Sunday, 26 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.

On September 23, 2014, the world gathered to watch history being made: the tail end of the largest climate march ever and a UN Climate Summit where leaders reaffirmed their commitment to stringent mitigation measures.

Meanwhile, some things never change. At the Summit, Barack Obama gave what was called by a New Republic reporter as a "toothless speech." Just a day before, the Pentagon announced that they commenced air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. These two moves seem unrelated, but are they? In fact, both of these decisions are based on risk assessments of possible threats. So then why are we so unwilling to take on climate change, compared with other things where we assess risk and act accordingly?

Oct 01

Ban Weaponized Drones!

By Elsa Rassbach, SpeakOut | Press Release

Berlin- Anti-drone campaigns in the US, the UK, and continental Europe are mounting the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing on October 4, 2014. 

More than 40 actions will take place in several countries. Founded at an international meeting in Berlin in December, Global Action Day is working together with the US Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare, the UK Drone Campaign Network's Week of Action and the Global Network's Keep Space for Peace Week. Both action weeks begin on October 4th. 

Oct 01

War Polls Obstruct Democracy and Peace

By Erin Niemela, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

US-led coalition airstrikes targeting the Islamic State (ISIL) have opened the floodgates of war journalism reporting by corporate mainstream media – to the detriment of American democracy and peace. This has been recently evident in a traditionally democratic tool used by American press: public opinion polls.  These war polls, as they should be called during wartime, are an affront to both respectable journalism and an informed civil society. They’re byproducts of rally-round-the-flag war journalism and without constant scrutiny, war polls results make public opinion look a lot more pro-war than it actually is.

Public polling is meant to signify and reinforce the role of media in a democracy as reflecting or representing mass opinion. Corporate mainstream media are considered credible in providing this reflection based on assumptions of objectivity and balance, and politicians have been known to consider polls in their policy decisions.  In some cases, polls may be useful in engaging the feedback loop between political elites, media and the public.

Oct 01

Tithing, Tax Time and Specialization

By Dr. Marc Gopin , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Complex advanced civilization, more than at any other time in human history, is providing millions of people with unprecedented prosperity, health and longevity—except for those who it does not provide for, who suffer immensely by missing this boat of freedom. But the primitive nature of poverty relief is exactly the problem, unlike ancient forms of poverty intervention whose sophistication dwarfs that of modern libertarian society. Every farmer in ancient Jewish society had to be a part of the solution for every poor person who lost his farm, just as a small example.

It is complexity and specialization, however, that gives us our modern prosperity. A successful citizen relies on a massive variety of specialists, from x-ray readers, to retirement investor specialists, to train engineers, to architects of hardware and software, to specialists in dental prosthetics, to chemists of tar for roads that prevent crashes. The variety is infinite. Therefore, when we want to reconstruct a fallen life, why is it reduced to a social worker, and an unemployment bureaucrat? This is a primitive response to the foundations of human prosperity. 

Oct 01

Neighborhoods Matter, People Matter

By Paola Montoya, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I, personally, have grown up moving around San Francisco's districts. It is absolutely outrageous how communities have changed over the past 5 years. Valencia went from a mostly populated by Latinos neighborhood to being completely invaded by techies, coffee shops, art studios etc., rather than family-owned bakeries, restaurants and Latin-influenced art such as murals.

Today, we can see how American history continues to hunt people of color both economically and racially. They both go hand in hand, poverty is the heart of American color problems. As technology booms through San Francisco's streets, gentrification rapidly unfolds. Thousands of residents and family-owned businesses, (specifically people of color) who have lived and served San Francisco for decades are being evicted -particularly in the Mission, Mid Market, Castro, and Dog Patch. However, San Francisco is not alone, evictions are heavy on low income Americans across the states. In a world of economic inequality and racial injustice, the government and its influence on society is to blame.

TV is such an integral part of daily life that many cannot see how it could ever become irrelevant.

A Chariot driver if asked about the future of transportation might have replied: "They will have 10 extra horses pulling the cart and it will go twice as fast!"

Hundreds of years before the invention of the combustion engine, the Chariot driver cannot begin to comprehend what a combustion engine is, or how it would be possible to fit hundreds of horses into the size equivalent of 1/5 of a horse.

The reason TV will soon be irrelevant is that every technology ever invented, and every technology yet to be invented, will one day become obsolete.

Sep 30

Deep Gardening

By Les Kishler, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Aspects of life can be superficial or aspects of life can be deep. Deep is a synonym for meaningful. The art and science of gardening has had an ancient history of being a deep and meaningful part of human life.

