Saturday, 29 August 2015 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG
  • How to Grow More Food With Less Water

    Scientists and farmers are collaborating on a quest for more efficient irrigation. Now, software is adding piles of new data to help manage water on the farm.

  • Time to Kill the Death Penalty

    The debate over the death penalty is situated in a tragic little corner of the US "culture wars," where some Southerners insist that their moral beliefs require them to execute thy neighbor.

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.

Aug 28

Trial by Fire for Ecuador's President Correa

By Jeffrey D. Pugh, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Multi-colored ponchos, lime green government banners and gray and olive police armor have filled the streets of Quito and other cities in Ecuador this month. Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and opposition protesters have been engaged in a war of words and displays of physical presence in public spaces since the major nonviolent challengers, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), and its allies launched a nationwide strike and march on August 13. Correa is one of the cohort of presidents challenging US hegemony in Latin America, and he has taken over the leading role in promoting regional integration and denouncing US intervention after Hugo Chavez's death. For this reason, the protests, and Correa's increasingly repressive response to them, will be carefully watched by those in other countries wishing to gauge whether the ''Bolivarian moment'' has peaked.

Activists objecting to the overgrowth of the wine/hospitality industry in rural areas of four Northern California counties have met monthly for half a year. At their August 15, meeting in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, one of the wine industry's epicenters, they agreed to name themselves Wine and Water Watch (WWW).

They ratified the following mission statement: "We challenge the over-development of the wine tourism industry and promote ethical land and water use. We advocate agricultural practices that are ecologically regenerative."

The new WWW name replaces the temporary name of Four County Network. Attendance has varied from around two dozen to over 50 activists, by invitation only.

Aug 27

Let It Shine

By Kathy Kelly, Speakout | Op-Ed

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."

Imagine children joyfully singing the above line that eventually became a civil rights anthem. Their innocence and happy resolve enlighten us. Yes! In the face of wars, refugee crises, weapon proliferation and unaddressed climate change impacts, let us echo the common sense of children. Let goodness shine. Or, as our young friends in Afghanistan have put it, "#Enough!" They write the word, in Dari, on the palms of their hands and show it to cameras, wanting to shout out their desire to abolish all wars.

Surgery has a rich culture, full of strengths that exceed and defy the stereotype of surgeons as privileged white men who believe they are gods. In surgery there is a shared commitment to a goal, to individual excellence but also to true teamwork, to honoring the privilege of our patients' trust, to finding problems and fixing them, to getting quickly to the heart of the matter, whatever it is. As a surgeon-in-training, I am learning how to perform operations, but I am mostly learning how to make high-stakes decisions in imperfect circumstances, and as an imperfect individual.

This is what makes being a surgeon the best job in the world, and it has been inspiring to see surgeons celebrating one another through #ILookLikeaSurgeon. The photos from around the world show a broad understanding of the people who bring diversity to surgery, but also of how our diverse backgrounds inform our work. As a queer woman and a surgeon, this conversation feels rich, inclusive and important.

Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia - the British television documentary that I produced in 1979 - showed how violent US administrations had helped to bring Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge to power. This story holds echoes of the Islamic State in the Middle East today.

Between 1969 and 1973, secretly and illegally, President Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger dropped the equivalent in bombs of five Hiroshimas on Cambodia, a country where most people lived beneath straw. In transmitting Nixon's order for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves."

The 2012 Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear action made the "Fort Knox" of weapons-grade uranium look like "F Troop." Three senior peace activists got through four chain-link fences and past multiple "lethal force" zones before stringing banners, spray-painting slogans and pouring blood on the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee - all without being noticed by guards.

The guard that finally spotted the three activists - Sr. Megan Rice, 85, of New York City; Greg Boertje-Obed, 60, of Duluth; and Michael Walli, 66, of Washington, DC - testified that he knew a peace protest when he saw one. He had watched a lot of them whileon duty at Rocky Flats, the former plutonium warhead factory near Denver, Colorado. That's why he shrugged off official protocol and didn't draw his gun on Greg, Megan and Michael that night.

Throughout the Cold War, and doubtless right down to the present, professional people with skills relevant to "national security" have been secretly recruited to work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Universities are among those particularly targeted. Scholars and campus research centers have received CIA and DoD funding for conferences and publications, for collecting intelligence while abroad, and even for spying, all under cloak of secrecy.

Among the more notorious examples is the 1985 scandal at Harvard, in which the head of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies Center was found to have a financial contract with the CIA for research and conferences. He was forced to resign. Yale has had unusually close ties with the CIA dating back many years, contributing student recruits and directors. 

Beware the amicable folks on trendy blogs or slick web sites who promise to restore common sense or set the record straight about GMOs or organic food. They get paid to dupe the public.

Record growth of organic, non-genetically modified food sales has beefed-up efforts by the industrial food and agriculture sector to manipulate a public fearful of contaminated food. American consumers forked over $35 billion for certified organic products in 2013. Last year, shoppers spent $ 10 billion on non-GMO certified food.

Today marks the first year anniversary of the passing of Tim Green, musician, educator, activist, and, let's just say what is true, a "Renaissance man of our time." Tim Green was a man whose warmth and friendship still causes those who were fortunate to have known him to call up his many qualities: spiritual, transcendent, classy and so much more!

Tim Green would have been pleased to know that among his peers, all these adjectives are inseparable from what he recognized as his true vocation, music. Standing in front of the New Orleans Post Office a few years ago, I ran into Tim. He told me then that doctors had recommended that he undergo surgery to have one of his lungs removed.

