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.
It has been ten years since the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq spearheaded by the George W. Bush administration. It is an occasion for remembrance, reflection and deep regret. It was a war built on lies that harmed everything it touched. Most of all, it has harmed the children of Iraq and their families, and it continues to harm them even though the United States and its allies have officially left Iraq.
The war has also done deep and possibly irreparable damage to the credibility and decency of the United States, the country that led in choosing war over peace. It is an ongoing disgrace to America that we do not hold those who initiated aggressive warfare to account for their individual crimes, as the Allies did at Nuremberg following World War II. Short of public international criminal trials, the best we can do now is commit ourselves to never again allowing an aggressive war to be committed in our names, build a world at peace, and be a force for peace in our personal and communal lives.
Environmental Activist Daniel McGowan Picked Up from Halfway House, Taken Back to Prison; Action May Be Related to Monday Article by McGowan Critical of BOPBy Staff, Center for Constitutional Rights | Press Release
This morning, activist Daniel McGowan was picked up from the halfway house where he has been residing and taken into custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. McGowan, who was released from prison in December and is serving out the last six months of his sentence at a halfway house, is a plaintiff in a Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit, Aref v. Holder, challenging the constitutionality of the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) experimental Communications Management Units (CMUs) where he was kept for four years. New documents uncovered in the case indicate he was placed in these highly restrictive experimental units as retaliation for his political writings on the environment while he was in prison.
On the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I believe his words and actions are no less relevant today than they were forty-five years ago. More than just his words, but in particular, his actions. I know I will never be the orator that he was, but I can be a similar active, participating force, an agent for change, a contributor to peace and nonviolence. In voicing his commitment to nonviolence, he said "If I am the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence, that I will do." And so the relevant question today is "am I willing to be the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence"? Am I willing to express my deep desire for peace? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to never give up hope, never give up the message, never submit to apathy, never to say "oh, let THEM take care of it"?
Because what I see today, and I think what Dr. King saw in his day, too many people are too quick to say "I don't have time", "What difference could it make?," "My friends/family don't agree."
Zombies dominate our nation's airwaves. They have already devoured much of our rational public discourse and now threaten our social sanity. Zombies are hot commodities. They sell. That's why they cannot be stopped or killed. Some editors and producers understand that zombies carry dangerous mental and moral infections that may already have doomed civilization as we (used to) know it. But profits outweigh the risks of parading zombies in prominent places.
Two factions promote the prevalence of zombies in mass media: True Believers and Snarky Ironists. Believer media managers feature the living dead as hosts or guests to flaunt their twisted catechism. Media Ironists recognize zombies for the frightening freaks they are, but trumpet their grotesque views anyway to whip up outrage and energize their often demoralized "normal" base.
According to a recent Harvard report, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will end up costing U.S. taxpayers up to $6 trillion in the long term. The report by Linda Bilmes, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School estimates the final cost to be around $4-6 trillion. It is staggering that the estimate ranges by $2 trillion given that just five years ago, Bilmes co-authored a book called "The Three Trillion Dollar War."
While long term costs are difficult to accurately calculate, the estimates are overwhelming. War costs through the end of 2013 are around $1.4 trillion, or roughly 23% of the total expected cost. This figure covers the Pentagon, State and Veterans Administration (not the CIA or other covert operators). The U.S. will budget for less than $100 billion for Afghanistan war funding in 2014 and significantly less than that annually beyond 2014.
Every person who works in this country – regardless where he or she was born and regardless how long he or she has been here – must be entitled to the full range of workplace and civil rights America provides. It's not enough to stop US House leaders from turning undocumented immigrants and the people who help them into criminals.
Progressives who care about the rights of immigrants should be working together to fix the Senate immigration compromise as well.
The compromise legislation has two fatal flaws: a guest worker program that would institutionalize and expand a second-class workforce easily exploited by employers and an unjust, inhumane and unworkable three-tier system of treatment for immigrants who are in this country.
Earlier today, the National Rifle Association released a set of alarming proposals to increase the number of armed personnel in schools as a response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School late last year. The effort, called the National School Shield Program, calls for funding and legislation to support NRA-sponsored model training programs for School Resource Officers and armed school personnel in our nation's public schools.
Many who remember the aftermath of the shootings at Columbine High School will recall a similar rush to adopt high-security measures that do not succeed in making our schools any safer. In fact, metal detectors, increased police presence and zero-tolerance discipline practices have succeeded only in pushing students out of school and making schools feel more like a prison than a safe place to learn.
Monsanto has successfully made themselves invincible in each different branch of government.
The second week of the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program featured a shortened court schedule because the week was bookended by religious holidays. It was only fitting, therefore, that the week ended with faith leaders from a broad cross-section of the city's many faith communities packing the courtroom and speaking about the negative impacts of stop and frisk on their communities.
In court, the bulk of the week's testimony was from police officers and supervisors who had been involved in the illegal stops of our plaintiffs and witnesses. Skillful questioning by CCR and co-counsel lawyers laid bare contradictions in their stories, showed that the reasons they now cite for stops weren't cited at the time, and revealed that supervisors failed to meaningfully review stops throughout the entire NYPD chain to ensure they were lawful.
I’ve been writing about Obama’s Legacy Tour (sorry, his second term) from time to time without focusing on the legacy itself. So this post will lay down a marker — in brief, what’s on Obama’s economic legacy list, and what will he get if he succeeds? Consider this the Legacy View from 10,000 feet.
I think the whole of Barack Obama’s two-term economic agenda is topped by these four items:
- Health care “reform” — a privatized alternative to Medicare expansion
- A “grand bargain” in which social insurance benefits are rolled back
- Plentiful oil & gas and passage of the Keystone Sludgepipe (KXL pipeline)
- Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement