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.
"We prepare for our extinction in order to assure our survival." - Jonathan Schell (American author)
The terrifying film, "The Man Who Saved the World," has been showing in London. Stanislaw Petrov, who appears himself in the film, was the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Russian early warning system when the electronic alarms blared deafeningly and insistently in his command center. All checks confirmed that there was no malfunction. They confirmed a nuclear attack from the US was on its way. It was not possible to wait for radar confirmation of the incoming ballistic missiles because by that time it would be too late to retaliate. Petrov knew that if he reported the alarm to the high command, they would immediately order a retaliatory strike1 initiating a globalnuclear war and the end of most of the human race. On his own imitative, he decided that he did not trust the computers and did nothing.
On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) reintroduced the Private Prison Information Act (PPIA) in Congress. The bill, H.R. 2470, requires non-federal correctional and detention facilities that house federal prisoners to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by making certain records available to the public.
The bill was introduced with 12 cosponsors, including Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN).
The promulgation of International law addressing crimes against humanity was one of the major legal achievements resulting from World War II. As Robert Jackson, the lead American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials put it, the crimes bred by that conflict were "so malignant, and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated."
Crimes against humanity include government-initiated or -assisted policies or practices resulting in massacre, dehumanization, unjust imprisonment, extrajudicial punishments, torture, racial/ethnic persecution, and other such acts. In reference to the last-cited crime, in 1976 the United Nations General Assembly declared the systematic persecution of one racial group by another (for instance, the practice of apartheid) to be a crime against humanity.
Despite the prolonged US-led coalition bombing campaign, the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) recently won victories in Iraq expanding the area under its control. In the wake of these advances, fingers of blame have been pointing in every direction. Democrats continue to blame President Bush for beginning the war, in the first place, while Republican candidates are attempting to turn the tables by blaming President Obama for abandoning Iraq.
What is most disturbing is not the finger pointing, it is the degree to which the pointers have let politics trump history. In reality, Republicans and Democrats both share responsibility for Iraq's dismal state of affairs.
Every moment of every day, all of humanity is held hostage by the nuclear nine. The nine nuclear nations are made up of the P5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and their illegitimate nuclear wannabes Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan, spawned by the mythological theory of deterrence. This theory has fueled the nuclear arms race since its inception wherein if one nation has one nuclear weapon, its adversary needs two and so on to the point that the world now has 15,700 nuclear weapons wired for immediate use and planetary destruction with no end in sight. This inaction continues despite the 45-year legal commitment of the nuclear nations to work toward complete nuclear abolition. In fact just the opposite is happening with the U.S. proposing to spend $1 Trillion on nuclear weapons "modernization" over the next 30 years, fueling the "deterrent" response of every other nuclear state to do likewise.
This critical state of affairs comes as the 189 signatory nations to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded the month long Review Conference at the U.N. in New York. The conference was officially a failure due to the refusal of the nuclear weapons states to present or even support real steps toward disarmament. The nuclear gang demonstrates an unwillingness to recognize the peril that the planet faces at the end of theirnuclear gun; they continue to gamble on the future of humanity. Presenting a charade of concern, they blamed each other and bogged down in discussions over a glossary of terms while the hand of the nuclear Armageddon clock continues to move ever forward.
A new collection of specters haunts the earth: 72 workers killed May 13 in a slipper factory fire in the Valenzuela district of Manila. There was no accident. That fire and those workers burning to death are part of the brutal architecture of industrial production. Every report covers up more than it reveals, and the workers, charred beyond recognition, wait for nothing now.
The fire "started" when sparks set off an explosion. The slaughter of the innocents began long before the spark. The windows were covered, sealed tight, by metal gratings. Even now, the local mayor isn't sure the building had any fire escapes.
The author examines a recently-released study from the US Government Accountability Office, titled: "Unmanned Aerial Systems: Actions Needed to Improve DOD Pilot Training." Below is a summary of his conclusions.
Chicago’s top cop announced the commencement of his “listening tour” – a project inspired by events in Ferguson and Baltimore, that will involve McCarthy and his rank and file “asking what they are doing wrong, and what they can do better.” The idea of Chicago’s chronically abusive and largely inept police organizing an effort of this kind would be laughable if the issues involved weren’t so pressing, painful, and potentially deadly.
For starters, there’s no need. “Listening” is a skill that McCarthy and his people could have answered all of their questions with long before tensions boiled over in Baltimore. They have been presented with reports, they have been witness to speak outs led by community members, they have watched this city’s youth challenge them with words and imagery, and they have heard the families and the afflicted cry out for justice. I know this, because I see them at every single event, lined up against us, sometimes laughing, sometimes taking our pictures, sometimes swearing and snatching our fellow protestors – but always surveilling. They have heard our complaints. In detail. Paying attention is part of the police culture in Chicago. Sadly, giving a fuck is not.
Santa Barbara, California - The company that owns the pipeline involved in Tuesday’s major oil spill in Santa Barbara has had 175 “spill incidents” nationwide since 2006, including 11 in California, according to a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of federal documents.
Plains Pipeline (a subsidiary of Plains All-American Pipeline) has also had federal enforcement actions initiated against it 20 times since 2006 for its operations across the country, according to data from the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Many of those cases involve corrosion control and maintenance problems on its pipelines, including two cases in 2009 for which the company was fined $115,600.