Thursday, 02 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.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.

Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research intomarijuana's medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.

“Rescheduling would be a modest step in the right direction, but would do nothing to stop marijuana arrests or prohibition-related violence,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Now that the majority of the American public supports taxing and regulating marijuana, this debate about re-scheduling is a bit antiquated and not a real solution to the failures of marijuana prohibition.”

Apr 07

Any Courtroom in China

By John LaForge, Truthout | Op-Ed

Any courtroom in China or Iran could have been the scene: An 84-year-old Catholic nun in prison garb, chained hand-and-foot and surrounded by heavy Marshals, is shuffled jangling into court. Her attorney asks if she might be allowed one free hand in order to take notes. The nun has been convicted of high crimes trumped up after her bold political protest embarrassed the state. A high-ranking judge lectures her about law and order and then imposes a three-year prison term.

Like a Mullah thundering against an Infidel, the judge absurdly orders the penniless convict, who has lived her entire adult life within a vow of poverty, to pay $53,000 in restitution — what the government said was cost to fix four cuts in wire fences and repaint a wall.

Apr 07

Mr. Rosenberg's Conundrum - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

Michael Jay Rosenberg is a well-known, sharp-minded critic of the Israeli government. But he is also a “liberal Zionist” who believes in the legitimacy and necessity of a Jewish state. This point of view has led him to attack the BDS (Boycott Israel) movement in a recent piece, “The Goal of BDS is Dismantling Israel”. In the process he seriously underestimates the movement’s scope and potential in an effort to convince himself and others that BDS has no chance of actually achieving the goal he ascribes to it. However, the only evidence he cites of the movement’s weakness is the recent failure of the University of Michigan’s student government to pass a divestment resolution. At the same time he fails to mention an almost simultaneous decision by Chicago’s Loyola University student government to seek divestment. Rosenberg also makes no reference to BDS’s steady and impressive efforts in Europe.

For a country with a historical memory as short as ours, the mall might seem like it has been a permanent fixture in American life. In the churn'em and burn'em world of corporate consumer culture though, everything has a shelf life. And these cavernous and tacky monuments to conspicuous consumption that we call shopping malls have reached theirs. The mall occupied a central place in America for nearly fifty years: It provided an outlet for socializing for generations of bored teenagers; the mall served as a place of bonding for overworked adults and their children on weekend trips; and perhaps most of all, for a time, it served as an insufficient replacement for the vacuum suburbanization created in the communal life of so many areas of the country.

Shopping malls will, of course, not entirely exit stage left; they remain popular among the moneyed classes. However, they are slowly fading away from the middle class areas of the country, as is American consumer culture, as we once knew it. The mall will be both maligned and recalled fondly by those of us who grew up with it, but it will not be replaced by another equally potent symbol of consumerism.

Apr 07

FDA Approves Innovative New Device to Reverse Opiate Overdose

By Drug Policy Alliance, Truthout | Press Release

The Drug Policy Alliance praised the FDA for continuing to address the opiate overdose problem in the U.S. “We applaud the FDA making naloxone more available among people in a position to prevent opiate deaths and save lives,” said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “While any new technology that makes using naloxone more user-friendly is a welcome development, intramusucular and intranasal forms of naloxone continue to remain available and affordable. We encourage people to acquire whichever form of naloxone is most convenient and affordable for them. And we encourage the manufacturers to ensure the affordability of this life-saving product,” added Ralston.

On March 3, 2014, the House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, released a report on what it considered the results of the "War on Poverty," a set of policies begun by President Lyndon B. Johnson after massive social pressure. The problem with this report, "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later," at least from my perspective, is not its apparent misuse of statistics or its sensationalizing of trivial matters. After all, statistics are misused regularly, as numbers are ripe for manipulation when removed from their specific context. And, sensationalizing everything, from who stole a child's candy to which politician banged what lover in the bathroom, is par for the course in a country where the mass of the population is marginalized from participation in the decision-making process. This all seemed to me to be the norm for partisan reports of this kind, attacking programs that are quite popular according to polling data.

Rather, what I found grotesquely appalling was the a-historical presentation of the report. It was as if decades of policy and decisions had never been made, except when considered useful to their talking points by those preparing the report. Labor, as well, was absent from the report, except in the most superficial way. Taken together, it was as if political economy had been reduced to zero. All of these absences make the report a mockery of much of the hard academic labor put into the studies brutalized to make the report's ridiculous claims. In this, a qualitative corrective is needed with history as my weapon. Foolishly I enter this endeavor, understanding well what Hegel wrote, "that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." Alas, I hope they learn now - the people that is.

