Friday, 24 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.

Vienna, Austria – Today, a key working group of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced the release of groundbreaking recommendations discouraging criminal sanctions for drug use. The Scientific Consultation Working Group on Drug Policy, Health and Human Rights of the UNODC – which includes Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – is releasing the recommendations at the High-Level Segment of the 57th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The working group recommendations say “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” in addressing the spectrum of drug use and misuse.

I interviewed Walter Naegle. Naegle was Bayard Rustin's partner from 1977 until Rustin's death in 1987 and he is executor and archivist of the Bayard Rustin Estate. March 17, 2014 would mark the 102nd birthday of Bayard Rustin of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Rustin organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He was born Bayard Taylor Rustin to Florence Rustin and Archie Hopkins in West Chester, Pennsylvania on March 17, 1912. His grandparents Janifer, an Episcopalian minister, and Julia Rustin, a Baptist, named him after Bayard Taylor, a writer and friend of Mark Twain. Bayard never knew his day-laboring father and his mother was more like a sister to him. Rustin's grandmother Julia and grandfather, Janifer, who raised young Bayard, were active members of early Chester County political culture, and of the NAACP.

Militarized police, sophisticated surveillance, and normal citizens with little say in what goes on. The US has all the trappings of an all-powerful police state.

Police State:

Definition:
1. A totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens' activities.

1.) So is the U.S. a totalitarian state?
No. It's an inverted totalitarian state.

Nazi Germany vs. U.S.
Nazi Germany: State dominated economic actors.
U.S.: Corporations control the government through political contributions and lobbying.

Mar 14

SIMILARITIES: 1914 and 2014

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poetry

The countries of Europe, it is said,
stumbled into World War I, a war
no one wanted and yet, and yet...it happened.
After Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination,
it became the Great War, taking the lives
of a generation of young men too eager to fight
in the battlefield trenches.

It is 2014, and publications such as Education Week are offering 50th-year anniversary looks at the War on Poverty. It is 2014, and race and racism remain words that shall not be spoken, lingering scars on the American character that are routinely concealed beneath a heavy foundation (something in a Caucasian, please) and a bold but not too flashy shade of red lipstick. It is 2014, and almost everyone will say poverty, but the great irony is that this American Hustle is achieved through constantly mentioning poverty in order to ignore it.

The trick is to keep the public gaze in the U.S. transfixed on people trapped in poverty, to reinforce the myth that poverty is the result of individual weaknesses (a lack of "grit," for example), and to perpetuate the idea that the wealthy and privileged have earned that wealth and privilege.

Did you know that in the state of California it costs roughly seven times more to house one prisoner for a year than it does to send just one child to a college or university? The annual combined budget for all Cal State and University of California campuses (thirty-two total) is less than half of what California spends on prisons. That's a truly astounding fact and it gets even more troubling when you move to the inner cities. In Los Angeles, more than two-thirds of low-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the highest incarceration rates, and that same percentage of the city's high-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the lowest incarceration rates.

For the past 25 years, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), a nonprofit organization, has provided thousands of at-risk youth with free, exceptional after-school programs in academics, arts, and athletics, including a world-class youth orchestra program, a vibrant visual arts department, a full college-prep program and premier sports leagues and clinics. In neighborhoods often overrun by poverty, crime and a feeling of hopelessness, HOLA invests in youth to build stronger communities and gives some of the city's most vulnerable youth a chance to succeed in life.

Mar 13

Ukraine Hysteria, US Hypocrisy, Keystone Protest

By Peter Hart, FAIR | News Analysis

This week: US media go into overdrive over Russia/Ukraine, painting the conflict as proof that Barack Obama isn't feared enough. Plus pundits laugh at Putin's delusion–but what about John Kerry's?

And a big anti-Keystone XL rally at the White House hardly makes the news.

Mar 13

New report: UN stuck in denial over cannabis regulation

By Tom Blickman, Dave Bewley-Taylor and Martin Jelsma, Global Drug Policy Observatory | Press Release

Swansea/Amsterdam, 11 March 2014 – The current trend towards legal regulation of the cannabis market has become irreversible and requires an urgent dialogue by UN member states on the best models for protecting people's health and safety, argues a new report. The question facing the international community today is no longer whether there is a need to revise the UN drug control system, but rather when and how to do it.

