Wednesday, 22 October 2014 / 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.

Who would have thought that the president elected on an anti-Iraq war stance and promises to represent the polar opposite of the Bush administration would love war so much? As horrendous as the Bush administration was, there is no point in using the "Obama has inherited Bush's mess" rhetoric to counter the latter claim. In an interview with Democracy Now (and via various other forums) four-star General Wesley Clark exposed a memo with a 5 year plan that was to be adopted shortly after September 11th 2001. The plan involved toppling the governments of 7 countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. The expectation that plans like these would come to an end when Obama was elected was a naïve yet hopeful aspiration that many shared.

The British government has been warned it may face legal action if it fails to consult Parliament and the public on the redeployment of drones outside declared warzones. 

Questions have been raised by Saeed Al Yousefi, a Yemeni man from a province that is a frequent target of US strikes, about the fate of at least ten armed Reaper drones currently based in Afghanistan. Ministers have so far declined to reveal where the weapons, which are piloted remotely from US bases in Nevada and Lincolnshire, will be used after December 2014, when UK operations in Afghanistan finish.

Washinton, DC - Wal-Mart is running an illegal scheme to prod employees into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns, Public Citizen, Common Cause and two Wal-Mart employees and shareholders charged today.

In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the public interest organizations and employee-shareholders Cynthia Murray and Evelin Cruz detailed a program in which Wal-Mart reportedly solicits managers for contributions to its political action committee (PAC). In exchange, the company reportedly donates twice the amount of those contributions exclusively to its Associates in Critical Need Trust. The trust – fully controlled by Wal-Mart – was started in 2001 by the company to help employees facing financial distress.

As consumers get ready for the new iPhone 6 coming out this month, the continuous race of technology companies trying to outdo one another continues. Some, techies are already predicting what Apple is holding back for the iPhone 6s version. Yet, with all this bombardment of new devices with smaller chips, faster processors, and fancier and clearer screens, we tend to overlook the true cost of what goes in to make these devices possible.

The role of technology saturating our everyday lives is the new norm and every six months or so we hear of a new device, app, system, platform, or idea that will help make our lives a little better. It's true that technology has made the world more convenient for lots of people. Our instant connection with people half a world away and ease with which apps help us decide where to eat, how to look up obscure movie names, and get our job done quicker, have all been little breakthroughs that everyone can appreciate. But we never stop to think of how the devices we carry around are produced and made, or what kind of factory conditions the people putting it together work in. We use these devices for a while and exchange them for new ones at the hint of the latest edition.

When it comes to educational attainment socioeconomic and racial inequality has always existed in America. That is the truth. And that fact alone was justification for the writing of federal education law in 1965 that attempted to rectify the problem with a two-pronged approach. However, desegregation - a forced attempt to offer equal access -overshadowed full implementation of the law. But equal access alone was never enough; the American standard is one of quality.

So in 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education openly questioned the quality of our public schools and made the call that we were A Nation at Risk based on eleven "indicators." The majority of those measures, which set the stage for gauging our excellence, were standardized test scores.

Sep 23

The Mathematics of Human Misery

By Emanuel E. Garcia, SpeakOut | Poetry

To calculate the quotient of

Unnecessary pain

One multiplies

Unnecessary poetry by crime,

Divides by one one-hundredth a percent

And takes this figure to the power of

The Forbes 500 squared

I am your product. You made me. So reminds erstwhile charismatic African National Congress' (ANC) youth-wing leader and current South African Member of Parliament and now Economic Freedom Fighter's (EFF) political party Chief, Julius Malema.

Since his divorce with the ANC and its leader and South African president, Jacob Zuma, Malema has not given up on what he knows best: politics. Politics that offered Malema a good life, connections, a position and the political podium, afore South African society. However, a good life does not always guarantee succeeding at every encounter, political or otherwise. Malema's traditional strong connections did suffer some contraction of sorts, while he, at the same time, managed to expand other ties. While some of his links have faltered, others have risen, most notably with(in) the proletariat of South Africa.

