Saturday, 28 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.

Today, Thursday March 12 the Post 2015 Women's Coalition will launch their Vision Statement for feminist alternative approaches to sustainable development.  The Coalition made up of feminist, women's rights, women's development, grassroots, peace and social justice organizations from around the world have come to attend the 59th Annual Commission on the Status of Women to call in a collective voice for real progress in the lives of women.

The launch of the Vision Statement comes at a critical time in history, demanding a new development agenda that strengthens gender equality for all and is deeply concerned that 20 years after the Beijing Platform for Action, so many commitments on gender equality and women's human rights are not fulfilled.

A man who was tortured into a "confession" for manslaughter aged 14 has been handed a second execution warrant – just two months after his first warrant caused an international outcry that resulted in a stay.

Shafqat Hussain was charged with the kidnap and murder of another local child and convicted on the strength of one piece of evidence: a forced confession made after nine days of police torture. An execution warrant was issued for Shafqat in December, but after serious concerns over his age and the safety of his initial conviction were raised, the execution was stayed.

A group of prominent U.S. peace activists, civil rights attorneys and human rights activists have signed an Open Letter to the people and government of Iran. The Open Letter is being circulated online in the next days. Thousands of people, enraged by the unprecedented action of the 47 Senators to sabotage the negotiations with Iran, are expected to add their names. The campaign was initiated by the anti-war ANSWER Coalition. 

The letter states, "Their real aim in scuttling and sabotaging the current negotiations between the United States and Iran, perhaps unprecedented in the form they have chosen, is to create more conflict including the danger of military action against Iran."

This is not my geography teacher, or, more accurately it is not at all how I remember him. A series of APA images published by the British Daily Mail and other newspapers showed Hamad al-Hasanat lying dead in a mosque, surrounded by a group of Hamas fighters. On top of his lifeless body, as worshipers came to offer a final prayer before burial, rested an assault rifle.

Hasanat was buried among the refugees of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip. He died on 2 March, at the age of 80. 

Mar 13

Pacifica Stands in for All Public Media

By Ernesto Aguilar, Truthout | News Analysis

Pacifica, the embattled progressive radio network, has been the recipient of bad press and suggestions that it should simply be allowed to go into bankruptcy. This first-ever internal look by a high-level insider puts Pacifica's troubles in the context of public media facing challenges from digital, funding cuts and declining revenue. Pacifica leaders contend the network is still important and must be supported.

The in-house bouts of Pacifica Radio spilled into the proverbial street recently, when the California Attorney General was asked to audit the oldest non-commercial independent radio network in the US. Truthout is one of many outlets that has featured Pacifica's arguments, recriminations and sordid dramas. One can't help but read with interest.

Mar 13

Trauma Center Now: Why We Shut Down Michigan Avenue

By Veronica Morris Moore and Victoria Crider, Transformative Spaces | Op-Ed

As I  try to compile a list of reasons why I was a part of the civil disobedience direct action that blocked northbound traffic on the Magnificent Mile on the night of Thursday, March 5, all I can immediately think of is "why not?" But for the purpose of this statement I'll try to stick to reasons that are unique and relative to my role in the Trauma Center Campaign.

The main reason I volunteered my body for the human chain that blocked northbound traffic on Michigan Avenue is because I am committed to pressuring the University of Chicago to reopen its level 1 trauma center at the UChicago's medical facility. Since Fearless Leading by the Youth began the fight to restore this vital service in our community, all our efforts have been met with is traditional racist excuses. UofC spokespeople say, "the service will be a significant burden that will undercut other services already provided to the community." For me, a black queer youth (under 25), this is unacceptable.

Mar 12

Expert Global Commission Responds to One-Sided Tax Debate

By Staff, Fact Coalition | Press Release

(New York) Responding to widespread anger about corporate tax avoidance, the impacts of such avoidance on inequality and poverty, and concerns that current tax reform processes are inadequate, a new nonpartisan body— the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT)—has been established to propose reforms from the perspective of the public interest.

