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 Frackettes, a troupe of community organizers from Denton, have launched a video response to the Texas Legislature's passage of HB40. This bill is part of an onslaught of legislative efforts to strip Texas municipalities of their local control to regulate oil and gas activity in their communities. Though widely considered to be the response of oil-soaked politicians to the Frack Free Denton movement's successful campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within city limits, these bills stand to overturn over 300 local ordinances across Texas. As Governor Abbott travels to Denton this weekend as the highly disputed UNT commencement speaker, HB40 awaits his decision in Austin.
The newly released video features a funeral procession with a coffin labeled "Democracy" and a surprise cameo by Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick. The Frackettes sing and dance to a satirical version of the famous musical number 'Come to the Cabaret," whose clever lyrics expose the cronyism of the Texas Legislature and its disregard for local democracy.
A complex class system exists in the United States, but the mass media and political rhetoric generally reduces it to three components - one middle class, and two economic generalizations - rich and the poor. Indeed the term "class" itself, as a means of defining the economic and social status of the population, has been fading away. There are, of course, a number of other classes, particularly the all-important capitalistclass.
Virtually the only class ever mentioned these days is the middle class, and now that seems on the way out, at least until the next election if not longer. The New York Times reported May 12 that political candidates for election in 2016 are no longer mentioning the middle class because it may remind people that this once sacrosanct vehicle for attaining the "American Dream" seems to be falling apart and taking the dream down with it. This is indeed news, and we will get back to it.
The New York Times' coverage of Congressional antics related to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation has ignored so many critical aspects ofthe bill that it might be time for the"paper of record"to change its motto from "All the news that's fit to print"to"All the news we think fits, we print."
A cross-party delegation of MPs will next week hold talks in Washington DC to lobby for the return of the last remaining Briton in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and Conservatives David Davis (a former Shadow Home Secretary) and Andrew Mitchell (a former Chief Whip) will hold meetings with Senators and Obama administration officials.
An Appeals Court has vacated the sabotage convictions of peace activists Greg-Boertje-Obed, of Duluth, Min., and his co-defendants Michael Walli of Washington, DC, and Sr. Megan Rice of New York City. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal prosecutors failed to prove - and that "norational jury could find" - that the three had intended to damage "national defense."
In July 2012, Greg, Michael and Megan clipped through four fences and walked right up to the "Fort Knox" of weapons-grade uranium, the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility inside the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Uranium processed there puts the "H" in our H-bombs. With three hours before they were spotted, the nuclear weapons abolitionists painted "Woe to an Empire of Blood" and other slogans on several structures, strung banners, and celebrated their luck in catching the nuclear weapons system asleep at the wheel. When a guard finally confronted them, they offered him some bread.
In a western capital far away from Gaza and Cairo, I recently shared a pot of tea with an "Egyptian refugee".
The term is familiar to me, but never have I encountered an Egyptian who refers to himself as such. He stated it as a matter of fact by saying: "As an Egyptian refugee..." and carried on to talk about the political turmoil in his country.
Following a collaboration between the Amazon Indian Nixiwaka Yawanawá and British painter John Dyer to create a series of paintings at the U.K.'s Eden Project, the twoartists will invite children around the world to submit their artworks inspired by the rainforest.
Nixiwaka Yawanawá and John Dyer are currently creating a series of paintings collectively called "Spirit of the Rainforest" to emphasize the need to protect the rainforest and tribal peoples that live in them for future generations. Their residency at Eden's Rainforest Biome – the largest captive rainforest in the world – will end on May 15, 2015.
The editors at Democracy Watch News (I am a contributing editor) are very concerned about the treatment of members of the press by police during the MayDay protests on Capitol Hill. Even reporters with clearly visible press credentials were blocked, herded and subjected to crowdcontrol devices.
Today, the House of Representatives passed the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that would end the NSA's indiscriminate collection of Americans' phone records, by a vote of 338 to 88. The vote comes on the heels of a decision by a federal appeals court last week holding that the bulk collection program violates Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Following the court's ruling, the Obama administration issued a statement in support of the USA Freedom Act, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared his intent to pass legislation allowing the bulk collection program to continue.
"This vote sends a clear signal to the Senate that NSA reform is inevitable," said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "Senator McConnell wants to put his head in the sand and go forward with the NSA's mass surveillance of Americans. That goes against the will of the people, the Congress, the administration, and the courts. In light of the clear mandate for reform, the Senate should not only take up the USA Freedom Act, it should strengthen it by limiting how long the NSA can keep records and by filling the many loopholes in the bill's transparency provisions."
A visit to Donetsk reveals that unlike Western media portrayals, the city stands behind the rebels and refuses to accept the authority or legitimacy of the Kiev government which openly stated its admiration for Ukrainian fascist leaders. Donetsk is keen on resisting attempts at subjugation by Kiev. Its population continues to struggle to go on with its daily life as residential neighborhoods are frequently shelled. While Russia undoubtedly lends its support to the self-proclaimed republic via various means, it would be incorrect to say that the local population does not stand behind the republic.
In a recent visit to the Donbass in East Ukraine, a group of journalists including myself visited Donetsk in order to better understand its reality for ourselves. The trip was organized by Europa Objektiv, a German-Russian NGO whose mission is to provide journalists with a tour of the frequently misrepresented region.