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.
LA, SF, NYC, Houston, Sacramento - 99Rise Citizen activists from across the country ended their water-only fast yesterday after weeks of deprivation in a bid to elevate the issue of money-in-politics corruption during this year’s midterm election. Those fasting had urged voters to exclusively support candidates who support pro-democracy reforms that would overturn the Supreme Court’s recent Citizen United and McCutcheon decisions through a constitutional amendment and federal legislation.
“It’s a bittersweet moment for me.” said 99Rise co-founder Kai Newkirk who broke his 18-day fast last night. “Our fast has come to an end, but it comes in the wake of a devastating election, stolen from the American people by corporations and billionaires who bankrolled these campaigns to the tune of 4 billion dollars. That's an auction, not a democratic election.”
Environmental and human rights activists are increasingly demanding that companies be responsible actors in a myriad of ways, from eradicating conflict minerals in their supply chains, to paying workers a fair wage, to using less toxic materials in apparel or other products. Activist campaigns have become much more sophisticated over the past few decades as well; instead of campaigns solely based on environmental and human rights impacts, activists are now targeting companies for how they wield their influence, and for their public stance on issues. In essence, a company's impact on society – or even a company's impact on culture – is increasingly transparent and is therefore more likely to be questioned.
A quick Google search for "how do companies affect culture" yields results on how to influence corporate culture, how a company's corporate culture can influence its profitability, you name it. What's not as readily examined is how a company –through its products, ethics and business choices as a brand – affects our wider cultural values, norms and ethics. What are the imprints made by the very companies whose products populate our daily lives, with which we have a personal relationship – your favorite ice cream, shoes, or shampoo – and how do those imprints dictate our culture? Can you imagine a world unchanged by Coca-Cola, Apple or Twitter?
Citizenfour is about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's actions as well as the collective work of reporters, and whistleblowers Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, Jeremy Scahill and William Binney.
Laura Poitras produced My Country, My Country in 2006. In that film she explained life for Iraqis under American occupation. In 2010, she produced The Oath, which covered two Yemenis' relation to Gitmo and the War on Terror. Poitras also produced The Program, which discusses the domestic surveillance enterprise in Bluffdale, Utah. As a result of this body of work, Poitras undergoes monitoring by the United States Government, and is harassed routinely by border patrol agents.
Elizabeth Warren, with her crusade to reform finance, is the darling of many, and there is a movement for her to run for President. But she's another imperialist hawk in the tradition of Bush II, Obama, and Hillary Clinton. Consider the foreign policy statement in her 2012 campaign for Senate:
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for 'Smart Power' - the use of defense, diplomacy, development, and other tools to advance US interests in the world. As a Senator, I will pursue a foreign policy that is smart, tough, and pragmatic." Her Hillary is a super-hawk, deeply committed to fear- and war-waging, and a war criminal.
TV ad spending in state Supreme Court elections by outside groups, political parties, and candidates has surged to more than $13.8 million since January, surpassing the $12.2 million spent on TV advertising in the 2010 midterm elections, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake of estimates provided by Kantar Media/CMAG.
The 2014 judicial elections delivered a new round of special interest money, attack ads, and partisan politics into America’s courtrooms, shattering several state records and increasing political pressure on state justices. For the first time, a powerful national political group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, systematically invested in Supreme Court and lower court contests across the country — an effort that was unsuccessful in almost all its targeted states, including North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, and Montana.
DPA: Election Solidifies Drug Policy Reform as Mainstream Political Issue, Boosts Efforts to Legalize Marijuana in California and Elsewhere in 2016
Voters across the country have accelerated the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider drug war, with marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon and Washington, D.C., while groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passed in California and New Jersey.
Washington DC - Elliot Management Corporation told investors it will pursue sanctions against Argentina for refusing to comply with a US court order to pay the hold-out hedge fund. The announcement was made in a letter obtained by Bloomberg News and says the fund would continue to search for Argentine assets globally.
For decades, Afro-descendant communities in Colombia have fought for autonomy and self-determination as a response to government policies that produce multiple forms of violence in their communities. Fully aware of, and in solidarity with, mobilizations in Ferguson, Afro-Colombians recognize the common dreams of movements for racial justice for people of color people across the hemisphere. Two members of a delegation that visited these communities in August 2014 reflect on their own solidarity process and explore the ways that transnational solidarity manifests (or doesn't) in movements. How can we move beyond allyship and towards a practice of co-struggling?
One week after Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, nine US-based activists and artists of color and one white woman traveled to meet racial justice movement leaders in Colombia. Our delegation was led by Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN, Black Community Process), a collective of African-descendant Colombian groups focused on cultural and political power for Colombia's black population. The history of dispossession is a long one for African descendants in Colombia and across the diaspora i.e. European colonial conquests, subsequent violent and dehumanizing economies of enslavement, the state's denial of social services and reparations. With the energy of the #BlacksLivesMatter mobilizations flowing through our hearts and minds, we began our weeklong human rights delegation throughout the Southwest Valle de Cauca region of Colombia.
The Redacted team shows you ways to die that should scare you more than Ebola, cracks the corporate manipulation code, Boston-crèmes its pants for Dunkin’ Donuts and gets creative with the whitewashing of Vietnam.
Seventy years ago, this year, Jean Paul Sartre began writing Anti-Semite and Jew; a post war reflection on the plague of anti-Semitism and its effects on European society. The work is brilliant, unique and most likely could not have been written today. Sartre wrote on behalf of Jews; but more importantly, he demonstrated why anti-Semitism was a problem for Europeans generally, not just Jews. With anti-Muslim rhetoric well within the mainstream of American society, it is useful for us to look back to Sartre's work for insight into the causes of racism.
Anti-Semite and Jew is audaciously organized around four almost dramatic figures: The Anti-Semite, the Democrat, the Jew and the "inauthentic" Jew. Anti-Semitism is not merely an idea, according to Sartre, "it is first of all a passion." The anti-Semite measures all things against the Jew that he has imagined. The Jew is crass, rancorous, duplicitous yet brilliant – in that dangerous sort of way. The anti-Semite is the opposite: civilized, amicable, sincere yet mediocre in intellect – in that innocuous sort of way (more on that later). But this Jew is a figment of the anti-Semite's imagination; a creation that reflects everything the anti-Semite imagines he is not, thus becoming his very reason for being. Sartre states, "if the Jew did not exist, the anti-Semite would have to invent him."