Wednesday, 02 September 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.

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.

Jul 08

What Do Americans Think About Economic Inequality?

By Lawrence S. Wittner, Speakout | Op-Ed

Are Americans disturbed about growing economic inequality in the United States?

Numerous opinion surveys in recent years indicate that substantial majorities of Americans not only recognize that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else has grown, but favor greater economic equality. A Gallup poll conducted in April 2015 found that 63 percent of respondents believed that wealth in the United States should be distributed more evenly. Similarly, a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in late May 2015 revealed that 66 percent of Americans favored the redistribution of  "the money and wealth in this country" along more egalitarian lines.

Jul 07

The Nuclear Age at 70

By David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation | Op-Ed

The first explosion of a nuclear device took place at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Just three weeks later, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and three days after that on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The new weapons had devastating power, killing approximately 100,000 people immediately in the two cities and another 100,000 people by the end of 1945.

Since these bombings brought the world into the Nuclear Age, the human future and that of other forms of life have been at risk.

Jul 06

Ohio's Hypocrisy on Legalizing Pot

By Harvey Wasserman, Speakout | Op-Ed

Ohio lawmakers have gotten into a hypocritical frenzy about a monopoly on pot.

No legislature in the world is more thoroughly owned and operated by major corporations than the one in Columbus. Thanks to astonishingly blatant gerrymandering and election theft, both houses of the legislature in a strongly Democratic state are dominated by money-driven Republicans.

No claim made on the campaign trail by a politician has a guaranteed shelf life past Election Day. So when presidential candidates make half-baked declarations of support to reduce the amount of money in our political system, the American people want details - especially now that we can put some unequivocal figures on the massive outrage surrounding this issue.

A recent poll, published by the New York Times and CBS News, reported that 84 percent of Americans thinks the ultra-wealthy have undue influence over our political system.

Dear 2016 Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton,

You recently gave a speech at Columbia University calling for broad criminal justice reform. You said, "There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by the police, charged with crimes, and given longer prison terms than their white counterparts," and "There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down."

Like many other progressives, I was very excited about some of the Supreme Court decisions this term (health care, gay marriage) and deeply disturbed about others (Facebook threats should not be judged on a "reasonable person" standard, executions using new drugs can continue). One decision that did not receive as much attention but that is tremendously important, I think, is the Court's ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. In that decision, the Court held 5-4 that housing segregation, even if done unintentionally, violates the Fair Housing Act. In doing so, the Court affirmed that "disparate impact claims" about housing are legitimate. Although it is not clear that this will be the case, I hope that the decision paved the way for greater use of social science data by courts on other issues.

This 2015 spring moving into early summer time feels different from my previous 11 rural ones in southwest NewHampshire. After a winter entombed in ice and snow with daily shoveling of paths for my dog with sides so high, I couldn't see her from the window as she traipsed about, more was expected.

Everything seems a bit less lush, not bursting with spring sun to announce survival of a harsh five months. Or maybe it's me as I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country wake up these days and contemplate: Pipeline coming... Pipeline coming...

The long-awaited ruling by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) supporting subsidies/tax credits for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been hailed by the mainstream media (even including MSNBC) as a landmark event showing the success of health care reform. Granted, the ACA after five years has brought new coverage to 16 million people through the exchanges and expanded Medicaid, and has established some limited insurance reforms, such as banning insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. But as the media celebrate and hype this event, we need to ask some hard questions about where we now find ourselves in reforming our dysfunctional system.

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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.

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.

Jul 08

What Do Americans Think About Economic Inequality?

By Lawrence S. Wittner, Speakout | Op-Ed

Are Americans disturbed about growing economic inequality in the United States?

Numerous opinion surveys in recent years indicate that substantial majorities of Americans not only recognize that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else has grown, but favor greater economic equality. A Gallup poll conducted in April 2015 found that 63 percent of respondents believed that wealth in the United States should be distributed more evenly. Similarly, a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in late May 2015 revealed that 66 percent of Americans favored the redistribution of  "the money and wealth in this country" along more egalitarian lines.

Jul 07

The Nuclear Age at 70

By David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation | Op-Ed

The first explosion of a nuclear device took place at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Just three weeks later, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and three days after that on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The new weapons had devastating power, killing approximately 100,000 people immediately in the two cities and another 100,000 people by the end of 1945.

Since these bombings brought the world into the Nuclear Age, the human future and that of other forms of life have been at risk.

Jul 06

Ohio's Hypocrisy on Legalizing Pot

By Harvey Wasserman, Speakout | Op-Ed

Ohio lawmakers have gotten into a hypocritical frenzy about a monopoly on pot.

No legislature in the world is more thoroughly owned and operated by major corporations than the one in Columbus. Thanks to astonishingly blatant gerrymandering and election theft, both houses of the legislature in a strongly Democratic state are dominated by money-driven Republicans.

No claim made on the campaign trail by a politician has a guaranteed shelf life past Election Day. So when presidential candidates make half-baked declarations of support to reduce the amount of money in our political system, the American people want details - especially now that we can put some unequivocal figures on the massive outrage surrounding this issue.

A recent poll, published by the New York Times and CBS News, reported that 84 percent of Americans thinks the ultra-wealthy have undue influence over our political system.

Dear 2016 Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton,

You recently gave a speech at Columbia University calling for broad criminal justice reform. You said, "There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are far more likely to be stopped by the police, charged with crimes, and given longer prison terms than their white counterparts," and "There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down."

Like many other progressives, I was very excited about some of the Supreme Court decisions this term (health care, gay marriage) and deeply disturbed about others (Facebook threats should not be judged on a "reasonable person" standard, executions using new drugs can continue). One decision that did not receive as much attention but that is tremendously important, I think, is the Court's ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. In that decision, the Court held 5-4 that housing segregation, even if done unintentionally, violates the Fair Housing Act. In doing so, the Court affirmed that "disparate impact claims" about housing are legitimate. Although it is not clear that this will be the case, I hope that the decision paved the way for greater use of social science data by courts on other issues.

This 2015 spring moving into early summer time feels different from my previous 11 rural ones in southwest NewHampshire. After a winter entombed in ice and snow with daily shoveling of paths for my dog with sides so high, I couldn't see her from the window as she traipsed about, more was expected.

Everything seems a bit less lush, not bursting with spring sun to announce survival of a harsh five months. Or maybe it's me as I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of Americans around the country wake up these days and contemplate: Pipeline coming... Pipeline coming...

The long-awaited ruling by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) supporting subsidies/tax credits for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been hailed by the mainstream media (even including MSNBC) as a landmark event showing the success of health care reform. Granted, the ACA after five years has brought new coverage to 16 million people through the exchanges and expanded Medicaid, and has established some limited insurance reforms, such as banning insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. But as the media celebrate and hype this event, we need to ask some hard questions about where we now find ourselves in reforming our dysfunctional system.