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.
Historically, the Republican National Convention (RNC) and Democratic National Convention (DNC) have been times of increased surveillance, policing and attempts to close public space, chill free speech and stifle dissent. Four months before the 1968 DNC in Chicago, Congress passed the "Rap Brown Law," which made it illegal to cross state lines with intentions to incite or organize a riot. The law was used to indict protesters during the convention, leading to the "Chicago Eight," comprised of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner Bobby Seale, and the late Tom Hayden, who died October 24, 2016.
Forty-two percent of the people who came to the Calais Refugee Camp are from warring parts of Sudan and South Sudan; 32 percent are from Afghanistan. Others are from Syria, Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and more; they have crossed between six and 13 countries to arrive in Calais, with their final goal to reach the UK. In Calais, it seems they are facing the hardest border to cross.
There is no legal basis for the United States to be in Syria, either under international law or under US law. US actions in the country are in violation of international laws regarding unprovoked attacks against sovereign nations, and Congress never authorized the use of force in Syria. Yet without any legal basis at all, in October 2015, the Obama administration sent special forces to Syria. Now, the administration threatens a no-fly zone, meaning that Syria could not fly over its own airspace. Despite the complete lack of legal basis to send in troops or to impose a no-fly zone, Congress and the mainstream media are silent.
In less than two weeks, voters in this badly divided nation will decide who shall be the president of the United States for the next four years. "Will we win or lose?" is the question asked by nearly everyone. That is misleading. In the very fabric of the campaign, with its race to the bottom of vulgarity and vituperation, we have lost the vitality of our political culture, and are beginning to lose any claim we had to real democracy.
Electronic health records (EHRs) have become adopted for widespread use by a growing majority of US physicians. It has been assumed that the wider adoption of EHRs would improve efficiency and patient safety, reduce diagnostic testing and medical errors, improve continuity and quality of care, and save money. Their use was accelerated by the Affordable Care Act after its passage in 2010. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have further stimulated their adoption by developing "meaningful use" criteria tied to reimbursement levels.
I've written often about our Iraqi refugee friend and his oldest son from Baghdad. I will call them Mohammed and Ahmed. They made the torturous flight last year from Baghdad to Kurdistan and then across Turkey. They were on three Greek islands before permission was granted them to continue their trip. They passed through several countries at the time the borders were being closed. They arrived finally at their destination in late September 2015: Finland. Having lived with this family in Baghdad, I have the faces ofthe wife and each of the children before me.
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, was among the first journalists to cover the impact of an 1,110 mile pipeline that would carry barrels of oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The oil route intersects with the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation at Fort Yates, North Dakota, and rightly generates passionate concern. More than 300 tribal groups have formed a peaceful resistance to protect ancestral land and Standing Rock's sole water source.
This October, the Labor Department put out a report on state-based workers' compensation rules. The report calls for an increased federal role in workers' comp to ensure that injured workers are provided with adequate insurance benefits to keep them afloat while they heal -- the original intent of workers' comp. "Recent years have seen significant changes to the workers' compensation laws, procedures, and policies in numerous states, which have limited benefits, reduced the likelihood of successful application for workers' compensation, and/or discouraged injured workers from applying for benefits," the report reads.
"Like many other prison sentences, mine begins with a poor choice. I drove under the influence and someone was killed." This was the first description I read of many in my search for what I like to call a "committed friendship." I was surprised at the honest (and sometimes humorous) descriptions of prisoners looking for someone to talk to on the outside world.
Have we ever needed radical humor more than now, when the anticipated defeat of a blustering racist/sexist will bring a hawkish neoliberal into power? Actually, there has been a need for bitter irony as well as good hearty laughter as long as there has been organized society -- in this case, the US. I admire greatly a little book published in 2015 that didn't get enough play, Socialism… Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation, by Danny Katch. It instantly reminded me, at least on some pages, of that forgotten socialist bestseller, Life and Deeds of Uncle Sam, by the "Socialist Mark Twain," Oscar Ameringer (1909), a satirical history of the nation. Here he is on Puritanism: "After landing at Plymouth Rock they held a prayer meeting to thank the lord for deliverance ... Next day they caught a Quaker and burned a hole through his tongue ... Witchburning was their only amusement and when other folks put a stop to this practice, they invented Thanksgiving and got even."