Friday, 19 December 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG
  • Homeless People: Do You Just "Walk On By"?

    Is there a helpful way to respond when you encounter one of the approximately 578,424 people who are homeless on any given night in the United States today?

  • Quiet Distress Among the (Ex) Rich

    Yves Smith: The fact that economic distress has moved pretty high up the food chain is a sign that this recovery isn't all that it is cracked up to be.

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.

Annapolis, MD - As the Maryland General Assembly completed its work on the state budget bill, legislators inserted language that weakly condemns the American Studies Association (ASA) decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions complicit in Israel's long record of human rights violations. This language serves to placate proponents of HB998/SB647, which stalled in committee after civil rights and community groups resoundingly condemned the legislation as an unconstitutional assault on academic freedom. Delegate Ben Kramer of Montgomery County then introduced the bills' language as an amendment to the state budget bill.

Earlier in the legislative session, Delegate Kramer introduced HB998/SB647. This legislation, had it passed, would have withdrawn some funding from Maryland universities and academic departments with ties to ASA and other groups supportive of boycott. Diverse voices called the bill an attempt to silence debate, including the UMD President's Office, the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Defending Dissent Foundation and others. Most recently, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Prize winner who played a central role in ending apartheid in South Africa criticized the legislation. Even staunchly pro Israel organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington opposed the bill.

Poet, Novelist, Social Activist, and important figure in the women's liberation movement, Marge Piercy (New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers; Woman on the Edge of Time) records a moving account of her own illegal abortion, and speaks to the importance of abortion rights to be part of emergency programs and actions in cities nationwide April 11-12
 
"It was a time when falling in love could kill you.." Piercy states, in recounting the story of her near death from her own illegal abortion, the death of her close friend and many others from botched abortions during the same period, and the life altering shame and stigma heaped on women and girls for unplanned pregnancies.  
Apr 07

Obama Administration "Willing To Work" With Congress To Reschedule Marijuana

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.

Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research intomarijuana's medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.

“Rescheduling would be a modest step in the right direction, but would do nothing to stop marijuana arrests or prohibition-related violence,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Now that the majority of the American public supports taxing and regulating marijuana, this debate about re-scheduling is a bit antiquated and not a real solution to the failures of marijuana prohibition.”

Apr 07

Any Courtroom in China

By John LaForge, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Any courtroom in China or Iran could have been the scene: An 84-year-old Catholic nun in prison garb, chained hand-and-foot and surrounded by heavy Marshals, is shuffled jangling into court. Her attorney asks if she might be allowed one free hand in order to take notes. The nun has been convicted of high crimes trumped up after her bold political protest embarrassed the state. A high-ranking judge lectures her about law and order and then imposes a three-year prison term.

Like a Mullah thundering against an Infidel, the judge absurdly orders the penniless convict, who has lived her entire adult life within a vow of poverty, to pay $53,000 in restitution — what the government said was cost to fix four cuts in wire fences and repaint a wall.

Apr 07

Mr. Rosenberg's Conundrum - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Michael Jay Rosenberg is a well-known, sharp-minded critic of the Israeli government. But he is also a “liberal Zionist” who believes in the legitimacy and necessity of a Jewish state. This point of view has led him to attack the BDS (Boycott Israel) movement in a recent piece, “The Goal of BDS is Dismantling Israel”. In the process he seriously underestimates the movement’s scope and potential in an effort to convince himself and others that BDS has no chance of actually achieving the goal he ascribes to it. However, the only evidence he cites of the movement’s weakness is the recent failure of the University of Michigan’s student government to pass a divestment resolution. At the same time he fails to mention an almost simultaneous decision by Chicago’s Loyola University student government to seek divestment. Rosenberg also makes no reference to BDS’s steady and impressive efforts in Europe.

For a country with a historical memory as short as ours, the mall might seem like it has been a permanent fixture in American life. In the churn'em and burn'em world of corporate consumer culture though, everything has a shelf life. And these cavernous and tacky monuments to conspicuous consumption that we call shopping malls have reached theirs. The mall occupied a central place in America for nearly fifty years: It provided an outlet for socializing for generations of bored teenagers; the mall served as a place of bonding for overworked adults and their children on weekend trips; and perhaps most of all, for a time, it served as an insufficient replacement for the vacuum suburbanization created in the communal life of so many areas of the country.

Shopping malls will, of course, not entirely exit stage left; they remain popular among the moneyed classes. However, they are slowly fading away from the middle class areas of the country, as is American consumer culture, as we once knew it. The mall will be both maligned and recalled fondly by those of us who grew up with it, but it will not be replaced by another equally potent symbol of consumerism.

Apr 07

FDA Approves Innovative New Device to Reverse Opiate Overdose

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

The Drug Policy Alliance praised the FDA for continuing to address the opiate overdose problem in the U.S. “We applaud the FDA making naloxone more available among people in a position to prevent opiate deaths and save lives,” said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “While any new technology that makes using naloxone more user-friendly is a welcome development, intramusucular and intranasal forms of naloxone continue to remain available and affordable. We encourage people to acquire whichever form of naloxone is most convenient and affordable for them. And we encourage the manufacturers to ensure the affordability of this life-saving product,” added Ralston.

