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.

Sep 24

Two-State Solution or Illusion? An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses | News Analysis

Peter Beinart is a “liberal Zionist” who has written a piece in the New York Review of Books of 26 September 2013 entitled “The American Jewish Cocoon.” In this essay he laments, “The organized Jewish community [is] a closed intellectual space.” By this he means that most American Zionist Jews (it is important to remember that not all Jews are Zionists) know little or nothing about those who oppose them, particularly Palestinians. They also seem to have no interest in changing this situation. For these Zionists the opposition has been reduced to an irredeemably anti-Semitic “them.”

A new controversy aggravating already strained relations between Washington and Caracas threatens to destabilise relations with other South American countries. On Thursday night Venezuelan Secretary of State Elias Jaua announced that the United States denied the Presidential Plane the right to fly over Puerto Rico on it’s way to China for diplomatic meetings. Outraged at American refusal to grant Venezuelan state leaders authorisation to fly over American airspace President Nicolas Maduro denounced Washington’s decision: “To refuse permission to a head of state to fly over airspace that they colonized in Puerto Rico is a serious offense.” This comes months after the United States refused to recognize the results of Venezuela’s elections in the aftermath of President Chavez’s death. Canadian based Foundation for Democratic Advancement ranked Venezuelan elections number 1 in fairness. The International Elections Report released by the Carter Center for Peace also found Venezuelan elections to be among the fairest in the world.

Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration are continuing to push for reforms of draconian drug sentencing policies that have led the U.S. federal prison population to skyrocket over the past three decades. The White House announced that they will curtail federal mandatory minimum drug laws by ordering prosecutors to remove any references to specific amounts of illegal drugs that trigger mandatory minimum sentences. Holder also ordered prosecutors to refile charges against defendants in pending cases and to apply the new policy to defendants who are already in the system but have not yet been sentenced.

Dear members of the press,

The Super-Special Commission for Rosia Montana ignores the protesters'
message and announces fake meetings.

Tens of thousands of people in 36 cities from Romania and 34 from abroad
took the streets on Sunday for the 22nd consecutive day demanding the
rejection of the special law that would allow the destruction of Rosia
Montana. Protesters sent a clear message to Romanian lawmakers reiterating
their claims: the resignation of Prime Minister Ponta and the initiators
of the law, the  rejection of the mining project, the ban on cyanide
mining in Romania and the inclusion of Rosia Montana in Romania's
tentative list for UNESCO. Protests also condemn the hesitation of
Romanian politicians who are looking for solutions to legalize the mining
project proposed by the Canadian company.

Sep 24

Organizing Against Violence

By Curtis Black, Newstips | Op-Ed

As Chicago reeled under a new spate of street violence, community organizers including scores of teens working to prevent violence met Saturday in Little Village — and participants said the problem will require a far more comprehensive approach than just locking up “bad guys.”

“The ‘harsh on crime’ approach simply hasn’t worked,”  said Luis Carrizales, coordinator of the Violence Prevention Collaborative, a collective of community organizations run out of Enlace Chicago.

Public Citizen today called on the IRS to investigate whether Freedom Partners, a relatively obscure group but one of the largest entities to fund political activities in the 2012 election cycle, is a legitimate business league, as it claims on its tax forms.

Freedom Partners is registered as a 501(c)(6) organization. Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues can be exempt from taxes under this section of the IRS code. Business

"International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind."

I'd like to focus on that last paragraph; that is the only thing you and I have any control of. There are those who will say that there are mean, hurtful, crazy people out there and there is nothing we can do to change them, yet I submit that at the root of whatever we perceive is their behavior or attitude, is a human being, and human beings need love. 

The US’s dependency on drone warfare reveals a laziness in properly imagining geography. At the same time, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) project was a rash decision. It was launched not to save the lives of soldiers, but in response to the geopolitical defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq. This geographical illiteracy and careless thinking explain drone warfare’s extremely hig hcivilian casualty rates  as compared to conventional warfare. For example, and since the beginning of UAV warfare, there have been over 5,000 casualties in Pakistan, 200 children. In Yemen and Somalia, there have been over 1,000 deaths and almost 50 children killed. Those killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places far surpass those killed in the regions just mentioned.

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4. 

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Einstein said, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”

This week the world is intently watching developments in Syria hoping and praying for a peaceful solution.  As the United Nations convenes its 68th general assembly there is a strong push for peace and hope that the UN can realize one of its most important missions, the prevention of war. All nations and particular those of the Security Council have an opportunity and obligation to promote this process. Ultimately the outcome of this crisis affects the fate of the planet.  In adherence to international law with the ban on the use of chemical weapons and holding accountable those who use them we see parallels when it comes to the greatest existential threat we face, the use of nuclear weapons.  This is a time for leadership by example.