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.
During the hour that it took the world's elite G7 politicians discussing climate change to wander through an enchanting meadow of flowers in Germany's Bavarian Alps earlier this week, at least 800 people died prematurely from the impact of air pollution, most of it caused by the burning of non-renewable fossil fuels.
Wanting to show the world – particularly voters at home – that they care about the seven-million people a year dying from various pollution and carbon related causes, the leaders of the world's richest countries, including Canada, signed a joint declaration calling for a global phasing-out of fossil fuels 85 years from now.
Police in McKinney, Texas are facing national outrage after one of their officers was caught on video assaulting and threatening to shoot unarmed black teenagers at a pool party. But the video does not simply show another case of excessive force, as media reports would suggest. It also reveals the significant support these tactics enjoy among white Americans – and why the responsibility for police brutality extends far beyond the trigger-happy cops themselves.
The media’s focus on lone officer Eric Casebolt, who has since resigned, serves to obscure a larger pattern of white complicity in state violence. At the McKinney pool, white residents taunted black partygoers, telling them to go back to their “Section 8” homes before attacking a black girl and calling in the police to forcibly segregate their neighborhood. Indeed, the video shows white residents assisting the police, at one point even holding back bystanders while an arrest is made. Afterward, residents posted a sign thanking the officers for keeping them safe.
Today, in the final days of the Bonn Climate Change Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Corporate Accountability International delivered a resounding call to the parties of the UNFCCC on behalf of hundreds of other organizations and hundreds of thousands people: protect the treaty and climate policymaking from the undue influence of the globe's biggest polluters.
The call comes as record droughts and rainfall as well as relentless heatwaves claim lives around the globe and some of the world's biggest polluters attempt to co-opt the treaty process and influence negotiating outcomes.
This morning at 0430 Pakistan time (0030 UK time), Aftab Bahadur was executed in Lahore, after the Pakistani authorities refused to allow his lawyers to secure key evidencethat Mr Bahadur was innocent.
Mr Bahadur was just 15 years old when he was sentenced to death for murder, following a conviction which was overwhelmingly based on 'evidence' extracted under torture.
Just hours after innocent juvenile Aftab Bahadur was hanged in the early hours of this morning, Pakistan's Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal for Shafqat Hussain- who was convicted as a juvenile and sentenced to death based on a 'confession' extracted after days of torture.
A black warrant had been issued for Shafqat Hussain earlier this week and his execution scheduled for 4am Tuesday morning, but a last-minute stay was issued. Shafqat's juvenility and torture have never been fully investigated - despite the fact that earlier this year the concerns led Pakistan's President, Mamnoon Hussain, to order a stay of execution and an inquiry.
Writing about and reporting the Middle East is not an easy task, especially during these years of turmoil and upheaval. But I cannot remember another time in recent history we needed journalists to shine, to challenge conventional wisdom, to think in terms of contexts, motives, alliances, not ideological, political or financial interests.
From the start, when addressing the issue of the Middle East, the actual entity of "Middle East" is itself highly questionable. It is arbitrary, and can only be understood within proximity to some other entity, Europe, which colonial endeavors imposed such classifications on the rest of the word. Colonial Europe was the center of the globe and everything else was measured in physical and political distance from the dominating continent.
That weekend of wealthy, powerful heads of state and other bosses high up in the Bavarian Alps, and the vigorous protests from opposing crowds kept out of earshot downhill, largely stole media thunder this past weekend. Far lower in altitude and attention, with almost no thunder from the media or otherwise, another meeting was held in less scenic West German Bielefeld. It was a congress of DIE LINKE, the Left Party. Yet a gathering of arguably the only opposition force with any real clout in Germany, with representatives of its 60,000 members, was important enough.
What media attention it did receive centered on one question: "Will he or won't he?" The "he" was Gregor Gysi. In 1989 this bald-headed little lawyer, a skilled speaker with sharp wit and tongue, played a key role, if not THE key role, in salvaging the devastated remains of the East German ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and, instead of dissolving it, transforming it into a democratic, undogmatic organization renamed Party of Democratic Socialism, with a range of accepted different views, formerly denounced as factions.
The votes on behalf of fast track legislation in the House of Representatives don't seem to add up. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told the New York Times, "We're not quite there, but we're getting close," regarding the vote count, while Speaker of the House John Boehner said on June 3rd, "I don't think we're quite there yet."
The razor-thin margins in the House mean that a handful of substantive provisions still up for debate could swing the margin one way or the other. For example, the provision in fast track that would cut $700 million from Medicare in order to fund Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers displayed by trade is generating plenty of opposition. Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan plans to address a range of other unresolved key issues via a customs enforcement bill that he plans to move separately from the fast track legislation. As Ryan's spokesman Brendan Buck recently said: "the customs and enforcement bill has always been the vehicle with which we've planned to reconcile differences between the two chambers on a range of issues."
There is ONE topic above all others that basically cannot be addressed on your television sets. Even mentioning it goes antithetical to everything our media stands for. Once you see the truth about this one thing, it can change your entire world. And our media REALLY doesn't want that.
The Supreme Court has a very mixed track record when it comes to protecting women. As a domestic violence advocate, criminologist and activist for a decade, I am deeply concerned that the US still fails to prioritize women's safety. Given that globally, more women ages 15-45 die from men's violence than of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined, far more needs to be done to protect women and girls. The courts can and should play a far bigger role in doing so.
In 2000, the court overturned part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that allowed women to sue their abusers in federal court. So, we can sue darn near anyone for anything, just not the people who hurt us most deeply. In 2005, the court ruled in Castle Rock v. Gonzales that a town and its police cannot be sued for failing to enforce a restraining order. Jessica Gonzales (now Lenahan) had a permanent restraining order against her husband, Simon, who had been stalking and harassing her. Simon was prohibited from seeing her son (not his biologically) and the couple's three daughters, except during specified visitation times. Simon violated that order by taking the three girls on June 22, 1999, around 5:15pm. Jessica first called the police about two hours later, then proceeded to call multiple times and visit the station in person over the next several hours. The police took no action, even though Simon had called Jessica admitting he had the girls at an amusement park in Denver. At approximately 3:20am, Simon showed up at the Castle Rock police station and engaged in a shootout with police that left him dead. The police then noticed the bodies of the three girls in his vehicle. The court held 7-2 that the Colorado statute did not require that police actually enforce restraining orders.