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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.

“Are you the guy who hates Thanksgiving?”

The man posing that question on my voicemail continued with a sharply critical comment about one of the essays I have written in recent years about the holocaust-denial that is at the heart of that U.S. holiday. My first reaction was not to argue but to amend: “I don’t hate Thanksgiving—I just think it’s appropriate to critique a celebration that obscures the reality of the European conquest of the Americas.”

Nov 26

Shalom with Iran: 100 Sign Rabbinic Statement

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center | Press Release

The process of working out the statement and then gathering signatures began four weeks ago.The 100th signature arrived after Shabbat ended on Oct.23, just minutes before breaking news reports came that the Great Powers and Iran had come to an interim agreement toward settling the major differences between them. 
  
Luminaries of the Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, and Humanist streams of Judaism have signed.  Among them are Rabbis Leonard Beerman, Amy Eilberg, Sue Levi Elwell, Everett Gendler, Marc Gopin, Sharon Kleinbaum, Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Mordechai Liebling, Ellen Lippmann, Gerry Serotta, David Shneyer, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Jonathan Slater, Susan Talve, Arthur Waskow, and Sheila Weinberg, Cantor Steven Puzarne, and Rabbi/Kohenet Jill Hammer.

Please see below the full list of signers up to now.  

Nov 26

Boycotts, Academic Freedom, History

By David Palumbo-Liu, Truthout | Op-Ed

At the November 22 weekend's annual meeting of the American Studies Association, a resolution for an academic boycott of Israel was presented for a vote in the National Council. I won't repeat the information found in the reports that have already been published in Inside Higher Education and the Chronicle of Higher Education here, nor the fine rebuttal of the charge that such boycotts violate academic freedom, to be found in David Lloyd and Malini Johar Schueller's "The Israeli State of Exception and the Case for Academic Boycott," nor will I go over the points made in  Joan Scott's account of how she came to change her mind and support a boycott.  My perceptions of what happened in Washington, DC this past weekend and especially its relevance to the passing of such a resolution by the Association for Asian American Studies in April 2013, an act mentioned by Angela Davis in her remarks at a panel on Friday, follow.

This morning, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held the second of two hearings on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international disability treaty that was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities worldwide. The Disability Treaty is a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around the world, modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. In spite of widespread support from veterans service organizations, faith organizations, business, and the disability community, as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle, the treaty fell just five votes short of ratification in a controversial Senate vote last December.

We are seeing an increased criminalization of protest, and the corporatocracy hopes we will accept it as the new normal.

Nov 25

Has Walmart Finally Crossed The Line?

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video

Think of it this way: If corporations truly are people, then Walmart is Ebenezer Scrooge. Ok, so Scrooge is a work of fiction, you got me -- but I want this to be a story filled with hope. Perhaps the Walton heirs will receive visitation from a trio of ghosts and emerge from their paranormal experience with a world-view where they are so repulsed by the fact that their obscene wealth is built and predicated on the suffering and poverty of the people they call Associates. - and the corporate welfare they receive to the tune of $900,000 a year per Wal-Mart super store in the form of government assistance to the Wal-Mart Associates whose wages are so low that qualify for these programs.

Another Durham resident has now died in a controversial encounter with the Durham Police Department. This time it was teenager and local Riverside High School student, Jesus Huerta. An official response from Durham police chief, Jose Lopez states that 17-year- old Jesus Huerta died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while placed under arrest in the back seat of a police squad car. After Durham police officer Samuel Duncan arrested Huerta, reports state that Officer Duncan heard a loud noise from the vehicle's rear seat and jumped out of his moving patrol cruiser. Duncan's squad car then slammed into a parked van, leaving Huerta shot and killed in the process. This incident occurred right outside of the Durham Police Department's headquarters parking lot.

At 5 pm on November 23rd, 2013, the Warsaw stadium hosting this year’s UN Climate Conference, COP19,  erupted in applause. The room, packed with party delegates and observers who had already worked through the final night and into the next evening showed enormous relief that some progress had been made. The progress in question? To adopt a future mitigation agenda “inviting” parties to initiate “preparations” for intended nationally determined contributions. In other words, No emissions targets, no pledge and review process, not even commitments. At the podium, two chairmen high-fived. Meanwhile, frustration erupted at the back of the hall by all who recognized that this was just a formal way of saying we’re still headed for a devastating global rise in temperatures.

The Warsaw Climate Change Conference began discouragingly just days after Typhoon Haiyan thrashed the Philippine islands of Samar, Leyte and Negros. The storm has since killed over 4,000 people and displaced millions, while the rest of the world scrambles to provide aid and an explanation for the unprecedented frequency of oceanic disasters affecting South East Asia in the last decade.

Yeb Sano, head of that country’s delegation to COP19 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poland, urged the 190 attending states to thrust open a closing window of opportunity to save Earth’s ecosphere from impending temperature increases. The conference ended Friday November 22.

A diverse array of organizations today launched a campaign to enact major cuts in wasteful military spending, as part of the December 13 federal budget resolution. The groups include peace, human service, economic and environmental justice organizations, food sovereignty and green energy groups, and grassroots community organizations. They are calling for long overdue reductions in military spending in order to meet dire needs at home and reinvest in our future.