Tuesday, 25 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.

Nov 07

Deconstructing Elizabeth Warren

By Paul Brown, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Elizabeth Warren, with her crusade to reform finance, is the darling of many, and there is a movement for her to run for President. But she's another imperialist hawk in the tradition of Bush II, Obama, and Hillary Clinton. Consider the foreign policy statement in her 2012 campaign for Senate:

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for 'Smart Power' - the use of defense, diplomacy, development, and other tools to advance US interests in the world. As a Senator, I will pursue a foreign policy that is smart, tough, and pragmatic." Her Hillary is a super-hawk, deeply committed to fear- and war-waging, and a war criminal

TV ad spending in state Supreme Court elections by outside groups, political parties, and candidates has surged to more than $13.8 million since January, surpassing the $12.2 million spent on TV advertising in the 2010 midterm elections, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake of estimates provided by Kantar Media/CMAG.

The 2014 judicial elections delivered a new round of special interest money, attack ads, and partisan politics into America’s courtrooms, shattering several state records and increasing political pressure on state justices. For the first time, a powerful national political group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, systematically invested in Supreme Court and lower court contests across the country — an effort that was unsuccessful in almost all its targeted states, including North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, and Montana. 

DPA: Election Solidifies Drug Policy Reform as Mainstream Political Issue, Boosts Efforts to Legalize Marijuana in California and Elsewhere in 2016

Voters across the country have accelerated the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider drug war, with marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon and Washington, D.C., while groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passed in California and New Jersey.

Washington DC - Elliot Management Corporation told investors it will pursue sanctions against Argentina for refusing to comply with a US court order to pay the hold-out hedge fund. The announcement was made in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News and says the fund would continue to search for Argentine assets globally.

"The case shows real challenges in the US court system's ability to resolve debt disputes and enforce court orders," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt relief organization Jubilee USA. "The case motivated investors, banks and governments to prevent predatory and hold-out behavior by inserting protection clauses in contracts. The case moved a vote at the United Nations to create a new debt resolution process."

For decades, Afro-descendant communities in Colombia have fought for autonomy and self-determination as a response to government policies that produce multiple forms of violence in their communities. Fully aware of, and in solidarity with, mobilizations in Ferguson, Afro-Colombians recognize the common dreams of movements for racial justice for people of color people across the hemisphere. Two members of a delegation that visited these communities in August 2014 reflect on their own solidarity process and explore the ways that transnational solidarity manifests (or doesn't) in movements. How can we move beyond allyship and towards a practice of co-struggling?

One week after Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, nine US-based activists and artists of color and one white woman traveled to meet racial justice movement leaders in Colombia. Our delegation was led by Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN, Black Community Process), a collective of African-descendant Colombian groups focused on cultural and political power for Colombia's black population. The history of dispossession is a long one for African descendants in Colombia and across the diaspora i.e. European colonial conquests, subsequent violent and dehumanizing economies of enslavement, the state's denial of social services and reparations. With the energy of the #BlacksLivesMatter mobilizations flowing through our hearts and minds, we began our weeklong human rights delegation throughout the Southwest Valle de Cauca region of Colombia.

The Redacted team shows you ways to die that should scare you more than Ebola, cracks the corporate manipulation code, Boston-crèmes its pants for Dunkin’ Donuts and gets creative with the whitewashing of Vietnam. 

Seventy years ago, this year, Jean Paul Sartre began writing Anti-Semite and Jew; a post war reflection on the plague of anti-Semitism and its effects on European society. The work is brilliant, unique and most likely could not have been written today. Sartre wrote on behalf of Jews; but more importantly, he demonstrated why anti-Semitism was a problem for Europeans generally, not just Jews. With anti-Muslim rhetoric well within the mainstream of American society, it is useful for us to look back to Sartre's work for insight into the causes of racism.

Anti-Semite and Jew is audaciously organized around four almost dramatic figures: The Anti-Semite, the Democrat, the Jew and the "inauthentic" Jew. Anti-Semitism is not merely an idea, according to Sartre, "it is first of all a passion." The anti-Semite measures all things against the Jew that he has imagined. The Jew is crass, rancorous, duplicitous yet brilliant – in that dangerous sort of way. The anti-Semite is the opposite: civilized, amicable, sincere yet mediocre in intellect – in that innocuous sort of way (more on that later). But this Jew is a figment of the anti-Semite's imagination; a creation that reflects everything the anti-Semite imagines he is not, thus becoming his very reason for being. Sartre states, "if the Jew did not exist, the anti-Semite would have to invent him."

