Thursday, 18 December 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG
  • Homeless People: Do You Just "Walk On By"?

    Is there a helpful way to respond when you encounter one of the approximately 578,424 people who are homeless on any given night in the United States today?

  • Quiet Distress Among the (Ex) Rich

    Yves Smith: The fact that economic distress has moved pretty high up the food chain is a sign that this recovery isn't all that it is cracked up to be.

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.

Washington, DC - The Obama administration's precarious justifications for the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime may determine the fate of the transatlantic free trade agreement, said Public Citizen as it released a new report (PDF) examining those defenses and revealing data on the U.S. and European Union (EU) firms that would be newly empowered to attack domestic policies in extrajudicial tribunals if the pact includes ISDS. Recently, the incoming European Commission president, several large voting blocs in the European Parliament and the German government have voiced opposition to ISDS.

"The ugly political spectacle of the Obama administration insisting on special privileges and a parallel legal system for foreign corporations over European officials' growing objections is only made worse by the utter lack of policy justifications for ISDS," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "As a slew of domestic laws are being attacked in these corporate tribunals, European officials are rethinking past support for ISDS while the Obama administration just doubles down."

Speaking at the opening plenary of the New York City Global Climate Convergence in the days before the People’s Climate March, Nastaran Mohit told the assembled crowd that the revolution “and this (Climate Convergence) movement is not going to be spawned from the activist white community. It is going to be led front and center by marginalized and the most directly affected communities.”

Mohit, a New York City based labor organizer who was instrumental in the success of Occupy Sandy, went on:

Washington, DC – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) announced that the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has ordered an investigation into allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) improperly continued federal funding to Wisconsin under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

The state allegedly violated requirements to separate foster children from adult inmates in prison or other secure detention. DOJ's OJJDP also allegedly failed to investigate evidence that the state's records were falsified so that, on the books, Wisconsin's youth detention system would appear in compliance with the law. Further, the investigation must cover charges that the DOJ Office of General Counsel (OGC), tasked with ensuring the JJDPA is lawfully implemented, allowed the Wisconsin misconduct to continue through secret law – legal opinions that canceled longstanding interpretation of funding requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The falsified records and secret legal opinions allegedly allowed Wisconsin to receive, and continue receiving, tens of millions of dollars of illegal funding. Finally, the OSC ordered the probe to investigate charges that DOJ's Office of Inspector General (OIG) obstructed an investigation of the misconduct. To date, neither OJJDP nor the OIG have sought recovery of any improper funding to Wisconsin.

Oct 03

My Amazing Interview With the 1%

By Rick Kepler, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, except only one "golden ticket" was stuffed in a loaf of cheap white bread, and I, the holder of that ticket, won the prize, the opportunity to interview the masters of the universe, the top one per centers in the United States, the ruling class. I anxiously gazed out among the assembled crowd of Wall Street barons, tech billionaires, hedge funders, private equity hucksters and banksters with my prepared questions in hand. I guessed they only wanted some lower-working-class interviewer, or why else would they stick the ticket in a loaf of bread you can only buy at Dollar stores? Oh well, I won and was excited to be among them. The interview began:

This examination and analysis of Julian Assange's new book When Google Met WikiLeaks that documents his meeting with Google chairman Eric Schmidt and their exchanges about the future of the internet and society reflects on the oppositions represented by the two organizations.

Oct 03

Transitional Times or End Times?

By Graham Peebles, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Many there are, who seeing the violent turmoil raging throughout large parts of the world, together with the devastating impact of man-made climate change, fear humanity and the planet are on the verge of destruction. Those religiously inclined – particularly those sitting on the far right of the spectrum, point towards various passages in sacred texts, which they believe accurately describe these times and proclaim them to be "the end times." Apocalyptically understood, through the prism of doctrine, to be not simply the annihilation of a sin-drenched humanity who according to the "judgment of the just" no doubt deserve it, but the obliteration of the Earth itself. This doom-laden interpretation of events cultivates fear, suffocates hope and fails to recognize the good amongst the black flags and chaos.

Fortunately there is an alternative, sunnier view of the present time, a common sense albeit controversial vision that creates hope (something that is in short supply), not fear and despair. In a quieter voice which remains largely buried under the worldwide blanket of anxiety and insecurity, it says these are not "the end times," but transitional times; that we are not witnessing the "end of the world" or the slow demise of humanity, but the final cries of a crumbling civilisation in terminal decline. A civilisation built over the last two thousand years or so in response to certain conditioning influences promoting specific values and ways of living; an out-dated and in many ways, to many people, inadequate mode of organizing society that is now collapsing - and rightly so.

