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.
Consider this comical scene described by Peter Van Buren, a former US diplomat, who was deployed to Iraq on a 12-month assignment in 2009-10:
Van Buren led two Department of State teams assigned with the abstract mission of the ‘reconstruction’ of Iraq, which was destroyed in the US-led wars and sanctions. He describes the reconstruction of Iraq as such:
“In practice, that meant paying for schools that would never be completed, setting up pastry shops on streets without water or electricity, and conducting endless propaganda events on Washington-generated themes of the week (‘small business,’ ‘women's empowerment,’ ‘democracy building.’)”
It is September 26, 2014, and once again Mexico will soon fill the headlines of news outlets worldwide: 43 college students from a rural community in the state of Guerrero went missing. The immediate thought that come to the minds of many is the long repeated story and state-logic that frames these kinds of events under one and only rubric: the narco.
With that word in the horizon, Mexicans are slowly losing the capacity for surprise and concern. It may just be another narco-disappearance or execution among gangs, another one among thousands of tragedies that become the bread of every day. Perhap, this is why the news of the missing students got stronger momentum among the international media at first: the New York Times, the Guardian, Vice, Al Jazeera, the Washington Post, the BBC.
Santa Barbara – Some 73 civil society leaders from 22 countries around the world have lent their support to the people and government of the Marshall Islands and the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits.
On April 24, 2014, The Marshall Islands (RMI) filed unprecedented lawsuits in the International Court of Justice and US Federal Court to hold the nine nuclear-armed nations accountable for flagrant violations of international law with respect to their nuclear disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was established on 1 June 2004 by Security Council resolution 1542 . The UN mission succeeded a Multinational Interim Force (MIF) authorized by the Security Council in February 2004. The mission has a mandate to restore a secure and stable environment, to promote the political process, to strengthen Haiti’s government institutions and rule-of-law-structures, as well as to promote and to protect human rights. With MINUSTAH’s mandate renewed on October 14, 2014, it is opportune to review the mission’s accomplishments during its ten-year presence in Haiti.
The recent deaths of Mike Brown and VonDerrit Myers and the resulting protests have stirred up a lot of emotions and opinions. People who would never consider themselves racist have been saying things that can come across as just that.
Last week the Seattle City Council took the courageous decision to celebrate October 13th as Indigenous People’s Day. This is a national event, for in making this decision, Seattle is showing all of us how to take steps toward renewing our nation and remaking it in a more just and less violent image.
Americans descend from many different indigenous and non-indigenous nations and it is often unclear just what defines us as a people. Let me put forth the idea that what many of us share is a history of violence, suffering, oppression and trauma.
Cambridge, MA - Open Hillel, a student-led movement advocating open conversation on the Israel/Palestine conflict within American Jewish institutions, hosted its first conference October 11-13 at Harvard University. Over 300 students, activists, scholars, and Jewish community leaders attended the conference, subtitled “If Not Now, When?”, which featured a broad range of panels, breakouts, and organizing workshops.
"For nearly two years, the Open Hillel campaign has worked to promote open discourse and pluralism in Jewish communities on campus and beyond. This weekend, hundreds of Jewish students and recent grads from across the US and Canada will convene to create the Jewish community that we want to see -- and to organize together to create change." said Rachel Sandalow-Ash, a senior at Harvard University and Open Hillel Internal Coordinator.
"No good can ever come from deviating from the path you were destined to follow." Robert Greene
Who is Dr. Cornell West referring to when he says, “We need a renaissance of courage and a willingness to sacrifice?” This is what he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! during a discussion on his new book Black Prophetic Fire about the legacy of leading African American voices including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. He was referring to blacks themselves like when he confessed his fear that we may be witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time. Black prophetic fire, according to Cornell West can be summed up as a deep love for justice, love of the poor and working people and a love for black people. He tells us this is best understood if we consider the four essential questions W.E.B. DuBois wrestled with in his lifetime: How does integrity face oppression? What does honesty do in the face of deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? And how does virtue meet brute force? This fire Cornell West refers to is the very notion of agency and social responsibility and it begs the question-- What is the ethical culture driving our conversation about public schools today and what is your personal responsibility in making a difference?
According to the latest government statistics, the unemployment rate has dropped below 6 percent compared to around 10 percent in 2010. Then why is the nation still in a sour mood? In the words of Steve Liesman, a CNBC Senior Economics Reporter, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted at the end of September indicates that "Americans' view of President Barack Obama's economic leadership stands at the lowest level of his presidency." While the president's popularity hits rock bottom, Congress' approval rating, less than 10 percent, is at its all-time low. So why are people disenchanted with politicians as well as our system? Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that seven years after the start of the Great Recession, the employment level has barely budged above its level in 2006, as millions of people have become so discouraged that they have simply dropped out of the labor force. Or it may be because median income is down by $5,000, with the rate of poverty the worst in more than 50 years. Meanwhile, federal debt has climbed by over $8 trillion, with the Federal Reserve spending an additional $4 trillion to bail out the financial system.