Wednesday, 26 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.

Missed in the mainstream media coverage of the release of the revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) documents on March 14 was the alarming role the peripheral tunnels could play in increased fracking in California.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas, according to Food and Water Watch.

The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, is now pushing for increasing fracking for oil and natural gas in shale deposits in Kern County and coastal areas.

Mar 20

The Wrath of the Bureaucracy

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

The institutions of modern society, including governments, large economic structures, and military forces, are organized in bureaucratic fashion. A bureaucracy is a form of organization that operates by means of a wide range of closely supervised departments capable of performing specific tasks in efficient ways. This division of labor, or specialization, is carried on according to well-defined rules and regulations. Therefore, the workers in a bureaucracy (i.e., the bureaucrats) perform their tasks within a compartmentalized environment that narrows their focus to the task at hand. Potentially mitigating circumstances that might call into question the task set for the worker, or the rules governing its implementation, are almost always ignored.

The command structure of bureaucracies is hierarchical, or what is called a "vertical pyramid power structure."

I have never been big on chanting, which means I have spent lots of time at anti-war protests shuffling uncomfortably, mouthing words that others are shouting out.

"What do we want?" JUSTICE! (and a quick end to the chanting, please). "When do we want it?" NOW! (or as soon as possible, please).

Part of my discomfort no doubt comes from the fact that I'm tone-deaf with no sense of rhythm (have I mentioned that I'm a white guy from North Dakota?). But there's also my frustration with condensing a complex analysis into a chantable sentence (have I mentioned that I'm a nerdy professor?).

Mar 19

The Truth about Flouride

By Lee Camp, Moment of Clarity | Video

There is a chemical pumped into 70% of our drinking water that is scientifically proven to decrease IQ in children in certain doses. Watch the video.

A new Institute for Policy Studies report analyzes proposed Social Security cuts and their potential impact on individuals at the top and the bottom of the health industry.

On the top end, the report focuses on the CEOs of CVS Caremark, the nation's largest drug retailer, and UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer. Both men are members of the Business Roundtable, which is pushing for an increase in the retirement age to 70 and a new method of calculating inflation known as "chained CPI."

or the first time in my life, like 84% of Los Angeles registered voters, I failed to cast a ballot in last week's election. It was a primary to select front-running mayoral candidates and city council members, a city attorney, controller, community college trustees and a tax proposition – stuff that should really matter. The four men and a woman – the "five little kings" of the county Board of Supervisors – who really run LA's nine-million-person megalopolis – were not on the ballot. Supervisors who used to rule in perpetuity now are term-limited to "only" three consecutive four year terms.

Although LA politics are notoriously distant, confusing, confused and impenetrable except to lobbyists, this recent election was stratospherically off the boredom chart with a record-setting 16% turnout.

Today, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged a federal judge to reject California's attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit challenging prolonged solitary confinement in California prisons. The case was filed on behalf of prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent between 10 and 28 years in solitary confinement and who staged two widely publicized hunger strikes in 2011. It alleges that prolonged solitary confinement violates Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review of SHU placement violates the prisoners' right to due process. CCR lawyers argued today that nominal, temporary reforms by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which the defendants cited as grounds for dismissing the case, have had little to no effect on the conditions challenged in the lawsuit and, thus, the case must proceed.

Farmers and green groups are coming together to launch a new campaign – ahead of the Environmental Council meeting held on 21 March in Brussels – calling on EU politicians to halt the authorisation of 25 GM crops currently being considered for cultivation in Europe.

The 'Stop the Crop' campaign highlights the devastating impacts already experienced in other countries as a result of the increased pesticide use in large-scale GM crop production. Campaigners – including Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory – are warning EU Member States that the expansion of GM cultivation and increased use of toxic pesticide Roundup in Europe will endanger the environment and potentially human health – similar to those experienced in South America.

It is rare that a nation on a headlong plunge to kleptocracy is given a second chance to change course. We allowed the ignominious suppression of Brookesly Born's prescient and amazingly accurate warnings of the financial disaster and its causes. The suppression was engineered by the three most ruthless "banksters" of the times, Greenspan,(1) Rubin and Summers, whose claims to infamy, history will show, is that they were wrong in almost every prediction, yet they manipulated their dark financial paths to obscene wealth. Elizabeth Warren has given us a second chance to set things straight by publicly demanding the single most important factor in saving America - remove the bought and paid for immunity of the 1% and "jail wealthy criminals."

Brookesly Born was the single person most capable of preventing the 2007-2008 financial disaster. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, are the 3 individuals most responsible for causing it.

Mar 18

Just Enough

By Jan Hart, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

For as long as I can remember money has been one of the most important relationships in my life. I'm pretty sure I've paid as much attention to money as I have to any other relationship. I'm not proud of it. But maybe I'm getting better at putting relationships with people and my environment ahead of money.

I kind of had a fairy tale first bonding with money while I was young. I grew up in a middle class home and heard my parents talk openly about our finances and knew that we got along with money, and at times without it. At 10 I bought my first 4H goat, Valentina for $40. My father loaned me the money and I paid it off over the next year. He also taught me how to keep track of my income from chicken egg sales and allowance as well as my expenditures for chicken and goat food in a small brown spiral tablet. As long as I was a penny in the black it was good. I was hooked. Everything I wanted or needed had a price. It cost money for clothes and a '50 Chevy I bought when I was 17. I managed to get a job at Newberry's Department Store so I could buy them. Life in the US was a lot easier in the 50's and I, like so many others, thought it would always be so.

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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.

