Monday, 06 July 2015 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

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.

Dear 2016 Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton,

You recently gave a speech at Columbia University calling for broad criminal justice reform. You said, "There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by the police, charged with crimes, and given longer prison terms than their white counterparts," and "There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down."

Like many other progressives, I was very excited about some of the Supreme Court decisions this term (health care, gay marriage) and deeply disturbed about others (Facebook threats should not be judged on a "reasonable person" standard, executions using new drugs can continue). One decision that did not receive as much attention but that is tremendously important, I think, is the Court's ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. In that decision, the Court held 5-4 that housing segregation, even if done unintentionally, violates the Fair Housing Act. In doing so, the Court affirmed that "disparate impact claims" about housing are legitimate. Although it is not clear that this will be the case, I hope that the decision paved the way for greater use of social science data by courts on other issues.

This 2015 spring moving into early summer time feels different from my previous 11 rural ones in southwest NewHampshire. After a winter entombed in ice and snow with daily shoveling of paths for my dog with sides so high, I couldn't see her from the window as she traipsed about, more was expected.

Everything seems a bit less lush, not bursting with spring sun to announce survival of a harsh five months. Or maybe it's me as I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country wake up these days and contemplate: Pipeline coming... Pipeline coming...

The long-awaited ruling by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) supporting subsidies/tax credits for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been hailed by the mainstream media (even including MSNBC) as a landmark event showing the success of health care reform. Granted, the ACA after five years has brought new coverage to 16 million people through the exchanges and expanded Medicaid, and has established some limited insurance reforms, such as banning insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. But as the media celebrate and hype this event, we need to ask some hard questions about where we now find ourselves in reforming our dysfunctional system.

Bolivian President Evo Morales issued Supreme Decree 2366 in May, opening up Bolivia's national parks - which are protected under the Constitution as ecological reserves - to oil and gas extraction. Then, earlier this June, Morales proclaimed that his on-again, off-again plan to build a highway through the TIPNIS national park and indigenous territory in the Bolivian Amazon will finally be realized.

The coincidence of these announcements was not lost on TIPNIS road opponents, who have long suspected that the advancement of oil and gas interests is a major impetus behind the road.

On Friday, I read the article that would almost immediately throw my life into upheaval and challenge me in ways I didn't realize. That article was in Timeout Chicago, saying that eccentric Greek billionaire Alki David would give $250,000 to anyone who streaked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

After reading it, I thought, "I can help fund a lot of projects fighting for social justice in Chicago with $250,000." Immediately, my friend and I stopped everything to go find Rahm. We drove around his neighborhood, waited near his house hoping he'd come home. In the many hours we spent casually waiting in the car, we searched for all the info on David's dare.

As a child my life was one of constant trauma. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, prone to rage, physical violence, self-hate, and alcoholism - a horrible combination. It was not easy to be the eldest child in my family. I was made responsible for things that were far beyond my years. The level oftrauma I experienced could only be described as growing up in a war zone. My sister and I never knew when or where the attacks upon our small bodies would be launched.

On June 22, 2015, at the close of its 83rd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), for the 10th consecutive year, unanimously adopted a strong resolution in support of Mayors for Peace, noting that August 6 and 9, 2015 will mark the 70th anniversaries of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As the centennial anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement rapidly approaches, the time is now to reflect upon its vast implications. Officially recognized as the Asia Minor Agreement, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was negotiated and agreed upon between 1915 and 16 by the British diplomat Mark Sykes and the French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Arab provinces outside of the Arabian Peninsula were divided into two regions. Region (a) was placed under the French "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Syria and Jordan; region (b) was placed under the British "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Iraq. 

Jun 25

Snake Oil Won't Cure Inequality

By Jim Hightower, OtherWords | Op-Ed

At last, America's political leaders now feel the pain of the poor and empathize with the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class.

For years, politicians paid no attention to the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. But it's recently emerged as a central issue for such Republican presidential contenders as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. They're publicly lamenting the wealth gap and - by golly - proposing solutions.

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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.