The inaugural meeting of the Commission will take place in New York on March 18-19, 2015. The Commission's Chair, former UN Under-Secretary-General José Antonio Ocampo, says: "The world has changed but the international tax system has not. Corporations play governments against each other, for example, in encouraging race-to-the-bottom tax incentives, and the public loses out. There are billions of dollars at stake. This Commission will shed light on where the rules of the game, and the institutions that govern them, need to change."

Mar 12

Getting Past the Issue of Being Jewish - an Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

On 5 March 2015 the New York Times (NYT) carried a front page story about a second-year student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) named Rachel Beyda. Ms. Beyda, who is Jewish, was seeking appointment as a member on the university's Judicial Board - a student committee that considers judicial questions in reference to the activities of student government. 

As the story goes, Ms. Beyda's application was originally rejected because a majority of the board felt that her association with organizations such as Hillel, a group that uncritically supports Israel's apartheid-style culture and maintains anti-democratic rules and procedures of its own, would represent a conflict of interest and result in possible bias on her part. Given the tension on many campuses, including UCLA, between those who support and oppose Israeli policies and behavior - tensions which occasionally result in student organizations being disciplined - it was not an unreasonable assumption. Unfortunately, the student board members who questioned Ms. Beyda's affiliations made it appear that their concerns flowed from her religion and ethnicity. 

Wall Street bonuses rose 3 percent last year, despite a 4.5 percent decline in industry profits. The size of the bonus pool was 27 percent higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage.

The 2014 bonus pool is so large it far exceeds the amounts needed to lift the wages of all 2.9 million restaurant servers and bartenders, all 1.5 million home health and personal care aides, or all 2.2 million fast food preparation and serving workers up to $15 per hour.

After Venezuela accused the United States of plotting another coup, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki rejected the claim as "ludicrous." She said, "As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means." The response from reporters may surprise you. 

On Democracy Now!, we get reaction from Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of "The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela" and the forthcoming book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know."

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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.

Today, Thursday March 12 the Post 2015 Women's Coalition will launch their Vision Statement for feminist alternative approaches to sustainable development.  The Coalition made up of feminist, women's rights, women's development, grassroots, peace and social justice organizations from around the world have come to attend the 59th Annual Commission on the Status of Women to call in a collective voice for real progress in the lives of women.

The launch of the Vision Statement comes at a critical time in history, demanding a new development agenda that strengthens gender equality for all and is deeply concerned that 20 years after the Beijing Platform for Action, so many commitments on gender equality and women's human rights are not fulfilled.

A man who was tortured into a "confession" for manslaughter aged 14 has been handed a second execution warrant – just two months after his first warrant caused an international outcry that resulted in a stay.

Shafqat Hussain was charged with the kidnap and murder of another local child and convicted on the strength of one piece of evidence: a forced confession made after nine days of police torture. An execution warrant was issued for Shafqat in December, but after serious concerns over his age and the safety of his initial conviction were raised, the execution was stayed.

A group of prominent U.S. peace activists, civil rights attorneys and human rights activists have signed an Open Letter to the people and government of Iran. The Open Letter is being circulated online in the next days. Thousands of people, enraged by the unprecedented action of the 47 Senators to sabotage the negotiations with Iran, are expected to add their names. The campaign was initiated by the anti-war ANSWER Coalition. 

The letter states, "Their real aim in scuttling and sabotaging the current negotiations between the United States and Iran, perhaps unprecedented in the form they have chosen, is to create more conflict including the danger of military action against Iran."

This is not my geography teacher, or, more accurately it is not at all how I remember him. A series of APA images published by the British Daily Mail and other newspapers showed Hamad al-Hasanat lying dead in a mosque, surrounded by a group of Hamas fighters. On top of his lifeless body, as worshipers came to offer a final prayer before burial, rested an assault rifle.

Hasanat was buried among the refugees of the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in the central Gaza Strip. He died on 2 March, at the age of 80. 

