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.
2012 headlines were full of horrible depressing news: cuts on the federal, state, county and the city level. The nation was subjected to a full time diet of descriptions of cities agonizing over whether to cut libraries or sewage treatment, or of the city that, in one fell swoop, cut all its employees—from firefighters to garbage collectors— to minimum wage. Or the story of the governor who left the budget discussion to hide her tears over the cutting of hospice while one of her family members was in hospice dying. We have argued as a nation over whether teachers and firefighters are "greedy" because they want a cost of living raise as compared to other private employees who also don't have dignity in their pay.
Below is a letter from an official of the World Bank's International Finance Corp., taking issue with our article posted Jan. 2 and co-published with Foreign Policy magazine. It is followed by our brief response:
We are deeply disappointed by your article, "Can You Fight Poverty With a Five-Star Hotel?," which raises an important question about the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) impact fighting poverty in developing countries. It failed to be fair and it failed to fully examine our impact.
What is our record?
I am writing to you to fill in the silence of the sheep. The sheep I refer to here are the mass media, printed or electronic, and local elected officials—always with the exception of Congressman John Conyers and of course The Michigan Citizen. Both weary warriors speak truth to power no matter what the price.
Tomorrow, the elected Detroit Public Schools board members head to court to answer the charges levied against us by the State Attorney General. We are being sued for being elected in a State-certified election. We were all sworn in and have served our districts since the election. I was appointed to fill a vacancy and then elected to my seat in November 2011. Although we are under a State-appointed Emergency Manager, and although the Emergency Manager Law has been repealed by the voters of the state of Michigan since November 2012, we remain under this illegitimate authority and our legitimate right to our elected seats is being challenged by the State Attorney General at the behest of the governor.
Something is happening in Michigan. After a failed attempt in the 2012 election to make collective bargaining a right under Michigan's constitution, Republicans fast-tracked a "right-to-work" law enabling employees to refuse to pay union dues which was quickly signed by the Governor.
In a jarring response, labor and management seemed to have switched their rhetoric. On MSNBC for instance, it was stunning to see the president of the United Auto Workers argue against the law on practical economic grounds, while the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity spokesperson suddenly pretended to be a labor rights activist.
Check on virtually any mainstream news source and you can view the Dow's numbers on open trading, the Dow's high, its low, and the Volume of trading, just to name a few of the Dow's indices. The Dow Jones is aired during most newscasts repeatedly throughout the week from the time the opening bell rings on Wall Street until closing. The nation watches closely as the Dow moves up or down as if anticipating a win or loss at a blackjack table. No other news, with the possible exception of weather forecasts, receives as much attention and as much coverage as the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It appears to serve as the pulse of a capitalist nation such as ours -information about the Dow transcends the dissemination of all other reports. Other news stories are covered, sometimes for days and weeks, but news about the Dow is nearly omnipresent, which illustrates its prioritization in the media and is reflective of the nation's conscience.
On Thursday, January 3, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake announced that former ESPN Zone workers were not adequately compensated when the Disney subsidiary closed its doors at Baltimore's Inner Harbor on June 16, 2010. The decision came more than two years after the former employees brought a class action lawsuit against Zone Enterprises of Maryland, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co, for violating the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act. The ruling represents mounting evidence that the current economic development model in Baltimore is broken.
As President Barack Obama spent his last day, January 5, in Hawaii, representatives from Hawaii Peace and Justice and World Can't Wait protested his assassin drone program and lack of effort on Palestinian issues in front of his Hawaii vacation home.
Drone protests in the United States over the past three years have had an effect on reducing the number of drone strikes and the deaths of civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) reported on January 4, that probably due to public criticism, that "civilian deaths fell sharply in Pakistan in 2012, with Bureau data suggesting that a minimum of 2.5% of those reported killed were civilians – compared with more than 14% in 2011. This suggests the CIA is seeking to limit non-militant casualties, perhaps as a result of sustained criticism."
With the simultaneous discoveries of monumental deposits of shale containing natural gas and new technologically advanced fracking techniques, America has become the world's greatest source of fossil fuels. Recent events indicate we also intend to become and remain the world's greatest supplier of fossil fuels. Since World War II, the US has used the Third World as its Killing Field. Between WWII and 2007, the United States was responsible for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in useless and unnecessary wars and conflicts scattered over the world. With the new supremacy in fossil fuel fracking, its exportation, and its eventual effect on climate change, we have upped the ante and now lay claim to the planet as our new Killing Field. At home, the price we're going to pay for massive exports of fracked methane is the poisoning of our air, food and water supplies.
We will stop referring to ourselves as a "civil rights" organization that defends "human rights." It is a sacrilege to people actually killed or harmed by civil and human rights abuses.
We will acknowledge that our membership of 4 million is dwarfed in both size and sympathy by 6.2 million teachers, 76.6 million students and 18 million healthcare workers in the US living with our depraved gun policies.
The cashing in of political debts, Washington's peculiar political culture, and Republicans eager for another chance to return Scott Brown, once the bankers' senator, to the Senate conspire to ensure that Senator John Kerry will soon be the United States' Secretary of State.
Support for Kerry's nomination is far from universal. Neo-conservative Frank Gaffney, who seems never to have found a US military intervention or weapons system that he didn't enthusiastically support, has once again dredged up the Swift Boat and other calumnies, making it almost enough to lead a peace activist to want to work for Kerry's confirmation.