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Staff, Truthout: As we make our way into 2015, the Truthout team is recommitting to a year of questioning, struggle, intentionality, hard work and, most of all, hope. A few of us would like to share our personal hopes for the coming year with you, our readers.
Toshio Meronek, Truthout: Radical queer organizing was alive and well in the US in 2014; you just may not have heard about it in mainstream media. Here are nine stories that will no doubt reverberate in 2015.
C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout: Instead of fighting for a new social order, Syriza transforms itself into yet another reformist left party. Allured by the aura of power, the party advocates a sugar-coated version of capitalism inside a neoliberal Europe. Meanwhile, Greece needs some imaginative economic management.
David Moberg, In These Times: The National Labor Relations Board issued 13 complaints involving 78 charges that McDonald's and many of its franchisees interfered with employees' collective efforts to improve working conditions. A trial may find McDonald's guilty of violating workers' right to organize.
Michelle Chen, The Nation: A federal judge ruled that the Obama administration had overstepped its authority when the Department of Labor extended minimum wage and overtime standards to home care workers hired by private agencies.
Diana Anahi Torres, OtherWords: H-4 visas give holders (most of whom are women) the right to live legally in the US, but they come with serious caveats. Most significantly, they deny their holders the right to a Social Security number and legal employment.
Mikey Weinstein, AlterNet: The US Senate took the side of the Constitution when an obscure (but extremely detrimental) amendment to a House-passed bill "miraculously" disappeared from the final version of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Annie Pentilla, Tikkun Daily: Since its first performance, the group "Sins Invalid" has blossomed into a robust political and arts organization, providing annual performances, movement-building, creative workshops, educational work on disability justice and an artist-in-residence program.
Lindsey Weedston, YES! Magazine: Slacktivism? Not so much. From #BlackLivesMatter to #BringBackOurGirls, this year's best hashtags around issues of social justice brought fresh voices into some of our most important conversations.
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David Goodner, Truthout: In 1998, a nonbinding resolution called the Joanne Chesimard Fugitive Act passed both houses of Congress. The protest movement that erupted at the time points the way forward for how activists today can win a #HandsOffAssata campaign.
Dean Baker, Truthout: Many labor, environmental and consumer groups have stepped up their criticisms of the Obama administration's plans for pushing fast-track trade negotiating authority recently. The purpose of fast-track is to allow the administration to negotiate to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact.
Dr. Jason Michael Williams, Truthout: American policing began with the slave patrols, and yet, today, as then, the response to the outcries of Blacks on this issue is non-acknowledgement and condemnation - on par with the storyline of The Hunger Games, no?
John Logan, Truthout: The United States desperately needs labor law reform - but not the "Employee Rights Act" labor law for the 0.01% supported by Rick Berman and Newt Gingrich. Under existing law, unscrupulous corporations and their "union avoidance consultants" effectively choose whether a workplace gets a union.
The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program: There's a direct line leading from our hero worship of cops, to the arming of local police forces with weapons of war, to the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The US is not yet an authoritarian state, but if we want to avoid that, we need to keep these dangerous trends in check.
Lambert Strether, Naked Capitalism: The Kline-Miller amendment, passed by the House, and part of the Senate bill forwarded to Obama for his signature, is one provision that could do immediate harm to working people who made their retirement plans based on the belief that their pension rights were secure.
Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog: During the past two years, Hugh Fitzsimons lll, a buffalo rancher on the outskirts of Carrizo Springs, Texas, has watched the fracking boom transform a rural locale into an industry hub. Desolate dirt roads are now packed with truck traffic and commercial development to service the growing industry.
Greg Grandin, TomDispatch: It was George H.W. Bush's invasion of that small, poor country 25 years ago that inaugurated the age of preemptive unilateralism, using "democracy" and "freedom" as both justifications for war and a branding opportunity. The road to Baghdad, in other words, ran through Panama City.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Black Agenda Report: Al Sharpton's assertion that the people from Ferguson would be violent is more consistent with the position of the police than with the people of Ferguson. It is precisely this assumption that Black people are violent that is getting Black folks all over the country killed.
Lisa Dawson, Solitary Watch: North Carolina corrections chief David Guice wants more than $20 million to improve the treatment of people with mental illness in the state's prisons. His request comes on the heels of two recent reports showing neglect and abuse of prisoners with psychiatric disabilities in North Carolina.
In today's On the News segment: Even in the face of the so-called recovery, poverty and inequality are getting worse in our country; the National Labor Relations Board says that employees can use company email to form a union; Sen. Bernie Sanders keeps moving toward progress; and more.
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Mike Ludwig, Truthout: Congress once again failed to lift a ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs, despite overwhelming evidence that exchanging used needles for new ones can saves lives and millions of dollars in health care costs. Fortunately, activists on the ground have never waited for lawmakers to act.
Joe Macarè, Truthout: Rory Fanning spoke to Truthout about his aims in writing Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger's Journey Out of the Military and Across America, the meaning of Pat Tillman and how to engage with war resisters in the military.
Anna Simonton, Oil Change International: The Uinta Basin region of Utah has transformed over the past decade to one in which drill rigs are more common than cattle herds, and methane emissions have degraded the air quality in this wilderness region to rival that of Los Angeles. Activists, however, are fighting back.
