Tuesday, 30 September 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

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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 - All eyes are on Argentina's soccer team as it prepares to battle Germany in the World Cup finale. On the sidelines, Argentina is embroiled in a debt dispute with so-called "vulture funds" that impacts the Argentine economy and has vast consequences for the global financial system. Argentina faces a July 30th deadline to reach a settlement with a group of hedge funds suing the country for more than $1.5 billion or face default. Argentine officials met yesterday in New York with a court-appointed mediator in an effort to resolve the dispute.

Washington, D.C. — Today, a federal appeals court sided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a large coalition of citizen groups in upholding an Obama administration policy to scrutinize pollution from severe mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against the National Mining Association, the State of West Virginia, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and other coal industry groups, who brought the case against the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The EPA policies were based on recent scientific studies showing that pollution from mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia is likely to degrade water quality in violation of federal Clean Water Act standards. One of those studies (Pond 2008) found that nine out of every 10 streams downstream from mountaintop removal mining were impaired. Another study found elevated levels of highly toxic selenium in streams downstream from mountaintop removal mining sites.

July 11, 2014, New York – Last night, dozens of organizations and individuals representing diverse interests and faiths filed amicus briefs in support of a lawsuit challenging the blanket surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey by the New York Police Department (NYPD).  Late last week, Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) appealed a federal district court’s dismissal of the case, Hassan et al v. City of New York, and demanded that the NYPD stop violating American Muslims’ rights by targeting them for surveillance. 

In one brief, law enforcement officials wrote, "Bias-based policing is not only ineffective, it is counterproductive to law enforcement goals. For law enforcement to function effectively, local police must form bonds with the communities they serve.  Bias-based policing methods undermine that goal.”

Jul 14

The Missing Bullying Conversati​on

By Elizabeth Dickinson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Bullying-related stories don’t seem to let up. A mother is suing a Las Vegas school for bullying her 10-year old daughter based on the girl’s race. Last month, Porterville, California Mayor Cameron Hamilton urged bullying victims to toughen up and “grow a pair.” Several states are even considering workplace anti-bullying laws.

Bullying is a chronic national problem, and doing anything to address it must be positive. But that’s not necessarily true. How bullying is discussed—and, most importantly, not discussed—is as much a part of the problem as bullying itself.

The last several days have been devastating. The weeks leading up to it have been horrifying. Since the beginning of the Israel's Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 2014 upwards of 80 Palestinians have been killed and approximately 500 wounded by Israeli missiles and 2 Israelis have been wounded from rockets fired from Gaza. We have watched with sadness and anger as the deaths of children have mounted, racist mobs have rampaged, the fears of people throughout both Israel and Palestine have reached unbearable levels, and the collective punishment of the Palestinian people has intensified.

In just the last few days, scores of Palestinians--with no place to hide--have been killed, while the entire population of Gaza experiences the terror of widespread bombing. Israelis have had to endure the fear of never knowing when or where the next rocket will fall.

Jul 12

The Toxic Footprint of Syria's War

By Pieter Both and Wim Zwijnenburg, War Is A Crime | Op-Ed

Syria's ongoing civil war has already resulted in more than conservative estimates of 120,000 mortalities (including nearly 15,000 children) and has brought enormous destruction in cities and towns all over the country. Apart from the direct impact of the violent conflict on the lives of Syrian citizens, health and environmental impacts are emerging as serious problems that deserve immediate and long-term attention.

The Syrian civil war is leaving behind a toxic footprint both directly and indirectly resulting from military contamination from all sides. Heavy metals in munitions, toxic residues from artillery and other bombs, the destruction of buildings and water resources, the targeting of industrial zones and the looting of chemical facilities all contribute to long-term negative impacts for communities suffering in war. The scale of military activity in Syria over the past three years suggests that contaminants and indirect pollution will have a long-term toxic legacy for the environment and can contribute to widespread public health problems for years to come. Amid prolonged violence, it is too early to assess the full scope of hazards to human and environmental health across Syria formed by toxic or radiological substances that result from munitions and military activities. However, an early mapping as part of a new study on Syria by Dutch, peace-oriented non-governmental organization PAX reveals a range of problems in certain areas.

Jul 12

Justice Corrupted

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Scattered throughout the ranks of US federal prosecutors and judges there have always been men and women who are unwilling to make a distinction between their own biases and the rules of evidence that are designed to keep the system focused on the goal of justice. Such closed-minded individuals, embedded in the system, can find themselves set free to act out their prejudices by special circumstances. One might think back to the "hanging judges" who appeared here and there on the American frontier in the 19th century. Being among the few enforcers of law and order in an otherwise anarchic environment, they indulged their fantasies of playing the wrathful god.

