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.
At an April EU conference in Brussels called "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region," the government of Lebanon made an impassioned pitch for billions of euros of additional humanitarian aid to help it deal with the massive influx of refugees -- now totaling about 1.5 million, or a quarter of its population.
President Trump's new "Buy American, Hire American" executive order signals a return to his economic nationalist agenda. Such ideology as economic nationalism-- a system stressing domestic control of labor, the economy and capital even at the expense of high restriction of finance, goods and work -- is a problem because our global economy is more interconnected and integrated today. Moreover, global developmental priorities led to labor markets being deregulated, national industries privatized and opened to global competition and the trade, investment and education sectors are more liberalized and open as global trade volumes continue to grow.
Friends, 10 days ago, we marked the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s prophetic "Beyond Vietnam" speech. Back then, he told us that, "When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." Our tax system reinforces institutional racism, the materialism and wealth of a new super-rich nobility, and unprecedented militarism. Our country has been at war for the past 16 years -- almost a generation! We spend more on today's Pentagon than during the Cold War.
With dangerous racist and xenophobic ideas on display in every major news story right now, activism is as exhausting as ever. That's why social justice activists are increasingly talking about self-care -- tending to one's own mental and physical state before pressing on to save the world from itself. While self-care is discussed as a positive act, society usually favors a strong work ethic over self-care, which can result in guilt. And we are not taught by society to take care of ourselves, especially in communities of color.
With 300 sun-drenched days per year over 80 percent of the country, Iran has to be the envy of all countries entering the booming solar power age with its non-polluting, safe, recyclable and increasingly cheap electricity. It certainly has made go-getters, judging from all those listed on just one google search page for the global solar industry -- Germany, South Korea, Denmark, India -- even back in 2014 -- racing after potential billions in sales of renewable energy goods and services to Iran's public utility system.
Radical right Supreme Court justices, in conjunction with Republicans in Congress, have overturned precedent and harmed US democracy. Should progressives return to power, they need to "pack" the Supreme Court with extra justices to overturn decisions that have allowed a flood of corporate money in elections and weakened civil rights laws. However, this must not take the form of a progressive "power grab," but needs to be followed by laws that ensure a strong future democracy.
Many of us saw the headlines on newspapers and social media in November 2015: "The University of Missouri President Just Resigned Amid Protests of Racism on Campus." The mainstream story stars Jonathan Butler, a Black graduate student at the University of Missouri, and the university football team. On November 2, 2015, Butler went on a hunger strike protesting the "slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents" that permeated the lives of Black students at Mizzou.
As April comes to a close, most of us are reeling from the whirlwind of big milestones the month brings, from Tax Day to the100 other deadlines and observances that deserve our attention. In the shuffle, it can be easy to miss the hashtags and conversations that go along with these important dates. But noting one observance, National Minority Health Month, could have a tangible result we can't afford to ignore. Across the country, millions of families of color struggle with disproportionate health disparities that disrupt their daily lives.
If Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" were written in 2017, the missive might not have made it out of the jail and into history. Today, too many American prisons and jails saddle the people they lock up with senseless restrictions on their ability to speak, write, and receive information. Taken together, these constraints stifle free debate and exchange with people in prison at a crucial moment in history. We cannot have a serious conversation about criminal justice and mass incarceration if prisoners are shut out of public discussion.
In just over a week, we've experienced two shocking US military strikes and an alarming increase in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Two days after major newspapers reported that a chemical attack had occurred in a village in Syria, killing and injuring many civilians, the US launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase -- its first direct military attack against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This despite the fact that there had been no investigation by any international agency that might confirm that a chemical weapons attack had occurred or who was responsible -- and in violation of international law.