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.
Robin Williams' death last week should remind us of what a reaper and binder alcohol can be. One of the many ways this drug can kill is to take a garden variety depression and turn it into the final circle of Dante's Inferno. There is evidence that it played precisely this role in Mr. Williams' tragic last act.
This would also be a good moment to remember that the corporations selling us this toxic drug are working politically to prevent more benign alternatives from being available to alcoholics.
Cornucopia, Wis - A comprehensive voting analysis of members of the National Organic Standards Board, an expert body formed by Congress to insulate the governance of the industry from undue corporate influence, clearly illustrates how illegal appointments to the board by current and past USDA Secretaries have subverted congressional intent.
The study, produced by The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, analyzed the voting record of each individual board member over the past five years, including corporate representatives who were placed on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) filling seats that were specifically set aside for farmers and other independent organic industry stakeholders.
The Yemeni government has paid compensation to civilian victims of a 2013 drone strike that hit a wedding convoy - which US Government sources have claimed killed only ‘militants.’
International human rights NGO Reprieve has obtained documents promising compensation for all 12 people killed and all 24 injured in the December 2013 strike. The Yemeni government has stated that it does not make compensation payments to those it believes were militants or the families of militants. Based on the documentation, Reprieve estimates that close to US$ 1.24m has been promised.
Part I - The Liberal Ideal
Liberalism, framed as a socio-political ideal, argues that human beings are good and social progress achievable. It is a “glass half-full” outlook. Within this paradigm all individuals, not just members of a specific religion, race or nationality, should have political and civil rights. Here also neither the state nor the law is an end in itself. They are instruments for the creation and maintaining of a environment meant to promote freedom while minimizing social inequalities. Holding this ideal does not preclude identifying with a particular ethnic or religious group. It does, however, preclude any claim of exclusive rights for such groups to the detriment of others.
Within the Western environment many Jews held to this liberal ideal. They saw it as in their interest to work toward an environment of universally applied political and civil rights while minimizing social inequality. For instance, by the mid-twentieth century in the United States, many Jewish organizations were allied with African Americans in their struggle for civil rights and equality. However, this proved to be a complex alliance and it ultimately broke down. Its demise marked a waning of organized American Jewish liberal activism. What had happened?
“I was thinking about what this all has come down to.”
“It’s: ‘How are we going to win in such a racist state?’”
“Well, not real—well, if you just have to be so blunt about it. I guess.”
In an article published on Left-East on Aug. 10, Russian writer Ilya Budraitskis laments "there is no antiwar movement in Russia." His article is a rather bleak, despairing outlook on the prospects of organizing against "war" in the border regions between Ukraine and Russia. He titles his article "Hope in a Hopeless Place."
Budraitskis describes the war being waged by the neo-conservative governing regime in Kiev as an "interstate conflict," meaning that Russia bears an equal, if not greater, responsibility for the conflict. This scenario is not only a gross misread of Russia's position and role in the conflict, it also leads us nowhere in understanding what to do.
Last year September 2013 San Francisco implemented a new cleaning policy in which the sidewalks on Market Street are sprayed with drinking water five times per week, four hours per day. Operations start at 4:30 am each morning, and require that the homeless people who sleep on Market Street’s sidewalks to wake up and move their belongings so that water trucks may begin spraying down their areas.
The homeless on Market say that this new sidewalk cleaning policy has resulted in sleep deprivation which has led to associated health complications. Many homeless don’t have another place to go: all of San Francisco’s shelter beds are full, and the reservation waitlist for a bed was 619 people long as of yesterday, August 13th.
Here in Kabul, Sherri Maurin and I are guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ recently formed live-in community for young women. Hollyhocks in the garden reach as high as the second floor of our living space. Rose bushes, morning glories and four-o-clocks have bloomed, and each day we eat tomatoes, mint and green onions plucked from the well-cared for garden. The water source is a hose and tank outside, (there’s no indoor plumbing) so that’s where dishes and clothes are cleaned. The latrine is also outside, --and unfortunately we’re sharing it with playful neighborhood cats, but otherwise Zarghuna, Zahidi and Zahro complete almost every detail of housekeeping, each day, by 7:00 a.m.
Two additional rooms are filled with sewing machines and tables used by a group of local seamstresses.
While the corporate media and the law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri tell one story about the killing of Michael Brown, many independent journalists and African-Americans alike see a too familiar pattern of quasi-legal extrajudicial murders of unarmed black men.
A recent review of just two letters sent by members of the House of Representatives to President Obama about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) found an overwhelming number oppose giving away Congress’ role in debating the still-unresolved massive 12 country trade deal that would encompass 40 percent of global GDP. A clear majority, 266 members, signed letters stating their concerns over the status of the agriculture market access or their opposition of outdated “fast track” procedures that usurp Congress’s authority over trade matters.
Now a review of two similar letters on proposed ‘national treatment’ requirements in the TPP, which would gut the Buy American Act of 1933 and other similar legislation, finds that the number of Representatives opposing finalizing the TPP without Congressional input now stands at 283.