Saturday, 20 December 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.

May 28

Germany's 74% Myth Busting Renewable Energy Record

By Tony Pereira, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Sunday May 18, 2014 marked an historic day in the all-time energy hallmarks of the world. Germany had 74% of its electrical power, just about ¾, of all its peak power demand at midday generated from renewable sources - solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, wind energy and biomass - with the remaining ¼ coming from dirty fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) gases emittin genergy generation such as coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. 

On Monday, November 17, 2008, I had the great honor and pleasure to host the late Dr. Hermann Scheer at the newly opened first LEED-certified auditorium at the Institute for the Environment at UCLA, then having Dr. Mary Nichols as its Director, now currently serving as the chair of the California Air Resources Board, for a free and open to the public lecture titled "Energy Autonomy" that I had organized earlier in collaboration with the 100% Renewables Policy Institute, while working towards my doctorate in engineering at UCLA.

An international consortium of medical cannabis organisations are demanding that humans, regardless of state or allegiance and without qualification, be able to use cannabis therapeutically.  In a joint declaration, the organisations from Europe and North America refer to Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.  The declaration is the beginning of a worldwidecampaign on the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The declaration was published in six languages on a dedicated Web site (www.medical-cannabis-declaration.org), and it states: “Every medical doctor has the rightto treat his or her patients with cannabinoids and cannabis products according to the rules of good medical care” and “every patient has the right to access cannabis and cannabinoids for medical treatment supervised by a medical doctor, regardless of social status, standard of living or financial means.”

Legal charity Reprieve has threatened legal action against the British government over its failure to investigate the role of UK telecoms giant BT in facilitating covert US drone strikes in Yemen.

BT has earned an estimated $23m from a US government contract to supply key communications infrastructure between RAF Croughton – a US military base in Northamptonshire – and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the secret base from which armed drones reportedly carry out lethal strikes in Yemen. According to the US military, American forces stationed at RAF Croughton provide “global strike operations.”

Legal investigations have begun on behalf of Mohammed al-Qawli, a Yemeni civil servant who lost his brother, a primary school teacher, and cousin, a 20-year-old student, in a drone strike in January 2013. They follow a July 2013 complaint by Reprieve to the UK government watchdog, the National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) Guidelines. That complaint was rejected after the NCP said it had no duty to “conduct research or interrogate” BT.

It was inspiring and informative attending the rally with Angela Davis and the celebration of the lifelong political work of Charlene Mitchell, the founder of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR). The rally and award ceremony honoring Davis and Mitchell capped a two-day National Forum on Police Crimes at the University of Chicago.

The National Forum held workshops highlighting police crimes against undocumented and other immigrant workers, the labor movement and all workers, the LGBTQ community, women, peace, and solidarity activists, and people of color.

Central themes reflected in the workshops and the rally included the current condition of police misconduct in the United States, an analysis of the fundamental role of the police and incarceration in the United States, the interconnectedness of forms of repression and the struggles against them, and the twin roles of repression and ideology as the glues holding together a global political economy in crisis. Last, the celebration of the 41 years of the NAARPR illustrated the possibilities of struggle and victory.

May 27

The Three Laws of Pentagon Robotics

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

The three laws of robotics, according to science fiction author Isaac Asimov, are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

I would gladly have accepted a $20 million Pentagon contract for the job of pointing out these three laws.

OK, maybe $25 million.

Sadly, the Pentagon has instead hired a bunch of philosophy professors from leading U.S. universities to tell them how to make robots murder people morally and ethically.

Brussels, Cologne, Madrid - According to a leaked position paper and statements by trade officials, current proposals being floated as part of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations would grant foreign governments and corporations an increased opportunity to influence public protections in both the European Union and the United States. This would include standards related to food safety, toxic chemicals, occupational health, and the protection of the environment.

In response, 178 environmental, health, labor, and consumer organizations are demanding detailed explanations from EU and U.S. trade negotiators about proposals to address differences in their laws. The coalition for an alternative trade policy, the Seattle to Brussels Network, LobbyControl, and Corporate Europe Observatory are among the groups that are calling on negotiators to answer questions about the potential of TTIP to weaken health, consumer, worker, and environmental protections and that are urging full transparency on regulatory issues in the TTIP negotiations.

Ruling on the case of Abu Wa'el Dhiab – a Syrian cleared for release in 2009, and one of several hunger-striking prisoners currently asking the DC District Court to order a halt to the practice – Judge Gladys Kessler urged the authorities to find a compromise that would spare him “the agony of having the feeding tubes inserted and removed for each feeding” and “the pain and discomfort of the restraint chair.”

