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.
A society's prison system mirrors the society. What does America's say about America?
Some numbers: With only five percent of the world's population, the U.S. has more than 20 percent of the world's prison population. America has the largest actual prison head count in the world and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate (first place is held via a statistical oddity by the tiny Seychelles island nation.) In the U.S., from 1978 to 2014, the prison population rose 408 percent, to the point where the nation is closing in on a full one percent of the entire population being in prison proper. If you include all forms of correctional control - prison, jail, parole and probation - about three percent of Americans are included. The numbers are currently as high as they have ever been in history.
Will 2015 be remembered in history as a year when the human race decided to abandon the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? If the first part of this year saw the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ending in a failure, the closing of 2015 might witness a final and de facto expansion of the nuclear weapons club. Not surprisingly, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have spoken out strongly against the proposed agreement, which the Japanese prime minister might sign during his visit to India this weekend. In an extraordinary move, the two mayors - Kazumi Matsui and Tomihisa Taue - held a press conference issuing a joint statement and urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to abandon the nuclear supply agreement with India.
The small city of Stevens Point in central Wisconsin is an argument for what big government can do when it is committed to serving the needs of the common people rather than the greed of the powerful or the vested interests of the national security state.
The greenwashing of some of the world's biggest polluters' by European public relations and lobbying consultancies is exposed in a new report released today. As the COP21 Paris climate summit enters its second week, "The climate smokescreen - PR companies lobbying for big polluters in Europe", by Corporate Europe Observatory, presents case studies of seven public relations firms with climate-destructive clients.
There is a pervasive myth generated by conservatives that the private sector is more efficient and less bureaucratic than government. This is perpetuated by those seeking to continue the "free market" in US health care, which simultaneously exploits public programs through privatization of Medicare and Medicaid. Missing from the dialogue is the well-documented growing extreme bureaucracy in private health care, especially within the private health insurance industry and other corporate stakeholders in the medical-industrial complex. As one example, Figure 1 shows the exponential growth of administrators over the last 40-plus years compared to the numbers of physicians.
This year, according to the United Nations, more than 560,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Europe, creating the worst refugee crisis on the continent since World War II. It's no secret why refugees are so desperate to reach European soil. Fleeing from the violence in Syria, refugees carry few possessions, accumulate crippling debt and struggle to find work in neighboring countries. Families go hungry. Back in August, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that refugees in Lebanon receive less than a dollar a day in food assistance. In Jordan, 85 percent live below the international poverty line.
Indigenous people who live close to the land are seeing the effects of global warming sooner and more alarmingly than many urban dwellers and thus are demanding a strong voice in the Paris Climate Summit, as Native and Indian leader Andrea Carmen told Dennis J Bernstein.
Even if insured how much can we depend on private healthinsurance any more? The bottom line - less and less as it continues to degrade after almost six years under the Affordable Care Act. Its coverage continues to degrade even as its costs become increasingly unaffordable.
Supporters of the ACA tell us that things will work out if we just give it more time, but these inconvenient facts argue otherwise.
The official release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on November 5 not only confirmed our fears about how it would threaten our rights online and over our digital devices, but also kicked off a 90-day countdown to President Obama signing the deal. A few days later, the White House formally requested the International Trade Commission to begin its study of the impacts of the TPP on the US economy for a report to come out inthe Spring before Congress approves (or ratifies) the deal - which as explained below, is a separate and later step to signature of the deal.
It's not too long ago that I came across Arundhati Roy for the first time. I feel guilty revealing this and scold myself frequently for not having known before. I tell her with a sharp and wagging forefinger that she should have known before. But it is what it is. I cannot travel back in time to the ignorant child I was and apply strict measures of education, which today I see she clearly needed - offer guidance, perhaps most of all. I can only build upon what lies in an inaccessible past. And for that I feel guilty sometimes. But the person I am today was not there to guide and educate.