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.
Riohacha, La Guajira -- On October 2, 2016, the people of Colombia voted in a referendum to approve the peace accords brokered over four years by the government of President Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). In the regions most affected by the conflict in Colombia, the victims forgave and voted "yes," hoping to open the doors for the much-sought-after peace. Some understood that to forgive does not mean to forget; rather, it is a step forward towards the construction of a different reality. In the Caribbean coast of Colombia, there was a resounding "yes" to peace. Nevertheless, the campaign managed by the so-called Democracy Center, spearheaded by ex-President Alvaro Uribe Velez took hold.
As the cost of health insurance and care continues to go up with little restraint by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the insurance industry is getting ever more creative in finding new revenue streams to cover gaps in coverage. The latest new market is to offer insurance to cover the cost of insurance. High deductibles have become a growing burden of out-of-pocket expenses for individuals, families, and employers. As one marker, deductibles for employer-sponsored health insurance have gone up by 255 percent over the last ten years.
A group of servers who serenade patrons at Time Square's Ellen's Stardust Diner have now formed a union with -- wait for it -- the Wobblies (a nickname for the Industrial Workers of the World). After they unionized earlier this year as Stardust Family United, owner Ken Strum essentially said, "Dream on," and wrecked the lives of more than 30 staffers by firing them. Now they are picketing outside the venue weekly while singing old union and railroad songs.
Children's physical safety is a concern for those who design, build and evaluate playgrounds, schools, child care facilities and a whole host of products intended for children of all ages. There are laws, regulations and design standards at all levels of government, which must be adhered to by those who design, build and produce these facilities and products in order to protect the health and safety of children. We have standards about the water that they drink or the paint that we use or the gasoline that we put in our vehicles to protect everyone's health, but most importantly our children's health.
I have been observing how farmers raise food for several decades because I am convinced agriculture is civilization. I inherited this virtue from the ancient Greeks. They had several gods protecting nature and agriculture (Zeus, Poseidon, Artemis, Demeter, Athena, Dionysos, and Pan). I love Athena for gifting the olive tree to Athens. I grew up among olive trees. Olive oil is so important I cannot imagine life without it. Demeter gave the Greeks wheat and taught them how to cultivate the land. Wheat, like olive oil, is the stuff of life. Zeus was a weather god, blessing humans and the Earth with rain.
On September 26, 2016, activists and allies gathered in front of the United Nations in New York City to commemorate two years since the disappearance of 43 college students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico. The group marched from One UN Plaza to the Consulate General of Mexico in New York and then on to Times Square, led by New York residents Antonio Tizapa, father of the disappeared student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño, and Amado Tlatempa, the cousin of another missing student, Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa.
Sometimes when I get really down, I just write. Not for anyone but me. Not to share (but my wife encouraged me to share this), but to get out my feelings and emotions. I write because as a woman of color, we aren't allowed to lose it. We have to keep it together. I'm successful and doing well professionally. I'm not naïve. I know that my ability to make a joke, flash a dimple, and be laid back and chill helps. What if I wasn't into jokes, didn't smile as much, and was angry all the time?
Over the summer, I finally had the time for some much needed restitute and reflection over my recent cooperative living experience. Since September 2015, until this past June, I had been living in a "radical" collective co-op in the ever-changing Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Coming from a similar working-class, migrant area in Passaic County, New Jersey, I was looking forward to continuing my academic career in the culturally-rich and historical neighborhood of BedStuy.
Who actually benefits from American-led wars across the globe? The aftermath of American-led conflicts shows it is not the common people, though the military and politicians vow they are liberating and protecting them. The Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe's "leading family newspaper," has published accounts of a number of Libyans who expressed regret over Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow in 2011, despite the fact some of them even took up arms against him.
This was not a typical festive "first world" outing, as its need and idea arose not from leisure, but from trauma. Recently, Hadisa was broken after an 'endless' night of crouching nervously in the dark of her University dormitory, while bomb blasts and gunshots were ending precious lives only a hair's breath away. Nemat, in a safe space which softened Hadisa's distress, remembered looking at a heavily-breathing comatose father in a bare Afghan government hospital ward with no monitoring devices.