Dear 2016 Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton,

You recently gave a speech at Columbia University calling for broad criminal justice reform. You said, "There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by the police, charged with crimes, and given longer prison terms than their white counterparts," and "There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down."

Like many other progressives, I was very excited about some of the Supreme Court decisions this term (health care, gay marriage) and deeply disturbed about others (Facebook threats should not be judged on a "reasonable person" standard, executions using new drugs can continue). One decision that did not receive as much attention but that is tremendously important, I think, is the Court's ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. In that decision, the Court held 5-4 that housing segregation, even if done unintentionally, violates the Fair Housing Act. In doing so, the Court affirmed that "disparate impact claims" about housing are legitimate. Although it is not clear that this will be the case, I hope that the decision paved the way for greater use of social science data by courts on other issues.

This 2015 spring moving into early summer time feels different from my previous 11 rural ones in southwest NewHampshire. After a winter entombed in ice and snow with daily shoveling of paths for my dog with sides so high, I couldn't see her from the window as she traipsed about, more was expected.

Everything seems a bit less lush, not bursting with spring sun to announce survival of a harsh five months. Or maybe it's me as I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country wake up these days and contemplate: Pipeline coming... Pipeline coming...

The long-awaited ruling by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) supporting subsidies/tax credits for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been hailed by the mainstream media (even including MSNBC) as a landmark event showing the success of health care reform. Granted, the ACA after five years has brought new coverage to 16 million people through the exchanges and expanded Medicaid, and has established some limited insurance reforms, such as banning insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. But as the media celebrate and hype this event, we need to ask some hard questions about where we now find ourselves in reforming our dysfunctional system.

Bolivian President Evo Morales issued Supreme Decree 2366 in May, opening up Bolivia's national parks - which are protected under the Constitution as ecological reserves - to oil and gas extraction. Then, earlier this June, Morales proclaimed that his on-again, off-again plan to build a highway through the TIPNIS national park and indigenous territory in the Bolivian Amazon will finally be realized.

The coincidence of these announcements was not lost on TIPNIS road opponents, who have long suspected that the advancement of oil and gas interests is a major impetus behind the road.

On Friday, I read the article that would almost immediately throw my life into upheaval and challenge me in ways I didn't realize. That article was in Timeout Chicago, saying that eccentric Greek billionaire Alki David would give $250,000 to anyone who streaked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

After reading it, I thought, "I can help fund a lot of projects fighting for social justice in Chicago with $250,000." Immediately, my friend and I stopped everything to go find Rahm. We drove around his neighborhood, waited near his house hoping he'd come home. In the many hours we spent casually waiting in the car, we searched for all the info on David's dare.

As a child my life was one of constant trauma. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, prone to rage, physical violence, self-hate, and alcoholism - a horrible combination. It was not easy to be the eldest child in my family. I was made responsible for things that were far beyond my years. The level oftrauma I experienced could only be described as growing up in a war zone. My sister and I never knew when or where the attacks upon our small bodies would be launched.

On June 22, 2015, at the close of its 83rd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), for the 10th consecutive year, unanimously adopted a strong resolution in support of Mayors for Peace, noting that August 6 and 9, 2015 will mark the 70th anniversaries of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As the centennial anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement rapidly approaches, the time is now to reflect upon its vast implications. Officially recognized as the Asia Minor Agreement, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was negotiated and agreed upon between 1915 and 16 by the British diplomat Mark Sykes and the French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Arab provinces outside of the Arabian Peninsula were divided into two regions. Region (a) was placed under the French "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Syria and Jordan; region (b) was placed under the British "sphere of influence" and encompassed modern day Iraq. 

Jun 25

Snake Oil Won't Cure Inequality

By Jim Hightower, OtherWords | Op-Ed

At last, America's political leaders now feel the pain of the poor and empathize with the millions of working families slipping out of the middle class.

For years, politicians paid no attention to the ever-widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. But it's recently emerged as a central issue for such Republican presidential contenders as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. They're publicly lamenting the wealth gap and - by golly - proposing solutions.