OK, we all get it. Banks, corporations and Wall Street types in general, are out to make money. They're good at it. In fact, the Atlantic recently announced big banks could currently boast of a "golden age."

At the same time, the well-heeled insist, their vast accumulation of wealth is their own private, personal business.

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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.

Aug 28

Trial by Fire for Ecuador's President Correa

By Jeffrey D. Pugh, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Multi-colored ponchos, lime green government banners and gray and olive police armor have filled the streets of Quito and other cities in Ecuador this month. Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and opposition protesters have been engaged in a war of words and displays of physical presence in public spaces since the major nonviolent challengers, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), and its allies launched a nationwide strike and march on August 13. Correa is one of the cohort of presidents challenging US hegemony in Latin America, and he has taken over the leading role in promoting regional integration and denouncing US intervention after Hugo Chavez's death. For this reason, the protests, and Correa's increasingly repressive response to them, will be carefully watched by those in other countries wishing to gauge whether the ''Bolivarian moment'' has peaked.

Activists objecting to the overgrowth of the wine/hospitality industry in rural areas of four Northern California counties have met monthly for half a year. At their August 15, meeting in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, one of the wine industry's epicenters, they agreed to name themselves Wine and Water Watch (WWW).

They ratified the following mission statement: "We challenge the over-development of the wine tourism industry and promote ethical land and water use. We advocate agricultural practices that are ecologically regenerative."

The new WWW name replaces the temporary name of Four County Network. Attendance has varied from around two dozen to over 50 activists, by invitation only.

Aug 27

Let It Shine

By Kathy Kelly, Speakout | Op-Ed

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."

Imagine children joyfully singing the above line that eventually became a civil rights anthem. Their innocence and happy resolve enlighten us. Yes! In the face of wars, refugee crises, weapon proliferation and unaddressed climate change impacts, let us echo the common sense of children. Let goodness shine. Or, as our young friends in Afghanistan have put it, "#Enough!" They write the word, in Dari, on the palms of their hands and show it to cameras, wanting to shout out their desire to abolish all wars.

Surgery has a rich culture, full of strengths that exceed and defy the stereotype of surgeons as privileged white men who believe they are gods. In surgery there is a shared commitment to a goal, to individual excellence but also to true teamwork, to honoring the privilege of our patients' trust, to finding problems and fixing them, to getting quickly to the heart of the matter, whatever it is. As a surgeon-in-training, I am learning how to perform operations, but I am mostly learning how to make high-stakes decisions in imperfect circumstances, and as an imperfect individual.

This is what makes being a surgeon the best job in the world, and it has been inspiring to see surgeons celebrating one another through #ILookLikeaSurgeon. The photos from around the world show a broad understanding of the people who bring diversity to surgery, but also of how our diverse backgrounds inform our work. As a queer woman and a surgeon, this conversation feels rich, inclusive and important.

Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia - the British television documentary that I produced in 1979 - showed how violent US administrations had helped to bring Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge to power. This story holds echoes of the Islamic State in the Middle East today.

Between 1969 and 1973, secretly and illegally, President Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger dropped the equivalent in bombs of five Hiroshimas on Cambodia, a country where most people lived beneath straw. In transmitting Nixon's order for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves."

The 2012 Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear action made the "Fort Knox" of weapons-grade uranium look like "F Troop." Three senior peace activists got through four chain-link fences and past multiple "lethal force" zones before stringing banners, spray-painting slogans and pouring blood on the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee - all without being noticed by guards.

The guard that finally spotted the three activists - Sr. Megan Rice, 85, of New York City; Greg Boertje-Obed, 60, of Duluth; and Michael Walli, 66, of Washington, DC - testified that he knew a peace protest when he saw one. He had watched a lot of them whileon duty at Rocky Flats, the former plutonium warhead factory near Denver, Colorado. That's why he shrugged off official protocol and didn't draw his gun on Greg, Megan and Michael that night.

Throughout the Cold War, and doubtless right down to the present, professional people with skills relevant to "national security" have been secretly recruited to work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Universities are among those particularly targeted. Scholars and campus research centers have received CIA and DoD funding for conferences and publications, for collecting intelligence while abroad, and even for spying, all under cloak of secrecy.

Among the more notorious examples is the 1985 scandal at Harvard, in which the head of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies Center was found to have a financial contract with the CIA for research and conferences. He was forced to resign. Yale has had unusually close ties with the CIA dating back many years, contributing student recruits and directors. 

Beware the amicable folks on trendy blogs or slick web sites who promise to restore common sense or set the record straight about GMOs or organic food. They get paid to dupe the public.

Record growth of organic, non-genetically modified food sales has beefed-up efforts by the industrial food and agriculture sector to manipulate a public fearful of contaminated food. American consumers forked over $35 billion for certified organic products in 2013. Last year, shoppers spent $ 10 billion on non-GMO certified food.

Today marks the first year anniversary of the passing of Tim Green, musician, educator, activist, and, let's just say what is true, a "Renaissance man of our time." Tim Green was a man whose warmth and friendship still causes those who were fortunate to have known him to call up his many qualities: spiritual, transcendent, classy and so much more!

Tim Green would have been pleased to know that among his peers, all these adjectives are inseparable from what he recognized as his true vocation, music. Standing in front of the New Orleans Post Office a few years ago, I ran into Tim. He told me then that doctors had recommended that he undergo surgery to have one of his lungs removed.

OK, we all get it. Banks, corporations and Wall Street types in general, are out to make money. They're good at it. In fact, the Atlantic recently announced big banks could currently boast of a "golden age."

At the same time, the well-heeled insist, their vast accumulation of wealth is their own private, personal business.