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Speakout

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.

Sep 25

Let My People Vote

By Sarah Silverman, Let My People Vote | Video

Voter ID laws aim to prevent in-person voter fraud. In person voter fraud basically never happens. So why are so many states passing these laws? Sarah Silverman explain in this hilarious video.

As we learn to accept and allow folks to use their own individual voices, the group is empowered. With OWS we are learning how to bring the best out of people rather than just condemn or judge them for their personal style, spiritual beliefs or political views. Welcoming new people to the movement should be a major focus of our activities if we want to succeed. The 99% is just waiting for someone to come along and say, "Join our side - we are all getting screwed by Wall Street and the multinational corporations!"

Last year we marched in the streets, set up occupy camps, and were arrested by unsympathetic corporate controlled police and political officials. Having been empowered personally by our connection to the movement and it's values, we can now begin to build that world we have all been dreaming about.

Sep 24

Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement

By Raha Collective, ZNet | Open-Letter

The upcoming anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan is a crucial time for activists to reflect on the urgent need for an anti-war movement that is committed to opposing systematic oppression, domination and violence. In the spirit of moving us towards this goal, we feel compelled to respond when individuals and organizations within the movement are harassing and maligning other members of the movement. We need to ask how this reflects on the political and ethical commitments underlying our activism. We need to ask when enough is enough and some kind of collective action is necessary to address an untenable situation.

There is a campaign of hostility and intimidation underway against Iranian activists in the U.S. who oppose war, sanctions and state repression in Iran. The Iranian American Friendship Committee (AIFC) has taken the lead in a series of physical and verbal attacks on Iranian activists and their allies. Enough is enough. This letter is an appeal to those who consider themselves part of the anti-war movement: stop condoning, excusing or dismissing these attacks by continuing to include AIFC in your coalitions, demonstrations, forums and other organizing events. We call on those of you who want to build an effective anti-war movement that includes the participation of those whose families are directly targeted by U.S. imperialism, and that is committed to social justice for all, to oppose the abuse AIFC has been heaping on members of various Iranian American organizations.

Sep 24

Ask Your Mama

By Lee R. Haven, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
“I got a question.”

I didn’t see him—or the other kid with him—approaching. In their teens, I’d guess. My back was turned to them. I was interviewing a lady selling stuff in a tent. This was late last century, in Savannah, when I worked for the daily newspaper. Savannah has a lot of festivals. I don’t recall what this one was—Greek, German, something.

The teens looked middle-class, clean cut. They were carrying cups, drinking. A lot of drinking goes on during these festivals. The kid with the question was closer to me. His face was likely reddened from the liquor I smelled, and he looked a little nervous.  If only belatedly, I wasn’t surprised something smart-ass would come with the smirk.

Last week at a meeting packed with parents who wanted to support the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) during their strike, a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher who had been on the strike line with his CPS teacher wife and their three kids for days said “We haven’t closed the classroom to our kids by going on strike, we’ve expanded it.”

After walking the picket line with my 10-year-old daughter every day for the duration of the strike, I have to agree. From hanging out with her teachers every day on the strike line, talking with other parents and me, and reading the clever signs at the daily rallies, she and her fellow students have a pretty sophisticated understanding of the issues at hand. Actually, it seemed as though the general public in Chicago and parents of CPS students in particular also “got it” – with 55.5 % of the general pubic and 66 % of CPS parents supporting the strike. And indeed, the eyes of the nation were focused on our strike as a bellwether of labor and public education fights in the national arena.

Sep 21

Marshall Islanders Stand Before UN Council

By Barbara Rose Johnston, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

September 13, 2012 was a historic day at the United Nations and in the Marshall Islands. The Human Rights Council considered for the first time the environmental and human rights impacts resulting from the radioactive and toxic substances in nuclear fallout. And, Marshall Islands citizens stood for the first time before the United Nations Council to offer survivor testimony on United States nuclear weapons fallout on the environment, health and life.

As residents of a United Nations designated trust territory governed by the United States, the Marshallese people endured the loss of traditionally-held land and marine resources without negotiation or compensation; were exposed to fallout contamination compromising the environmental health of individuals, communities, and an entire nation; suffered through the documentation of health hazards in a decades-long medical research program that involved human radiation experiments; and, when negotiating the terms of independence in free association with the United States, were severely hampered by the US refusal to fully disclose the full extent of military activities, including the scientific documentation of the environmental and health impacts of serving as the Pacific Proving Ground for weapons of mass destruction.

