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 US holiday Labor Day is a joke. Any day off is welcome, of course. However, again there will be no visible strikes and no muscle-flexing by the labor movement. Observance of Labor Day is as if having to be either over-worked or unemployed, putting up with extreme income disparity, tolerating insanely onerous student debt, forced to contribute to environmental degradation and unabated military madness, are non-existent issues in the "real world."
The non-labor orientation of our political reality has a lot to do with the loss of May Day in the US as a workers' show of force and rallying tool.
Almost daily, we are faced by difficult choices we are challenged to confront over a range of foreign and domestic policy concerns. We must decide whether to stand firm on principle or negotiate and compromise; whether to push for everything we want or work to achieve what we believe is possible. As these choices play out, I am often guided by an important lesson I learned more than four decades ago from one of my heroes in the U.S. civil rights movement, Julian Bond, a young African American leader of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.
The story begins at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, IL. In the months preceding the Convention, the country had been shaken by a series of traumatic developments.
If you are over fifty and were raised in a Jewish household, you either heard this question, "but is it good for the Jews?" explicitly asked numerous times or were subtly encouraged to think the question to yourself. It reflects a group-centered concern born of the memory of anti-Semitic hostility and a seemingly unending vulnerability, and it can apply to almost any public action: federal or local legislation, cultural trends, foreign policy decisions, etc. I do not know how many of the younger generation of American Jews, known to be very secular and prone to religious intermarriage, still ask this question, but there can be no doubt that it is still there on the tips of almost every Jewish tongue of that generation for whom World War II is still well remembered.
The British government is being asked to reopen an investigation into BT, after new evidence appeared to link the company to illegal US drone strikes and the mass government surveillance used to select their targets.
Legal charity Reprieve, which assists the civilian victims of drone strikes, has this week submitted to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) a complaint containing details of how a cable laid by BT for the US military between RAF Croughton – a US base in the UK – and Camp Lemonnier – a secretive drone base in Djibouti – was tailored to meet special NSA requirements consistent with the launching of drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia.
On Labor Day 1940, American workers faced the aftermath of the Great Depression, with mass unemployment persisting and a divided labor movement facing a renewed counterattack from corporate America. They were barely becoming aware of an even greater threat, one that would determine the future of their country and their labor movement: the threat of Nazi armies mobilizing for war.
On Labor Day 2014, American workers face the lingering results of the Great Recession, with unemployment still at historic highs, burgeoning inequality, and attacks on the very right to have a union. But, like workers in 1940, we are being pressed by another threat, one that will far overshadow our current problems if we do not take it on.
The following is an edited version of a talk by Roger Annis on August 22 that was delivered to a session of the Peoples Social Forum that took place in Ottawa from August 21 to 25. Approximately 75 people attended the session. The co-presenter to Roger Annis was David Mandel, a professor of political science in Montreal and expert in the history of the working class movements in Russia and Ukraine. You can read his talk published here in The Bullet. It is titled "Understanding the civil war in Ukraine."
Today, The Nation and The Huffington Post published speeches from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and three other GOP Senate candidates, Rep. Tom Cotton (AR), state Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), and Rep. Cory Gardner (CO), at a secretive donor summit hosted in June by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.
The candidates make the case for overturning Citizens United and getting big money out of politics better than we ever could.
Helen Collier, a prolific writer of many different genres, says writing has been in her spirit since her mother placed a pencil in her left hand and told her, “God made you a left-handed writer for a reason. It’s up to you to share with the world what that reason is.”
Ms. Anna and the Tears from the Healing Tree is Collier’s magical tale of a Black woman’s journey from adolescence to adulthood with the help of an Old Widow spider and a tree with the power to heal wounds, physical and emotional. Ms. Anna doesn’t fool around. Her story is filled with folk wisdom, female solidarity and blunt talk between Black and white women about race and what divides us.Collier has written a novel that is by turns sexy, fantastical and painfully real, with an unforgettable central character who stays true to herself to the last page.
Women have a vital role in the progress of human society. Yet, women’s contributions to progress aren’t always acknowledged by or even included in history books. In her 1998 book, You Can’t Kill the Spirit: Women and Nonviolent Action, writer Pam McAllister spotlights stories, struggles and contributions of women all over the world – stories that are often hidden in plain sight. The latest story comes from Pakistan, where local women are actively working toward social and political change at this very moment.
Pakistan has been in political turmoil for the past three weeks due to ongoing anti-government direct actions by two opposition parties. Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) initiated their separate marches on August 14, 2014, the day Pakistan’s independence is celebrated.
British resident Shaker Aamer has reportedly been beaten at Guantánamo Bay, in evidence of a new crackdown on prisoners protesting their detention without charge.
In new letters received by legal charity Reprieve, detainees reveal what one calls a new “standard procedure” of abuses at the prison. Emad Hassan, a Yemeni detained without charge since 2002, wrote that “an FCE [Forcible Cell Extraction] team has been brought in to beat the detainees […] On Sunday, Shaker ISN 239 was beaten when the medical people wanted to draw blood.” Mr Hassan adds that guards had beaten another detainee for nearly 2 hours.