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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.

Apr 25

Glorious Martial Law?

By Joe Giambrone, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Are we allowed to talk about martial law, the militarization of police, and the complete shutdown of cities on command? Or will that get the glorious law enforcers to storm and kick in our own doors now? Just what are the rules in effect today? Just what sort of precedent is being set here right before our eyes?

It was your commoner citizens who located the Boston bombing suspect after finding him hiding in a boat. This was after the martial law decree had arbitrarily been lifted, and it was now ordered permissible to go out in one's backyard again.

Is martial law the answer to sticky incidents with fleeing suspects? Can this now apply to any suspects or any manhunt in the United States, anywhere, for any reason?

Recently a student told me how he had been discouraged from freely taking out federal student loans by his professor. When the student said he wasn't particularly concerned about repayment, the teacher replied, "Well you should!" This mentality, while partially understandable, is promoting a fear of borrowing for education in precisely those who should be encouraged and emboldened to take out loans.

In the US, economic disadvantage breeds poverty that carries on through generations. One of the central purposes of federal student loans is to aid those who are financially less fortunate in obtaining a quality education. But again and again I have either personally listened to others warn against the dangers of student loans or heard countless stories from students who are discouraged from borrowing. As I see it, the discussion around student debt is significantly influenced and directed by the fallacy of magnifying risks.

Apr 25

Schooling Santorum

By Damian Manire, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Over the past few weeks a debate has been unfolding at my alma mater, Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe, Mich. Rick Santorum has been hired to speak by Young Americans for Freedom, a student group at the school.

After the event was initially cancelled due to teacher opposition, the Grosse Pointe Public School Board reversed its decision following pushback from parts of the Grosse Pointe community and from Rick Santorum himself, The Detroit News reported. The compromise reached allows students to attend Santorum's talk on the condition that they present a permission slip signed by parents.

The death of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse, Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Tom Clements and Mingo County Virginia sheriff Eugene Crum stem from the NRA's two favorite myths: that the thing that stops "bad guys" with guns is "good guys with guns" and that criminals go out of their way to chose gun free zones.

Mike McLelland carried a gun even when he walked his dog and his wife Cynthia also had a license to carry a concealed handgun. "There were guns hidden all over the house,: his son, J. R. McLelland, told the New York Times. "Behind doors, everywhere. He could have been standing next to a .40-caliber Glock and you would not have known it. When they said that he got shot, it was unbelievable because he was so well-armed and so well-versed in guns." Still the couple was murdered in their home over Easter weekend.

Apr 25

Time to End the War on Drugs

By Cliff Thornton, Green Shadow Cabinet | Op-Ed

It is time to end the war on drugs. It is time to dismantle the Drug Enforcement Administration and departments of other agencies that deal with drug enforcement and put in place sensible policies that regulate drugs in order to protect public health and safety.

Drug use is a public health issue and does not belong in the justice system. Drug use is better handled by health professionals than it is by police, prosecutors and prisons. Drug issues should be handled by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration not the Department of Justice.

Fiscal and Monetary policies since the financial crisis and the protracted recession that began in 2008 have failed to generate a sustained recovery of the U.S. economy—except for big banks, big corporations, investors and speculators, and the wealthiest 10% households. All have benefited significantly from record profits growth and record returns on stock, corporate bonds, derivatives and other financial securities' investments since 2009, while median family earnings have continued to decline every year and Main St. America has been left behind.

Last week, the court heard some of the most dramatic testimony yet from New Yorkers who have been illegally stopped and frisked by the NYPD. In a packed schedule, it also heard from officers who conducted stops; various supervisors and officials throughout the system whose testimony made clear that no one is adequately reviewing stops to ensure they are constitutional; and two officials involved in the release of the NYPD's RAND report on racial profiling in the department.

CCR witnesses recounted stops that highlighted exactly why this trial challenging unconstitutional stops and frisks is so important: Clive Lino and a friend, waiting for a take-out order outside a Chinese restaurant, stopped and frisked when officers deemed Lino's entering the restaurant a "furtive movement"...Cornelio McDonald, stopped and frisked on his way home from his mother's house...Leroy Downs, sitting on his stoop and talking on the phone, pushed up against a fence, frisked and searched...David Ourlicht, standing outside with a friend on a smoke break, stopped by cops with guns drawn...

Nearly 300,00 people have signed the Move To Amend petition that states:

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

Businesswoman Melissa Chipman (case number 13030034.01), Farm Owner Michael Dineen (case number 13030032.01), and Author, Biologist, and Heinz Award Recipient Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D (case number 13030033.01), refused to pay their fines on ethical grounds and were sentenced to fifteen days in jail by Reading Court Justice, Raymond H. Berry. Steingraber is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College and a Prominent Critic of Fracking and Its Related Infrastructure. The three Peaceful Protesters were arrested as part of a civil disobedience blockade of Inergy's salt cavern gas storage facility in Reading, NY, just a few miles north of Watkins Glen. The charge was trespassing.

Apr 24

UPDATE: Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl

By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, Dr. Cintli's Blog | Op-Ed

It feels like we have entered an era of turbulence.

On a personal level, my thoughts are about life-long LA educator, Sal Castro. He passed away a few days ago. How do you explain who he was to someone who never knew him? In a way, he was like LA Times journalist Ruben Salazar - the journalist that was killed in 1970 in ELA. Castro had a similar impact, but he did not die. He inspired a generation. Most people know of him through the movie Walkout! But if that's how they know him, then in a sense they only know about six months of his life. Sal never stopped crusading for what some people call educational reform. We he really did was commence a campaign against educational apartheid. And that battle never ended.