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.
Ask almost any older person and you'll hear, "The world is going to hell and I'm glad I lived in the best of times." But for four 100-year-old activists who were honored in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 9, 2016, they have a different story. Having lived from horses and buggies to space crafts out of the solar system, all four exclaimed their only real hope for the future -- and it involves an empowered the United Nations.
The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), is the oldest women's organization in Afghanistan that fights for freedom, democracy, social justice, and secularism. RAWA's founder was Meena who formed this group at a young age in 1977, with the help of some other female university students in Kabul. Meena was assassinated in Quetta, Pakistan in 1987 by agents of KHAD (Afghanistan branch of KGB) with the help of the bloodthirsty fundamentalist gang of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. She was only 30-years-old. What distinguishes RAWA from other associations is the fact that we are a political organization.
One of the more curious sideline elements in the 2016 Democratic Party primary came in a debate conducted by Univision on March 9, 2016, between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, wherein many of the questions were focused on issues of specific concern to that network's Spanish-speaking viewer base. As one might predict, the candidates' positions on immigration and border policy were heavily featured, as was the Obama administration's recent openings to Cuba.
Those in power often make fallacious arguments that in order to reach peaceful ends, societies must use violent means. A programmed and indoctrinated sense of superiority and exceptionalism causes many to internalize the idea that in certain circumstances, many innocent people must be killed in order to achieve peace; that mass-murder is both a fact of human nature and a necessary evil. Nothing could be further from truth, however.
Oakland, California, is a haven for social justice. When we see injustice, we take to the streets. I've attended numerous protests over the years -- from Black Lives Matter rallies to disruptions of Trump speeches. Until recently, the most violence I had faced was at the Trump rally where attendees railed against me as a queer woman of color. On Monday May 30, 2016, though, I met violence at a very different sort of event: a Bernie Sanders rally. More than a dozen of my fellow activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and I attempted to access the stage to hoist a banner, the sort of nonviolent action that has been used by numerous movements and which Bernie Sanders says he supports.
Lawrence Lessig writes in Free Culture that Sen. John McCain testified to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Oversight committee in 2003 that "five companies control 85 percent of our mediasources." The same percentages hold true for music and cable TV companies. Such conglomerate control via concentration of media should shock both conservatives and liberals alike. Monopolizing holdings allows for media companies to maximize profits and minimize expenses; more importantly, it allows for greater editorial control of content.
Here in Kabul, I read a recent BBC op-ed by Ahmed Rashid, urging a "diplomatic offensive"to build or repair relationships with the varied groups representing armed extremism in Afghanistan. Rashid has insisted, for years, that severe mistrust makes it almost impossible for such groups to negotiate an end to Afghanistan's nightmare of war. Glancing upward at one of the six US manufactured aerostat blimps performing constant surveillance over Kabul, I wonder if the expensively high-tech giant's-eye view encourages a primitive notion that the best way to solve a problem here is to target a "bad guy" and then kill him.
The Connecting the Dots series has convincingly shown a number of interconnected reasons why the global system is in crisis, and why there is no way out without a structural transformation of the dominant neoliberal system. In our contribution, we want to stress the key importance of what we call a "value regime," or simply put, the rules that determine what society and the economy consider to be of value. We must first look at the underlying modes of production -- i.e. how value is created and distributed -- and then construct solutions must that help create these changes in societal values.
In Naomi Klein's book, This Changes Everything, she refers to the sites earmarked for resource extraction as "sacrifice zones." These are the places that exist to provide materials for capitalist accumulation, as well as a population that has been determined to be of no importance other than providing those materials, or being removed as a barrier to those materials. Many rural communities across the United States now fit this description; they are high poverty, far from urban capitalist centers and with populations that have little to no political power.
A recent article in the New York Times highlighted a proposal by Hillary Clinton to bring back the public option as part of the Affordable Care Act, described as a move to the left toward Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All proposal. Her further suggestion was to consider voluntary buy-in to Medicare for people 50 or 55 years of age and up. Beyond the headline, there was no substance to her proposal.