Sunday, 23 November 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.

Sep 24

Now, What Climate Action?

By Bill Henderson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Naomi and Jim, AndersonBows and Roger, and maybe Lord Stern

Now that we all agree that climate change is happening, has become an emergency after at least two decades of denial and procrastination, and requires urgent action, I suggest that presently there is no informing dialogue about the full spectrum of climate change danger with the full spectrum of possible solutions.

Sep 24

Zionism and the Educational Elites

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Part I - The Zionists Have a Problem

Due to Israel's brutal racism and repeated attacks on Palestinian civilians, it is losing popular support internationally. As this happens, the Zionists appear to be intensifying pressure on societal and political elites, particularly in the US and other Western states, to maintain policies that support and protect Israel's criminal behavior. Their vehicle for achieving this goal has always been financial gifts and donations to elite individuals and institutions. These gifts and donations help grease the wheels, so to speak, of the systems of power through which the elites operate, and create a monetary dependency on, among others, Zionist donors. It also creates an obligation to respond to these donors' needs. The result is a growing disconnect between evolving popular attitudes toward Israel and the static positions held and actions taken by the elites.

American Zionist leaders are aware of this gap and they take it seriously. However, they have a problem in that open debate and the offering of evidence can no longer win the argument for their side. In short, the Zionists don't have a monopoly anymore on the story of how Israel came to be and Palestine came not to be. And without that monopoly, the imperialist origins and ongoing racist nature of Israel are can no longer be concealed.

I’ve written or edited several books in my life and each of them have been special, especially since most were banned by Tucson’s school district during the state’s infamous battle in Arizona to eliminate Raza Studies, However, this one, Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother, released early by the University of Arizona Press, seems to be a little more special. Perhaps it is so because it speaks to a topic that recognizes no borders and connects peoples from across this continent, and it is a story that arguably goes back some 7,000 years.

The actual title of this book is Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl. Translated, it means  – Nuestro Maíz sagrado es Nuestra Madre – Our Sacred Maíz is our Mother. Only the English appears on the front cover. However, Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl does appear on the title page, along with the names of 9 Indigenous elders or teachers who contributed maíz origin/creation/migration stories from throughout Abya Yala, Cemanahuac or Pacha Mama – from throughout the continent: Veronica Castillo Hernandez, Maestra Angelbertha Cobb, Luz Maria de la Torre, Paula Domingo Olivares, Tata Cuaxtle Felix Evodio, Maria Molina Vai Sevoi, Francisco Pos, Irma Tzirin Scoop and Alicia Seyler.

Who would have thought that the president elected on an anti-Iraq war stance and promises to represent the polar opposite of the Bush administration would love war so much? As horrendous as the Bush administration was, there is no point in using the "Obama has inherited Bush's mess" rhetoric to counter the latter claim. In an interview with Democracy Now (and via various other forums) four-star General Wesley Clark exposed a memo with a 5 year plan that was to be adopted shortly after September 11th 2001. The plan involved toppling the governments of 7 countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. The expectation that plans like these would come to an end when Obama was elected was a naïve yet hopeful aspiration that many shared.

The British government has been warned it may face legal action if it fails to consult Parliament and the public on the redeployment of drones outside declared warzones. 

Questions have been raised by Saeed Al Yousefi, a Yemeni man from a province that is a frequent target of US strikes, about the fate of at least ten armed Reaper drones currently based in Afghanistan. Ministers have so far declined to reveal where the weapons, which are piloted remotely from US bases in Nevada and Lincolnshire, will be used after December 2014, when UK operations in Afghanistan finish.

Washinton, DC - Wal-Mart is running an illegal scheme to prod employees into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns, Public Citizen, Common Cause and two Wal-Mart employees and shareholders charged today.

In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the public interest organizations and employee-shareholders Cynthia Murray and Evelin Cruz detailed a program in which Wal-Mart reportedly solicits managers for contributions to its political action committee (PAC). In exchange, the company reportedly donates twice the amount of those contributions exclusively to its Associates in Critical Need Trust. The trust – fully controlled by Wal-Mart – was started in 2001 by the company to help employees facing financial distress.

As consumers get ready for the new iPhone 6 coming out this month, the continuous race of technology companies trying to outdo one another continues. Some, techies are already predicting what Apple is holding back for the iPhone 6s version. Yet, with all this bombardment of new devices with smaller chips, faster processors, and fancier and clearer screens, we tend to overlook the true cost of what goes in to make these devices possible.

