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.

Mar 17

Out of Occupy, a New Populist Political Party Forms

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video Report

Carl Gibson, co-founder of U.S. Uncut, is joining with other Occupy Wall Street organizers to launch a new populist political party. While more details (including the name of the party and the identities of other key organizers) will be available when the group launches on March 20, the party will be explicitly anti-capitalist.

Says Gibson: "A new party that actively opposes capitalism and unites people around the basic ideas of meeting human needs would be widely respected and immediately acknowledged. This new party could stand apart from the two corporate-owned parties by refusing to take campaign donations from corporations, banks and developers, standing up for the rights of immigrants and indigenous people, calling for sustainable energy and development, making education for all a top priority, and believing in universal access to healthcare as a human right. While it would take time, focusing on building power first at the local and county level is the surest way to make lasting change."

Arriving in the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev in the midst of the 10th week of protesters' revolt against Yanukovich government was a very surreal experience. While the center of the independence square (Maidan) has been renamed as EuroMaidan and completely built up with structures of all sorts, life outside of 1.5 square mile perimeter continued as usual. Supermarkets were full; the wealthy were shopping, sipping overpriced lattes in coffee shops and cruising up and down the city's premiere shopping district. Some common people were lining up at the side of the German Embassy on Chmelnitskogo street near a huge banner on the embassy building that proclaimed, "we are stronger together." Although it creates a very wry image of a country that looks like a person carrying another on the stretcher, having this degree of optimism on the wall while requiring a Euro 35 fee (a 10th of regular salary in Kiev) to enter its doorstep was, to say the least, strange. But it was a reality that had its own parameters of judgment and taste. Generally things were looking up in Kiev as the local and international elite was finally looking forward to the nearly finished Hilton opening its doors soon. At least the American universe is widening beyond McDonalds, the local language school with imported teachers, Mormon missionaries and the Hyatt where Sen. McCain allegedly stayed when he wanted to work his charm at the Maidan. To be fair to the senator with at least 8 houses, he would be considered poor by the standards of oligarchs bankrolling the revolution two blocks away.

Vienna, Austria – Today, a key working group of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced the release of groundbreaking recommendations discouraging criminal sanctions for drug use. The Scientific Consultation Working Group on Drug Policy, Health and Human Rights of the UNODC – which includes Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – is releasing the recommendations at the High-Level Segment of the 57th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The working group recommendations say “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” in addressing the spectrum of drug use and misuse.

I interviewed Walter Naegle. Naegle was Bayard Rustin's partner from 1977 until Rustin's death in 1987 and he is executor and archivist of the Bayard Rustin Estate. March 17, 2014 would mark the 102nd birthday of Bayard Rustin of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Rustin organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He was born Bayard Taylor Rustin to Florence Rustin and Archie Hopkins in West Chester, Pennsylvania on March 17, 1912. His grandparents Janifer, an Episcopalian minister, and Julia Rustin, a Baptist, named him after Bayard Taylor, a writer and friend of Mark Twain. Bayard never knew his day-laboring father and his mother was more like a sister to him. Rustin's grandmother Julia and grandfather, Janifer, who raised young Bayard, were active members of early Chester County political culture, and of the NAACP.

Militarized police, sophisticated surveillance, and normal citizens with little say in what goes on. The US has all the trappings of an all-powerful police state.

Police State:

Definition:
1. A totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens' activities.

1.) So is the U.S. a totalitarian state?
No. It's an inverted totalitarian state.

Nazi Germany vs. U.S.
Nazi Germany: State dominated economic actors.
U.S.: Corporations control the government through political contributions and lobbying.

Mar 14

SIMILARITIES: 1914 and 2014

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poetry

The countries of Europe, it is said,
stumbled into World War I, a war
no one wanted and yet, and yet...it happened.
After Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination,
it became the Great War, taking the lives
of a generation of young men too eager to fight
in the battlefield trenches.

It is 2014, and publications such as Education Week are offering 50th-year anniversary looks at the War on Poverty. It is 2014, and race and racism remain words that shall not be spoken, lingering scars on the American character that are routinely concealed beneath a heavy foundation (something in a Caucasian, please) and a bold but not too flashy shade of red lipstick. It is 2014, and almost everyone will say poverty, but the great irony is that this American Hustle is achieved through constantly mentioning poverty in order to ignore it.

The trick is to keep the public gaze in the U.S. transfixed on people trapped in poverty, to reinforce the myth that poverty is the result of individual weaknesses (a lack of "grit," for example), and to perpetuate the idea that the wealthy and privileged have earned that wealth and privilege.

