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.
As I sit in my government class at the beginning of my senior year, many questions flood into my head. So many controversial issues exist in our world, and our country more specifically, yet I appear to be tied between sides on various matters. One of the more key matters for consideration is the issue of poverty in the United States and the controversy about just exactly who causes it. A person can do their best to push themselves and reach a place of success, but can still end up in the depths of poverty with nothing to show for their effort. Is it the people themselves who must take the blame for being continuously pushed down by a system that serves to make success and stability increasingly difficult for those at the bottom of the ladder of class? Or is it the system that we believe is there to help us and keep us living sustainably, when behind closed curtains it is really throwing us under the bus? The latter appears to be much more logical, through the many lenses that you may view it.
Santa Barbara, CA – The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards. Since 1995, the Foundation has encouraged poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit through these Awards. The poetry awards are offered in three categories: Adult; Youth (13 to 18); and Children (12 and under).
In the Adult category, Devreaux Baker, from Mendocino, California, was awarded the $1,000 First Place Prize for her poem “In the Year of the Drone.” Ms. Baker has published three books of poetry, with a fourth to be published in January 2015. She has taught poetry workshops in France, Mexico and the United States; and Poetry in the Schools through the California Poets In Schools Program. Her awards include the 2011 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Hawaii Council on Humanities International Poetry Prize, and the Women’s Global Leadership Poetry Award.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of The United Nations, told Betsy Sawyer, her students and assembled guests at the JFK Presidential Library that their afterschool “peace club is an inspiration to the world.”
Twenty-five-years ago, Lombard Street was quiet. No feet walked atop its red bricks and no bicycles rode down its curved path. A cable car, immobilized by a 7.1 moment magnitude earthquake that had knocked out power to the City and shut down the cable pulley system, blocked traffic flow on the most crooked street in the world. On this day twenty-five-years ago, the Loma Prieta earthquake ruptured a 30-mile segment along the San Andreas Fault, shaking the Bay Area's silty clay soil for 15 seconds, knocking down buildings, splitting open streets, and leaving 12,000 people homeless.
Paul Boden, Organizing Director of Western Regional Advocacy Project, said things were chaotic, but that the City came together to support each other.
At last the American government has found the perfect formula for war without end: Invade and bomb Middle East states. This creates jihadists which must be got rid of. So bomb the jihadists. This creates more jihadists who must also be bombed and so on. The military/industrial complex is in business in perpetuity. Endless peace by waging endless war as forecast by Gore Vidal has now come to pass. And the UK, obedient as ever, clicks into the backup position. The UK government’s propaganda is blatant and shameless. We must bomb ISIS because it presents a direct threat to the United Kingdom. Right. We are told that ISIS could develop weapons of mass destruction to attack us ’within a few hours flying time of our country’. The ISIS fantasy ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ are as much a direct threat to the UK as were Saddam Hussein’s, also nonexistent, Weapons of Mass Destruction. This transparent don’t-worry-they’ll-believe-anything fear-mongering is treating the public with contempt. If there is any threat to the UK it is being generated by the UK politicians with their endless wars in the Middle East.
RUSI, the UK’s highly authoritative Royal United Service Institute, informs us that the UK’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were failures. In Afghanistan under British presence, they inform us, the violence increased as did the opium trade and resistance to foreign presence became more intense. In Iraq the war spread terrorism and many more people died than would have been the case under Saddam Hussein. All this meaningless blood and mayhem has so far cost the British taxpayer around 30 billion pounds – at a time when the Coalition government is cutting social services for lack of funds!
As a young female of color I can say I have witnessed things not everyone gets to see. I have seen people worked to the bone just to barely get by each month. As a person of color, I have to work harder than everyone else because the system wants me to be lazy and slack off. Living in poverty, you don't get as many opportunities as people in higher classes. When you live in poverty, the world around you pushes you two ways: to work hard and overcome in the struggle of class and to give in and try to get around it. When you live in poverty and you are a person of color, the government wants you to choose the lazy way and try to get around it.
I can see how someone would say it's my fault, I mean there's plenty of people of color who got their act together, so why can't you be like them? Liberal Michael Eric Dyson states, "When you think the problem, you think the solutions are the same. If only the poor were willing to work harder, act better, get educated, stay out of jail and parent more effectively, their problems would go away. But one could do all of these and still be in bad shape at home, work or school." This quote speaks to me because there are plenty of people of color and poor whites who do all those things, but still struggle on a month to month basis. I believe that the color of your skin actually matters more than people realize. Our government plans your whole life out depending on your race. People say people of color can be where whites are if they tried harder, but what they failed to realize is no matter how hard they work or what their resume says, people see color first.
Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Supreme Court today unanimously struck down the state’s restrictive photo ID requirement, ruling it violated the state constitution by imposing an additional “qualification” to voting that would make it harder for citizens to cast a ballot.
The ruling comes as many Americans face an ever-shifting voting landscape before heading to the polls this November. Arkansas was one of seven states with a major lawsuit challenging voting restrictions ahead of the 2014 election. Yesterday, an appellate court reinstated Texas’s photo ID law. Plaintiffs filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently blocked implementation of Wisconsin’s strict photo ID law, but allowed restrictions to remain in place in North Carolina and Ohio.
Working from the moment her mom died at the age 16 til now at age 52, my mom works endlessly yet we still find ourselves struggling to make ends meet. Is this her fault or the systems? Bill O’Reilly, a conservative political commentator with his own Fox TV show, seems to think the blame is on the individual stating, “You gotta look people in the eye and tell ‘em they’re irresponsible and lazy. And who’s gonna wanna do that? Because that’s what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen.” Irresponsible? My mom while raising five of her brothers and sisters also studied in her country’s university. She came to America and worked over 40 hours a week and we still found ourselves homeless at one point. Who exactly is to blame? The way I see it...the system is. This systematic problem that is based on capitalism is what makes sure that we start off poor and stay that way no matter what good choices we make or how hard we work or how much “responsibility” we put on ourselves.
Evidently, only men are supposed to ask for raises. Women who do will only annoy their bosses and instead should simply have faith in the system and hope for good karma. This is what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently stated. Although he later apologized for his “inarticulate” response, the fact remains that his initial answer serves to mask the tremendous gender wage gap that still exists. It also reinforces dangerous beliefs about workplace communication, which research has found already differs in ways that generally disadvantage female workers.
It is very clear that women’s wages still lag behind men’s in most every industry. In 2013, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that full-time, year-round female workers earned 78 percent of what their male counterparts earned. In the technology industry, women earn, on average, $6,358 less than their male counterparts, and women with at least one child earn $11,247 less than all other workers, according to a study by the American Institute for Economic Research. The AAUW found that female engineers made 88 percent of their male counterparts’ salaries, while women in the financial services industry earn $14,067 a year less than men, according to the American Institute for Economic Research.
Consider this comical scene described by Peter Van Buren, a former US diplomat, who was deployed to Iraq on a 12-month assignment in 2009-10:
Van Buren led two Department of State teams assigned with the abstract mission of the ‘reconstruction’ of Iraq, which was destroyed in the US-led wars and sanctions. He describes the reconstruction of Iraq as such:
“In practice, that meant paying for schools that would never be completed, setting up pastry shops on streets without water or electricity, and conducting endless propaganda events on Washington-generated themes of the week (‘small business,’ ‘women's empowerment,’ ‘democracy building.’)”