On March 3, 2014, the House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, released a report on what it considered the results of the "War on Poverty," a set of policies begun by President Lyndon B. Johnson after massive social pressure. The problem with this report, "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later," at least from my perspective, is not its apparent misuse of statistics or its sensationalizing of trivial matters. After all, statistics are misused regularly, as numbers are ripe for manipulation when removed from their specific context. And, sensationalizing everything, from who stole a child's candy to which politician banged what lover in the bathroom, is par for the course in a country where the mass of the population is marginalized from participation in the decision-making process. This all seemed to me to be the norm for partisan reports of this kind, attacking programs that are quite popular according to polling data.

Rather, what I found grotesquely appalling was the a-historical presentation of the report. It was as if decades of policy and decisions had never been made, except when considered useful to their talking points by those preparing the report. Labor, as well, was absent from the report, except in the most superficial way. Taken together, it was as if political economy had been reduced to zero. All of these absences make the report a mockery of much of the hard academic labor put into the studies brutalized to make the report's ridiculous claims. In this, a qualitative corrective is needed with history as my weapon. Foolishly I enter this endeavor, understanding well what Hegel wrote, "that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." Alas, I hope they learn now - the people that is.

Apr 05

Transformation of US Semiconductor Industry

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Globalization led to the transformation of the entire US Semiconductor Industry from a few Independent Device Manufacturers (IDMs) to several fabless small businesses leading to new innovations in the Microelectronics business.

Deceptive "Free Trade" agreements have resulted in not just a transfer of manufacturing technology to China, but also in increased threats of counterfeit electronics entering into the US supply chain. This article explains how US National security may be impacted by the transfer of semiconductor manufacturing technology.

Following in the footsteps of the Employment Policies Institute, Tom Keane disregards my support for raising the minimum wage because I am a Marxist economist, associating me with the worst abuses of Soviet-style communism ("Red flags, not red-baiting, on wage petition," Op-ed, March 16). This is uninformed and unfair.

I call myself a Marxist-feminist-anti-racist-ecological economist to make my standpoint clear. I advocate grass-roots, peaceful change toward a market-based economy where everyone's needs are filled in a fair, sustainable, and democratic fashion. I advocate guaranteeing the basic human right to a job at a living wage. In my research and teaching, I practice thinking outside of the box of capitalism — in particular, supporting the emerging solidarity economy: economic practices and institutions based on cooperation and sharing, social responsibility, sustainability, and economic democracy, rather than on narrow materialistic self-interest, the profit motive, and the rule of the wealthy.

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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.

Annapolis, MD - As the Maryland General Assembly completed its work on the state budget bill, legislators inserted language that weakly condemns the American Studies Association (ASA) decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions complicit in Israel's long record of human rights violations. This language serves to placate proponents of HB998/SB647, which stalled in committee after civil rights and community groups resoundingly condemned the legislation as an unconstitutional assault on academic freedom. Delegate Ben Kramer of Montgomery County then introduced the bills' language as an amendment to the state budget bill.

Earlier in the legislative session, Delegate Kramer introduced HB998/SB647. This legislation, had it passed, would have withdrawn some funding from Maryland universities and academic departments with ties to ASA and other groups supportive of boycott. Diverse voices called the bill an attempt to silence debate, including the UMD President's Office, the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Defending Dissent Foundation and others. Most recently, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Prize winner who played a central role in ending apartheid in South Africa criticized the legislation. Even staunchly pro Israel organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington opposed the bill.

Poet, Novelist, Social Activist, and important figure in the women's liberation movement, Marge Piercy (New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers; Woman on the Edge of Time) records a moving account of her own illegal abortion, and speaks to the importance of abortion rights to be part of emergency programs and actions in cities nationwide April 11-12
 
"It was a time when falling in love could kill you.." Piercy states, in recounting the story of her near death from her own illegal abortion, the death of her close friend and many others from botched abortions during the same period, and the life altering shame and stigma heaped on women and girls for unplanned pregnancies.  
Apr 07

Obama Administration "Willing To Work" With Congress To Reschedule Marijuana

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.

Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research intomarijuana's medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.

“Rescheduling would be a modest step in the right direction, but would do nothing to stop marijuana arrests or prohibition-related violence,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Now that the majority of the American public supports taxing and regulating marijuana, this debate about re-scheduling is a bit antiquated and not a real solution to the failures of marijuana prohibition.”

Apr 07

Any Courtroom in China

By John LaForge, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Any courtroom in China or Iran could have been the scene: An 84-year-old Catholic nun in prison garb, chained hand-and-foot and surrounded by heavy Marshals, is shuffled jangling into court. Her attorney asks if she might be allowed one free hand in order to take notes. The nun has been convicted of high crimes trumped up after her bold political protest embarrassed the state. A high-ranking judge lectures her about law and order and then imposes a three-year prison term.