Did you know that in the state of California it costs roughly seven times more to house one prisoner for a year than it does to send just one child to a college or university? The annual combined budget for all Cal State and University of California campuses (thirty-two total) is less than half of what California spends on prisons. That's a truly astounding fact and it gets even more troubling when you move to the inner cities. In Los Angeles, more than two-thirds of low-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the highest incarceration rates, and that same percentage of the city's high-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the lowest incarceration rates.

For the past 25 years, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), a nonprofit organization, has provided thousands of at-risk youth with free, exceptional after-school programs in academics, arts, and athletics, including a world-class youth orchestra program, a vibrant visual arts department, a full college-prep program and premier sports leagues and clinics. In neighborhoods often overrun by poverty, crime and a feeling of hopelessness, HOLA invests in youth to build stronger communities and gives some of the city's most vulnerable youth a chance to succeed in life.

Mar 13

Ukraine Hysteria, US Hypocrisy, Keystone Protest

By Peter Hart, FAIR | News Analysis

This week: US media go into overdrive over Russia/Ukraine, painting the conflict as proof that Barack Obama isn't feared enough. Plus pundits laugh at Putin's delusion–but what about John Kerry's?

And a big anti-Keystone XL rally at the White House hardly makes the news.

Mar 13

New report: UN stuck in denial over cannabis regulation

By Tom Blickman, Dave Bewley-Taylor and Martin Jelsma, Global Drug Policy Observatory | Press Release

Swansea/Amsterdam, 11 March 2014 – The current trend towards legal regulation of the cannabis market has become irreversible and requires an urgent dialogue by UN member states on the best models for protecting people's health and safety, argues a new report. The question facing the international community today is no longer whether there is a need to revise the UN drug control system, but rather when and how to do it.

The report unveils the long and little-known history of cannabis regulation from the late 19th century when it was widely used for medical, ceremonial and social purposes to the post-WWII period when US pressure and a potent mix of moralistic rhetoric and unreliable scientific data succeeded in categorising cannabis as a drug with 'particularly dangerous properties' on a par with heroin in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It also brings the history up-to-date with more recent developments as an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime's strictures through 'soft defections', such as turning a blind eye, decriminalisation, coffeeshops, cannabis social clubs and generous medical marijuana schemes. These have stretched the legal flexibility of the conventions to sometimes questionable limits.

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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.

Mar 17

Out of Occupy, a New Populist Political Party Forms

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video Report

Carl Gibson, co-founder of U.S. Uncut, is joining with other Occupy Wall Street organizers to launch a new populist political party. While more details (including the name of the party and the identities of other key organizers) will be available when the group launches on March 20, the party will be explicitly anti-capitalist.

Says Gibson: "A new party that actively opposes capitalism and unites people around the basic ideas of meeting human needs would be widely respected and immediately acknowledged. This new party could stand apart from the two corporate-owned parties by refusing to take campaign donations from corporations, banks and developers, standing up for the rights of immigrants and indigenous people, calling for sustainable energy and development, making education for all a top priority, and believing in universal access to healthcare as a human right. While it would take time, focusing on building power first at the local and county level is the surest way to make lasting change."

Arriving in the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev in the midst of the 10th week of protesters' revolt against Yanukovich government was a very surreal experience. While the center of the independence square (Maidan) has been renamed as EuroMaidan and completely built up with structures of all sorts, life outside of 1.5 square mile perimeter continued as usual. Supermarkets were full; the wealthy were shopping, sipping overpriced lattes in coffee shops and cruising up and down the city's premiere shopping district. Some common people were lining up at the side of the German Embassy on Chmelnitskogo street near a huge banner on the embassy building that proclaimed, "we are stronger together." Although it creates a very wry image of a country that looks like a person carrying another on the stretcher, having this degree of optimism on the wall while requiring a Euro 35 fee (a 10th of regular salary in Kiev) to enter its doorstep was, to say the least, strange. But it was a reality that had its own parameters of judgment and taste. Generally things were looking up in Kiev as the local and international elite was finally looking forward to the nearly finished Hilton opening its doors soon. At least the American universe is widening beyond McDonalds, the local language school with imported teachers, Mormon missionaries and the Hyatt where Sen. McCain allegedly stayed when he wanted to work his charm at the Maidan. To be fair to the senator with at least 8 houses, he would be considered poor by the standards of oligarchs bankrolling the revolution two blocks away.

Vienna, Austria – Today, a key working group of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced the release of groundbreaking recommendations discouraging criminal sanctions for drug use. The Scientific Consultation Working Group on Drug Policy, Health and Human Rights of the UNODC – which includes Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – is releasing the recommendations at the High-Level Segment of the 57th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The working group recommendations say “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” in addressing the spectrum of drug use and misuse.

