Thursday, 02 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.

Oct 28

Hymn to the Koch Brothers

By David McDannald, Counterpunch | Op-Ed

Dear Esteemed Brothers,

On the way back from my father’s village, I’ve decided to take time to think over topics connected to our common interests. News of your conquests in America first reached us here in the backwater like word of a distant storm. It was in the mouth of Yoweri Museveni that I first heard your name. My friends, I beg you. Listen well. The goat with the keenest ears never ends up with okra in the village stew.

Washington D.C. – Three years ago, newly elected governors in several states decided to outsource economic development functions to “public-private partnerships” (PPPs). Together with a handful of other states’ PPPs, these experiments in privatization have, by and large, become costly failures characterized by misuse of taxpayer funds, conflicts of interest, excessive executive pay and bonuses, questionable subsidy awards, exaggerated job-creation claims, lack of public disclosure of key records, and resistance to basic oversight.

The primary problem with weaponized drones is that the weapons murder people.  And they murder people in a way that looks more like murder to a lot of observers than other forms of military murder do — such as murder by indiscriminate bombing or artillery or infantry or dropping white phosphorous on people.  When President Obama looks through a list of men, women, and children at a Tuesday terror meeting, and picks which ones to murder, and has them murdered, you can call it a war or not call it a war, but it begins to look to a lot of people like murder.

Oct 28

No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety

By Staff, ENSSER | Press Release

As scientists, physicians, academics, and experts from disciplines relevant to the scientific, legal, social and safety assessment aspects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we strongly reject claims by GM seed developers and some scientists, commentators, and journalists that there is a “scientific consensus” on GMO safety and that the debate on this topic is “over”.

We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist. The claim that it does exist is misleading and misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue. Moreover, the claim encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate caution, potentially endangering the health of humans, animals, and the environment.

"'Til death do us part," that age-old marriage vow, has always sounded a little, well, non-committal to Confucian ears. In Vietnam, for instance, where I come from, death is not the end of relationships, it only deepens them.
A traditional Vietnamese worships his ancestors. He talks daily to ghosts. Every morning, every night, he lights incense and offers food and drinks to the spirit of his ancestors, prays for protection and asks for advice. If he claims to have seen his grandfather's ghost the night before, few would question him. More likely they would help decipher the meaning of the visitation.

Oct 27

Knowing One's Place

By Leslie Thatcher, SpeakOut | Review

When a young Norwegian tourist is found murdered in the forest of Lake Superior's north shore in Vidar Sunstøl's "The Land of Dreams," one character asks, "Who would want to murder a Norwegian?" The haunting rugged country of the Arrowhead region is the true protagonist and most finely rendered character in this first volume of the mystery writer's Minnesota Trilogy.

With the interim 'debt ceiling/government shutdown' agreement reached last week between the Obama administration and the Teaparty-driven U.S. House of Representatives, the real negotiations on deficit cutting—aka Austerity American Style—are about to begin again.

A long campaign peddling falsehoods around social security and medicare has created a myth that they are facing a budget and fiscal crisis. This claim will be rolled out by Democrats and Republicans alike, to justify cutting programs for the poorest Americans, while handing tax breaks to the richest corporation.

Special-interest groups and political parties spent an unprecedented $24.1 million on television ads and other election materials in state court races in 2011-2012, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

The report, The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts, provides a comprehensive look at 2011-2012 state Supreme Court elections. In the first full election cycle since Citizens United, an explosion of independent spending helped fuel the costliest election cycle for TV spending in judicial election history and posed grave new threats to fair and impartial justice in America.

Oct 25

Antibiotics - Is There Another Way?

By Amy Lansky, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The news has been buzzing lately about a recent CDC report that confirms a link between the routine use of antibiotics for livestock and growing bacterial resistance. Surprisingly, about 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given in low prophylactic doses to farm animals in an effort to ward off rampant disease on our mega feedlots. If the CDC is right, this practice is causing people to die in increasing numbers from infections that simply won't respond to treatment anymore. The bacteria have evolved and become resistant to our drugs as fast as we can develop them.

Two road blockades have been erected to prevent the construction of the 1,200 MW Baram Dam. One blockade has been erected near Long Lama, on the shores of the Baram River, with a second blockade near the proposed dam site.
The Baram dam is the fourth dam planned as part of the Sarawak government's plan to build 12 mega-dams. The dam would displace up to 20,000 people and submerge a rainforest area of over 400km2.

Indigenous activists are demanding the immediate halt to planning and construction at the Baram dam and its access road.

