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.
The promise of American democracy is colliding with the unpleasant reality of an emerging American plutocracy.
Fueled by - and reinforcing - staggering inequalities of wealth, income and power, the American political system is betraying Lincoln’s great pledge that our country would be one of, by and for the people.
Thanks to a series of US Supreme Court decisions, most notably Citizens United, the super-rich and giant corporations are pouring money into our elections at record levels.
Truthout contributor and historian Jeffrey R. McCord has written and self-published a genre-crossing and bending first novel, "Undocumented Visitors in a Pirate Sea; An Investigation of Certain Caribbean Phenomena by Dr. Thayer Harris." The book blends history, UFO lore, science fiction, sailing and travel lore, the fractures of the national security state and idiosyncrasies of border policing into a potent sort of literary beachside rum punch, complete with a happy paper parasol. McCord responded to the an e-interview that follows.
After the genocide and war that destroyed the social fabric among Rwandans, different approaches have been used to restore hope, heal the wounds of the past and build social cohesion. "Community based sociotherapy" is one of the approaches introduced by the Byumba Anglican Diocese operating in the Northern Province of Rwanda.
Community based sociotherapy is understood as a way to help people come together to overcome or cure their problems. The approach helps people in a group format, where group members are given an opportunity to help their companions to overcome problems, as well as solve their own. Community based sociotherapy was first introduced in Rwanda in 2005. The program has been remarkably successful in assisting Rwandans in dealing with the consequences of genocide and war.
Here are seven problems that prevent Gross National Happiness, the overall happiness of a nation. Solving these national problems and then taking the necessary steps to achieve world peace will usher in Gross Global Happiness.
Lawrence Davidson, an expert on the Middle East and American Foreign Policy, talked with Truthout about the recent headlines concerning ISIS/ISIL as well as the legacy of the Bush Administration. We are reaping the terrible consequences of the fatal and immoral error of invading Iraq. All questions surrounding ISIS fluctuate rapidly in conjunction with evolving tribal and on the ground situations. Usually the West underestimates the strength of militancy and the vulnerability of a too-big-to-fail foreign policy with proxy client forces.
Davidson helps to uncover unsubstantiated reports, media tropes, and calls into question old and unfounded disinformation. Media filtering is very much built in, as Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky described the "propaganda model" in Manufacturing Consent. This is also true in Ukraine, where the involvement of neo-Nazi thugs out of Kiev and the government's intentional attack on innocents in the Eastern portion of the country has received minimal news coverage only.
“Communist Party, you choke people,” reads the placard raised by a demonstrator in Hong Kong the other day. He and a few thousand others belonging to Occupy Central (in Chinese, the organization is called Heping zhan zhong, or Peacefully Occupy the Center) have been protesting for months against anticipated restrictions imposed by Beijing on elections for chief executive of Hong Kong. Now those restrictions have been enacted. By tightening the rules concerning nominations for the position, China’s legislature has made it fairly impossible for an independent-minded leader to be elected. Pro-democracy forces in the city had hoped that by 2017, they would gain control on the basis of one person, one vote. But the system is now rigged to deny that principle in practice. The new rules reflect just how scared China’s leadership is of losing control over a key city.
It is now seventeen years since authority over Hong Kong passed from Britain to China. Unlike other so-called autonomous regions of China, Hong Kong has enjoyed an unusual degree of political, social and economic freedom in keeping with its long-running stature as an international crossroads and Beijing’s pledge not to interfere with the city’s way of life for 50 years. “One country, two systems,” Deng Xiaoping promised following China’s takeover. But Beijing’s control has never been remote; it has maintained predominant influence over who runs Hong Kong and by which rules, and Hong Kongers are fully aware that China’s military can be quickly deployed should widespread “instability” occur.
A picture of you standing in front of your dirty car doesn’t mean that your car has always been and always will be dirty – or that it’s dirty because of some personal failure of yours. Nor does it mean you’re the only person around whose vehicle may become less than sparkling. But that is the impression many have of people living in poverty in the US because of the oft-cited 15 percent figure: that the minority of people with no to little money who are captured in a yearly government income and poverty report are the same people that show up in that report every year – they are “America’s poor.” As Columbia University Social Work Professor Irwin Garfinkel has said, “One of the biggest myths about poverty in the United States is that a relatively small segment of the population is poor, and that this represents a more or less permanent underclass.”
Let’s be clear – poverty, especially if you’re born into it, can be difficult to escape, as a new film, "Rich Hill," documents. Stephen Pimpare, poverty expert, discusses the film at TalkPoverty.org: “Many viewers and critics will see much of what is portrayed in the film as ‘culture,’ but it’s actually structure: the product of decades of disinvestment from communities like [Rich Hill, MO.], which leaves behind depressed, isolated, local economies with no jobs, a dwindling tax base, and nothing to attract business or new residents; aging, dilapidated housing stock; underfunded, inferior schools; little or no access to health care and other social services; and few people around who aren’t as poor as you are.”
According to a new study by the School of Medical Sciences (UNSW Australia), junk food can alter behavior by causing lasting changes in the reward circuit of the brain – an alteration that triggers obesity.
Although the UNSW study was conducted on rats, the conclusions are applicable to humans since mammals share similarities in the orbitofrontal cortex that is responsible for decision-making.
A story came out a little while ago as wildfire season was flaring up in California. Apparently certain inmates at California's prisons are given the chance to "give back to their country" by fighting fires.
While this may make some kind of sense - why shouldn't prisoners be given something useful to do, rather than spending time in their jail cells? We know that California's prisons are overcrowded, and their population has grown by about 750% since the 1970s. In California, prisoner abuse is rampant, and so is the unjustified and excessive use of solitary confinement.The chance to escape captivity in this system would be welcome to many.
On September 5th, 1989 President George H.W. Bush gave a speech from the Oval Office that defined a generation. Declaring an escalation of the war on drugs he held up a bag of crack cocaine that he said undercover agents bought in the park across the street from the White House. It later turned out that federal agents lured someone to the park to sell crack just so the president could say it was bought from in front of the White House (the crack seller did not even know where the White House was and had to ask for directions).
"President H.W. Bush's crack speech defined the irrational zero tolerance drug policies of the times that put ideology and politics above science and health," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Millions of Americans were incarcerated, hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, and hundreds of thousands of human beings allowed to die of AIDS – all in the name of a 'war on drugs' that did nothing to reduce drug abuse. But fortunately the country is at last coming to its senses and embracing alternatives to those failed policies."