The role of technology saturating our everyday lives is the new norm and every six months or so we hear of a new device, app, system, platform, or idea that will help make our lives a little better. It's true that technology has made the world more convenient for lots of people. Our instant connection with people half a world away and ease with which apps help us decide where to eat, how to look up obscure movie names, and get our job done quicker, have all been little breakthroughs that everyone can appreciate. But we never stop to think of how the devices we carry around are produced and made, or what kind of factory conditions the people putting it together work in. We use these devices for a while and exchange them for new ones at the hint of the latest edition.

When it comes to educational attainment socioeconomic and racial inequality has always existed in America. That is the truth. And that fact alone was justification for the writing of federal education law in 1965 that attempted to rectify the problem with a two-pronged approach. However, desegregation - a forced attempt to offer equal access -overshadowed full implementation of the law. But equal access alone was never enough; the American standard is one of quality.

So in 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education openly questioned the quality of our public schools and made the call that we were A Nation at Risk based on eleven "indicators." The majority of those measures, which set the stage for gauging our excellence, were standardized test scores.

Sep 23

The Mathematics of Human Misery

By Emanuel E. Garcia, SpeakOut | Poetry

To calculate the quotient of

Unnecessary pain

One multiplies

Unnecessary poetry by crime,

Divides by one one-hundredth a percent

And takes this figure to the power of

The Forbes 500 squared

I am your product. You made me. So reminds erstwhile charismatic African National Congress' (ANC) youth-wing leader and current South African Member of Parliament and now Economic Freedom Fighter's (EFF) political party Chief, Julius Malema.

Since his divorce with the ANC and its leader and South African president, Jacob Zuma, Malema has not given up on what he knows best: politics. Politics that offered Malema a good life, connections, a position and the political podium, afore South African society. However, a good life does not always guarantee succeeding at every encounter, political or otherwise. Malema's traditional strong connections did suffer some contraction of sorts, while he, at the same time, managed to expand other ties. While some of his links have faltered, others have risen, most notably with(in) the proletariat of South Africa.

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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.

Sep 24

Now, What Climate Action?

By Bill Henderson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Naomi and Jim, AndersonBows and Roger, and maybe Lord Stern

Now that we all agree that climate change is happening, has become an emergency after at least two decades of denial and procrastination, and requires urgent action, I suggest that presently there is no informing dialogue about the full spectrum of climate change danger with the full spectrum of possible solutions.

Sep 24

Zionism and the Educational Elites

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Part I - The Zionists Have a Problem

Due to Israel's brutal racism and repeated attacks on Palestinian civilians, it is losing popular support internationally. As this happens, the Zionists appear to be intensifying pressure on societal and political elites, particularly in the US and other Western states, to maintain policies that support and protect Israel's criminal behavior. Their vehicle for achieving this goal has always been financial gifts and donations to elite individuals and institutions. These gifts and donations help grease the wheels, so to speak, of the systems of power through which the elites operate, and create a monetary dependency on, among others, Zionist donors. It also creates an obligation to respond to these donors' needs. The result is a growing disconnect between evolving popular attitudes toward Israel and the static positions held and actions taken by the elites.

American Zionist leaders are aware of this gap and they take it seriously. However, they have a problem in that open debate and the offering of evidence can no longer win the argument for their side. In short, the Zionists don't have a monopoly anymore on the story of how Israel came to be and Palestine came not to be. And without that monopoly, the imperialist origins and ongoing racist nature of Israel are can no longer be concealed.

I’ve written or edited several books in my life and each of them have been special, especially since most were banned by Tucson’s school district during the state’s infamous battle in Arizona to eliminate Raza Studies, However, this one, Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother, released early by the University of Arizona Press, seems to be a little more special. Perhaps it is so because it speaks to a topic that recognizes no borders and connects peoples from across this continent, and it is a story that arguably goes back some 7,000 years.

