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.
Lysenkoism—a convenient untruth
For more than 30 years, from the early 1930s until the mid-1960s, the scientific study of genetics and agriculture in the Soviet Union was stunted by the official endorsement—from Joseph Stalin on down—of Lysenkoism, a hodgepodge of pseudo-scientific ideas and techniques advocated by Trofim Lysenko and his supporters. Central to Lysenkoism was denial of the firmly established science of genetics, replaced by a theory that acquired characteristics such as resistance to cold or drought could be inherited, a theory that supported the views and met the needs of the Communist Party—a politically convenient untruth.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is an island country in the northern Pacific with a population of approximately 70,000 people. For such a small country, it is making big waves. As a country at risk of being submerged due to rising ocean levels, the RMI has played a leadership role in the international conferences concerned with climate change. As a country that suffered 12 years of devastating U.S. nuclear testing, it has also chosen to take action to assure that the no other country suffers the fate its citizens have due to nuclear weapons. It has sued the nine nuclear-armed countries for failing to meet their obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law to negotiate in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament.
The RMI is a bold, courageous country. It may be small, but its leaders are not intimidated by the most powerful countries in the world. It speaks truth to power and it is tackling two of the most critical survival issues of our time. It is acting for its own survival, but also for the future of humanity and other forms of complex life on the planet.
On July 10th, Richard Silverstein, Joel Beinin, and I exchanged emails deploring the situation in Israel-Palestine, and began thinking about writing a public statement together. Composing amongst several people is always challenging, but even more so when the topic is as urgent and as complex as this one. This challenge was augmented by our varied perspectives on the issue, which, while not radically different, had certain nuances. Finally, we also wished to take into account the viewpoints and preferences of the people we approached and asked to sign on. What you have before you is the product of these deliberations and debates amongst ourselves and with several others.
We gained many signatures; we lost a few. Yet even those who decided not to sign showed the same resolve as the rest of us—there was no disagreement whatsoever in the belief that Israel's attacks on the West Bank and Gaza are immoral, illegal, and reprehensible, and need to stop. Furthermore, we firmly believe that steps toward long-term restorative justice need to be taken, and that in order for that to be possible, the world community must weigh in.
This story about the Arizona State University professor offering extra credit to her students if they don't shave keeps appearing on my news feed. Apparently, the story was pretty popular, as it already got re-posted, or re-written in Salon, Jezebel, Policy Mic, Huff post and probably everywhere else, and got thousands of clicks. The basics: a group of college women motivated by an extra credit project didn't shave for a while, and realized that having body hair caused social stigma because they were not conforming to gender norms. This is news?
I am seriously scared at the amount of attention this post got because it reflects directly on what is going on in the mainstream world regarding gender issues. It makes me think that mainstream media feminism still has a long way to go, as the feminist angle in this story leaves out anyone who is not cis-gendered.
As a matter of faith, some people believe that God can see and hear everything. But as a matter of fact, the U.S. government now has the kind of surveillance powers formerly attributed only to a supreme being.
Top “national security” officials in Washington now have the determination and tech prowess to keep tabs on billions of people. No one elected Uncle Sam to play God. But a dire shortage of democratic constraints has enabled the U.S. surveillance state to keep expanding with steely resolve.
Last week Wednesday, after three consecutive years of severe drought and a failed call for residents to reduce water usage, California officials proposed to issue fines to those who overuse. Fines can be up to $500 and may be incurred if water is:
The legislature in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is now considering passing Bill S.2232. Officially entitled, "An Act to ensure continued humane animal care in Massachusetts," this commendable bill is designed to prevent cruelty and ill-treatment to farm animals. Here are some key excerpts:
The purpose of this section, subject to exceptions, is to prohibit the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.
There’s a lot to love about America and its people: their pioneering spirit, their entrepreneurship, their ability to think outside the box, their passion for the arts, etc. Increasingly, however, as time goes by, I find the things I don’t like about living in a nation that has long since ceased to be a sanctuary for freedom are beginning to outnumber the things I love.
Here’s what I don’t like about living in the American police state: I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds. I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data. I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy, especially in my own home.
One of the many reasons I care so much about Palestine is because I locate it within a struggle for liberation of all colonized or formerly colonized people. All of historic Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza and Israel) is colonized land. I cannot and will not side with a colonizing force or with people who support a colonizing force: that is the equivalent of condoning the genocide of indigenous Americans, enslavement of African Americans, apartheid against blacks in the US and South Africa, genocide of the aborigines in Australia or Herero and Nama people in Namibia.
Occupied and colonized people have every right to resist their occupation and move towards decolonization. All of our movements for liberation have been watered down and none of our groups yet knows what justice or self-determination feels like. Just look to the poverty of the reservations, to the millions of incarcerated black Americans, or the fact that the majority of South Africa's black population is poorer than they were 20 years ago.
Though the fatalities in the latest flare up between Israel and Hamas – about 200 Palestinian deaths so far – dwarf those in other conflicts, the American public needs to pay particular attention to what's happening there. The United States is not merely an onlooker: we are directly involved in militarily supporting the Israeli side to the tune of $3 billion per year. And the prognosis is not good: the UN estimates that more than three-quarters of those killed in the Israeli raids – largely using US arms – over the past week are civilians.
These figures are a Godsend for terrorist recruitment. Unfortunately, any terrorist backlash against Israel will also very likely be directed at the United States since US munitions on US-supplied planes – paid for by US taxpayers – are often used in the raids.