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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.

Dec 13

Detroit: A Raisin in the Sun?

By Malik Yakini, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Council member Ken Cockrel must be trippin! On Tuesday, December 11, after he, along with Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate, Gary Brown, and Charles Pugh, voted to approve the ill-conceived Hantz land sale proposal, he was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying, "a 'no' vote would have sent the message to the world that Detroit isn't really serious about urban agriculture." The foremost advocates and practitioners of urban agriculture in Detroit opposed the Hantz proposal. It is groups like Feedom Freedom Growers, Earthworks Urban Farm, the Garden Resource Program and D-Town Farm that have informed the nation and the world that Detroiters are serious about urban agriculture.

During the campaign season, President Obama claimed voters must choose between two visions for America. We could choose to move forward towards shared prosperity or rely on the same reckless policies that led to economic collapse. On November 6, the American people spoke in favor of shared prosperity. A majority of Americans cast ballots for the President and for Democrats in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Americans are also quite clear about the meaning of shared prosperity: we need to invest in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs that build the middle class, not cut them.

The black black versus the high yella black. Writer Alice Walker calls it colorism. She says it's a major problem in the black community--so much so that just as DuBois predicted that color would be America's main problem of the 20th century, Walker believes this insider struggle of different hues would be black folk's chief burden of the 21st century. To give an example of colorism's power, Walker points out that, in matters of what she calls black black wome wondering if prominent black men will chose one of them, "it is sometimes everything we think about," she says.

I remember a girl in my high school--still today, one of the most attractive females I've ever seen--who was also very, very dark. A dark popular guy said he would "ask her for the go" because she was obviously fine, but you know he also had that dark thing to contend with, especially the combination of both being nearly literally black. I don't think I'd ever seen someone wrestle so hard about anything. You would have thought he had a legitimate dilemma.

One way to avoid the fiscal cliff is for corporations to pay their fair share of taxes – instead of hiding hundreds of billions of dollars offshore. These loopholes allow many of America's largest corporations and wealthiest individuals to avoid taxes by using accounting gimmicks to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes. At least 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations in the U.S. make use of tax havens, including Wal-Mart, Coca Cola and Pfizer. When these corporations skip out on their taxes, U.S. citizens are left to pick up the tab. Reclaiming the $150 billion lost to offshore tax loopholes would more than cover the $109 billion in automatic spending cuts that will take effect in 2013 if Congress fails to avert the fiscal cliff.

Dec 13

Powerful New Film Opens in New York

By Richard D Wolff, Democracy at Work | Press Release

In his feature directorial debut, author and visual artist Antonino D'Ambrosio spins a lively social history that chronicles how a generation of artists, thinkers, and activists channeled their creativity into an organized response and resistance to the reactionary politics that increasingly defined American culture in the 1980s. This idea of art as political statement came to be known as "creative response," and, through insightful and energetic interviews with more than 50 influential creative voices, D'Ambrosio traces the movement from its earliest inklings in the Reagan-Thatcher era through three decades of social and political change.

The announcement Monday in Forbes magazine that Fresno has the dirtiest air and water in the nation is just more evidence that California is not a leader in environmental policies, but is in many ways behind the rest of the U.S. and the world.

According to Christopher Helman in Forbes Magazine, "The booby prize this year for Dirtiest City in America goes to Fresno, California. This Central Valley city suffers some of the worst air in the nation, and a water supply so degraded that the city used to tell pregnant women not to drink from the tap."

Dec 13

The Anti-Empire Report

By William Blum, Killing Hope | Op-Ed

The hurricanes, the typhoons, the heat waves ... the droughts, the heavy rains, the floods ... ever more powerful, ever new records being set. Something must be done of course. Except if you don't believe at all that it's man-made. But if there's even a small chance that the greenhouse effect is driving the changes, is it not plain that, at a minimum, we have to err on the side of caution? There's too much at stake. Like civilization as we know it. Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere must be greatly curtailed.

The three greatest problems facing the beleaguered, fragile inhabitants of this lonely planet are climate change, economic crisis, and the violence of war. It is my sad duty to report that the United States of America is the main culprit in each case. Is that not remarkable?

Whereas the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not self-enforcing,

Whereas statement of the inherent dignity and of the equal and supposedly inalienable rights of all members of the human family achieves little without a struggle against greed, injustice, tyranny, and war,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights could not have resulted in the barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of humankind without the cowardice, laziness, apathy, and blind obedience of well-meaning but unengaged spectators...

Dec 12

To Hell With The Intelligence

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | Op-Ed

On 3 December 2012, BBC News reported on the plight of Libyan activist Magdulien Abaida. When the Libyan revolution broke out in Benghazi back in February 2011, she played an important part in developing a positive image of the revolt among European audiences and helped arrange material aid for the rebel forces. She did this against the backdrop of Western governments describing the rebellion as one that sought "democratic rights" for the Libyan people. Upon the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, the U.S. State Department issued a statement (2 November 2012) applauding the rebel victory as a "milestone" in the country's "democratic transition." This matched Ms Abaida's expectations. Unfortunately, her subsequent experience belied the optimism.

Over an 80 year lifespan, we spend 15 years watching television. What effect does that have on us in the long run?