Monday, 20 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.

You've probably caught some "year in review" segments. This one has it all - including a lot of stories the mainstream media wants you to forget about.

In recent years Senate Republicans have used the filibuster to block over 380 bills and nominations. There has been a terrible cost to the country as Republicans blocked bill after bill, solution after solution, nomination after nomination.

For too long now, this tactic has been misused and abused. Congress has stopped legislating effectively, with Senators using ridiculous dodge tactics to block real progress. They have used filibusters to block jobs, judges, disaster relief, the Dream Act, health care, and almost everything else. They have even filibustered their own bills!

Prevailing thought is like prevailing wind; it requires less effort to allow oneself to be carried along than to set a course that goes against it. Also like wind, thought is often presumed to be invisible. But one can quite easily learn to observe the effects of both on tangible objects, and thereby gain the ability to harness the power of either.

The first lesson in sailing usually occurs on the shoreline. Students are invited to determine from which direction the wind is blowing by looking for clues: flags, trees, boats at anchor, the feel of the breeze on one's own skin, and through careful observation of subtle variations in the texture of wavelets on the surface of the water itself.

Just saw "Django Unchained."

Good flick.

Actually, I'm surprised I liked it. I liked it very much.

I'm sure I had Spike's concerns, if I understand what those concerns actually are. But I think they have something to do with a white filmmaker not being able to handle such a serious topic like black slavery—you know, his maybe undermining the cruelty of the institution by having a slave seemingly pleased with his status. I'm sure Spike, for whom I have great respect, can reel off a list of happy darkie stereotypes (or their variants) given birth in Hollywood.

Amid controversy surrounding a status referendum that several former Governors admitted was "confusing" and designed to "bring more of the same" uncertainty regarding Puerto Rico's future relationship to the U.S., a major conference bringing together prominent human rights activists and legal scholars called sternly for adherence to international principles and norms. The Encuentro Derechos Humanos 2012, held at San Juan's University of the Sacred Heart from December 7-10, saw a reunion of the key organizers who had led the successful campaigns for the release of eleven political prisoners (granted clemency by President Clinton in 1999) and for the closure of the U.S. Navy bombing range on Vieques (which took place in 2003-2004). Coordinated by noted sociologist, educator, and attorney Luis Nieves Falcon, theEncuentro ("Encounter") called for a renewal of activism against continuing forms of colonialism.

On Wednesday, Free Press submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in response to the agency's recent report on the ownership of commercial broadcast stations.

The report confirmed that women and people of color remain disproportionately underrepresented in broadcast ownership, with some numbers still moving in the wrong direction. For example, the data show that African Americans own just five full-power television stations, down from 19 in 2006. In other words, African Americans comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, but own a mere 0.4 percent of TV stations.

"In 2008, 2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740," details Protect Children Not Guns 2012 (Children's Defense Fund), "—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years" (p. 2).

Tragedy is often reserved for single catastrophic events, but cumulative loss is no less tragic, particularly when the lives of innocent children and teens are placed in the context of daily violence.

For good reason Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation, is deeply offended that buried on page 45 of the 2010 Defense Appropriation Act (after pages on the maintenance and operation of the United States Military) is an "official" apology to Native American People. Not only does such dismissive behavior reflect amnesia and insincerity towards hundreds of thousands of people and one the worst genocides in modern history, but it reveals a national pathological defect in that, U.S. political leaders and officials find it extremely difficult in expressing remorse for past mistakes.

Like hundreds of other Native American tribes, at least for those who survived mass extermination campaigns, the U.S. government sought to dominate the Navajo by establishing armed military posts throughout their territory. Those who resisted were either killed or imprisoned.

What happens when we end up in a world where everything is only and purely done for money? We're steadily approaching that reality. And it's not pretty.

Dec 28

Hiroshima in December

By Jon Letman, Honolulu Civil Beat | Op-Ed

Every year during the first week of August the world's attention turns toward Hiroshima and then, three days later, Nagasaki, as we remember the atomic bombings that killed tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in a single moment with countless more radiation deaths in the years after.

Peace advocates, politicians, Nobel Prize laureates (though never a U.S. president) gather in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bow their heads in solemn observance of the horrors of entire cities being annihilated by a single bomb.

But who talks about Hiroshima in December?

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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.