I interviewed Walter Naegle. Naegle was Bayard Rustin's partner from 1977 until Rustin's death in 1987 and he is executor and archivist of the Bayard Rustin Estate. March 17, 2014 would mark the 102nd birthday of Bayard Rustin of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Rustin organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He was born Bayard Taylor Rustin to Florence Rustin and Archie Hopkins in West Chester, Pennsylvania on March 17, 1912. His grandparents Janifer, an Episcopalian minister, and Julia Rustin, a Baptist, named him after Bayard Taylor, a writer and friend of Mark Twain. Bayard never knew his day-laboring father and his mother was more like a sister to him. Rustin's grandmother Julia and grandfather, Janifer, who raised young Bayard, were active members of early Chester County political culture, and of the NAACP.

Militarized police, sophisticated surveillance, and normal citizens with little say in what goes on. The US has all the trappings of an all-powerful police state.

Police State:

Definition:
1. A totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens' activities.

1.) So is the U.S. a totalitarian state?
No. It's an inverted totalitarian state.

Nazi Germany vs. U.S.
Nazi Germany: State dominated economic actors.
U.S.: Corporations control the government through political contributions and lobbying.

Mar 14

SIMILARITIES: 1914 and 2014

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poetry

The countries of Europe, it is said,
stumbled into World War I, a war
no one wanted and yet, and yet...it happened.
After Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination,
it became the Great War, taking the lives
of a generation of young men too eager to fight
in the battlefield trenches.

It is 2014, and publications such as Education Week are offering 50th-year anniversary looks at the War on Poverty. It is 2014, and race and racism remain words that shall not be spoken, lingering scars on the American character that are routinely concealed beneath a heavy foundation (something in a Caucasian, please) and a bold but not too flashy shade of red lipstick. It is 2014, and almost everyone will say poverty, but the great irony is that this American Hustle is achieved through constantly mentioning poverty in order to ignore it.

The trick is to keep the public gaze in the U.S. transfixed on people trapped in poverty, to reinforce the myth that poverty is the result of individual weaknesses (a lack of "grit," for example), and to perpetuate the idea that the wealthy and privileged have earned that wealth and privilege.

Did you know that in the state of California it costs roughly seven times more to house one prisoner for a year than it does to send just one child to a college or university? The annual combined budget for all Cal State and University of California campuses (thirty-two total) is less than half of what California spends on prisons. That's a truly astounding fact and it gets even more troubling when you move to the inner cities. In Los Angeles, more than two-thirds of low-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the highest incarceration rates, and that same percentage of the city's high-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the lowest incarceration rates.

For the past 25 years, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), a nonprofit organization, has provided thousands of at-risk youth with free, exceptional after-school programs in academics, arts, and athletics, including a world-class youth orchestra program, a vibrant visual arts department, a full college-prep program and premier sports leagues and clinics. In neighborhoods often overrun by poverty, crime and a feeling of hopelessness, HOLA invests in youth to build stronger communities and gives some of the city's most vulnerable youth a chance to succeed in life.

Mar 13

Ukraine Hysteria, US Hypocrisy, Keystone Protest

By Peter Hart, FAIR | News Analysis

This week: US media go into overdrive over Russia/Ukraine, painting the conflict as proof that Barack Obama isn't feared enough. Plus pundits laugh at Putin's delusion–but what about John Kerry's?

And a big anti-Keystone XL rally at the White House hardly makes the news.

Mar 13

New report: UN stuck in denial over cannabis regulation

By Tom Blickman, Dave Bewley-Taylor and Martin Jelsma, Global Drug Policy Observatory | Press Release

Swansea/Amsterdam, 11 March 2014 – The current trend towards legal regulation of the cannabis market has become irreversible and requires an urgent dialogue by UN member states on the best models for protecting people's health and safety, argues a new report. The question facing the international community today is no longer whether there is a need to revise the UN drug control system, but rather when and how to do it.

The report unveils the long and little-known history of cannabis regulation from the late 19th century when it was widely used for medical, ceremonial and social purposes to the post-WWII period when US pressure and a potent mix of moralistic rhetoric and unreliable scientific data succeeded in categorising cannabis as a drug with 'particularly dangerous properties' on a par with heroin in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It also brings the history up-to-date with more recent developments as an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime's strictures through 'soft defections', such as turning a blind eye, decriminalisation, coffeeshops, cannabis social clubs and generous medical marijuana schemes. These have stretched the legal flexibility of the conventions to sometimes questionable limits.