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.
Please accept this New Year's Greeting, along with my sincerest condolences for your suffering since those deplorable terrorist atrocities last week. Everyone here in The Homeland understands what it means to be scarred by synchronized attacks in your largest city and government seat. Even though you didn't have to deal with anthrax, and even though there was no evidence that your own government tweaked the attacks, we Americans will cast no blame if you devote the coming decades to spasms of hypocrisy and self-destruction.
Yoav Hattab, 21, student and tireless worker in social movements, was one of the victims of the attack on a kosher market in Paris on 9 January 2015. I knew of him through our mutual involvement in the 2013 World Social Forum in Tunisia, the country in which he was born. Two years before that, he was a member of the Tunisian Human Rights Committee that went to the European Commission in Brussels. Yoav was in Paris to study marketing and was finishing up his shopping before Shabbat. He tried to use a cast-off weapon to subdue the heavily-armed gunman that Friday and save the lives of the other hostages, only to find the weapon jammed and to be killed in turn.
Reverend Dr. Allan Boesak, a South African civil rights leader who worked with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to end apartheid and promote reconciliation in South Africa, calls the Israeli treatment of Palestinians “much more violent than the South African government treatment of blacks.”
In a discussion at the Harris Methodist Church on January 11, 2015 with social justice leaders in the Honolulu, Hawaii community, Dr. Boesak said that black South Africans faced violence from the apartheid white government and that he went to funerals each week of those killed in the struggle, but never on the scale that the Palestinians face from the Israeli government. The South African government killing of blacks was small compared to numbers of Palestinians the Israeli government has killed.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announced last weekend that he would be ending his popular Fox News talk show to feel out a possible presidential run. Huckabee ran in the Republican primaries in 2008, and it's common knowledge among most political observers that he still has an eye for the White House. The news, then, wasn't really all that shocking. Although he won't make a definitive decision until later in the spring, Huckabee mentioned on his program that the "continued chatter" over his future political ambitions "has put Fox News into a position that just isn't fair to them." He continued, "Nor is it possible for me to openly determine political and financial support to justify a race. The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox."
A bipartisan effort to enforce Wisconsin's longstanding laws governing coordination between campaigns and independent groups has been mislabeled a "partisan witch hunt" by a well-funded legal and media campaign, with the ultimate goal of undermining what remains of limits on big money in politics, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy.
"Anti-coordination laws have become more vital than ever before in the post-Citizens United world, where 'independent' political organizations are raising and spending unlimited funds for elections but keeping their donors a secret," said Brendan Fischer, CMD General Counsel and the author of the report. "If a candidate can coordinate with these secretly-funded groups and establish shadow campaign committees, then the candidate contribution limits and disclosure requirements are rendered meaningless."
People who hear that it is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month are likely to be overwhelmed by the thought of human trafficking and wonder what one person can possibly do to help. It is true that trafficking—the act of compelling someone to work against their will—is a complex issue with many root causes, including poverty, barriers to economic opportunity, and marginalization of certain groups. Unfortunately, as journalist Melissa Gira Grant documents, well-intentioned but misguided efforts to combat the problem often focus on the sex trade instead of first understanding the full breadth of human trafficking. The good news is many people are already contributing to the fight against human trafficking by addressing its root causes through work, volunteerism, and daily actions that are not exclusively focused on trafficking—for example, by improving education or advocating for workers’ rights.
The complexity of trafficking is precisely what makes these different approaches necessary, and shows that we can all be part of bringing an end to human trafficking. These six key areas have a significant impact on trafficking and can use your support.
My essay explains why America is losing its wars and offers a simple solution – one requiring nothing more than moral courage on the part of our most senior military officers.
1. America is losing its wars because they are unconstitutional to begin with. They are unconstitutional because they are undeclared.
If America’s wars are not worth formal Congressional declarations, which act to unite the American people, they are by that fact not worth fighting. However, in the classic definition of insanity, America’s leaders keep doing the same thing over and over – fighting undeclared and unnecessary wars without rallying the support of the people – expecting different results.
Philadelphia PA – Today, attorneys from Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to reverse a federal district court’s dismissal of Hassan v. City of New York, a case that challenges the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) blanket surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. The plaintiffs – among them a decorated Iraq war veteran, Rutgers University students, a coalition of New Jersey mosques, and the former principal of a grade-school for Muslim girls, targeted and surveilled by the NYPD solely on account of their religious affiliation and without any criminal suspicion – had their day in court when lawyers presented oral argument inside a courthouse filled with concerned community members. This is the first time a federal appellate court will review the legality of the NYPD’s religious surveillance program.
“Today marks a critical day on the path to justice for all the victims who have been treated like criminals simply because of their faith,” said Glenn Katon, legal director of Muslim Advocates. “The NYPD has abused its powers for too long and has brazenly violated our core constitutional values of freedom and equality under the law, and we hope that today’s argument will pave the way to a ruling to protect Americans of all faiths against discrimination by law enforcement.”
Nashville, TN – Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW), the nation’s largest for-profit prison firm, formally objected to a shareholder resolution that would require the company to spend just 5% of its net income “on programs and services designed to reduce recidivism rates for offenders.”
The resolution was submitted by Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center and managing editor of HRDC’s monthly publication, Prison Legal News. An activist shareholder, Friedmann owns a small amount of CCA stock; in the 1990s he served six years at a CCA-operated prison in Clifton, Tennessee prior to his release in 1999. “As a former prisoner, I know firsthand the importance of providing rehabilitative programs and reentry services,” Friedmann stated. “I also know firsthand the incentive of private prisons to cut costs – including expenses associated with rehabilitative programs – in order to increase their profit margins.”
It should be clear after four bloody years in Syria that if we are to make any progress moving forward, it is necessary to shed illusions and fantasies that have shaped too much of the discussion about the conflict.
From the beginning, it was inevitable that this conflict, however it began, would morph into a proxy war between Iran and those who were deeply concerned by Iran's hegemonic ambitions.