Tuesday, 23 December 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

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.

Another solidarity protest was staged in downtown Seattle on December 1 to demonstrate against the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters held signs memorializing Michael Brown who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson.

At 6PM a rally was held at Westlake mall near the giant Christmas tree and across the street from the traditional holiday carousel. While the carousel's sound system played cheerful Christmas songs ("A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight…") angry protesters held a rally outside the mall. Police and security closed down the mall before the rally and Seattle riot police gathered on the ground floor.

More than anything, the Public Health crisis of the Ebola virus underscores the need for a universal model of healthcare that covers the health needs of all. Failure to provide needed health care to some quickly jeopardizes the health of all. Past president of the American Public Health Association Dr. Walter Tsou observes, "One out of every seven Americans are uninsured and the Affordable Care Act specifically exempts immigrants from obtaining insurance." Those who cannot access health care when they feel sick are at risk in a health care crisis, even as they place others at risk.

An Ebola-like crisis accentuates the fragmented piecemeal nature of US health coverage and access. Americans are stuck between a rock and a hard place - some forced to buy insurance that they are unable to use because they cannot afford high deductibles and copays.

We are able to split the atom and fly to the moon, yet we have difficulty living in peace with one another. Peace should hence be at the forefront of education and human existence.

A new horizon is on its way; one of hope, dignity and peace. Humanity's suffering and war and conflict-time experiences could pave a way to sustainability, interconnectivity and people's harmonious coexistence. Is this a utopian dream? This is hardly the case, as if we are to survive as one human family; we must come together and live in peace.

Most in the peace and justice community took it as a foregone conclusion that Darren Wilson wouldn’t be indicted by the system of injustice that he was a part of.  We had hoped somehow for a miracle, that the system and the culture that reinforces it would indict itself.  What we need instead are civilian indictments of the system - many of them.  Communities all across the country need to hold a candle of justice up to our legal system and call it what it is: polarizing, fear-based, classist and racist.  Indictments from civil society - when presented and argued with civility and reason could have real moral authority.  And while the outcomes of these indictments and the civilian tribunals that could follow may not be enforceable under current law, they provide grounding for the establishment of just and moral local communities.  

Local communities can design alternative systems for justice and nonviolently refuse to participate in the morally bankrupt systems that currently rule.   In moving to a peaceful future we need to experiment and establish these alternative models and inquire into the foundations of justice.  Restorative justice programs are already in operation across the country proving there are functional and effective alternatives to what currently is and showing what an ethically based system of justice can look like.  At the local community level this is a viable possibility we need to pursue.

The Obama administration has today appealed against a federal judge’s ruling that videotapes showing force-feeding of a Guantanamo prisoner should be released.

The ruling, made by Judge Gladys Kessler in October this year, was the first of its kind and came after sixteen major US media organizations, including the New York TimesAP, and McClatchy newspapers, asked for the tapes to be made public under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

On Saturday, November 30, 2014, an Egyptian judge dropped all charges against former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak, with US government military and political support, had presided over nearly three decades of martial law and repression. His overthrow and arrest in 2011 had been considered a major achievements of the "Arab Spring" in Egypt, a mass upsurge that began on January 25, 2011 and led to Mubarak's overthrow on February 11, 2011. Mubarak, along with others also released on Saturday, had subsequently been tried and convicted of a number of corruption and criminal charges. 

One activist told a US reporter that Mubarak's release is "closing the fate of the January 25, 2011 'revolution.'" Another man, whose son was one of the hundreds of protesters murdered by Mubarak's police during the uprising, put it this way: "Mubarak's regime is still in place. The January Revolution is over." 

In the Wake of the Human Rights Crisis Exposed by Disappearance of the 43 Students in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, Latino and other Communities Participating in Dec. 3 National Mobilization for Peace in Mexico Will Begin Process of Holding US Elected Officials Accountable on Mexico Aid

All over the US on Wednesday December 3, more than 43 US cities will participate in an unprecedented national mobilization to demand an end to the deadly “Plan Mexico,” a multibillion-dollar program to aid Mexico’s corrupt and notoriously violent security forces, ostensibly in the name of fighting the so-called War on Drugs.