The actual title of this book is Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl. Translated, it means  – Nuestro Maíz sagrado es Nuestra Madre – Our Sacred Maíz is our Mother. Only the English appears on the front cover. However, Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl does appear on the title page, along with the names of 9 Indigenous elders or teachers who contributed maíz origin/creation/migration stories from throughout Abya Yala, Cemanahuac or Pacha Mama – from throughout the continent: Veronica Castillo Hernandez, Maestra Angelbertha Cobb, Luz Maria de la Torre, Paula Domingo Olivares, Tata Cuaxtle Felix Evodio, Maria Molina Vai Sevoi, Francisco Pos, Irma Tzirin Scoop and Alicia Seyler.

Who would have thought that the president elected on an anti-Iraq war stance and promises to represent the polar opposite of the Bush administration would love war so much? As horrendous as the Bush administration was, there is no point in using the "Obama has inherited Bush's mess" rhetoric to counter the latter claim. In an interview with Democracy Now (and via various other forums) four-star General Wesley Clark exposed a memo with a 5 year plan that was to be adopted shortly after September 11th 2001. The plan involved toppling the governments of 7 countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. The expectation that plans like these would come to an end when Obama was elected was a naïve yet hopeful aspiration that many shared.

The British government has been warned it may face legal action if it fails to consult Parliament and the public on the redeployment of drones outside declared warzones. 

Questions have been raised by Saeed Al Yousefi, a Yemeni man from a province that is a frequent target of US strikes, about the fate of at least ten armed Reaper drones currently based in Afghanistan. Ministers have so far declined to reveal where the weapons, which are piloted remotely from US bases in Nevada and Lincolnshire, will be used after December 2014, when UK operations in Afghanistan finish.

Washinton, DC - Wal-Mart is running an illegal scheme to prod employees into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns, Public Citizen, Common Cause and two Wal-Mart employees and shareholders charged today.

In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the public interest organizations and employee-shareholders Cynthia Murray and Evelin Cruz detailed a program in which Wal-Mart reportedly solicits managers for contributions to its political action committee (PAC). In exchange, the company reportedly donates twice the amount of those contributions exclusively to its Associates in Critical Need Trust. The trust – fully controlled by Wal-Mart – was started in 2001 by the company to help employees facing financial distress.

As consumers get ready for the new iPhone 6 coming out this month, the continuous race of technology companies trying to outdo one another continues. Some, techies are already predicting what Apple is holding back for the iPhone 6s version. Yet, with all this bombardment of new devices with smaller chips, faster processors, and fancier and clearer screens, we tend to overlook the true cost of what goes in to make these devices possible.

The role of technology saturating our everyday lives is the new norm and every six months or so we hear of a new device, app, system, platform, or idea that will help make our lives a little better. It's true that technology has made the world more convenient for lots of people. Our instant connection with people half a world away and ease with which apps help us decide where to eat, how to look up obscure movie names, and get our job done quicker, have all been little breakthroughs that everyone can appreciate. But we never stop to think of how the devices we carry around are produced and made, or what kind of factory conditions the people putting it together work in. We use these devices for a while and exchange them for new ones at the hint of the latest edition.

When it comes to educational attainment socioeconomic and racial inequality has always existed in America. That is the truth. And that fact alone was justification for the writing of federal education law in 1965 that attempted to rectify the problem with a two-pronged approach. However, desegregation - a forced attempt to offer equal access -overshadowed full implementation of the law. But equal access alone was never enough; the American standard is one of quality.

So in 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education openly questioned the quality of our public schools and made the call that we were A Nation at Risk based on eleven "indicators." The majority of those measures, which set the stage for gauging our excellence, were standardized test scores.

Sep 23

The Mathematics of Human Misery

By Emanuel E. Garcia, SpeakOut | Poetry

To calculate the quotient of

Unnecessary pain

One multiplies

Unnecessary poetry by crime,

Divides by one one-hundredth a percent

And takes this figure to the power of

The Forbes 500 squared

I am your product. You made me. So reminds erstwhile charismatic African National Congress' (ANC) youth-wing leader and current South African Member of Parliament and now Economic Freedom Fighter's (EFF) political party Chief, Julius Malema.

Since his divorce with the ANC and its leader and South African president, Jacob Zuma, Malema has not given up on what he knows best: politics. Politics that offered Malema a good life, connections, a position and the political podium, afore South African society. However, a good life does not always guarantee succeeding at every encounter, political or otherwise. Malema's traditional strong connections did suffer some contraction of sorts, while he, at the same time, managed to expand other ties. While some of his links have faltered, others have risen, most notably with(in) the proletariat of South Africa.