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 International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, two peace activists, charged with criminal trespass, will be tried in Jefferson City, Mo. The charge is based on an action at Whiteman Air Force Base last June 1st protesting US use of weaponized drones which are remotely piloted from the base. The trial testimony is expected to reflect a Nov. 24, 2014, report that for every intended target of a US drone strike, 28 unidentified persons are also killed. Drones change the nature of warfare, turning whole regions into battlefields where merely suspected militants, often uninvolved in combat, are identified and executed, without trial, from obscuring distances and with no chance to surrender.
The activists are Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and Georgia Walker, director of Journey to New Life, which helps former prisoners obtain jobs and housing in Kansas City, Mo.
Geneva, Switzerland 10 December 2014 – On the Occasion of Human Rights Day, the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) draws global attention to the fundamental human right to education, which directly enhances sustainable development and is a critical means to combat poverty. The right to education is unequivocally enshrined in core international agreements and treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Despite the widespread global recognition, the international community as a whole is not on track to meet the most fundamental education target of achieving universal primary education – as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 58 million children are still out of school, the majority of whom are girls.  IFUW urges all stakeholders and policy makers, especially within the fields of education and international development, to adopt, implement, accelerate, and adequately finance measurable plans of action to increase access to, and completion of, all levels of education for all people. IFUW calls for particular commitment and support for at-risk groups, especially girls and women with disabilities, those of rural, indigenous or migrant background, and those displaced by war.
Yes, "red-red-green" squeezed through to victory - by one single wavering vote.
Political parties in the USA have animal symbols, donkey and elephant. In Germany they have colors: the Christian-Democrats (CDU), due to clerical ties, are black, the Greens of course green, the Social Democrats (SPD) traditionally red. When the redder LINKE (Left) party came along critics said the SPD should switch to "pink". But it didn't, so the new government in the eastern state of Thuringia is a "red-red-green coalition" - the very first in Germany with the LINKE on top! A true sensation!
Were the SPD and Greens really willing to be junior partners with those scorned LINKE pariahs? They were, but in an almost exactly split legislature every vote was needed to beat possible maneuvers by the CDU, now very bitter at getting pushed out after ruling Thuringia since 1990. In the first (anonymous) vote count, one deputy broke ranks; if this happened again it might throw the whole coalition plan into question. But whoever it was fell into line in a second vote and the LINKE leader, Bodo Ramelow, 58, a West German union leader who had moved east, received 46 Yes votes (out of a total of 90) and thus became premier. On taking the oath of office, although a practicing Lutheran, he chose to omit the "so help me God" conclusion. A new cabinet was sworn in, with four LINKE ministers, three from the SPD and two from the Greens (despite their meager election results). Three of the LINKE and one each from the other parties were women.
Truthout contributor and historian Jeffrey R. McCord divides his time between Virginia and the US Virgin Island of St. John, once part of the Danish West Indies. Virgin Islands National Park is spread over two-thirds of the relatively undeveloped, mountainous island. In recent years, however, real estate development has posed a recurring threat to environmentally sensitive lands on St. John bordering the Park. Now, pristine Coral Bay and its unique sailing community are threatened by a proposed mega-yacht marina and associated luxury commercial and residential development on-shore.
In a Caribbean Sea increasingly dominated by Cruise ships, mega-yachts and boats and facilities catering to them, the residents of one unspoiled US Virgin Island harbor stand tall as a main mast for traditional sea and conservation values generation after generation. Since the early 1970s, live aboard sailors in St. John's Coral Harbor have helped preserve the unique character of the sleepy historic village surrounding the 18th century Moravian Mission founded during Danish colonial days. Although small restaurants and bars have sprouted up to serve sailors and tourists alike, Coral Harbor businesses continue to share the land with wandering sheep and playful semi-wild donkeys loved by residents and visitors.
It can only be a good thing that the attention of the nation is focused on the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and its aftermath. However, if the debate continues to be on the details of this particular case – many of which will likely never be known – or even on the growing problem of police heavy-handedness, or even the besetting problem of racism in America, we will never reach a solution to these tragedies.
As one minister from the region pointed out, every time a black person is killed by a white police officer, the country is split in two. What we need is a national dialogue on unity, on healing. I agree; but I think we need to go even further. We need to remember the prophetic words that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pronounced from the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, in his famous sermon called Beyond Vietnam: "The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit," he said, and to cure this malady "we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." King instinctively knew and often said that racism was a form of violence, so until violence itself was addressed racism would never leave us. And he was right.
Mark Colville, a Catholic Worker from New Haven Connecticut was sentenced this afternoon in DeWitt Town Court on 5 charges stemming from a protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on December 9 of last year, when he and two Yale Divinity School students presented flowers and a People’s Order of Protection for the children of Afghanistan and their families at the guard gate. In a surprise decision, Judge Robert Jokl sentenced Colville to a 1 year Conditional Discharge and $1000 fine. He said that sending Colville to prison would not serve justice, nor would parole serve any good purpose, and he did not issue a permanent Order of Protection.
Colville was facing 2 years in jail on 5 counts including Contempt of a Judicial Judgment and Obstructing Governmental Administration.
Michael Brown is dead. This is the one truth upon which we can all agree without prejudice. Beyond this, he is neither civil rights legacy nor victim. Neither innocent nor guilty. He is dead.
Michael Brown is just one grain of sand in the American cause-and-effect… the tornadic, myopic, narcissistic, deliriously overinflated landmass in which 316 million of us claim zip codes. To those who live by “the greatest nation” mantra, perhaps it’s best to share the secrets that inform such allegiance.
In New York City yesterday, a grand jury failed to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island.
The grand jury decision isn’t just disappointing, it’s downright alarming.
Grand juries aren't supposed to find innocence or guilt - they're supposed to decide whether there is enough evidence to accuse someone and bring them to trial.
The killing of Eric Garner was caught on camera and the video went viral. The coroner ruled the death a homicide. In the face of such compelling, awful evidence, the Garner family and communities across the country reasonably expected some accountability.