Monday, 31 August 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.

Over the last several years, a surprising number of high-ranking military officers have been investigated, punished or fired over conduct unbecoming, sexual harassment, sexual violence, retaliation against subordinates, recruiting fraud and financial improprieties. In 2014, a Pentagon study found that reports of rapes and sexual assaults in the military increased 8 percent, and this came on the heels of a 50 percent increase in reported rapes and sexual assaults in 2013.

Since the Wall Street banks nearly destroyed the American and global financial system in 2008, families and consumers of all walks of life have found themselves working harder than ever before. The collapse of the economy has taken a toll on so many levels of our daily lives - our communities, retirement funds, consumer culture, the way we view our government, basic lifestyle needs, our hope as a democracy.

Supporters of Paul Singer, an US billionaire hedge fund manager, will describe him as an esteemed investor, philanthropist and tireless political activist. Mr. Singer's critics however, commonly refer to him as a fundraising terrorist, vulture capitalist and the "inventor of vulture funds," due to his infamous practice of finding countries in dire economic distress, buying its debt and demanding full payment.

These nefarious vulture funds have acquired millions of dollars from developing countries all over the world thus leaving the countries in a worse economic state.

When we began our project "Women Cross the DMZ," we knew the landmines in the DMZ would be nothing compared to the explosions of anger, vitriol and hate from those who oppose any contact with North Korea. Some US and South Korean government officials, academics, media talking heads and paid bloggers would have their knives out for any group that dared challenge the dangerous status quo on the Korean peninsula. No surprise that the knives have been attempting to slice away at the remarkable worldwide publicity our trip to both North and South Korea created.

I've written this op-ed often enough that it has become formulaic: Fallujah is under attack again. And as a veteran who once helped sack Fallujah, I have a duty to divert your attention to this and plead with you to do something about it.

The fact that Fallujah has come under attack often enough for this to feel routine points to the embarrassing failure of the US antiwar movement, which is also my failure, and to our flawed foreign policy that has brought nothing but constant violence to Iraqis.

Unions have a decision to make: organize or die. It's that simple. These are the only two options now that the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case Friedrichs v. California Teacher Association.

The court intends to take aim at the head of organized labor by ruling against the California Teachers Association, and in the process fundamentally change labor law in a way that would cripple public sector unions, the last bastion of significant social power in the US labor movement.

As the mainstream media and most "alternative" media refuse to discuss the root cause of the Santa Barbara oil spill - Big Oil's capture of the regulatory apparatus - an independent scientific study revealed that the spill released glutaraldehyde, ethylbenzene, naphthalene and other toxic chemicals into the environment.

Numerous toxic chemicals known to pose severe threats to human health and marine life contaminated the Pacific Ocean and beaches when more than 100,000 gallons of oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline in Santa Barbara County.

Pope Francis has issued a papal encyclical pointing to climate change as the overriding moral issue of our time. His words boldly proclaim that humanity's capacity to alter the climate charges us with the gravest moral responsibility we have ever had to bear. Climate change affects everyone. The disruptions to the biosphere occurring today bind all peoples everywhere into a single human family, our fates inseparably intertwined. No one can escape the impact, no matter how remote they may live from the bustling centers of industry and commerce. The responsibility for preserving the planet falls on everyone.

Jul 10

Three Lessons From Last Weekend's Confederate Flag Rallies

By Ernesto Aguilar, Speakout | Op-Ed

During the weekend, cities across the US, including in Arkansas, Florida, Arizona and South Carolina, held rallies in support of the Confederate flag, the polarizing symbol that has become a centerpiece in the national debate after the Charleston massacre.

In Dallas and other areas, the fourth of July weekend demonstrations got heated, with Confederate flag supporters getting heavy criticism for their actions. Such rallies seem like a relic of times past, when lines like Southern heritage weren't called out for the anti-Black prejudice they are.

"Who is the danger here?" Vera Scroggins,  an anti-fracking activist based in Susquehanna County asked after reaching an agreement to resolve a case in which she faced criminal charges at the Montrose, Pennsylvania courthouse.  "Me or an industry that is contaminating the air and water?"

Scroggins, 64, exited the Montrose courtroom, greeting her supporters after signing an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition agreement, a Pennsylvania deal usually offered to first time offenders,  covering her six wire-tapping charges.

