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.
In 2013, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and venture capitalist Yuri Milner designed the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. This is an annual award given to individual mathematicians. The prize is worth $3 million. The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences are also given to individual scientists and are worthy of each $3 million as well. This essay focuses on the prize in mathematics only.
The prize in mathematics was given to four mathematicians on Sunday, November 9, 2014 in a ceremony in Silicon Valley, California. There has been some criticism of the huge financial amount of the prize. Even Terence Tao, who is one of this year's prize recipients, suggested that more prizes of smaller amount might be more effective. It is not hard to see it would be much more beneficial if a smaller amount is given to more mathematicians. Another way of helping mathematicians in a better way is to fund centers of research in mathematics and mathematics institutions.
The US government has apparently made secret payments of $100,000 to the families of two Yemeni men who were mistakenly killed in a covert drone strike, an investigation by international non-profit Reprieve has found.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni man who lost his brother-in-law and nephew in a 2013 drone strike, was offered a bag containing US dollar bills at a meeting with the Yemeni National Security Bureau (NSB). The NSB official who had requested the meeting told a family representative that the money came from the US and that he had been asked to pass it along.
11 November, 2014, Geneva – Today, Murat Kurnaz, tortured and detained by the US for five years at Kandahar and then Guantanamo, addressed the US government and the members of the Committee Against Torture at the United Nations in Geneva for the review of US compliance with the Covenant Against Torture (CAT). He traveled with his attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. His statement to the committee is below.
Eduardo Porter has an interesting discussion of inequality, based in large part on the views of M.I.T. Professor Robert Solow. Solow views it as unlikely that it will be possible politically any time soon to have tax and transfer policies that do much to lesson inequality. However he does hold out the hope that changes in corporate practices could lessen before tax inequality.
This is an extremely important point. There is considerable research showing that CEOs and other top management essentially ripoff shareholders, taking advantage of their insider power to give themselves pay that has little to do with their productivity, measured as the return they give to shareholders. (Lucian Bebchuk has a good summary of the issues.) If shareholders can better gain control of their companies, they might cut pay by 50 percent or more, bringing CEO pay in the United States in line with pay in other wealthy countries.
There was no election.
Despite the cacophony of the major-media propagandists, liberals and progressives did not take a walloping; and there was no mandate for the lunatic fringe that runs the Republican Party.
Virtually no one voted. Only 21 percent of eligible voters voted in California. Only 33 percent of the eligible voters participated in elections across the country. And everyone agrees: very few Democrats bothered to vote.
Advocates for net neutrality blockaded FCC Chair Tom Wheelers driveway this morning, Monday, November 10, 2014, just as the Chairman was getting into his car. Six people participated in the blockade with a large banner that read “Save the Internet.” They also held signs demanding that Wheeler listen to the people. They chanted “Don’t let the Internet die. Time to reclassify!” and sang “Which side are you on Tom? Are you with the people or with the Telecoms?”
An American non-profit organization, the Institute for Postmodern Development of China, made possible my attendance at a recent conference in Beijing, China.
The Beijing conference was no typical academic conference full of abstractions and jargon. Instead, it was a continuing Chinese discussion on the values of ecological civilization. Yes, indeed, ecological civilization!
However, these eco-political discussions have been taking place in a city, Beijing, and a country, China, which are the workshops of the world. There's nothing ecological about that.
The midterm election was indeed catastrophic for the Democratic Party and the Obama administration. As numerous polling sources predicted, the Democratic Party lost its control of the Senate and the Republican Party gained even more seats in the House of Representatives.
When President Obama announced his plan to delay executive action on immigration, one of his justifications was to save the Senate. Nonetheless, the results of the midterm elections prove that his administration clearly miscalculated the political apparatus. He has run out of excuses for delaying administrative relief, and his inaction exemplifies his blatant abandonment of the immigrant community.
Flawed Energy Department forecast misleads country, Congress on US oil and natural gas
Report from independent analyst who predicted vast Monterey Shale downgrade questions optimistic outlook
A worrisome reliance on the industry’s point of view
A new report from the analyst who predicted the vast downgrade of available oil resources in California’s Monterey Shale  calls into question optimistic government forecasts and industry claims about US energy independence and the viability of oil and natural gas exports. Using an exhaustive well-by-well survey of major tight oil and shale gas fields, the report shows that the US Department of Energy (DOE) has produced exaggerated forecasts that are misleading policymakers and the public about America’s long-term energy future.
Washington, DC – As Congress prepares to return to Washington for a post-election “lame duck” session, the FACT Coalition (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) urges it to do the right thing and pass legislation to halt inversions as well as let the most egregious offshore tax extenders remain expired.
The current inversion mania started several months ago when Pfizer announced its intention to buy British drug maker AstraZeneca and relocate its headquarters, if only on paper, to the United Kingdom. The Treasury Department announced new rules designed to stem the tide of inversions, and have been somewhat successful. In fact, when the AbbVie-Shire deal was called off, the Treasury rules were cited as the reason why. However, real reform will not happen without congressional action and that responsibility now falls on our returning lawmakers.