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.
Friday, February 6, 2015 is the 70th birthday of reggae star Bob Marley. The milestone is likely to pass on the national stage - even among most progressives - as a nonevent. Celebration concerts planned in various locations around the world, headlined along the lines of the title of this essay, are likely to attract the attention of few beyond the devoted reggae fan. Bob Marley, in the West, is largely dismissed as something of a freaky dread from the Islands, great smile, some cool songs, stoned on marijuana half the time (well, closer to all the time). But then, heroes have always been dismissed by the Establishment, by those who cling to the lies and half-truths of life in the mainstream.
Two of the greatest noble heroes of the 20th Century were Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. Even to mention Bob Marley in the same breath as these iconic figures is to invite laughter and derision. It shouldn't.
Ronald Reagan’s assertion back in 1984 that “a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought” seems to have become accepted across the political spectrum in the US and abroad. The level of destruction that would result would at best make it impossible for medical systems to respond adequately and at worst lead to climate change on a global scale. Reagan continued: “The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?”
Thirty years later, the paradox of deterrence—nine nuclear powers with weapons kept absolutely ready for use so that they will never have to be used—is far from resolved. Meanwhile 9-11 bent our imaginations toward suicidal nuclear terrorism. The possession of even our large and varied arsenal of nuclear weapons would not deter a determined extremist. Fear became so powerful that it motivated not only the grotesque proliferation of information-gathering agencies but also assassination and torture. Anything became justified, including trillion dollar stalemated wars, to preempt the wrong adversary from getting their hands on a nuke.
With the frenzy in Europe and parts of the United States, after the Pegida demonstrations and the Charlie Hebdo attacks, it is worth pausing to consider what a de-Islamized Europe or America would look like. It is worth remembering some history and some science.
It is quite easy to debunk the purity or the “Europeanness” of one’s daily life in the West. Imagine your life without the “European” comforts of sugar, syrup, cotton, coffee, marzipan or jars and mattresses. These and dozens more are Arabic words that mark the gifts of Islamic “states” of North Africa, Spain, Sicily or Turkey via the contacts, exchanges, conquests, and mixes that occurred over the centuries of Muslims living in Europe BEFORE the renaissance, BEFORE the industrial revolution.
A coalition of anti-fracking groups and the Center for Biological Diversity today urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately shut down hundreds of injection wells that are illegally dumping toxic oil industry wastewater into scores of California aquifers during the midst of a record drought.
Oil and gas companies over decades used more than 170 waste disposal wells to inject oil and gas wastewater into dozens of aquifers containing potable water, in violation of state and federal law, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The majority of these violations are located in California’s Central Valley, while others are near San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has joined the growing chorus of top medical professionals and organizations in favor of reforming marijuana laws to allow access for medical purposes.
On today’s CBS This Morning Murthy said, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful. I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking.”
If you've followed the trials of James Risen and Jeffrey Sterling, or read Risen's book State of War, you are aware that the CIA gave Iran blueprints and a diagram and a parts list for the key component of a nuclear bomb.
The CIA then proposed to do exactly the same for Iraq, using the same former Russian scientist to make the delivery. How do I know this? Well, Marcy Wheeler has kindly put all the evidence from the Sterling trial online, including this cable. Read the following paragraph.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could drastically limit the ability of voters to take responsibility for redistricting decisions out of the hands of legislators.
The case, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, challenges a state constitutional amendment adopted in 2000 by Arizona voters which created a politically neutral commission drawing new boundaries for the state’s congressional districts every ten years. Before the amendment, the state legislature, as in many states, had been responsible for setting and adjusting district lines.
San Francisco— The Center for Biological Diversity today called on the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately shut down hundreds of injection wells that are illegally dumping oil industry wastewater into scores of California aquifers, including some that supply water for drinking and farming irrigation.
Today’s letter urges the EPA to issue an administrative order requiring operators of these disposal wells to cease operations to protect aquifers from further damage and comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. “In the midst of an unprecedented drought and when so many Californians lack access to safe, clean drinking water, it is outrageous to allow contamination of drinking and irrigation water to continue. It is never acceptable to allow the contamination of drinking and irrigation water with industrial wastewater,” the letter says.
Before January 15, my associations with the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center were memories I wish I didn't have. I remember when my sister was locked up there at 15—the sharp weight that hit my stomach when I realized definitively that the "Audy Home," as it was called casually, was really a jail.
One of the ways in which we commonly handicap our own struggles to reform the bad practices of the U.S. government is by imagining those practices to be degenerative developments taking us away from a purer and nobler past. As Gary Brumback shows in this book, the United States grew out of the idea that (in Thomas Paine's phrase) it was "common sense" to launch a war to settle political differences, a war that in turn set the new nation free to launch a series of wars against the indigenous people of the continent, followed quickly by a ceaseless string of wars waged in near and far-flung corners of the globe.
This deeply moral, highly readable, and urgently necessary book, which provides a wealth of new information even to a reader like myself who writes on similar topics, takes us from the birth of the United States to the Barack Obama presidency. Brumback documents George Washington's role as first warrior in chief and first chief spy, and traces that legacy through some 13,000 to 14,000 U.S. military wars/interventions since, operations that have killed some 20 million to 30 million foreign civilians just in the years after World War II, and that have killed more than two and a half million U.S. soldiers over nearly two and a half centuries.