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 some long unanswered questions in US health care: Is health care in the public interest based on medical need, not ability to pay? Is it a commodity on an unfettered for-profit, largely investor-owned corporate marketplace? Is it different from other commodities? And who is the health care system for -- providers of services or patients? The questions have not received much public or policy debate over the last 50 years, but the answers have been solidly entrenched in the medical-industrial complex over that period.
In the past year, students in South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil and India have mobilized to challenge the status quo at their universities. An important strand of the student movements seeks to "decolonize" universities by contesting the symbols, systems and daily experiences of privilege, knowledge and knowledge production that were instituted, along with many universities, in the service of colonialism. One collection of movements, often labeled together as "RhodesMustFall," contests the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes, the whip of British imperial capitalism in southern Africa.
As I sat in the San Diego sunshine Sunday listening to Bernie Sanders outside of Qualcomm Stadium, I was struck by the stunning contrast between the senator and Donald Trump, particularly on the issue of race. Sanders emphasized racial justice, citing the courage of African Americans and their allies who fought against racism and bigotry during Jim Crow. He talked of the thousands of undocumented workers who are ruthlessly exploited, overworked and underpaid, vowing to end the current deportation policies.
Ask almost any older person and you'll hear, "The world is going to hell and I'm glad I lived in the best of times." But for four 100-year-old activists who were honored in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 9, 2016, they have a different story. Having lived from horses and buggies to space crafts out of the solar system, all four exclaimed their only real hope for the future -- and it involves an empowered the United Nations.
The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), is the oldest women's organization in Afghanistan that fights for freedom, democracy, social justice, and secularism. RAWA's founder was Meena who formed this group at a young age in 1977, with the help of some other female university students in Kabul. Meena was assassinated in Quetta, Pakistan in 1987 by agents of KHAD (Afghanistan branch of KGB) with the help of the bloodthirsty fundamentalist gang of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. She was only 30-years-old. What distinguishes RAWA from other associations is the fact that we are a political organization.
One of the more curious sideline elements in the 2016 Democratic Party primary came in a debate conducted by Univision on March 9, 2016, between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, wherein many of the questions were focused on issues of specific concern to that network's Spanish-speaking viewer base. As one might predict, the candidates' positions on immigration and border policy were heavily featured, as was the Obama administration's recent openings to Cuba.
Those in power often make fallacious arguments that in order to reach peaceful ends, societies must use violent means. A programmed and indoctrinated sense of superiority and exceptionalism causes many to internalize the idea that in certain circumstances, many innocent people must be killed in order to achieve peace; that mass-murder is both a fact of human nature and a necessary evil. Nothing could be further from truth, however.
Oakland, California, is a haven for social justice. When we see injustice, we take to the streets. I've attended numerous protests over the years -- from Black Lives Matter rallies to disruptions of Trump speeches. Until recently, the most violence I had faced was at the Trump rally where attendees railed against me as a queer woman of color. On Monday May 30, 2016, though, I met violence at a very different sort of event: a Bernie Sanders rally. More than a dozen of my fellow activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and I attempted to access the stage to hoist a banner, the sort of nonviolent action that has been used by numerous movements and which Bernie Sanders says he supports.
Lawrence Lessig writes in Free Culture that Sen. John McCain testified to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Oversight committee in 2003 that "five companies control 85 percent of our mediasources." The same percentages hold true for music and cable TV companies. Such conglomerate control via concentration of media should shock both conservatives and liberals alike. Monopolizing holdings allows for media companies to maximize profits and minimize expenses; more importantly, it allows for greater editorial control of content.
Here in Kabul, I read a recent BBC op-ed by Ahmed Rashid, urging a "diplomatic offensive"to build or repair relationships with the varied groups representing armed extremism in Afghanistan. Rashid has insisted, for years, that severe mistrust makes it almost impossible for such groups to negotiate an end to Afghanistan's nightmare of war. Glancing upward at one of the six US manufactured aerostat blimps performing constant surveillance over Kabul, I wonder if the expensively high-tech giant's-eye view encourages a primitive notion that the best way to solve a problem here is to target a "bad guy" and then kill him.