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.
During a recent discussion of narcissism on the TV program "The View," Rosie O'Donnell was told that the condition is "a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of self and their own importance and a deep need for admiration." She replied, "That's every celebrity I know, including me!"
That's great candor from an entertaining lady. We might practice candor, too, by expanding our understanding of mental disorders to include the problem of greed. Both narcissism and greed produce personal and national self-sabotage.
On October 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to "debate" the extension of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which has acted as an occupying force in the country since the summer of 2004. MINUSTAH was created to put an end to the UN Multinational Interim Force (primarily made up of US, French, Canadian and Chilean troops) which occupied Haiti after an internationally-backed coup d'état ousted the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party from power on February 29, 2004.
During these ten years, MINUSTAH has compiled a horrific record of human rights abuses, including but not limited to extrajudicial murder, repeated sexual assault against Haitian men, women and children, the repression of peaceful political protests, in addition to unleashing cholera through criminal negligence which has caused the death of over 9,000 people and infected nearly a million more. Despite these well documented abuses, the historical record has shown that the Security Council will mostly likely renew MINUSTAH for another year without any thought of damage being done to Haiti. On August 21, MINUSTAH's budget was extended to June 2015, a clear signal that the occupation is certain to continue.
On September 6th, 2014 President Obama, sometimes known as the deporter-in-chief, announced his plan to delay executive action on immigration until after the election. President Obama caved on his own pledge to issue administrative relief by the end of summer if the Congress did not act. This delay is simply wrong.
It is estimated that about 1,100 people are being torn apart from their loved ones everyday. While families are separated everyday, this country's so-called leaders are pointing fingers at each other and refusing to accept their responsibility to serve the people. The Republican Party, the henchmen for the Top 1 percent, is blaming President Obama because they can't "trust" him. Spineless Democrats are blaming Republicans for not passing comprehensive immigration reform, a bill designed to minimize 11.5 million people's pathway to citizenship while benefittingthe prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex. The Obama administration was able to recuse itself from its draconian deportation policy by blaming the Congress, but the administration cannot hide anymore.
Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, responsible for the death of thousands and the theft of millions, who moved openly in the society of Haitian elites protected by the government, died on October 4 a free man. He reportedly suffered a heart attack at the home of an associate in a wealthy enclave above Port-au-Prince.
Meanwhile former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who helped build the movement to drive Duvalier from power in 1986, who was twice elected president with huge majorities only to be overthrown by US backed coups, and who as president created more schools in a decade than had been created in all of Haiti's previous 200 year history, is now forced to live under “house arrest,” a concept unknown in Haitian law, with his home surrounded by heavily armed police wearing black ski masks. He’s falsely accused of “corruption,” charges levied and dismissed for the past 10 years in Haitian and Miami courts.
Barack Obama is not stupid and he says he doesn't want his administration to do "stupid things" in foreign policy. So why, then, has he done a reckless, stupid thing by starting a new, two-theater war in the Middle East? And why does that war in Syria have to commence right now as an existential necessity?
Even though I don't agree, I can at least somewhat understand a rush to war when it comes to Iraq. The corruption and vacuum of leadership in that country opened up a rich shaft for the extremist jihadis of ISIS to mine -- and they are moving inexorably toward Baghdad. But what was the absolute moral hurry to bomb inside Syria?; you mean the operation couldn't have waited a few weeks so there could be a full-scale national debate, both in Congress and in the American polity in general, about the wisdom of such a dangerous move?
Dear Community Studies,
I want to start off by thanking each of you three wonderful women for all of the work you do. Each of you have inspired me in different ways to continue on my path towards helping make the world a better and more peaceful place. I am disappointed, but also excited, to announce that I will be taking a Leave of Absence from the University of California, Santa Cruz this Fall. I have put 3 weeks of critical thinking into this decision, and it has received support from 3 people—two UCSC affiliates and one activist—whose work in and for this world I greatly admire. I consider them my friends and mentors and they have ensured their continued support for my decision and path even if I am not a student of this institution.
I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock since I have recently shown discontent for the UCSC institution. The last two times I have thought about withdrawing from the University I would get excited; and both times I was convinced to stay back in I got sad. This ushered me to really think about what it was that bothered me about being a student of UCSC. While I was never quite able to put my finger on what it was that haunted me on campus, I knew there was something evil working around me. Learning about neoliberalism in Mary-Beth’s Economic Justice class in Fall 2014 was terrifying (you may recall this, Mary Beth). I learned how many of the systems and markets running through our society are inextricably linked—big business, research institutions, the government, higher education, prisons, etc.—and that all of them are more prone to destroy a person’s humanity than enlighten them. At that point, I decided to learn and work from within the system and try to effect change that way.
It might help editorial page editor Fred Hiatt understand how the budget works. He is appalled because "reactionary defenders" of Social Security think that seniors should be able to get the benefits they paid for. (I wonder if it's reactionary to think that Peter Peterson type billionaires should be able to get the interest on the government bonds that they paid for.)
Anyhow, the basis for Hiatt's fury is that John Podesta, now a top advisor to President Obama, is boasting about entitlements having been brought under control. To Hiatt this is outrageous.
Washington, DC - The Annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Meetings are focusing on building an inclusive global economy and creating jobs. Ahead of the meetings, IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde called for "bolder policies to inject a 'new momentum'" into the global economy. LaGarde warned of high debt and unemployment and increased geopolitical risks associated with conflict and disease.
"The risks the IMF raises are real. We need to address inequality if we are going to grow the global economy," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization, Jubilee USA.
Islam is again in the news. This time, the controversy has been spawned by debates over how we in the United States, particularly progressives, "talk about Islam." Bill Maher, Sam Harris and others have argued that we betray our Progressive principles when we fail to denounce anti-progressive beliefs or practices in the Muslim world. In fact, the glaring racism of Maher or Harris is more harmful to progressive views than anything that happens in Bangladesh. First, the views of Maher and others are genuinely racist and not merely impolite. Secondly, such views are not only inimical to progressive thought, but to the progressive agenda.
A progressive believes that socio-economic conditions precede cultural, political and even intellectual ones. Nothing is set in stone. Things change and, hopefully, for the better. We give things a chance to get better when all participate in the conversation to change laws for the better of society as a whole. When only a few people participate in this conversation, that inhibits the potential for things to get better, since experiences are limited and interests are powerful. In the tradition of Rousseau, everyone should participate, as the more experiences we accumulate and deliberate upon, the more robust our discussion and the greater our ability to build upon what we know, in other words progress.
On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility. The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare. Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging the commander to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones) for surveillance and attacks.
The prosecutor, USAF Captain Daniel Saunders, said that if Kelly and Walker would plead guilty to the charge, he would seek a punishment of one month in prison and a $500 fine. Kelly and Walker told the prosecutor that they could accept a “no contest” plea but were not willing to plead guilty. The prosecutor then said he would recommend a three month prison sentence and a $500 fine. The judge refused to accept a “no contest” plea. Kelly and Walker then requested a trial which has been set for December 10, 2014.