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.
On 9 December 2014, the US Senate released its CIA torture report. The investigation confirmed what globally has been known for many years: the US Central Intelligence Agency and US-outsourced national authorities in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere have been involved in an extensive range of torture applications.
Compelling evidence has become available, especially since 2001, the beginning of the Afghanistan war, through investigations by the European Parliament and national judicial authorities, as well as two major reports presented by Swiss Senator Dick Marty in 2006 and 2007 to the Council of Europe, on secret CIA detention centres in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
On 15th November, 2014, Mr, Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, was in Canberra addressing the Australian Parliament. He was flaunting his aggressive macho/militaristic credentials. His speech included the following words.
"For the first time since the 1970s, the UK is expanding our presence east of Suez, opening diplomatic posts across Asia."
"Our economic prosperity underpins our national security and we are using it to modernise our armed forces with the most modern equipment - new fighters; new hunter-killer submarines; renewing our nuclear deterrent; type 26 global combat ship, the world's most advanced frigate; and two new aircraft carriers, the most powerful the Royal Navy has ever put to sea in its history."
One of the tactics Hitler used to control public opinion in Germany was limiting access to knowledge or eradicating it completely. The Nazis tried to ‘cleanse’ the society by burning thousands of books that did not fit their wicked ideology.
Books would have encouraged freedom of thought— something Hitler wanted to avoid. He wanted people to follow him without questioning his ideals. He knew that restricting access to knowledge would breed ignorance, which would prove vital to his strength as an oppressor.
Unfortunately, ISIS has also figured this out.
Recently uncovered by archeologists in Java, Indonesia, is a 500,000 year old "purposefully made graphic art or writing form" on a mollusk shell. I lived with native peoples observing first-hand how elders with great simplicity intertwine teaching children Sacred Geometry, Spirituality and the Tangible World through storytelling at preverbal (ages 1 through 6) ages using nature (vines, sunflowers, etc.) in a way youngsters understand without the use of "technical or scientific jargon, written language or symbol"' yet most adults cannot grasp with a high school education. If an infant/child can learn and understand higher level mathematics and geometry through storytelling, how does this relate to our interpretations of the scribbling and artifacts discovered from past civilizations?
The subject of rape seems to be having a long overdue moment that it very much deserves. From the problem of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military, to rapes by trusted priests, sports mentors, and teachers, to recent celebrity sexual assault scandals (Bill Cosby and CBC radio host, Jian Ghomeshi), and as of this past weekend in New Delhi, India, rapes by hail-a-ride Uber drivers—there is a growing national (and global) awareness of rape. However, despite its horrors, rape easily gets normalized, as if it were just part of life, a distant fact coexisting with other not-so-pleasant facts, like unemployment rates and faraway natural disasters. The question is: How can we transform the historical cultural sanctioning of rape so as not to trivialize it, and prevent it from becoming a background hum to which we’re all but numb?
One of the biggest problems with rape is that throughout its devastating history it has been sanctioned in numerous and widespread contexts. Over time, this institutionalization of rape has sadly numbed too many segments of contemporary society to its tragic reality, at worst legitimizing its continued practice and at best enabling a culture of noninterference with sexual violence. As obvious as it may sound, we need to know what we actually are speaking of when we use the word rape. Using the word rape to describe activities other than actual rape lessens the impact that such violation should have on us, and strays dangerously close to normalizing it.
Next week we hope to see the beginning of the end.
We live under the constant threat every moment of every day of nuclear annihilation. The existence of 16,300 nuclear weapons on the planet places our very survival in great peril. Whether by plan or accident a nuclear attack has no meaningful medical or humanitarian response. As chronicled by Eric Schlosser in his book Command and Control, the number of times we have come close to nuclear disaster is mind boggling and it is a matter of sheer luck that we have not experienced a nuclear catastrophe. Luck is not a security policy and ultimately will run out unless we change our thinking and work to abolish nuclear weapons entirely.
"A man who has committed a mistake and does not correct it is committing another mistake." -Confucius
Half a trillion dollars. With that kind of money we could buy Facebook, Scandinavia, General Motors (again), the Chinese Politburo and all the good bits of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. And, with luck, Taylor Swift. Instead, we’re getting a trouble-plagued new fighter jet that is running $163 billion over budget and close to a decade behind schedule. Worse, by the time it is finally put into service, it is quite possible that it will not be able to perform the missions for which it was intended. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the King-of-All-Jackass-Defense-Programs, the F-35 Lightning II.
It looks like individual choice is not supposed to get in the way of corporate profits in the world of Michael Froman and US trade policy. In a Washington Post article on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP), US Trade Representative Michael Froman is quoted as saying:
"We’re not trying to force anybody to eat anything ... we do feel like the decision as to what is safe should be made by science."
WASHINGTON – Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) will publicly release a report Thursday showing that Burger King’s planned “inversion” will allow the company and its leading shareholders to dodge an estimated $400 million to $1.2 billion in US taxes between 2015 and 2018. This contradicts the assertion by CEO Daniel Schwartz that Burger King’s plan to become a Canadian company “is really not about taxes.”
The report is especially topical because Tim Hortons, the Canadian corporation with which Burger King is merging, has announced shareholders will vote on the deal on Tuesday, Dec. 9, and that it expects the deal to close Friday, Dec. 12.
Less than a week ago, this Unarmed Civilian (me), became a One-Armed-Unarmed-Civilian. Nothing broken, thankfully, just a torn up shoulder. December 8, 2014, (Day 1 of the Week of Outrage) was the first night back on the street for me after being injured. Below is the story of that first night, written from the ER in Brooklyn, NY.
Thousands took to the streets of NYC on December 3, 2014, the night after a grand jury voted not to file any charges against NYPD officer David Pantaleo - the cop who took the life of Eric Garner by putting him in an illegal chokehold