Annette Fuentes is the author of a compelling new book, entitled Lockdown High: When The Schoolhouse Becomes A Jailhouse.

Fuentes is on the faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She has written for the New York Times, and she contributes to USA Today and others. Fuentes is also part of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project; an organization founded by Barbara Ehrenreich, whose mission is to "force this country's crisis of poverty and economic insecurity, to the center of the national conversation."

In the following exclusive interview, Fuentes talks about her work, her book and shares insight into the "school-to-prison pipeline," including zero tolerance policies that puts kids in harm's way.

Ahead of today's actions, Occupy anniversary events also took place throughout the weekend, including an "inaugural assembly," break-out groups, direct actions and the release of a collaborative publication, "The Debt Resistors' Operations Manual." Saturday's education-themed gatherings were followed by celebratory events on Sunday, during which activists assessed the movement and what lies ahead. FSRN's Andalusia Knoll was there and files this report.

Sep 20

When Savages Unite

By David Zlutnick, Upheaval Productions | Video

This video of spoken word artist Mark Gonzales is in response to the hateful and racist advertisements purchased by Pamela Geller and her organization the American Freedom Defense Initiative on city buses in San Francisco, New York, and elsewhere. The ads read: "In a war between the civilized and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." This is of course extremely offensive, dehumanizing language that should not be left unchallenged. Mark's piece, "When Savages Unite," and our video are therefore a challenge.

Sep 20

A View of What's to Come

By Joe Tenyen, SpeakOut | Press Release

It is Saturday, September 15, 2012 and I am on a pier overlooking Gangjeong Village, the site of the Jeju Island, South Korea naval base site. Giant tetrapods, each leg of the four-legged, cement behemoths are over four feet wide and six feet long, litter the Jeju coast for what looks like about a mile.

Three visible excavators are busily scratching away at the volcanic rock coastline where at one time local fisherman used to fish, women divers dove for sea food, and the community gathered on the unusually smooth sacred rocks as they had done for hundreds of years.

Under Four large dredges sit in an area offshore surrounded by what looks like several miles of bright orange flotation devices that block off an area where no one is allowed to enter without risk of arrest.

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Speakout

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.

Sep 25

Let My People Vote

By Sarah Silverman, Let My People Vote | Video

Voter ID laws aim to prevent in-person voter fraud. In person voter fraud basically never happens. So why are so many states passing these laws? Sarah Silverman explain in this hilarious video.

As we learn to accept and allow folks to use their own individual voices, the group is empowered. With OWS we are learning how to bring the best out of people rather than just condemn or judge them for their personal style, spiritual beliefs or political views. Welcoming new people to the movement should be a major focus of our activities if we want to succeed. The 99% is just waiting for someone to come along and say, "Join our side - we are all getting screwed by Wall Street and the multinational corporations!"

Last year we marched in the streets, set up occupy camps, and were arrested by unsympathetic corporate controlled police and political officials. Having been empowered personally by our connection to the movement and it's values, we can now begin to build that world we have all been dreaming about.

Sep 24

Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement

By Raha Collective, ZNet | Open-Letter

The upcoming anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan is a crucial time for activists to reflect on the urgent need for an anti-war movement that is committed to opposing systematic oppression, domination and violence. In the spirit of moving us towards this goal, we feel compelled to respond when individuals and organizations within the movement are harassing and maligning other members of the movement. We need to ask how this reflects on the political and ethical commitments underlying our activism. We need to ask when enough is enough and some kind of collective action is necessary to address an untenable situation.

There is a campaign of hostility and intimidation underway against Iranian activists in the U.S. who oppose war, sanctions and state repression in Iran. The Iranian American Friendship Committee (AIFC) has taken the lead in a series of physical and verbal attacks on Iranian activists and their allies. Enough is enough. This letter is an appeal to those who consider themselves part of the anti-war movement: stop condoning, excusing or dismissing these attacks by continuing to include AIFC in your coalitions, demonstrations, forums and other organizing events. We call on those of you who want to build an effective anti-war movement that includes the participation of those whose families are directly targeted by U.S. imperialism, and that is committed to social justice for all, to oppose the abuse AIFC has been heaping on members of various Iranian American organizations.

Sep 24

Ask Your Mama

By Lee R. Haven, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
“I got a question.”

