Wednesday, 04 March 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.

During a recent trip to Capitol Hill, members of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability (NCLEOJ) were acknowledged on the floor of the House Committee on the Judiciary by Chairman Sensenbrenner and Rep Jackson Lewis for their service.  NCLEOJ later met with Rep Sheila Jackson Lewis, co-sponsor of the "Building Bridges and Transforming Resentment and Unfairness to Support and Trust for Municipal Law Enforcement" or "Build Trust Act".

This multi-cultural group of retired and former police officers  met with Rep Jackson Lee of Texas,  a member of the House Judiciary Committee,  to share and discuss their varied personal experiences with regard to institutionalized racism and the  state sponsored murders of all Americans; placing particular emphasis on the black and brown communities.

Mar 02

"Right-to-Work" Will Kill Workers

By Will Kramer, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On Wednesday, February 25, the Wisconsin Senate passed a so-called "right-to-work" bill, which will almost certainly be approved by the Republican-dominated state Assembly next week and signed by Governor Scott Walker. As debate began, I was arrested and dragged away by at least six police officers along with my brother. We were standing in a hallway outside the Senate chamber; the police deemed that we as Wisconsin citizens had no right to be there, in our own house of government. I was processed and held at the county jail, and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Resisting arrest is a class A misdemeanor with maximum consequences of up to nine months in prison and $10,000 in financial penalties.

This is not my story. I am not now a union member and never have been. But because my own legislators refused to hear my voice, along with the voices of so many other Wisconsinites on this important legislation, I choose to speak. This is my testimony.

Mar 02

Obamacare at Age Five: Access to Care

By John Geyman, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Now that Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act or ACA) is just turning five years since its enactment in 2010, it is time to assess its progress and shortfalls. This is the first of three posts that will deal with its experience toward its major goals - expanding access to care, cutting costs and making care more affordable, and improving the quality of care. A fourth post will follow that deals with the takeaway lessons from this five-year experience. 

The initial goal of the ACA was to extend health insurance to 32 million more people by 2019, about one-half of that number through expansion of Medicaid. Online insurance exchanges were to be set up by states or the federal government to allow people to comparison shop for new coverage. Most uninsured with incomes above 138 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) would be required to purchase insurance or face penalties. In order to help them to afford new coverage, those with incomes between 138 and 400 percent of the FPL ($32,913 to $95,400 for a family of four) would receive federal subsidies. New requirements were to be established for insurers, including prohibiting them from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, requiring them to cover 10 categories of defined benefits, requiring them to cover at least 60 percent of health care costs (actuarial value of the bronze plan, leaving patients responsible for the remaining 40 percent of costs), requiring insurers to accept every individual and employer that applies for coverage, and others.

British human rights lawyer Gordon Bennett has issued a damning legal analysis of the negative impacts of wildlife law enforcement on tribal peoples in Botswana, Cameroon and India during a symposium organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and others on "wildlife crime" on Friday.

Mr Bennett presented a paper which argues that wildlife law enforcement almost always harms tribal communities because the wrong laws are being enforced by the wrong people against the wrong people - with examples from Botswana, Cameroon and India.

Rodney Reed sits on death row in Texas, facing an execution date of March 5 for a murder that even the victim's family thinks he didn't commit. It would take a simple DNA test to prove his innocence - and you can force the Governor of Texas to make that happen.

Mar 02

ISIS Derangement Syndrome

By David Swanson, World Beyond War | Op-Ed

Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

New "ag-gag" laws are criminalizing the filming of animal abuse on factory farms, which are the source of 99 percent of animal meat. Do they have the right to keep their animal cruelty secret, or do consumers have the right to know?

Lawyers for a US citizen disappeared in Yemen are calling on the Houthi government to confirm his well-being and end his enforced disappearance, on the day that marks a year since he was last seen.
 
Sharif Mobley, a father of two from New Jersey, was last seen by legal representatives from international human rights organisation Reprieve on 27 February 2014, as he awaited trial at Sana’a’s central prison. When they returned three weeks later, Reprieve staff were told that Mr Mobley had been transferred to another, secret location. All attempts by Mr Mobley’s lawyers to access him have since failed.

The former President of the Maldives and global climate activist Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed was arrested on February 22 on “terror” charges just days before he was to lead a mass demonstration against the current government. Both the UN and the EU have issued statements of concern over what now appears to be an escalation by entrenched power holders in the Maldives to stifle effective political opposition.  

Known to outsiders for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and five star luxury resorts, the Maldives is a nation of about 340,000 people spread across an archipelago of 26 atolls located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Its natural beauty is its biggest asset, given that nearly one-third of the country’s GDP is generated via tourism. But that beauty also has a way of obscuring the intense political struggles that have come to characterize everyday life for most Maldivians over the past 30 years.

"…when you select heroes about which black children ought to be taught, let them be black heroes who have died fighting for the benefit of black people. We never were taught about Christophe or Dessalines. It was the slave revolt in Haiti when slaves, black slaves, had the soldiers of Napoleon tied down and forced him to sell one half of the American continent to the Americans. They don't teach us that. This is the kind of history we want to learn." – Malcolm X

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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.

