Saturday, 02 July 2016 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

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Speakout

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.

More than five years ago, a soldier named Bowe Bergdahl left his US Army unit in Afghanistan. He was captured, imprisoned in brutal conditions for five years, and finally released in a prisoner exchange in 2014. The Army is now considering whether he should be court-martialed for desertion and other crimes.

Less than a decade ago, a group of forward-thinking organizers turned the awards industry upside down when they looked at the food prize system from a new angle - the producers that grow for their own communities. Looking at the food system from this indigenous point-of-view meant that rather than awards for profits and consolidation, the Food Sovereignty Alliance would celebrate the folks that stay home and take care of their communities.

When a pipe collapsed at a Duke Energy coal plant in North Carolina last year, sending tens of thousands of tons of toxic coal ash and millions of gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River, the public outcry over the environmental disaster forced the state legislature totake action.

It passed the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, which requires Duke to phase out the massive ponds it has traditionally used to store the waste.

Perhaps today's biggest question is, "Will we have enough to eat in a ​hot and crowded planet in coming decades?" It's easy to feel pessimistic when ​facing the challenge of feeding an estimated 9 billion in 2050 without destroying the planet​ in the process. As food production becomes more challenging under stresses like climate change​ and dwindling resources​, Big Agriculture is becoming ever more confident and overbearing in advancing its industrial model, insisting that only agribusiness offers a solution for hunger, poverty and climate change.

Hadisa, a bright 18 year old Afghan girl, ranks as the top student in her 12th grade class. "The question is," she wondered, "are human beings capable of abolishing war?"

Like Hadisa, I had my doubts about whether human nature could have the capacity to abolish war. For years, I had presumed that war is sometimes necessary to control "terrorists," and based on that presumption, it didn't make sense to abolish it.

Sep 29

Bernie Sanders Can't Make Black Lives Matter

By Evelyn Reynolds, Speakout | Op-Ed

Since the disruption of Bernie Sanders' Seattle campaign event by members of the Black Lives Matter network, some have pondered why anyone who advocates for the affirmation of Black lives would not support Bernie Sanders. Though Black Lives Matter network cofounder Patrisse Cullors has made the network's stance on political endorsements exceedingly clear, brows are furrowed when Black activists firmly say "no thanks" to overtures by Bernie Sanders and the Democratic National Committee. What people must realize is that this stance is not personal.

For years in US government climate policy circles, the mantra was, "How can we commit to binding emissions reduction goals, if China does not?" In one fell swoop (after years of quiet negotiations of course), the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change seemed to provide a path forward from this impasse. The agreement calls for the US to achieve economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. For its part, China will strive to achieve peak CO2 emissions around 2030, and increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 20 percent by 2030.

The Social Security Disability Fund is a crucial part of Social Security that provides support to people with serious disabilities and medical conditions. In 2016, the fund will need to be replenished to continue protecting people with disabilities and their families at the same levels as in the past. Failure to act will result in a 20 percent cut in assistance for the disabled next year.

Pacific island leaders have called for a global discussion on halting new coal mine construction in an effort to highlight their nations' plight in the face of climate change.

The Suva declaration on climate change, issued this month, demands "a new global dialogue on the implementation of an international moratorium on the development and expansion of fossil fuel extracting industries."

The State of Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine, based on a series of objectives that were initialed by letters from the Hebrew alphabet, the consequences of which continue to guide Israeli strategies to this day. The current violence against Palestinian worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem is a logical extension of the same Zionist ambition.  

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Speakout

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.

More than five years ago, a soldier named Bowe Bergdahl left his US Army unit in Afghanistan. He was captured, imprisoned in brutal conditions for five years, and finally released in a prisoner exchange in 2014. The Army is now considering whether he should be court-martialed for desertion and other crimes.

Less than a decade ago, a group of forward-thinking organizers turned the awards industry upside down when they looked at the food prize system from a new angle - the producers that grow for their own communities. Looking at the food system from this indigenous point-of-view meant that rather than awards for profits and consolidation, the Food Sovereignty Alliance would celebrate the folks that stay home and take care of their communities.

When a pipe collapsed at a Duke Energy coal plant in North Carolina last year, sending tens of thousands of tons of toxic coal ash and millions of gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River, the public outcry over the environmental disaster forced the state legislature totake action.

It passed the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, which requires Duke to phase out the massive ponds it has traditionally used to store the waste.

Perhaps today's biggest question is, "Will we have enough to eat in a ​hot and crowded planet in coming decades?" It's easy to feel pessimistic when ​facing the challenge of feeding an estimated 9 billion in 2050 without destroying the planet​ in the process. As food production becomes more challenging under stresses like climate change​ and dwindling resources​, Big Agriculture is becoming ever more confident and overbearing in advancing its industrial model, insisting that only agribusiness offers a solution for hunger, poverty and climate change.

Hadisa, a bright 18 year old Afghan girl, ranks as the top student in her 12th grade class. "The question is," she wondered, "are human beings capable of abolishing war?"

Like Hadisa, I had my doubts about whether human nature could have the capacity to abolish war. For years, I had presumed that war is sometimes necessary to control "terrorists," and based on that presumption, it didn't make sense to abolish it.

Sep 29

Bernie Sanders Can't Make Black Lives Matter

By Evelyn Reynolds, Speakout | Op-Ed

Since the disruption of Bernie Sanders' Seattle campaign event by members of the Black Lives Matter network, some have pondered why anyone who advocates for the affirmation of Black lives would not support Bernie Sanders. Though Black Lives Matter network cofounder Patrisse Cullors has made the network's stance on political endorsements exceedingly clear, brows are furrowed when Black activists firmly say "no thanks" to overtures by Bernie Sanders and the Democratic National Committee. What people must realize is that this stance is not personal.

For years in US government climate policy circles, the mantra was, "How can we commit to binding emissions reduction goals, if China does not?" In one fell swoop (after years of quiet negotiations of course), the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change seemed to provide a path forward from this impasse. The agreement calls for the US to achieve economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. For its part, China will strive to achieve peak CO2 emissions around 2030, and increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 20 percent by 2030.

The Social Security Disability Fund is a crucial part of Social Security that provides support to people with serious disabilities and medical conditions. In 2016, the fund will need to be replenished to continue protecting people with disabilities and their families at the same levels as in the past. Failure to act will result in a 20 percent cut in assistance for the disabled next year.

Pacific island leaders have called for a global discussion on halting new coal mine construction in an effort to highlight their nations' plight in the face of climate change.

The Suva declaration on climate change, issued this month, demands "a new global dialogue on the implementation of an international moratorium on the development and expansion of fossil fuel extracting industries."

The State of Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine, based on a series of objectives that were initialed by letters from the Hebrew alphabet, the consequences of which continue to guide Israeli strategies to this day. The current violence against Palestinian worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem is a logical extension of the same Zionist ambition.