Saturday, 25 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.

"No good can ever come from deviating from the path you were destined to follow." Robert Greene

Who is Dr. Cornell West referring to when he says, “We need a renaissance of courage and a willingness to sacrifice?” This is what he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! during a discussion on his new book Black Prophetic Fire about the legacy of leading African American voices including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. He was referring to blacks themselves like when he confessed his fear that we may be witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time. Black prophetic fire, according to Cornell West can be summed up as a deep love for justice, love of the poor and working people and a love for black people. He tells us this is best understood if we consider the four essential questions W.E.B. DuBois wrestled with in his lifetime: How does integrity face oppression? What does honesty do in the face of deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? And how does virtue meet brute force? This fire Cornell West refers to is the very notion of agency and social responsibility and it begs the question-- What is the ethical culture driving our conversation about public schools today and what is your personal responsibility in making a difference?

According to the latest government statistics, the unemployment rate has dropped below 6 percent compared to around 10 percent in 2010. Then why is the nation still in a sour mood? In the words of Steve Liesman, a CNBC Senior Economics Reporter, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted at the end of September indicates that "Americans' view of President Barack Obama's economic leadership stands at the lowest level of his presidency." While the president's popularity hits rock bottom, Congress' approval rating, less than 10 percent, is at its all-time low. So why are people disenchanted with politicians as well as our system? Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that seven years after the start of the Great Recession, the employment level has barely budged above its level in 2006, as millions of people have become so discouraged that they have simply dropped out of the labor force. Or it may be because median income is down by $5,000, with the rate of poverty the worst in more than 50 years. Meanwhile, federal debt has climbed by over $8 trillion, with the Federal Reserve spending an additional $4 trillion to bail out the financial system.

Oct 15

Open Letter to Temple University on Disclosure of Funding Sources for Research

By Temple University Faculty and Others, Truthout | Open Letter

Dear Members of the Board of Trustees:

We, the undersigned current and former faculty members and scholars at institutions of higher learning, submit this joint letter in reference to a controversy concerning the integrity of academic research at Temple University.

According to recent news reports, a working paper released last year by Temple Professors Simon Hakim and Edwin A. Blackstone, entitled "Cost Analysis of Public and Contractor-Operated Prisons," did not initially disclose that the study had received funding from the nation's three largest for-profit prison companies.

Oct 15

Greed as a Mental Health Disorder

By Peter Michaelson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

During a recent discussion of narcissism on the TV program "The View," Rosie O'Donnell was told that the condition is "a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of self and their own importance and a deep need for admiration." She replied, "That's every celebrity I know, including me!"

That's great candor from an entertaining lady. We might practice candor, too, by expanding our understanding of mental disorders to include the problem of greed. Both narcissism and greed produce personal and national self-sabotage.

Oct 15

On October 15, the United Nations Will Fail Haiti Once Again

By Ajamu Nangwaya and Kevin Edmonds, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On October 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to "debate" the extension of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which has acted as an occupying force in the country since the summer of 2004. MINUSTAH was created to put an end to the UN Multinational Interim Force (primarily made up of US, French, Canadian and Chilean troops) which occupied Haiti after an internationally-backed coup d'état ousted the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party from power on February 29, 2004.

During these ten years, MINUSTAH has compiled a horrific record of human rights abuses, including but not limited to extrajudicial murder, repeated sexual assault against Haitian men, women and children, the repression of peaceful political protests, in addition to unleashing cholera through criminal negligence which has caused the death of over 9,000 people and infected nearly a million more. Despite these well documented abuses, the historical record has shown that the Security Council will mostly likely renew MINUSTAH for another year without any thought of damage being done to Haiti. On August 21, MINUSTAH's budget was extended to June 2015, a clear signal that the occupation is certain to continue. 

On September 6th, 2014 President Obama, sometimes known as the deporter-in-chief, announced his plan to delay executive action on immigration until after the election. President Obama caved  on his own pledge to issue administrative relief by the end of summer if the Congress did not act. This delay is simply wrong.

