Sunday, 29 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.

The former President of the Maldives and global climate activist Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed was arrested on February 22 on “terror” charges just days before he was to lead a mass demonstration against the current government. Both the UN and the EU have issued statements of concern over what now appears to be an escalation by entrenched power holders in the Maldives to stifle effective political opposition.  

Known to outsiders for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and five star luxury resorts, the Maldives is a nation of about 340,000 people spread across an archipelago of 26 atolls located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Its natural beauty is its biggest asset, given that nearly one-third of the country’s GDP is generated via tourism. But that beauty also has a way of obscuring the intense political struggles that have come to characterize everyday life for most Maldivians over the past 30 years.

"…when you select heroes about which black children ought to be taught, let them be black heroes who have died fighting for the benefit of black people. We never were taught about Christophe or Dessalines. It was the slave revolt in Haiti when slaves, black slaves, had the soldiers of Napoleon tied down and forced him to sell one half of the American continent to the Americans. They don't teach us that. This is the kind of history we want to learn." – Malcolm X

Cities and states across the United States have been taking various actions against drones, while the federal government rolls ahead with project fill the skies.

Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says "This is NOT what I/we asked for."

Feb 27

Measles, Merck and Fraud

By Marco Caceres, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The measles outbreak in the United States has fueled fear within the public and among legislators throughout the country intent on eliminating or severely restricting the right to informed consent by people who have questions about the efficacy, safety and scheduling of certain vaccines. Get a grip. It's measles, not Ebola.

Referring to the outbreak, here's what director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Anne Schuchat had to say last month: "This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. It's a problem of the measles vaccine not being used." She also said, "There's no harm in getting another MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine."

The lawn is mowed. This small detail cracks my heart into pieces. A silent scream wails in the hollow space of my ribs.

I am standing at the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Green grass slopes down to a pond. A grandfather helps a child circle the concrete walkways on a plastic scooter. Ducks paddle around a metal statue of cranes. The rusted iron of the metal cranes look charred and melting. The lumps and bubbles remind me of the hanging flesh of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. Like everything in the mundane city park, the cranes, upon close inspection, cannot hide the fact that this very spot was where the first nuclear bomb was built.

Despite polls showing overwhelming support for labeling for genetically engineered foods, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack proposed yesterday that consumers should use their smartphones to scan bar codes on food packages to find out whether their food contains GMOs.

Vlisack’s idea is sure to cheer the food industry, while denying Americans the right to know what is in our food. 

Among topics discussed on the show are the significance and likely fate of net neutrality, the commercialization of the Internet, and the future of our endangered print media and, for that matter, of serious journalism itself; the crippling effect of income inequality and the importance of grassroots activism in countering organized wealth in our society; the continuing encroachment of for-profit corporations into the public sector; and what a "post-capitalist democracy" might look like.

The Rag Blog's Roger Baker also participates in the discussion. Bob McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was the co-founder of the influential media reform organization, Free Press, that has played a major role in the fight for a free Internet. Bob was previously our guest on Rag Radio in February 2011.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was designed as a vehicle for the prosecution of the most heinous of crimes committed by individuals in positions of state authority - those military officers and politicians at the top of a national chain of command. Until recently ICC prosecutions have been limited to leaders of small and weak states. This is not because the leaders of powerful nations are not sometimes culpable, but rather because no member state of the ICC has yet brought a relevant complaint.

This situation is about to change. In November 2012 Palestine achieved official observer status within the United Nations and this position allowed it to join the ICC.

Feb 26

John Grant: A Veteran for Peace

By Dan Falcone, Truthout | Interview

Dan Falcone: Can you tell me about Veterans for Peace in general and provide the readers some background information on the organization and how you became involved and interested in it?

John Grant: Veterans For Peace was established in 1985 and it is for all veterans from all wars and peace time. I joined in 1985, so I've been in it for a while and have many good friends in the organization that I see at national conventions around the country I often attend, usually in August. VFP is structured in local chapters and at-large members. We have a chapter in Philadelphia that meets monthly. The chapter is a bit in the doldrums right now; but then things happen and it perks up. Peace is an on-going struggle that never lets up. Militarism is much more successful.

On February 3, 2015, the U.S. Federal District Court granted the U.S. government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Marshall Islands. The lawsuit sought to hold the U.S. to its legal obligations to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament.

The Court dismissed the case on the jurisdictional grounds of standing and political question doctrine without getting to the merits of the case. On February 6, 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Majuro issued a statement welcoming the Court's decision. On February 23, 2015, Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), delivered a speech to the RMI parliament in which he explained some of the key issues in the ruling and also responded to the U.S. Embassy's statement.

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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.

