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.
On November 6th, 2012, President Obama will be re-elected to a second term. This will be achieved, in part, because his opponent is hapless. But we should not forget the other reason that President Obama will be re-elected: his aggressively center-right policies in key areas – in addition to national "security," these include education and social safety net "reform" – make it hard for any Republican contender to differentiate her or himself from the president without alienating moderate voters.
This second reason for Obama's soon-to-be victory will become clear as soon as the President and Congress return to Washington to address the looming $1.2 trillion in sequestration cuts that are set to take place on January 1st.
Although most "fiscal cliff" rhetoric concerns Defense cuts, Congressional budgetary intransigence could also push federal investor protection agencies off the cliff come January 1. Should public securities law enforcers be sent to the bench, private enforcers will continue to hold fraudsters accountable and deter future wrongdoing. And they may even prove more effective.
A case in point is the recent $2.43 billion settlement by Bank of America of a securities class action lawsuit brought by its investors alleging fraud in valuing mortgage-backed financial instruments and sub-prime mortgages the Bank acquired when it bought Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial meltdown in September, 2008. No major federal prosecutions – civil or criminal – have yet been initiated in arguably the world's biggest financial crime.
When, as a 21-year-old geology major I chose scientist and activist Barry Commoner as my presidential candidate, I was lambasted by some of my lesbian sisters at Yale for wasting my vote. But upon reading his obituary in the New York Times, I feel proud of the choice I made back then. Barry Commoner, who died September 30, deserves to be remembered as a visionary scientific thinker who advocated for connecting the dots between components in systems of oppression.
This Sunday I met with John Dear, a longtime Jesuit priest and peace activist who has been arrested many times during acts of peaceful civil disobedience, including with the late Phil Berrigan. He is also an editor and curator of Daniel Berrigan's works. We spoke at length and I want to introduce John to the Truthout community and help bring attention to one of the issues he is working on now, which he believes is at a tipping point. You can follow John Dear here, learn about what he's up to and get involved if you're inclined. Here is the letter he wrote me.
~ John Cusack
I am usually attracted to monumental themes in theory and literature: works like A C Bradley's Appearance and Reality would seem to encompass everything. The first major book I wrote was The Production of Desire, a comparison and evaluation of the theories of Marx and Freud. There is a great deal to be said, however, for seeing 'the world in a grain of sand ... and eternity in an hour.'
The same notion applies to the tragedy of democratic corruption under capitalism. The foundation of this corruption is adumbrated in the pompous and bloated rhetoric we were to witness at the Democratic National Convention. However, what was equally revealing was the ubiquitous manifestation of such pervasive themes as militarism and self-sacrifice as embodied in the person of Tammy Duckworth, whose grievous physical wounds were the result of her involvement in the war in Iraq. A wound seems quite the opposite of an abstraction like patriotism, courage, or imperialism; a concrete instance rather than a distant generality. Yet, in her physical existence and her speech, we witness, permeating the surface, the synthesis of patriotism, sacrifice, glorification of military culture and the disregard of the wholly unnecessary, dishonest and brutal military invasion of Iraq that lead to the death and displacement of at least 500,000 Iraqi civilians. In this grain of sand a world is foreshadowed.
You might think corn looks so sweet and innocent, but there's a sh**load you don't know about it. Corn is involved in some pretty shady operations and most of 'em are on your dinner table. [more at LeeCamp.net]
Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed historic legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.
AB 685, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations.
By signing this bill into law, California becomes the first state in the nation to declare safe, clean, affordable and accessible water a human right.
Lee Camp is a comedian / political commentator / online video ranter extraordinaire. In the edition of Talk Nation Radio, we sample his rants and discuss with him the development and political value of his medium. For more see http://leecamp.net
Lee Camp's new book is called Moment of Clarity: The Rantings of a Stark Raving Sane Man
Across the country, families facing foreclosure and homeowners with "underwater" mortgages are fighting back against the big banks that stripped them of their one valuable asset and crashed the economy. The resistance takes many forms - homeowners refusing to leave when the sheriff arrives with an eviction notice, community groups engaging in civil disobedience at bank offices and lobbying campaigns to get city and state government to enact protections from banks foreclosing on owners for missing one or two payments, often as a result of banks making unscrupulous loans.
Occupy Wall Street provided Americans and the media with a new framework for explaining the nation's economic hard times - the "1%" vs. the "99%." But veteran community, union and faith groups that are mobilizing against Wall Street know that to hold big banks accountable, they need to identify and name the top executives whose decisions ripped off consumers, plunged the nation into a deep recession, plummeted housing prices and put cities and states at the precipice of fiscal ruin due to declining property values and revenues.
In New Court Filing International Rights Groups and Experts Urge Spanish Supreme Court to Reopen Inquiry Into Bush Era TortureBy The Center for Constitutional Rights, The Center for Constitutional Rights | Press Release
A group of international human rights organizations and experts filed a brief today before the Spanish Supreme Court, arguing that the continued failure of U.S. authorities to investigate or prosecute torture binds the Spanish judicial system to resume its inquiry into these practices. The amicus filing in the case, which argues that international law requires Spain to act, comes only weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had closed its investigation into the torture and death of detainees held in CIA custody, an investigation that ended without charges being brought against a single person.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed the brief with 10 additional organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), World Organization Against Torture, and The International Commission of Jurists.