You've probably caught some "year in review" segments. This one has it all - including a lot of stories the mainstream media wants you to forget about.

In recent years Senate Republicans have used the filibuster to block over 380 bills and nominations. There has been a terrible cost to the country as Republicans blocked bill after bill, solution after solution, nomination after nomination.

For too long now, this tactic has been misused and abused. Congress has stopped legislating effectively, with Senators using ridiculous dodge tactics to block real progress. They have used filibusters to block jobs, judges, disaster relief, the Dream Act, health care, and almost everything else. They have even filibustered their own bills!

Prevailing thought is like prevailing wind; it requires less effort to allow oneself to be carried along than to set a course that goes against it. Also like wind, thought is often presumed to be invisible. But one can quite easily learn to observe the effects of both on tangible objects, and thereby gain the ability to harness the power of either.

The first lesson in sailing usually occurs on the shoreline. Students are invited to determine from which direction the wind is blowing by looking for clues: flags, trees, boats at anchor, the feel of the breeze on one's own skin, and through careful observation of subtle variations in the texture of wavelets on the surface of the water itself.

Just saw "Django Unchained."

Good flick.

Actually, I'm surprised I liked it. I liked it very much.

I'm sure I had Spike's concerns, if I understand what those concerns actually are. But I think they have something to do with a white filmmaker not being able to handle such a serious topic like black slavery—you know, his maybe undermining the cruelty of the institution by having a slave seemingly pleased with his status. I'm sure Spike, for whom I have great respect, can reel off a list of happy darkie stereotypes (or their variants) given birth in Hollywood.

Amid controversy surrounding a status referendum that several former Governors admitted was "confusing" and designed to "bring more of the same" uncertainty regarding Puerto Rico's future relationship to the U.S., a major conference bringing together prominent human rights activists and legal scholars called sternly for adherence to international principles and norms. The Encuentro Derechos Humanos 2012, held at San Juan's University of the Sacred Heart from December 7-10, saw a reunion of the key organizers who had led the successful campaigns for the release of eleven political prisoners (granted clemency by President Clinton in 1999) and for the closure of the U.S. Navy bombing range on Vieques (which took place in 2003-2004). Coordinated by noted sociologist, educator, and attorney Luis Nieves Falcon, theEncuentro ("Encounter") called for a renewal of activism against continuing forms of colonialism.

On Wednesday, Free Press submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in response to the agency's recent report on the ownership of commercial broadcast stations.

The report confirmed that women and people of color remain disproportionately underrepresented in broadcast ownership, with some numbers still moving in the wrong direction. For example, the data show that African Americans own just five full-power television stations, down from 19 in 2006. In other words, African Americans comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, but own a mere 0.4 percent of TV stations.

"In 2008, 2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740," details Protect Children Not Guns 2012 (Children's Defense Fund), "—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years" (p. 2).

Tragedy is often reserved for single catastrophic events, but cumulative loss is no less tragic, particularly when the lives of innocent children and teens are placed in the context of daily violence.

For good reason Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation, is deeply offended that buried on page 45 of the 2010 Defense Appropriation Act (after pages on the maintenance and operation of the United States Military) is an "official" apology to Native American People. Not only does such dismissive behavior reflect amnesia and insincerity towards hundreds of thousands of people and one the worst genocides in modern history, but it reveals a national pathological defect in that, U.S. political leaders and officials find it extremely difficult in expressing remorse for past mistakes.

Like hundreds of other Native American tribes, at least for those who survived mass extermination campaigns, the U.S. government sought to dominate the Navajo by establishing armed military posts throughout their territory. Those who resisted were either killed or imprisoned.

What happens when we end up in a world where everything is only and purely done for money? We're steadily approaching that reality. And it's not pretty.

Dec 28

Hiroshima in December

By Jon Letman, Honolulu Civil Beat | Op-Ed

Every year during the first week of August the world's attention turns toward Hiroshima and then, three days later, Nagasaki, as we remember the atomic bombings that killed tens of thousands of Japanese civilians in a single moment with countless more radiation deaths in the years after.

Peace advocates, politicians, Nobel Prize laureates (though never a U.S. president) gather in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bow their heads in solemn observance of the horrors of entire cities being annihilated by a single bomb.

But who talks about Hiroshima in December?