Wednesday, 17 December 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.

Feb 03

Talk Show Baloney and Europe's Future

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
There are many TV talk shows in Germany, sometimes hot, often vacuous. But the one on January 16th hit the roof, with far more people watching it afterwards via internet than at the time it was aired. And their comments, by the thousand, were mostly pounded away in great anger!
 
A main cause of such emotion was Markus Lanz. For years the most popular TV show in Germany had been “Wetten dass…” (copied in the USA as “Wanna bet?”). But when its extremely popular moderator stepped down after 27 years Marcus Lanz took over. With an unusual combination of stupidity, boredom and bad taste he soon managed to send theshow, which once hit a record of 14 million Saturday night viewers, skidding down to 6.3 million. But Lanz kept plodding - and did better with his late-night talk show three evenings in the week, mostly with prominent, newsworthy guests. Their views, Lanz’s jolly manners and perhaps his handsome good looks kept a much smaller audience more or less satisfied.
Feb 03

Groups Sue FEC, Call on Federal Court to Overturn Dismissal of Complaint Against Crossroads GPS

By Kevin Zeese, Karilyn Gower and Dave Vance, SpeakOut | Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A court should overturn the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) dismissal of acomplaint about the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS), watchdog groups said in a lawsuit filed (PDF) today against the commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Feb 03

Obama Out-Orwelled Orwell

By Lee Camp, Popular Resistance | Video Interview

Barack Obama may as well have delivered his 5th State of the Union address to and for the Superstate Oceania, the fictional empire mired in perpetual war from George Orwell’s 1984.

No, Obama did not come directly out and tell us that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength so much as he embodied those ideas in a nuanced, measured performance that inspired the political pundits like Chris Matthews to wax poetic like a Theatre critic praising an aging stage actor who was able to find the old magic one last time.

Today, CCR announced with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that we have reached an agreement for the City to drop the appeal in our landmark stop-and-frisk class action,Floyd v. the City of New York.

In August 2013, a federal judge found that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had engaged in a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stops and frisks. The court ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee a collaborative, joint remedial process.

Feb 03

Biggest Overhaul in Federal Drug Sentencing in Decades Clears Major Hurdle

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan sentencing reform legislation that would reduce the federal prison population, decrease racial disparities, save taxpayer money, and reunite nonviolent drug law offenders with their families sooner.  The reforms are supported by a strange bedfellows group of senators, including Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Feb 03

Why You Should Care About El Salvador's Presidential Elections

By Evelyn Galindo-Doucette, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Maybe it was the Polar vortex that gripped large parts of the US, but El Salvador's elections on Sunday February 2nd have pretty much flown under the radar of the United States media. And yet, there is good reason to pay attention. The FMLN is the party generally projected to win the election and is the guerilla organization that morphed into a political party after the signing of the peace accords in 1992. The FMLN candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén is running against Norman Quijano, the candidate for the conservative right wing ARENA, a party backed by the country's waning oligarchy with nefarious ties to the US backed death squads during the war in the 1980s.

Feb 01

The Shriveling State of the Union

By Ben Manski, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The Republicans are right when they they point to America’s 25+ million jobless and ask whether the President is serious in proposing job training as his primary remedy. The Democrats are right when they respond that the Republicans have proposed no real jobs alternatives of their own.

Five years after Obama’s historic mandate, the conditions of the great mass of Americans remains intolerable. And yet to hear his fifth State of Union address, an uninformed listener might think America’s problems are limited and manageable.

Adding momentum to a national trend of reigning in reckless outsourcing of publicservices to for-profit corporations and other private entities, legislators in Nebraska, Vermont and West Virginia recently introduced transparency and accountability legislation aimed at protecting taxpayersand putting them back in charge of their public services.

Feb 01

Prosperity for Main Street, Not Wall Street

By Rudy Avizius, SpeakOut | Video Report

The key reason that communities are struggling is the huge burden of interest payments that are flowing to the big banks. Think about this, if you buy a home for say $100,000 dollars, typically you will have paid $250,000 once the loan is paid off. This means the typical loan will incur $150,000 in interest charges.

The same concept applies when a community builds an infrastructure project such as school, road, bridge, sewer or other project. That $1 million dollar school could end up costing taxpayers in the community $2.5 million after interest charges.

This week, Grassroots Leadership sent an open letter to prisoners in West Virginia to raise awareness of their constitutional rights that are at risk. State lawmakers continue to debate sending prisoners toprivate facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America in Kentucky or choosing other options to the state’s overcrowded prisons issues that would keep with the spirit of the state constitution.

