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.
The increasing costs and unaffordability of insurance and health care for Americans remain an urgent issue in our society. It is obvious to all that patients are still not protected by good insurance coverage at affordable rates, and that the very name of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or ACA and Obamacare) is a misnomer. The cost of health care keeps rising at rapid rates as insurers, hospitals and drug companies blame others for these increases.
On Monday, the Water Protectors Legal Collective (WPLC) -- the legal support team behind the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline -- filed a class action lawsuit against Morton County, the Morton County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies for use of excessive force against Water Protectors.
On Sunday, November 20, a confrontation between police and Standing Rock Water Protectors escalated as police shot water cannons and rubber bullets into the crowd. The onslaught went hours into the night, and without showers or a nearby medical center, the residents of nearby Oceti Sakowin who were injured or exposed to hypothermia were vulnerable to permanent physical damage.
The fourth Contaminant Candidate List (CCL 4) was published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on November 17. The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996 (SDWA) requires the publication of the CCL every five years. The CCL includes contaminants that are not currently governed by the EPA's Primary Drinking Water Regulations, which place legal limits on the levels of hazardous and carcinogenic contaminants in drinking water. Every five years the EPA must make a determination whether or not to regulate at least five contaminants from the CCL.
Every year for the last 50, prestigious Jaindl Farms in Orefield, Pennsylvania, has supplied the White House turkeys that sit atop the holiday table for the thanksgiving feast. Jaindl -- a Whole Foods supplier that claims to be in the 98th percentile for animal welfare and 95th percentile for food safety according to audits -- is exactly the sort of farm you would expect the president to receive his turkey from, at least on paper. The turkeys from Jaindl are gifted to the president. I recently visited Jaindl with a team of animal farm investigators, and what I saw did not match what I read on paper.
On July 15, 2016, I was detained by Israeli forces for seven hours in the Hill of the Patriarchs (Givat Ha'Avot) police station in occupied Hebron. I was escorted with five other dual citizens to the station after we refused to obey a military order to disperse from the private land of Jawad Abu Aisha, where more than 100 activists gathered to build the first cinema in the city since the 1930s. As we locked arms in defiance of the order, Jewish activists from Ta'ayush, All That's Left: Anti-Occupation Collective and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence (CJNV) joined boldly together in the old refrain, "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor study war anymore (Lo yisegoy el goy cherev, lo yilmedu od milchama)."
November 22, 2016 marks the 53rd anniversary of the tragic assassination of John F. Kennedy here in Dallas. The day and the events still haunt me, although I find it no more horrific than the almost weekly shootings of police officers. Reflecting on JFK's assassination and the seemingly endless, senseless killings, I stop and reflect and I find hope and wisdom in the words of John F. Kennedy. I believe he was the last world leader who truly understood the importance of, and the power of, the individual.
Donald Trump has been our president-elect for only two weeks, and already we are told to look at the bright side. Find the silver linings. Figure out a way to time-travel to 2020. Remember that love prevails. We need to stop deluding ourselves. There is no bright side. There are no silver linings. It is 2016, Donald Trump will be our president, and there was never any love to begin with. We are inclined, in times of crisis, to escape.
The issue of poverty is rarely brought up willingly by politicians. In speech after speech, they make constant appeals to "the middle class," whether by promising to cut taxes, bring back jobs or any of a number of different promises. In fact, listening to most politicians, you might think that being a member of "the middle class" is as bad as it gets in the US. Unfortunately, the situation is much bleaker than that.
Regardless of our political persuasions, we all make a personal review of what we are thankful. Not having very little or less than last year or less than your parents would, of course, be a cue to talk politics. We are now more politically watchful in the same way Freud suggested that childhood no longer fades into a mostly forgotten memory for those repeatedly drawn back to it, perhaps, by the latent power of a single event. Curious and curiouser has been the capacity of the American mass psyche to remain disinterested in politics, almost oblivious to it when historical memory shows us that elective representative democracies are fragile -- about as fragile as those conditions making the Earth habitable for humans.