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.
President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.
According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."
Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.
Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough.
On June 23, 2014, Andargachew Tsige was illegally detained at Sana'a airport in Yemen while traveling from Dubai to Eritrea on his British passport. He was swiftly handed over to the Ethiopian authorities, who had for years posted his name at the top of the regime's most-wanted list. Since then, he has been detained incommunicado in a secret location inside Ethiopia. His "crime" is the same as hundreds, perhaps thousands of others: publicly criticizing the ruling party of Ethiopia and their brutal form of governance.
Born in Ethiopia in 1955, Andargachew Tsige arrived in Britain at 24 as a political refugee. He is a Black, working-class British citizen with a wife and three children.
In yet another example of the revolving door between government, corporations and watercontractors that defines California politics, the powerful WestlandsWaterDistrict announced on March 27 that Johnny Amaral will join Westlands'staff as Deputy General Manager for External Affairs, effective May 1, 2015.
Mr. Amaral is currently the Chief of Staff for Rep. Devin Nunes, who represents California's 22nd Congressional District and is best known for is sponsoring legislation to increase pumping Delta waterto corporate agribusiness and to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other species.
The year was 1968. I had just earned a master's degree in history at Georgetown University, where I had also helped found the university's chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate, because within days ofgetting the degree I was on US Army bus, along with about 30 others, heading from Washington, DC to Fort Holabird in Baltimore. At that time there was a military draft induction center there, and according to my low draft lottery number, my time had come.
At Holabird, we piled into a classroom-like setting and were given a lecture by a rather over-muscled middle-aged sergeant with buzz haircut. He told us (I am paraphrasing from memory here) that: "the Vietnam war was absolutely necessary. If the commies got their way the domino effect would see all of Southeast Asia go Red."
U.S. Right to Know sent letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees, and to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting aninvestigation of a possible cover up for Monsanto, and whether USDA scientists are being harassed when their work runs counter to the interests of the agrichemical industry.
The letters are in reaction to a March 27 Reuters article that, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, "some scientists working for the federal government are finding their research restricted or censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests."
The UK government is refusing to guarantee that it will not misuse the intercepted lawyer-client communications of two renditionvictims in their legal cases again the British government.
Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, from Pakistan, are bringing legal action against the Britishgovernment for its complicity in their torture and rendition. The men were captured in Iraq in 2004 by British forces, before being rendered by the US to Bagram prison, Afghanistan. They endured a decade of secret US detention and torture in Bagram before their release last May without charge or trial.
Washington, DC – With monsters on the loose slinging blobs of corporate cash, frantic investors ask, "Who can rescue us from this dark money menace?" In the crowd, a woman remembers rumors that the chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has special powers to curb corporate political spending. "Mary Jo White is the superhero we need to end this menace," another onlooker shouts. "Where is Mary Jo White?"
That's the narrative of a month-long ad campaign launched today by investors and public interest organizations. The goal is to persuade the SEC to require publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending.
I wonder when we will arrive…
We've been here a few hundred years already (Native Americans aside) and yet very few of us have really set foot on this continent. Jackboots yes. Bare - caressing, vulnerable, sensitive, strong- bare feet, no. We are certainly "on" the continent: we've clear-cut it, mountain-top removed it, asphalted it, concreted it, bulldozed it, mined it, terra-formed it, damned it, sucked it dry, shit industrial shit on it, mono-cropped it, and murdered entire species and cultures; all to fill some primal need for our own creature comforts, at the expense of the comfort of all other creatures and that of most of our fellow human beings.
In 1971, I was in Beirut on a grant from my university to conduct research for my doctoral dissertation on the emergence of Palestinian national consciousness. Since the subjects of my study were the Palestinians in Lebanon's refugee camps, I set about to visit Ein al Hilweh to interview families and document their stories.
Midway through my fieldwork, I had a discussion with the novelist Ghassan Kanafani, which resulted in a dramatic shift in my approach. Ghassan told me that I was looking in the wrong place. The stories I had collected were important and would be useful, but, he noted, in reaction to the trauma of dislocation and hardship of the camps, their consciousness had been frozen.