Oct 02

The End Is Near!

By Michaela Wade, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

San Francisco is no longer what it used to be. "San Francisco is becoming a city of the rich and poor" says Randy Shaw from the article The Chronicle Discovers Gentrification in San Francisco. Society tries to blend the barriers between the rich neighborhoods and the poor neighborhoods: some are in plain sight, while others need a closer look.  A family member of mine was walking down the street with her boyfriend and after a few blocks stopped and asked, "Did we just walk through a set?" "Set" meaning a gang affiliated neighborhood which can be dangerous.

As time goes by, the homes of the poor are ripped out and condos of the rich are built in their place. The natives of San Francisco are no longer the top priority. San Franciscans are being pushed out due to daily struggles, breaking their backs to make ends meet. Meanwhile the "Stand In" – AKA, the rich - are moving in, forcing landlords to tear down and rebuild to accommodate the new uninterrupted money.  

Sixteen major US news organizations and a hunger-striking detainee have asked a federal judge not to hold the first-ever trial of force-feeding practices at Guantánamo Bay in secret.

The hearing in Dhiab v. Obama, scheduled for October 6-7 in Washington, DC in front of Judge Gladys Kessler, will be the first ever to determine the lawfulness of force-feeding practices at Guantánamo Bay.

I wrote a column that went up this morning at The Atlantic about the ProPublica/This American Life story about the New York Fed. The gist of the argument is that we all knew the New York Fed was captured; for people like Tim Geithner, that’s a feature, not a bug.

There was a paragraph in my original draft that I really liked, but I can completely understand why the editors didn’t want it:

In some ways the system is set up to bring young men against one another - to get by with any means necessary - and it's a particular race that it targets. That's where young men made a mistake and need to fix it - because there shouldn't be any system that makes you feel like you have to do something or allows you to turn on your fellow peers making you go down that path of failing. In a world of economic inequality and racial injustice, the blame is on everyone who promotes violence and does not want to see change. Why promote violence if you just want it to stop? The way young men in our community continue to make bad choices for unnecessary causes is making it become true, setting bad examples for the generation that comes after them, making it hard for them to turn it around and get it together. Making those bad choices could easily make it easier to be accused of something they didn't do and having to pay the price for it. If they want to be viewed better, then it starts within yourself before it moves on to everyone else: it only takes that one person to turn everything around. Everybody wants to succeed; we don't need conflict among young men in our community since each one has a family that deeply cares about them. Families don't want to see their loved ones fall in the cracks or end up in a jail.

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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.

Washington, DC - The Obama administration's precarious justifications for the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime may determine the fate of the transatlantic free trade agreement, said Public Citizen as it released a new report (PDF) examining those defenses and revealing data on the U.S. and European Union (EU) firms that would be newly empowered to attack domestic policies in extrajudicial tribunals if the pact includes ISDS. Recently, the incoming European Commission president, several large voting blocs in the European Parliament and the German government have voiced opposition to ISDS.

"The ugly political spectacle of the Obama administration insisting on special privileges and a parallel legal system for foreign corporations over European officials' growing objections is only made worse by the utter lack of policy justifications for ISDS," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "As a slew of domestic laws are being attacked in these corporate tribunals, European officials are rethinking past support for ISDS while the Obama administration just doubles down."

Speaking at the opening plenary of the New York City Global Climate Convergence in the days before the People’s Climate March, Nastaran Mohit told the assembled crowd that the revolution “and this (Climate Convergence) movement is not going to be spawned from the activist white community. It is going to be led front and center by marginalized and the most directly affected communities.”

Mohit, a New York City based labor organizer who was instrumental in the success of Occupy Sandy, went on:

Washington, DC – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) announced that the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has ordered an investigation into allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) improperly continued federal funding to Wisconsin under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

The state allegedly violated requirements to separate foster children from adult inmates in prison or other secure detention. DOJ's OJJDP also allegedly failed to investigate evidence that the state's records were falsified so that, on the books, Wisconsin's youth detention system would appear in compliance with the law. Further, the investigation must cover charges that the DOJ Office of General Counsel (OGC), tasked with ensuring the JJDPA is lawfully implemented, allowed the Wisconsin misconduct to continue through secret law – legal opinions that canceled longstanding interpretation of funding requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The falsified records and secret legal opinions allegedly allowed Wisconsin to receive, and continue receiving, tens of millions of dollars of illegal funding. Finally, the OSC ordered the probe to investigate charges that DOJ's Office of Inspector General (OIG) obstructed an investigation of the misconduct. To date, neither OJJDP nor the OIG have sought recovery of any improper funding to Wisconsin.

