Sunday, 01 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.

This evening, the US Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Michael Botticelli to become the next Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a position informally known as “drug czar.” Botticelli has served as Acting Director since March 2014 following the resignation of former drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske. Botticelli previously served as ONDCP’s Deputy Director. Before joining ONDCP, Botticelli spent nearly two decades overseeing substance misuse programs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

Fox News has performed the service of posting the horrific IS video depicting the death of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. The fact that media outlets have not made other IS videos available represents a breach of journalistic responsibility.

Citizens of a free society (surely no longer our own) have a duty to consider, analyze, understand, and criticize opposing points of view, including most especially those of their avowed enemies.

Yes, it's Monday morning at the Washington Post and Robert Samuelson wants to raise the retirement age and cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. How else would one begin the week?

A few weeks back, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivered a speech to the Henry Jackson Society in London focusing on the dangers "radical Islam" poses to the world's "freedom loving people". Far from a serious discussion, the speech amounted to little more than a dangerous mix of trite sloganeering and reckless jingoism. Jindal is no simple-minded demagogue like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman. Because he is a Rhodes Scholar and a presidential aspirant, one supposes that he thought through his remarks.

The election of SYRIZA, a leftist coalition party, in Greece, has understandably rocked European politics to its very foundation. It has inspired myriad reactions on the Left, ranging from unrestrained, and often uncritical, joy and adulation, to cynical mistrust of "reformism" and electoral politics as a means of transformation.

However, what is missing from these analyses is the important fact that while Greek politics is undoubtedly vital to the future of the country, it is not the only means by which the Greek working class and poor are building a future for themselves and their children. Rather, the last five years have inspired an entire solidarity movement organized to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable in Greek society.

Feb 09

The UK Nuclear Nightmare - An Awakening

By James McCluskey, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

At last the Armageddon nightmare which is the existence of nuclear arsenals is exploding into the UK's political consciousness. At last the magical word "deterrent" which is supposed to automatically kill dissent it being examined and unmasked as the delusion by which the paranoid silence that still small voice. The voice which says it is a crime against humanity to prepare to incinerate a large part of the world's population and risk triggering a global nuclear war.

It started with the Scottish Independence movement and now the abhorrence of these vile instruments of genocide is manifesting in Wales. In England, the reckless imperial posture in the Westminster bubble has not yet been overthrown. Both Conservatives and Labour want a like-for-like replacement when the existing nuclear fleet ends its working life in the late 2020s, while the Liberal Democrats want to downsize to three submarines! But more and more of the public have other ideas. They want a world ban as has been achieved for the other weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological.

The leak trial of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling never got near a smoking gun, but the entire circumstantial case was a smokescreen. Prosecutors were hell-bent on torching the defendant to vindicate Operation Merlin, nine years after a book by James Risen reported that it “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.”

That bestselling book, State of War, seemed to leave an indelible stain on Operation Merlin while soiling the CIA’s image as a reasonably competent outfit. The prosecution of Sterling was a cleansing service for the Central Intelligence Agency, which joined with the Justice Department to depict the author and the whistleblower as scurrilous mud-throwers.

Feb 09

Hypermasculinity and World-Ending Weapons

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Escalating tensions in Ukraine raise the concern that the “firebreak” between conventional and the tactical nuclear weapons potentially available to all parties in the conflict could be breached, with unforeseen consequences.

Loren Thompson spelled out in Forbes Magazine how the Ukraine crisis could go nuclear: through faulty intelligence, through the opposed parties sending mixed signals to each other, through looming defeat for either side, or through command breakdown on the battlefield.

Alexandria, VA – Today, four Iraqi victims tortured at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison urged a federal district court to reject attempts by private military contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI) to have their lawsuit for the contractor’s role in their torture dismissed. Attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) argued the case on behalf of their clients.

US military investigators determined that in 2004 CACI’s employees participated in “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  The district court’s 2013 dismissal of the case was overturned in June by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that torture survivors could sue a US corporation involved in torture and other war crimes in US courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).  CACI now argues that the question of whether it can be held accountable for its established role in the torture is a “political question” unreviewable by the courts.  The district court rejected CACI’s initial effort to have the case dismissed as a political question in 2009.

According to the old joke, an 800-pound gorilla sleeps anywhere it wants to. When it comes to the expansion of Too Big To Fail institutions in this country, we now have more than one 800-pound gorilla in the room, and all of them have been gaining weight rapidly since 2007. Far from being tamed in their appetites and slimmed down in their corpulence by remedial legislation, these institutions have been engaged in a financial binge of almost breathless proportions.

To learn more about the five largest financial institutions and their effect on the US Financial System checkout the infographic below created by New Jersey Institute of Technology.