Last night’s order follows a landmark ruling earlier this week, in which Judge Kessler ordered the government to disclose 43 tapes of Dhiab’s force-feeding and 'forcible cell extractions' (FCE), in which a team of armed guards storms a prisoner's cell to 'subdue' him. She had also issued an order stating that, until the hearing on Wednesday, Mr Dhiab was not to be subjected to FCE, nor force-fed.

May 26

Remembering on Memorial Day

By John LaForge, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"I am a pacifist. You, my fellow citizens ... are pacifists, too." ¾ Franklin D. Roosevelt, May 1940

Benjamin Franklin said, there never was a good war or a bad peace, but you'd never know it from Memorial Day in the United States.

The fact that the US government has lost every major war it initiated since World War Two ¾ Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq Again ¾ is not going to be reported by the news anchors. Instead someone with his finger on the button will invoke the glory of Good God by to bless the war dead. Even the grim oblivion of unknown soldiers lost will be presented by the president as somehow full of dignified solemnity, while their survivors look away through a veil of ambiguous loss and unassuaged grief forever.

This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 303-121 to pass a heavily revised version of the USA FREEDOM Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, was modified in the House Judiciary Committee to remove some of the civil liberties protections in the original bill, but it retained a prohibition on the bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The House Rules Committee then further modified the bill to reflect changes that the Obama administration and House leadership desired. The changes substantially weakened the bill's privacy protections and transparency provisions.

May 26

Verizon Retail Workers Win Union Vote - First to Do So

By Bianca Cunningham and Zelig Stern, Labor Notes | Report

Wireless is where Verizon makes most of its profits. But for decades, Verizon has kept a wall between union workers in its landline division and non-union workers in its wireless division. That's how the corporation has maintained lower compensation and worse working conditions for wireless workers.

My co-workers and I have just taken the first step to tear down that wall.

After withstanding six weeks of intense union-busting, on May 14, retail sales reps and customer service reps at Verizon Wireless's six Brooklyn retail stores voted 39 to 19 to join the our 40,000 landline brothers and sisters—and 80 wireless techs who joined in 1989—in the Communications Workers (CWA).

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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.

May 28

Germany's 74% Myth Busting Renewable Energy Record

By Tony Pereira, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Sunday May 18, 2014 marked an historic day in the all-time energy hallmarks of the world. Germany had 74% of its electrical power, just about ¾, of all its peak power demand at midday generated from renewable sources - solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, wind energy and biomass - with the remaining ¼ coming from dirty fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) gases emittin genergy generation such as coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. 

On Monday, November 17, 2008, I had the great honor and pleasure to host the late Dr. Hermann Scheer at the newly opened first LEED-certified auditorium at the Institute for the Environment at UCLA, then having Dr. Mary Nichols as its Director, now currently serving as the chair of the California Air Resources Board, for a free and open to the public lecture titled "Energy Autonomy" that I had organized earlier in collaboration with the 100% Renewables Policy Institute, while working towards my doctorate in engineering at UCLA.

An international consortium of medical cannabis organisations are demanding that humans, regardless of state or allegiance and without qualification, be able to use cannabis therapeutically.  In a joint declaration, the organisations from Europe and North America refer to Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.  The declaration is the beginning of a worldwidecampaign on the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The declaration was published in six languages on a dedicated Web site (www.medical-cannabis-declaration.org), and it states: “Every medical doctor has the rightto treat his or her patients with cannabinoids and cannabis products according to the rules of good medical care” and “every patient has the right to access cannabis and cannabinoids for medical treatment supervised by a medical doctor, regardless of social status, standard of living or financial means.”

Legal charity Reprieve has threatened legal action against the British government over its failure to investigate the role of UK telecoms giant BT in facilitating covert US drone strikes in Yemen.

BT has earned an estimated $23m from a US government contract to supply key communications infrastructure between RAF Croughton – a US military base in Northamptonshire – and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the secret base from which armed drones reportedly carry out lethal strikes in Yemen. According to the US military, American forces stationed at RAF Croughton provide “global strike operations.”

Legal investigations have begun on behalf of Mohammed al-Qawli, a Yemeni civil servant who lost his brother, a primary school teacher, and cousin, a 20-year-old student, in a drone strike in January 2013. They follow a July 2013 complaint by Reprieve to the UK government watchdog, the National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) Guidelines. That complaint was rejected after the NCP said it had no duty to “conduct research or interrogate” BT.

