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.
My heart broke last Thursday to read the Baghdad School of Music and Ballet -- the only remaining music and dance school in Iraq -- is in danger of closing due to a lack of funding. The rising tide of conservatism, the ramifications of war and equipment budget cuts posed increasing challenges to its existence through the years, and now dozens of fluttering arms and oud-wielding hands hang in the balance at this merit-based gem of an institution.
When the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) comes to town this week for its annual policy conference, high on the agenda of issues the committee will be pushing Congress to support are bills designed to "fight the boycott of Israel." This campaign to combat efforts to "boycott, divest or sanction" Israel (BDS) has become a full-fledged national movement, with AIPAC-supported initiatives moving forward not only in Congress, but in two dozen state legislatures as well.
Our culture of abuse is a major problem in the United States and in our world. Look around and see that in our military, we have over 20,000 sexual assaults per year. The Department of Justice report from December 2014 estimates that 110,000 women between ages 18 and 24 are raped each year, and one in four women on college campuses are raped. Recently, there was a case in Oklahoma where a police officer was convicted of 18 countsof raping Black women with his abuse of power.
This past November, during its 25th annual convergence at Fort Benning, Georgia, Roy Bourgeois of School of the Americas Watch made a momentous announcement. In 2016, this event will instead be held in early October in Nogales, Arizona -- divided from Nogales, Mexico, by security forces and barbed wire-topped walls. Puzzled at first by the move, we've become keenly aware that there's much more we need to learn about this neighbor with whom the US shares a nearly 2,000 mile-long border.
Isn't it rather odd that the US's largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates? The expenditure is for a thirty-year program to "modernize" the US nuclear arsenal and production facilities. Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died.
Patricia O'Hara had just finished caring for a man suffering from Parkinson's disease and was waiting for the train to take her back to Brooklyn when she explained why she got into the home care industry. Her father also had Parkinson's. Before O'Hara's dad died in December 2008, she accompanied him as he navigated the US health care system, trying to get quality treatment covered at affordable cost.
What is really happening in the 2016 race for president of the United States is a contest of consciousness within the American people. By "consciousness," I refer to the degree, higher or lower, to which an individual is free in thought and emotion to perceive the reality and equality of other beings and to decide how best to help them when help is needed. To get at the relationship of the presidential race to consciousness, today's politics need to be set against the background of the most intense political conflicts of the last two centuries.
Six years ago, after extensive academic and historical research, Renew Democracy developed the political theorem that, in a representative democracy, politicians represent those who pay for their campaigns. Several results derive from this demonstrably true statement. The first is that in order for the voter to gain control of the electoral process and have representatives responsive to their needs and desires, they must be in control financially of campaigns and political parties.
David Brooks penned a column on February 12, 2016, in The New York Times entitled "Livin' Bernie Sanders's Danish Dream." In it, he criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders, arguing that the Danish social democratic system and similar European systems are inferior to our own. Sanders, as we know, describes himself as a social Democrat. Brooks' writing on matters of character is eloquent; his book, The Road to Character, was superb.
Highlighted in this film are community members of El Barrio -- women, children, whole families -- as they take their struggle against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s unfair and destructive policies of displacement from community meetings to press conferences to the streets. This new film documents the struggle of East Harlem residents -- predominantly immigrant women of color, members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio -- actively opposing an unfair and destructive rezoning plan that the mayor is attempting to impose from above and which, if enacted, will cause widespread displacement of long-term low-income community members.