Oct 03

My Amazing Interview With the 1%

By Rick Kepler, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, except only one "golden ticket" was stuffed in a loaf of cheap white bread, and I, the holder of that ticket, won the prize, the opportunity to interview the masters of the universe, the top one per centers in the United States, the ruling class. I anxiously gazed out among the assembled crowd of Wall Street barons, tech billionaires, hedge funders, private equity hucksters and banksters with my prepared questions in hand. I guessed they only wanted some lower-working-class interviewer, or why else would they stick the ticket in a loaf of bread you can only buy at Dollar stores? Oh well, I won and was excited to be among them. The interview began:

This examination and analysis of Julian Assange's new book When Google Met WikiLeaks that documents his meeting with Google chairman Eric Schmidt and their exchanges about the future of the internet and society reflects on the oppositions represented by the two organizations.

Oct 03

Transitional Times or End Times?

By Graham Peebles, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Many there are, who seeing the violent turmoil raging throughout large parts of the world, together with the devastating impact of man-made climate change, fear humanity and the planet are on the verge of destruction. Those religiously inclined – particularly those sitting on the far right of the spectrum, point towards various passages in sacred texts, which they believe accurately describe these times and proclaim them to be "the end times." Apocalyptically understood, through the prism of doctrine, to be not simply the annihilation of a sin-drenched humanity who according to the "judgment of the just" no doubt deserve it, but the obliteration of the Earth itself. This doom-laden interpretation of events cultivates fear, suffocates hope and fails to recognize the good amongst the black flags and chaos.

Fortunately there is an alternative, sunnier view of the present time, a common sense albeit controversial vision that creates hope (something that is in short supply), not fear and despair. In a quieter voice which remains largely buried under the worldwide blanket of anxiety and insecurity, it says these are not "the end times," but transitional times; that we are not witnessing the "end of the world" or the slow demise of humanity, but the final cries of a crumbling civilisation in terminal decline. A civilisation built over the last two thousand years or so in response to certain conditioning influences promoting specific values and ways of living; an out-dated and in many ways, to many people, inadequate mode of organizing society that is now collapsing - and rightly so.

Oct 02

The End Is Near!

By Michaela Wade, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

San Francisco is no longer what it used to be. "San Francisco is becoming a city of the rich and poor" says Randy Shaw from the article The Chronicle Discovers Gentrification in San Francisco. Society tries to blend the barriers between the rich neighborhoods and the poor neighborhoods: some are in plain sight, while others need a closer look.  A family member of mine was walking down the street with her boyfriend and after a few blocks stopped and asked, "Did we just walk through a set?" "Set" meaning a gang affiliated neighborhood which can be dangerous.

As time goes by, the homes of the poor are ripped out and condos of the rich are built in their place. The natives of San Francisco are no longer the top priority. San Franciscans are being pushed out due to daily struggles, breaking their backs to make ends meet. Meanwhile the "Stand In" – AKA, the rich - are moving in, forcing landlords to tear down and rebuild to accommodate the new uninterrupted money.  

Sixteen major US news organizations and a hunger-striking detainee have asked a federal judge not to hold the first-ever trial of force-feeding practices at Guantánamo Bay in secret.

The hearing in Dhiab v. Obama, scheduled for October 6-7 in Washington, DC in front of Judge Gladys Kessler, will be the first ever to determine the lawfulness of force-feeding practices at Guantánamo Bay.

I wrote a column that went up this morning at The Atlantic about the ProPublica/This American Life story about the New York Fed. The gist of the argument is that we all knew the New York Fed was captured; for people like Tim Geithner, that’s a feature, not a bug.

There was a paragraph in my original draft that I really liked, but I can completely understand why the editors didn’t want it:

In some ways the system is set up to bring young men against one another - to get by with any means necessary - and it's a particular race that it targets. That's where young men made a mistake and need to fix it - because there shouldn't be any system that makes you feel like you have to do something or allows you to turn on your fellow peers making you go down that path of failing. In a world of economic inequality and racial injustice, the blame is on everyone who promotes violence and does not want to see change. Why promote violence if you just want it to stop? The way young men in our community continue to make bad choices for unnecessary causes is making it become true, setting bad examples for the generation that comes after them, making it hard for them to turn it around and get it together. Making those bad choices could easily make it easier to be accused of something they didn't do and having to pay the price for it. If they want to be viewed better, then it starts within yourself before it moves on to everyone else: it only takes that one person to turn everything around. Everybody wants to succeed; we don't need conflict among young men in our community since each one has a family that deeply cares about them. Families don't want to see their loved ones fall in the cracks or end up in a jail.