It was inspiring and informative attending the rally with Angela Davis and the celebration of the lifelong political work of Charlene Mitchell, the founder of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR). The rally and award ceremony honoring Davis and Mitchell capped a two-day National Forum on Police Crimes at the University of Chicago.

The National Forum held workshops highlighting police crimes against undocumented and other immigrant workers, the labor movement and all workers, the LGBTQ community, women, peace, and solidarity activists, and people of color.

Central themes reflected in the workshops and the rally included the current condition of police misconduct in the United States, an analysis of the fundamental role of the police and incarceration in the United States, the interconnectedness of forms of repression and the struggles against them, and the twin roles of repression and ideology as the glues holding together a global political economy in crisis. Last, the celebration of the 41 years of the NAARPR illustrated the possibilities of struggle and victory.

May 27

The Three Laws of Pentagon Robotics

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

The three laws of robotics, according to science fiction author Isaac Asimov, are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

I would gladly have accepted a $20 million Pentagon contract for the job of pointing out these three laws.

OK, maybe $25 million.

Sadly, the Pentagon has instead hired a bunch of philosophy professors from leading U.S. universities to tell them how to make robots murder people morally and ethically.

Brussels, Cologne, Madrid - According to a leaked position paper and statements by trade officials, current proposals being floated as part of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations would grant foreign governments and corporations an increased opportunity to influence public protections in both the European Union and the United States. This would include standards related to food safety, toxic chemicals, occupational health, and the protection of the environment.

In response, 178 environmental, health, labor, and consumer organizations are demanding detailed explanations from EU and U.S. trade negotiators about proposals to address differences in their laws. The coalition for an alternative trade policy, the Seattle to Brussels Network, LobbyControl, and Corporate Europe Observatory are among the groups that are calling on negotiators to answer questions about the potential of TTIP to weaken health, consumer, worker, and environmental protections and that are urging full transparency on regulatory issues in the TTIP negotiations.

Ruling on the case of Abu Wa'el Dhiab – a Syrian cleared for release in 2009, and one of several hunger-striking prisoners currently asking the DC District Court to order a halt to the practice – Judge Gladys Kessler urged the authorities to find a compromise that would spare him “the agony of having the feeding tubes inserted and removed for each feeding” and “the pain and discomfort of the restraint chair.”

Last night’s order follows a landmark ruling earlier this week, in which Judge Kessler ordered the government to disclose 43 tapes of Dhiab’s force-feeding and 'forcible cell extractions' (FCE), in which a team of armed guards storms a prisoner's cell to 'subdue' him. She had also issued an order stating that, until the hearing on Wednesday, Mr Dhiab was not to be subjected to FCE, nor force-fed.

May 26

Remembering on Memorial Day

By John LaForge, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"I am a pacifist. You, my fellow citizens ... are pacifists, too." ¾ Franklin D. Roosevelt, May 1940

Benjamin Franklin said, there never was a good war or a bad peace, but you'd never know it from Memorial Day in the United States.

The fact that the US government has lost every major war it initiated since World War Two ¾ Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq Again ¾ is not going to be reported by the news anchors. Instead someone with his finger on the button will invoke the glory of Good God by to bless the war dead. Even the grim oblivion of unknown soldiers lost will be presented by the president as somehow full of dignified solemnity, while their survivors look away through a veil of ambiguous loss and unassuaged grief forever.

This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 303-121 to pass a heavily revised version of the USA FREEDOM Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, was modified in the House Judiciary Committee to remove some of the civil liberties protections in the original bill, but it retained a prohibition on the bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The House Rules Committee then further modified the bill to reflect changes that the Obama administration and House leadership desired. The changes substantially weakened the bill's privacy protections and transparency provisions.

May 26

Verizon Retail Workers Win Union Vote - First to Do So

By Bianca Cunningham and Zelig Stern, Labor Notes | Report

Wireless is where Verizon makes most of its profits. But for decades, Verizon has kept a wall between union workers in its landline division and non-union workers in its wireless division. That's how the corporation has maintained lower compensation and worse working conditions for wireless workers.

My co-workers and I have just taken the first step to tear down that wall.

After withstanding six weeks of intense union-busting, on May 14, retail sales reps and customer service reps at Verizon Wireless's six Brooklyn retail stores voted 39 to 19 to join the our 40,000 landline brothers and sisters—and 80 wireless techs who joined in 1989—in the Communications Workers (CWA).