Sep 22

Domestic Violence Center Stage

By Sarah L. Blum, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It is all over the news that the NFL has a problem, as a number of players were indicted for domestic violence or are under investigation for that. The problem the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, is having relates to the public relations and money, not domestic violence specifically. When league sponsors began to make statements and withdraw support for the NFL, then Goodell stepped up to actually act like he cared and do something about the crimes his players were committing. It took his concern for money for him to take more appropriate action, not facing the issue of criminal violence committed by his players. 

At his press conference on 9/19/14 the media took their job seriously enough to actually confront the commissioner with difficult questions. I am gratified by that because the media often do not care about domestic violence or violence against women perpetrated by football players. Consider what happened in Steubenville Ohio in March of 2013 when two football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year old girl. The media reacted with empathy for the rapists - not the girl they victimized. The boys who raped her were proud of what they did and put it out on social media. They believed they would not be held accountable and they would be protected -  because they were football players. Where does that belief come from? Do our NFL players and even the commissioner believe they will be able to get away with that behavior because there is no one to hold them accountable? Our society tends to idealize football players and men in the military and those men count on that to protect them from their worst actions. 

Women want a men’s movement. We are literally dying for it."

             —Gloria Steinem

 It’s way past time to put on the pads, guys. We’ve got to put our shoulders to the wheel of change if we’re going to stop domestic and sexual violence. Are you ready to suit up for the big game? Except, of course, it ain’t no game; the lives of our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers are on the line.

Sep 22

Violent Conflict: We Can Do Better

By Glen Gersmehl , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Pres. Obama's speech on dealing with ISIL -- the violent Islamic movement in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere -- was front page news around the US. Newspaper headlines quoted Obama’s assertion that “we will degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIL.”  Now Congress is backing him.

Pres. Obama’s military focus echoes our nation’s accustomed response in numerous situations deemed threatening:  from the coups we engineered in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, the Vietnam War, to Nicaragua in the 80s, and war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That few experts consider any of these violent responses “successful” should encourage skepticism regarding a new campaign that is almost entirely military focused.

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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.

Who would have thought that the president elected on an anti-Iraq war stance and promises to represent the polar opposite of the Bush administration would love war so much? As horrendous as the Bush administration was, there is no point in using the "Obama has inherited Bush's mess" rhetoric to counter the latter claim. In an interview with Democracy Now (and via various other forums) four-star General Wesley Clark exposed a memo with a 5 year plan that was to be adopted shortly after September 11th 2001. The plan involved toppling the governments of 7 countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. The expectation that plans like these would come to an end when Obama was elected was a naïve yet hopeful aspiration that many shared.

The British government has been warned it may face legal action if it fails to consult Parliament and the public on the redeployment of drones outside declared warzones. 

Questions have been raised by Saeed Al Yousefi, a Yemeni man from a province that is a frequent target of US strikes, about the fate of at least ten armed Reaper drones currently based in Afghanistan. Ministers have so far declined to reveal where the weapons, which are piloted remotely from US bases in Nevada and Lincolnshire, will be used after December 2014, when UK operations in Afghanistan finish.

Washinton, DC - Wal-Mart is running an illegal scheme to prod employees into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns, Public Citizen, Common Cause and two Wal-Mart employees and shareholders charged today.

In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the public interest organizations and employee-shareholders Cynthia Murray and Evelin Cruz detailed a program in which Wal-Mart reportedly solicits managers for contributions to its political action committee (PAC). In exchange, the company reportedly donates twice the amount of those contributions exclusively to its Associates in Critical Need Trust. The trust – fully controlled by Wal-Mart – was started in 2001 by the company to help employees facing financial distress.

As consumers get ready for the new iPhone 6 coming out this month, the continuous race of technology companies trying to outdo one another continues. Some, techies are already predicting what Apple is holding back for the iPhone 6s version. Yet, with all this bombardment of new devices with smaller chips, faster processors, and fancier and clearer screens, we tend to overlook the true cost of what goes in to make these devices possible.

