Monday, 22 September 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.

Dec 20

Arms Trade – You can not be serious, Dr Cable

By Jim McCluskey, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The arms trade fuels the world's wars.

Governments' support for this death-dealing trade is something of a mystery for decent people round the world. So Vincent Cable's very recent public defense of the trade is of more than local interest.

Why, then, do governments of the West support the arms trade with such vigour. Some flickering glimmers of light were shone on this question in relation to the UK government by an encounter between Dr. Vincent Cable, Member of Parliament for Twickenham and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (UKTI) and his constituents.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, who served as the chair of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, proclaims the "glories" of hydrofracking in her December 10 letter in the Sacramento Bee entitled "Hydraulic fracturing is safe for California."

Her letter responds to a Bee editorial on December 7, "Rules on oil and gas fracking are way out of wack."

"The editorial inaccurately implies that hydraulic fracturing projects have been approved in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), suggesting that environmental regulation has been inadequate," said Reheis-Boyd.

Frank Richards recalled:

"On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest -- it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit -- and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.

I spent the day at the Capitol today with about 20,000 of my nearest and dearest friends. Labor came out in force to protest the new Right to Work legislation. For those who don't know (of whom there were many), Right to Work is a SERIOUSLY misleading name. It does away with the closed shop. A closed shop means that anyone who works in it automatically belongs to the union. Dues are deducted automatically, and they are used to fund the workings of the union. Supervisor gunning for you? Call your steward. Is the sup making up stuff to try and get you fired? File a grievance and go through the process of keeping or losing your job. Have a workman's comp claim because a piece of faulty equipment (or repetitive stress) has hampered your ability to work? Talk to your steward to get help working through it.

Oh, you don't believe in unions? Well, unions believe in you.

Dec 19

Nationalists Bask in a Rising Sun

By Tom Clifford, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

A new day is dawning in Japanese politics, or so its next prime minister, the nationalist Shinzo Abe, whose grandfather served in the Tojo war cabinet, would have us believe. The trouble is that a new day for Abe will break with a rising sun that could chill the region.

The timing is profound, as if history was mocking us. As China marked the 75th anniversary of the Rape of Nanking, Japan elected as its prime minister the grandson of an official at the heart of the war machine. Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was jailed after the war as a suspected war criminal but went on to become prime minister (as if Albert Speer had become German chancellor).

Dec 19

Education and National Security

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | Op-Ed

The last week of September, 1938 was deemed "American Education Week" and for the occasion President Franklin Delano Roosevelt released a message to the citizenry. He noted that there were competitive systems of government that were fast coming into conflict and, when it came to the practice and preservation of the political system in the U.S., public education played a vital role. "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education." Thus did Roosevelt tie education to "national security." Nonetheless, this was a problematic assertion. It assumed that citizens actually do choose their leaders rather than just affirming a leader chosen by elites. And, significantly, it assumed that what is taught in the schools results in the ability to make "wise" political choices.

The response by gun advocates and religious fanatics to the murder of children in a Connecticut school is by itself another tragedy. Forget the search for motives, the arguments assigning blame, and the inevitable "God moves in mysterious ways" and begin legislation to ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition. Require background checks and ID from gun owners. If we don't find a solution we're going to lose our humanity.

It is a fool's errand to search for the cause of extremes in deviant behavior of Americans. Under the best of conditions, human behavior has more variables than any other problem faced by science. The best of conditions have come and gone, never to return. In the past century Americans, in the pursuit of wealth, have subjected themselves and their children to so many man-made toxins and mutagens that it is not possible to determine if bizarre and self destructive behavior is a result of nature or nurture.

Dec 19

The Original 007

By John Morlino, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As a British Secret Agent famously afforded a "license to kill," Bond routinely carried out the most impossible of missions with a flair unmatched by his fictional peers. My uncle, on the other hand, patrolled the streets of his working class hometown, excelling at his job through a combination of street savvy and an uncanny ability to put even the most hardened criminals at ease. In two decades on the force, he never drew his gun.

Like most superheroes, Bond never seemed to lose a step, even as he aged. Real life, of course, doesn't play out that way. Even if you're the original 007.

U.S. policy makers reacted strongly to North Korea's launch of a long-range missile on December 12. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor called it "another example of North Korea's pattern of irresponsible behavior."

U.S. officials had a similarly strong response to North Korea's nuclear test in 2009. At that time, President Obama said, "North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I strongly condemn their reckless action."

Sen. John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after North Korea's 2009 nuclear test, "North Korea's leaders have yet to realize that the only way for them to achieve genuine security is to abandon their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction."

As we draw near to the Winter Solstice and the days shorten, one's thoughts are drawn inward.

Bright lights, fragrant spices and sprigs of evergreen are appropriated to induce one back into the Eros of life. Otherwise, daylight-bereft, in the half-light between the land of the living and the domain of the shades of memory, one can become stranded in impersonal despair or toxic nostalgia.

