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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.

On August 31, with the nation eking out the final hours of summer, President Obama took to the podium and, shockingly, did not announce that he was going to continue in the trend of the Imperial Presidency, wherein the Executive branch, in the words of Chris Hedges, “abrogates to itself the right to declare war, which is, of course, traditionally the role of Congress.” Rather, while maintaining that he believes he has the right to act without congressional approval, Obama announced that he would allow Congress to have a voice. His speech was also a direct pitch to the American people to win support for military intervention in Syria. While only 20% of the American people  thought the US should take action in Syria when Obama spoke, that number was up from only 9% last week, indicating that while the march to war may have stumbled, it continues forward.

Sep 04

A Non-Military Approach to the Syrian Conflict

By Paul J Magnarella, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The two and one-half year conflict in Syria has resulted in millions of refugees/displaced persons and more than 110,000 deaths. Recently, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed in a poison gas attack attributed by some to the Al-Assad regime, and by others to rebel forces―and the world waits for dispositive proof. Given the differing views of the US, Russia and China (all permanent members of the UN Security Council with resolution veto powers), it is unlikely that the UNSC will authorize punitive military measures against the Al-Assad regime. However, members of the UNSC may well agree to employ the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a legal avenue for the impartial investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity by any party to the Syrian conflict, with the possibility of the ICC indicting those primarily responsible.

Sep 04

Recognizing ALL Our Laborers

By Laura Finley, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

September 2 was Labor Day. And clearly, there is no better way to celebrate workers is to require them to endure long, stressful shifts while the rest of us take advantage of the amazing sales at Best Buy, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Macy's.

It is incredibly sad that some of the worst paid, most poorly treated workers in the U.S. are the ones who get no chance to celebrate Labor Day. A recent report by Forbes found that of the 10 lowest paying jobs, six were in food preparation and food service. Some 2.94 million people work in these fields, where they earn just $9 an hour. Fast food cooks and dishwashers earn $9.03 to $9.10 per hour. Three others in the top ten are in the personal care business, with the remaining one being farmworkers, who of course are laboring so we can enjoy our barbecues and beach parties.

As peoples who take the education of our communities seriously, and who have been past recipients and/or seen the NHSF support many students, we are hereby petitioning you to change your policy on scholarship eligibility so that DREAM students are eligible to receive NHSF scholarships.

Your work is to be applauded because you have already awarded more than 1.5 million scholarships to students since 1975, totaling $368 million. It would be great if DREAM students were part of your mission and success because outside of their legal status, they are little different than the students that you have already assisted throughout the years. To open up your scholarship monies for DREAM students would not contradict your stated goal; in fact, it would adhere to it...

Sep 04

The Four Catastrophes

By Laura Finley, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington has seen reflections and conversations about the nation's progress toward achieving Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of the beloved community. Not surprisingly, the focus has been on assessing racial equality, as many know Dr. King largely for his work on this issue. Dr. King's vision and advocacy, however, was much broader in scope. As his writings and speeches show, Dr. King was concerned about what he called "four catastrophes:" militarism, materialism, racism and poverty.

The American Dream, it seems to me, is not even slightly ill. It's escaped, soared away into the sky like an eagle, so not even a great puffy Bicentennial can squash it. The American Dream's become a worldwide dream, which makes me so happy and flushed with partly chauvinistic pride (it was our idea) that I sneak down into my basement and wave my flag....

That idea—humankind's inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—coupled with a system for protecting human rights—was and is the quintessential American Dream. The rest is greed and pompous foolishness—at worst, a cruel and sentimental myth, at best, cheap streamers in the rain.

Sep 04

Cruise Missile Law Enforcement

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

The White House is treating the Syrian government like a potential drone strike victim.

President Barack Obama's preferred method for dealing with targeted individuals is not to throw them into lawless prisons. But it's also not to indict and prosecute them.

On June 7th, Yemeni tribal leader Saleh Bin Fareed told Democracy Now that Anwar al Awlaki could have been turned over and put on trial, but "they never asked us." In numerous other cases it is evident that drone strike victims could have been arrested if that avenue had ever been attempted.

Sep 03

Married to Organized Labor

By Dallas Darling, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Union organizers, like Rose Schneiderman, not only understood the vital importance of organizing labor in challenging increasing economic disparity, but they did so in an era of union-corporate wars. Labor organizers literally laid their lives on the line by challenging anti-union hysteria and a antagonistic government. Organizers were shadowed and spied on, intimidated and beaten, ambushed and shot at, kidnapped and tortured and left for dead, and sometimes assassinated. Monopolists and their company guards, along with sheriffs, detectives, state militias and even federal troops targeted labor leaders.

Sep 03

We Coming

By Jasiri X, SpeakOut | Video

We Coming" was inspired by the Dream Defenders, BYP100, and the movement of fast food and low wage workers to get $15 an hour and the right to form a union. "We Coming" was shot on location in Milwaukee, WI during the 8/29 Strike that took place in over 50 cities around the country. "We Coming" was produced by GM3, shot by Paradise Gray, and based off a chant by Artist and Activist Jazz Hudson. Young people are rising up all over the country and the world, believe me when I say, "WE COMING"!

Sep 03

Obama Just Challenged Pathology of Power

By Dallas Darling, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Given the immensity and enormous power of the U.S. military with its advanced weaponry systems, the greatest threat to global security since the end of World War Two has not been nuclear weapons but the misuse and abuse of presidential military power. It was therefore a stunning surprise for civic constitutionalists when President Barack Obama announced he would seek Congress's approval before using military force against Syria. While opponents dismissed his reversal as indecisiveness, a lame duck presidency, even cowardice-"red lines" to a "yellow streak," did he just challenge a pathological disease in which presidents have unwisely and immorally used military power?