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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.

Oct 28

Hymn to the Koch Brothers

By David McDannald, Counterpunch | Op-Ed

Dear Esteemed Brothers,

On the way back from my father’s village, I’ve decided to take time to think over topics connected to our common interests. News of your conquests in America first reached us here in the backwater like word of a distant storm. It was in the mouth of Yoweri Museveni that I first heard your name. My friends, I beg you. Listen well. The goat with the keenest ears never ends up with okra in the village stew.

Washington D.C. – Three years ago, newly elected governors in several states decided to outsource economic development functions to “public-private partnerships” (PPPs). Together with a handful of other states’ PPPs, these experiments in privatization have, by and large, become costly failures characterized by misuse of taxpayer funds, conflicts of interest, excessive executive pay and bonuses, questionable subsidy awards, exaggerated job-creation claims, lack of public disclosure of key records, and resistance to basic oversight.

The primary problem with weaponized drones is that the weapons murder people.  And they murder people in a way that looks more like murder to a lot of observers than other forms of military murder do — such as murder by indiscriminate bombing or artillery or infantry or dropping white phosphorous on people.  When President Obama looks through a list of men, women, and children at a Tuesday terror meeting, and picks which ones to murder, and has them murdered, you can call it a war or not call it a war, but it begins to look to a lot of people like murder.

Oct 28

No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety

By Staff, ENSSER | Press Release

As scientists, physicians, academics, and experts from disciplines relevant to the scientific, legal, social and safety assessment aspects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we strongly reject claims by GM seed developers and some scientists, commentators, and journalists that there is a “scientific consensus” on GMO safety and that the debate on this topic is “over”.

We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist. The claim that it does exist is misleading and misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue. Moreover, the claim encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate caution, potentially endangering the health of humans, animals, and the environment.

"'Til death do us part," that age-old marriage vow, has always sounded a little, well, non-committal to Confucian ears. In Vietnam, for instance, where I come from, death is not the end of relationships, it only deepens them.
A traditional Vietnamese worships his ancestors. He talks daily to ghosts. Every morning, every night, he lights incense and offers food and drinks to the spirit of his ancestors, prays for protection and asks for advice. If he claims to have seen his grandfather's ghost the night before, few would question him. More likely they would help decipher the meaning of the visitation.

Oct 27

Knowing One's Place

By Leslie Thatcher, SpeakOut | Review

When a young Norwegian tourist is found murdered in the forest of Lake Superior's north shore in Vidar Sunstøl's "The Land of Dreams," one character asks, "Who would want to murder a Norwegian?" The haunting rugged country of the Arrowhead region is the true protagonist and most finely rendered character in this first volume of the mystery writer's Minnesota Trilogy.

With the interim 'debt ceiling/government shutdown' agreement reached last week between the Obama administration and the Teaparty-driven U.S. House of Representatives, the real negotiations on deficit cutting—aka Austerity American Style—are about to begin again.

A long campaign peddling falsehoods around social security and medicare has created a myth that they are facing a budget and fiscal crisis. This claim will be rolled out by Democrats and Republicans alike, to justify cutting programs for the poorest Americans, while handing tax breaks to the richest corporation.

Special-interest groups and political parties spent an unprecedented $24.1 million on television ads and other election materials in state court races in 2011-2012, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Justice at Stake, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

The report, The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts, provides a comprehensive look at 2011-2012 state Supreme Court elections. In the first full election cycle since Citizens United, an explosion of independent spending helped fuel the costliest election cycle for TV spending in judicial election history and posed grave new threats to fair and impartial justice in America.

Oct 25

Antibiotics - Is There Another Way?

By Amy Lansky, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The news has been buzzing lately about a recent CDC report that confirms a link between the routine use of antibiotics for livestock and growing bacterial resistance. Surprisingly, about 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given in low prophylactic doses to farm animals in an effort to ward off rampant disease on our mega feedlots. If the CDC is right, this practice is causing people to die in increasing numbers from infections that simply won't respond to treatment anymore. The bacteria have evolved and become resistant to our drugs as fast as we can develop them.

Two road blockades have been erected to prevent the construction of the 1,200 MW Baram Dam. One blockade has been erected near Long Lama, on the shores of the Baram River, with a second blockade near the proposed dam site.
The Baram dam is the fourth dam planned as part of the Sarawak government's plan to build 12 mega-dams. The dam would displace up to 20,000 people and submerge a rainforest area of over 400km2.

Indigenous activists are demanding the immediate halt to planning and construction at the Baram dam and its access road.