The "War on Terror" has likewise created a special circumstance that has liberated Justice Department dogmatists: Islamophobes, Zionists, neoconservatives and others who fancy themselves on a special mission to protect the nation from evil and conspiratorial forces. And, as with the hanging judges before them, the result has been an enhanced possibility not of justice, but rather of the miscarriage of justice.

Jul 11

4,000 March in New York City for Palestine

By Palina Prasasouk, SpeakOut | Report

New York -- On Wednesday, July 9, 2014 New York City was one of many cities who held emergency protests in support of Palestine. Two rallies were coordinated: the first, "A Rally Against US funding of Israeli Terror" began outside the Israeli consulate in the city's east side. Merging the rallies together, approximately 4,000 people marched to the News Corporation head quarters in the second rally, "For Accurate Media Coverage." News Corp is home to Rupert Murdoch's NY Post, FOX News, and Wall Street Journal.

Mainstream media was widely absent in a rally calling for media transparency. CBS local news was present and drummed up a West Side Story styled duel, reporting pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters both calling for a truce. CBS reporter Jessica Schneider fails to take notice of the size of pro-Israel protesters, 200 people at most, which quickly dispersed. It is unclear whether or not counter-protesters were calling for an end to all conflicts. What appeared to be a young man dressed as a rabbi was seen on the side of the Israel protesters shouting racial slurs. It was apparent that the protest was largely a rally against the settlement of Palestine and murder of its people.

As Iraq stands on the verge of a complete breakdown into mini sectarian states, former leading neoconservative and Iraq war advocate Richard Perle made a sudden appearance on Newsmax TV. His statements in the interview were yet another testament to the intellectual degeneration of a group that had once promised a 'new Middle East', only to destabilize the region with violent consequences that continue to reverberate until this day.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which didn't exist at the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, has seized large swathes of Syria and, along with a brewing Sunni rebellion, stands in control of large chunks of western, northern and central Iraq.

Since Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's visit to Burma and to see the Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the Fall of 2011, the international media with a very few exceptions has taken the line that there is real change in Burma.

Beginning in 2009, the group called the Friends of Burma, the US Government and the major non-profits active in Burma have apparently taken the view that they can tango with the entrenched Burmese junta and win.  At times it seems almost as if buttering on the praise liberally will make a regime which has had more than fifty years since 1962 to fine tune its strategies and tactics, really change to a functioning democracy.

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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 - All eyes are on Argentina's soccer team as it prepares to battle Germany in the World Cup finale. On the sidelines, Argentina is embroiled in a debt dispute with so-called "vulture funds" that impacts the Argentine economy and has vast consequences for the global financial system. Argentina faces a July 30th deadline to reach a settlement with a group of hedge funds suing the country for more than $1.5 billion or face default. Argentine officials met yesterday in New York with a court-appointed mediator in an effort to resolve the dispute.

Washington, D.C. — Today, a federal appeals court sided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a large coalition of citizen groups in upholding an Obama administration policy to scrutinize pollution from severe mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against the National Mining Association, the State of West Virginia, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and other coal industry groups, who brought the case against the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The EPA policies were based on recent scientific studies showing that pollution from mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia is likely to degrade water quality in violation of federal Clean Water Act standards. One of those studies (Pond 2008) found that nine out of every 10 streams downstream from mountaintop removal mining were impaired. Another study found elevated levels of highly toxic selenium in streams downstream from mountaintop removal mining sites.

July 11, 2014, New York – Last night, dozens of organizations and individuals representing diverse interests and faiths filed amicus briefs in support of a lawsuit challenging the blanket surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey by the New York Police Department (NYPD).  Late last week, Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) appealed a federal district court’s dismissal of the case, Hassan et al v. City of New York, and demanded that the NYPD stop violating American Muslims’ rights by targeting them for surveillance. 

In one brief, law enforcement officials wrote, "Bias-based policing is not only ineffective, it is counterproductive to law enforcement goals. For law enforcement to function effectively, local police must form bonds with the communities they serve.  Bias-based policing methods undermine that goal.”

Jul 14

The Missing Bullying Conversati​on

By Elizabeth Dickinson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Bullying-related stories don’t seem to let up. A mother is suing a Las Vegas school for bullying her 10-year old daughter based on the girl’s race. Last month, Porterville, California Mayor Cameron Hamilton urged bullying victims to toughen up and “grow a pair.” Several states are even considering workplace anti-bullying laws.

Bullying is a chronic national problem, and doing anything to address it must be positive. But that’s not necessarily true. How bullying is discussed—and, most importantly, not discussed—is as much a part of the problem as bullying itself.

