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.
We have all seen the reports on the rampant inequality in the world and within countries. According to Oxfam, the wealthiest 10 people now own more wealth than the poorest half of the world's population, and the richest 1 percent owns more than the remaining 99 percent together. Millions of people have to survive on less than $2 a day while a CEO in a finance company can earn millions of dollars a day. A CEO in the business sector today on average earns several hundred times more than his company's employees, and so on. From having declined during the post-war period up until the late 1970s, inequality since then has accelerated to today's obscene levels.
Many have watched horrified as the Trump administration escalated its attack on undocumented people. Some 800,000 young people, the vast majority of Mexican descent, will be affected by the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This and many of the other human rights violations committed by the current administration have led, by many measures, to an increase in anxiety, stress, suicides and depression.
Recent Russian war games in Belarus have raised fears in Washington that the "real" aim of the exercises is staging for a military incursion into Poland or the Baltic States. To reach such a conclusion, one must be ignorant of, or blatantly ignore, 20th century Russian and Soviet history, as well as willingly distort any sensible understanding of geography. The exercises' name -- "Zapad" in Russian -- means "West." Although any time "West" and "Russia" are mentioned in the same sentence, it is enough to frighten Western governments and media into doomsday rhetoric.
When the German transatlantic liner the St. Louis set off with 900 German Jews seeking refuge, it was 1939 and they were trying to escape what became one of the most despicable events in European history. Neither Canada nor the United States offered to help the people on this ship and it sailed on to Cuba. Seventy-eight years later, almost 400,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since the last week of August. In an ethnic cleansing led by the military, they have been driven out.
Current relations between the United States and North Korea are being painted as sudden, unprompted aggression against the peace-keeping beacon of justice that is the West, but this dynamic couldn't be further from the true historical lineage. Ambassador Haley's recent remarks, the rhetoric of the Trump administration, as well as an overwhelming animosity towards North Korea from the American public prompts an urgent need for context.
The current nominee for the head of NASA, Rep. Jim Bridenstine from Oklahoma, has denied the scientific evidence that human activities are responsible for increasing global temperatures. In a 2016 interview he was asked if there was any data that would change his view. That was a great question. This query represents a basic principle of science. For any valid scientific idea there must be some criterion that, if met, could demonstrate the idea to be incorrect. In other words, there must be a way to prove it wrong -- if it is wrong.
Although more Americans now have insurance coverage, many still lack easy access to a local primary care physician. By 2030, Illinois will need 1,063 more primary care physicians to meet our residents' health care needs. Despite that glaring need, our best resource -- the Teaching Health Center (THC) Graduate Medical Education Program -- could end on September 30 unless Congress votes to reauthorize and appropriately fund it.
Some Democrats are attempting to co-opt dozens of grassroots movements addressing vital domestic needs, such as single-payer health care, by either dividing or sidelining them with long-term postponement of this critical issue. By promoting an "alliance" of groups with significantly different missions, Democrats are squelching action on issues opposed by the party's major donors.
I am going to go out on an (academic) limb and call The Women of La Raza by Enriqueta Vasquez both a treasure and a living codex. I will also say this about Enriqueta herself: Vive en la sabiduria -- she lives in wisdom, wisdom of an elder, wisdom of the elders, an elder who also leaves footprints and also walks in beauty. Her words and generational knowledge are gifts to us, and I will say that her epic book is a must-read, especially for those interested in the history of Chicanos in general, but even more specifically, the history of Chicanas in this country.
Nothing unites better than a common enemy, and an autonomous woman is an easy mark in our society. Over the decades, myths and misinformation have clouded the issue of abortion by heaping shame and blame on women for the audacious act of deciding when and whether to become a parent. The ability to make decisions about our health, families and futures is a human right. However we may feel personally about abortion, this is a personal decision a woman must make for herself, based on her unique circumstances. Some politicians, from the White House and Congress to my home state of Kentucky, disagree.