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.
This morning at 0430 Pakistan time (0030 UK time), Aftab Bahadur was executed in Lahore, after the Pakistani authorities refused to allow his lawyers to secure key evidencethat Mr Bahadur was innocent.
Mr Bahadur was just 15 years old when he was sentenced to death for murder, following a conviction which was overwhelmingly based on 'evidence' extracted under torture.
Just hours after innocent juvenile Aftab Bahadur was hanged in the early hours of this morning, Pakistan's Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal for Shafqat Hussain- who was convicted as a juvenile and sentenced to death based on a 'confession' extracted after days of torture.
A black warrant had been issued for Shafqat Hussain earlier this week and his execution scheduled for 4am Tuesday morning, but a last-minute stay was issued. Shafqat's juvenility and torture have never been fully investigated - despite the fact that earlier this year the concerns led Pakistan's President, Mamnoon Hussain, to order a stay of execution and an inquiry.
Writing about and reporting the Middle East is not an easy task, especially during these years of turmoil and upheaval. But I cannot remember another time in recent history we needed journalists to shine, to challenge conventional wisdom, to think in terms of contexts, motives, alliances, not ideological, political or financial interests.
From the start, when addressing the issue of the Middle East, the actual entity of "Middle East" is itself highly questionable. It is arbitrary, and can only be understood within proximity to some other entity, Europe, which colonial endeavors imposed such classifications on the rest of the word. Colonial Europe was the center of the globe and everything else was measured in physical and political distance from the dominating continent.
That weekend of wealthy, powerful heads of state and other bosses high up in the Bavarian Alps, and the vigorous protests from opposing crowds kept out of earshot downhill, largely stole media thunder this past weekend. Far lower in altitude and attention, with almost no thunder from the media or otherwise, another meeting was held in less scenic West German Bielefeld. It was a congress of DIE LINKE, the Left Party. Yet a gathering of arguably the only opposition force with any real clout in Germany, with representatives of its 60,000 members, was important enough.
What media attention it did receive centered on one question: "Will he or won't he?" The "he" was Gregor Gysi. In 1989 this bald-headed little lawyer, a skilled speaker with sharp wit and tongue, played a key role, if not THE key role, in salvaging the devastated remains of the East German ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and, instead of dissolving it, transforming it into a democratic, undogmatic organization renamed Party of Democratic Socialism, with a range of accepted different views, formerly denounced as factions.
The votes on behalf of fast track legislation in the House of Representatives don't seem to add up. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told the New York Times, "We're not quite there, but we're getting close," regarding the vote count, while Speaker of the House John Boehner said on June 3rd, "I don't think we're quite there yet."
The razor-thin margins in the House mean that a handful of substantive provisions still up for debate could swing the margin one way or the other. For example, the provision in fast track that would cut $700 million from Medicare in order to fund Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers displayed by trade is generating plenty of opposition. Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan plans to address a range of other unresolved key issues via a customs enforcement bill that he plans to move separately from the fast track legislation. As Ryan's spokesman Brendan Buck recently said: "the customs and enforcement bill has always been the vehicle with which we've planned to reconcile differences between the two chambers on a range of issues."
There is ONE topic above all others that basically cannot be addressed on your television sets. Even mentioning it goes antithetical to everything our media stands for. Once you see the truth about this one thing, it can change your entire world. And our media REALLY doesn't want that.
The Supreme Court has a very mixed track record when it comes to protecting women. As a domestic violence advocate, criminologist and activist for a decade, I am deeply concerned that the US still fails to prioritize women's safety. Given that globally, more women ages 15-45 die from men's violence than of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined, far more needs to be done to protect women and girls. The courts can and should play a far bigger role in doing so.
In 2000, the court overturned part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that allowed women to sue their abusers in federal court. So, we can sue darn near anyone for anything, just not the people who hurt us most deeply. In 2005, the court ruled in Castle Rock v. Gonzales that a town and its police cannot be sued for failing to enforce a restraining order. Jessica Gonzales (now Lenahan) had a permanent restraining order against her husband, Simon, who had been stalking and harassing her. Simon was prohibited from seeing her son (not his biologically) and the couple's three daughters, except during specified visitation times. Simon violated that order by taking the three girls on June 22, 1999, around 5:15pm. Jessica first called the police about two hours later, then proceeded to call multiple times and visit the station in person over the next several hours. The police took no action, even though Simon had called Jessica admitting he had the girls at an amusement park in Denver. At approximately 3:20am, Simon showed up at the Castle Rock police station and engaged in a shootout with police that left him dead. The police then noticed the bodies of the three girls in his vehicle. The court held 7-2 that the Colorado statute did not require that police actually enforce restraining orders.
Twenty-one years ago, Hillary Clinton, then leading the presidential committee proposing a health care reform plan, made these statements in speaking to a group at Lehman Brothers Health Corporation on June 15, 1994, as revealed by a transcript made public through the Clinton Presidential Library:
…if there is not health care reform this year, and if, for whatever reason, the Congress doesn't pass health carereform . . . I believe that by the year 2000 we will have a single payer system . . . I don't even think it's a close call politically.
Documents released today by Syngenta include a letter from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant to Syngenta, suggesting as a part of a corporate merger that, "We would also propose a new name for the combined company to reflect its unique global nature."
"Monsanto wants to escape its ugly history by ditching its name," said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know, a consumer group. "This shows how desperate Monsanto is to escape criticism: of its products, which raise environmental and health concerns, as well as concerns about corporate control of agriculture and our food system."
From the 1920s on into the 1990s, the Zionists controlled the storyline in the West on the Israel-Palestine conflict. This meant that their version of history was the only version as far as most of the people in the West were concerned. Consequentially, they had an uncontested media field to label the Palestinians and their supporters as "terrorists" - the charge of anti-Semitism was not yet widely used. Also, as a consequence of their monopoly, the Zionists did not bother to engage in public debate.
Then, over the last twenty years the Zionists slowly lost their monopoly. In part this was due to the fact that in 1993 the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist and renounced terrorism, and in the following years many of the Arab states made or offered peace. However, the Israelis did not respond in kind. In particular they failed to respond in a fair and just way to U.S.-sponsored peace efforts. Why so?