It is estimated that about 1,100 people are being torn apart from their loved ones everyday. While families are separated everyday, this country's so-called leaders are pointing fingers at each other and refusing to accept their responsibility to serve the people. The Republican Party, the henchmen for the Top 1 percent, is blaming President Obama because they can't "trust" him. Spineless Democrats are blaming Republicans for not passing comprehensive immigration reform, a bill designed to minimize 11.5 million people's pathway to citizenship while benefittingthe prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex. The Obama administration was able to recuse itself from its draconian deportation policy by blaming the Congress, but the administration cannot hide anymore.

Oct 15

Duvalier: Dead But Not Gone

By Charlie Hinton, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, responsible for the death of thousands and the theft of millions, who moved openly in the society of Haitian elites protected by the government, died on October 4 a free man. He reportedly suffered a heart attack at the home of an associate in a wealthy enclave above Port-au-Prince.

Meanwhile former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who helped build the movement to drive Duvalier from power in 1986, who was twice elected president with huge majorities only to be overthrown by US backed coups, and who as president created more schools in a decade than had been created in all of Haiti's previous 200 year history, is now forced to live under “house arrest,” a concept unknown in Haitian law, with his home surrounded by heavily armed police wearing black ski masks. He’s falsely accused of “corruption,” charges levied and dismissed for the past 10 years in Haitian and Miami courts.

Oct 14

It's the Stupid, Stupid

By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers | Op-Ed

Barack Obama is not stupid and he says he doesn't want his administration to do "stupid things" in foreign policy. So why, then, has he done a reckless, stupid thing by starting a new, two-theater war in the Middle East? And why does that war in Syria have to commence right now as an existential necessity?

Even though I don't agree, I can at least somewhat understand a rush to war when it comes to Iraq. The corruption and vacuum of leadership in that country opened up a rich shaft for the extremist jihadis of ISIS to mine -- and they are moving inexorably toward Baghdad. But what was the absolute moral hurry to bomb inside Syria?; you mean the operation couldn't have waited a few weeks so there could be a full-scale national debate, both in Congress and in the American polity in general, about the wisdom of such a dangerous move? 

Dear Community Studies,

I want to start off by thanking each of you three wonderful women for all of the work you do. Each of you have inspired me in different ways to continue on my path towards helping make the world a better and more peaceful place. I am disappointed, but also excited, to announce that I will be taking a Leave of Absence from the University of California, Santa Cruz this Fall. I have put 3 weeks of critical thinking into this decision, and it has received support from 3 people—two UCSC affiliates and one activist—whose work in and for this world I greatly admire. I consider them my friends and mentors and they have ensured their continued support for my decision and path even if I am not a student of this institution.

I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock since I have recently shown discontent for the UCSC institution. The last two times I have thought about withdrawing from the University I would get excited; and both times I was convinced to stay back in I got sad. This ushered me to really think about what it was that bothered me about being a student of UCSC. While I was never quite able to put my finger on what it was that haunted me on campus, I knew there was something evil working around me. Learning about neoliberalism in Mary-Beth’s Economic Justice class in Fall 2014 was terrifying (you may recall this, Mary Beth). I learned how many of the systems and markets running through our society are inextricably linked—big business, research institutions, the government, higher education, prisons, etc.—and that all of them are more prone to destroy a person’s humanity than enlighten them. At that point, I decided to learn and work from within the system and try to effect change that way.

It might help editorial page editor Fred Hiatt understand how the budget works. He is appalled because "reactionary defenders" of Social Security think that seniors should be able to get the benefits they paid for. (I wonder if it's reactionary to think that Peter Peterson type billionaires should be able to get the interest on the government bonds that they paid for.)

Anyhow, the basis for Hiatt's fury is that John Podesta, now a top advisor to President Obama, is boasting about entitlements having been brought under control. To Hiatt this is outrageous.

