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.
“Jesusland” by Ben Folds includes a powerful verse against the energetic piano and soaring harmonies:
Town to town
broadcast to each house, they drop your name
but no one knows your face
Billboards quoting things you’d never say
you hang your head and pray
The New York Times editorial board has finally awakened to Obama’s “strategy” in the “war” (as it is officially called now) against ISIS. It is essentially the same strategy that has guided literally hundreds of US military operations abroad since World War II: achieve the maximum objective with the minimum commitment of US power and prestige. Trouble is, the strategy just doesn’t work, mainly because the enemy won’t cooperate and friendly forces are either inept or unpopular (or both). Thus begins the slippery slope to wider and deeper involvement.
The Sept. 16, 2014 testimony of General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is what got the Times’ attention: “If we got to the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I’ll recommend that to the president.” A day later on Sept. 17, the Army chief of staff, General Ray Odierno, chimed in: “You’ve got to have ground forces that are capable of going in and rooting [IS forces] out.” In short, Obama’s supposed commitment not to deploy US ground troops to combat in Iraq or Syria—“a profound mistake,” he said Sept. 7 on the NBC News program Meet the Press—is as firm as mud. As happened in Vietnam, there will be “advisers,” more and more of them, as it becomes plain that the mini-max strategy of relying on air power to “degrade and destroy” ISIS proves insufficient.
On September 23, 2014, the world gathered to watch history being made: the tail end of the largest climate march ever and a UN Climate Summit where leaders reaffirmed their commitment to stringent mitigation measures.
Meanwhile, some things never change. At the Summit, Barack Obama gave what was called by a New Republic reporter as a "toothless speech." Just a day before, the Pentagon announced that they commenced air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. These two moves seem unrelated, but are they? In fact, both of these decisions are based on risk assessments of possible threats. So then why are we so unwilling to take on climate change, compared with other things where we assess risk and act accordingly?
Berlin- Anti-drone campaigns in the US, the UK, and continental Europe are mounting the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing on October 4, 2014.
More than 40 actions will take place in several countries. Founded at an international meeting in Berlin in December, Global Action Day is working together with the US Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare, the UK Drone Campaign Network's Week of Action and the Global Network's Keep Space for Peace Week. Both action weeks begin on October 4th.
US-led coalition airstrikes targeting the Islamic State (ISIL) have opened the floodgates of war journalism reporting by corporate mainstream media – to the detriment of American democracy and peace. This has been recently evident in a traditionally democratic tool used by American press: public opinion polls. These war polls, as they should be called during wartime, are an affront to both respectable journalism and an informed civil society. They’re byproducts of rally-round-the-flag war journalism and without constant scrutiny, war polls results make public opinion look a lot more pro-war than it actually is.
Public polling is meant to signify and reinforce the role of media in a democracy as reflecting or representing mass opinion. Corporate mainstream media are considered credible in providing this reflection based on assumptions of objectivity and balance, and politicians have been known to consider polls in their policy decisions. In some cases, polls may be useful in engaging the feedback loop between political elites, media and the public.
Complex advanced civilization, more than at any other time in human history, is providing millions of people with unprecedented prosperity, health and longevity—except for those who it does not provide for, who suffer immensely by missing this boat of freedom. But the primitive nature of poverty relief is exactly the problem, unlike ancient forms of poverty intervention whose sophistication dwarfs that of modern libertarian society. Every farmer in ancient Jewish society had to be a part of the solution for every poor person who lost his farm, just as a small example.
It is complexity and specialization, however, that gives us our modern prosperity. A successful citizen relies on a massive variety of specialists, from x-ray readers, to retirement investor specialists, to train engineers, to architects of hardware and software, to specialists in dental prosthetics, to chemists of tar for roads that prevent crashes. The variety is infinite. Therefore, when we want to reconstruct a fallen life, why is it reduced to a social worker, and an unemployment bureaucrat? This is a primitive response to the foundations of human prosperity.
I, personally, have grown up moving around San Francisco's districts. It is absolutely outrageous how communities have changed over the past 5 years. Valencia went from a mostly populated by Latinos neighborhood to being completely invaded by techies, coffee shops, art studios etc., rather than family-owned bakeries, restaurants and Latin-influenced art such as murals.
Today, we can see how American history continues to hunt people of color both economically and racially. They both go hand in hand, poverty is the heart of American color problems. As technology booms through San Francisco's streets, gentrification rapidly unfolds. Thousands of residents and family-owned businesses, (specifically people of color) who have lived and served San Francisco for decades are being evicted -particularly in the Mission, Mid Market, Castro, and Dog Patch. However, San Francisco is not alone, evictions are heavy on low income Americans across the states. In a world of economic inequality and racial injustice, the government and its influence on society is to blame.
While the world's attention has been focused on the combined efforts of Arab and US forces attacking "Islamic State" (IS) positions in Iraq and Syria, there is unfolding in Lebanon, a third front in the war against this violent extremist group. This third front has received scant attention. Because Lebanon has been so overwhelmed by the fallout from Syria's civil war, aggravating the country's fragile sectarian balance, the threat of IS poses an existential challenge that must not be ignored.
Despite being the smallest of Syria's neighbors, Lebanon is currently hosting 40% of Syria's refugees. With a population of just under 4 million citizens, the presence of 1.2 million displaced Syrians means that nearly one in every four persons currently residing in Lebanon is a Syrian.
A recent article at the Guardian has heralded the third consecutive win for John Key's centre-right National party, referencing certain statistics that demonstrate that the National led coalition government has managed to strengthen the economy despite the worldwide recession.
This is all well and good - at least in the short term. However, contrast those statistics from the latter editorial with this article from Forbes entitled "12 Reasons Why New Zealand's Economic Bubble Will End in Disaster" and we might get a more complete picture of the future of New Zealand. This article was written by an expert in the area, Jesse Colombo, who accurately predicted that the global recession would happen.
Aspects of life can be superficial or aspects of life can be deep. Deep is a synonym for meaningful. The art and science of gardening has had an ancient history of being a deep and meaningful part of human life.
Gandhi has said to forget to dig the earth is to forget ourselves. In the twilight of Thomas Jefferson's life, he mused that although he was an old man, he was but a young gardener.
In an era of high technology and complicated lives, there are practical steps that humans can take that can nurture and aid our journey through life. Gardening is such a practical endeavor. Gardening can enrich the body and soul with nourishment and beauty.