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.
Recently, 78 civil society leaders from around the world released an Open Letter in Support of the Marshall Islands' Nuclear Zero Lawsuits. I am proud to be among the signers of that letter supporting a courageous small Pacific Island country, one with only 70,000 inhabitants. The Marshall Islanders are seeking to make the world a far more secure place, free of the nuclear threat that has hung over the collective head of humanity for some seven decades.
The Open Letter was addressed to Christopher Loeak, President of the Marshall Islands; Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands; and the People and Parliament of the Marshall Islands. They all deserve credit for their courage. They are much like David in "David vs. Goliath," but they carry court papers rather than a slingshot.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has dismissed concerns over the abuse of British cleared detainee Shaker Aamer, in a letter to his lawyer at human rights charity Reprieve.
In August 2014 Clive Stafford Smith wrote to the Foreign Secretary after a fellow detainee had described what he called a new 'standard procedure' of abuses at the prison. Yemeni Emad Hassan, cleared for release and detained without charge since 2002, wrote that "an FCE [Forcible Cell Extraction, where a team of guards in riot gear manhandle a detainee] team has been brought in to beat the detainees [...] On Sunday, Shaker ISN 239 was beaten when the medical people wanted to draw blood."
Greece, the land of mystical beauty and tzatziki dips, is also home to some of the worst corruption in Europe, tying with China for the 80th place in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, and arriving below most recent EU newcomers Bulgaria and Romania. While the Greek state suffers from the usual suspects of public corruption, bribery, tax evasion and lack of transparency, many have shied away from exposing how deep the problems truly run. Just like that famous image of a snake devouring its own tail, Greek society has allowed the profligacy of certain powerful individuals to seep even into the favorite pastime of many contemporary societies: soccer.
Corruption in Greek soccer is having a field day. Following the initial 2011 match fixing scandal, Koriopolis, club owners, officials, players, referees and police were charged with creating a violent criminal organization in Greek soccer. The scandal, labeled by Deputy culture minister Giorgos Nikitiadis as "the darkest page in the history of Greek football," was prompted by a report issued by the European soccer governing body UEFA, which flagged over 40 rigged games in the 2009-2010 period. The director of the think tank Forum for Greece, Andreas Andrianopoulos, bitterly remarked that this wasn't news to many in Greece, referring to the "widespread bribing of referees by clubs to boost their chances of winning the championship going unpunished."
Cluj Napoca, Romania - Deva Gold, a subsidiary of the murky Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold, illegally started construction works for the development of the cyanide based Certej mine, despite not having acquired any of the relevant permits from the appropriate institutions. Thus the process of cyanide leaching in Romania is on its way.
The Mining Watch Romania network denounces the total lack of vigilance of both regional and national authorities. One of the largest gold mining projects in Romania, subject to Eldorado’s plans, began its first phase. The concerned authorities took absolutely no notice whatsoever of the construction works undertaken. Deva Gold’s impudent action to start the Certej mine is only surpassed by Romanian institutions’ failure to spot and sanction these illegal acts.
What would you do to reinvent capitalism, to make it less destructive and more focused on what people really need? Not many years ago, one would have hesitated to ask that question in polite company. But the 2008 global financial crisis was a hard blow to the hull and the damage has set off alarms and attracted scrutiny.
French economist Thomas Piketty offers a grim prognosis in his bestseller, Capital in the 21st Century. He builds the case that capitalism makes the rich richer and the income gap wider, and eventually leads to plutocracy. It's not that the benefits of capitalism are undesirable - jumbo jets and smart phones are sheer wonders - it's that the collateral damage is growing untenable. Democracy and the commons are being sold off to the highest bidders. Activist Naomi Klein hit the nail on the head with her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate - the global environmental catastrophe is a consequence of capitalism.
As I sit in my government class at the beginning of my senior year, many questions flood into my head. So many controversial issues exist in our world, and our country more specifically, yet I appear to be tied between sides on various matters. One of the more key matters for consideration is the issue of poverty in the United States and the controversy about just exactly who causes it. A person can do their best to push themselves and reach a place of success, but can still end up in the depths of poverty with nothing to show for their effort. Is it the people themselves who must take the blame for being continuously pushed down by a system that serves to make success and stability increasingly difficult for those at the bottom of the ladder of class? Or is it the system that we believe is there to help us and keep us living sustainably, when behind closed curtains it is really throwing us under the bus? The latter appears to be much more logical, through the many lenses that you may view it.
Santa Barbara, CA – The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards. Since 1995, the Foundation has encouraged poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit through these Awards. The poetry awards are offered in three categories: Adult; Youth (13 to 18); and Children (12 and under).
In the Adult category, Devreaux Baker, from Mendocino, California, was awarded the $1,000 First Place Prize for her poem “In the Year of the Drone.” Ms. Baker has published three books of poetry, with a fourth to be published in January 2015. She has taught poetry workshops in France, Mexico and the United States; and Poetry in the Schools through the California Poets In Schools Program. Her awards include the 2011 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Hawaii Council on Humanities International Poetry Prize, and the Women’s Global Leadership Poetry Award.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of The United Nations, told Betsy Sawyer, her students and assembled guests at the JFK Presidential Library that their afterschool “peace club is an inspiration to the world.”
Twenty-five-years ago, Lombard Street was quiet. No feet walked atop its red bricks and no bicycles rode down its curved path. A cable car, immobilized by a 7.1 moment magnitude earthquake that had knocked out power to the City and shut down the cable pulley system, blocked traffic flow on the most crooked street in the world. On this day twenty-five-years ago, the Loma Prieta earthquake ruptured a 30-mile segment along the San Andreas Fault, shaking the Bay Area's silty clay soil for 15 seconds, knocking down buildings, splitting open streets, and leaving 12,000 people homeless.
Paul Boden, Organizing Director of Western Regional Advocacy Project, said things were chaotic, but that the City came together to support each other.
At last the American government has found the perfect formula for war without end: Invade and bomb Middle East states. This creates jihadists which must be got rid of. So bomb the jihadists. This creates more jihadists who must also be bombed and so on. The military/industrial complex is in business in perpetuity. Endless peace by waging endless war as forecast by Gore Vidal has now come to pass. And the UK, obedient as ever, clicks into the backup position. The UK government’s propaganda is blatant and shameless. We must bomb ISIS because it presents a direct threat to the United Kingdom. Right. We are told that ISIS could develop weapons of mass destruction to attack us ’within a few hours flying time of our country’. The ISIS fantasy ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ are as much a direct threat to the UK as were Saddam Hussein’s, also nonexistent, Weapons of Mass Destruction. This transparent don’t-worry-they’ll-believe-anything fear-mongering is treating the public with contempt. If there is any threat to the UK it is being generated by the UK politicians with their endless wars in the Middle East.
RUSI, the UK’s highly authoritative Royal United Service Institute, informs us that the UK’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were failures. In Afghanistan under British presence, they inform us, the violence increased as did the opium trade and resistance to foreign presence became more intense. In Iraq the war spread terrorism and many more people died than would have been the case under Saddam Hussein. All this meaningless blood and mayhem has so far cost the British taxpayer around 30 billion pounds – at a time when the Coalition government is cutting social services for lack of funds!