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.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hurried to his helicopter ready to take off at the end of a visit to Iraq last year, it was becoming clearer that the Americans have lost control of a country they wished to mold to their liking. His departure on March 24, 2013 was the conclusion of a ‘surprise’ visit meant to mark the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Ten years prior, the US had stormed Baghdad, unleashing one of the 20th century’s most brutal and longest conflicts. Since then, Iraq has not ceased to bleed.
Teflon is, I believe, an apt metaphor for the protective veneer of privilege and power. As Mullainathan and Shafir detail, individual behavior tends to reflect powerful contexts such as abundance and slack or scarcity, and thus, those living in abundance and experiencing slack live much as Reagan lead since nothing sticks to the Teflon of privilege and power.
Members of the New York City Light Brigade, The Illuminator Art Collective and other allies turned the Verizon building in downtown New York into a large billboard to project the all seeing “NSA eye” along with text stating “you will never be alone”, “our eye is on you”, and “Wherever you go, whatever you do, you are under surveillance.”
My coming out launched a hurricane upon my landlocked country of origin, where homosexuality can be penalized with the death penalty. The tidal wave surged last August when I broadcasted this message on Facebook:
"I'm so happy to have finished the process of 'coming out' to the entire world. Burden lifted forever. For the last few people in the planet who don't know, let me tell you now: Yes, I am proud to be gay, Afghan, American and Muslim. So get over it! Now, I can live life without all the aunties & uncles harassing and pressuring with questions like why I haven't married a woman. If they do, I will simply shake my head, snap my finger, toss my hair and tell them I am marrying a distinguished gentleman and in Pashto we call it خاوند "khaawand" (owner, proprietor husband) and if you want to offer your son or nephew for my hand then tell him I want a platinum ring on my finger, a Central Park wedding ceremony and a Manhattan skyscraper rooftop reception afterwards. I have it allout. The bespoke lifestyle awaits. Oh yeah!"
February 3, Boston – Today, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged the First Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as a violation of the First Amendment. Enacted in 2006, the AETA punishes anyone found to have caused the loss of property or profits to a business or other institution that uses or sells animals or animalproducts, or to “a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with ananimal enterprise.” Critics argue that the law is so broad that it punishes peaceful protests like boycotts and picketing that cause businesses to lose profits and turns non-violent civil disobedience into “terrorism.” CCR filed the first civil challenge to the AETA, Blum v. Holder, in 2011.
Washington, DC – The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is distributing and encouraging use of a Privacy Statement for all Internet users to adopt as part of their signature line in their online communications. Similar to the standard legal disclaimers found at the end of many emails, this Privacy Statement goes further by explicitly prohibiting the collection of the communication and related metadata by the National Security Agency (NSA), consistent with the disclosures of the bulk metadata collection programrevealed by GAP client Edward Snowden in June 2013.
Washington, DC – Legislators in California, Georgia, and Oklahoma are joining a national movement to reign in reckless outsourcing of public services to for-profit corporations and private entities, introducing bills that would keep taxpayers in control of their public services by increasing transparency and accountability standards for outsourcing deals.
Last time I wrote about things that trouble me in my current home state of Florida, I received some pretty nasty responses. One person emailed that my criticism of some of the laws in the state was an affront to those who have served the U.S in foreign wars (I still don’t see how, but never mind) and strongly suggested that I move to Russia or Saudi Arabia. But, eight years after my arrival, I am still here, and at the risk of receiving even more hateful responses, I am again compelled to offer a criticism of some of Florida’s latest dandies.
The D.C. Council took a major step to decriminalizing marijuana in the nation’s capital today by voting 11-1 in favor of a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and treat possession as a civil offense. The D.C. Council takes a final vote on the bill in early March; it is expected to pass and to be signed into law by the mayor. It is viewed by both council members and advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.