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.
Cops without guns? Snort. Impossible. Who is going to stop the next mass shooting slaughter?
Well, not so fast. There are a few folks who remain quite cross about police who kill unarmed people. Those unarmed people tend to fall into two categories - people of color or people suffering a mental health crisis.
On October 6, the California Supreme Court will consider whether to allow the state's electorate to vote on a ballot measure that instructs Congress to overturn the US Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC by passing a constitutional amendment. It's an unusual case that asks a state judicial branch, in effect, whether voters have the right to smack the federal judiciary in the face. As someone who was jailed for protesting on the steps of the California capitol demanding a chance to hold this vote, I'm hoping the California judges will care more about the proper interpretation of their own state constitution than the public standing of their federal colleagues.
At stake in the case is whether the California legislature had the authority to place a so-called "voter instruction" measure - known as Proposition 49 - on the ballot. The California constitution states clearly that "the people have a right to instruct their representatives," but this right has been used so infrequently that many political observers have forgotten what this means, or how it is done. Unaware of this provision in the state constitution, the California Supreme Court temporarily blocked Proposition 49 from the ballot in 2014 and is only now considering the case having been fully briefed on the merits.
The diesel engines on which Volkswagen relied for at least seven years could meet critical emissions standards only with software designed to cheat on government tests, the Obama administration disclosed this month. But in the ranks of cheaters, VW is not alone. At some point over the past four decades, VW has had plenty of company among big automakers in trying to evade emissions restrictions.
Caleen Sisk, the Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, spoke movingly about the sacredness of water and the threat to the environment and people posed by controversial plans to raise the Shasta Dam and build Jerry Brown's Delta Tunnels.
"This spring, the headwaters of the Sacramento, is sacred to us," said Chief Sisk.
Plutonium was named after Pluto, "god of the underworld," Hades or hell. It was created inside faulty reactors, concentrated and machined by US scientists into the most devastating and horrifying of all weapons. Photos of what the Manhattan Project's plutonium bomb did to human beings at Nagasaki prove the point. There is radioactive blowback in the fact that the thousands of tons of plutonium created since 1945 is so dangerously hot and long-lived that, like the underworld itself, nobody knows how to handle it at all - except maybe to trivialize it.
Prop Francis supporters rallied at City Hall September 30 prior to a Supervisor's hearing on a new city agency's enforcement of San Francisco's short-term rental law. Critics challenged the only nine violations the agency has prosecuted, arguing that the housing crunch is being exacerbated by the allocation of thousands of resident housing units into short-term rental space for tourists.
More than five years ago, a soldier named Bowe Bergdahl left his US Army unit in Afghanistan. He was captured, imprisoned in brutal conditions for five years, and finally released in a prisoner exchange in 2014. The Army is now considering whether he should be court-martialed for desertion and other crimes.
Less than a decade ago, a group of forward-thinking organizers turned the awards industry upside down when they looked at the food prize system from a new angle - the producers that grow for their own communities. Looking at the food system from this indigenous point-of-view meant that rather than awards for profits and consolidation, the Food Sovereignty Alliance would celebrate the folks that stay home and take care of their communities.
When a pipe collapsed at a Duke Energy coal plant in North Carolina last year, sending tens of thousands of tons of toxic coal ash and millions of gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River, the public outcry over the environmental disaster forced the state legislature totake action.
It passed the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014, which requires Duke to phase out the massive ponds it has traditionally used to store the waste.
Perhaps today's biggest question is, "Will we have enough to eat in a hot and crowded planet in coming decades?" It's easy to feel pessimistic when facing the challenge of feeding an estimated 9 billion in 2050 without destroying the planet in the process. As food production becomes more challenging under stresses like climate change and dwindling resources, Big Agriculture is becoming ever more confident and overbearing in advancing its industrial model, insisting that only agribusiness offers a solution for hunger, poverty and climate change.