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 appears, to my great sorrow, that the Cold War is returning. However, this is no time for despair. Rather it is a time for a renewed determination of men and women of good will on both sides to resist this drift toward confrontation, and to strive to restore the brief moment of friendship, respect and mutual cooperation that we experienced scarcely a decade ago.
For our part, we Americans are facing grave difficulties acknowledging the sources of this renewed conflict, and thus finding a remedy. Regrettably, a prominent cause of this difficulty is our corporate media.
As of July 29, 2014, the IDF has slaughtered over 1,200 Palestinians in the Gaza strip, most of them innocent, over the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hitchhikers a few weeks prior - a crime that should have been met with a demand for the perpetrators to face justice, not a three week air assault and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government makes no pretense of observing the most basic protocols of war: minimizing civilian deaths, proportionality, avoiding the targeting of third party non-combatants like the UN. There are a few voices, coming mainly from cultural and academic communities, who have found the courage to speak up. Their movement is growing. Artists and entertainers like Zayn Malik from the music group One Direction, Rihanna, Mia Farrow, John Cusack and Penelope Cruz along with Freedom4Palestine.org - a group that includes Chuck D from Public Enemy and Brian Eno- have all come out in support of Palestinian human rights.
As I enter my 17th year of teaching in Pomona, California, I have learned much about the profession. But, a recent Facebook encounter with former students forced me to reflect deeply about the road ahead for the teaching profession amidst an emerging online world.
Pomona is a working class city on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County and a paradox of the California Dream. It was a city that had reached its apex during the post-World War II period and became a darling of suburban California. Once home to a thriving defense industry, its fall from grace came in the wake of the end of the Cold War, shuttering the city’s main economic engine, General Dynamics. The city’s retail centers began to recede as middle income families slowly left.
To some, US secretary of state John Kerry may have appeared to be a genuine peacemaker as he floated around ideas during a Cairo visit on 25 July about a ceasefire between Israel and resisting Palestinian fighters in Gaza. But behind his measured diplomatic language, there is a truth not even America’s top diplomat can easily hide. His country is very much involved in fighting this dirty war on Gaza that has killed over 1,050, injured thousands more, and destroyed much of an already poor, dilapidated space that is barely inhabitable to begin with.
US economic and military aid to Israel is measured annually in the billions, and the US government continues to be Israel’s strongest and most ardent ally and political benefactor. In fact, the US-Israel “special relationship” is getting more “special” by the day even though Israel is sinking further into the abyss of a well-deserved isolation.
Two discoveries are changing our world in a good way: one, much of what we think is wrong in the world gets its start in and is a product of our brain. Two, there is a lot we can do to change the brain without a single operation or drug. Many of the ways that you can make yourself better and the world better at the same time are by getting to know yourself and getting over yourself. It is a life’s journey toward worthy service in the world, but really it is your brain’s journey toward renewal.
According to reports from Washington, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) may come up for a vote in the Senate (again) this week. The last time it came up, two years ago, it did not pass.
On the face of it, the Convention does not seem in conflict with American laws or values. The core principles spelled out in the Convention are respect for the inherent dignity of all persons, the right to individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, non-discrimination against persons on the basis of disabilities, full participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity, accessibility, respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities, and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
With the July 17 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine turning a local civil war into a U.S. confrontation with Russia, former U.S. intelligence veterans urge President Obama to release what evidence he has about the tragedy and silence the hyperbole.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane
In a May 12 letter published on AlterNet, two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and over 100 scholars, journalists and human rights activists called on Human Rights Watch to close its revolving door to the U.S. government. On June 3, HRW published a response from executive director Kenneth Roth on its website, arguing that their “concern is misplaced.” In a June 11 debate on Democracy Now!, HRW Counsel and Spokesman Reed Brody similarly rejected their recommendations. Now, Nobel Laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel join fellow signatories Richard Falk (United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories from 2008-14) and Hans von Sponeck (UN Assistant Secretary General from 1998-2000) in demanding that their proposals be taken seriously, and additionally, that HRW remove former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana from its Board of Directors.
Although charter schools must, by Florida law, be overseen by a non -profit board of directors, there are many ways in which for-profit organizations have begun to highjack the charter school movement. For-profit management companies frequently provide everything from back office operations including payroll, contracting with vendors for food services, textbook, etc., to hiring principals and teachers and curriculum control; so what was sold to parents and children as a local public education innovation now looks more like national charter-chains, the “Waltmartization” of public education. According to education expert Diane Ravitch, “nearly half of all charter school students are enrolled in a charter chain school” in the United States. The top four charter operators in Florida for 2011-2012 were Academica (72), Charter Schools USA (37), Charter School Associates (20), and Imagine Schools (23). These are not the small, locally run experimental schools envisioned by the original legislation.
Today, more than 140 international legal experts and human rights defenders from around the world, among them former UN independent experts and leading law professors, issued a joint declaration denouncing the grave violations and “disrespect of the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental rights of the entire Palestinian population” during the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, and calling for the international community, including the UN, Arab League, EU and the US, to establish clear mechanisms for accountability for international law violations. “Accountability cannot again be sidelined and stigmatized to serve political interests, our interests must be the protection of civilians and peace”, says Professor John Dugard, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
“Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), which is in the eye of the storm, victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, invoked after an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community,” says the Joint Declaration.