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.
"Humans live like lice in the folds of a garment...When fleas buzz in your ear, you do not hear them: how could God even hear men, let alone concede their wishes." -Wang Ch'ung, Taoist Philosopher
North Korea's Kim Jong Un is not the first ruler to purge political opponents. Neither will he be the last. On New Year's Day he explained why he had to rid North Korea of his uncle. Executions, he said, made the state's ruling party stronger, purging it of "factional filth." The quest for purity by eliminating opponents-people in an organization or state that are considered undesirable, even impure, imperfect, sinful, or polluted-has been a common thread throughout the fabric of time. It's not a New Year after all.
I am pleased to hear about Mayor Murray’s executive order to begin the process of making $15/hour the minimum wage for all city workers. This move towards $15 for an estimated 600 city employees is an important step in the right direction and a victory of the growing movement of low-wage workers. It starkly demonstrates the unprecedented political momentum for a $15/hour minimum wage for all of Seattle.
As an immediate step, I appeal to Mayor Murray to insist that the thousands of city subcontractor employees not covered by today's order also be raised to a minimum of $15.
In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, film star Jennifer Lawrence denounced the way we are taught that to make fun of someone is funny. Lawrence took particular issue with calling people "fat," and asserted that if we can regulate television advertising related to cigarettes, why not also limit the way it presents harmful images and discussions of people’s bodies? I applaud Lawrence for using her platform to shed light on this important issue, and want to share here an additional perspective.
Reports of the carnage in Iraq appear in The New York Times with appalling regularity, such as the December 2, 2013 report, headlined "Blast Kills at Least 12 Mourners At Funeral of Iraq Sunni Leader." Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (December 27, 2013) reported that The United Nations puts the 2013 death toll from such attacks at 8,000, the highest Iraqi death toll in war-related violence since 2008. Almost daily, dozens of Iraqis are being killed and many more wounded, mostly by car bombs.* The car bombs are detonated in markets, outside restaurants and cafes, at wakes and funeral processions like the one cited above; in other words, at places where crowds have gathered.
When Catholic Church leaders chose the new pope, for the most part the media responded favorably; they underlined how Francis' style diverged from that of his predecessors, and how the new pope seemed to already assume a distinctive and progressive new role in the Church. Some, including myself, however, expressed reservations. We were wary of the silence maintained by former Argentine Bishop Bergoglio during the brutal human rights violations under the Argentine dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. The dictatorship, established in defense of the more privileged groups in Argentina, was especially brutal to any dissidents and opponents of its reign. This silence reflected a lack of sensitivity to gross human rights violations carried out by dictatorships with close ties to the Catholic Church.
As we progress into the first days and quarter of 2014, numerous global crises are revealing more than ever a sickening corporatocracy that railroads, lies, subverts and legislates to guarantee profit, power and privilege for the few at the expense of humanity and the Earth. It employs continual warfare (pre-emptive, false-flag, illegal and otherwise); the killing of millions of people through these wars, extrajudicial assassinations, poverty; violation of international, national and personal data through global surveillance networks; rigged markets, premeditated government shutdowns and currency wars; corporate-centralized media spewing endless propaganda and spin; increasingly brutal police crackdowns; ‘trade’ agreement coups, manufactured in secret; silencing and criminalization of journalists, boycotters, whistleblowers and dissenters, etc.
We are grateful to Slovakia for resettling the three remaining Uighurs from Guantánamo, ending one of the most tragic chapters in Guantánamo’s twelve-year history. This is a profound humanitarian gesture toward three men the U.S. government long recognized were innocent of any wrongdoing and never should have been brought to Guantánamo. Unfortunately, their release was delayed for a decade during which they endured terrible physical and psychological abuse at Guantánamo.
Santa Rosa, California - Mothers in White plan to converge on the regular meeting of the governing Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for a peaceful, dignified action on January 7, Tuesday, at 1 PM. They demand justice for 13-year-old Andy Lopez killed October 22 by sheriff's deputy Erick Gelhaus, who claims he thought the boy's toy rifle was a real gun.
A front-page "2013 in Review" by the daily mainstream Press Democrat ranked the killing of Andy as last year's number one local story. Many feel that it is the most important local story in this county of some 500,000 people in decades. A large picture of Andy's father Rodrigo and his mother Sujey clutching their son's coffin spreads across the top of the paper.
Ever since the American Studies Association had the nerve to decide through a democratic vote that it would impose an academic boycott on Israel, the news media has been on a feeding frenzy. And it's just the beginning. The much larger and much more powerful Modern Languages Association will take up the matter of academic freedom and the Palestinians in about a week. Hang on to your seats. No doubt I will file a dispatch or two about that one. But for right now, I'd like to suggest we take a pause in the debate about the ASA.
I was halfway through my run when I saw her. Per our custom, we both stopped to gaze at each other. She was graceful, silent and beautiful. Then as quickly as she appeared, she was gone.
Moments later, I found myself at the edge of a thoroughfare, wondering whether I should cross the road and continue on the trail or double back. Since it was getting dark, I decided on the latter. That’s when I noticed the sign posted on the tree beside me.