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.
I never knew Martin Luther King, Jr., but I grew up politically in his America. My personal awakening to nonviolence came one day in Greenwich Village when I happened to listen in to a radio broadcast covering a Civil Rights rally going on somewhere down south. A justifiably angry African American man said to the rally organizer, “They beat us, they hit us: why don’t we use violence back?” The leader, whoever it was, calmly said, “Because that is not who we are.” From that moment on I lived with the vague feeling in the back of my mind that not only is nonviolence a key to what I want to be, it’s what we are as human beings, nonviolence is the destiny toward which we have to strive – if the human experiment is to go on on planet Earth.
On Jan. 9, the US House of Representatives passed HR 2279, which would gut the nation’s hazardous waste regulations. This bill, called the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, would amend both the Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (commonly known as Superfund). It would remove requirements that the Environmental Protection Agency periodically update and review solid waste disposal regulations, and would make it harder for the government to require companies that deal with hazardous substances to carry enough insurance to cover cleanup. The bill would also require more consultation with states before the government imposes cleanup requirements for Superfund sites — places where hazardous waste is located and could be affecting local people or ecosystems, Kate Sheppard reported at HuffingtonPost.com.
. . . are excess optimism and Citibank."
That’s a saying that someone, probably Simon, repeated to me a few years ago. Crash of 1929, Latin American debt crisis, early 1990s real estate crash (OK, that wasn’t a financial crisis, just acrisis for Citibank), Asian financial crisis of 1997–1998, and, of course, the biggie of 2007–2009: anywhere you look, there’s Citi. Sometimes they’re just in the middle of the profit-seeking pack, but sometimes they play a leading role: for example, the Citicorp-Travelers merger was the final nail in the coffin of the Glass-Steagall Act and the immediate motivation for Gramm-Leach-Bliley.
Schumer, the senior U.S. Senator from New York and the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, made the statement just days after similar comments by Texas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Perry, defended the right of Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana and said that Texas had implemented “policies that start us toward a decriminalization.” Perry was speaking on a panel about drug policy along with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, who both spoke out in favor of significant drug policy reform.
About one hour south of the wealthy Silicon Valley, and twenty minutes east of the affluent Monterey/Carmel area, home of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, sits the agricultural town of Salinas. The city of Salinas is at the head of a fertile valley – a part of the country brought into America’s consciousness through the stories of John Steinbeck. Along with an abundance of other crops, 80% of the nation’s lettuce and artichokes are grown here. Every day, Americans eat produce that is handpicked by immigrant farm workers in this area, but few understand the challenges the farm workers and their children face.
Public education, one of the storied pillars of our society, is under attack by people and institutions who like to think of themselves as "reformers." What is the message of these self-styled reformers? They contend that the public schools have "failed." They want to close "underachieving" public schools. They want to fire teachers and kick out teachers' unions. They want to privatize public schools. Finally, they want to embrace high-stakes testing.
“What happens to a dream deferred?” asks Langston Hughes in “Harlem.”
As a poem of social consciousness, “Harlem” may often be reduced to literary analysis or an artifact of the Harlem Renaissance; as schools become more and more focused on the Common Core and raising scores on the related next-generation tests, the poem is likely to be (if at all) just one more text for close reading practice.
In a meeting I had this week with a congressional candidate, I was reminded of the power of the myths that define conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the challenge they pose for rational discourse. In rapid succession my visitor rattled off a number of statements revealing how much he didn't know about the conflict and how steep the climb for those who seek a just peace.