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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.

Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman Saturday for the death of Trayvon Martin, there have been thousands of tweets, dozens of blogs. Some are relieved by the verdict; others try to explain the legal basis. But most are part of a collective scream of outrage and grief. Of these latter, the predominant feeling is one of disbelief - how can the facts of the matter not bring some sort of punishment for Zimmerman? Any at all? How is he not guilty of taking the life of another human being who had done nothing to him of his own accord? As much as I get the legal reasoning - often delivered to us sanctimoniously and condescendingly by both legal scholars and those simply wanting to say the system works - we just don't understand how fair it is - my reaction to the verdict is very much that of Lawrence Bobo: "The most elemental facts of this case will never change.

The Supreme Court's decision to strike the Defense of Marriage Act not only reflects progress towards equality, but also the great polarization of American society over gay rights. The case was decided by the narrowest of margins, a 5-4 split, and concerned a 1996 law that could have been repealed by today's Congress but for gridlock over the issue.[1] Even as tolerance of homosexuality has progressed significantly in recent years, divisions over the matter run deeper in America than in many other democracies.

Efforts to outlaw gay marriage are not exceptional by international standards. Gay marriage is only legal in fifteen countries so far. The considerable contrasts one witnesses within the United States are what stands out. Paradoxically, America is one of the Western countries where homophobia is the most intense, as well as one of those where gays have made the greatest strides towards acceptance and legal equality.

Jul 15

Decolonizing the 99% Come August

By James Anderson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Comprehending that we live in a world "colonized by corporations," social movement actors intend to converge in Kalamazoo, Mich., this summer to assemble collectively, "Decolonize the 99%," identify common aims and develop specific strategies for social transformation.

The Occupy Wall Street (Inter) National Gathering will kick off Aug. 21 and last for five days. The name and decolonization subtitle underscore roots with Occupy Wall Street while also acknowledging "the injustice the United States' forbears brought to this continent and our solidarity with decolonization," a press release for the event states.

Jul 12

Women and the Woolwich attack

By Mohammed Ilyas, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Since the Woolwich attack on soldier Lee Rigby, much has been written and spoken about the courage of Amanda Donnelly, her daughter Gemini Donnelly-Martin and Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the three women at the scene. They were seen coming to the aid of Lee Rigby, as well as speaking to the suspects. In the days after that attack the women were referred to by newspapers as 'heroic' and the 'Angels of Woolwich'. As someone who has never been in such as situation, like many others, I can only imagine the types of thoughts and feelings the women must have been experiencing while interacting with the suspects.

However, the involvement of women in the incident at first glance may not seem an important issue to discuss. Closer inspection, though, reveals interesting parallels in how gender has become a weapon of choice for the media and Islamists in the war over public opinion.

With the tagline "The Magazine for Men," it is almost unsurprising that Portmagazine, a British quarterly, celebrated "A New Golden Age: The Increasing Importance of Print Media" (Summer/13) by putting six white men on its cover. Not surprising, but also not excusable.

To introduce interviews with the editors of the magazines New York,Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Wired and GQ, Port editor Dan Crowe wrote:

For our current cover story we thought it would be the right time to champion print, and put the editors we admire on the cover of Port. FromVanity Fair's Graydon Carter to the New York Times' Hugo Lindgren, we feature the editors running the best magazines in the world.... These editors are producing magazines that are bold, confident, sexy, smart and growing.

Professor Hilary Jones showcased her book, "The Métis of Senegal: Urban Life and Politics in French West Africa," at Source Booksellers June 22, in Midtown Detroit.
Jones, an associate professor of history at Florida International University in Miami, felt it was very important to debut her first book in her hometown of Detroit.

"For me this is where it started," Jones said. "I feel like I grew up with people who instilled in me the importance of books and reading. It was very important for me to do this here."

Jones, a proud product of Detroit Public Schools, says her love for history and African history began with a project from her French teacher as a student at Cass Technical High School.

he City of Berkeley filed a claim Wednesday in the action brought by the federal government in May to seize the property used by Berkeley Patients Group at 2366 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California. Berkeley Patients Group has been providing medical marijuana to patients within the City since 1999. It is in full compliance with the City of Berkeley's medical marijuana ordinance, regulations, and zoning laws.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California has used federal asset forfeiture laws to target and close numerous medical marijuana dispensaries, even when those dispensaries have long track records of working with the cities in which they are located, responsibly providing medical marijuana to patients, and complying with state and local law.

US hacker-troll-activist Andrew Auernheimer, AKA Weev, has appealed his March conviction for unauthorized access of AT&T's web site in violation the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The conviction, and the CFAA - the ever-debated "worst law in technology," per Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu - are a convenient and apt way to contemplate America's treatment of the "other" in national security, and to recognize its tendency to criminalize what it cannot subdue.

Weev is in trouble for, essentially, accessing public data, available to anyone, a whole bunch of times. You might also say he's in trouble for pissing off the FBI. Both are true, probably - Weev queried AT&T's servers over and over with an automated program, each time accessing public information; for years he has flipped a bird to both authority and good taste. Over the course of doing so - no passwords, no "hacking," really - he picked up the email addresses of some powerful (and in many cases powerfully awful) people. As a result of this fairly major screw up on the part of AT&T, who brushed off Weev and a colleague when approached about the breach, he went to Gawker with the information, then got locked up.

Chief Justice John Roberts deceptively altered an earlier Supreme Court decision, misapplied another, and erroneously described the Tenth Amendment in writing the majority opinion that ruled the key section of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. What he did generally has gone unnoticed in the subsequent articles that have been published about the decision. This article provides a detailed analysis of what he did, and why that makes his decision legally and constitutionally wrong. However, the Court did not take away another provision that gives the Act some significant enforcement power.

In ruling the key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 5-4 Supreme Court majority in Shelby County v Holder 579 US, also attempted to reanimate right wing ideas that courts long ago extinguished. In so doing he employed a line of reasoning that was deceptive and erroneous. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in a lengthy and biting dissent, described his approach as an exercise of "hubris," potentially "capable of much mischief."

Jul 11

A Teenager Named Rachel Jeantel

By Ife Johari, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

By now the world knows the name of the young woman who was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin: Rachel Jeantel. Rachel has been thrown head on into the public eye in a way that NONE of us would ever want for ourselves. Imagine what it must be like: a high school student talking on the phone to one of your friends like you would normally do...then all of a sudden your friend is dead and your world is turned into a legal whirlwind! Watching her tell the story of the last time she spoke to her friend Trayvon was painful. Watching defense attorney Don West questioning her, often times it was easy to forget that Zimmerman is the one who is on trial and not Ms. Jeantel. Rachel was judged very harshly by the public as people generally have a way of being overly critical, judgmental and just plain mean. Judging Rachel as if she should have been born ready to testify in court and to play any part in this legal system who is in no way on her side. What I saw was a young woman who knew the defense team was against her and out to discredit her, she knew that Don West had a particular impatience and dislike for her. Many people highlighted her behavior and her dislike and impatience for Don West but that feeling was definitely not one sided. She knew it, she felt it and she wasn't afraid to show it to the world with her famous response—"that's real retarded, sir". She was standing up for herself and I was proud of her for doing so.