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.

An Institute for Policy Studies report released today puts a price tag on how much taxpayers are subsidizing exorbitant executive pay at the nation’s top restaurant chains.

The report focuses on the loophole that allows corporations to deduct unlimited amounts from their income taxes for the cost of executive compensation—as long as the pay is in the form of stock options and other so-called “performance pay.” This loophole serves as a massive subsidy for excessive executive compensation.

Restaurant Industry Pay: Taxpayers' Double Burden calculates the cost of CEO pay subsidies at the 20 largest corporate members of the National Restaurant Association, a leading opponent of efforts to raise the minimum wage. The NRA is organizing a major lobby drive in Washington on April 29-30.

Hon. Secretary of State John Kerry:

Uganda's foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa could become President of the United Nations General Assembly  in June unless the world comes to its senses.

As President, Mr. Kutesa would preside over important meetings including the General Assembly, when you and President Obama attend in the Fall.

As you are aware his boss and partner Gen. Yoweri Museveni has now presided over a repressive and brutal dictatorship in Uganda for 28 years.

An Open Letter:
Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick said in a radio interview on April 15, 2014: "I respect the authority of the Supreme Court to make those decisions" that have corrupted politics, like McCutcheon. I write the Governor to clarify his position, and to express opposition to this statement.
To "respect" authority in the abuse of its power is to align oneself with and further enable that same abuse. Experience shows that resisting rather than respecting such abuse, especially in the case of the U.S. Supreme Court, has the effect of curbing it.

Converting a democracy into a plutocracy is a crime of constitutional dimensions. If the Governor does sincerely believe that the Roberts Court legitimately has the power to amend the Constitution for this purpose, I would like him to point out precisely where in the Constitution that power is given to five unelected judges? Article V seems to have a different, much more difficult, process in mind than the vote of a single Supreme Court justice in a 5-4 decision. The constitutional process involves an intentionally – and for any such major political change all but impossibly – difficult 2/3 vote of each house of Congress. Then three-fourths of the state legislatures must ratify Congress' proposal. The elected representatives of those bodies, through their legislative acts, give not the remotest sign of agreeing with the Roberts 5 about the constitutional validity of allowing big money into politics.

Five judges' radical amendment of the Constitution by their series of seven decisions to which the Governor gives his "respect" flouts the established process for making such an enormous constitutional change.

In what the New York Times describes as "a net neutrality turnaround" the Obama administration's new FCC chairman is proposing rules that will create an Internet for the wealthy. The new plan to create a pay to play Internet came to light Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.

Under the plan wealthy corporations will be able to purchase faster service, while those that cannot do so will have slower service. Rather than an open Internet for all the US will be moving to a class-based Internet. Of course, this will mean that when Netflix and other corporations purchase faster Internet, the consumers who use their service will be paying more to watch movies and download information. As a result, more money will be funneled from working Americans to wealthy telecom giants.

SANTA FE—Yesterday, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program's Medical Advisory Board voted unanimously to add neurodegenerative dementia including Alzheimer's disease (AD) to the list of medical conditions eligible for the Medical Cannabis Program. The Secretary of Health will have the final decision. Medical cannabis is currently available to Alzheimer's patients in thirteen of the states that authorize its use.

The Drug Policy Alliance filed the petition on behalf of all New Mexicans who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Although Alzheimer's disease was specifically petitioned for, the board chose to expand their recommendation to include all types of neurodegenerative dementia.

Inexplicably, some still argue that there's no scientific consensus on anthropogenic – i.e., man-made - climate disruption (ACD). Perhaps it's necessary to first define consensus.

Merriam-Webster defines consensus as "a general agreement" or "the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned." Clearly, consensus does not mean unanimity. Nor is it normally understood to denote a simple (50% plus 1) majority. So, at what point does an opinion become "consensual"? At 75% of those qualified to speak on a particular matter? At 80%?

San Francisco, CA - The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) today filed an unprecedented lawsuit in the U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco to hold the United States government accountable for its flagrant violations of the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The small island nation, once used as a testing ground for nuclear bombs, says the United States has repeatedly broken its promise to pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons. Article VI of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires the U.S. to pursue negotiations "in good faith" for an end to the nuclear arms race "at an early date" and for nuclear disarmament.

The New York Times this morning has an interesting article on this year's West Point graduates. With the end of the war in Iraq (at least for us) and the winding down of the Afghan conflict (again, at least for us), West Point graduates face the prospect of not being immediately deployed to a shooting war. The article paints this as grim times, at least for the graduates, many of whom are seeking opportunities in the Special Forces for a better chance at earning "coveted" combat badges and patches.

And this is precisely the problem with a professional military that is self-defined as "warriors." Its members desire war: a chance, so they think, to test themselves in the crucible of combat. They want to be where the action is, even if that action is ill-advised or even illegal under international law.

When Jonathan Schell, the most cogent moral philosopher of the nuclear age, died of cancer last month, it left a rift in the moral fabric of our small planet, a hole similar in size to those left by the three Alberts—Camus, Einstein and Bigelow. Never heard of Bert Bigelow? He was the Harvard grad who in 1958 twice tried to sail his ketch, the Golden Rule, into the waters of the South Pacific where nuclear weapons were being tested—and found time as well to be beaten up by racist thugs alongside Congressman John Lewis while protesting for civil rights.

Compared to giants like Schell, Bert Bigelow, or General Lee Butler, a former head of the Strategic Air Command who now advocates for nuclear abolition, the people who presume to military, political and industrial leadership here and abroad sometimes seem, from top to bottom, like a bunch of corrupt, deluded, hypocritical flunkies.

Apr 25

Forest Defense Sing Along With the Humboldt Board of Supervisors

By Redwood Forest Defense, SpeakOut | Press Release

Redwood Forest Defense, a grassroots non-violent direct action group committed to protecting the forest and best known for the tree-sits outside of Trinidad, came to today's Humboldt Board of Supervisors meeting in mass to demand, in song, that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors increase the riparian zone protections under the general plan as well as urge the timber companies that are operating in Humboldt County to cease their clear-cutting, deforestation activities.

A member of RFD opened with a statement directed to the Board regarding their position of authority to make positive change.(see below) Following the statement multiple ukuleles, a flute, and a harmonica wailed as twelve community members sang to Humboldt County to bring an end to Green Diamond Resource Company's destructive and short sighted forestry practices. Even Supervisor Rex Bohn added to the atmosphere by beat-boxing with the music on his microphone.