The role of technology saturating our everyday lives is the new norm and every six months or so we hear of a new device, app, system, platform, or idea that will help make our lives a little better. It's true that technology has made the world more convenient for lots of people. Our instant connection with people half a world away and ease with which apps help us decide where to eat, how to look up obscure movie names, and get our job done quicker, have all been little breakthroughs that everyone can appreciate. But we never stop to think of how the devices we carry around are produced and made, or what kind of factory conditions the people putting it together work in. We use these devices for a while and exchange them for new ones at the hint of the latest edition.

When it comes to educational attainment socioeconomic and racial inequality has always existed in America. That is the truth. And that fact alone was justification for the writing of federal education law in 1965 that attempted to rectify the problem with a two-pronged approach. However, desegregation - a forced attempt to offer equal access -overshadowed full implementation of the law. But equal access alone was never enough; the American standard is one of quality.

So in 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education openly questioned the quality of our public schools and made the call that we were A Nation at Risk based on eleven "indicators." The majority of those measures, which set the stage for gauging our excellence, were standardized test scores.

Sep 23

The Mathematics of Human Misery

By Emanuel E. Garcia, SpeakOut | Poetry

To calculate the quotient of

Unnecessary pain

One multiplies

Unnecessary poetry by crime,

Divides by one one-hundredth a percent

And takes this figure to the power of

The Forbes 500 squared

I am your product. You made me. So reminds erstwhile charismatic African National Congress' (ANC) youth-wing leader and current South African Member of Parliament and now Economic Freedom Fighter's (EFF) political party Chief, Julius Malema.

Since his divorce with the ANC and its leader and South African president, Jacob Zuma, Malema has not given up on what he knows best: politics. Politics that offered Malema a good life, connections, a position and the political podium, afore South African society. However, a good life does not always guarantee succeeding at every encounter, political or otherwise. Malema's traditional strong connections did suffer some contraction of sorts, while he, at the same time, managed to expand other ties. While some of his links have faltered, others have risen, most notably with(in) the proletariat of South Africa.

Sep 22

Domestic Violence Center Stage

By Sarah L. Blum, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It is all over the news that the NFL has a problem, as a number of players were indicted for domestic violence or are under investigation for that. The problem the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, is having relates to the public relations and money, not domestic violence specifically. When league sponsors began to make statements and withdraw support for the NFL, then Goodell stepped up to actually act like he cared and do something about the crimes his players were committing. It took his concern for money for him to take more appropriate action, not facing the issue of criminal violence committed by his players. 

At his press conference on 9/19/14 the media took their job seriously enough to actually confront the commissioner with difficult questions. I am gratified by that because the media often do not care about domestic violence or violence against women perpetrated by football players. Consider what happened in Steubenville Ohio in March of 2013 when two football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year old girl. The media reacted with empathy for the rapists - not the girl they victimized. The boys who raped her were proud of what they did and put it out on social media. They believed they would not be held accountable and they would be protected -  because they were football players. Where does that belief come from? Do our NFL players and even the commissioner believe they will be able to get away with that behavior because there is no one to hold them accountable? Our society tends to idealize football players and men in the military and those men count on that to protect them from their worst actions. 

Women want a men’s movement. We are literally dying for it."

             —Gloria Steinem

 It’s way past time to put on the pads, guys. We’ve got to put our shoulders to the wheel of change if we’re going to stop domestic and sexual violence. Are you ready to suit up for the big game? Except, of course, it ain’t no game; the lives of our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers are on the line.

Sep 22

Violent Conflict: We Can Do Better

By Glen Gersmehl , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Pres. Obama's speech on dealing with ISIL -- the violent Islamic movement in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere -- was front page news around the US. Newspaper headlines quoted Obama’s assertion that “we will degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIL.”  Now Congress is backing him.

Pres. Obama’s military focus echoes our nation’s accustomed response in numerous situations deemed threatening:  from the coups we engineered in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, the Vietnam War, to Nicaragua in the 80s, and war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That few experts consider any of these violent responses “successful” should encourage skepticism regarding a new campaign that is almost entirely military focused.