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.
On a recent trip to Baltimore, I encountered something startling: a US city with a public transportation system that actually works. From buses to water taxis, Baltimore's Charm City Circulator (or CCC) was established in 2010 by former mayor Sheila Dixon. The program boasts a fleet of around 30 vehicles that shuttle more than 3,000 daily riders along four color-coded routes meeting over 100 city stops. The service has a smartphone app, it consists entirely of hybrid vehicles, and the fare is nonexistent.
Tulio, a guide from Venezuela's foreign ministry, called over to us and waved excitedly. A woman from the neighborhood had approached him to ask why twenty US citizens were here in Venezuela, standing in the rain at the very top of the barrio named "23 de Enero," where Chavez' tomb sits. This barrio has been at the forefront of the Bolivarian revolution, and various political struggles under other Venezuelan presidents.
As I prepare to leave the UK to return to Gaza, my mind is a jumble of thoughts. When I originally filed my visa application so that I could study medicine in the UK, my mind was a mess. I was chasing a dream and agonizing over whether it was going to come true. In the month before I finally arrived on June 18, I was fed up and exhausted as I completed applications and tried to follow the right procedures to get permission to leave Gaza. I wondered, "should I keep trying to get out of Gaza when it seems impossible, or just give up my dream?”
Comedian Lewis Black said it: Both parties are "bowls of sh*t."
On one side we have politicians like billionaire Donald Trump who unabashedly advocates bigotry: "Mexicans are rapists," he says. Hatred, which has been the rocket fuel of conservatives since before the Civil War, carries him to the front line of Republican Presidential wannabes despite the fact that he is a bully and a racist, and has never held a government office in his life.
Bahareh Hedayat is a rights advocate whose advocacy for student and women's rights placed her on the front lines of the violent crackdown surrounding the June 2009 flawed presidential elections in Iran. She was arrested in December 2009 and charged with three arbitrary offenses. She was sentenced to two years for "insulting" the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, six months for "insulting" President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and five years for "actions against national security, propagation of falsehoods, and mutiny for congregation."
Every ignorant and divisive rant from Donald Trump about undocumented immigrants moves hatred forward, and every cruel joke about immigrants "going back to where they came from" deflates the dreams of young people like Zoe. She is a young person like so many others, living in the United States for most of their lives - only to find out they do not have legal documentation.
For her, college workshops in her junior year of high school became painful. Dreams of college and a future ended when a family member told her: "You don't have papers."
"Where will I go?" asked Elaine Turner, 78, after receiving an eviction notice from her home of over 25 years. Elaine made this tragic statement to her neighbors in North Beach, San Francisco, and then became very ill and passed away.
Community organizer Theresa Flandrich whispered Elaine's story through tears at a protest on July 18 against the eviction of another elder, Silvio, a grandfather and lifelong North Beach elder. She also spoke of her pending eviction from her own home. The protest was organized by Senior and Disability Action, the Anti-Displacement Coalition and other groups, which are planning to hold another similar rally on August 12.
In December, world leaders will meet in Paris for the UN Climate Conference. Some say the fate of our planet depends on the outcome.
For local activists working on climate change, that’s a chilling thought (even in a time of record breaking heat). The fact is, world leaders are not likely to deliver the changes that frontline communities need to prevent - and survive - the climate crisis. That’s why we need to take action on our own, in our communities.
Most of us have never heard a Japanese A-Bomb survivor tell their story. Listeners are always transfixed after the victims say they remember seeing the flash. Yesterday marked the 70th Anniversary of the dropping of an Atomic bomb on Hiroshima. I joined 200 people at American University in Washington to hear Mr. Goro Matsuyama and Ms. Takako Chiba tell their stories of that fateful day.
A few hours earlier my daughter Yasmin attended a similar event in Bethlehem, Palestine also commemorating 70 years since the destruction of Hiroshima.
August 6, 2015, will mark the 70th anniversary of the horrific atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I clearly remember two years ago when Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the 50,000 people who had gathered for a Peace Ceremony in memory of the event, that to hold the vision of world peace, "We must never forget the horrors of nuclear weapons and we must never repeat this tragedy that has been engraved into the history of mankind. As the only country to be victimized by an atomic bomb and experiencing its ravages, we have the noble responsibility to the human race and the future of the Earth to pass on the memories of this tragedy to the next generation."