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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.

"No good can ever come from deviating from the path you were destined to follow." Robert Greene

Who is Dr. Cornell West referring to when he says, “We need a renaissance of courage and a willingness to sacrifice?” This is what he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! during a discussion on his new book Black Prophetic Fire about the legacy of leading African American voices including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. He was referring to blacks themselves like when he confessed his fear that we may be witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time. Black prophetic fire, according to Cornell West can be summed up as a deep love for justice, love of the poor and working people and a love for black people. He tells us this is best understood if we consider the four essential questions W.E.B. DuBois wrestled with in his lifetime: How does integrity face oppression? What does honesty do in the face of deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? And how does virtue meet brute force? This fire Cornell West refers to is the very notion of agency and social responsibility and it begs the question-- What is the ethical culture driving our conversation about public schools today and what is your personal responsibility in making a difference?

According to the latest government statistics, the unemployment rate has dropped below 6 percent compared to around 10 percent in 2010. Then why is the nation still in a sour mood? In the words of Steve Liesman, a CNBC Senior Economics Reporter, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted at the end of September indicates that "Americans' view of President Barack Obama's economic leadership stands at the lowest level of his presidency." While the president's popularity hits rock bottom, Congress' approval rating, less than 10 percent, is at its all-time low. So why are people disenchanted with politicians as well as our system? Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that seven years after the start of the Great Recession, the employment level has barely budged above its level in 2006, as millions of people have become so discouraged that they have simply dropped out of the labor force. Or it may be because median income is down by $5,000, with the rate of poverty the worst in more than 50 years. Meanwhile, federal debt has climbed by over $8 trillion, with the Federal Reserve spending an additional $4 trillion to bail out the financial system.

Oct 15

Open Letter to Temple University on Disclosure of Funding Sources for Research

By Temple University Faculty and Others, Truthout | Open Letter

Dear Members of the Board of Trustees:

We, the undersigned current and former faculty members and scholars at institutions of higher learning, submit this joint letter in reference to a controversy concerning the integrity of academic research at Temple University.

According to recent news reports, a working paper released last year by Temple Professors Simon Hakim and Edwin A. Blackstone, entitled "Cost Analysis of Public and Contractor-Operated Prisons," did not initially disclose that the study had received funding from the nation's three largest for-profit prison companies.

Oct 15

Greed as a Mental Health Disorder

By Peter Michaelson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

During a recent discussion of narcissism on the TV program "The View," Rosie O'Donnell was told that the condition is "a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of self and their own importance and a deep need for admiration." She replied, "That's every celebrity I know, including me!"

That's great candor from an entertaining lady. We might practice candor, too, by expanding our understanding of mental disorders to include the problem of greed. Both narcissism and greed produce personal and national self-sabotage.

Oct 15

On October 15, the United Nations Will Fail Haiti Once Again

By Ajamu Nangwaya and Kevin Edmonds, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On October 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to "debate" the extension of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which has acted as an occupying force in the country since the summer of 2004. MINUSTAH was created to put an end to the UN Multinational Interim Force (primarily made up of US, French, Canadian and Chilean troops) which occupied Haiti after an internationally-backed coup d'état ousted the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party from power on February 29, 2004.

During these ten years, MINUSTAH has compiled a horrific record of human rights abuses, including but not limited to extrajudicial murder, repeated sexual assault against Haitian men, women and children, the repression of peaceful political protests, in addition to unleashing cholera through criminal negligence which has caused the death of over 9,000 people and infected nearly a million more. Despite these well documented abuses, the historical record has shown that the Security Council will mostly likely renew MINUSTAH for another year without any thought of damage being done to Haiti. On August 21, MINUSTAH's budget was extended to June 2015, a clear signal that the occupation is certain to continue. 

On September 6th, 2014 President Obama, sometimes known as the deporter-in-chief, announced his plan to delay executive action on immigration until after the election. President Obama caved  on his own pledge to issue administrative relief by the end of summer if the Congress did not act. This delay is simply wrong.