Gandhi has said to forget to dig the earth is to forget ourselves. In the twilight of Thomas Jefferson's life, he mused that although he was an old man, he was but a young gardener.

In an era of high technology and complicated lives, there are practical steps that humans can take that can nurture and aid our journey through life. Gardening is such a practical endeavor. Gardening can enrich the body and soul with nourishment and beauty.

Sep 30

The Blunt Truth About the Recent Election in New Zealand

By Darius Shahtahmasebi, SpeakOut | News Analysis

A recent article at the Guardian has heralded the third consecutive win for John Key's centre-right National party, referencing certain statistics that demonstrate that the National led coalition government has managed to strengthen the economy despite the worldwide recession.

This is all well and good - at least in the short term. However, contrast those statistics from the latter editorial with this article from Forbes entitled "12 Reasons Why New Zealand's Economic Bubble Will End in Disaster" and we might get a more complete picture of the future of New Zealand. This article was written by an expert in the area, Jesse Colombo, who accurately predicted that the global recession would happen.

Sep 30

Lebanon: The Forgotten Front

By Dr James J Zogby, Arab American Institute | News Analysis

While the world's attention has been focused on the combined efforts of Arab and US forces attacking "Islamic State" (IS) positions in Iraq and Syria, there is unfolding in Lebanon, a third front in the war against this violent extremist group. This third front has received scant attention. Because Lebanon has been so overwhelmed by the fallout from Syria's civil war, aggravating the country's fragile sectarian balance, the threat of IS poses an existential challenge that must not be ignored.

Despite being the smallest of Syria's neighbors, Lebanon is currently hosting 40% of Syria's refugees. With a population of just under 4 million citizens, the presence of 1.2 million displaced Syrians means that nearly one in every four persons currently residing in Lebanon is a Syrian.

Sep 29

Sexual Assault is Men's Problem

By Laura Finley and Victor Romano, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Let us be clear: the problem of rape and sexual assault on campus is a male problem.

Last week, many newspapers across the country featured an editorial by Dan K. Thomasson titled Academia Needs to Act to Protect College Women. Unfortunately, Thomasson’s comments served to reinforce the antiquated notion that its women’s responsibility to avoid getting raped. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of sexual assaults and therefore the onus of changing the campus rape culture lies primarily with them.  Simply put, men need to not rape.

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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.

On September 23, 2014, the world gathered to watch history being made: the tail end of the largest climate march ever and a UN Climate Summit where leaders reaffirmed their commitment to stringent mitigation measures.

Meanwhile, some things never change. At the Summit, Barack Obama gave what was called by a New Republic reporter as a "toothless speech." Just a day before, the Pentagon announced that they commenced air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. These two moves seem unrelated, but are they? In fact, both of these decisions are based on risk assessments of possible threats. So then why are we so unwilling to take on climate change, compared with other things where we assess risk and act accordingly?

Oct 01

Ban Weaponized Drones!

By Elsa Rassbach, SpeakOut | Press Release

Berlin- Anti-drone campaigns in the US, the UK, and continental Europe are mounting the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing on October 4, 2014. 

More than 40 actions will take place in several countries. Founded at an international meeting in Berlin in December, Global Action Day is working together with the US Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare, the UK Drone Campaign Network's Week of Action and the Global Network's Keep Space for Peace Week. Both action weeks begin on October 4th. 

Oct 01

War Polls Obstruct Democracy and Peace

By Erin Niemela, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

US-led coalition airstrikes targeting the Islamic State (ISIL) have opened the floodgates of war journalism reporting by corporate mainstream media – to the detriment of American democracy and peace. This has been recently evident in a traditionally democratic tool used by American press: public opinion polls.  These war polls, as they should be called during wartime, are an affront to both respectable journalism and an informed civil society. They’re byproducts of rally-round-the-flag war journalism and without constant scrutiny, war polls results make public opinion look a lot more pro-war than it actually is.

Public polling is meant to signify and reinforce the role of media in a democracy as reflecting or representing mass opinion. Corporate mainstream media are considered credible in providing this reflection based on assumptions of objectivity and balance, and politicians have been known to consider polls in their policy decisions.  In some cases, polls may be useful in engaging the feedback loop between political elites, media and the public.

Oct 01

Tithing, Tax Time and Specialization

By Dr. Marc Gopin , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Complex advanced civilization, more than at any other time in human history, is providing millions of people with unprecedented prosperity, health and longevity—except for those who it does not provide for, who suffer immensely by missing this boat of freedom. But the primitive nature of poverty relief is exactly the problem, unlike ancient forms of poverty intervention whose sophistication dwarfs that of modern libertarian society. Every farmer in ancient Jewish society had to be a part of the solution for every poor person who lost his farm, just as a small example.

