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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.

Nov 12

The Awesome Power of the American Working Class

By E. Douglas Kihn, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The slightest threat of its use will influence the behavior of others. If you had a .44 Magnum pointed at you, or even if you just glimpsed it sitting on your neighbor's kitchen table, your behavior would be influenced big time!

Contrary to what we have always been told by the bosses, their government and press, as well as by many liberal and conservative commentators, the American working class and their unions are not weak and irrelevant. In fact, they are powerful, as full of power as a 9.5 earthquake. That workers still believe this weakness fiction is the principle obstacle standing in the way of their liberation from poverty and repression.

Rola!Sami (EJ Assi) and Najla (Nada Shouhayib)'s courtship takes place in the 'cage' of the gas station. (Photo: Rola Nashef)

For those of us who've worked with Dearborn Michigan's Arab American community during the past three decades, victories in this past week's municipal elections were more than just big news. They represent vindication and confirmation of our belief in the strength and vitality of the Arab American community. After this election, the president of Dearborn's City Council will be Arab American, Susan Dabaja, and, overall, four of the city's eleven member City Council are now of Arab descent.

Nov 11

Justice for Renisha McBride

By Tawana Honeycomb Petty, Truthout | Video

When you are a student of history, you recognize the connection between the shooting of Renisha McBride and the shootings on E. 7 mile at the barbershop and everywhere else in the city. When you are a student of history, you recognize that the same system of oppression creates both the Theodore Paul Wafer and George Zimmerman's of the world who cower in fear of Black people and aim first before asking questions and that this same system of oppression also creates the massacre of Blacks by Blacks in the urban communities.

At the United Nations this month, Brazil, China, Venezuela and other nations denounced U.S. drone wars as illegal.

In the countries where the drones strike, popular and elite opinion condemns the entire program as criminal. This is the view of Pakistan's courts, Yemen's National Dialogue, Yemen's Human Rights Ministry and large numbers of well-known figures in Yemen. Popular movements in both Pakistan and Yemen continue to protest against the killing.

The Geneva-based human rights group Alkarama agrees: "Whether they hit civilians and/or alleged al-Qaeda combatants and associates, the U.S. targeted killings policy in Yemen constitutes a blatant violation of international human rights law."

Nov 11

The Truth About Climate Change

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video

In what will come as a surprise to almost no one, 2012 was another record year for the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Breaking records every year for the greenhouse gases that cause climate change make it less likely than we humans can slow or reverse the effects of human caused climate change and keep global warming within the 2 degree Celsius target, set at a Copenhagen summit in 2009. WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, speaking at a press conference ahead of next weeks UN conference to work on emissions cuts said: "The increase in CO2 is mostly due to human activities. The actions we take now or don't take now will have consequences for a very, very long period. Even if we were able to stop today - we know it's not possible - the ocean would continue to warm and to expand and the sea level would continue to rise for hundreds of years."

First of all, as a veteran,  I want to thank you wholeheartedly for your service, for putting yourself in harm’s way without questioning your orders; for taking on the responsibility of protecting and helping your own comrades in situations that most citizens never experience.  I offer prayers for you and your families – actually sleep in your memory – every night.

This same week in which we celebrate our 2013 Vetarans’ Day, I will turn seventy years old. It’s a long way from Vietnam, where I first learned the intimate and global facts of war. It’s a long way from the time I first heard the constantly-repeated  platitude that military sacrifices are what “keep us free,” what “guarantees our freedoms.”  Of course, back in the sixties, Nam Vets did not experience the grateful welcomes home that some of you have experienced. I was decorated enough times to have made a difference in an Air Force career should I have stayed active. But unfortunately, my “war” experiences only gave me a hunger for the truths behind the death and destruction we had witnessed.

On November 7, in Paris I walked right into a large student protest in support of undocumented students and their families. Hundreds of high school students were marching up a major street when I ran over to join them. They chanted, "We are all children of immigrants! 1st, 2nd, 3rd generation!" "What do we want? Papers! For who? Everyone! When? Now!"

A couple of undocumented students, Leonarda Dibrani and Khatchik Kachatryan, were recently expelled from school and deported with their families over their immigration status. In response, over the last several weeks thousands of students have shut down and walked out of dozens of schools in solidarity with undocumented students. They're demanding an end to expulsions and deportations, and for the Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, to resign. I'm visiting family here for a month, and had been hoping to document one of these protests since it's a big issue in the local news. Fortunately, I bumped right into one of the protests, but sadly I had no battery left to take pics or video!

Despite its universal presence in the human heart, cognitive dissonance is generally considered an uncomfortable state; when a person holds views that sit uneasily with one another, and the person is forced to confront this fact, it can cause disturbance: if you believe that Americans are smarter or better educated than other people, for example, and then learn from a trusted source that we perform below average on most tests, then until you can find a way to persuade yourself that your more deeply held belief is still actually (if not apparently) true (perhaps you assure yourself that we are more creative or independent-minded, for example, and that the tests penalize this), or until you abandon that belief, you might feel frustrated and unhappy.

Nov 11

Update on Killing of Andy Lopez

By Shepherd Bliss, Countercurrents | Report

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — The October 22 killing here of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a hail of bullets from sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus has resulted in daily peaceful marches, prayer vigils and speaking events honoring Lopez and calling for justice, as thousands in the northern California community continue to mourn and express outrage.

The killing has also this week led to a federal civil rights lawsuit being filed on behalf of the Lopez family. “There is a practice of using deadly force and covering it up by investigations that are superficial,” attorney Arnoldo Casillas said at a November 4 press conference in San Francisco, according to the daily Press Democrat. Casillas, who filed the suit, contends that the killing was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which limits police authority.

A report cam over the AP wire last night that, if this were any other country in the world, would have been the top news story for days: "Multiple shots were fired inside a northern New Jersey mall shortly before closing time Monday night," read the opening line of the report and Americans, having been through this drill before, found a cable TV talking head or pieced together facts from the ever reliable twitter and were able to learn, in short order, that a man, described by eyewitnesses as wearing body amour, black leather pants and a motorcycle helmet, was seen walking by Talbots in the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus shooting his riffle into the air. A huge local and state police presence responded the mall went into lockdown and the incident ended when the gunman apparently took his own life in a Footlocker store. No other deaths or injuries were reported. In our post Columbine, post Sandy Hook world, we are so anesthetized to situations such as these that most people barely missed a beat before clicking back to Monday night football, the food network or whatever other implements of temporary distraction you have selected to dull your brain from the pain of the cruel world you inhabit, but enough about me- we are here to talk about Guns in capitol A America!