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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.

Over the last several years, a surprising number of high-ranking military officers have been investigated, punished or fired over conduct unbecoming, sexual harassment, sexual violence, retaliation against subordinates, recruiting fraud and financial improprieties. In 2014, a Pentagon study found that reports of rapes and sexual assaults in the military increased 8 percent, and this came on the heels of a 50 percent increase in reported rapes and sexual assaults in 2013.

Since the Wall Street banks nearly destroyed the American and global financial system in 2008, families and consumers of all walks of life have found themselves working harder than ever before. The collapse of the economy has taken a toll on so many levels of our daily lives - our communities, retirement funds, consumer culture, the way we view our government, basic lifestyle needs, our hope as a democracy.

Supporters of Paul Singer, an US billionaire hedge fund manager, will describe him as an esteemed investor, philanthropist and tireless political activist. Mr. Singer's critics however, commonly refer to him as a fundraising terrorist, vulture capitalist and the "inventor of vulture funds," due to his infamous practice of finding countries in dire economic distress, buying its debt and demanding full payment.

These nefarious vulture funds have acquired millions of dollars from developing countries all over the world thus leaving the countries in a worse economic state.

When we began our project "Women Cross the DMZ," we knew the landmines in the DMZ would be nothing compared to the explosions of anger, vitriol and hate from those who oppose any contact with North Korea. Some US and South Korean government officials, academics, media talking heads and paid bloggers would have their knives out for any group that dared challenge the dangerous status quo on the Korean peninsula. No surprise that the knives have been attempting to slice away at the remarkable worldwide publicity our trip to both North and South Korea created.

I've written this op-ed often enough that it has become formulaic: Fallujah is under attack again. And as a veteran who once helped sack Fallujah, I have a duty to divert your attention to this and plead with you to do something about it.

The fact that Fallujah has come under attack often enough for this to feel routine points to the embarrassing failure of the US antiwar movement, which is also my failure, and to our flawed foreign policy that has brought nothing but constant violence to Iraqis.

Unions have a decision to make: organize or die. It's that simple. These are the only two options now that the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case Friedrichs v. California Teacher Association.

The court intends to take aim at the head of organized labor by ruling against the California Teachers Association, and in the process fundamentally change labor law in a way that would cripple public sector unions, the last bastion of significant social power in the US labor movement.

As the mainstream media and most "alternative" media refuse to discuss the root cause of the Santa Barbara oil spill - Big Oil's capture of the regulatory apparatus - an independent scientific study revealed that the spill released glutaraldehyde, ethylbenzene, naphthalene and other toxic chemicals into the environment.

Numerous toxic chemicals known to pose severe threats to human health and marine life contaminated the Pacific Ocean and beaches when more than 100,000 gallons of oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline in Santa Barbara County.

Pope Francis has issued a papal encyclical pointing to climate change as the overriding moral issue of our time. His words boldly proclaim that humanity's capacity to alter the climate charges us with the gravest moral responsibility we have ever had to bear. Climate change affects everyone. The disruptions to the biosphere occurring today bind all peoples everywhere into a single human family, our fates inseparably intertwined. No one can escape the impact, no matter how remote they may live from the bustling centers of industry and commerce. The responsibility for preserving the planet falls on everyone.

Jul 10

Three Lessons From Last Weekend's Confederate Flag Rallies

By Ernesto Aguilar, Speakout | Op-Ed

During the weekend, cities across the US, including in Arkansas, Florida, Arizona and South Carolina, held rallies in support of the Confederate flag, the polarizing symbol that has become a centerpiece in the national debate after the Charleston massacre.

In Dallas and other areas, the fourth of July weekend demonstrations got heated, with Confederate flag supporters getting heavy criticism for their actions. Such rallies seem like a relic of times past, when lines like Southern heritage weren't called out for the anti-Black prejudice they are.

"Who is the danger here?" Vera Scroggins,  an anti-fracking activist based in Susquehanna County asked after reaching an agreement to resolve a case in which she faced criminal charges at the Montrose, Pennsylvania courthouse.  "Me or an industry that is contaminating the air and water?"

Scroggins, 64, exited the Montrose courtroom, greeting her supporters after signing an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition agreement, a Pennsylvania deal usually offered to first time offenders,  covering her six wire-tapping charges.