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.
Today, Governor Susana Martinez signed HB 560 into law, ending the practice of civil asset forfeiture in New Mexico. Civil asset forfeiture, also known as "policing for profit," allows law enforcement officers to seize personalproperty without ever charging—much less convicting—a person with a crime. Property seized through this process often finds its way into the department's own coffers. HB 560, introduced by NM Rep. Zachary Cook and passed unanimously in the legislature, replaces civil asset forfeiture with criminal forfeiture, which requires a conviction of a person as a prerequisite to losing property tied to a crime. The new law means that New Mexico now has the strongest protections against wrongful asset seizures in the country.
"This is a good day for the Bill of Rights," said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. "For years police could seize people's cash, cars, and houses without even accusing anyone of a crime. Today, we have ended this unfair practice in NewMexico and replaced it with a model that is just and constitutional."
The little group, waiting for their appointment at the US Embassy in Berlin, were shocked when one member showed the latest photos of a haggard, incredibly aged Mumia Abu-Jamal, unable to stand without assistance.
For any who don't know, the African-American radio journalist with the dreadlocks and a wonderfully deep, warm voice has been in prison since 1981, convicted of killing a Philadelphia policeman. More and more evidence piled up that, seriously wounded, he could not have been guilty. But even those with doubts know that his trial was totally unfair, with a racist prosecutor, a racist judge, an incompetent defense attorney, suppression of evidence and witness intimidation. But, hated for his views by the Fraternal Order of the Police, he was never granted a fair second trial. After long years in a tiny death cell, a world-wide movement saved him from the gas chamber but not from life in prison with no hope of parole. Yet his amazing commentaries on American and world events, telephoned from prison, enraged those who wanted his death. They have often tried to muzzle him, most recently with a law aimed almost directly against him.
Three China-related events caused the world's political and economic axis to shift in March and April. Taken separately, each event has its own importance, but taken together they add up to a sum greater than their parts.
The issuance of Chinese local government bonds, the evacuation of hundreds of foreigners by the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) from Yemen and the confirmation of founding members for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank create a subtle but profound change in the way the world turns.
On October 10, 1989 the Chicago Tribune published my article on climate change. I argued that "lowering the Earth-threatening heat" would probably be the consequence of protest and action by peasants and city people, not of any initiatives taken by state intellectuals and corporations.
About six months later, on April 20, 1990, the Wall Street Journal reprinted a fragment of my article, which denounced the behavior of fossil fuel companies. Energy corporations, I said, are blinded by greed. They threaten the Earth with unimaginable ills: rising temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread impoverishment of the natural world and human destruction of epic proportions. It would be foolish to assume that the same companies would sacrifice their profits for a less threatened, much less, safer world.
Washington, DC - Ahead of President Obama's trip to Jamaica this week,a new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finds that Jamaica is running the most austere budget in the world, with a primary surplus of 7.5 percent, due to its IMF agreement, and that the government's interest payments on the debt and austerity have brought public investment to a low.
The paper, "Partners in Austerity: Jamaica, the United States andthe International Monetary Fund" by Jake Johnston, notes that Jamaica has a debt-to-GDP ratio of nearly 140 percent and its public interest burden is one of the very highest intheworld, at over 8 percent of GDP last year.
The GOP's new budget proposal finally does what we've all wanted - takes food away from the disabled. The wheelchair-bound have been living up in their ivory tower for TOO LONG!
Kingston, Ontario - Multi-instrumentalist, music producer and social justice activist Shuggie Brown, aka Hugh Christopher Brown, releases a new original song, "Ravensong," penned exclusively for the purpose of helping to raise funds for the Beaver Lake Cree Nation's tar sands devastation global crowd ("Grrowd") funding project. "Ravensong", written and performed by Shuggie Brown, and featuring Beaver Lake Cree Nation member Crystal Lameman, is available as an immediate download to every supporter who pledges a donation of € 5 or more.
The private health insurance industry in the U.S. has had a long run since shifting to medical underwriting and a for-profit status in the early 1960s. It finds itself increasingly dependent on the government as the costs and prices ofhealth care have continued upward since the 1980s. Its many perks from government include tax exemptions for employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), privatized Medicare and Medicaid programs, and longstanding over-payments to Medicare Advantage programs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has added to these perks since 2010 with subsidized premiums through the exchanges, a “risk corridor system” to protect insurers from losses, and allowing automatic self-renewal for 2015 plans.
New York, NY - After Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State legislature failed to pass the most needed ethics and campaign finance reforms this spring, the Board of Elections must close a corporate loophole that allows wealthy donors to bypass campaign limits and donate millions of dollars in state elections, urged theBrennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP in a letter Thursday.
The New York Board of Elections currently classifies limited liability companies (LLCs) as individuals rather than "corporations" or "partnerships," as they are treated under federal law. This allows each LLC to give hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, many times the corporate limit.
Montevideo, UY and New York, US - Today the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) formally approved an industry request to release genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. The application was made by FuturaGene, a company owned by Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano. This is the first approval for commercial release of GE trees in Brazil or Latin America.
Organizations in Brazil are exploring legal avenues to stop the commercial release of GE eucalyptus trees, pointing out that this decision violates national law.