In the wake of the extreme human rights crisis in Mexico that was exposed by the recent disappearance of the 43 students in the state of Guerrero, thousands of people from across the United States will march in front of federal buildings in their respective cities and other locations (at various times: for a full list of participating cities, locations, and times go to www.USTired2.com/cities ) to call on the Obama Administration and Congress to stop US funneling billions of tax dollars of military aid, training and coordination to Mexico’s military and police forces, which are widely known to be perpetrating massive human rights violations, including the September kidnapping of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

While many adjectives fit the recent colossal dump of over 90 inches of snow in Buffalo, New York, very few mainstream news stations used the term "human-driven climate change." While scientists from around the world and UN organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Meteorological Organization all agree that human-driven climate change is one of the biggest threats humankind has faced, the majority of broadcast meteorologists seem to be silent on this topic.

Having lived through the 1991 Desert Storm bombing and the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing in Iraq, I tread carefully when speaking about any danger greater than war that children in our world might face. I won’t forget children in Baghdadi hospitals whose bodies I have seen, wounded and maimed, after bombing campaigns ordered by US leaders.  I think also of children in Lebanon and Gaza and Afghanistan, children I’ve sat with in cities under heavy bombardments while their frightened parents tried to distract and calm them.   

Even so, it seems the greatest danger – the greatest violence – that any of us face is contained in our attacks on our environment. Today’s children and generations to follow them face nightmares of scarcity, disease, mass displacement, social chaos, and war, due to our patterns of consumption and pollution.Ironically, one of the institutions in US society which comprehends the disasters that loom is the US military.

Sunday, November 30, Ferguson, Missouri. The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency on November 17, and this is what's been happening in Ferguson and St. Louis County, Missouri:

You drive past a major traffic and commercial intersection like Chambers and West Florissant and you see the cross-street barricaded by a half-dozen or so police cars with bubble lights flashing, crime scene tape, a military Humvee, armed soldiers, and more police in the Walgreen's mini-mall across the street. You often hear helicopters circling overhead; at night, sometimes you can see their searchlights sweeping nearby. Meanwhile, the airspace has been closed off to all other traffic, reportedly to prevent news helicopters from providing video and pictures of what is going on below.

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Speakout

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.

Another solidarity protest was staged in downtown Seattle on December 1 to demonstrate against the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters held signs memorializing Michael Brown who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson.

At 6PM a rally was held at Westlake mall near the giant Christmas tree and across the street from the traditional holiday carousel. While the carousel's sound system played cheerful Christmas songs ("A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight…") angry protesters held a rally outside the mall. Police and security closed down the mall before the rally and Seattle riot police gathered on the ground floor.

More than anything, the Public Health crisis of the Ebola virus underscores the need for a universal model of healthcare that covers the health needs of all. Failure to provide needed health care to some quickly jeopardizes the health of all. Past president of the American Public Health Association Dr. Walter Tsou observes, "One out of every seven Americans are uninsured and the Affordable Care Act specifically exempts immigrants from obtaining insurance." Those who cannot access health care when they feel sick are at risk in a health care crisis, even as they place others at risk.

An Ebola-like crisis accentuates the fragmented piecemeal nature of US health coverage and access. Americans are stuck between a rock and a hard place - some forced to buy insurance that they are unable to use because they cannot afford high deductibles and copays.

We are able to split the atom and fly to the moon, yet we have difficulty living in peace with one another. Peace should hence be at the forefront of education and human existence.

A new horizon is on its way; one of hope, dignity and peace. Humanity's suffering and war and conflict-time experiences could pave a way to sustainability, interconnectivity and people's harmonious coexistence. Is this a utopian dream? This is hardly the case, as if we are to survive as one human family; we must come together and live in peace.

Most in the peace and justice community took it as a foregone conclusion that Darren Wilson wouldn’t be indicted by the system of injustice that he was a part of.  We had hoped somehow for a miracle, that the system and the culture that reinforces it would indict itself.  What we need instead are civilian indictments of the system - many of them.  Communities all across the country need to hold a candle of justice up to our legal system and call it what it is: polarizing, fear-based, classist and racist.  Indictments from civil society - when presented and argued with civility and reason could have real moral authority.  And while the outcomes of these indictments and the civilian tribunals that could follow may not be enforceable under current law, they provide grounding for the establishment of just and moral local communities.  

