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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.

Jan 22

The Harder They Fall

By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers | Op-Ed

Christie is renowned as a “control freak.” Even so, as Richard Nixon learned to his sorrow, events often have a way of eventually taking control. With “Bridgegate,” events have forced the initiative from the Governor’s office into the hands of the investigating committees of the New Jersey Legislature and the United State Congress. Perhaps for the first time in his incumbency, Chris Christie is on the defensive. Not an enviable position for a controlling bully.

On Friday January 17, Khmer-American artist/activist Kat Eng set up a sewing machine in front of H&M’s Times Square flagship location in NYC. The eight hour performance was a response to the brutal military crackdown of striking garment workers in Cambodia earlier this month. The project's title, "Less Than Three", refers to the earnings of the average Cambodian garment worker, whose $80 monthly salary breaks down to 2.66 dollars a day. In solidarity with the oppressed workers, the artist elaborately stitched together 2 and 2/3 actual dollar bills over the course of a workday. The performance aimed to condemn Cambodia's unacceptable act of state violence and to confront consumers with their role in the narrative.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen today announced plans to file suit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for its dismissal of a complaint against Crossroads GPS. The complaint stemmed from the group’s failure to register as a political committee and disclose its donors despite huge expenditures on political advertising in the 2010 election cycle.

Public Citizen, ProtectOurDemocracy.org and others filed a complaint with the FEC in October 2010 alleging that the group’s campaign expenditures and organizational objectives made it a political committee that must disclose its donors under federal campaign laws. Despite the strong case made by the FEC’s General Counsel that the 501(c)(4) group violated federal law, the Commission deadlocked along party lines over whether to investigate further, preventing any action. While the Democratic commissioners agreed there was enough evidence to proceed, the three Republican commissioners voted against looking into the case further.

This year I attended both the American Studies Association and the Modern Language Association Convention with a keen interest in supporting resolutions initiated to support Palestinian human rights. The ASA resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the National Council and ratified by 66 percent of the record-high number of voting ASA members, supported the call by Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli academic institutions (not individuals). The MLA resolution, supported by the Organizing Committee and passed by the Delegate Assembly, calls for the US State Department "to contest Israel's denials of entry to the West Bank by US academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities."

Jan 21

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Announces Walmart to Join Groundbreaking Fair Food Program

By Staff, Coalition of Immokalee Workers | Press Release

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Bringing its leadership position in the US food industry to the widely-acclaimed partnership for social responsibility taking root in Florida's tomato fields, Walmart today joined with its Florida tomato suppliers and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to strengthen and expand the groundbreaking Fair Food Program.

"We are truly pleased to welcome Walmart into the Fair Food Program. No other company has the market strength and consumer reach that Walmart has," said Cruz Salucio of the CIW. "Through this collaboration, not only will thousands of hard-working farm workers see concrete improvements to their lives, but millions of consumers will learn about the Fair Food Program and of a better way to buy fruits and vegetables grown and harvested here in the US."

Jan 21

Stop the Starvation Siege of Syria — Press Conference

By Staff, Syrian Nonviolence Movement | Press Conference

Video of a press conference held January 10, 2014 at the United Nations Plaza announcing an International Solidarity Hunger Strike for Syria, a major global campaign to demand the lifting of the starvation sieges of dozens of Syrian towns that are preventing hundreds of thousands of Syrians from eating or getting medical treatment. Among the speakers were Dr. Annie Sparrow, an expert on complex humanitarian emergencies at Mount Sinai Global Health Center, Mohja Kahf of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement, Kenneth Roth ofHuman Rights Watch, Dr. Zaher Sahloul of the Syrian American Medical Society, Syrian civil society activist Qusai Zakarya (via Skype from Syria) & Leila Zand of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Jan 21

Statement on Presidential Remarks on Signal Intelligence Programs on 1/17/14

By Staff, Government Accountability Project | Press Release

I. RECOGNITION OF UNIVERSAL RIGHT TO PRIVACY A WELCOME CHANGE.

The President acknowledged the privacy concerns of people in other countries who are the subject of NSA surveillance and suggested he will consider curtailing wholesale international data collection. He appeared to recognize that this country is not entitled to subject other populations to dragnet surveillance. This restriction is based on Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes the international right to privacy. The United States is a signatory nation to the declaration.

Last night Congress passed a 2014 funding bill, restoring significant cuts that had been imposed through sequestration last year. The measure commits increased resources to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) shelter funding.

“This is a welcome relief after the devastation caused by sequestration cuts,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). “Sequestration jeopardized access to safety for victims, and now local domestic violence programs will begin to rebuild some of their services in an effort to meet the need. But the funding crisis continues for most local programs.”

Washington, D.C. – It has been one week since Senator Max Baucus, Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Dave Camp introduced the long-awaited fast-track trade promotion authority legislation. This outdated version of trade promotion authority would strip Congress of its Constitutionally-granted role on trade agreements in favor of a “take it or leave it” stamp of approval on the massive and secretive 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

With the introduction of fast track authority (also known as "trade promotion authority") in Congress, by which Congress abdicates its constitutionally-granted sole power to regulate foreign commerce, the USTR (which gains that power) is out in force, spreading all sorts of lies about what this means. It's not exactly encouraging when the organization that has been hiding all the details of the TPP agreement for years is now trying to push it forward by directly lying to the American public. It's almost as if the USTR can't be honest or people might realize that it's spent the last few years pushing forward on an agreement designed to prop up old legacy businesses at the expense of the public and new innovators.