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.
Washington, D.C. – This week, Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) took to the floor of the House of Representatives and called on President Obama to pardon CIA whistleblower and Government Accountability Project (GAP) client John Kiriakou.
"Mr. Kiriakou is an American hero," Rep. Moran said in a moving speech chronicling Kiriakou's contributions to the country, including Kiriakou's "outstanding work in the always-demanding intelligence world" and whistleblowing activities. Rep. Moran elaborated, "John Kiriakou is a whistleblower, as well. The first American intelligence officer to officially and on-record reveal that the US was in the torture business as a matter of White House policy under President [George W.] Bush."
November 20, New York – In response to the transfer of five men from Guantanamo, including our Yemeni client Abd Al Hakim Ghalib Ahmad Alhag, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement: “We are grateful to the Republic of Georgia for offering our client a new home where he can begin to rebuild his life after more than a decade in Guantánamo without charge or trial.” This is the first transfer of a Yemeni man to any country since 2010.
Frank C. Razzano and John C. Snodgrass, who have represented Mr. Alhag for nearly nine years, said, “We are greatly gratified at the news of our client’s release, and we look forward to him building a new life for himself in Georgia.”
Recently John Tamny over at Forbes penned a review of the movie Citizenfour. As one might expect, being an establishment columnist, he launches his sophomoric diatribe with a snarky ad hominem attack:
"To watch Cizenfour is to witness an overly paranoid crank. Snowden went through all sorts of hurdles to contact the documentarian in Poitras without being detected by US intelligence, clearly traveled to Hong Kong (where Poitras and Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald interviewed him) under deep cover, but not explained enough was why?"
Paranoid crank? Has Mr. Tamny ever worked as a technical specialist for US intelligence? Should readers genuinely accept that Tamny is a voice of authority on spy tradecraft? Anyone who calls Snowden's behavior paranoid clearly hasn't had a sufficient look at leaked NSA documents. There's an entire catalogue devoted to the kind of tools that literally keep chief security officers up at night. Bridging air gap has been honed to a fine art by US spies as Stuxnet demonstrated. The NSA has capabilities that former STASI officers could only dream of and not even heads of state are immune from them.
AUSTIN—A new report by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) and Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) finds that US cities are rejecting water privatization and taking back public control of their public water systems at a growing rate. The report was released at the annual National League of Cities conference, a forum often exploited by the private water industry to lobby and market its services.
The release of the report, titled “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water” comes in the midst of uncertainty about the state of public water systems nationwide. Prominent cases like Detroit’s recent shut-offs are stoking the public’s concerns about who controls America’s water systems and to what end. As federal funding for public water infrastructure dries up, corporations are rushing to fill the void with false promises that gloss over track records of rate hikes, water quality concerns, labor abuses and political interference.
Santa Barbara – Greenpeace, the most inclusive, people-powered collective movement in the world, is lending its strong support to the Marshall Islands and the Nuclear Zero lawsuits. In doing so, they are sending a clear message to the world that it is long past time for the nuclear Goliaths to begin negotiations for nuclear disarmament.
Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International said, “We stand with the people of the Marshall Islands in their fight to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Having seen their land, sea and people poisoned by radiation, they are now taking to task the nine nuclear-armed nations for failing to eliminate this danger which threatens humanity at large.” He continued, “Greenpeace salutes their struggle and joins them in declaring that Zero is the only safe number of nuclear weapons on the planet.”
Washington, DC- African mayors gathered in Accra, Ghana to call on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to cancel debts owed by the countries impacted by the Ebola epidemic. The Global Alliance of Mayors and Leaders from Africa and of African Descent made the call in a communique named "The Accra Accord on Ebola." This call follows efforts by Jubilee USA, a religious debt relief group, to move forward a debt relief plan for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The plan was endorsed by the US government who brought the plan to the G20 summit. 100 million dollars in debt relief could become available from a special IMF trust fund set aside for countries impacted by natural disasters.
"The call from African mayors must be heard," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA. "Debt relief means a long term investment in health infrastructure in the countries affected by Ebola."
This is no conspiracy theory. This is a well-known fact by those inside the beltway. While the American people are told about the endless "gridlock" within our government, many aspects of the "Deep State" run completely smoothly no matter what the American people think. Wars do not stop, Wall Street does not slow, and NSA surveillance keeps going at a breakneck speed. "The Deep State" is how the US Government ACTUALLY runs.
Hate to be the econ nerd here, but this is the sort of thing that folks writing on economics should get straight. (The failure by econ writers to get such things right is one reason that Jonathan Gruber thinks the public is "stupid.") Anyhow, Catherine Rampell messes this one up in an otherwise reasonable piece discussing differences in saving rates by age.
The piece notes the negative saving rate reported for people under age 34 and then comments:
"These numbers have inspired various condemnatory headlines and think pieces about my generation’s irresponsible savings deficit. The more sympathetic coverage has at least acknowledged the effects of student loan debt and high youth unemployment, but even those articles came loaded with judgment."
November 20 is Universal Children’s Day, a day devoted to observing the welfare of the world’s children. Unfortunately, in the U.S and elsewhere, children are still denied fundamental human rights. Children worldwide suffer from corporal punishment in homes and schools, are denied access to schooling, are forced to join violent militias, and a endure a host of other atrocities that clearly violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other international human rights treaties. One issue that has received attention in the past few months is that of child labor.
According to the International Labor Office, there are about 168 million child laborers globally, which accounts for approximately one in 10 of the world’s children. Albeit a one-third reduction since 2000, the problem remains acute. An estimated 13 million children work in India alone, despite laws prohibiting child labor and mandating school attendance. About four percent of child laborers are in forced or bonded labor, prostitution, or fighting in armed conflict. The remainder of the world’s child laborers work in family businesses or on family farms, where they often toil as much as 27 hours per week and are, like the child tobacco laborers, exposed to a variety of dangerous chemicals and pesticides.
Standing there on November 19, 1863, in front of those who had come to sanctify yet another bloody battlefield, President Abraham Lincoln should have spoken the truth. He should have ended his dedication, the Gettysburg Address, by declaring “that government of a few people, by a few people, and at the expense of certain people, shall not perish from the earth.” But like many others who carried out the policies of Manifest Destiny, mythical ideologies are easier to believe than the harsh realities of conquest and genocide. They also help justify glaring social inequalities and economic disparities for those already governing through powerful political, economic, and military institutions.
Just before traveling to Gettysburg by railroad to deliver his well-planned words, Lincoln had randomly selected thirty-eight Dakota Sioux leaders to die in the largest mass public hanging in US history. Lincoln, always the politician, had promised their lands to constituents that raised him to the presidency, wealthy monopolists and free-soil settlers. At Lincoln’s request, Congress passed the 1862 Homestead Act, transferring two hundred million acres of Indigenous lands to states, settlers, and railroad and mining and cattle industrialists. Before long, they were slaughtering Indigenous peoples while also ravaging their resources and food supplies.