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.
On January 1, 2017, the Mexican government issued a 20 percent increase in gas prices as a result of President Enrique Peña Nieto's efforts to deregulate the petroleum industry. Protests quickly erupted all over Mexico, with demonstrators blocking highways and confronting police. In Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, protesters blocked the train tracks near the Arizona-Sonora border, stopping international trade. On Sunday, January 8, 2017, hundreds of people showed up neardowntown Nogales, and after some protesters began throwing rocks at riot police, the police responded by firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Civilian control of the military is a long-established hallmark of democratic governance. It clearly can exist without democracy, but democracy -- as the embodiment of popular sovereignty -- can't exist without it. The Trump presidency ahead promises -- perhaps counterintuitively, perhaps not -- to be a crucible that will test the limits and lengths of civilian control in this country as never before in recent memory. The result could well be a fundamental redefinition of the concept as we have come to know it: that of a deferential military dutifully executing direction from civilian authority without visible resistance, without itself becoming a threat -- real or perceived -- to those in power.
The 2010 Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v FEC with its brilliant if disingenuous moniker, has become the whipping boy for a covert, decades-old effort to convert American democracy into a political marketplace. A leaked memo from 1971 illustrates how Justice Lewis Powell laid the groundwork that may mark the end of the American Experiment in self-government. "There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." There is a real "pick me up" from our second President, John Adams. No one wants to believe such a dire prediction, but it is rare that democracies last more than 200 years.
Being stuck in traffic is a daily fare in Baghdad. While checkpoints have been dramatically reduced in recent times, and the number of concrete walls appear markedly decreased, traffic jams still defy description. It doesn't help in the least that everyone is leaning on their horns. A half-a-million taxis roam around Baghdad spewing pollution as they look for potential fares. Proposals to counter this problem have been put forth to authorities, for example, the creation of taxi stands throughout the city. All attempts to remedy this problem seem futile.
Donald Trump has blatantly disregarded his supposedly "populist" campaign and promises to "drain the swamp" of money in politics. He has shown himself as a self-promoter, con man and the most unpopular presidential candidate in modern political history. According to Wall Street Journal/NBC News polls, he was viewed positively by just 29 percent of voters in mid-October 2016, and only 41 percent in mid-December after the election. Trump's cabinet picks give us alarm that his administration will be deeply connected with Wall Street and big money.
Trump's recent tweets about expanding the US nuclear arsenal and "let there be an arms race" have aroused fears across the world -- not only here in the United States. Over the past year, we have also learned that Trump lies out of every side of his mouth, and that what he says today may not apply tomorrow. Like a chemist, I find myself deeply concerned about what happens when three elements that are fundamental to Trump's personality are combined.
Ghulam Reza often plays at the Borderfree Center. He's 5 years, 3 months old. On Saturday, he was filling an empty chips bag with water, tying off the top, and pushing it along, atop a roof tile. Zarghuna and I tried asking if it was a ship or a truck, but he generally ignored us and kept on playing quietly.
Turkey is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people who sometimes kill each other -- much like any other country. It is the home to pristine beaches along the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea coasts that are rich in classical and biblical history. Its urban gem, Istanbul, rivals Paris in romantic nostalgia steeped in history, literature, art and music. Though the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal, moved the capital from Istanbul to Ankara upon the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Istanbul remains the cultural heart of Turkey.
Most Americans know that J. Edgar Hoover violated the civil rights of many of our citizens, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One way to assure that such abuses of power do not continue to occur is for our government to take action, no matter how belated, against all perpetrators. I have written to President Obama asking that he, by executive order, have J. Edgar Hoover's name immediately removed from the FBI building, all FBI stationery and any other address references (printed and online) for the FBI office building.
Late afternoon on December 27, "Lunatic Outpost" released a video showing a group of about "20 to 50" Water Protectors who, while returning from a prayer walk along the Cannonball River, were chased down by armed security from DAPL and Morton County Sheriff's Department. A helicopter and tracked vehicles were involved in the pursuit. Behind the images of the large number of police and security dotting the snow-covered terrain played, background radios from the Standing Rock medics could be heard. "We need a medic team. We need a team ready to roll now." Then the narrator says "Four women were taken away in a red paddy wagon of some sort."