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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.

Dec 20

Arms Trade – You can not be serious, Dr Cable

By Jim McCluskey, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The arms trade fuels the world's wars.

Governments' support for this death-dealing trade is something of a mystery for decent people round the world. So Vincent Cable's very recent public defense of the trade is of more than local interest.

Why, then, do governments of the West support the arms trade with such vigour. Some flickering glimmers of light were shone on this question in relation to the UK government by an encounter between Dr. Vincent Cable, Member of Parliament for Twickenham and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (UKTI) and his constituents.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, who served as the chair of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, proclaims the "glories" of hydrofracking in her December 10 letter in the Sacramento Bee entitled "Hydraulic fracturing is safe for California."

Her letter responds to a Bee editorial on December 7, "Rules on oil and gas fracking are way out of wack."

"The editorial inaccurately implies that hydraulic fracturing projects have been approved in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), suggesting that environmental regulation has been inadequate," said Reheis-Boyd.

Frank Richards recalled:

"On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest -- it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit -- and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.

I spent the day at the Capitol today with about 20,000 of my nearest and dearest friends. Labor came out in force to protest the new Right to Work legislation. For those who don't know (of whom there were many), Right to Work is a SERIOUSLY misleading name. It does away with the closed shop. A closed shop means that anyone who works in it automatically belongs to the union. Dues are deducted automatically, and they are used to fund the workings of the union. Supervisor gunning for you? Call your steward. Is the sup making up stuff to try and get you fired? File a grievance and go through the process of keeping or losing your job. Have a workman's comp claim because a piece of faulty equipment (or repetitive stress) has hampered your ability to work? Talk to your steward to get help working through it.

Oh, you don't believe in unions? Well, unions believe in you.

Dec 19

Nationalists Bask in a Rising Sun

By Tom Clifford, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

A new day is dawning in Japanese politics, or so its next prime minister, the nationalist Shinzo Abe, whose grandfather served in the Tojo war cabinet, would have us believe. The trouble is that a new day for Abe will break with a rising sun that could chill the region.

The timing is profound, as if history was mocking us. As China marked the 75th anniversary of the Rape of Nanking, Japan elected as its prime minister the grandson of an official at the heart of the war machine. Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was jailed after the war as a suspected war criminal but went on to become prime minister (as if Albert Speer had become German chancellor).

Dec 19

Education and National Security

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | Op-Ed

The last week of September, 1938 was deemed "American Education Week" and for the occasion President Franklin Delano Roosevelt released a message to the citizenry. He noted that there were competitive systems of government that were fast coming into conflict and, when it came to the practice and preservation of the political system in the U.S., public education played a vital role. "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education." Thus did Roosevelt tie education to "national security." Nonetheless, this was a problematic assertion. It assumed that citizens actually do choose their leaders rather than just affirming a leader chosen by elites. And, significantly, it assumed that what is taught in the schools results in the ability to make "wise" political choices.

The response by gun advocates and religious fanatics to the murder of children in a Connecticut school is by itself another tragedy. Forget the search for motives, the arguments assigning blame, and the inevitable "God moves in mysterious ways" and begin legislation to ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition. Require background checks and ID from gun owners. If we don't find a solution we're going to lose our humanity.

It is a fool's errand to search for the cause of extremes in deviant behavior of Americans. Under the best of conditions, human behavior has more variables than any other problem faced by science. The best of conditions have come and gone, never to return. In the past century Americans, in the pursuit of wealth, have subjected themselves and their children to so many man-made toxins and mutagens that it is not possible to determine if bizarre and self destructive behavior is a result of nature or nurture.

Dec 19

The Original 007

By John Morlino, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As a British Secret Agent famously afforded a "license to kill," Bond routinely carried out the most impossible of missions with a flair unmatched by his fictional peers. My uncle, on the other hand, patrolled the streets of his working class hometown, excelling at his job through a combination of street savvy and an uncanny ability to put even the most hardened criminals at ease. In two decades on the force, he never drew his gun.

Like most superheroes, Bond never seemed to lose a step, even as he aged. Real life, of course, doesn't play out that way. Even if you're the original 007.

U.S. policy makers reacted strongly to North Korea's launch of a long-range missile on December 12. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor called it "another example of North Korea's pattern of irresponsible behavior."

U.S. officials had a similarly strong response to North Korea's nuclear test in 2009. At that time, President Obama said, "North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I strongly condemn their reckless action."

Sen. John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after North Korea's 2009 nuclear test, "North Korea's leaders have yet to realize that the only way for them to achieve genuine security is to abandon their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction."

As we draw near to the Winter Solstice and the days shorten, one's thoughts are drawn inward.

Bright lights, fragrant spices and sprigs of evergreen are appropriated to induce one back into the Eros of life. Otherwise, daylight-bereft, in the half-light between the land of the living and the domain of the shades of memory, one can become stranded in impersonal despair or toxic nostalgia.