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.
To a profound yet rarely acknowledged extent, our basic understanding of the world is shaped by the culture within which we find ourselves. We learn what thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and aspirations are appropriate from a kind of collective mindset, which operates like a constantly modulating swarm – the influence of a powerful individual or idea resonates within the cloud, altering its shape to dramatic or subtle effect, for better or for worse.
Here in the early 21st century, the notion that each of us is an isolated entity, ever at odds with one another and with the ecosystems of which we are a part, is a fundamental aspect our collective belief system. Until we evaluate the implications of this assumption and discover that there may be new, more multifaceted and constructive ways of thinking, our collective swarm – unaware that it is a swarm at all – is bound to drift ever deeper into perilous territory.
You probably do. There are only a handful of states -- Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Wisconson . . perhaps a couple of others -- where politically aware people must really swallow hard and vote for the "lesser of two evils"(LOTE). For the rest of us -- I'm speaking to and for politically aware people! -- our vote doesn't matter; it will have no effect on who the next president is.
Politically aware people in CA, NY, IL, MD, WA, MN, MA, CT-- also in TX, OK, UT, WY, and others -- already know thattheir state is going to go for Obama -- or for Romney.Their vote will have no effect in determining the next president.
After avoiding much talk of his religion previously, for the past month, the Romney campaign has put forth a series of "Mormon Moments." We are told this is in response to polls that say Mitt is unlikable. Thus, we are treated to displays of Mormons telling of how they know Mitt to be kind, or TV clips with Mitt speaking about emotional Mormon memories intended to "humanize" him and to alter the image he has so-far projected of a cold and selfish candidate. But as he takes to exposing his brand of Mormonism, Mormons don't like it. They don't like the way he is cherry-picking our religion. We find it offensive that he is selecting particularly beloved parts of our culture and tradition and turning them on their heads in ways that he may find useful to his image but that don't represent how we feel about them.
If you don't know who The Yes Men are, then you're living life wrong. Remember when General Electric announced they would give back billions of dollars in tax refund because America had done so much for them? And then it turned out it was a group of merry pranksters? THAT was the Yes Men, and it was just one of their many pranks shining a light on the dark underside of capitalism. You can watch one of their stunts here.
Is anyone in the mainstream media gonna mention Romney's near breakdowns during the debates with Obama?
They happen near the end. He faces the camera---eyes beseeching, mouth quivering, brow sweating----and he throws specificity of his alleged achievements to the wind.
I can do this, he pleads. I've done this all my life. See, I ran a business. I know what it takes. Please elect me over this clod who probably has problems balancing his checkbook.
The Vandenberg 15 – which includes Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, Father Louis Vitale, John Amidon and me – protested the launching of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the early morning hours of February 25, 2012. As we sought to deliver a message to the Base Commander calling for a cancellation of the test missile launch, we were arrested for trespass. All 15 defendants pleaded innocent to the charge. We had gone to Vandenberg Air Force Base to exercise our first amendment rights to protest an illegal act on the part of the government...The case against the Vandenberg 15 was dismissed. It was a small but significant victory for the people. The real victory will come when nuclear weapons are abolished, which will happen when the people awaken to the threat posed by these insane weapons and demand of their leaders to lead the way to a world free of nuclear weapons. This is the statement I had planned to give as my Opening Statement.
Veterans For Peace in Boston, the late VFP member Howard Zinn, and several other peace organizations in Boston have been routinely spied on for years, and records kept on their peaceful and lawful activities. The Boston Police Department and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, BRIC, (the local "fusion center") have collected and kept so-called "intelligence reports" documenting constitutionally protected speech and political activity. While not a single report refers to any engagement in or plans for violence, peace rallies are called "Criminal Acts," and the reports are labeled as dealing with "Extremists," "Civil Disturbance," and "HomeSec-Domestic."
Fusion center employees working for the Boston Police, the FBI, and the Homeland Security Department have been a constant presence at peace events and have interrogated peace activists about purely legal activities. The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild have obtained documents and videotapes after suing on behalf of five organizations and four individuals.
On Anniversary of Hunger Strike Pelican Bay Prisoners in Solitary Confinement See No Change Request Intervention of CA GovernorBy The Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Constitutional Rights | Report
On the one year anniversary of the end of their hunger strikes and the agreements struck with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, sent an open letter to Governor Jerry Brown expressing frustration at changes that have failed to materialize. In their letter, they demanded an end to the policies that have led to hundreds of prisoners being placed in solitary confinement for more than a decade, and in many cases for over 20 years. Citing bad faith on the part of the CDCR following their agreements, the prisoners asked for the governor's support and intervention.
Almost one of every five American workers is employed in the public sector – working in our schools, colleges, universities, police and fire departments, and providing many other vital public services.
Conservative governors, mayors, think tanks like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Reason Foundation are promoting privatization as an answer to state and local fiscal troubles. Large corporations in waste, water, prison and other industries that want to take control of public services are spending millions on lobbyists across the nation to capture new business.
Though not as closely related as they are to hippos, whales have much in common with elephants. Speaking scientifically, they belong to different taxonomic orders--whales to the taxonomic order Cetacea and elephants to the order Proboscidea, but they come from a common ancestor with hoofs and are therefore distinct from other orders of mammals such as primates or rodents. Of course, they both are large, intelligent, social mammals and they share a precarious existence.
Therefore, I was glad to read recently a New York Times op-ed that condemned the plan of the U.S. Navy to carry out tests and exercises using explosives and sonar devices in the Earth's major oceans during the five-year period 2014-2019. The Navy estimates that this military activity will negatively affect 33 million marine mammals. Reading this caused my mind to wander back to the stories I read in the Times last month about the widespread slaughter of elephants by members of African militias who remove the ivory tusks and sell them to purchase weapons.