Wednesday, 26 July 2017 / 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.

Radical right Supreme Court justices, in conjunction with Republicans in Congress, have overturned precedent and harmed US democracy. Should progressives return to power, they need to "pack" the Supreme Court with extra justices to overturn decisions that have allowed a flood of corporate money in elections and weakened civil rights laws.  However, this must not take the form of a progressive "power grab," but needs to be followed by laws that ensure a strong future democracy.

Many of us saw the headlines on newspapers and social media in November 2015: "The University of Missouri President Just Resigned Amid Protests of Racism on Campus." The mainstream story stars Jonathan Butler, a Black graduate student at the University of Missouri, and the university football team. On November 2, 2015, Butler went on a hunger strike protesting the "slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents" that permeated the lives of Black students at Mizzou.

As April comes to a close, most of us are reeling from the whirlwind of big milestones the month brings, from Tax Day to the100 other deadlines and observances that deserve our attention. In the shuffle, it can be easy to miss the hashtags and conversations that go along with these important dates. But noting one observance, National Minority Health Month, could have a tangible result we can't afford to ignore. Across the country, millions of families of color struggle with disproportionate health disparities that disrupt their daily lives.

If Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" were written in 2017, the missive might not have made it out of the jail and into history. Today, too many American prisons and jails saddle the people they lock up with senseless restrictions on their ability to speak, write, and receive information. Taken together, these constraints stifle free debate and exchange with people in prison at a crucial moment in history. We cannot have a serious conversation about criminal justice and mass incarceration if prisoners are shut out of public discussion.

In just over a week, we've experienced two shocking US military strikes and an alarming increase in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Two days after major newspapers reported that a chemical attack had occurred in a village in Syria, killing and injuring many civilians, the US launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase -- its first direct military attack against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This despite the fact that there had been no investigation by any international agency that might confirm that a chemical weapons attack had occurred or who was responsible -- and in violation of international law.

Another political scandal, another forced resignation. It seems as though we have become immune to these all-too-common headlines. But there are certain scandals that must remain at the forefront of the public's mind and that should be translated into positive action. In this case, we have the former Governor of Alabama, Robert J. Bentley, who resigned on April 10 under the threat of impeachment for misusing state funds and resources to cover up an extramarital affair with a female staffer.

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury ... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." "No person." Not citizen, person. Unlike our current administration, the Constitution did not seek to carve out liberty for only those it deemed deserved the benefits that the US had to offer -- or in other words, "good" immigrants.

On April 3, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain ratified a constitutional amendment that will allow the trial of citizens in military court, according to Amnesty International. The Bahrain's Council of Representatives approved the amendment on February 21, 2017, before moving on to the upper house of parliament for final approval. The military court's area of control is used to cover offenses by security forces only. The law states that it deals with people charged with terrorism, but falls short of defining what constitutes as terrorism, opening up doors for massive arrests.

On April 5, I woke up to find out I was a meme gone viral. The hilarious meme by @ignant_ was in reference to the shameful ad that Pepsi produced -- and quickly took down -- depicting model Kendall Jenner diffusing tensions between protestors and cops by handing one officer a refreshing can of Pepsi. When the officer cracks open the can, the protestors are overjoyed and the officer gives an approving grin. Peace on earth prevails because of commercialism and sugar water.

As robots take over production, the relationship between the prosperity of businesses and job creation tends to become inversely proportional. It is the very creation of the free market economy, meaning rapid technological advancement, that will soon bring the theory of economic liberalism to its limits as it makes the conflicting interests between classes more apparent than ever and invalidates the argument that the prosperity of those who possess the means of production will inevitably increase social welfare.

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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.

Radical right Supreme Court justices, in conjunction with Republicans in Congress, have overturned precedent and harmed US democracy. Should progressives return to power, they need to "pack" the Supreme Court with extra justices to overturn decisions that have allowed a flood of corporate money in elections and weakened civil rights laws.  However, this must not take the form of a progressive "power grab," but needs to be followed by laws that ensure a strong future democracy.

Many of us saw the headlines on newspapers and social media in November 2015: "The University of Missouri President Just Resigned Amid Protests of Racism on Campus." The mainstream story stars Jonathan Butler, a Black graduate student at the University of Missouri, and the university football team. On November 2, 2015, Butler went on a hunger strike protesting the "slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents" that permeated the lives of Black students at Mizzou.

As April comes to a close, most of us are reeling from the whirlwind of big milestones the month brings, from Tax Day to the100 other deadlines and observances that deserve our attention. In the shuffle, it can be easy to miss the hashtags and conversations that go along with these important dates. But noting one observance, National Minority Health Month, could have a tangible result we can't afford to ignore. Across the country, millions of families of color struggle with disproportionate health disparities that disrupt their daily lives.

If Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" were written in 2017, the missive might not have made it out of the jail and into history. Today, too many American prisons and jails saddle the people they lock up with senseless restrictions on their ability to speak, write, and receive information. Taken together, these constraints stifle free debate and exchange with people in prison at a crucial moment in history. We cannot have a serious conversation about criminal justice and mass incarceration if prisoners are shut out of public discussion.

In just over a week, we've experienced two shocking US military strikes and an alarming increase in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Two days after major newspapers reported that a chemical attack had occurred in a village in Syria, killing and injuring many civilians, the US launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase -- its first direct military attack against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This despite the fact that there had been no investigation by any international agency that might confirm that a chemical weapons attack had occurred or who was responsible -- and in violation of international law.

Another political scandal, another forced resignation. It seems as though we have become immune to these all-too-common headlines. But there are certain scandals that must remain at the forefront of the public's mind and that should be translated into positive action. In this case, we have the former Governor of Alabama, Robert J. Bentley, who resigned on April 10 under the threat of impeachment for misusing state funds and resources to cover up an extramarital affair with a female staffer.

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury ... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." "No person." Not citizen, person. Unlike our current administration, the Constitution did not seek to carve out liberty for only those it deemed deserved the benefits that the US had to offer -- or in other words, "good" immigrants.

On April 3, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain ratified a constitutional amendment that will allow the trial of citizens in military court, according to Amnesty International. The Bahrain's Council of Representatives approved the amendment on February 21, 2017, before moving on to the upper house of parliament for final approval. The military court's area of control is used to cover offenses by security forces only. The law states that it deals with people charged with terrorism, but falls short of defining what constitutes as terrorism, opening up doors for massive arrests.

On April 5, I woke up to find out I was a meme gone viral. The hilarious meme by @ignant_ was in reference to the shameful ad that Pepsi produced -- and quickly took down -- depicting model Kendall Jenner diffusing tensions between protestors and cops by handing one officer a refreshing can of Pepsi. When the officer cracks open the can, the protestors are overjoyed and the officer gives an approving grin. Peace on earth prevails because of commercialism and sugar water.

As robots take over production, the relationship between the prosperity of businesses and job creation tends to become inversely proportional. It is the very creation of the free market economy, meaning rapid technological advancement, that will soon bring the theory of economic liberalism to its limits as it makes the conflicting interests between classes more apparent than ever and invalidates the argument that the prosperity of those who possess the means of production will inevitably increase social welfare.