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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.

Feb 03

Talk Show Baloney and Europe's Future

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
There are many TV talk shows in Germany, sometimes hot, often vacuous. But the one on January 16th hit the roof, with far more people watching it afterwards via internet than at the time it was aired. And their comments, by the thousand, were mostly pounded away in great anger!
 
A main cause of such emotion was Markus Lanz. For years the most popular TV show in Germany had been “Wetten dass…” (copied in the USA as “Wanna bet?”). But when its extremely popular moderator stepped down after 27 years Marcus Lanz took over. With an unusual combination of stupidity, boredom and bad taste he soon managed to send theshow, which once hit a record of 14 million Saturday night viewers, skidding down to 6.3 million. But Lanz kept plodding - and did better with his late-night talk show three evenings in the week, mostly with prominent, newsworthy guests. Their views, Lanz’s jolly manners and perhaps his handsome good looks kept a much smaller audience more or less satisfied.
Feb 03

Groups Sue FEC, Call on Federal Court to Overturn Dismissal of Complaint Against Crossroads GPS

By Kevin Zeese, Karilyn Gower and Dave Vance, SpeakOut | Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A court should overturn the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) dismissal of acomplaint about the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS), watchdog groups said in a lawsuit filed (PDF) today against the commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Feb 03

Obama Out-Orwelled Orwell

By Lee Camp, Popular Resistance | Video Interview

Barack Obama may as well have delivered his 5th State of the Union address to and for the Superstate Oceania, the fictional empire mired in perpetual war from George Orwell’s 1984.

No, Obama did not come directly out and tell us that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength so much as he embodied those ideas in a nuanced, measured performance that inspired the political pundits like Chris Matthews to wax poetic like a Theatre critic praising an aging stage actor who was able to find the old magic one last time.

Today, CCR announced with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that we have reached an agreement for the City to drop the appeal in our landmark stop-and-frisk class action,Floyd v. the City of New York.

In August 2013, a federal judge found that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had engaged in a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stops and frisks. The court ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee a collaborative, joint remedial process.

Feb 03

Biggest Overhaul in Federal Drug Sentencing in Decades Clears Major Hurdle

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

Today the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan sentencing reform legislation that would reduce the federal prison population, decrease racial disparities, save taxpayer money, and reunite nonviolent drug law offenders with their families sooner.  The reforms are supported by a strange bedfellows group of senators, including Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Feb 03

Why You Should Care About El Salvador's Presidential Elections

By Evelyn Galindo-Doucette, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Maybe it was the Polar vortex that gripped large parts of the US, but El Salvador's elections on Sunday February 2nd have pretty much flown under the radar of the United States media. And yet, there is good reason to pay attention. The FMLN is the party generally projected to win the election and is the guerilla organization that morphed into a political party after the signing of the peace accords in 1992. The FMLN candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén is running against Norman Quijano, the candidate for the conservative right wing ARENA, a party backed by the country's waning oligarchy with nefarious ties to the US backed death squads during the war in the 1980s.

Feb 01

The Shriveling State of the Union

By Ben Manski, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The Republicans are right when they they point to America’s 25+ million jobless and ask whether the President is serious in proposing job training as his primary remedy. The Democrats are right when they respond that the Republicans have proposed no real jobs alternatives of their own.

Five years after Obama’s historic mandate, the conditions of the great mass of Americans remains intolerable. And yet to hear his fifth State of Union address, an uninformed listener might think America’s problems are limited and manageable.

Adding momentum to a national trend of reigning in reckless outsourcing of publicservices to for-profit corporations and other private entities, legislators in Nebraska, Vermont and West Virginia recently introduced transparency and accountability legislation aimed at protecting taxpayersand putting them back in charge of their public services.

Feb 01

Prosperity for Main Street, Not Wall Street

By Rudy Avizius, SpeakOut | Video Report

The key reason that communities are struggling is the huge burden of interest payments that are flowing to the big banks. Think about this, if you buy a home for say $100,000 dollars, typically you will have paid $250,000 once the loan is paid off. This means the typical loan will incur $150,000 in interest charges.

The same concept applies when a community builds an infrastructure project such as school, road, bridge, sewer or other project. That $1 million dollar school could end up costing taxpayers in the community $2.5 million after interest charges.

This week, Grassroots Leadership sent an open letter to prisoners in West Virginia to raise awareness of their constitutional rights that are at risk. State lawmakers continue to debate sending prisoners toprivate facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America in Kentucky or choosing other options to the state’s overcrowded prisons issues that would keep with the spirit of the state constitution.