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.
Six months after a scathing Amnesty International on working conditions in Indonesia's palm oil plantations, one of the commodity's largest buyers has acknowledged that the abuses are endemic and still unresolved, but "some progress" has been made. Consumer giant Unilever responded to questions about the labor problems revealed by Amnesty International in a prepared statement.
The spectacle of Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifying under oath about possible collusion with Russia and his failure to reveal his multiple meetings with the Russian ambassador highlights that we are a low point for truth in American politics. This low point is even more clearly visible in former FBI Director James Comey testifying under oath that President Donald Trump lied, and Trump promising to testify under oath that Comey lied. Deception proved a very successful strategy for political causes and individual candidates in the UK and US elections in 2016.
Two weeks ago, Donald Trump announced the US will withdraw from the Paris Climate accord, claiming the multinational agreement is "unfair," and will cost too much in US jobs and revenue loss. This news came as a blow to many, including environmentalists and members of Trump's own administration. But the 70 percent of Americans who believe in climate science need not despair. Around the world, people are crafting viable, equitable alternatives to our climate-changing economy.
Across the country, state and federal legislatures are taking a recess after a long session of lawmaking. The legislative recess is a temporary break from proceedings in which lawmakers can review legislation, attend meetings and hearings and visit their district. In other words, they need this time to improve their legislative performance, socialize with their constituents and to mentally rejuvenate. Isn't this the same reason why our children need recess in schools?
Less than 24 hours after it was announced, President Trump's decision to remove the US from the Paris Agreement was being denounced as "incredibly shortsighted," as "wrong" and as "bad for the environment, bad for the economy." Yet what was significant about such criticisms was that they came not from Trump's opponents in Congress, but from leaders in the tech industry. They were the judgements of Jack Dorsey, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg, and in representing at least the fourth occasion where tech CEOs have spoken out against Donald Trump's actions.
We are going to need to change the narrative. We are going to need to look deeply at ourselves and ask ourselves, in the absence of top-down leadership: How can we all throughout our communities, big and small, take the steps necessary to look clearly at the danger and to shine a light on the shadow? The science is clear. And much of the technology and know-how that we need to address climate change already exists.
In the time before Roe v. Wade established the legal right to abortion in the US, women were dying because they couldn't access safe abortion care, and faith leaders stepped in to help. On May 22, 1967, an article appeared on the front page of The New York Times announcing that a group including Protestant, Reform Jewish, and even some Catholic faith leaders had officially created a network to help women find and access safe abortion care. This was revolutionary -- both because the pre-Roe political and legal environment was so hostile to abortion and because faith leaders had seldom spoken out so publicly on the issue.
What do worldviews, ideas about human nature and the Scientific Revolution have to do with today's environmental and social crises? Everything, says Jeremy Lent, author of the groundbreaking new book, The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning. He reveals how our future will depend on what happens, not just in the streets, but in our minds.
What would Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. think of the changes in the US over the past five decades? Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently declared that poverty is mostly a state of mind. The Congressional Budget Office also noted recently that the American Health Care Act of 2017 would leave more Americans uninsured and cut critical programs to the poor. Fifty years since the publication of possibly his most prophetic and least celebrated book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, King highlighted the merits and challenges of Black Power, outlined the history of racism, advocated for a guaranteed income and declared he was a Democratic Socialist.
Explaining to students and colleagues the implications of Trump's rise to power has deferred the temporary unplugging of a semester's end and replaced it, for many, with renewed political mission. Since January 2017, tens of thousands of students and faculty nationwide have moved from "Wait, what the heck just happened?" to "Resist, resist, resist." From pro-immigrant student-faculty movements at the Universities of Southern California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Harvard to a California Polytechnic junior's "50 percent towards charity, 100 percent against tyranny" anti-Trump lipstick, this semester's grassroots have a 1960s feel.