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 little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."
Imagine children joyfully singing the above line that eventually became a civil rights anthem. Their innocence and happy resolve enlighten us. Yes! In the face of wars, refugee crises, weapon proliferation and unaddressed climate change impacts, let us echo the common sense of children. Let goodness shine. Or, as our young friends in Afghanistan have put it, "#Enough!" They write the word, in Dari, on the palms of their hands and show it to cameras, wanting to shout out their desire to abolish all wars.
Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia - the British television documentary that I produced in 1979 - showed how violent US administrations had helped to bring Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge to power. This story holds echoes of the Islamic State in the Middle East today.
Between 1969 and 1973, secretly and illegally, President Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger dropped the equivalent in bombs of five Hiroshimas on Cambodia, a country where most people lived beneath straw. In transmitting Nixon's order for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves."
The 2012 Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear action made the "Fort Knox" of weapons-grade uranium look like "F Troop." Three senior peace activists got through four chain-link fences and past multiple "lethal force" zones before stringing banners, spray-painting slogans and pouring blood on the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee - all without being noticed by guards.
The guard that finally spotted the three activists - Sr. Megan Rice, 85, of New York City; Greg Boertje-Obed, 60, of Duluth; and Michael Walli, 66, of Washington, DC - testified that he knew a peace protest when he saw one. He had watched a lot of them whileon duty at Rocky Flats, the former plutonium warhead factory near Denver, Colorado. That's why he shrugged off official protocol and didn't draw his gun on Greg, Megan and Michael that night.
Throughout the Cold War, and doubtless right down to the present, professional people with skills relevant to "national security" have been secretly recruited to work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Universities are among those particularly targeted. Scholars and campus research centers have received CIA and DoD funding for conferences and publications, for collecting intelligence while abroad, and even for spying, all under cloak of secrecy.
Among the more notorious examples is the 1985 scandal at Harvard, in which the head of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies Center was found to have a financial contract with the CIA for research and conferences. He was forced to resign. Yale has had unusually close ties with the CIA dating back many years, contributing student recruits and directors.
Beware the amicable folks on trendy blogs or slick web sites who promise to restore common sense or set the record straight about GMOs or organic food. They get paid to dupe the public.
Record growth of organic, non-genetically modified food sales has beefed-up efforts by the industrial food and agriculture sector to manipulate a public fearful of contaminated food. American consumers forked over $35 billion for certified organic products in 2013. Last year, shoppers spent $ 10 billion on non-GMO certified food.
Today marks the first year anniversary of the passing of Tim Green, musician, educator, activist, and, let's just say what is true, a "Renaissance man of our time." Tim Green was a man whose warmth and friendship still causes those who were fortunate to have known him to call up his many qualities: spiritual, transcendent, classy and so much more!
Tim Green would have been pleased to know that among his peers, all these adjectives are inseparable from what he recognized as his true vocation, music. Standing in front of the New Orleans Post Office a few years ago, I ran into Tim. He told me then that doctors had recommended that he undergo surgery to have one of his lungs removed.
OK, we all get it. Banks, corporations and Wall Street types in general, are out to make money. They're good at it. In fact, the Atlantic recently announced big banks could currently boast of a "golden age."
At the same time, the well-heeled insist, their vast accumulation of wealth is their own private, personal business.
Defending oneself from abuse and violence should never be criminalized. Love & Protect condemns the arrest of Cierra Finkley and calls for all charges against her to be dropped.
On August 18, 2015, in Madison, Wisconsin, 24-year-old Cierra and her 5-year-old daughter were almost killed by her abusive boyfriend, Terrence Woods. Although he had been court ordered to stay away from Cierra, he showed up at her home, and after trying to run her and their daughter over with his car, he kicked in the door to her home and lunged at her. Fearing for her and her daughter’s life, Cierra stabbed him in self-defense.
Speaking on behalf of indigenous people in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, earlier this summer, Pope Francis apologized for the role the Catholic Church played in oppressing Latin America's indigenous people. He called for a worldwide grass roots movement that would shatter global corporate abuses of "the new colonialism." Political elites in the US should follow his lead and apologize for the genocidal destruction US people waged against indigenous peoples. They should look toward indigenous people for guidance about ways to make reparations.
On April 26, 2011, a meeting that can only be described as sinister took place between the then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The most pressing issue discussed at the meeting in Rome was how to deal with African immigrants.
Sarkozy, who was under pressure from his right-wing and far-right constituencies to halt immigration originating from North Africa (resulting from the Tunisian uprising), desired to strike a deal with the opportunistic Italian leader.