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.
It's been said that the devil's greatest trick is convincing the world that he doesn't exist. Maybe that's true.
Whether or not you're a person of faith you've probably been in a situation at one time or another when someone tried to convince you that what you instinctively knew to be true was not real, right?
That's where we are in 2015 with the issue of Civil Rights.
Civil Rights? In 2015? Come on. Seriously?
As the world is further immersed in social and digital media, the rulers of the United Arab Emirates have become more aggressive in arresting and deporting people for expressing their opinions, as one of the victims of this crackdown, I have learnt how freedom of expression is recently categorised as a crime and threat to the country. The halo effects of the Arab Spring have definitely shaken UAE rulers who previously had taken a less antagonising approach compared to their GCC neighbours but still essentially were always mindful of the powers of sustaining the repressive stance that always has existed.
Although Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu in his speech to Congress painted Iran as a threat to peace, he left out important details concerning the relationship between Iran and the West. There is considerably more to the story.
The uncomfortable fact is that, by any fair measure, Iran has been more sinned against than sinning. To explain, we will need to dip into what George Orwell called the "Memory Hole" and review the momentous events of the 1940s and 1950s as well as their far-reaching consequences.
In this second post assessing the track record of the Affordable Care Act five years after its enactment, we now look at its impact on containment of health care costs and affordability of care, two of its principal goals. In the last post, we noted that up to 11 million Americans have gained access to care though the exchanges, but pointed out the many limits to these numbers; the Obama administration now claims that an additional 10 million have been enrolled in Medicaid or the CHIP children's health program since the start of the ACA.
Salem, Oregon – Oregon created a bold new 21st century standard for voter registration. The state legislature approved a bill to streamline registration at the DMV by replacing a paper-based system with a new process in which voters are added to the rolls electronically.
The Brennan Center for Justice applauds the legislature, Gov. Kate Brown, and civic groups for their efforts to make voting more accessible by passing this groundbreaking reform, which builds on our signature Voter Registration Modernization proposal.
Part I - The Delusional Leader
On March 3, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came before the US Congress and once again painted a false picture of Iran and its ambitions. His vision was both apocalyptic and simplistic: the state of Iran is evil and the source of most of the aggression and terrorism in the Middle East; it is eternally hostile to the West and it aims at the destruction of Israel; the West, with the United States leading the way, must stop this evil regime before it gains the capacity to use nuclear weapons.
He has been saying this for at least 25 years, and, like the false prophecies predicting the end of the world, the alleged catastrophe never seems to occur. Iran never seems to come up with a nuclear bomb. However, Netanyahu never stops predicting it.
Brasilia, Brazil - This week, imprisoned executives from one of Brazil’s largest construction firms – who are implicated in an unprecedented corruption scandal involving the parastatal oil company Petrobras – promised to expose a parallel scheme of massive fraud surrounding hydroelectric dams in the Amazon. In a plea deal with the Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office (MPF), top executives at Camargo Corrêa – a principal contractor for Petrobras and the federal government’s Amazon dam-building program – vowed to provide details of systematic corruption in the construction of the costly Belo Monte and Jirau megadams.
In a normal world, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the US Congress would have been roundly mocked by the audience for its hypocritical fear mongering. In a normal world, 70 years beyond Hiroshima, major powers would have long since acceded to the wishes of their constituents and established far more extensive arms reduction treaties. In a normal world, there would be a single, not a double, standard challenging the undiluted evil of nuclear weapons, no matter who possesses them. That single standard would underpin not only a regional but also a planet-wide effort at nuclear disarmament. And in a normal world, a foreign leader would not have been handed the most prestigious possible venue to undermine delicate, complex negotiations merely to allow him to score political points in two countries simultaneously.
Wars may be how Americans learn geography, but do they always learn the history of how the geography was shaped by wars? I’ve just read Syria: A History of the Last Hundred Yearsby John McHugo. It’s very heavy on the wars, which is always a problem with how we tell history, since it convinces people that war is normal. But it also makes clear that war wasn’t always normal in Syria.
Syria was shaped by and remains to this day outraged by the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (in which Britain and France divided up things that didn’t belong to either of them), the 1917 Balfour Declaration (in which Britain promised Zionists land it didn’t own known as Palestine or Southern Syria), and the 1920 San Remo Conference at which Britain, France, Italy, and Japan used rather arbitrary lines to create the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon, the British Mandate of Palestine (including Jordan), and the British Mandate of Iraq.
Washington, DC - Public Citizen roundly condemns the latest sneak attack (PDF) by U.S. House GOP leaders to terminate the presidential public financing program and give corporations and the wealthy still more influence over American elections.
On the heels of the fifth anniversary of the U.S Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision – which said that corporations may spend unlimited amounts to influence national, state, local and judicial elections – House Republicans have introduced H.R. 412, a bill to end public financing of presidential elections.