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 parliamentary elections in India have thrown up sharp divisions among the intellectual class. Writers, scholars, editors and media journalists have been closely scrutinized for their views and positions. Some have pretended to play Swiss, but it is evident that neutrality is merely a game, as biases seep through articles and programs. There are subtle ways of maneuvering truth, and projecting our political version of that truth. No one can escape the marks of allegiances, even if they are sometimes strategic and aimed at safeguarding petty, personal interests. It is risky to be on the bad books of the future government. Playing a see-saw game of neutrality becomes the best way to ensure minimum damage in the future. Such considerations have shrunk the ethical and political horizon of the intellectual class and the media. A lot of people seem to be shifting according to the vagaries of opinion and exit polls as much as the spectacles on television. As if there are no political ideas at stake beyond these fishy estimates of numbers and the circuses political parties indulge in to gain infantile attention. It is incredible how elections stir people's appetite for cheap theatre.
On 13th of May 2014 Turkey faced with the biggest coal mine explosion in the country's history. It is reported that there are more than thousand mine workers trapped inside the privately owned mine and death toll rises every single second. More than 230 mine workers died, is the last information we have received. There is a 15 years old boy, Kemal Yıldız among the deceased and more than 80 injured mine workers and rescue team members are at the hospital.
Unfortunately, there are no healthy official announcements about the death toll and the cause of the accident from the authorities. The families of the mine workers are waiting anxiously in front of the collapsed pit or in front of the hospital, hoping to hear that their loved ones are rescued.
This Mother's Day, Shanesha Taylor, a 25-year old homeless and unemployed mother, will be fighting for her freedom and her children for committing the unspeakable crime: trying to feed her family. Without childcare or family support, Shanesha left her children, ages two and six-months, in a parked car while she went for a job interview. In that 45-minute window, a passerby reported her unsupervised children to the Scottsdale, Arizona police who promptly arrested her on felony charges for child abuse.
Outraged by the authorities' harsh treatment, 45,000 strangers nationwide signed a petition urging charges be dropped, and raised over $100,000 to cover Shanesha's attorney's fees. "It's just baffling that she somehow is considered a victim," says Jerry Cobb from Maricopa County Attorney's Office. What's baffling is the authorities' ignorance of structural circumstances that create a poverty trap for poor single mothers.
It's interesting to imagine what John Lennon might have said about a world in which government agencies – and others – monitor private conversations. Not much of a stretch, really, as he'd experienced it for himself. Lennon always was ahead of his time.
"All I want is the truth," he might say. He'd phrased the challenge – directed at the "establishment" – in an early 1970s song about the lies that were being sold to the public: "Gimme Some Truth."
Today, if you were to visit Jack Kerouac Alley in downtown San Francisco, you'd find a colorful mural painted on the side of the City Lights Bookstore. The mural does not depict the day Bob Dylan strolled the alley with Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, or any of the other literary rebels and artists that are so deeply connected with the bookstore and the space. The mural recreates a piece of community artwork that was destroyed in April 1998 when armed forces violently attacked the indigenous village of Taniperla, a Zapatista community in Chiapas, Mexico. As movement art, the mural is an act of public memory, an act of resistance, a connection with the past and a commitment to a shared vision of the future. With simple colors and its own humble voice, the recreated mural has been speaking out to us and communities of struggle everywhere for years: no estan solos-estamos contigo. You are not alone - we are with you.
I was deeply disturbed last week when US Secretary of State John Kerry, in response to criticism from former Senate colleagues, felt compelled to walk back his warning that Israel risked becoming an "apartheid state" if it failed to make peace with the Palestinians. What troubled me most was that Kerry, after acknowledging that many Israelis have offered the same warning, apologized for using the word "apartheid" saying that "it is a word best left out of the debate here at home." In other words, Israelis can have this debate, but we can't.
This affair brought to mind a comment I heard from former Senator Joseph Lieberman back in 2000 in which he acknowledged that it was easier to debate issues like settlements and Jerusalem in the Israeli Knesset than to have the same debates in the US Senate. The question is, how can the US lead Israeli-Palestinian peace-making when we can't criticize Israel or have an honest debate about their policies?
Fox News discovered a surfer dude using SNAP (food stamps). Jason Greenslate is the kind of young man who, by his own admission sleeps late, doesn't want a job, and hits on chicks. Just to goad us, I think, he uses his SNAP money to buy gourmet food (including lobster tails.) Bret Baier of Fox News seems to think Jason is doing something wrong. Baier thinks Greenslate deserves no help from taxpayers.
Another surfer dude, Richie Rich, wouldn't attract the ire of Fox News. Richie may sleep late, have no job, and hit on girls; but Fox News will not complain. Richie's father made some good investments that brought him and his family wealth, so Richie Rich deserves to live the good life. The father may have had help from government subsidies, but that another story. Richie Rich benefits from good investments.
The 3rd National Climate Assessment is a very impressive report: well written, great language, great graphics, very informative (especially the website). The Obama Administration seems to be focusing in on climate change as a legacy issue and the average American reading this report must surely understand that climate change is happening now and has immediate costs in a threatened American economy.
But why then have the Administration and authors chosen to mis-educate Americans by focusing so narrowly on just 'extreme weather for Americans'? And why has a frame or conceptualization of climate change and mitigation been chosen that will continue to keep America from needed action and from global leadership on climate action that is desperately needed?
This Sunday many of us will recognize and celebrate Mother’s Day. As we do, let us pay homage to the women who established this day of recognition, and recognize their efforts to put an end to war. Let us first remember and honor Julia Ward Howe. Julia Ward Howe was heartbroken and distressed seeing the ravages of the American Civil War. She wrote “The Battle Hymn of The Republic” as a way to express her anguish and outrage, and saw this simply was not enough to bring about change. A true visionary, she saw the end of the practice of going to war as a way to resolve conflict. Equally important to her was the role of women in society, in the community and in conflict resolution. I see her as one of the first feminists, striving to make equality of the sexes a reality.
Anna Jarvis was another trailblazer during the Civil War, establishing and organizing “Mother’s Work Days.” Julia Ward Howe was directly influenced by Jarvis’ tireless work and activism.
Dear Mr. Buffett,
I see in the paper that you plan to have 5,000 oil-tanker cars built for your Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) line. That should head off those regulators and lawsuits after 1,250 derailments these last two years. Exploding tanker shells and fires on those 78,000 old DoT 111 cars hauling fracked oil around the West. Forbes said your outlay would be about $1.6 billion. Not that your Berkshire company couldn’t come across with the cash what with $48 billion cash on hand and the A stock going for $185,200 a share.
I also read those other outfits with accident-prone 78,000 DoT 111 cars are learning that retrofitting just one car runs about $40,000 and cuts capacity 31,000-gallon to 28,000. That means more cars. Longer trains for people to gripe about. Sure, you can lease those 5,000 cars to shippers and stick them with insurance, and transit fees. But both of you are going to wind up in some messy, black-eye court dates. And you’re still going to have to cover labor, and those empty return trips, and track maintenance.