Like a Mullah thundering against an Infidel, the judge absurdly orders the penniless convict, who has lived her entire adult life within a vow of poverty, to pay $53,000 in restitution — what the government said was cost to fix four cuts in wire fences and repaint a wall.

Apr 07

Mr. Rosenberg's Conundrum - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Michael Jay Rosenberg is a well-known, sharp-minded critic of the Israeli government. But he is also a “liberal Zionist” who believes in the legitimacy and necessity of a Jewish state. This point of view has led him to attack the BDS (Boycott Israel) movement in a recent piece, “The Goal of BDS is Dismantling Israel”. In the process he seriously underestimates the movement’s scope and potential in an effort to convince himself and others that BDS has no chance of actually achieving the goal he ascribes to it. However, the only evidence he cites of the movement’s weakness is the recent failure of the University of Michigan’s student government to pass a divestment resolution. At the same time he fails to mention an almost simultaneous decision by Chicago’s Loyola University student government to seek divestment. Rosenberg also makes no reference to BDS’s steady and impressive efforts in Europe.

For a country with a historical memory as short as ours, the mall might seem like it has been a permanent fixture in American life. In the churn'em and burn'em world of corporate consumer culture though, everything has a shelf life. And these cavernous and tacky monuments to conspicuous consumption that we call shopping malls have reached theirs. The mall occupied a central place in America for nearly fifty years: It provided an outlet for socializing for generations of bored teenagers; the mall served as a place of bonding for overworked adults and their children on weekend trips; and perhaps most of all, for a time, it served as an insufficient replacement for the vacuum suburbanization created in the communal life of so many areas of the country.

Shopping malls will, of course, not entirely exit stage left; they remain popular among the moneyed classes. However, they are slowly fading away from the middle class areas of the country, as is American consumer culture, as we once knew it. The mall will be both maligned and recalled fondly by those of us who grew up with it, but it will not be replaced by another equally potent symbol of consumerism.

Apr 07

FDA Approves Innovative New Device to Reverse Opiate Overdose

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

The Drug Policy Alliance praised the FDA for continuing to address the opiate overdose problem in the U.S. “We applaud the FDA making naloxone more available among people in a position to prevent opiate deaths and save lives,” said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “While any new technology that makes using naloxone more user-friendly is a welcome development, intramusucular and intranasal forms of naloxone continue to remain available and affordable. We encourage people to acquire whichever form of naloxone is most convenient and affordable for them. And we encourage the manufacturers to ensure the affordability of this life-saving product,” added Ralston.

On March 3, 2014, the House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, released a report on what it considered the results of the "War on Poverty," a set of policies begun by President Lyndon B. Johnson after massive social pressure. The problem with this report, "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later," at least from my perspective, is not its apparent misuse of statistics or its sensationalizing of trivial matters. After all, statistics are misused regularly, as numbers are ripe for manipulation when removed from their specific context. And, sensationalizing everything, from who stole a child's candy to which politician banged what lover in the bathroom, is par for the course in a country where the mass of the population is marginalized from participation in the decision-making process. This all seemed to me to be the norm for partisan reports of this kind, attacking programs that are quite popular according to polling data.

Rather, what I found grotesquely appalling was the a-historical presentation of the report. It was as if decades of policy and decisions had never been made, except when considered useful to their talking points by those preparing the report. Labor, as well, was absent from the report, except in the most superficial way. Taken together, it was as if political economy had been reduced to zero. All of these absences make the report a mockery of much of the hard academic labor put into the studies brutalized to make the report's ridiculous claims. In this, a qualitative corrective is needed with history as my weapon. Foolishly I enter this endeavor, understanding well what Hegel wrote, "that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." Alas, I hope they learn now - the people that is.

Apr 05

Transformation of US Semiconductor Industry

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Globalization led to the transformation of the entire US Semiconductor Industry from a few Independent Device Manufacturers (IDMs) to several fabless small businesses leading to new innovations in the Microelectronics business.

Deceptive "Free Trade" agreements have resulted in not just a transfer of manufacturing technology to China, but also in increased threats of counterfeit electronics entering into the US supply chain. This article explains how US National security may be impacted by the transfer of semiconductor manufacturing technology.

Following in the footsteps of the Employment Policies Institute, Tom Keane disregards my support for raising the minimum wage because I am a Marxist economist, associating me with the worst abuses of Soviet-style communism ("Red flags, not red-baiting, on wage petition," Op-ed, March 16). This is uninformed and unfair.

I call myself a Marxist-feminist-anti-racist-ecological economist to make my standpoint clear. I advocate grass-roots, peaceful change toward a market-based economy where everyone's needs are filled in a fair, sustainable, and democratic fashion. I advocate guaranteeing the basic human right to a job at a living wage. In my research and teaching, I practice thinking outside of the box of capitalism — in particular, supporting the emerging solidarity economy: economic practices and institutions based on cooperation and sharing, social responsibility, sustainability, and economic democracy, rather than on narrow materialistic self-interest, the profit motive, and the rule of the wealthy.