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.
A crisis is defined as "a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events is determined." It is a turning point, a condition of instability or danger that will lead us to a decisive change. We are at such a turning point right now with mass incarceration, which is the No. 1 public health crisis as the Vera Institute says in its report, "On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration." The political climate is poised to make the necessary changes to truly reform our criminal justice system because without these changes we will have a collapse.
"If you don't like refugees coming to your country, stop voting for politicians who love to bomb the shit out of them." Our delegation from CODEPINK: Women for Peace saw this written on a tent at the Idomeni refugee camp in on the Greek-Macedonian border. As we well know, neither the Greek nor Macedonian governments have bombed people, but they are having to deal with the huge numbers of refugees caused by the decisions of government far away.
Amid the gnashing teeth of both Democratic and Republican leaders over two interloping presidential candidates threatening their usual plans for an uncontested set of nomination conventions, the possibility exists that a furious vox populi soon may do the guillotine's work on both parties' existence. "Enough is enough" is their battle cry, and anindependent third party may result. After all, some 42 percent of registrations are "independent," and 93,000,000 eligible voters didn't vote in the 2012 presidential election.
US Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Christopher John Antal resigned from the US Army Reserves on April 12, 2016, in opposition to US policies regarding militarized drones, nuclear weapons and preventive war. Antal stated he could not serve as a chaplain for an "empire" and could not "reconcile his duty to protect and defend America and its constitutional democracy and his commitment to the core principles of his religious faith including justice, equity and compassion and the inherent worth and dignity of every person" with policies of the United States.
Rail workers sit at home on indefinite furlough while locomotive fleets sit idle in remote switchyards. An industry that was recently riding high, carrying massive bulk shipments of coal and oil to feed a world addicted to its payload, is now itself suffering symptoms of withdrawal. Rail has been addicted to coal transport since the creation of thepublicly funded Interstate Highway System, pushed by Big Oil and the auto industry, undermined its high-value freight and passenger service.
It is hard to put my feelings into words. I am traveling as a peace witness in Iraqi Kurdistan. Just the other day, we visited a sheikh whom I had met in Fallujah in 2012. He and his family were forced to flee to Kurdistan about two years ago. Fallujah, as you probably know, is being held by ISIS. None of the residents are allowed to leave. People are literally dying of starvation. We met in the rented apartment of another sheikh who also fled Fallujah with his family. Although he himself is sick with cancer, both he and our sheikh friend welcomed us warmly.
Sunday, April 17, 2016, saw the Queer Confessions, Questions and Crushes -- a group of activists at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa -- making public the names of 11 male students who were alleged to have committed rapes against fellow students on campus. The list, published on the group's Facebook page, quickly went viral under #RUReferenceList. Subsequently, student activists rounded up some of the men named on the list and forcefully detained them to try and compel the university management to take action.
Anyone who has had a loved one locked up knows it's not easy. But I didn't realize how much it would feel like being kicked while you're already down. My brother has been incarcerated in a county jail in southern Indiana since December 2015, and has yet to be convicted. Trying to support him has been an uphill struggle. The first kick came when I learned that my parents and I can't even see my brother face-to-face. Instead, my parents and I are forced to go to the jail to "visit" through video.
Ever since the foundation of the American Republic, there has been both praise for and suspicion of the role the press plays in US political life. Thomas Jefferson famously remarked that, if it were left to him "to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I would not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." And yet, Jefferson was also profoundly disturbed by the politically biased and inaccurate articles that he saw published in the press. As he told James Monroe: "My skepticism as to everything I see in a newspaper makes me indifferent whether I ever see one."
I was one of twenty five arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police at Creech Air Force Base, the center of drone assassination by the US Air Force and the CIA some forty miles northwest of the city on March 31 and April 1. "Shut Down Creech" was a weeklong convergence of activists from around the country. Most of us staying in tents at a makeshift "Camp Justice" in the desert across the highway from the base, our days of discussion, study, song, reflection and strategizing built up to a dramatic series of coordinated actions, including street theater and blockades, that disrupted the lethal business as usual of Creech.