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 House today approved, by a 228 to 195 vote, the deceptively named Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 2655), which would not do as its title suggests, but instead would slow litigation, eliminate judges' discretion, and increase court costs.
By encouraging additional legal maneuvers and requiring unnecessary court orders, this legislation would harm people with valid claims. It is another backdoor tactic by corporate lobbyists seeking to make it difficult for consumers and employees to hold corporations accountable for wrongdoing.
The TPP is a Trojan horse that seeks to usher in a backroom secret sweetheart deal for the global elite, and President Barack Obama wants the deal fast-tracked through Congress. That effort was dealt a serious blow on Wednesday, when WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire Trans-Pacific Partnership Intellectual Property rights chapter. According to the WikiLeaks press release:
"The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents."
Last week, voters in Detroit elected a new mayor, Mike Duggan, to carry on the work of the emergency managers and governor in rebuilding a “new Detroit.”
Duggan is self-branded as a “turnaround specialist,” for his work at the Detroit Medical Center, which he “saved” from shutting down during his tenure as president and CEO in 2004. A year ago, the former prosecutor moved from Livonia to Detroit to file for Mayor. Months later, a Michigan appeals court ruling deemed the candidacy ineligible, failing to meet residency requirements. He was, however, able to secure a write-in ballot and in the April primaries acquire over 40,000 votes in his name (53% of the votes being write-ins).
In an initially pointless exercise that lasted nearly an hour, I flipped between two Palestinian television channels, Al Aqsa TV of Hamas in Gaza and Palestine TV of Fatah in the West Bank. While both purported to represent Palestine and the Palestinians, each seemed to represent some other place and some other people. It was all very disappointing.
Hamas’ world is fixated on their hate of Fatah and other factional personal business. Fatah TV is stuck between several worlds of archaic language of phony revolutions, factional rivalry and unmatched self-adoration. The two narratives are growingly alien and will unlikely ever move beyond their immediate sense of self-gratification and utter absurdity.
“School ™ is not so bad now, like back when my grandparents were kids, when the schools were run by the government, which sounds completely like, Nazi, to have the government running the schools?”
So proclaims what sounds like a Twitter tirade by angry, futuristic teenage reincarnation of Milton Friedman. Rather, it is Titus, the wired teen protagonist M.T. Anderson’s prophetic 2002 Young Adult (YA) novel Feed,who lives in a world in which Friedman’s neo-liberal economic philosophies have been taken to their dystopian extreme: America’s environment is so spoiled by consumption that everyone must live in hermetically-sealed bubbles, in which the public commons have been so privatized, that even the clouds are trademarked. Titus – and most Americans – also live in a hermetically-sealed bubble of their mind, each plugged into the “feed” – a chip which connects his brain to a corporate controlled internet, which is constantly bombarding him with marketing, even in dreams.
Now that the parades have ended and veterans have enjoyed the “heartfelt gratitude” of an appreciative nation (and a free meal, from a “select menu” at Applebee's), I would ask veterans, as they resume their lives of anonymity and neglect, to put aside, for a moment, all the bunk we have been fed over the years from those who were not there. You know who I am talking about. The politicians, war profiteers, and “troop supporters” who cavalierly make and profit from war, cheer and wave flags as they send us off to fight, bleed, and die in some remote place for a cause we don’t understand. Self-proclaimed “patriots” who, while remaining safe at home, try to convince us that the threat to our way of life – to America and to freedom – is real and grave and that our sacrifices are necessary, noble, and glorious.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced his government’s intention to construct another “separation barrier” - a large fortified wall or fence referred to by Palestinians as an apartheid wall – “between the West Bank and Jordan after completing walls on the Egyptian and Syrian borders.” Netanyahu is doing this for a variety of reasons, such as to keep Arab and other non-Jewish refugees from coming into Israel and, in the case of the West bank – Jordan wall, to symbolize Israel’s ongoing control of the area.
The original Zionist rationale for the state of Israel was that it would serve as a place of safety for the world’s Jews as anti-Semitism played out its allegedly inevitable horrid destiny. Well, the problem today is that the policies of Israel are the major motivators of worldwide anti-Semitism, and because of these same policies, there is no place in the world more potentially dangerous for Jews than Israel. Thus the Israeli fondness for walls. It may very well be that when all of this wall construction is finished, Israel will look like the world’s largest ghetto.
For political animals like us in Detroit, it is important to reflect before heading back into battle, or worse, retreating. I read with interest the analysis of Chokwe Lumumba's victory in Jackson, Mississippi. A son of Detroit, he was at the pulpit at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church for a rally for Benny Napoleon on the Fridayevening before the Detroit mayoral elections. I attended, at the last possible minute, the "Thousand Women for Benny" event at the urging of Helen Moore. The music was inspiring and a lot of Detroit's who's who who had not taken the money were there. Some who had taken the Duggan money were there. But there was a clear understanding of what was at stake. Having been part of the recount of the primary election out of sheer curiosity, I was certain that the election was a done deal, even the Friday before. But I could not help but admire the faith of the crowd. They were hopeful, but I did have the sense that we all knew the fix was in.
Polling shows Bachelet with a significant lead over her closest competitor, Evelyn Matthei. The two women share a history in Chile's tragic past when the democratically elected Salvador Allende was overthrown in a bloody coup that the U.S. supported and helped to plan. Michelle Bachelet's father, Gen. Alberto Bachelet, who was loyal to President Allende and the Chilean constitution and rule of law, was arrested by Augusto Pinochet on September 11 1973, the first 9/11. He was tortured while in prison by the junta and died in prison in 1974. Michelle Bachelet and her mother Angela Jeria were also arrested and imprisoned for two weeks before going into exile. Both had been tortured while in custody.