Local communities can design alternative systems for justice and nonviolently refuse to participate in the morally bankrupt systems that currently rule.   In moving to a peaceful future we need to experiment and establish these alternative models and inquire into the foundations of justice.  Restorative justice programs are already in operation across the country proving there are functional and effective alternatives to what currently is and showing what an ethically based system of justice can look like.  At the local community level this is a viable possibility we need to pursue.

The Obama administration has today appealed against a federal judge’s ruling that videotapes showing force-feeding of a Guantanamo prisoner should be released.

The ruling, made by Judge Gladys Kessler in October this year, was the first of its kind and came after sixteen major US media organizations, including the New York TimesAP, and McClatchy newspapers, asked for the tapes to be made public under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

On Saturday, November 30, 2014, an Egyptian judge dropped all charges against former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak, with US government military and political support, had presided over nearly three decades of martial law and repression. His overthrow and arrest in 2011 had been considered a major achievements of the "Arab Spring" in Egypt, a mass upsurge that began on January 25, 2011 and led to Mubarak's overthrow on February 11, 2011. Mubarak, along with others also released on Saturday, had subsequently been tried and convicted of a number of corruption and criminal charges. 

One activist told a US reporter that Mubarak's release is "closing the fate of the January 25, 2011 'revolution.'" Another man, whose son was one of the hundreds of protesters murdered by Mubarak's police during the uprising, put it this way: "Mubarak's regime is still in place. The January Revolution is over." 

In the Wake of the Human Rights Crisis Exposed by Disappearance of the 43 Students in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, Latino and other Communities Participating in Dec. 3 National Mobilization for Peace in Mexico Will Begin Process of Holding US Elected Officials Accountable on Mexico Aid

All over the US on Wednesday December 3, more than 43 US cities will participate in an unprecedented national mobilization to demand an end to the deadly “Plan Mexico,” a multibillion-dollar program to aid Mexico’s corrupt and notoriously violent security forces, ostensibly in the name of fighting the so-called War on Drugs.

In the wake of the extreme human rights crisis in Mexico that was exposed by the recent disappearance of the 43 students in the state of Guerrero, thousands of people from across the United States will march in front of federal buildings in their respective cities and other locations (at various times: for a full list of participating cities, locations, and times go to www.USTired2.com/cities ) to call on the Obama Administration and Congress to stop US funneling billions of tax dollars of military aid, training and coordination to Mexico’s military and police forces, which are widely known to be perpetrating massive human rights violations, including the September kidnapping of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

While many adjectives fit the recent colossal dump of over 90 inches of snow in Buffalo, New York, very few mainstream news stations used the term "human-driven climate change." While scientists from around the world and UN organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Meteorological Organization all agree that human-driven climate change is one of the biggest threats humankind has faced, the majority of broadcast meteorologists seem to be silent on this topic.

Having lived through the 1991 Desert Storm bombing and the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing in Iraq, I tread carefully when speaking about any danger greater than war that children in our world might face. I won’t forget children in Baghdadi hospitals whose bodies I have seen, wounded and maimed, after bombing campaigns ordered by US leaders.  I think also of children in Lebanon and Gaza and Afghanistan, children I’ve sat with in cities under heavy bombardments while their frightened parents tried to distract and calm them.   

Even so, it seems the greatest danger – the greatest violence – that any of us face is contained in our attacks on our environment. Today’s children and generations to follow them face nightmares of scarcity, disease, mass displacement, social chaos, and war, due to our patterns of consumption and pollution.Ironically, one of the institutions in US society which comprehends the disasters that loom is the US military.

Sunday, November 30, Ferguson, Missouri. The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency on November 17, and this is what's been happening in Ferguson and St. Louis County, Missouri:

You drive past a major traffic and commercial intersection like Chambers and West Florissant and you see the cross-street barricaded by a half-dozen or so police cars with bubble lights flashing, crime scene tape, a military Humvee, armed soldiers, and more police in the Walgreen's mini-mall across the street. You often hear helicopters circling overhead; at night, sometimes you can see their searchlights sweeping nearby. Meanwhile, the airspace has been closed off to all other traffic, reportedly to prevent news helicopters from providing video and pictures of what is going on below.