The former President of the Maldives and global climate activist Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed was arrested on February 22 on “terror” charges just days before he was to lead a mass demonstration against the current government. Both the UN and the EU have issued statements of concern over what now appears to be an escalation by entrenched power holders in the Maldives to stifle effective political opposition.  

Known to outsiders for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and five star luxury resorts, the Maldives is a nation of about 340,000 people spread across an archipelago of 26 atolls located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Its natural beauty is its biggest asset, given that nearly one-third of the country’s GDP is generated via tourism. But that beauty also has a way of obscuring the intense political struggles that have come to characterize everyday life for most Maldivians over the past 30 years.

"…when you select heroes about which black children ought to be taught, let them be black heroes who have died fighting for the benefit of black people. We never were taught about Christophe or Dessalines. It was the slave revolt in Haiti when slaves, black slaves, had the soldiers of Napoleon tied down and forced him to sell one half of the American continent to the Americans. They don't teach us that. This is the kind of history we want to learn." – Malcolm X

Cities and states across the United States have been taking various actions against drones, while the federal government rolls ahead with project fill the skies.

Robert L. Meola has been working for years now to get Berkeley to catch up with other localities and claim its usual spot at the forefront of movements to pass good resolutions on major issues. Now Berkeley has acted and Meola says "This is NOT what I/we asked for."

Feb 27

Measles, Merck and Fraud

By Marco Caceres, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The measles outbreak in the United States has fueled fear within the public and among legislators throughout the country intent on eliminating or severely restricting the right to informed consent by people who have questions about the efficacy, safety and scheduling of certain vaccines. Get a grip. It's measles, not Ebola.

Referring to the outbreak, here's what director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Anne Schuchat had to say last month: "This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. It's a problem of the measles vaccine not being used." She also said, "There's no harm in getting another MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine."

The lawn is mowed. This small detail cracks my heart into pieces. A silent scream wails in the hollow space of my ribs.

I am standing at the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Green grass slopes down to a pond. A grandfather helps a child circle the concrete walkways on a plastic scooter. Ducks paddle around a metal statue of cranes. The rusted iron of the metal cranes look charred and melting. The lumps and bubbles remind me of the hanging flesh of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. Like everything in the mundane city park, the cranes, upon close inspection, cannot hide the fact that this very spot was where the first nuclear bomb was built.

Despite polls showing overwhelming support for labeling for genetically engineered foods, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack proposed yesterday that consumers should use their smartphones to scan bar codes on food packages to find out whether their food contains GMOs.

Vlisack’s idea is sure to cheer the food industry, while denying Americans the right to know what is in our food. 

Among topics discussed on the show are the significance and likely fate of net neutrality, the commercialization of the Internet, and the future of our endangered print media and, for that matter, of serious journalism itself; the crippling effect of income inequality and the importance of grassroots activism in countering organized wealth in our society; the continuing encroachment of for-profit corporations into the public sector; and what a "post-capitalist democracy" might look like.

The Rag Blog's Roger Baker also participates in the discussion. Bob McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was the co-founder of the influential media reform organization, Free Press, that has played a major role in the fight for a free Internet. Bob was previously our guest on Rag Radio in February 2011.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was designed as a vehicle for the prosecution of the most heinous of crimes committed by individuals in positions of state authority - those military officers and politicians at the top of a national chain of command. Until recently ICC prosecutions have been limited to leaders of small and weak states. This is not because the leaders of powerful nations are not sometimes culpable, but rather because no member state of the ICC has yet brought a relevant complaint.

This situation is about to change. In November 2012 Palestine achieved official observer status within the United Nations and this position allowed it to join the ICC.

Feb 26

John Grant: A Veteran for Peace

By Dan Falcone, Truthout | Interview

Dan Falcone: Can you tell me about Veterans for Peace in general and provide the readers some background information on the organization and how you became involved and interested in it?

John Grant: Veterans For Peace was established in 1985 and it is for all veterans from all wars and peace time. I joined in 1985, so I've been in it for a while and have many good friends in the organization that I see at national conventions around the country I often attend, usually in August. VFP is structured in local chapters and at-large members. We have a chapter in Philadelphia that meets monthly. The chapter is a bit in the doldrums right now; but then things happen and it perks up. Peace is an on-going struggle that never lets up. Militarism is much more successful.

On February 3, 2015, the U.S. Federal District Court granted the U.S. government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Marshall Islands. The lawsuit sought to hold the U.S. to its legal obligations to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament.

The Court dismissed the case on the jurisdictional grounds of standing and political question doctrine without getting to the merits of the case. On February 6, 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Majuro issued a statement welcoming the Court's decision. On February 23, 2015, Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), delivered a speech to the RMI parliament in which he explained some of the key issues in the ruling and also responded to the U.S. Embassy's statement.