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Speakout

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.

Apr 27

A Financial Report to President Trump

By Paul Shannon, Speakout | Op-Ed

I see that you requested someone to look into who paid for the Tax Day rallies on April 15, which demanded that you release your tax returns. I have been compiling that information for you from the large rally we had in Massachusetts which I helped organize. But first, let me be clear that here in Massachusetts, we were not just asking you to release your tax returns. Mr. President, we are also scared to death of your budget proposal that moves $54 billion of our tax money into the war budget by taking it away from programs that help our families and from important programs to address climate change, worker safety, health research, Head Start, heating assistance and so much more.

Although the US corporate media helped to produce Donald Trump, his unpredicted rise to power delivered a shocking wake-up call to media professionals and catalyzed unprecedented global debates about "post-truth politics." Yet news media continue producing the spectacular and lucrative reality television show, "Trump Making America Great Again." While the crisis of polarized US is blamed on far-right news, filter bubbles and social media, traditional mainstream news media are not being held responsible. Business as usual is supremely risky in times of crisis: routinized reporting habits, amplification and repetition of lies dangerously normalize Trump and his administration.

Apr 26

A Syrian Refugee Speaks Out

By Pam Bailey, Speakout | Op-Ed

At an April EU conference in Brussels called "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region," the government of Lebanon made an impassioned pitch for billions of euros of additional humanitarian aid to help it deal with the massive influx of refugees -- now totaling about 1.5 million, or a quarter of its population. The large influx has definitely added social and economic pressures to an already fragile, dysfunctional country, and many Lebanese believe they themselves need aid and thus resent any additional burden.

President Trump's new "Buy American, Hire American" executive order signals a return to his economic nationalist agenda. Such ideology as economic nationalism -- a system stressing domestic control of labor, the economy and capital even at the expense of high restriction of finance, goods and work -- is a problem because our global economy is more interconnected and integrated today. Moreover, global developmental priorities led to labor markets being deregulated, national industries privatized and opened to global competition and the trade, investment and education sectors are more liberalized and open as global trade volumes continue to grow.

Friends, 10 days ago, we marked the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s prophetic "Beyond Vietnam" speech. Back then, he told us that, "When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." Our tax system reinforces institutional racism, the materialism and wealth of a new super-rich nobility, and unprecedented militarism. Our country has been at war for the past 16 years -- almost a generation! We spend more on today's Pentagon than during the Cold War.

With dangerous racist and xenophobic ideas on display in every major news story right now, activism is as exhausting as ever. That's why social justice activists are increasingly talking about self-care -- tending to one's own mental and physical state before pressing on to save the world from itself. While self-care is discussed as a positive act, society usually favors a strong work ethic over self-care, which can result in guilt. And we are not taught by society to take care of ourselves, especially in communities of color.

With 300 sun-drenched days per year over 80 percent of the country, Iran has to be the envy of all countries entering the booming solar power age with its non-polluting, safe, recyclable and increasingly cheap electricity. It certainly has made go-getters, judging from all those listed on just one google search page for the global solar industry -- Germany, South Korea, Denmark, India -- even back in 2014 -- racing after potential billions in sales of renewable energy goods and services to Iran's public utility system.

Radical right Supreme Court justices, in conjunction with Republicans in Congress, have overturned precedent and harmed US democracy. Should progressives return to power, they need to "pack" the Supreme Court with extra justices to overturn decisions that have allowed a flood of corporate money in elections and weakened civil rights laws.  However, this must not take the form of a progressive "power grab," but needs to be followed by laws that ensure a strong future democracy.

Many of us saw the headlines on newspapers and social media in November 2015: "The University of Missouri President Just Resigned Amid Protests of Racism on Campus." The mainstream story stars Jonathan Butler, a Black graduate student at the University of Missouri, and the university football team. On November 2, 2015, Butler went on a hunger strike protesting the "slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents" that permeated the lives of Black students at Mizzou.

As April comes to a close, most of us are reeling from the whirlwind of big milestones the month brings, from Tax Day to the100 other deadlines and observances that deserve our attention. In the shuffle, it can be easy to miss the hashtags and conversations that go along with these important dates. But noting one observance, National Minority Health Month, could have a tangible result we can't afford to ignore. Across the country, millions of families of color struggle with disproportionate health disparities that disrupt their daily lives.

