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.
Today, members of the House Oversight Committee have issued a statement of "No Confidence" in Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart. The unprecedented move by a group of over twenty bipartisan lawmakers comes a day after her shambolic performance in Congress during a hearing focused on DEA agents who paid for sex workers and sex parties using taxpayer dollars. Leonhart was widely panned and her answers deemed inadequate during testimony on her agency's handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations.
"This ought to be the final nail in the Leonhart coffin," said Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs at Drug Policy Alliance. "I cannot see how President Obama and AG Holder allow her to continue in her role. It's hard to think of a more incompetent and out of touch federal official than the current DEA chief."
An Indian woman from Earth's most threatened tribe is fighting for her life after being contacted in Brazil's north-eastern Amazon rainforest.
Jakarewyj, a member of the Awá tribe, has contracted flu and a severe respiratory disease after her group was "surrounded by loggers" and contacted in late December 2014. Since then, her health has deteriorated rapidly and she is now emaciated and desperately ill.
Harold Koh, as the Legal Adviser of the US Department of State, was the leading legal defender of Obama's drone program. He helped the Obama administration extrajudicially kill people - including US citizens and civilians - with flying machines that are invisible to the naked eye.
Koh is now a visiting scholar at the New York University (NYU) Law School, where he is teaching international human rights law.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its Global Financial Stability Report, noting "increased financial stability risks" in the global economy. The report notes that large-scale economic shocks are particularly concerning to global stability. It argues that such risks are greatest for countries with high debt levels and that emerging market countries must be prepared for external shocks. Particular concern is raised on the consequences of currency volatility, the shadow financial system and high corporate debt. The report is a follow-up to the IMF's semi-annual World Economic Outlook Report, which noted uneven global growth, particularly among developing economies.
"The IMF recognizes we need global structures to protect us when there's a major crisis," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization JubileeUSA Network. "Countries with high debt levels are the most vulnerable to those crises."
Leading Fair Trade advocacy organization, FairWorldProject (FWP), has released a new 17 min. documentary highlighting the role of industrial agriculture inclimatechange as well as detailing how small farmers are combatingclimatechangethrough regenerative organicagriculture. Narrated by FairWorldProject's Political Director Ryan Zinn, the documentary traverses through a series of interviews with activists, farmers, and experts on organic farming, sustainability and food sovereignty. Luminaries like Dr. Vandana Shiva, Rodale Institute's Mark "Coach" Smallwood, and Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association expound on the benefits of agro-ecological practices in the face of climate crisis.
"Climate change is the issue of our generation. Record-breaking heat waves, long-term drought, "100-year floods" in consecutive years, and increasingly extreme super storms are becoming the new normal. While global climatechange will impact nearly everyone and everything, the greatest impact is already being felt by farmers and anyone who eats food," said Ryan Zinn of FairWorldProject. "When we think of climate change and global warming, visions of coal-fired power plants and solar panels come to mind. Policy discussions and personal action usually revolve around hybrid cars, energy-efficient homes and debates about the latest technological solutions. However, the global agriculture system is at the heart of both the problem and the solution."
The family of a hunger-striking Pakistani man detained in Guantanamo Bay has today filed an emergency application with the Islamabad High Court, demanding that the Pakistani government intervene immediately in his case.
Ahmad Rabbani has been on hunger strike for more than two years in protest at his detention without charge or trial in Guantanamo, where he has been held since 2004. An affidavit submitted to the court by human rights organization Reprieve, whose staff recently visited Mr Rabbani, describes the damaging effect on his health of his brutal treatment at the prison – including daily force-feedings and 'forced cell extractions' (FCEs).
The population of Syria’s Palestinian Refugee Camp, Yarmouk - whose population once exceeded 250,000, dwindling throughout the Syrian civil war to 18,000 - are a microcosm of the story of a whole nation, whose perpetual pain shames us all, none excluded.
Refugees who escaped the Syrian war or are displaced in Syria itself, are experiencing the cruel reality under the harsh and inhospitable terrains of war and Arab regimes. Many of those who remained in Yarmouk were torn to shreds by the barrel bombs of the Syrian army, or victimized by the malicious, violent groupings that control the camp, including the al-Nusra Front, and as of late, IS.
The two follow-up volumes to Vidar Sundstøl's Riverton Prize-winning The Land of Dreams have now been released.The haunting rugged country of Minnesota's Arrowhead region remains almost solid and the driving force and sole boundary in these final volumes of The Minnesota Trilogy where dreams and actual events, loyalty and enmity, the past and the present, the hunted and the hunter, the personal and the political, love and hate, family and foe meld and conjoin like the strands of a multi-dimensional Möbius strip.
When US Forest Service Ranger Lance Hansen finally solves the mystery of the Norwegian tourist's murder that sets these coils in motion, other mysteries of identity and allegiance resolve themselves in a most satisfying way. Sundstøl teamed with Nunnally brilliantly succeed in creating atmosphere, empathy and concern for the characters and deep suspense.
We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence Against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a landmark report from the Oakland Institute documents testimony from members of several ethnic groups from different areas of the country, bringing forward the voices of those most directly impacted by land grabs and villagization. The Ethiopian government's villagization program aims to resettle up to 1.5 million Ethiopians, mainly pastoralist and indigenous communities, from areas targeted for industrial plantations. These resettlements have happened without free, prior and informed consent, and when communities resist, they have been forcibly removed by means of violence, imprisonment, intimidation, political coercion, and the denial of humanitarian assistance.
Today the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio's announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view. Advocates expressed concerns about the overburdened and complex summons court system, biased police practices, collateral consequences of summonses, and lack of data transparency. The plan announced today includes a new NYPD summons form, website, and automated call-in system to help New Yorkers more easily navigate the NYC Summons court system.
In an October 2014 report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor De Blasio's Two New Yorks: The NYPD Marijuana Arrests Crusade Continues in 2014, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance noted the de Blasioadministration was on track to meet or surpass the Bloomberg 2013 marijuana arrests. Following the report's release, the deBlasio administration announced that New Yorkers found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a court summonsand immediately released. This marked a shift from past arrest practices, wherein police charged people with a misdemeanor – the person was then handcuffed, taken to the precinct and held for hours, fingerprinted and photographed, and eventually released with a court date and a virtually permanent arrest record.