the FBI director, James B. Comey, for the past 18 months.

Outgoing DEA head Michele Leonhart announced her retirement last month in the wake of numerous scandals. She came under intense criticism for opposing the Obama administration's efforts to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and for opposing the administration's hands-off approach in the four states that have approved legal regulation of marijuana.

May 13

Everyone Has to Practice Nonviolence Now

By Rev. John Dear, Truthout | Op-Ed

The death of unarmed Freddie Gray in police custody and the subsequent riots in Baltimore demonstrate the profound systemic injustice in our country, as well as the complete misunderstanding and widespread hypocrisy about nonviolence.

Everyone has to practice nonviolence. Everyone. From the people on the streets to the police, to church ministers and parents, but also our media spokespeople and elected officials. Including the president. And the military. Everyone, everywhere. The days of war, killing, shootings, bombings, torture, executions and nuclear weapons are coming to an end. The days of violence are over. Everyone has topractice nonviolence. That is our only future - if we are to have a future.

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs, has placed a mock "Help Wanted" ad in Roll Call seeking a new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to "prolong the failed war on drugs." Primary areas of job responsibility include "Mass Incarceration," "Police State Tactics," "Obstruction of Science," "Subverting Democracy" and "Undermining Human Rights." The ad comes in the wake of numerous DEA scandals and DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart's recent announcement she will resign sometime in May.

The fishing trawler "Marianne of Gothenburg" left Gothenburg, Sweden on May 10, 2015, to meet the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departed for a voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the Gaza Strip which is blockaded by Israel.

The "Marianne" will join other ships and together they will form the "Gaza Freedom
Flotilla 3" in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.

May 13

The State of the Global Economy

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The slump that started in 2007 is now known as the Great Recession. Some people such as the Nobel Laureate and Princeton Economics Professor Paul Krugman call it a depression. Regardless of what you call it, it is clear to most that even after eight years of money printing and huge budget deficits, the global economy is still stagnating. According to the latest estimate from the government, US GDP growth was practically zero in the first quarter of this year.

 Now one of America's top economists, Professor Ravi Batra, explains why conventional economic approaches have been a dismal failure and why they would never restore world economies to their pre-2007 prosperity.

This week the US Senate approved a joint budget plan for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, by a vote of 51-48 with all Senate Democrats and two Republicans voting against it. The US House of Representatives approved the same plan last week by 226-197, which was opposed by 14 Republicans and every Democrat. This budget framework is not binding, but it serves as a blueprint for making decisions about spending and revenues in the coming fiscal year. To see how your US Representative(s) voted click here; for your US Senators click here.

Instead of asking the wealthy and corporations to pay one additional cent in taxes - in fact it would cut their taxes - the plan aims to balance the budget in 10 years by cutting more than $5 trillion from vital services for low-and middle-income Americans and by disinvesting in America’s future by slashing funding for infrastructure, research and education.

Saudi Arabia has been urged to spare the lives of two juveniles and an ageing politicalactivist, after plans emerged to execute at least one of them this Thursday (14th).

Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime, and two juveniles, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon, were arrested during a 2012 crackdown on anti-government protests in the Shiite province of Qatif. After a trial marred by irregularities, Mr Al Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion on charges including 'insulting the King' and delivering religious sermons that 'disrupt national unity'. This week, it emerged that the authorities plan to execute him on Thursday, despite protests from the UN and Saudi human rights organizations.

2015 0508speakout2Today several important civil rights organizations released a statement that is critical of the decision by many parents and students to opt out of highstakes standardized tests. Though we understand the concerns expressed in this statement, we believe highstakestests are doing more harm than good to the interests of students of color, and for that reason, we respectfully disagree.

The United States is currently experiencing the largest uprising against high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s history. Never before have more parents, students, and educators participated in acts of defiance against these tests than they are today.  In New York State some 200,000 families have decided to opt their children out of the state test.  The largest walkout against standardized tests in U.S. history occurred in Colorado earlier this school year when thousands refused to take the end of course exams.  In cities from Seattle, to Chicago, to Toledo, to New York City, teachers have organized boycotts of the exam and have refused to administer particularly flawed and punitive exams.

On Saturday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called for the suspension of Colombia's aerial spraying program to eradicate illicit crop cultivation. This came after the recent release of a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization, which found that the main chemical used in the aerial spraying program, glyphosate, is likely carcinogenic to humans.

"Few presidents have been as bold as President Santos in calling for global alternatives to the failed drug war," said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "His suspension of the spraying program suggests that he recognizes the need to promote reforms not just on the global stage but at home as well."