The last several days have been devastating. The weeks leading up to it have been horrifying. Since the beginning of the Israel's Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 2014 upwards of 80 Palestinians have been killed and approximately 500 wounded by Israeli missiles and 2 Israelis have been wounded from rockets fired from Gaza. We have watched with sadness and anger as the deaths of children have mounted, racist mobs have rampaged, the fears of people throughout both Israel and Palestine have reached unbearable levels, and the collective punishment of the Palestinian people has intensified.

In just the last few days, scores of Palestinians--with no place to hide--have been killed, while the entire population of Gaza experiences the terror of widespread bombing. Israelis have had to endure the fear of never knowing when or where the next rocket will fall.

Jul 12

The Toxic Footprint of Syria's War

By Pieter Both and Wim Zwijnenburg, War Is A Crime | Op-Ed

Syria's ongoing civil war has already resulted in more than conservative estimates of 120,000 mortalities (including nearly 15,000 children) and has brought enormous destruction in cities and towns all over the country. Apart from the direct impact of the violent conflict on the lives of Syrian citizens, health and environmental impacts are emerging as serious problems that deserve immediate and long-term attention.

The Syrian civil war is leaving behind a toxic footprint both directly and indirectly resulting from military contamination from all sides. Heavy metals in munitions, toxic residues from artillery and other bombs, the destruction of buildings and water resources, the targeting of industrial zones and the looting of chemical facilities all contribute to long-term negative impacts for communities suffering in war. The scale of military activity in Syria over the past three years suggests that contaminants and indirect pollution will have a long-term toxic legacy for the environment and can contribute to widespread public health problems for years to come. Amid prolonged violence, it is too early to assess the full scope of hazards to human and environmental health across Syria formed by toxic or radiological substances that result from munitions and military activities. However, an early mapping as part of a new study on Syria by Dutch, peace-oriented non-governmental organization PAX reveals a range of problems in certain areas.

Jul 12

Justice Corrupted

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Scattered throughout the ranks of US federal prosecutors and judges there have always been men and women who are unwilling to make a distinction between their own biases and the rules of evidence that are designed to keep the system focused on the goal of justice. Such closed-minded individuals, embedded in the system, can find themselves set free to act out their prejudices by special circumstances. One might think back to the "hanging judges" who appeared here and there on the American frontier in the 19th century. Being among the few enforcers of law and order in an otherwise anarchic environment, they indulged their fantasies of playing the wrathful god.

The "War on Terror" has likewise created a special circumstance that has liberated Justice Department dogmatists: Islamophobes, Zionists, neoconservatives and others who fancy themselves on a special mission to protect the nation from evil and conspiratorial forces. And, as with the hanging judges before them, the result has been an enhanced possibility not of justice, but rather of the miscarriage of justice.

Jul 11

4,000 March in New York City for Palestine

By Palina Prasasouk, SpeakOut | Report

New York -- On Wednesday, July 9, 2014 New York City was one of many cities who held emergency protests in support of Palestine. Two rallies were coordinated: the first, "A Rally Against US funding of Israeli Terror" began outside the Israeli consulate in the city's east side. Merging the rallies together, approximately 4,000 people marched to the News Corporation head quarters in the second rally, "For Accurate Media Coverage." News Corp is home to Rupert Murdoch's NY Post, FOX News, and Wall Street Journal.

Mainstream media was widely absent in a rally calling for media transparency. CBS local news was present and drummed up a West Side Story styled duel, reporting pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters both calling for a truce. CBS reporter Jessica Schneider fails to take notice of the size of pro-Israel protesters, 200 people at most, which quickly dispersed. It is unclear whether or not counter-protesters were calling for an end to all conflicts. What appeared to be a young man dressed as a rabbi was seen on the side of the Israel protesters shouting racial slurs. It was apparent that the protest was largely a rally against the settlement of Palestine and murder of its people.

As Iraq stands on the verge of a complete breakdown into mini sectarian states, former leading neoconservative and Iraq war advocate Richard Perle made a sudden appearance on Newsmax TV. His statements in the interview were yet another testament to the intellectual degeneration of a group that had once promised a 'new Middle East', only to destabilize the region with violent consequences that continue to reverberate until this day.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which didn't exist at the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, has seized large swathes of Syria and, along with a brewing Sunni rebellion, stands in control of large chunks of western, northern and central Iraq.

Since Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's visit to Burma and to see the Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the Fall of 2011, the international media with a very few exceptions has taken the line that there is real change in Burma.

Beginning in 2009, the group called the Friends of Burma, the US Government and the major non-profits active in Burma have apparently taken the view that they can tango with the entrenched Burmese junta and win.  At times it seems almost as if buttering on the praise liberally will make a regime which has had more than fifty years since 1962 to fine tune its strategies and tactics, really change to a functioning democracy.