Missed in the mainstream media coverage of the release of the revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) documents on March 14 was the alarming role the peripheral tunnels could play in increased fracking in California.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas, according to Food and Water Watch.

The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, is now pushing for increasing fracking for oil and natural gas in shale deposits in Kern County and coastal areas.

Mar 20

The Wrath of the Bureaucracy

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

The institutions of modern society, including governments, large economic structures, and military forces, are organized in bureaucratic fashion. A bureaucracy is a form of organization that operates by means of a wide range of closely supervised departments capable of performing specific tasks in efficient ways. This division of labor, or specialization, is carried on according to well-defined rules and regulations. Therefore, the workers in a bureaucracy (i.e., the bureaucrats) perform their tasks within a compartmentalized environment that narrows their focus to the task at hand. Potentially mitigating circumstances that might call into question the task set for the worker, or the rules governing its implementation, are almost always ignored.

The command structure of bureaucracies is hierarchical, or what is called a "vertical pyramid power structure."

I have never been big on chanting, which means I have spent lots of time at anti-war protests shuffling uncomfortably, mouthing words that others are shouting out.

"What do we want?" JUSTICE! (and a quick end to the chanting, please). "When do we want it?" NOW! (or as soon as possible, please).

Part of my discomfort no doubt comes from the fact that I'm tone-deaf with no sense of rhythm (have I mentioned that I'm a white guy from North Dakota?). But there's also my frustration with condensing a complex analysis into a chantable sentence (have I mentioned that I'm a nerdy professor?).

Mar 19

The Truth about Flouride

By Lee Camp, Moment of Clarity | Video

There is a chemical pumped into 70% of our drinking water that is scientifically proven to decrease IQ in children in certain doses. Watch the video.

A new Institute for Policy Studies report analyzes proposed Social Security cuts and their potential impact on individuals at the top and the bottom of the health industry.

On the top end, the report focuses on the CEOs of CVS Caremark, the nation's largest drug retailer, and UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer. Both men are members of the Business Roundtable, which is pushing for an increase in the retirement age to 70 and a new method of calculating inflation known as "chained CPI."

or the first time in my life, like 84% of Los Angeles registered voters, I failed to cast a ballot in last week's election. It was a primary to select front-running mayoral candidates and city council members, a city attorney, controller, community college trustees and a tax proposition – stuff that should really matter. The four men and a woman – the "five little kings" of the county Board of Supervisors – who really run LA's nine-million-person megalopolis – were not on the ballot. Supervisors who used to rule in perpetuity now are term-limited to "only" three consecutive four year terms.

Although LA politics are notoriously distant, confusing, confused and impenetrable except to lobbyists, this recent election was stratospherically off the boredom chart with a record-setting 16% turnout.

Today, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged a federal judge to reject California's attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit challenging prolonged solitary confinement in California prisons. The case was filed on behalf of prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison who have spent between 10 and 28 years in solitary confinement and who staged two widely publicized hunger strikes in 2011. It alleges that prolonged solitary confinement violates Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the absence of meaningful review of SHU placement violates the prisoners' right to due process. CCR lawyers argued today that nominal, temporary reforms by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which the defendants cited as grounds for dismissing the case, have had little to no effect on the conditions challenged in the lawsuit and, thus, the case must proceed.

Farmers and green groups are coming together to launch a new campaign – ahead of the Environmental Council meeting held on 21 March in Brussels – calling on EU politicians to halt the authorisation of 25 GM crops currently being considered for cultivation in Europe.

The 'Stop the Crop' campaign highlights the devastating impacts already experienced in other countries as a result of the increased pesticide use in large-scale GM crop production. Campaigners – including Friends of the Earth Europe and Corporate Europe Observatory – are warning EU Member States that the expansion of GM cultivation and increased use of toxic pesticide Roundup in Europe will endanger the environment and potentially human health – similar to those experienced in South America.

It is rare that a nation on a headlong plunge to kleptocracy is given a second chance to change course. We allowed the ignominious suppression of Brookesly Born's prescient and amazingly accurate warnings of the financial disaster and its causes. The suppression was engineered by the three most ruthless "banksters" of the times, Greenspan,(1) Rubin and Summers, whose claims to infamy, history will show, is that they were wrong in almost every prediction, yet they manipulated their dark financial paths to obscene wealth. Elizabeth Warren has given us a second chance to set things straight by publicly demanding the single most important factor in saving America - remove the bought and paid for immunity of the 1% and "jail wealthy criminals."

Brookesly Born was the single person most capable of preventing the 2007-2008 financial disaster. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, are the 3 individuals most responsible for causing it.

Mar 18

Just Enough

By Jan Hart, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

For as long as I can remember money has been one of the most important relationships in my life. I'm pretty sure I've paid as much attention to money as I have to any other relationship. I'm not proud of it. But maybe I'm getting better at putting relationships with people and my environment ahead of money.

I kind of had a fairy tale first bonding with money while I was young. I grew up in a middle class home and heard my parents talk openly about our finances and knew that we got along with money, and at times without it. At 10 I bought my first 4H goat, Valentina for $40. My father loaned me the money and I paid it off over the next year. He also taught me how to keep track of my income from chicken egg sales and allowance as well as my expenditures for chicken and goat food in a small brown spiral tablet. As long as I was a penny in the black it was good. I was hooked. Everything I wanted or needed had a price. It cost money for clothes and a '50 Chevy I bought when I was 17. I managed to get a job at Newberry's Department Store so I could buy them. Life in the US was a lot easier in the 50's and I, like so many others, thought it would always be so.