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.
WASHINGTON - January 3 - In June 2013, the American public learned conclusively about the wholesale surveillance of virtually all Americans through secretive programs by the National Security Agency (NSA) that continue to be implemented today. These programs collect the phone records, email exchanges, and internet histories of people all over the world who would have no knowledge of this were it not for the disclosures of former federal contractor Edward Snowden.
As legal counsel to Snowden as well as the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) would like to make its position clear on the following...
Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism…. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges…. I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom…”
What could be worse than a nuclear war? A nuclear famine following a nuclear war. And where is the most likely nuclear war to break out? The India-Pakistan border. Both countries are nuclear armed, and although their arsenals are “small” compared to the U.S. and Russia, they are extremely deadly. Pakistan has about 100 nuclear weapons; India about 130. They have fought three wars since 1947 and are contending bitterly for control over the Kashmir and for influence in Afghanistan. While India has renounced first use, for whatever that is worth, Pakistan has not, declaring that in the event of an impending defeat by India’s overwhelming conventional forces it would strike first with nuclear weapons.
1. Any article listing the top 10 of anything will be widely read.
2. A poll of people in 65 countries, including the United States, finds that the United States is overwhelmingly considered the greatest threat to peace in the world. The consensus would have been even stronger had the United States itself not been polled, because the 5 percent of humanity living here is largely convinced that the other 95% of humanity — that group with experience being threatened or attacked by the United States — is wrong. After all, our government in the U.S. tells us it's in favor of peace. Even when it bombs cities, it does it for peace. It's hard for people under the bombs to see that. We in the U.S. have a better perspective.
"Humans live like lice in the folds of a garment...When fleas buzz in your ear, you do not hear them: how could God even hear men, let alone concede their wishes." -Wang Ch'ung, Taoist Philosopher
North Korea's Kim Jong Un is not the first ruler to purge political opponents. Neither will he be the last. On New Year's Day he explained why he had to rid North Korea of his uncle. Executions, he said, made the state's ruling party stronger, purging it of "factional filth." The quest for purity by eliminating opponents-people in an organization or state that are considered undesirable, even impure, imperfect, sinful, or polluted-has been a common thread throughout the fabric of time. It's not a New Year after all.
I am pleased to hear about Mayor Murray’s executive order to begin the process of making $15/hour the minimum wage for all city workers. This move towards $15 for an estimated 600 city employees is an important step in the right direction and a victory of the growing movement of low-wage workers. It starkly demonstrates the unprecedented political momentum for a $15/hour minimum wage for all of Seattle.
As an immediate step, I appeal to Mayor Murray to insist that the thousands of city subcontractor employees not covered by today's order also be raised to a minimum of $15.
In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, film star Jennifer Lawrence denounced the way we are taught that to make fun of someone is funny. Lawrence took particular issue with calling people "fat," and asserted that if we can regulate television advertising related to cigarettes, why not also limit the way it presents harmful images and discussions of people’s bodies? I applaud Lawrence for using her platform to shed light on this important issue, and want to share here an additional perspective.
Reports of the carnage in Iraq appear in The New York Times with appalling regularity, such as the December 2, 2013 report, headlined "Blast Kills at Least 12 Mourners At Funeral of Iraq Sunni Leader." Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (December 27, 2013) reported that The United Nations puts the 2013 death toll from such attacks at 8,000, the highest Iraqi death toll in war-related violence since 2008. Almost daily, dozens of Iraqis are being killed and many more wounded, mostly by car bombs.* The car bombs are detonated in markets, outside restaurants and cafes, at wakes and funeral processions like the one cited above; in other words, at places where crowds have gathered.
When Catholic Church leaders chose the new pope, for the most part the media responded favorably; they underlined how Francis' style diverged from that of his predecessors, and how the new pope seemed to already assume a distinctive and progressive new role in the Church. Some, including myself, however, expressed reservations. We were wary of the silence maintained by former Argentine Bishop Bergoglio during the brutal human rights violations under the Argentine dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. The dictatorship, established in defense of the more privileged groups in Argentina, was especially brutal to any dissidents and opponents of its reign. This silence reflected a lack of sensitivity to gross human rights violations carried out by dictatorships with close ties to the Catholic Church.