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.
It is always difficult, philosophically speaking, to establish what we can know, of ourselves, others and the world around us. Diagnosis, like interpretation, is difficult. If both miss the mark, remedy and understanding remain ineffective. Our search to understand in the realm of politics already assumes the existence of a common understanding for which we are in search. Dictatorial regimes do not have to make this effort because there is no clashing partisanship, no need to package an understanding that will confront a challenging packaged understanding.
If I was driving around today in a 1960s Chevrolet Corvair, claiming it was new and state-of-the-art, I'd likely be a laughingstock. (Even in the mid-1960s, it would have been a hard sell, thanks to the pioneering consumer safety work of Ralph Nader and his landmark book, Unsafe At Any Speed.) But that's exactly the spin the Tennessee Valley Authority and, more prominently, desperate nuclear boosters, are trying to put on Watts Bar 2, the first "new" and "21st century" US nuclearreactor.
Medical students are becoming strong advocates all over the country for expanded and improved Medicare for All. Spurred on by their increasing awareness of the restricted access, unaffordability, and inequities keeping many Americans from necessary health care, they are organizing and making their voices heard about the urgency of real health care reform. With the co-sponsorship of the American Medical Student Association, the Latino Medical Student Association, White Coats for Black Lives, and many regional and local groups, a good example of their activism was the Halloween Day event in Boston a few days ago.
This is the second time the president has spoken about the Dakota Access pipeline, and it is good news to the protesters at Standing Rock, especially after the violence that made news last week. Many see it as a beacon of hope in an otherwise dark sky. When the president speaks about the issue you've been fighting for, it's hard not to feel hopeful. However, President Obama's statement may be a false victory for protesters. It is clear that the president did not commit to any course of action. Taken in context, his statement is decidedly noncommittal.
Facts are the foundation of democracy. Without a clear handle on them, we can't possibly hope to make the informed decisions on which representative government inherently rests. They're the life blood of any healthy democratic system, yet according to an increasing number of opinions, we're now inhabiting an age of post-factual or post-truth democracy. According to organs ranging from the Los Angeles Times to The Washington Post, we now have for company not principled people who rely on well-supported arguments for their political legitimacy, but liars such as Donald Trump and Fox News.
It's been an incredibly strange political year. While American politics has been imbued by anti-intellectualism for decades, the failure of both our political leaders and the electorate to care about facts, evidence, and truth has reached epic proportions with the rise of Donald Trump. Sure, there's a long history of politicians lying for their own self-benefit. Bill Clinton lied about his extramarital affairs, George W. Bush duped the country about why we invaded Iraq, and Barack Obama once promised that he would create a "public option health plan."
Beginning Election Day, Nov. 8, the US drone industry is holding a three-day convention at the former Rome Air Base and at the OnCenter in downtown Syracuse. It happens that Central New York is one of the nation's main drone research hubs. Not coincidentally our region also hosts the 174th Attack wing of the NYS National Guard at Hancock AFB. The 174th pilots hunter/killer Reaper drone robots 24/7 overAfghanistan and who knows where else. Many innocent human beings are thereby maimed or killed.
When folks normally speak of white privilege, it means a set of social advantages that white people have without even recognizing it. Peggy McIntosh famously described it as a backpack full of "unearned assets." It is the ability to move about in the world freely without concern over the assumptions that people are making about you because of the color of your skin. It is the ability to assume that your experience is universal. But white privilege is not simply a set of advantages that white people passively accumulate.
Member-owners of La Montañita cooperative in New Mexico have organized a broad coalition to "Take Back the Co-op!" In the process of trying to get their co-op back on track, they have uncovered some disturbing patterns in the national co-op landscape that raise alarm for the future health and integrity of local food co-ops all around the country. La Montañita is a 40-year-old cooperative with six stores in three cities. La Montañita's first store was established in Albuquerque, New Mexico's biggest city.
On October 19, faculty members at the 14 state universities that form the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) went on strike after state officials and the faculty union, the Association of State College and University Faculties (ASCUF), could not come to an agreement. The night before, talks between the two parties ceased when state officials made their last best offer to union negotiators. The next day, the faculty at all of the PASSHE campuses -- along with many students -- walked the picket lines, carrying signs reading off their demands. After three days, the ASCUF and state officials reached an agreement and the strike ended.