It is estimated that about 1,100 people are being torn apart from their loved ones everyday. While families are separated everyday, this country's so-called leaders are pointing fingers at each other and refusing to accept their responsibility to serve the people. The Republican Party, the henchmen for the Top 1 percent, is blaming President Obama because they can't "trust" him. Spineless Democrats are blaming Republicans for not passing comprehensive immigration reform, a bill designed to minimize 11.5 million people's pathway to citizenship while benefittingthe prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex. The Obama administration was able to recuse itself from its draconian deportation policy by blaming the Congress, but the administration cannot hide anymore.

Oct 15

Duvalier: Dead But Not Gone

By Charlie Hinton, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, responsible for the death of thousands and the theft of millions, who moved openly in the society of Haitian elites protected by the government, died on October 4 a free man. He reportedly suffered a heart attack at the home of an associate in a wealthy enclave above Port-au-Prince.

Meanwhile former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who helped build the movement to drive Duvalier from power in 1986, who was twice elected president with huge majorities only to be overthrown by US backed coups, and who as president created more schools in a decade than had been created in all of Haiti's previous 200 year history, is now forced to live under “house arrest,” a concept unknown in Haitian law, with his home surrounded by heavily armed police wearing black ski masks. He’s falsely accused of “corruption,” charges levied and dismissed for the past 10 years in Haitian and Miami courts.

Oct 14

It's the Stupid, Stupid

By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers | Op-Ed

Barack Obama is not stupid and he says he doesn't want his administration to do "stupid things" in foreign policy. So why, then, has he done a reckless, stupid thing by starting a new, two-theater war in the Middle East? And why does that war in Syria have to commence right now as an existential necessity?

Even though I don't agree, I can at least somewhat understand a rush to war when it comes to Iraq. The corruption and vacuum of leadership in that country opened up a rich shaft for the extremist jihadis of ISIS to mine -- and they are moving inexorably toward Baghdad. But what was the absolute moral hurry to bomb inside Syria?; you mean the operation couldn't have waited a few weeks so there could be a full-scale national debate, both in Congress and in the American polity in general, about the wisdom of such a dangerous move? 

Dear Community Studies,

I want to start off by thanking each of you three wonderful women for all of the work you do. Each of you have inspired me in different ways to continue on my path towards helping make the world a better and more peaceful place. I am disappointed, but also excited, to announce that I will be taking a Leave of Absence from the University of California, Santa Cruz this Fall. I have put 3 weeks of critical thinking into this decision, and it has received support from 3 people—two UCSC affiliates and one activist—whose work in and for this world I greatly admire. I consider them my friends and mentors and they have ensured their continued support for my decision and path even if I am not a student of this institution.

I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock since I have recently shown discontent for the UCSC institution. The last two times I have thought about withdrawing from the University I would get excited; and both times I was convinced to stay back in I got sad. This ushered me to really think about what it was that bothered me about being a student of UCSC. While I was never quite able to put my finger on what it was that haunted me on campus, I knew there was something evil working around me. Learning about neoliberalism in Mary-Beth’s Economic Justice class in Fall 2014 was terrifying (you may recall this, Mary Beth). I learned how many of the systems and markets running through our society are inextricably linked—big business, research institutions, the government, higher education, prisons, etc.—and that all of them are more prone to destroy a person’s humanity than enlighten them. At that point, I decided to learn and work from within the system and try to effect change that way.

It might help editorial page editor Fred Hiatt understand how the budget works. He is appalled because "reactionary defenders" of Social Security think that seniors should be able to get the benefits they paid for. (I wonder if it's reactionary to think that Peter Peterson type billionaires should be able to get the interest on the government bonds that they paid for.)

Anyhow, the basis for Hiatt's fury is that John Podesta, now a top advisor to President Obama, is boasting about entitlements having been brought under control. To Hiatt this is outrageous.