John Steppling, Truthout: Dan Gilroy's new film Nightcrawler is garnering rave reviews and is indeed beautifully photographed, well-made and entertaining. But the reviews, like the movie itself, erase entire chunks of our society and its reality.
Ted Asregadoo, Truthout: Truthout contributor Michael Meurer talks about the release of 2,000 photographs of the US torture of prisoners and the ways in which Uruguay has drawn neoliberal wrath for thwarting supply-side economics and corporate governance.
Nicholas Powers, The Indypendent: The state maintains law and order in an unequal society, so the contradictions roil it from inside. It must suppress the very people who are the source of its legitimacy, and it does this by shielding its own agents from public accountability while demonizing its victims.
Pat Kennelly, World Beyond War: "I have heard ordinary Afghans whisper about Afghanistan as a failing state, even as the media has touted growth, development and democracy," the author writes. If energies were focused on peacemaking, however, perhaps people could transform the Afghan state.
Sujatha Fernandes, North American Congress on Latin America: "In a society shaped by successive generations of revolutionary projects, any attempt to engineer a US-affiliated movement from above is destined to be revealed for the farce that it is."
Timothy Karr, OtherWords: The internet's fate feels distinctly uncertain as 2014 draws to a close. At stake is whether the internet remains a democratic, user-powered network - or falls under the control of a few powerful entities.
Dr. James Zogby calls on Attorney General Eric Holder to stop racial profiling that results in deportations; the Military Religious Freedom Foundation demands Creech Air Force Base in Nevada remove the Bible from the POW table in its dining hall; Bruce Lesnick promotes a Bill of Rights for working people as the "top secret" solution to what ails the world; Halyna Mokrushyna reports back from a conference where Canadian academics discussed the origin of the Ukrainian crisis and the outlook for reconciliation; the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin lodged criminal complaints against former CIA head George Tenet, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former US President George W. Bush; S. M. (Mike) Miller calls on Democrats, liberals and progressives to unite in order to win the 2016 election; the Brennan Center for Justice supports an amicus brief filed by the New York University School of Law which states the Fourth Amendment should apply to digital documents; Matt Peppe reports that Puerto Ricans demand the release of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera; Emanuel Garcia offers a new definition of torture; Ben Norton criticizes CNN for hiring Mark O'Mara, George Zimmerman's defense attorney, who is now defending the actions of Darren Wilson; Sharon Adams points out that the CIA's torture program resulted in unreliable information; Four Arrows discusses the American Psychological Association's longstanding role in torture, eugenics and social control, and suggests a university boycott of the organization may be in order; Dr. Justin A. Frank notes the ugly underlying sadism in George W. Bush's presidency; The BRussels Tribunal - led by two former UN Assistant Secretaries-General, UN Humanitarian Coordinators for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday - argues for accountability for torture; Roger Annis excoriates mainstream coverage of the crisis in Ukraine; and more.
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The need for truly independent news is greater than ever right now, and that's why we're asking you to join the hundreds of readers who have donated to Truthout in the last few days alone. Only with your support will we be able to raise the $30,000 we still need to end the year strong. Please make a tax-deductible donation today!
William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: The Soviet Union may be gone, but the Cold War never really ended. By any measurable standard, the United States, its people, its politics and its profiteering ethos stand as a bent monument to that era, which never really ended, but only metastasized into the so-called war on terror.
Erica Etelson, Truthout: There is no vaccine for Ebola because our economic system puts virtually all decision-making in the hands of the private sector. We do so knowing that for-profit companies exist to maximize profits. It doesn't matter if they're selling medicine, gasoline, soda pop or credit default swaps.
John Pedler, Truthout: In this excerpt from his book, A Word Before Leaving, John Pedler discusses the Cold War mindset that persists in the United States, where "socialism" is still a dirty word. The laissez-faire capitalism upheld as the US political ideal during the conflict with the Soviet Union lives on, inhibiting efforts to reduce the widening gap between rich and poor.
Flint Taylor, In These Times: The United States has a long history of allowing police to walk free after vicious, racist violence. Here is a brief history of high-profile cases where public outrage compelled the justice system to confront acts of racially motivated police violence – with less than satisfactory results.
Jill Richardson, OtherWords: As we thoughtfully buy gifts for our loved ones in festive stores this season, it's hard to remember the people who make the products we buy. The easiest way to ensure the gifts were ethically produced is to buy locally.
Matt Peppe, Just the Facts Blog: The US military aggression in Panama was condemned internationally, but the message was clear: The United States was free to do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted, and it would not be bound by ethics or laws.
Anna Simonton, Oil Change International: Oil and gas executives are flocking to the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah, as new technologies - and support from the government - offer the dubious possibility of digging up the region's vast deposits of shale and tar sands oil.
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance: The telecoms remind us of the mafia: "If you reclassify the internet as a public utility, it's gonna cost you." It is time to stand up to these bullies. The internet community is strong enough to defeat them in any arena.
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center for Justice: The US Chamber of Commerce, one of the biggest corporate trade associations, and ALEC, one of biggest corporate lobbying groups, are both startlingly hostile to shareholders, grumbling about them being too pushy.
Making Contact, National Radio Project: Hundreds of social justice advocates and organizers passed away in 2014, leaving their work behind as their legacy, but often also leaving an irreplaceable hole in their movements.