The report unveils the long and little-known history of cannabis regulation from the late 19th century when it was widely used for medical, ceremonial and social purposes to the post-WWII period when US pressure and a potent mix of moralistic rhetoric and unreliable scientific data succeeded in categorising cannabis as a drug with 'particularly dangerous properties' on a par with heroin in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It also brings the history up-to-date with more recent developments as an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime's strictures through 'soft defections', such as turning a blind eye, decriminalisation, coffeeshops, cannabis social clubs and generous medical marijuana schemes. These have stretched the legal flexibility of the conventions to sometimes questionable limits.

Ethnic violence continues to smoulder throughout several states in South Sudan despite an official cessation of hostilities signed on the 23rd of January, 2014. What initially began as clashes between rival tribal groups within the South Sudanese presidential guards has quickly devolved into a bloody and intractable ethnic conflict throughout much of the country. The clashes began on the 15th of December, 2013, when South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused a number of senior politicians, including Vice President Riek Machar, of attempting to stage a coup, a claim the vice president vehemently rejects. Mr. Machar, a seasoned veteran of guerrilla warfare, quickly established a resistance movement resulting in a bitter conflict which has already claimed over 10,000 lives and displaced over half a million South Sudanese citizens according to UN spokesman, Farhan Haq. The fighting has also assumed an ethnic dimension as the president and Mr. Machar are members of the two dominant tribes, the Dinka and the Nuer peoples, which have sided with these two factions respectively.

Although a ceasefire was officially reached on the 23rd of January 2014, with peace talks set to restart on the 7th of February, it has been ineffectual in quelling the violence, with armed clashes confirmed throughout the interim period in Unity State, Upper Nile and Jonglei State. However, this should not be surprising considering that both sides felt compelled to sign a ceasefire which provided no substantive answers to permanently resolving the conflict in order to assuage international fears. As one South Sudanese rebel official noted "This deal does not provide answers to South Sudan's current problems. We need a comprehensive political deal...We are only signing because we, and they, are under pressure."

The following is a quote from Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women's Law Center:

"Women are three-quarters of workers in the largest, lowest-wage occupations. And these low-wage jobs account for a disproportionate share of the jobs women have gained since the start of the recovery. What's worse, women in these low-wage jobs are paid ten cents less on every dollar earned by men. These stark facts underscore why it's critical to raise the minimum wage and advance equal pay and equal opportunity for women."

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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.

Vienna, Austria – Today, a key working group of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced the release of groundbreaking recommendations discouraging criminal sanctions for drug use. The Scientific Consultation Working Group on Drug Policy, Health and Human Rights of the UNODC – which includes Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – is releasing the recommendations at the High-Level Segment of the 57th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The working group recommendations say “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” in addressing the spectrum of drug use and misuse.

I interviewed Walter Naegle. Naegle was Bayard Rustin's partner from 1977 until Rustin's death in 1987 and he is executor and archivist of the Bayard Rustin Estate. March 17, 2014 would mark the 102nd birthday of Bayard Rustin of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Rustin organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He was born Bayard Taylor Rustin to Florence Rustin and Archie Hopkins in West Chester, Pennsylvania on March 17, 1912. His grandparents Janifer, an Episcopalian minister, and Julia Rustin, a Baptist, named him after Bayard Taylor, a writer and friend of Mark Twain. Bayard never knew his day-laboring father and his mother was more like a sister to him. Rustin's grandmother Julia and grandfather, Janifer, who raised young Bayard, were active members of early Chester County political culture, and of the NAACP.

Militarized police, sophisticated surveillance, and normal citizens with little say in what goes on. The US has all the trappings of an all-powerful police state.

Police State:

Definition:
1. A totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens' activities.

1.) So is the U.S. a totalitarian state?
No. It's an inverted totalitarian state.

Nazi Germany vs. U.S.
Nazi Germany: State dominated economic actors.
U.S.: Corporations control the government through political contributions and lobbying.

Mar 14

SIMILARITIES: 1914 and 2014

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poetry

The countries of Europe, it is said,
stumbled into World War I, a war
no one wanted and yet, and yet...it happened.
After Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination,
it became the Great War, taking the lives
of a generation of young men too eager to fight
in the battlefield trenches.

It is 2014, and publications such as Education Week are offering 50th-year anniversary looks at the War on Poverty. It is 2014, and race and racism remain words that shall not be spoken, lingering scars on the American character that are routinely concealed beneath a heavy foundation (something in a Caucasian, please) and a bold but not too flashy shade of red lipstick. It is 2014, and almost everyone will say poverty, but the great irony is that this American Hustle is achieved through constantly mentioning poverty in order to ignore it.