It is complexity and specialization, however, that gives us our modern prosperity. A successful citizen relies on a massive variety of specialists, from x-ray readers, to retirement investor specialists, to train engineers, to architects of hardware and software, to specialists in dental prosthetics, to chemists of tar for roads that prevent crashes. The variety is infinite. Therefore, when we want to reconstruct a fallen life, why is it reduced to a social worker, and an unemployment bureaucrat? This is a primitive response to the foundations of human prosperity. 

Oct 01

Neighborhoods Matter, People Matter

By Paola Montoya, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I, personally, have grown up moving around San Francisco's districts. It is absolutely outrageous how communities have changed over the past 5 years. Valencia went from a mostly populated by Latinos neighborhood to being completely invaded by techies, coffee shops, art studios etc., rather than family-owned bakeries, restaurants and Latin-influenced art such as murals.

Today, we can see how American history continues to hunt people of color both economically and racially. They both go hand in hand, poverty is the heart of American color problems. As technology booms through San Francisco's streets, gentrification rapidly unfolds. Thousands of residents and family-owned businesses, (specifically people of color) who have lived and served San Francisco for decades are being evicted -particularly in the Mission, Mid Market, Castro, and Dog Patch. However, San Francisco is not alone, evictions are heavy on low income Americans across the states. In a world of economic inequality and racial injustice, the government and its influence on society is to blame.

TV is such an integral part of daily life that many cannot see how it could ever become irrelevant.

A Chariot driver if asked about the future of transportation might have replied: "They will have 10 extra horses pulling the cart and it will go twice as fast!"

Hundreds of years before the invention of the combustion engine, the Chariot driver cannot begin to comprehend what a combustion engine is, or how it would be possible to fit hundreds of horses into the size equivalent of 1/5 of a horse.

The reason TV will soon be irrelevant is that every technology ever invented, and every technology yet to be invented, will one day become obsolete.

Sep 30

Deep Gardening

By Les Kishler, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Aspects of life can be superficial or aspects of life can be deep. Deep is a synonym for meaningful. The art and science of gardening has had an ancient history of being a deep and meaningful part of human life.

Gandhi has said to forget to dig the earth is to forget ourselves. In the twilight of Thomas Jefferson's life, he mused that although he was an old man, he was but a young gardener.

In an era of high technology and complicated lives, there are practical steps that humans can take that can nurture and aid our journey through life. Gardening is such a practical endeavor. Gardening can enrich the body and soul with nourishment and beauty.

Sep 30

The Blunt Truth About the Recent Election in New Zealand

By Darius Shahtahmasebi, SpeakOut | News Analysis

A recent article at the Guardian has heralded the third consecutive win for John Key's centre-right National party, referencing certain statistics that demonstrate that the National led coalition government has managed to strengthen the economy despite the worldwide recession.

This is all well and good - at least in the short term. However, contrast those statistics from the latter editorial with this article from Forbes entitled "12 Reasons Why New Zealand's Economic Bubble Will End in Disaster" and we might get a more complete picture of the future of New Zealand. This article was written by an expert in the area, Jesse Colombo, who accurately predicted that the global recession would happen.

Sep 30

Lebanon: The Forgotten Front

By Dr James J Zogby, Arab American Institute | News Analysis

While the world's attention has been focused on the combined efforts of Arab and US forces attacking "Islamic State" (IS) positions in Iraq and Syria, there is unfolding in Lebanon, a third front in the war against this violent extremist group. This third front has received scant attention. Because Lebanon has been so overwhelmed by the fallout from Syria's civil war, aggravating the country's fragile sectarian balance, the threat of IS poses an existential challenge that must not be ignored.

Despite being the smallest of Syria's neighbors, Lebanon is currently hosting 40% of Syria's refugees. With a population of just under 4 million citizens, the presence of 1.2 million displaced Syrians means that nearly one in every four persons currently residing in Lebanon is a Syrian.

Sep 29

Sexual Assault is Men's Problem

By Laura Finley and Victor Romano, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Let us be clear: the problem of rape and sexual assault on campus is a male problem.

Last week, many newspapers across the country featured an editorial by Dan K. Thomasson titled Academia Needs to Act to Protect College Women. Unfortunately, Thomasson’s comments served to reinforce the antiquated notion that its women’s responsibility to avoid getting raped. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of sexual assaults and therefore the onus of changing the campus rape culture lies primarily with them.  Simply put, men need to not rape.