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.
This economy isn't working for most Americans. The faltering recovery has begun creating jobs and lowering deficits, but more than 20 million are in need of full-time work. Those finding jobs struggle with lower wages and less security. The richest 1 percent is capturing virtually all of the nation's income growth, while the middle class is getting crushed.
We need to fix the economy so it works for working people. Instead Washington is focused not on jobs and growth, but on an extortionist threat concocted by the Tea Party-dominated Republican Congress.
If I had to pick a single word to describe the global economy today, it would be fragile. Policy makers and business leaders have actively built a system that destroys the environment in order to produce profits in the short term — by distributing goods and services across a global supply chain that is designed to minimize costs and maximize financial returns — while relying on structures that are profoundly susceptible to disruption.
This is done by dodging societal responsibility through a shadow network of tax havens (building up debt in the nations of the world and increasing wealth inequality); avoiding environmental protections by choosing to operate in countries where government officials can be bought on the black market (damaging the ecological commons on which all life depends); and creating deregulated zones where worker's rights are minimal or non-existent (sowing the seeds of upheaval by keeping large numbers of people in a state of desperation).
Separated by only a week, both Hostess Brands and the Republican Party raised the white flag of defeat. Hostess' flagship snack Twinkies and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney were, at least for now, finished. According to each, labor disenfranchisement played a role: Hostess blamed a bakers' strike and Republicans pointed to autoworkers' inability to embrace Romney'sLet Detroit Go Bankrupt editorial (NY Times, October 18, 2008. In fact, Hostess current owners, two hedge funds and private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings, followed Romney's Bain Capital (and GOP strategy focused on the privileged 1%) of loading up on debt, trampling worker rights, and unselfconsciously rewarding themselves. However, Grand Old Twinkie and Grand Old Party woes run much deeper than irksome workers and an empathetic vacuum.
Egyptian Revolutionary Labor Leader, Asma Mohammed Who Said No to Tear Gas, To Be Honored with War Resisters League’s 2012 Peace AwardBy Ali Issa, The War Resisters League | Press Release
Tomorrow, November 27th, War Resisters League, a US-based antimilitarist organization founded in 1923, recognizes Asma Mohammed and the Suez Port Workers with its 2012 Peace Award. Exactly one year ago, on November 27th, 2011, Asma Mohammed, customs officer at the Adabiya Port of Suez, Egypt, refused to process a 7-ton shipment of US-made tear gas coming in from the port of Wilmington, North Carolina.
This refusal came in the wake of unprecedented use of tear gas use against protesters around Tahrir Square during "the battle of Mohamed Mahmoud," where dozens died directly from inhalation of the gas.
This year's post-election "lame duck" congressional session presents several disturbing threats—alongside exciting opportunities—for fundamental civil liberties.
Measures extending government authority to conduct dragnet warrantless wiretapping, and arbitrarily detain Americans in domestic military detention without trial, have passed the House and now loom before the Senate. Yet members of Congress willing to do their jobs could support alternative measures to protect privacy and dissent.
Internet freedom means different things to different people. But for most of us it boils down to this: the freedom to read, do and say what we want online — and in private.
This Thursday, that freedom could come under attack. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) — a bill passed in 1986, before most of us had even heard of the Internet — to bring it into the 21st century.
Only recently has Black Friday referred to shopping for great deals the day after Thanksgiving. Before that, it didn’t refer to people saving money but losing losing lots of lucre. In 1929 in Europe, it referred to the Wall Street stock market crash that coincided with the onset of the Great Depression. The first use of the phrase likewise referred to an American financial collapse back in 1869. Today, lots of people, if they swallow all the hype, attach the phrase to something fun -- consumer mania. While it’s good for both a day and a color to gain positive associations, it’s not so good for people to lose a historical note of caution.
It’s impressive how our collective amnesia came about. Modern media attained the power to totally redefine a phrase that once conjured up a scary memory. Not only has a major event in American history been forgotten by most Americans, but their economic masters have managed to get them to dedicate a day to shopping. And it seems this new Black Friday is being turned into a new national holiday almost as big as the other two on either side of it.
I did not spend Thanksgiving evening with my wife and my five children. I spent it, instead, handing out turkey sandwiches to workers in WalMart. And showing my support for one brave soul who walked off the job in protest against exploitation.
WalMart “associates” make an average of just more than $10 an hour. That means that if they manage to get a full 40 hours a week – and many don’t – they get paid $1,700 a month, before taxes. Somehow, that is supposed to pay for their food, shelter, clothing and medical care, and that of their children. Quite a trick.
No, it wasn‘t shredded wheat. This shredding was not of breakfast food and has been much harder to digest; it was evidence on serial murder! The related biliousness is all the more painful due to a worrisome new survey of rightist hatred in Germany. But first some background.
For a year now the case of three mystery killers has roiled the German scene. Their mug shots, shown over and over on TV, have made them as recognizable as family members. The two men are dead, eliminated by rather dubious “suicides”. The third, Beate Zschäpe, still awaits trial for her role in the killing, between 2000 and 2006, of ten men with immigrant background, nine Turkish and one Greek, of shooting down a policewoman, robbing banks, and igniting a bomb in 2004 in a Turkish neighborhood in Cologne which injured 22 people, four of them severely.