Saturday, 01 October 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.

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.  

"It is Europe today," claimed the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, "that represents a beacon of hope, a haven of stability in the eyes of women and men in the Middle East and in Africa." The rest of his State of the Union Address is certainly not without its merits, but the discourse on the beacon of hope, which has become ubiquitous for framing a relationship between needy refugees and prosperous host countries, should give us pause.

Progressives have long fretted about the most effective way to make long lasting change. Do we put our efforts into the candidate who best represents a progressive agenda, as many progressives did with Obama in 2008, or more recently, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders? Or should we push from the outside, agitating the power structures in our society for a more progressive future?

This dilemma has faced the progressive movement for some time.

I, like all of us, have been hearing about the California drought for months. But as with most issues that are not present outside the window, I became hardened to the front-page stories - showing depleted reservoirs and poverty-stricken families in the Central Valley.

So it wasn't until I went back to my hometown of Oakland, California, at the beginning of summer that the drought, in all its omnipresence and urgency and sadness, became real to me.

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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.

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.  

"It is Europe today," claimed the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, "that represents a beacon of hope, a haven of stability in the eyes of women and men in the Middle East and in Africa." The rest of his State of the Union Address is certainly not without its merits, but the discourse on the beacon of hope, which has become ubiquitous for framing a relationship between needy refugees and prosperous host countries, should give us pause.

Progressives have long fretted about the most effective way to make long lasting change. Do we put our efforts into the candidate who best represents a progressive agenda, as many progressives did with Obama in 2008, or more recently, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders? Or should we push from the outside, agitating the power structures in our society for a more progressive future?

This dilemma has faced the progressive movement for some time.

I, like all of us, have been hearing about the California drought for months. But as with most issues that are not present outside the window, I became hardened to the front-page stories - showing depleted reservoirs and poverty-stricken families in the Central Valley.

So it wasn't until I went back to my hometown of Oakland, California, at the beginning of summer that the drought, in all its omnipresence and urgency and sadness, became real to me.