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.
In a small church in the Albany, New York's low-income, predominantly African-American South End, forty people were gathered for a community meeting. They were organizing a protest against trains carrying potentially explosive oil -- dubbed by the residents "bomb trains" -- that were running through their neighborhood. City Counselor Vivian Kornegay told the group that many municipalities had opposed the bomb trains and other dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure, but had little power to protect their residents; it was up to a "people's movement" to do so. "What we want is for all of us to be free, healthy, and safe -- and for our planet to be a better place to live."
Bernie Sanders' April 15, 2016, address to the Vatican, titled "The Urgency of a Moral Economy" arrives at a curious point for the left in the Anglo-American sphere. With Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the UK's Labour Party and theastonishing success of Sanders' own run for the Democratic Party nomination, there is something clearly afoot. Many have drawn connections from these events to the rise of continental European parties tied to left-wing socialmovements, such as Greece's Syriza and Spain's Podemos, which is a fair thing to do. In all of these cases, anger at systemic corruption and widening inequality, along with the discrediting of traditional parties of the center-left, have driven a political polarization accompanied by mass grassroots engagement.
A group of 40 well-known personalities in France, including writers, politicians and chief executive officers of corporations listed on the country's stock exchange, the CAC 40, have called for a cap on the amounts CEOs can receive, limiting their salaries to 100 times the French minimum wage. The call was launched with the publication of an open letter in French newspaper Libération, hitting its front page on Thursday, May 19, 2016.
Joplin, Missouri, a small city in the Southwest corner of the state, is probably best known for the devastating tornado that ripped through it on May 22, 2011. The storm killed 161 people and caused more than $2 billion in damages. Less well known is the widespread and growing poverty that is damaging the community -- especially its students and schools -- in quieter but no less harmful ways. But Joplin has begun to rebound, and the rest of the country should take note.
In 2013 I spoke with the CEO of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch, who said that art provides a guiding light "in a time in history where that is desperately needed." This is not just speculation and hyperbole. Lynch also said in the article that "today we are seeing the arts being usedto help solve other problems: the arts and community development, the arts and law enforcement for crime prevention, the arts and healing." And that he wants "to see more opportunity for kids and adults to have access to the arts to be used in community advancement."
In countless ways over the last 35 years, our society has become less economically equal and more dominated by corporate power. Less just and more jailed. Vast urban and rural areas decline as government subsidizes economic elites. Funds for education and social services are under constant threat, while funding for war and surveillance seems limitless. These trends have persisted no matter which major party dominated Washington, DC.
The people of California were denied a vote in 2014 on Proposition 49, The Overturn Citizens United Act. The question posed by the ballot measure was whether a constitutional amendment is necessary in order to restore the people's right to regulate money in our elections and make clear that that rights enumerated in the US Constitution are for human beings and not for corporate entities. This is a conversation that America must have and we'd have gotten it going here in California in 2014 if not for the wrongful interference by the California Supreme Court.
The potential for radical change is widely recognized, but prevailing reformist ideas remain insufficient. Electoral boycott will be the most effective means of building revolutionary momentum. Except for a small group of committed Bernie Sanders supporters and writers, analysts of the US presidential primaries generally agree by now that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic Party candidate and Donald Trump the Republican Party candidate. Several ideas have been advanced within this context concerning what disaffected voters, unhappy with these choices, should do.
A crisis is defined as "a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events is determined." It is a turning point, a condition of instability or danger that will lead us to a decisive change. We are at such a turning point right now with mass incarceration, which is the No. 1 public health crisis as the Vera Institute says in its report, "On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration." The political climate is poised to make the necessary changes to truly reform our criminal justice system because without these changes we will have a collapse.
"If you don't like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them." Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border. As we well know, neither the Greek nor Macedonian governments have bombed people, but they are having to deal with the huge numbers of refugees caused by the decisions of government far away.