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.
Patients, family members and activists stood with legislators today as they announced the introduction of Assembly bill A.7060 that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medicalmarijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, comes 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law on July 5, and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.
In April 17-18, 2015, I attended a conference in Orlando, Florida. Beyond Pesticides, a non-profit environmental organization in Washington, DC, since 1981, sponsored the forum.
Before the conference started, some fifty people took a bus tour of rural Florida, especially exploring the lush agricultural region around Lake Apopka, Florida's fourth largest lake. I entered the bus with apprehension. I had heard bad things were taking place in central Florida.
Citigroup shareholder votes today on two resolutions aimed at reforming the way the bank does business in Washington, DC, highlight the increased demand nationwide for corporations to disclose details of their political spending, Public Citizen said.
The first resolution asks Citigroup to disclose more information about its lobbying activities. The second asks the company to disclose which of its executives are eligible for bonuses should they leave the bank for high-ranking positions in government. Both resolutions, which were filed by shareholders, address a troubling pattern of influence-peddling by the bank, made worse by the shadow of Citigroup's 2008 taxpayer bailout.
Since 2001, the United States sees myriad existential threats to our nation from lone terrorists to rogue states like North Korea to China and Russia. The American response to this has been to act in line with what Walter Wink called The Myth of Redemptive Violence. The original form of the myth tells of the creation of an ordered world through killing: violence defeats chaos and enables ordered societies to flourish. Violence, in the form of war, then looks like the best way to overcome threats. As Stephen Kinzer pointed out recently, there are in fact few or no such doomsday threats. We need to look at the world with eyes open to the complexity of the conflicts and injustices in the world, and we need to widen our sense of the options available to us.
Imagine yourself in these shoes… you and your family live imprisoned behind concrete walls twice the height of the Berlin wall, grimly underlined with razor wire and punctuated by sniper towers. Each tower stands foreboding like a giant inquisitor sneering down over a barren, ravished land; their bullet proof glass eyes cruelly manned by young patriots ready to burn lead holes through human skulls. The occupying force frequently closes the roads and highways you use for work, to see family and friends or hope to God don't needto reach a hospital. Yet the citizens of the occupying force pass freely on these same roads.
The Greek tragic playwright Aeschylus was a combat veteran. More than 2,400 years ago he said, "The first casualty of war is truth." As our nation approaches the 40th anniversary of the end of the VietnamWar (April 30, 2015), a major effort is underway to change how we view the war, how history records it, how future Americans will think about it. Much celebration and re-interpretation will take place. Our government, military and some veteran and civilian groups are working to recast the war in honorable and moral terms and help veterans and all Americans look at it through more positive lenses.
Let us try to heal that first casualty and view the Vietnam War through the lens of truth. Consider these ten facts and their related myths about the Vietnam War.
An unprecedentedly united movement of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith, Internet freedom and other organizations escalated their campaign to defeat Fast Track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) today with a joint 2,009-group letter urging Congress to oppose it.
As the TPP text leaks revealed that the pact replicates and expands on the most damaging provisions of past U.S. trade pacts, thousands of organizations nationwide have educated their members about the TPP's threats to American jobs and wages, food safety, affordable medicines, the environment, financial stability and more. The pact also replicates the labor and environmental framework first established in George W. Bush's final trade agreements, which recent U.S. government reports reveal has proved ineffective. These facts have generated wide opposition to the agreement and undermined the White House effort to characterize it as "progressive."
Grassroots leaders of Baltimore's Human Rights Organization, the United Workers, are calling for dialogue and reconciliation with neighbors and city policy makers to address the systemic racism and poverty that has plagued the City for 40 years and get below the surface of this evolving and troubling crisis in our city.
Why do 40,000 properties sit vacant while 4,000 are homeless, and another 154,000 face foreclosure and eviction annually? Why do 62% of job seekers report that they are unable to find a job that offers a living wage, and almost one in four cited their own criminal histories as a barrier to employment?
In May 2014, the Spain-based international agrarian organization, Grain, reported that small farmers not only "feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland," but they are also the most productive farmers on Earth. For example, small farmers and peasants in nine European countries outproduce large farmers. The "productivity of small farms [in Europe] is at least twice that of big farms." This remarkable achievement is not limited to Europe. Grain says: "if all farms in Kenya had the current productivity of the country's small [peasant] farms, Kenya's agricultural production would double. In Central America and Ukraine, it would almost triple. In Russia, it would be increased by a factor of six."
For the sake of a functioning and accountable corporate democracy, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should require disclosure of corporate political spending, 57 organizations and investors said in a letter (PDF) today. The groups ranged from environmental groups to asset managers to religious organizations.
"The resources of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to write numerous rules, police the markets, and react to changes in company structure," the letter stated. "To enact its mandate to protect investors, theSEC needs to require material disclosures of critical business information for investors, and this includes being able to react quickly to the changing practices and priorities of corporate entities."