November 2, 2014 was the first annual International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

To mark the date, the President just issued this statement.

History shows that a free press remains a critical foundation for prosperous, open, and secure societies, allowing citizens to access information and hold their governments accountable. Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reiterates the fundamental principle that every person has the right “to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Each and every day, brave journalists make extraordinary risks to bring us stories we otherwise would not hear – exposing corruption, asking tough questions, or bearing witness to the dignity of innocent men, women and children suffering the horrors of war. In this service to humanity, hundreds of journalists have been killed in the past decade alone, while countless more have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, and tortured. In the overwhelming majority of these cases, the perpetrators of these crimes against journalists go unpunished.

To possess a right to a promised deferred compensation, such as a pension, is to assert a legitimate claim with all state legislators to protect that right. There are no rights without obligations. They are mutually dependent. Fulfilling a contract is a legal and moral obligation justified by trust among elected officials and their constituents. 

According to philosopher David Hume, the idea of keeping a promise depends upon creating rules of justice; that rules of contracts, for instance, have to be considered morally desirable as well. In other words, a "contract" or promise between the state and its public employees must be viewed as a moral commitment and requirement of justice. Justice demands we keep our "covenants" with one another. In regard to public pensions, keeping an agreement means a concern to promote the well-being of public employees and the need to secure their rights. 

Nov 05

An Open Letter to My Fellow Americans

By Musa al-Gharbi, SpeakOut | Open Letter

Many people were rightfully outraged by the caricature of my recent Truthout article, as presented first in The Washington Free Beacon, and then in Fox News. Both of these interpretations selected the most provocative lines from the column and presented them out of context, spliced with inaccurate summaries of my position—for instance, claiming that I view most US soldiers as “anti-Muslim rapists.” If I actually believed or argued what these pundits were claiming, people would have every right to be up-in-arms. But these allegations are utterly false. Please allow me to set the record straight by highlighting the inaccuracies of this coverage and clarifying what I actually argued in the column:

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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.

Nov 07

Deconstructing Elizabeth Warren

By Paul Brown, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Elizabeth Warren, with her crusade to reform finance, is the darling of many, and there is a movement for her to run for President. But she's another imperialist hawk in the tradition of Bush II, Obama, and Hillary Clinton. Consider the foreign policy statement in her 2012 campaign for Senate:

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for 'Smart Power' - the use of defense, diplomacy, development, and other tools to advance US interests in the world. As a Senator, I will pursue a foreign policy that is smart, tough, and pragmatic." Her Hillary is a super-hawk, deeply committed to fear- and war-waging, and a war criminal

TV ad spending in state Supreme Court elections by outside groups, political parties, and candidates has surged to more than $13.8 million since January, surpassing the $12.2 million spent on TV advertising in the 2010 midterm elections, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake of estimates provided by Kantar Media/CMAG.

The 2014 judicial elections delivered a new round of special interest money, attack ads, and partisan politics into America’s courtrooms, shattering several state records and increasing political pressure on state justices. For the first time, a powerful national political group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, systematically invested in Supreme Court and lower court contests across the country — an effort that was unsuccessful in almost all its targeted states, including North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, and Montana. 

DPA: Election Solidifies Drug Policy Reform as Mainstream Political Issue, Boosts Efforts to Legalize Marijuana in California and Elsewhere in 2016

Voters across the country have accelerated the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider drug war, with marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon and Washington, D.C., while groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passed in California and New Jersey.

Washington DC - Elliot Management Corporation told investors it will pursue sanctions against Argentina for refusing to comply with a US court order to pay the hold-out hedge fund. The announcement was made in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News and says the fund would continue to search for Argentine assets globally.

"The case shows real challenges in the US court system's ability to resolve debt disputes and enforce court orders," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt relief organization Jubilee USA. "The case motivated investors, banks and governments to prevent predatory and hold-out behavior by inserting protection clauses in contracts. The case moved a vote at the United Nations to create a new debt resolution process."