The trick is to keep the public gaze in the U.S. transfixed on people trapped in poverty, to reinforce the myth that poverty is the result of individual weaknesses (a lack of "grit," for example), and to perpetuate the idea that the wealthy and privileged have earned that wealth and privilege.

Did you know that in the state of California it costs roughly seven times more to house one prisoner for a year than it does to send just one child to a college or university? The annual combined budget for all Cal State and University of California campuses (thirty-two total) is less than half of what California spends on prisons. That's a truly astounding fact and it gets even more troubling when you move to the inner cities. In Los Angeles, more than two-thirds of low-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the highest incarceration rates, and that same percentage of the city's high-performing schools are in neighborhoods with the lowest incarceration rates.

For the past 25 years, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), a nonprofit organization, has provided thousands of at-risk youth with free, exceptional after-school programs in academics, arts, and athletics, including a world-class youth orchestra program, a vibrant visual arts department, a full college-prep program and premier sports leagues and clinics. In neighborhoods often overrun by poverty, crime and a feeling of hopelessness, HOLA invests in youth to build stronger communities and gives some of the city's most vulnerable youth a chance to succeed in life.

Mar 13

Ukraine Hysteria, US Hypocrisy, Keystone Protest

By Peter Hart, FAIR | News Analysis

This week: US media go into overdrive over Russia/Ukraine, painting the conflict as proof that Barack Obama isn't feared enough. Plus pundits laugh at Putin's delusion–but what about John Kerry's?

And a big anti-Keystone XL rally at the White House hardly makes the news.

Mar 13

New report: UN stuck in denial over cannabis regulation

By Tom Blickman, Dave Bewley-Taylor and Martin Jelsma, Global Drug Policy Observatory | Press Release

Swansea/Amsterdam, 11 March 2014 – The current trend towards legal regulation of the cannabis market has become irreversible and requires an urgent dialogue by UN member states on the best models for protecting people's health and safety, argues a new report. The question facing the international community today is no longer whether there is a need to revise the UN drug control system, but rather when and how to do it.

The report unveils the long and little-known history of cannabis regulation from the late 19th century when it was widely used for medical, ceremonial and social purposes to the post-WWII period when US pressure and a potent mix of moralistic rhetoric and unreliable scientific data succeeded in categorising cannabis as a drug with 'particularly dangerous properties' on a par with heroin in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It also brings the history up-to-date with more recent developments as an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime's strictures through 'soft defections', such as turning a blind eye, decriminalisation, coffeeshops, cannabis social clubs and generous medical marijuana schemes. These have stretched the legal flexibility of the conventions to sometimes questionable limits.

Ethnic violence continues to smoulder throughout several states in South Sudan despite an official cessation of hostilities signed on the 23rd of January, 2014. What initially began as clashes between rival tribal groups within the South Sudanese presidential guards has quickly devolved into a bloody and intractable ethnic conflict throughout much of the country. The clashes began on the 15th of December, 2013, when South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused a number of senior politicians, including Vice President Riek Machar, of attempting to stage a coup, a claim the vice president vehemently rejects. Mr. Machar, a seasoned veteran of guerrilla warfare, quickly established a resistance movement resulting in a bitter conflict which has already claimed over 10,000 lives and displaced over half a million South Sudanese citizens according to UN spokesman, Farhan Haq. The fighting has also assumed an ethnic dimension as the president and Mr. Machar are members of the two dominant tribes, the Dinka and the Nuer peoples, which have sided with these two factions respectively.

Although a ceasefire was officially reached on the 23rd of January 2014, with peace talks set to restart on the 7th of February, it has been ineffectual in quelling the violence, with armed clashes confirmed throughout the interim period in Unity State, Upper Nile and Jonglei State. However, this should not be surprising considering that both sides felt compelled to sign a ceasefire which provided no substantive answers to permanently resolving the conflict in order to assuage international fears. As one South Sudanese rebel official noted "This deal does not provide answers to South Sudan's current problems. We need a comprehensive political deal...We are only signing because we, and they, are under pressure."

The following is a quote from Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women's Law Center:

"Women are three-quarters of workers in the largest, lowest-wage occupations. And these low-wage jobs account for a disproportionate share of the jobs women have gained since the start of the recovery. What's worse, women in these low-wage jobs are paid ten cents less on every dollar earned by men. These stark facts underscore why it's critical to raise the minimum wage and advance equal pay and equal opportunity for women."