Tuesday, 30 August 2016 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

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.

Joplin, Missouri, a small city in the Southwest corner of the state, is probably best known for the devastating tornado that ripped through it on May 22, 2011. The storm killed 161 people and caused more than $2 billion in damages. Less well known is the widespread and growing poverty that is damaging the community -- especially its students and schools -- in quieter but no less harmful ways. But Joplin has begun to rebound, and the rest of the country should take note.

In 2013 I spoke with the CEO of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch, who said that art provides a guiding light "in a time in history where that is desperately needed." This is not just speculation and hyperbole. Lynch also said in the article that "today we are seeing the arts being usedto help solve other problems: the arts and community development, the arts and law enforcement for crime prevention, the arts and healing." And that he wants "to see more opportunity for kids and adults to have access to the arts to be used in community advancement."

In countless ways over the last 35 years, our society has become less economically equal and more dominated by corporate power. Less just and more jailed. Vast urban and rural areas decline as government subsidizes economic elites. Funds for education and social services are under constant threat, while funding for war and surveillance seems limitless. These trends have persisted no matter which major party dominated Washington, DC.

The people of California were denied a vote in 2014 on Proposition 49, The Overturn Citizens United Act. The question posed by the ballot measure was whether a constitutional amendment is necessary in order to restore the people's right to regulate money in our elections and make clear that that rights enumerated in the US Constitution are for human beings and not for corporate entities. This is a conversation that America must have and we'd have gotten it going here in California in 2014 if not for the wrongful interference by the California Supreme Court.

May 18

Electoral Boycott as a Revolutionary Tactic

By Brian D. Williams, Speakout | Op-Ed

The potential for radical change is widely recognized, but prevailing reformist ideas remain insufficient. Electoral boycott will be the most effective means of building revolutionary momentum. Except for a small group of committed Bernie Sanders supporters and writers, analysts of the US presidential primaries generally agree by now that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic Party candidate and Donald Trump the Republican Party candidate. Several ideas have been advanced within this context concerning what disaffected voters, unhappy with these choices, should do.  

A crisis is defined as "a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events is determined." It is a turning point, a condition of instability or danger that will lead us to a decisive change. We are at such a turning point right now with mass incarceration, which is the No. 1 public health crisis as the Vera Institute says in its report, "On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration." The political climate is poised to make the necessary changes to truly reform our criminal justice system because without these changes we will have a collapse.

"If you don't like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them." Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border. As we well know, neither the Greek nor Macedonian governments have bombed people, but they are having to deal with the huge numbers of refugees caused by the decisions of government far away.

Amid the gnashing teeth of both Democratic and Republican leaders over two interloping presidential candidates threatening their usual plans for an uncontested set of nomination conventions, the possibility exists that a furious vox populi soon may do the guillotine's work on both parties' existence. "Enough is enough" is their battle cry, and anindependent third party may result. After all, some 42 percent of registrations are "independent," and 93,000,000 eligible voters didn't vote in the 2012 presidential election. 

US Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Christopher John Antal resigned from the US Army Reserves on April 12, 2016, in opposition to US policies regarding militarized drones, nuclear weapons and preventive war. Antal stated he could not serve as a chaplain for an "empire" and could not "reconcile his duty to protect and defend America and its constitutional democracy and his commitment to the core principles of his religious faith including justice, equity and compassion and the inherent worth and dignity of every person" with policies of the United States.

Rail workers sit at home on indefinite furlough while locomotive fleets sit idle in remote switchyards. An industry that was recently riding high, carrying massive bulk shipments of coal and oil to feed a world addicted to its payload, is now itself suffering symptoms of withdrawal. Rail has been addicted to coal transport since the creation of thepublicly funded Interstate Highway System, pushed by Big Oil and the auto industry, undermined its high-value freight and passenger service.

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Speakout

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.

Joplin, Missouri, a small city in the Southwest corner of the state, is probably best known for the devastating tornado that ripped through it on May 22, 2011. The storm killed 161 people and caused more than $2 billion in damages. Less well known is the widespread and growing poverty that is damaging the community -- especially its students and schools -- in quieter but no less harmful ways. But Joplin has begun to rebound, and the rest of the country should take note.

In 2013 I spoke with the CEO of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch, who said that art provides a guiding light "in a time in history where that is desperately needed." This is not just speculation and hyperbole. Lynch also said in the article that "today we are seeing the arts being usedto help solve other problems: the arts and community development, the arts and law enforcement for crime prevention, the arts and healing." And that he wants "to see more opportunity for kids and adults to have access to the arts to be used in community advancement."

In countless ways over the last 35 years, our society has become less economically equal and more dominated by corporate power. Less just and more jailed. Vast urban and rural areas decline as government subsidizes economic elites. Funds for education and social services are under constant threat, while funding for war and surveillance seems limitless. These trends have persisted no matter which major party dominated Washington, DC.

The people of California were denied a vote in 2014 on Proposition 49, The Overturn Citizens United Act. The question posed by the ballot measure was whether a constitutional amendment is necessary in order to restore the people's right to regulate money in our elections and make clear that that rights enumerated in the US Constitution are for human beings and not for corporate entities. This is a conversation that America must have and we'd have gotten it going here in California in 2014 if not for the wrongful interference by the California Supreme Court.

May 18

Electoral Boycott as a Revolutionary Tactic

By Brian D. Williams, Speakout | Op-Ed

The potential for radical change is widely recognized, but prevailing reformist ideas remain insufficient. Electoral boycott will be the most effective means of building revolutionary momentum. Except for a small group of committed Bernie Sanders supporters and writers, analysts of the US presidential primaries generally agree by now that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic Party candidate and Donald Trump the Republican Party candidate. Several ideas have been advanced within this context concerning what disaffected voters, unhappy with these choices, should do.  

A crisis is defined as "a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events is determined." It is a turning point, a condition of instability or danger that will lead us to a decisive change. We are at such a turning point right now with mass incarceration, which is the No. 1 public health crisis as the Vera Institute says in its report, "On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration." The political climate is poised to make the necessary changes to truly reform our criminal justice system because without these changes we will have a collapse.

"If you don't like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them." Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border. As we well know, neither the Greek nor Macedonian governments have bombed people, but they are having to deal with the huge numbers of refugees caused by the decisions of government far away.

Amid the gnashing teeth of both Democratic and Republican leaders over two interloping presidential candidates threatening their usual plans for an uncontested set of nomination conventions, the possibility exists that a furious vox populi soon may do the guillotine's work on both parties' existence. "Enough is enough" is their battle cry, and anindependent third party may result. After all, some 42 percent of registrations are "independent," and 93,000,000 eligible voters didn't vote in the 2012 presidential election. 

US Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Christopher John Antal resigned from the US Army Reserves on April 12, 2016, in opposition to US policies regarding militarized drones, nuclear weapons and preventive war. Antal stated he could not serve as a chaplain for an "empire" and could not "reconcile his duty to protect and defend America and its constitutional democracy and his commitment to the core principles of his religious faith including justice, equity and compassion and the inherent worth and dignity of every person" with policies of the United States.

Rail workers sit at home on indefinite furlough while locomotive fleets sit idle in remote switchyards. An industry that was recently riding high, carrying massive bulk shipments of coal and oil to feed a world addicted to its payload, is now itself suffering symptoms of withdrawal. Rail has been addicted to coal transport since the creation of thepublicly funded Interstate Highway System, pushed by Big Oil and the auto industry, undermined its high-value freight and passenger service.