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.
When Daniel Falcone interviewed Lawrence Davidon, the Boston bombing was nearly a month old and news sources still speculating on what the event means for American security, White House politics, domestic violence and terrorism in general. The bombing came during the same week as a Texas fertilizer plant near Waco exploded and an abandoned U-Haul truck was found in Oklahoma City. Boston received a great deal of coverage when compared to other national and global events and one focus of that coverage was how to contextualize the suspects. An underreported facet of the suspects' profile was articulated by their uncle who remarked, "You put a shame on our entire family and you put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity." When asked what provoked the bombing suspects, the uncle stated: "Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam, is a fraud, is a fake," he said. Were they acting as Muslim extremists or were they disgruntled Americans who needed to find a focus for their anger? Falcone spoke with Lawrence Davidson, Professor of Middle East Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Davidson has written several books and articles on the Near East and contemporary issues. He has authored Islamic Fundamentalism and Cultural Genocide.
His name was Charley Richardson. On May 4, 2013, after a six-year battle with cancer, at 60 years old, Charley left behind his wife and co-worker Nancy Lessin, and all of us who loved him, to soldier on in our fights for peace and justice. His long fight for life was the perfect badge of honor for all his previous fights for the well-being of workers abused by bosses and the lives of soldiers abused by political leaders.
Courage and persistence in defense of life, whether displayed on a public or private stage, are qualities that Charley possessed which blessed his friends, family and many people who do not even know who he was.
Waves of global uprising emerged in 2011. Through social media and other online communication, decentralized networks surfaced and began linking one movement to another. Faith in leading governments and institutions began to weaken. In the wake of this unrest, multiple attempts were made to pass laws that curtailed free association on the Internet. For many, the sentiment has grown that the Internet is the last avenue of real freedom. People came together to fight this trend toward digital censorship. An estimated 7,000 websites along with large companies like Google and Wikipedia organized online blackouts against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). They did this to raise awareness and protest a bill that would have severely limited free speech. Across borders, people were united in a battle for freedom of the Internet.
Over two decades ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSUSA) issued a "Warning to Humanity" letter that was signed by the vast majority of all the 169 living Nobel prize winners at the time, in addition to some 1,700 of the world's most renowned engineers and scientists from all over the world . Fast forward two decades later, the Millennium Alliance for Humanity & the Biosphere ( MAHB) at Stanford University tried to catch up with the times and issued a similar statement , signed by a no less impressive panel of very distinguished scientists, some of whom I have known personally and have the great honor of calling friends, having earned reciprocal respect, visited in their homes and with their families, sons and daughters and friends, lunched together numerous times while we spoke about the pressing issues of global warming, assured mutual destruction (MAD), climate change, overconsumption, and what the solutions might be.
Lam Chun-fai, a master of Southern Chinese kung fu style, Hung Kuen, is the first of the kung fu masters to publish a fighting manual in English. Hung Kuen is a secret technique that has been closely guarded and, up until now, only transmitted orally to trusted pupils. News of the publication of the manual stirred excitement among some kung fu aficionados in Europe and in the United States.
Teacher Lam's reason: Kung fu is in steep decline in Hong Kong, where he lives. There, youth are too obsessed with the internet - video games, social media, YouTube and so on - to be focusing on something as complicated as martial arts practices. To save his knowledge from extinction, Lam is willing to divulge fighting secrets and techniques to foreigners.
President Barack Obama sat in a chair at the White House on Tuesday and, as two participants recalled, made eye contact with immigrants as they discussed the reasons their families moved to the United States.
Obama encouraged Diana Colin and Justino Mora, members of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), as well as all participants, to tell their stories about how families want better lives.
The survival of our culture, and possibly our species, is threatened by global warming, overpopulation and nuclear war. The latter can bring instant annihilation to millions of people. Western governments and the media (corporate owned and collusive) respond to the nuclear threat with silence. Our leaders neutralize the survival instincts of citizens by the age-old device of instilling fear of an evil "other" and by, with their silence, ensuring ignorance of the appalling dangers – if no one is talking about it, it can't be a problem.
Why do our leaders keep silent about the threat of nuclear catastrophe, hanging over us at all times, instead of taking the sane and obvious course – banning nuclear weapons as the other weapons of mass destruction (chemical and biological) have been banned? The answer to this question is becoming more clear by the day.
Almost all of us are at risk of being treated as though we don't count. The African Americans from the Black Belt hamlet of Gee's Bend may appear quite different from well-off urbane people of any race, but they know what it's like to work very hard with almost no reward. This is happening now to people of all races. People, if employed, are laboring for little pay and no benefits while billionaires try to manipulate them with fabricated narratives. This a story of how people are treated as though they don't count, how the public's memory is undermined to suit those who run society, in how they do it with tales passed off as truth. And of how to resist.
In 1997 when Bill Arnett came to Gee's Bend, Alabama, he scooped up all the artful, improvised quilts on the cheap. Most rural the women did patchwork from patterns, but some also improvised, giving their quilts one-of-a-kind designs. In the Bend, the Freedom Quilting Bee had started in the mid-sixties. This co-op had a long run (lasting to the nineties), bringing in money, raising the status of the women, and training them in leadership. When Arnett began showing the patchwork, he and two sons said anything about the place and its people if it suited their purposes.
Two weeks after the court-martial proceeding of Bradley Manning began, an unauthorized audio recording of Manning's courtroom statement spread through social media despite extraordinary secrecy surrounding his trial. In it, Manning laid out why he chose to release the massive trove of documents. After admitting that he was the source of the largest leak of classified information in history, he spoke about the motivation behind his actions: "I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information ... this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general." Attorney Michael Ratner said of Manning; "To lock him up for even a day is to lock up the conscience of our nation."
For years now, I have chafed under pronouncements about people regarded and relegated as "losers." Only the other day in a conversation about Leif Ericsson and his crew's reason to leave Norway for America, they were called a bunch of "desperate losers."
Losers? As a Norwegian descendant, my gorge rose at this affront to the highest order of global explorers. In the early tenth century, their seamanship, constant dangers, and teamwork (72 oars on a 120-foot open longboat) overcame fears of the unknown in the frigid and perilous pounding of the North Atlantic's winter seas. It took Columbus, 400 years later, to make his crossing in calmer, warmer waters via a covered, full-masted, three-ship convoy - and with a compass no less.