Apr 05

Transformation of US Semiconductor Industry

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Globalization led to the transformation of the entire US Semiconductor Industry from a few Independent Device Manufacturers (IDMs) to several fabless small businesses leading to new innovations in the Microelectronics business.

Deceptive "Free Trade" agreements have resulted in not just a transfer of manufacturing technology to China, but also in increased threats of counterfeit electronics entering into the US supply chain. This article explains how US National security may be impacted by the transfer of semiconductor manufacturing technology.

Following in the footsteps of the Employment Policies Institute, Tom Keane disregards my support for raising the minimum wage because I am a Marxist economist, associating me with the worst abuses of Soviet-style communism ("Red flags, not red-baiting, on wage petition," Op-ed, March 16). This is uninformed and unfair.

I call myself a Marxist-feminist-anti-racist-ecological economist to make my standpoint clear. I advocate grass-roots, peaceful change toward a market-based economy where everyone's needs are filled in a fair, sustainable, and democratic fashion. I advocate guaranteeing the basic human right to a job at a living wage. In my research and teaching, I practice thinking outside of the box of capitalism — in particular, supporting the emerging solidarity economy: economic practices and institutions based on cooperation and sharing, social responsibility, sustainability, and economic democracy, rather than on narrow materialistic self-interest, the profit motive, and the rule of the wealthy.

Apr 05

Economists Hit Back in the Minimum-Wage Wars

By Paul Zarembka and Julie Matthaei, The New York Times | Letter to the Editor

Last month, The New York Times published an article about the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit that has been aggressively campaigning against increasing the minimum wage.

Funded by the restaurant industry, a conservative foundation and unnamed others, the group has taken out full-page ads warning the public that increasing the minimum wage would worsen unemployment and poverty.

Beginning in primary school, American students learn about the inclusive nature of democracy, which promises that regardless of sex, creed, or religion, any United States citizen can become President. But how true is this teaching? Let us concede for the moment that an individual meets all the legal requirements to seek the nation's top office. What are the other factors that allow citizens to attain the presidency?

Utilizing the 18 presidents elected during the 20th and 21st centuries as guidelines, each one shared common characteristics in the areas of gender, education, college affiliation, political party, and government service. So, could the average American realistically become President of the United States? Here are five reasons that you will never sit in the Oval Office's big chair:

GET DAILY TRUTHOUT UPDATES

FOLLOW togtorsstottofb


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.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.

Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research intomarijuana's medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.

“Rescheduling would be a modest step in the right direction, but would do nothing to stop marijuana arrests or prohibition-related violence,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Now that the majority of the American public supports taxing and regulating marijuana, this debate about re-scheduling is a bit antiquated and not a real solution to the failures of marijuana prohibition.”

Apr 07

Any Courtroom in China

By John LaForge, Truthout | Op-Ed

Any courtroom in China or Iran could have been the scene: An 84-year-old Catholic nun in prison garb, chained hand-and-foot and surrounded by heavy Marshals, is shuffled jangling into court. Her attorney asks if she might be allowed one free hand in order to take notes. The nun has been convicted of high crimes trumped up after her bold political protest embarrassed the state. A high-ranking judge lectures her about law and order and then imposes a three-year prison term.

Like a Mullah thundering against an Infidel, the judge absurdly orders the penniless convict, who has lived her entire adult life within a vow of poverty, to pay $53,000 in restitution — what the government said was cost to fix four cuts in wire fences and repaint a wall.

Apr 07

Mr. Rosenberg's Conundrum - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

Michael Jay Rosenberg is a well-known, sharp-minded critic of the Israeli government. But he is also a “liberal Zionist” who believes in the legitimacy and necessity of a Jewish state. This point of view has led him to attack the BDS (Boycott Israel) movement in a recent piece, “The Goal of BDS is Dismantling Israel”. In the process he seriously underestimates the movement’s scope and potential in an effort to convince himself and others that BDS has no chance of actually achieving the goal he ascribes to it. However, the only evidence he cites of the movement’s weakness is the recent failure of the University of Michigan’s student government to pass a divestment resolution. At the same time he fails to mention an almost simultaneous decision by Chicago’s Loyola University student government to seek divestment. Rosenberg also makes no reference to BDS’s steady and impressive efforts in Europe.

For a country with a historical memory as short as ours, the mall might seem like it has been a permanent fixture in American life. In the churn'em and burn'em world of corporate consumer culture though, everything has a shelf life. And these cavernous and tacky monuments to conspicuous consumption that we call shopping malls have reached theirs. The mall occupied a central place in America for nearly fifty years: It provided an outlet for socializing for generations of bored teenagers; the mall served as a place of bonding for overworked adults and their children on weekend trips; and perhaps most of all, for a time, it served as an insufficient replacement for the vacuum suburbanization created in the communal life of so many areas of the country.