I didn’t see him—or the other kid with him—approaching. In their teens, I’d guess. My back was turned to them. I was interviewing a lady selling stuff in a tent. This was late last century, in Savannah, when I worked for the daily newspaper. Savannah has a lot of festivals. I don’t recall what this one was—Greek, German, something.

The teens looked middle-class, clean cut. They were carrying cups, drinking. A lot of drinking goes on during these festivals. The kid with the question was closer to me. His face was likely reddened from the liquor I smelled, and he looked a little nervous.  If only belatedly, I wasn’t surprised something smart-ass would come with the smirk.

Last week at a meeting packed with parents who wanted to support the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) during their strike, a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher who had been on the strike line with his CPS teacher wife and their three kids for days said “We haven’t closed the classroom to our kids by going on strike, we’ve expanded it.”

After walking the picket line with my 10-year-old daughter every day for the duration of the strike, I have to agree. From hanging out with her teachers every day on the strike line, talking with other parents and me, and reading the clever signs at the daily rallies, she and her fellow students have a pretty sophisticated understanding of the issues at hand. Actually, it seemed as though the general public in Chicago and parents of CPS students in particular also “got it” – with 55.5 % of the general pubic and 66 % of CPS parents supporting the strike. And indeed, the eyes of the nation were focused on our strike as a bellwether of labor and public education fights in the national arena.

Sep 21

Marshall Islanders Stand Before UN Council

By Barbara Rose Johnston, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

September 13, 2012 was a historic day at the United Nations and in the Marshall Islands. The Human Rights Council considered for the first time the environmental and human rights impacts resulting from the radioactive and toxic substances in nuclear fallout. And, Marshall Islands citizens stood for the first time before the United Nations Council to offer survivor testimony on United States nuclear weapons fallout on the environment, health and life.

As residents of a United Nations designated trust territory governed by the United States, the Marshallese people endured the loss of traditionally-held land and marine resources without negotiation or compensation; were exposed to fallout contamination compromising the environmental health of individuals, communities, and an entire nation; suffered through the documentation of health hazards in a decades-long medical research program that involved human radiation experiments; and, when negotiating the terms of independence in free association with the United States, were severely hampered by the US refusal to fully disclose the full extent of military activities, including the scientific documentation of the environmental and health impacts of serving as the Pacific Proving Ground for weapons of mass destruction.

Annette Fuentes is the author of a compelling new book, entitled Lockdown High: When The Schoolhouse Becomes A Jailhouse.

Fuentes is on the faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She has written for the New York Times, and she contributes to USA Today and others. Fuentes is also part of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project; an organization founded by Barbara Ehrenreich, whose mission is to "force this country's crisis of poverty and economic insecurity, to the center of the national conversation."

In the following exclusive interview, Fuentes talks about her work, her book and shares insight into the "school-to-prison pipeline," including zero tolerance policies that puts kids in harm's way.

Ahead of today's actions, Occupy anniversary events also took place throughout the weekend, including an "inaugural assembly," break-out groups, direct actions and the release of a collaborative publication, "The Debt Resistors' Operations Manual." Saturday's education-themed gatherings were followed by celebratory events on Sunday, during which activists assessed the movement and what lies ahead. FSRN's Andalusia Knoll was there and files this report.

Sep 20

When Savages Unite

By David Zlutnick, Upheaval Productions | Video

This video of spoken word artist Mark Gonzales is in response to the hateful and racist advertisements purchased by Pamela Geller and her organization the American Freedom Defense Initiative on city buses in San Francisco, New York, and elsewhere. The ads read: "In a war between the civilized and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." This is of course extremely offensive, dehumanizing language that should not be left unchallenged. Mark's piece, "When Savages Unite," and our video are therefore a challenge.

Sep 20

A View of What's to Come

By Joe Tenyen, SpeakOut | Press Release

It is Saturday, September 15, 2012 and I am on a pier overlooking Gangjeong Village, the site of the Jeju Island, South Korea naval base site. Giant tetrapods, each leg of the four-legged, cement behemoths are over four feet wide and six feet long, litter the Jeju coast for what looks like about a mile.

Three visible excavators are busily scratching away at the volcanic rock coastline where at one time local fisherman used to fish, women divers dove for sea food, and the community gathered on the unusually smooth sacred rocks as they had done for hundreds of years.

Under Four large dredges sit in an area offshore surrounded by what looks like several miles of bright orange flotation devices that block off an area where no one is allowed to enter without risk of arrest.