GET DAILY TRUTHOUT UPDATES

FOLLOW togtorsstottofb


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.

This evening, the US Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Michael Botticelli to become the next Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a position informally known as “drug czar.” Botticelli has served as Acting Director since March 2014 following the resignation of former drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske. Botticelli previously served as ONDCP’s Deputy Director. Before joining ONDCP, Botticelli spent nearly two decades overseeing substance misuse programs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

Fox News has performed the service of posting the horrific IS video depicting the death of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. The fact that media outlets have not made other IS videos available represents a breach of journalistic responsibility.

Citizens of a free society (surely no longer our own) have a duty to consider, analyze, understand, and criticize opposing points of view, including most especially those of their avowed enemies.

Yes, it's Monday morning at the Washington Post and Robert Samuelson wants to raise the retirement age and cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. How else would one begin the week?

A few weeks back, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivered a speech to the Henry Jackson Society in London focusing on the dangers "radical Islam" poses to the world's "freedom loving people". Far from a serious discussion, the speech amounted to little more than a dangerous mix of trite sloganeering and reckless jingoism. Jindal is no simple-minded demagogue like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman. Because he is a Rhodes Scholar and a presidential aspirant, one supposes that he thought through his remarks.

The election of SYRIZA, a leftist coalition party, in Greece, has understandably rocked European politics to its very foundation. It has inspired myriad reactions on the Left, ranging from unrestrained, and often uncritical, joy and adulation, to cynical mistrust of "reformism" and electoral politics as a means of transformation.

However, what is missing from these analyses is the important fact that while Greek politics is undoubtedly vital to the future of the country, it is not the only means by which the Greek working class and poor are building a future for themselves and their children. Rather, the last five years have inspired an entire solidarity movement organized to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable in Greek society.

Feb 09

The UK Nuclear Nightmare - An Awakening

By James McCluskey, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

At last the Armageddon nightmare which is the existence of nuclear arsenals is exploding into the UK's political consciousness. At last the magical word "deterrent" which is supposed to automatically kill dissent it being examined and unmasked as the delusion by which the paranoid silence that still small voice. The voice which says it is a crime against humanity to prepare to incinerate a large part of the world's population and risk triggering a global nuclear war.

It started with the Scottish Independence movement and now the abhorrence of these vile instruments of genocide is manifesting in Wales. In England, the reckless imperial posture in the Westminster bubble has not yet been overthrown. Both Conservatives and Labour want a like-for-like replacement when the existing nuclear fleet ends its working life in the late 2020s, while the Liberal Democrats want to downsize to three submarines! But more and more of the public have other ideas. They want a world ban as has been achieved for the other weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological.

The leak trial of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling never got near a smoking gun, but the entire circumstantial case was a smokescreen. Prosecutors were hell-bent on torching the defendant to vindicate Operation Merlin, nine years after a book by James Risen reported that it “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.”

That bestselling book, State of War, seemed to leave an indelible stain on Operation Merlin while soiling the CIA’s image as a reasonably competent outfit. The prosecution of Sterling was a cleansing service for the Central Intelligence Agency, which joined with the Justice Department to depict the author and the whistleblower as scurrilous mud-throwers.

Feb 09

Hypermasculinity and World-Ending Weapons

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Escalating tensions in Ukraine raise the concern that the “firebreak” between conventional and the tactical nuclear weapons potentially available to all parties in the conflict could be breached, with unforeseen consequences.

Loren Thompson spelled out in Forbes Magazine how the Ukraine crisis could go nuclear: through faulty intelligence, through the opposed parties sending mixed signals to each other, through looming defeat for either side, or through command breakdown on the battlefield.

Alexandria, VA – Today, four Iraqi victims tortured at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison urged a federal district court to reject attempts by private military contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI) to have their lawsuit for the contractor’s role in their torture dismissed. Attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) argued the case on behalf of their clients.

US military investigators determined that in 2004 CACI’s employees participated in “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  The district court’s 2013 dismissal of the case was overturned in June by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that torture survivors could sue a US corporation involved in torture and other war crimes in US courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).  CACI now argues that the question of whether it can be held accountable for its established role in the torture is a “political question” unreviewable by the courts.  The district court rejected CACI’s initial effort to have the case dismissed as a political question in 2009.

According to the old joke, an 800-pound gorilla sleeps anywhere it wants to. When it comes to the expansion of Too Big To Fail institutions in this country, we now have more than one 800-pound gorilla in the room, and all of them have been gaining weight rapidly since 2007. Far from being tamed in their appetites and slimmed down in their corpulence by remedial legislation, these institutions have been engaged in a financial binge of almost breathless proportions.

To learn more about the five largest financial institutions and their effect on the US Financial System checkout the infographic below created by New Jersey Institute of Technology.