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.
Brasilia, Brazil - This week, imprisoned executives from one of Brazil’s largest construction firms – who are implicated in an unprecedented corruption scandal involving the parastatal oil company Petrobras – promised to expose a parallel scheme of massive fraud surrounding hydroelectric dams in the Amazon. In a plea deal with the Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office (MPF), top executives at Camargo Corrêa – a principal contractor for Petrobras and the federal government’s Amazon dam-building program – vowed to provide details of systematic corruption in the construction of the costly Belo Monte and Jirau megadams.
In a normal world, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the US Congress would have been roundly mocked by the audience for its hypocritical fear mongering. In a normal world, 70 years beyond Hiroshima, major powers would have long since acceded to the wishes of their constituents and established far more extensive arms reduction treaties. In a normal world, there would be a single, not a double, standard challenging the undiluted evil of nuclear weapons, no matter who possesses them. That single standard would underpin not only a regional but also a planet-wide effort at nuclear disarmament. And in a normal world, a foreign leader would not have been handed the most prestigious possible venue to undermine delicate, complex negotiations merely to allow him to score political points in two countries simultaneously.
Wars may be how Americans learn geography, but do they always learn the history of how the geography was shaped by wars? I’ve just read Syria: A History of the Last Hundred Yearsby John McHugo. It’s very heavy on the wars, which is always a problem with how we tell history, since it convinces people that war is normal. But it also makes clear that war wasn’t always normal in Syria.
Syria was shaped by and remains to this day outraged by the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (in which Britain and France divided up things that didn’t belong to either of them), the 1917 Balfour Declaration (in which Britain promised Zionists land it didn’t own known as Palestine or Southern Syria), and the 1920 San Remo Conference at which Britain, France, Italy, and Japan used rather arbitrary lines to create the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon, the British Mandate of Palestine (including Jordan), and the British Mandate of Iraq.
Washington, DC - Public Citizen roundly condemns the latest sneak attack (PDF) by U.S. House GOP leaders to terminate the presidential public financing program and give corporations and the wealthy still more influence over American elections.
On the heels of the fifth anniversary of the U.S Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision – which said that corporations may spend unlimited amounts to influence national, state, local and judicial elections – House Republicans have introduced H.R. 412, a bill to end public financing of presidential elections.
This advertisement does a number of things in 15 seconds that U.S. television has not done before. It presents a moral case against drone murders (the U.S. government's terminology, and strictly accurate). It opposes drone murders as illegal. It shows victims. It provides the name and website of an organization opposing drone murders. And it directly asks drone "pilots" to refuse to continue. It also makes the Nuremberg argument that an illegal order need not (in fact must not) be obeyed.
As more major companies leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive corporate lobbying group, it's a wonder why Pfizer remains a member. Over 80 public interest, religious, environmental, labor, public health, civil rights and investor organizations have sent a letter to Pfizer asking them to ALEC.
Join us and tell Pfizer to leave ALEC today!
Sebastopol, California - Sonoma County's premium wine industry in the San Francisco North Bay has become a magnet that attracts developers from around the country, across oceans, and nearby. They move heavy industrial operations into rural areas and expand them to become event centers and commercial bottling operations. Under the pretense that they are merely agriculture, rather than alcohol-producing factories, large wineries seek to avoid Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Sigmund Freud, in Case Histories II wrote of "psychological projection," a theory in which humans defend themselves against perceived negative impulses by denying their own negative impulses, while attributing them onto others.
For example, a person who acts unconstitutionally or threatens to shut down the government and contravenes international law may constantly accuse other people of being unconstitutional and contravening international law.
Madison, Wisconsin - The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law submitted an amicus brief on behalf of legal ethicists urging Wisconsin Supreme Court justices to consider constitutional requirements for judicial recusal. Last month, the special prosecutor in the challenge to the 'John Doe' investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's campaign filed a recusal motion under seal asking one or more Wisconsin justices to step aside.
Although the details of the challenge are sealed, reports indicate that three special interest groups - the Wisconsin Club for Growth, Citizens for a Strong America, and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce - are under investigation for possible campaign finance violations in connection with Wisconsin Gov. Walker's campaign during the recall election of 2011 and 2012. These same special interest groups also reportedly spent millions in support of the election campaigns of four of the state's supreme court justices, who are now hearing a constitutional challenge to the 'John Doe' investigation.
Whenever a new poem by Mahmoud Darwish was published in al-Quds newspaper, I rushed over to Abu Aymen’s newsstand that was located in the refugee camp’s main square. It was a crowded and dusty place where grimy taxis waited for passengers, surrounded by fish and vegetable venders.
Darwish’s poetry was too cryptic for us teenagers at a refugee camp in Gaza to fathom. But we labored away anyway. Every word, and all the imagery and symbolism were analyzed and decoded to mean perhaps something entirely different from what the famed Palestinian Arab poet had intended.