For decades, Afro-descendant communities in Colombia have fought for autonomy and self-determination as a response to government policies that produce multiple forms of violence in their communities. Fully aware of, and in solidarity with, mobilizations in Ferguson, Afro-Colombians recognize the common dreams of movements for racial justice for people of color people across the hemisphere. Two members of a delegation that visited these communities in August 2014 reflect on their own solidarity process and explore the ways that transnational solidarity manifests (or doesn't) in movements. How can we move beyond allyship and towards a practice of co-struggling?

One week after Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, nine US-based activists and artists of color and one white woman traveled to meet racial justice movement leaders in Colombia. Our delegation was led by Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN, Black Community Process), a collective of African-descendant Colombian groups focused on cultural and political power for Colombia's black population. The history of dispossession is a long one for African descendants in Colombia and across the diaspora i.e. European colonial conquests, subsequent violent and dehumanizing economies of enslavement, the state's denial of social services and reparations. With the energy of the #BlacksLivesMatter mobilizations flowing through our hearts and minds, we began our weeklong human rights delegation throughout the Southwest Valle de Cauca region of Colombia.

The Redacted team shows you ways to die that should scare you more than Ebola, cracks the corporate manipulation code, Boston-crèmes its pants for Dunkin’ Donuts and gets creative with the whitewashing of Vietnam. 

Seventy years ago, this year, Jean Paul Sartre began writing Anti-Semite and Jew; a post war reflection on the plague of anti-Semitism and its effects on European society. The work is brilliant, unique and most likely could not have been written today. Sartre wrote on behalf of Jews; but more importantly, he demonstrated why anti-Semitism was a problem for Europeans generally, not just Jews. With anti-Muslim rhetoric well within the mainstream of American society, it is useful for us to look back to Sartre's work for insight into the causes of racism.

Anti-Semite and Jew is audaciously organized around four almost dramatic figures: The Anti-Semite, the Democrat, the Jew and the "inauthentic" Jew. Anti-Semitism is not merely an idea, according to Sartre, "it is first of all a passion." The anti-Semite measures all things against the Jew that he has imagined. The Jew is crass, rancorous, duplicitous yet brilliant – in that dangerous sort of way. The anti-Semite is the opposite: civilized, amicable, sincere yet mediocre in intellect – in that innocuous sort of way (more on that later). But this Jew is a figment of the anti-Semite's imagination; a creation that reflects everything the anti-Semite imagines he is not, thus becoming his very reason for being. Sartre states, "if the Jew did not exist, the anti-Semite would have to invent him."

November 2, 2014 was the first annual International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

To mark the date, the President just issued this statement.

History shows that a free press remains a critical foundation for prosperous, open, and secure societies, allowing citizens to access information and hold their governments accountable. Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reiterates the fundamental principle that every person has the right “to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Each and every day, brave journalists make extraordinary risks to bring us stories we otherwise would not hear – exposing corruption, asking tough questions, or bearing witness to the dignity of innocent men, women and children suffering the horrors of war. In this service to humanity, hundreds of journalists have been killed in the past decade alone, while countless more have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, and tortured. In the overwhelming majority of these cases, the perpetrators of these crimes against journalists go unpunished.

To possess a right to a promised deferred compensation, such as a pension, is to assert a legitimate claim with all state legislators to protect that right. There are no rights without obligations. They are mutually dependent. Fulfilling a contract is a legal and moral obligation justified by trust among elected officials and their constituents. 

According to philosopher David Hume, the idea of keeping a promise depends upon creating rules of justice; that rules of contracts, for instance, have to be considered morally desirable as well. In other words, a "contract" or promise between the state and its public employees must be viewed as a moral commitment and requirement of justice. Justice demands we keep our "covenants" with one another. In regard to public pensions, keeping an agreement means a concern to promote the well-being of public employees and the need to secure their rights. 

Nov 05

An Open Letter to My Fellow Americans

By Musa al-Gharbi, SpeakOut | Open Letter

Many people were rightfully outraged by the caricature of my recent Truthout article, as presented first in The Washington Free Beacon, and then in Fox News. Both of these interpretations selected the most provocative lines from the column and presented them out of context, spliced with inaccurate summaries of my position—for instance, claiming that I view most US soldiers as “anti-Muslim rapists.” If I actually believed or argued what these pundits were claiming, people would have every right to be up-in-arms. But these allegations are utterly false. Please allow me to set the record straight by highlighting the inaccuracies of this coverage and clarifying what I actually argued in the column: