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 week, the U.S. war against the people of Afghanistan entered its twelfth year.
It's the longest war in our history, but you'd hardly know we've been at war, or that we continue to kill Afghan civilians. But on top of this, few Americans realize that Afghanistan has suffered almost continuous warfare for the past four decades. Some two million Afghans have died over the last forty years!
It's hard to imagine what the people of Afghanistan feel about this, because we are not to permitted to hear their voices. We know so little about the Afghan people.
But a remarkable group of young people in Kabul who espouse nonviolence and call themselves the Afghan Peace Volunteers have decided to tell us what they think, how they feel, and what they want us to do.
In the modern world, there are over 7 billion people, 300 million living in the USA, and over 30,000 on UC Davis's campus. Since 1790, there have been 44 presidents of the country, 5 of which are still living. When you hear that the most influential and successful one is coming to your college campus, it's a no-brainer whether or not you are going to miss class to hear him speak.
Tuesday of this week, the 42nd President of the United State Bill Clinton came to UC Davis in Davis, CA to endorse 4 local candidates for Congress, Barack Obama for President, as well as encourage the students to vote in November.
The era of focusing on victims needs to come to an end. It doesn't work. We can talk all day about how the culture of rape and violence has affected our lives, we can share individual stories and we can cite statistics and while this may be informative and therapeutic it is not going to get us where we need to get. It is not strategic.
I've always wondered about the slogan Take Back the Night. We can't take back something we never had. What we need to do is Take Down the structures responsible for the criminal climate of fear that we live in. Take Down the structures responsible for the exploitation, humiliation, and degredation women experience everyday.
And in order to do this we need to stop mourning. Stop having vigils. Stop being silent.
Mitt Romney might be the most brazen political liar since James Polk. Polk, who was the 11th U.S. president (1845-1849), lied through his teeth–to Congress, to his cabinet, to the newspapers– in order to get the country into a war with Mexico. Of course, other presidents have lied to this end, for instance presidents Johnson (Vietnam) and Bush Jr. (Iraq), but Polk had the same audacious, "lying is part of what I do," disposition as does our current Republican candidate.
If one has any doubt about Mitt Romney's mendacious temperment, the first presidential debate should have put it to rest. According to one analyst, Romney let loose with "27 myths in 38 minutes," finishing with a big grin after most of these prevarications. He produced trumped up assertions, false statistics, and wild exaggerations about taxes, energy independence, job creation, the deficit, medicare, "Obamacare," and military spending.
The coast is clear, the media tells us; economic disaster has been averted. The Euro Zone is finally stable and the U.S. economy is recovering. Whew!
Why, then, are government policies internationally still pursuing extremist measures? In the U.S., a third round of excess money printing —called Quantitative Easing — began recently in which banks are directly profiting by unloading their toxic mortgages on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet (another backdoor bailout paid by taxpayers).
After the U.S. presidential election, both Democrats and Republicans are committed to different versions of historic cuts to social services, education, Medicare, unemployment benefits, and very likely Social Security. This bi-partisan plan is often referred to as a "grand bargain," the details of which both parties are still haggling over.
People often take things for granted. Take the concept of progress. My students all assume that progress is continuous. In fact, they think that it is inevitable. Mostly they conceive of progress in terms of technology: smart phones and computers of every sort. However, there is also a sense that there is a steady and inevitable movement toward the realization of social ideals. Whether they are conservatives, liberals or libertarians, they all assume that the kind of world they want to live in is the kind of world that will evolve.
That is also true for the feminists in my classes. They know that they have to fight for gender equality and they are willing to do so. Yet they also assume the betterment of women's conditions will be continuous and that victory for their cause is inevitable. In terms of their own local communities, they are sure that conditions for women today are better than they were in their grandmothers' day, and that conditions will be better still for their own granddaughters. They can't imagine things going backward.
They may be in for a shock.
NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Ignore Faith Community Urging to Cover the LIBOR Banking ScandalBy Jennifer Tong, SpeakOut | Report
On Friday, October 5, the Sisters of Charity of New York delivered thousands of petitions to NBC Nightly News and ABC World News to urge them to stop their blackout coverage of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) scandal since it broke 3 months ago. The bank manipulation of a critical interest rate that impacts all of us - from home mortgages to credit cards, its affects are wide-ranging, especially for the poor and most vulnerable.
Jubilee USA Network, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate sent letters to NBC Nightly News and ABC World News to urge them to cover the scandal. Over three months since the scandal broke and two months since we sent the letters, we still have had no response.
If I say Arizona, how do you respond?
What's the first thing that comes to your mind?
Alabama? Apartheid South Africa? Reasonable suspicion? Racial profiling? Suspect populations? Ethnic cleansing? Banned Books?
All good answers. However another one comes to mind, particularly if one is thinking post 9/11: collateral damage.
A campaign bankrolled by financially motivated pesticide and junk food companies is expected to lie - a lot. It's what they always do when confronted by inconvenient facts and consumers seeking to protect their rights - like the Right to Know what's in the food we eat and feed our families.Prop 37 opponents have run one of the most deceptive misinformation campaigns in recent history - a $35 million deluge of one demonstrable lie after another to try and defeat a common sense measure that most Californians support.
Today, the No on 37 campaign's already tattered credibility was dealt yet another big blow with news that its "top scientist" is nothing more than a corporate shill willing to misrepresent himself and the University for which he works.
Our extractive and political economies are managed for the narrow benefit of the already powerful. The impact is inescapable.
The social contract has saved us from a Hobbesian state of nature: war of all against all. Or war of some against all. By sacrificing the individual freedom to wage war against one's neighbor, we gain peace as a society in return; the right to the physical security of one's person is inviolate. Yet that security is undermined by the very rules of business that knit together our culture. The freedom to earn a profit from one's neighbor is a right that allows for harm. One's land, neighborhood and environment are at constant risk from the whims of private enterprise. Our bodies may be safe, but the ground we stand on is not.