Shopping malls will, of course, not entirely exit stage left; they remain popular among the moneyed classes. However, they are slowly fading away from the middle class areas of the country, as is American consumer culture, as we once knew it. The mall will be both maligned and recalled fondly by those of us who grew up with it, but it will not be replaced by another equally potent symbol of consumerism.

Apr 07

FDA Approves Innovative New Device to Reverse Opiate Overdose

By Drug Policy Alliance, Truthout | Press Release

The Drug Policy Alliance praised the FDA for continuing to address the opiate overdose problem in the U.S. “We applaud the FDA making naloxone more available among people in a position to prevent opiate deaths and save lives,” said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “While any new technology that makes using naloxone more user-friendly is a welcome development, intramusucular and intranasal forms of naloxone continue to remain available and affordable. We encourage people to acquire whichever form of naloxone is most convenient and affordable for them. And we encourage the manufacturers to ensure the affordability of this life-saving product,” added Ralston.

On March 3, 2014, the House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, released a report on what it considered the results of the "War on Poverty," a set of policies begun by President Lyndon B. Johnson after massive social pressure. The problem with this report, "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later," at least from my perspective, is not its apparent misuse of statistics or its sensationalizing of trivial matters. After all, statistics are misused regularly, as numbers are ripe for manipulation when removed from their specific context. And, sensationalizing everything, from who stole a child's candy to which politician banged what lover in the bathroom, is par for the course in a country where the mass of the population is marginalized from participation in the decision-making process. This all seemed to me to be the norm for partisan reports of this kind, attacking programs that are quite popular according to polling data.

Rather, what I found grotesquely appalling was the a-historical presentation of the report. It was as if decades of policy and decisions had never been made, except when considered useful to their talking points by those preparing the report. Labor, as well, was absent from the report, except in the most superficial way. Taken together, it was as if political economy had been reduced to zero. All of these absences make the report a mockery of much of the hard academic labor put into the studies brutalized to make the report's ridiculous claims. In this, a qualitative corrective is needed with history as my weapon. Foolishly I enter this endeavor, understanding well what Hegel wrote, "that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." Alas, I hope they learn now - the people that is.

Apr 05

Transformation of US Semiconductor Industry

By Apek Mulay, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Globalization led to the transformation of the entire US Semiconductor Industry from a few Independent Device Manufacturers (IDMs) to several fabless small businesses leading to new innovations in the Microelectronics business.

Deceptive "Free Trade" agreements have resulted in not just a transfer of manufacturing technology to China, but also in increased threats of counterfeit electronics entering into the US supply chain. This article explains how US National security may be impacted by the transfer of semiconductor manufacturing technology.

Following in the footsteps of the Employment Policies Institute, Tom Keane disregards my support for raising the minimum wage because I am a Marxist economist, associating me with the worst abuses of Soviet-style communism ("Red flags, not red-baiting, on wage petition," Op-ed, March 16). This is uninformed and unfair.

I call myself a Marxist-feminist-anti-racist-ecological economist to make my standpoint clear. I advocate grass-roots, peaceful change toward a market-based economy where everyone's needs are filled in a fair, sustainable, and democratic fashion. I advocate guaranteeing the basic human right to a job at a living wage. In my research and teaching, I practice thinking outside of the box of capitalism — in particular, supporting the emerging solidarity economy: economic practices and institutions based on cooperation and sharing, social responsibility, sustainability, and economic democracy, rather than on narrow materialistic self-interest, the profit motive, and the rule of the wealthy.

Apr 05

Economists Hit Back in the Minimum-Wage Wars

By Paul Zarembka and Julie Matthaei, The New York Times | Letter to the Editor

Last month, The New York Times published an article about the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit that has been aggressively campaigning against increasing the minimum wage.

Funded by the restaurant industry, a conservative foundation and unnamed others, the group has taken out full-page ads warning the public that increasing the minimum wage would worsen unemployment and poverty.

Beginning in primary school, American students learn about the inclusive nature of democracy, which promises that regardless of sex, creed, or religion, any United States citizen can become President. But how true is this teaching? Let us concede for the moment that an individual meets all the legal requirements to seek the nation's top office. What are the other factors that allow citizens to attain the presidency?

Utilizing the 18 presidents elected during the 20th and 21st centuries as guidelines, each one shared common characteristics in the areas of gender, education, college affiliation, political party, and government service. So, could the average American realistically become President of the United States? Here are five reasons that you will never sit in the Oval Office's big chair: