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.
At the beginning of each new year people around the world express their hopes and desires for seemingly elusive peace on earth. In the past year there have been many strides toward that goal. The greatest threat to peace and our survival, nuclear weapons, are at long last on the road to abolition. The people have spoken and leaders have heard. This new year we must recommit to the steps necessary to make this a reality.
In the words of Pope Francis,
Nuclear weapons are a global problem, affecting all nations, and impacting future generations and the planet that is our home. A global ethic is needed if we are to reduce the nuclear threat and work towards nuclear disarmament.
Governor Cuomo late last night vetoed a bill drafted by the correction officers’ union that seeks to protect guards from prosecution for acts of brutality against inmates at Rikers Island facilities. The bill would have given the Queens District Attorney exclusive jurisdiction in such cases.
“We’re relieved that Gov. Cuomo has put the health and safety of people, kids and even prison guards at Rikers Island over the political gamesmanship of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We need more accountability at Rikers, not less, and a wholesale reform of the culture of corruption and abuse that has gone on for too long."
I would like to write a poem and nail it
to a stake at humanity’s crossroads.
It would say: choose your path wisely.
It would say: this path we are on is far
too treacherous, a trap for the unwary
As the UN climate talks – COP20 – wrap up in Lima, CEO took part in a press conference to reflect on what two weeks of negotiations mean for climate justice and the road to Paris. Organised by the Institute of Climate Action and Theory, CEO was joined by with Michael Dorsey (board member of Sierra Club) and Jagoda Munic (Chair of Friends of the Earth International).
A popular headline in the media is to describe the Afghan War as “America’s longest,” as in this brief summary today from Foreign Policy:
The war in Afghanistan, America’s longest, is now formally over. The 13-year war, which claimed more than 2,200 American lives and cost more than one trillion dollars, ended quietly at a ceremony in Kabul yesterday. US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders promised their ongoing commitment under the rebranded Operation Resolute Support and insisted the war was a success. But the Taliban is poised for a comeback with a recent surge in violence in Kabul and around the country. There are concerns that Afghanistan’s military and fragile political institutions will crumble as the United States leaves.
A new report released at COP20 by CEO, the Democracy Center and Transnational Institute shows how corporations causing social and environmental destruction in the Andes and Amazon are driving climate change, whilst enjoying influential seats at the climate-negotiating table.
The report shows how three corporations involved in extractives industries in the Andes and Amazon are causing environmental and social damage on the ground where they operate, whilst simultaneously exerting influence to undermine climate policy-making spaces despite the fact their activities drive climate change. The report outlines how the influence that Repsol (Spanish), Glencore-Xstrata (Swiss) and Enel-Endesa (Italian/Spanish) have managed to accrue over national and international climate policy decisions enables them to push for false "solutions" which in fact allow them to continue to pollute – and even profit from doing so, through mechanisms such as carbon offsetting.
Yesterday, I joined a group of around 150 protestors at a #BlackLivesMatter event at Union Station in Chicago. It was the first protest I had attended since the president of the New York Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, blamed the deaths of two police officers in Brooklyn on "those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest." Rather than fault the dead man who apparently shot the two officers, Lynch predictably and opportunistically focused his rage on those whose politics displeased him, including New York City's current mayor. All of this, of course, was aimed at quieting the voices of demonstrators who, for months, have filled the streets to protest the norms of a system that has deemed them disposable.
I never believed that the young organizers in Chicago would be cowed by the theatrical blame game that's been staged by men like Lynch over the past few days, but it was still heartening to see them up close, standing strong.
Bethlehem has always loomed large in our imagination. For generations, the feelings evoked by this town have been captured in multiple art forms, serving to inspire both believers and non-believers with its message of hope and the joyful promise of new life.
For those who do not know the place, Bethlehem possesses a timeless quality, derived from these artistic creations. It is a place of mystery and contradictions. It is the peaceful little town that played an out-sized role in history; the birthplace of Jesus, the child born in a cave, heralded by angels, and visited by shepherds and kings. For hundreds of millions of Christians world-wide, these are the images that define Bethlehem. Sadly, in reality, all of this is but a fantasy, since the pressures of daily life confronted by the residents of this historic community paint a remarkably different portrait.
They say that shells never strike in the same place twice. However, it is not true.
Petrovsky district is a suburb of Donetsk of coal miners and their families. It is one of the districts of the city most damaged by the artillery bombardments of the Ukrainian army during the past months. I’m looking around, trying to find a house not struck by shells, but I cannot find one. I see destroyed shops, broken fences, roofs with holes where shells struck, windows boarded up with plywood, and deserted streets. The local people are living in bombshelters.
Hardly had the good news that the US would stop its policy of isolation of Cuba and open an embassy on the Island state when a news item about North Korea captured the airwaves and the Internet. The torture report, or rather the summary of the redacted Senate report on torture, disappeared from the headlines to remain in the alternative media only. Can there be a link between all these events or even a deliberate act on the part of the newsmakers, or is that a stretch too far?
The torture investigation and the publication of a minimal but revealing summary had immense international resonance. Suddenly, the US lost its grandstanding, hectoring, lecturing posture. Countries that have themselves less than a stellar record on human rights, such as China or Russia or even, yes, North Korea, could laugh out loud and denounce the hypocritical "leader of the free world." If the US tortures, then it is in no position to moralize or blame others for their violations of human rights. Human rights then become a fig leaf, a propaganda move to be invoked in a Machiavellian way only to demean enemies.