Sunday, 29 March 2015 / 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.

Has the 2015 center-right Democratic Party transmuted literally overnight into its old center-left visage of the mid-1960s - the party of Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, poverty programs, voting rights, desegregation and more?

As he begins his seventh year in office, with negligible accomplishments behind him, President Barack Obama suddenly appears to have transformed into the candidate liberal voters thought they had elected in November 2008 - the candidate of "Yes we can!" and "Change we can believe in." The liberal Nation weekly even headlined its editorial in the Feb. 6 edition: "Obama Gets His Mojo Back."

Feb 02

Homeless Children in a Golden City

By David Krause, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

This year, approximately 2,200 homeless children will attend public schools in the City of San Francisco. In an effort to help these children, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has partnered with the Hamilton Family Center to help at least 75 families who are homeless find housing this school year.

SFUSD teachers have been asked to look for signs of homelessness in a student, contact the Hamilton Family Center when a homeless child has been identified, arrange a meeting between the homeless family and the Hamilton Family Center and inform parents and staff of the program. When a homeless student is identified, a Hamilton staff member will go to that school, meet with the family and coordinate with SFUSD staff on how to best assist these families.

Feb 02

Millions March NYC / Black Lives Matter

By Merve Ayparlar, Vimeo | Video

Millions March NYC / Black Lives Matter from Merve Ayparlar on Vimeo.

On November 24th 2014, Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, 18 year old Michael Brown.

On December 3rd 2014, Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, 43 year old Eric Garner.

Drugs and the drug war touch most families.  Millions of people have a loved one behind bars on drug charges. Many millions more have struggled with drugs themselves – or have a loved one who has dealt with addiction to illegal or legal drugs. By declaring a "war on drugs" we have declared a war on ourselves. We know that prison is not the answer for people who use drugs. So what can be done?

Howard Josepher and Exponents, the organization he founded 20 years ago have some answers.  Howard and Exponents have helped more than 10,000 people with serious drug problems.

Washington, DC – It has been one week since President Obama called for Congress to “give me trade promotion authority” in his State of the Union address so he can finalize the secret negotiations behind the massive 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While it would be normal for Fast Track supporters to enjoy a surge of momentum in the days that followed the reality has been quite different.

Large corporate media have failed America. They specialize in selling Americans trivia and sudden natural outbursts of rain, snow, and drought. They do that because they have convinced themselves Americans are stupid. In addition, hooking millions on entertainment and sports earns the networks unfathomable amounts of money.

Certainly, such practices serve no public purpose.

Washington, DC – Groups that usually do not share the same stage joined today to urge the IRS to clarify the definition of political activity.

At a symposium at the National Press Club, the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability (ECFA), the Center for American Progress, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Public Citizen called for better IRS guidance for charities and churches, which are not permitted to engage in any political activity but are left in the dark about what is and is not political by the current vague test the IRS uses to define that activity.

Feb 02

Why Did US Policy Towards Cuba Change? A View From Havana

By Roberto M. Yepe Papastamatin, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Before December 17, 2014, it was a natural question why the US did not change its isolation policy against Cuba in light of its ostensible failure. That day, President Barack Obama acknowledged this fact, in a demonstration of political courage never achieved by those among his predecessors who had intended to make a significant change in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Although central components of the policy of economic blockade and political subversion against Cuba remain in place, the announced resumption of diplomatic relations between the two governments is very positive because it will certainly allow a civilized interaction that could lead to new and more comprehensive understandings on key issues of the bilateral agenda, in order to establish a fully normalized relation of mutual respect, despite the predictable hindering actions of certain retrograde and recalcitrant forces.

In a consideration of the chances of success of the normalization process already underway, it becomes especially relevant to assess the US government's possible motivations, since the Cuban one had for many years made clear its interest in improving the bilateral relation, provided that occurred under conditions of full respect for Cuba's sovereignty in conformity with international law. Therefore, the question arises about what led the US government to agree to the resumption of diplomatic relations precisely at this moment, a question which does not admit simple answers, but should lead to reflection about a group of elements.

US government lawyers advised Guantanamo authorities that force-feeding is ‘never acceptable’ under medical ethical standards, at the same time as dozens of military nurses were being sent to the prison to force-feed detainees, it has been revealed.

An internal memo, obtained by Vice News through FOIA and written on June 21st, 2013 - at the height of the prison’s mass hunger-strike - states that ‘international law and certain medical ethical standards hold that the “forced feeding” of a mentally competent person capable of making an informed decision is never acceptable.’

New York  – ­Groups from around the world [1] today joined together to denounce the US government for allowing the first genetically engineered tree, a loblolly pine, to be legalized with no government or public oversight, with no assessment of their risks to the public or the environment, and without regard to overwhelming public opposition to GE trees.

A secret letter from the USDA to GE tree company ArborGen [2], dated last August, was recently exposed by scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety [3]. In this letter, the USDA made the unprecedented decision to allow ArborGen to pursue unregulated commercial cultivation of a loblolly pine genetically engineered for altered wood composition. These trees could be planted anywhere in the US, without public knowledge or access to information about them.