Mar 13

Pacifica Stands in for All Public Media

By Ernesto Aguilar, Truthout | News Analysis

Pacifica, the embattled progressive radio network, has been the recipient of bad press and suggestions that it should simply be allowed to go into bankruptcy. This first-ever internal look by a high-level insider puts Pacifica's troubles in the context of public media facing challenges from digital, funding cuts and declining revenue. Pacifica leaders contend the network is still important and must be supported.

The in-house bouts of Pacifica Radio spilled into the proverbial street recently, when the California Attorney General was asked to audit the oldest non-commercial independent radio network in the US. Truthout is one of many outlets that has featured Pacifica's arguments, recriminations and sordid dramas. One can't help but read with interest.

Mar 13

Trauma Center Now: Why We Shut Down Michigan Avenue

By Veronica Morris Moore and Victoria Crider, Transformative Spaces | Op-Ed

As I  try to compile a list of reasons why I was a part of the civil disobedience direct action that blocked northbound traffic on the Magnificent Mile on the night of Thursday, March 5, all I can immediately think of is "why not?" But for the purpose of this statement I'll try to stick to reasons that are unique and relative to my role in the Trauma Center Campaign.

The main reason I volunteered my body for the human chain that blocked northbound traffic on Michigan Avenue is because I am committed to pressuring the University of Chicago to reopen its level 1 trauma center at the UChicago's medical facility. Since Fearless Leading by the Youth began the fight to restore this vital service in our community, all our efforts have been met with is traditional racist excuses. UofC spokespeople say, "the service will be a significant burden that will undercut other services already provided to the community." For me, a black queer youth (under 25), this is unacceptable.

Mar 12

Expert Global Commission Responds to One-Sided Tax Debate

By Staff, Fact Coalition | Press Release

(New York) Responding to widespread anger about corporate tax avoidance, the impacts of such avoidance on inequality and poverty, and concerns that current tax reform processes are inadequate, a new nonpartisan body— the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT)—has been established to propose reforms from the perspective of the public interest.

The inaugural meeting of the Commission will take place in New York on March 18-19, 2015. The Commission's Chair, former UN Under-Secretary-General José Antonio Ocampo, says: "The world has changed but the international tax system has not. Corporations play governments against each other, for example, in encouraging race-to-the-bottom tax incentives, and the public loses out. There are billions of dollars at stake. This Commission will shed light on where the rules of the game, and the institutions that govern them, need to change."

Mar 12

Getting Past the Issue of Being Jewish - an Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

On 5 March 2015 the New York Times (NYT) carried a front page story about a second-year student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) named Rachel Beyda. Ms. Beyda, who is Jewish, was seeking appointment as a member on the university's Judicial Board - a student committee that considers judicial questions in reference to the activities of student government. 

As the story goes, Ms. Beyda's application was originally rejected because a majority of the board felt that her association with organizations such as Hillel, a group that uncritically supports Israel's apartheid-style culture and maintains anti-democratic rules and procedures of its own, would represent a conflict of interest and result in possible bias on her part. Given the tension on many campuses, including UCLA, between those who support and oppose Israeli policies and behavior - tensions which occasionally result in student organizations being disciplined - it was not an unreasonable assumption. Unfortunately, the student board members who questioned Ms. Beyda's affiliations made it appear that their concerns flowed from her religion and ethnicity. 

Wall Street bonuses rose 3 percent last year, despite a 4.5 percent decline in industry profits. The size of the bonus pool was 27 percent higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage.

The 2014 bonus pool is so large it far exceeds the amounts needed to lift the wages of all 2.9 million restaurant servers and bartenders, all 1.5 million home health and personal care aides, or all 2.2 million fast food preparation and serving workers up to $15 per hour.

After Venezuela accused the United States of plotting another coup, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki rejected the claim as "ludicrous." She said, "As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means." The response from reporters may surprise you. 

On Democracy Now!, we get reaction from Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of "The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela" and the forthcoming book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know."