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Speakout

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.

Apr 27

A Financial Report to President Trump

By Paul Shannon, Speakout | Op-Ed

I see that you requested someone to look into who paid for the Tax Day rallies on April 15, which demanded that you release your tax returns. I have been compiling that information for you from the large rally we had in Massachusetts which I helped organize. But first, let me be clear that here in Massachusetts, we were not just asking you to release your tax returns. Mr. President, we are also scared to death of your budget proposal that moves $54 billion of our tax money into the war budget by taking it away from programs that help our families and from important programs to address climate change, worker safety, health research, Head Start, heating assistance and so much more.

Although the US corporate media helped to produce Donald Trump, his unpredicted rise to power delivered a shocking wake-up call to media professionals and catalyzed unprecedented global debates about "post-truth politics." Yet news media continue producing the spectacular and lucrative reality television show, "Trump Making America Great Again." While the crisis of polarized US is blamed on far-right news, filter bubbles and social media, traditional mainstream news media are not being held responsible. Business as usual is supremely risky in times of crisis: routinized reporting habits, amplification and repetition of lies dangerously normalize Trump and his administration.

Apr 26

A Syrian Refugee Speaks Out

By Pam Bailey, Speakout | Op-Ed

At an April EU conference in Brussels called "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region," the government of Lebanon made an impassioned pitch for billions of euros of additional humanitarian aid to help it deal with the massive influx of refugees -- now totaling about 1.5 million, or a quarter of its population. The large influx has definitely added social and economic pressures to an already fragile, dysfunctional country, and many Lebanese believe they themselves need aid and thus resent any additional burden.

President Trump's new "Buy American, Hire American" executive order signals a return to his economic nationalist agenda. Such ideology as economic nationalism -- a system stressing domestic control of labor, the economy and capital even at the expense of high restriction of finance, goods and work -- is a problem because our global economy is more interconnected and integrated today. Moreover, global developmental priorities led to labor markets being deregulated, national industries privatized and opened to global competition and the trade, investment and education sectors are more liberalized and open as global trade volumes continue to grow.

Friends, 10 days ago, we marked the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s prophetic "Beyond Vietnam" speech. Back then, he told us that, "When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." Our tax system reinforces institutional racism, the materialism and wealth of a new super-rich nobility, and unprecedented militarism. Our country has been at war for the past 16 years -- almost a generation! We spend more on today's Pentagon than during the Cold War.

With dangerous racist and xenophobic ideas on display in every major news story right now, activism is as exhausting as ever. That's why social justice activists are increasingly talking about self-care -- tending to one's own mental and physical state before pressing on to save the world from itself. While self-care is discussed as a positive act, society usually favors a strong work ethic over self-care, which can result in guilt. And we are not taught by society to take care of ourselves, especially in communities of color.

With 300 sun-drenched days per year over 80 percent of the country, Iran has to be the envy of all countries entering the booming solar power age with its non-polluting, safe, recyclable and increasingly cheap electricity. It certainly has made go-getters, judging from all those listed on just one google search page for the global solar industry -- Germany, South Korea, Denmark, India -- even back in 2014 -- racing after potential billions in sales of renewable energy goods and services to Iran's public utility system.

Radical right Supreme Court justices, in conjunction with Republicans in Congress, have overturned precedent and harmed US democracy. Should progressives return to power, they need to "pack" the Supreme Court with extra justices to overturn decisions that have allowed a flood of corporate money in elections and weakened civil rights laws.  However, this must not take the form of a progressive "power grab," but needs to be followed by laws that ensure a strong future democracy.

Many of us saw the headlines on newspapers and social media in November 2015: "The University of Missouri President Just Resigned Amid Protests of Racism on Campus." The mainstream story stars Jonathan Butler, a Black graduate student at the University of Missouri, and the university football team. On November 2, 2015, Butler went on a hunger strike protesting the "slew of racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., incidents" that permeated the lives of Black students at Mizzou.

As April comes to a close, most of us are reeling from the whirlwind of big milestones the month brings, from Tax Day to the100 other deadlines and observances that deserve our attention. In the shuffle, it can be easy to miss the hashtags and conversations that go along with these important dates. But noting one observance, National Minority Health Month, could have a tangible result we can't afford to ignore. Across the country, millions of families of color struggle with disproportionate health disparities that disrupt their daily lives.