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.
Washington, DC – Unregulated, undisclosed spending made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has left local communities defenseless against big money national organizations intent on interfering with their elections, according to a report released today by Public Citizen.
In its report, "Outside Spenders, Local Elections," Public Citizen outlines several relatively obscure local elections that the 501(c)(4) group Americans for Prosperity sought to influence. The report chronicles six elections in which Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, drowned out local issues to pursue its own agenda.
The current level of violence in Iraq has a single root: the destabilizing act in 2003 of illegally invading and then occupying Iraq ordered by the George W. Bush administration, with their arrogant claims that US troops would be greeted as liberators. Rather than liberating Iraq, however, our country lost yet another war there, one which left thousands of American soldiers dead, tens of thousands wounded and still more traumatized. We also destabilized the region; slaughtered and displaced Iraqis; left Iraq in a mess; created the conditions for a civil war there; strengthened Iran; created many new advocates of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations; and demonstrated disdain for international law.
The Bush administration led and lied the US into an aggressive war, the kind of war held to be a crime against peace at Nuremberg. The lying was despicable, an impeachable offense, but it is too late for the impeachment of a president and vice-president who are now out of office. The initiation of an aggressive war was an act, however, for which there should always be accountability, as there was at Nuremberg. This, of course, would require having the courage and principle as a country to create policies to hold our own leaders to the same standards that we held those leaders whom we defeated in combat.
Albany – Today, healthcare professionals and patients continued their response to Governor Cuomo’s demands on medical marijuana. Patients and healthcare professionals are gathering in Albany today to push lawmakers to vote on the Compassionate Care Act, and healthcare professionals who couldn’t travel to Albany issued strong statements in support of the bill. The Compassionate Care Act would create the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana program and allow patients with serious and debilitating conditions to access a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider. The action and statements come just a day after Governor Cuomo issued a series of last minute demands to amend the bill, some of which are considered “poison pills” by patients, caregivers and providers. Even though Cuomo broke off negotiations around the bill, the bill sponsors, Sen. Savino and Assm. Gottfried, amended the legislation to account for many of the Governor’s concerns.
Patients and healthcare providers are outraged by Governor Cuomo’s attempt to derail the legislation. Providers were particularly disturbed by Cuomo’s claims that the bill had little support from the medical community.
Jerry Brown, once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, has in his third administration transformed himself into "Big Oil Brown."
According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The "Governor Moonbeam" nickname "was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting 'the moonbeam' vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional."
The word genocide, coined in 1944 in an effort to describe what the Nazis called "the final solution" and what today we call the Holocaust, attempted to distinguish the crime of killing people of a certain identity in such great numbers that you tried eliminating them as a group. Earlier in that century, there had been the mass murder of Armenians by the Turks, an event Hitler once cynically reminded associates was not even remembered only a few decades later.
Some would include in the category the terrible starvation induced in Ukraine by Soviet agricultural policies and ineptitude, an event which indeed killed millions, or the ruthless policies of Mao's China which caused many millions of peasants to starve. But these events, utterly nightmarish as they were, begin to lose the legitimate sense of genocide. Although we cannot rightly call these genocides, they remain depravity on a colossal scale, but I am not sure the distinction is one with great meaning, and certainly not for any of the victims. After all, when nations go to war, the job defined for each soldier is to kill as many of the people from another land as possible. Our great wars now typically kill vast numbers, and it is just a fact of history that since the 19th century we have moved from killing mainly other soldiers to killing mainly civilians.
You never forget your first kill. Mine happened on a desolate stretch of backcountry gravel road several miles outside of a tiny town in Utah that nobody has ever heard of. I remember the day clearly; it is permanently etched into my memory like a hot ember on the back of my eyelids. It was mid-March in the desert, which means stifling hot days and bitter cold nights. The sun was high in the sky and there was a slight haze which tinted the landscape in hues of red and orange, an appropriate palette for the scenario which was to soon unfold. The wind was unusually strong that day, blowing tumbleweeds and clouds of dust across the barren and desolate terrain and kicking up dust-devils, or Chindi. According to the indigenous Diné peoples of this area, Chindi are the spirits of departed peoples, and they carry either positive or malicious messages, based on the direction they are spinning. Some, if sent by a witch, are messengers of death or sickness. Since it is hard to determine the intention or direction of a Chindi, it is best to just avoid them at all costs.
Washington, D.C.- The United States remains the only high-income country that does not mandate paid family and medical leave. Each year, more than 2.5 million working Americans are unable to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition or who was injured during military service, for pregnancy, to bond with a new child, or for their own illness or disability. Anew report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research demonstrates that a federal paid leave program could effectively close this gap.
The report, “Documenting the Need for a National Paid Family and Medical Leave Program,” by Helene Jorgenson and Eileen Appelbaum, analyzes the Department of Labor’s 2012 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Survey and documents the unmet need leaves of private-sector workers in the United States.
Will we dig up paradise to be able to try to tweet a picture of paradise? To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question of our time.
So all those little pieces that make up your electronic do-dads, iPhones, Smartphones, Awesome Blackberries and computers and such. All those little pieces need something called “rare earth minerals”. Why? I’m not sure, but they need them to work. Without them there’s no tweeting amazing mountain pictures, or sunsets or your friend sticking out her tongue. No selfies from high atop Mt. Everest. No email, no instant messages, without rare earth minerals. What’s a gal to do?!
The German occupation of Europe in the 1940s was brutal. Millions of people died. Europe was devastated. However, no European country suffered as much as Greece.
The Greeks were the first Europeans who won a victory against fascism. They defeated the Italian allies of the Germans. They fought bravely against the attacking Germans and kept fighting them throughout the occupation of their country, 1941-1944.
According to David Wildman, United Methodist Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice at the General Board of Global Ministries, "This is the first time that a United Methodist general agency has included human rights violations related to Israel's illegal settlements and military occupation in a decision to divest from a company. We celebrate this strong human rights message both to G4S specifically and to other companies whose business operations support longstanding human rights abuses against Palestinians."