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.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the Democracy Restoration Act, which would restore voting rights in federal elections to nearly 4.4 million Americans citizens with criminal convictions in their past.
Based on a Brennan Center proposal, the bill builds on recent support for rights restoration. In February, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder called on states to restore voting rights. But 35 states continue to disenfranchise people after they are released from prison. The Democracy Restoration Act would restore voting rights to these citizens for federal elections.
“Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of the Center’s Washington, D.C., office. “Restoring voting rights to citizens who have served their time will strengthen our democracy.Congress should move quickly to pass this bill and ensure our voting system is free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans.”
"Secretary Kerry? It's Ukraine on the phone asking about liberation again. Have you been able to get them a reference letter yet from Libya or Iraq or Afghanistan? How about Vietnam? Panama? Grenada? Kosovo maybe? Ukraine says Syria says you have a reference letter in the works from Kosovo. No? Huh. They said they'd accept one from Korea or the Dominican Republic or Iran. No? Guatemala? The Philippines? Cuba? Congo? How about Haiti? They say you promised them a glowing reference from Haiti. Oh. They did? No, I am not laughing, Sir. What about East Timor? Oh? Oh! Sir, you're going to liberate the what out of them? Yes sir, I think you'd better tell them yourself."
Some nations the United States should probably not liberate -- except perhaps the 175 nations which could be liberated from the presence of U.S. soldiers. But one nation I would make an exception for, and that is the nation of Hawai'i.
US Secretary of State John Kerry couldn’t hide his frustration anymore as the US-sponsored peace process continued to falter. After 8 months of wrangling to push talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority forward, he admitted while in a visit to Morocco on April 04 that the latest setback had served as a ‘reality check’ for the peace process. But confining that reality check to the peace process is hardly representative of the painful reality through which the United States has been forced to subsist in during the last few years.
The state of US foreign policy in the Middle East, but also around the world, cannot be described with any buoyant language. In some instances, as in Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Ukraine, and most recently in Palestine and Israel, too many calamitous scenarios have exposed the fault lines of US foreign policy. The succession of crises is not allowing the US to cut its losses in the Middle East and stage a calculated ‘pivot’ to Asia following its disastrous Iraq war.
The California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 8 passed SB 1132, legislation that will place a moratorium on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and well stimulation until the state fully studies the impact of the oil extraction on California's air and water quality, public health and economy.
The bill, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell and Senator Mark Leno, will next be considered by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 30t 2014.
The legislation, approved by a 5 to 2 vote as anti-fracking activists packed the State Captiol hearing room, would expand the current study focused on the environmental and public health effects of fracking to include the economic costs and harms, effects on private property and land use, and risks to worker safety, according to a statement from a coalition of groups.
It's crazy time again in Cleveland. Lake Erie has thawed. The snow has finally melted. Baseball season is underway. Once again the perennial argument over the Cleveland Indians team logo is heating up. As Washington Redskin fans debate the political correctness of their team name, Indians fans and detractors grapple with the propriety of the grinning visage of Chief Wahoo, official face of the Indians.
It's beyond odd that Indians fans are having this debate in 2014. And getting emotional about whether or not the Chief Wahoo logo is or is not offensive. If history did not exist - that is, if Europeans had not flooded into North America killing and dispossessing every last indigenous person in their way, men women and children - then we might be able to take this debate seriously. But they did. So Chief Wahoo is the smiling face of genocide and that grin on his face very much resembles the skeletal smile of the Mexican calavera, a satirical dig at folks who take themselves so very seriously when we all know where we're all headed. Of course as many people like to deny the future as they do the past.
Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he's speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to "European youth", the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here's a sample:
– "In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they're doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years."
Just moments before his life ended on April 10, 1955, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was having a lively discussion with his cousin on Park Avenue, New York. Most likely they were discussing his favorite subject, the "Omega Point," his theory on the destiny of evolution. Pierre was a French philosopher, Jesuit priest, paleontologist, geologist, physics and chemistry teacher, botanist, and zoologist. Let's just say he was well versed.
Pierre had cast all of his disciplines into a philosophical-theological-mathematical cocktail mixer, identified the common patterns, and fought against the literal interpretations of the Book of Genesis, in order to formulate a unified evolutionary theory of the cosmos. One that reconciled both the Jesuit and the Scientist.
When Hannah Arendt, the famous German-American political philosopher, criticized American involvement in the Vietnam War, she said that our foreign policy "experts" fell prey to using excessive means to achieve minor aims in a region of marginal interest to the United States. You could say the same of most of America's foreign interventions since 1945. We are a superpower with a boundless propensity for meddling in world affairs. We waste enormous amounts of money and resources intervening in areas that are of marginal importance to our national security.
There are many reasons for these wasteful interventions, of course. The military-industrial-Congressional complex plays its role. Presidents love to intervene as a sign of "strength." Natural resources, especially oil, are usually in play. The usual motives, in short: profit, power, greed.
In one of those early years of becoming and being a teacher, when I was still teaching in the exact room where I had been a student (a school building that would eventually be almost entirely destroyed by a fire set by children), it was the first day of school, and I was calling that first roll—a sort of silly but important ritual of schooling for teachers and students.
Toward the back of the room and slightly to my left sat a big young man, a white male student typical of this rural upstate South Carolina high school in my home town; like me, he would accurately be considered in that context as a Redneck.
April 8, 2014, Guantanamo Bay and Washington, DC – Today, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) client Ghaleb Al-Bihani, a Yemeni citizen who has been held without charge at Guantanamo for over 12 years, asked the Obama administration's new Periodic Review Board (PRB) to approve him for transfer. While the government has stated that it does not plan to charge Mr. Al-Bihani with any crime, in 2009 it designated him for continued indefinite detention, as it did dozens of other prisoners. The PRB will now determine whether to recommend Mr. Al-Bihani for transfer from Guantanamo or whether to continue his 12-year imprisonment. In 2008, a federal judge upheld Mr. Al-Bihani's detention on the basis of his admission that he had served as an assistant cook in 2001 for a now-disbanded Taliban-affiliated group.
"Mr. Al-Bihani is not a significant threat to the United States. He is a former cook who is severely ill and does yoga for stress relief," said CCR Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, who is representing Mr. Al-Bihani before the PRB. "If Guantanamo is to close, men like Mr. Al-Bihani who are being unjustly and unnecessarily detained should be approved for transfer by the PRB – and actually transferred. A change in status only matters if it results in release."