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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.

Has the 2015 center-right Democratic Party transmuted literally overnight into its old center-left visage of the mid-1960s - the party of Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, poverty programs, voting rights, desegregation and more?

As he begins his seventh year in office, with negligible accomplishments behind him, President Barack Obama suddenly appears to have transformed into the candidate liberal voters thought they had elected in November 2008 - the candidate of "Yes we can!" and "Change we can believe in." The liberal Nation weekly even headlined its editorial in the Feb. 6 edition: "Obama Gets His Mojo Back."

Feb 02

Homeless Children in a Golden City

By David Krause, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

This year, approximately 2,200 homeless children will attend public schools in the City of San Francisco. In an effort to help these children, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has partnered with the Hamilton Family Center to help at least 75 families who are homeless find housing this school year.

SFUSD teachers have been asked to look for signs of homelessness in a student, contact the Hamilton Family Center when a homeless child has been identified, arrange a meeting between the homeless family and the Hamilton Family Center and inform parents and staff of the program. When a homeless student is identified, a Hamilton staff member will go to that school, meet with the family and coordinate with SFUSD staff on how to best assist these families.

Feb 02

Millions March NYC / Black Lives Matter

By Merve Ayparlar, Vimeo | Video

Millions March NYC / Black Lives Matter from Merve Ayparlar on Vimeo.

On November 24th 2014, Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, 18 year old Michael Brown.

On December 3rd 2014, Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, 43 year old Eric Garner.

Drugs and the drug war touch most families.  Millions of people have a loved one behind bars on drug charges. Many millions more have struggled with drugs themselves – or have a loved one who has dealt with addiction to illegal or legal drugs. By declaring a "war on drugs" we have declared a war on ourselves. We know that prison is not the answer for people who use drugs. So what can be done?

Howard Josepher and Exponents, the organization he founded 20 years ago have some answers.  Howard and Exponents have helped more than 10,000 people with serious drug problems.

Washington, DC – It has been one week since President Obama called for Congress to “give me trade promotion authority” in his State of the Union address so he can finalize the secret negotiations behind the massive 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While it would be normal for Fast Track supporters to enjoy a surge of momentum in the days that followed the reality has been quite different.

Large corporate media have failed America. They specialize in selling Americans trivia and sudden natural outbursts of rain, snow, and drought. They do that because they have convinced themselves Americans are stupid. In addition, hooking millions on entertainment and sports earns the networks unfathomable amounts of money.

Certainly, such practices serve no public purpose.

Washington, DC – Groups that usually do not share the same stage joined today to urge the IRS to clarify the definition of political activity.

At a symposium at the National Press Club, the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability (ECFA), the Center for American Progress, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Public Citizen called for better IRS guidance for charities and churches, which are not permitted to engage in any political activity but are left in the dark about what is and is not political by the current vague test the IRS uses to define that activity.

Feb 02

Why Did US Policy Towards Cuba Change? A View From Havana

By Roberto M. Yepe Papastamatin, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Before December 17, 2014, it was a natural question why the US did not change its isolation policy against Cuba in light of its ostensible failure. That day, President Barack Obama acknowledged this fact, in a demonstration of political courage never achieved by those among his predecessors who had intended to make a significant change in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Although central components of the policy of economic blockade and political subversion against Cuba remain in place, the announced resumption of diplomatic relations between the two governments is very positive because it will certainly allow a civilized interaction that could lead to new and more comprehensive understandings on key issues of the bilateral agenda, in order to establish a fully normalized relation of mutual respect, despite the predictable hindering actions of certain retrograde and recalcitrant forces.

In a consideration of the chances of success of the normalization process already underway, it becomes especially relevant to assess the US government's possible motivations, since the Cuban one had for many years made clear its interest in improving the bilateral relation, provided that occurred under conditions of full respect for Cuba's sovereignty in conformity with international law. Therefore, the question arises about what led the US government to agree to the resumption of diplomatic relations precisely at this moment, a question which does not admit simple answers, but should lead to reflection about a group of elements.

US government lawyers advised Guantanamo authorities that force-feeding is ‘never acceptable’ under medical ethical standards, at the same time as dozens of military nurses were being sent to the prison to force-feed detainees, it has been revealed.

An internal memo, obtained by Vice News through FOIA and written on June 21st, 2013 - at the height of the prison’s mass hunger-strike - states that ‘international law and certain medical ethical standards hold that the “forced feeding” of a mentally competent person capable of making an informed decision is never acceptable.’

New York  – ­Groups from around the world [1] today joined together to denounce the US government for allowing the first genetically engineered tree, a loblolly pine, to be legalized with no government or public oversight, with no assessment of their risks to the public or the environment, and without regard to overwhelming public opposition to GE trees.

A secret letter from the USDA to GE tree company ArborGen [2], dated last August, was recently exposed by scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety [3]. In this letter, the USDA made the unprecedented decision to allow ArborGen to pursue unregulated commercial cultivation of a loblolly pine genetically engineered for altered wood composition. These trees could be planted anywhere in the US, without public knowledge or access to information about them.