During a recent trip to Capitol Hill, members of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability (NCLEOJ) were acknowledged on the floor of the House Committee on the Judiciary by Chairman Sensenbrenner and Rep Jackson Lewis for their service.  NCLEOJ later met with Rep Sheila Jackson Lewis, co-sponsor of the "Building Bridges and Transforming Resentment and Unfairness to Support and Trust for Municipal Law Enforcement" or "Build Trust Act".

This multi-cultural group of retired and former police officers  met with Rep Jackson Lee of Texas,  a member of the House Judiciary Committee,  to share and discuss their varied personal experiences with regard to institutionalized racism and the  state sponsored murders of all Americans; placing particular emphasis on the black and brown communities.

Mar 02

"Right-to-Work" Will Kill Workers

By Will Kramer, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On Wednesday, February 25, the Wisconsin Senate passed a so-called "right-to-work" bill, which will almost certainly be approved by the Republican-dominated state Assembly next week and signed by Governor Scott Walker. As debate began, I was arrested and dragged away by at least six police officers along with my brother. We were standing in a hallway outside the Senate chamber; the police deemed that we as Wisconsin citizens had no right to be there, in our own house of government. I was processed and held at the county jail, and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Resisting arrest is a class A misdemeanor with maximum consequences of up to nine months in prison and $10,000 in financial penalties.

This is not my story. I am not now a union member and never have been. But because my own legislators refused to hear my voice, along with the voices of so many other Wisconsinites on this important legislation, I choose to speak. This is my testimony.

Mar 02

Obamacare at Age Five: Access to Care

By John Geyman, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Now that Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act or ACA) is just turning five years since its enactment in 2010, it is time to assess its progress and shortfalls. This is the first of three posts that will deal with its experience toward its major goals - expanding access to care, cutting costs and making care more affordable, and improving the quality of care. A fourth post will follow that deals with the takeaway lessons from this five-year experience. 

The initial goal of the ACA was to extend health insurance to 32 million more people by 2019, about one-half of that number through expansion of Medicaid. Online insurance exchanges were to be set up by states or the federal government to allow people to comparison shop for new coverage. Most uninsured with incomes above 138 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) would be required to purchase insurance or face penalties. In order to help them to afford new coverage, those with incomes between 138 and 400 percent of the FPL ($32,913 to $95,400 for a family of four) would receive federal subsidies. New requirements were to be established for insurers, including prohibiting them from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, requiring them to cover 10 categories of defined benefits, requiring them to cover at least 60 percent of health care costs (actuarial value of the bronze plan, leaving patients responsible for the remaining 40 percent of costs), requiring insurers to accept every individual and employer that applies for coverage, and others.

British human rights lawyer Gordon Bennett has issued a damning legal analysis of the negative impacts of wildlife law enforcement on tribal peoples in Botswana, Cameroon and India during a symposium organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and others on "wildlife crime" on Friday.

Mr Bennett presented a paper which argues that wildlife law enforcement almost always harms tribal communities because the wrong laws are being enforced by the wrong people against the wrong people - with examples from Botswana, Cameroon and India.

Rodney Reed sits on death row in Texas, facing an execution date of March 5 for a murder that even the victim's family thinks he didn't commit. It would take a simple DNA test to prove his innocence - and you can force the Governor of Texas to make that happen.

Mar 02

ISIS Derangement Syndrome

By David Swanson, World Beyond War | Op-Ed

Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

New "ag-gag" laws are criminalizing the filming of animal abuse on factory farms, which are the source of 99 percent of animal meat. Do they have the right to keep their animal cruelty secret, or do consumers have the right to know?

Lawyers for a US citizen disappeared in Yemen are calling on the Houthi government to confirm his well-being and end his enforced disappearance, on the day that marks a year since he was last seen.
 
Sharif Mobley, a father of two from New Jersey, was last seen by legal representatives from international human rights organisation Reprieve on 27 February 2014, as he awaited trial at Sana’a’s central prison. When they returned three weeks later, Reprieve staff were told that Mr Mobley had been transferred to another, secret location. All attempts by Mr Mobley’s lawyers to access him have since failed.

The former President of the Maldives and global climate activist Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed was arrested on February 22 on “terror” charges just days before he was to lead a mass demonstration against the current government. Both the UN and the EU have issued statements of concern over what now appears to be an escalation by entrenched power holders in the Maldives to stifle effective political opposition.  

Known to outsiders for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and five star luxury resorts, the Maldives is a nation of about 340,000 people spread across an archipelago of 26 atolls located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Its natural beauty is its biggest asset, given that nearly one-third of the country’s GDP is generated via tourism. But that beauty also has a way of obscuring the intense political struggles that have come to characterize everyday life for most Maldivians over the past 30 years.

"…when you select heroes about which black children ought to be taught, let them be black heroes who have died fighting for the benefit of black people. We never were taught about Christophe or Dessalines. It was the slave revolt in Haiti when slaves, black slaves, had the soldiers of Napoleon tied down and forced him to sell one half of the American continent to the Americans. They don't teach us that. This is the kind of history we want to learn." – Malcolm X