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Speakout

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.

When I arrived at the Kabul International Airport on November 4, I was unaware that the same day the New York Times published an article, "Life Pulls Back in Afghan Capital, as Danger Rises and Troops Recede." My friends Abdulhai and Ali, 17 years old, young men I have known since my first visit five years ago, greeted me with smiles and hugs and took my bags. Disregarded by soldiers and police armed with automatic weapons, we caught up on old times as we walked past concrete blast walls, sand bag fortifications, check points and razor wire to the public road and hailed a cab.

Nestled neatly between the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy lies the Pratt Institute, a school where aspiring creative minds go tounleash themselves upon the art world. Pratt has always prided itself on famed Alumni like Betsey Johnson and pristine lawns. It prides itself on keeping its students safe - it's not like those other universities.

"Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now," said President Barack Obama last week, speaking on climate change and asserting the global leadership role of the United States. Obama's long-awaited announcement to reject theKeystone XL oil pipeline deal - a project that deeply divided American political parties and citizens on energy and the environment - was peppered with references to US leadership and a commitment to clean-energy innovation ahead of his attendance at COP21 in Paris.

Shortly after midnight on April 2, 2015, Donald "Dontay" Ivy died after being unconstitutionally stopped, violently assaulted and Tasered by Albany, New York, police officers.

On October 28, 2015, Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced that a grand jury had decided not to indict anyone in Ivy's death. Given that district attorneys are almost always able to obtain indictments from grand juries, it seems likely that Soares did not try seriously (if at all) to obtain this indictment.

The state of Ohio is trying to kill my friend. On October 21st, Keith LaMar, who I know as Bomani Shakur, lost his final appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He's got ninety days from the 21st to convince The US Supreme Court that his case should be part of the one percent of cases they will hear. After that, the State of Ohio is free to give him an execution date. While few of us are optimistic about finding justice within the US Prison System, Bomani's friends and family were actually struck by the Circuit Court's rejection of Bomani's appeal.

During the current drought, the state and federal water agencies systematically drained Trinity, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs, imperiling salmon and steelhead runs on the Sacramento and Klamath/Trinity River systems and bringing Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species closer and closer to the abyss of extinction. This subsidized water was exported to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating toxic land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods.

The origins of Armistice Day, also known as Remembrance Day, were all about ending war, marking the signing of a ceasefire to begin to halt the destruction of World War I. That signing occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. Since the vast majority of war dead in World War I were military, it was inaugurated as a commemoration of their service and sacrifice.

As Americans click their way toward a third presidential election even more dynamic and interactive than our last two data-driven presidential elections, personalized social media and socially-embedded campaigns are changing our culture, social structures and political self-determination.

Nov 10

End the US-Israel Occupation

By L. Michael Hager, Speakout | Op-Ed

Israel is not alone in its military occupation of Palestine and blockade of the Gaza Strip. While the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confine and represses Palestinians on the ground, the US government provides both the military aid and the international political support that allows the illegal occupation to endure in the face of broad international opprobrium. The US has become complicit in the Israeli occupation.

Perhaps you've never heard of "The Resident," or the Russia Today network for that matter. The Resident is Lori Harfenist, a counter cultural news personality that delivers quick and insightful assertions during the late afternoon on the Russia Today (RT) network. Harfenists argues that "society pushes people to be mindless."

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Speakout

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.

When I arrived at the Kabul International Airport on November 4, I was unaware that the same day the New York Times published an article, "Life Pulls Back in Afghan Capital, as Danger Rises and Troops Recede." My friends Abdulhai and Ali, 17 years old, young men I have known since my first visit five years ago, greeted me with smiles and hugs and took my bags. Disregarded by soldiers and police armed with automatic weapons, we caught up on old times as we walked past concrete blast walls, sand bag fortifications, check points and razor wire to the public road and hailed a cab.

Nestled neatly between the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy lies the Pratt Institute, a school where aspiring creative minds go tounleash themselves upon the art world. Pratt has always prided itself on famed Alumni like Betsey Johnson and pristine lawns. It prides itself on keeping its students safe - it's not like those other universities.

"Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now," said President Barack Obama last week, speaking on climate change and asserting the global leadership role of the United States. Obama's long-awaited announcement to reject theKeystone XL oil pipeline deal - a project that deeply divided American political parties and citizens on energy and the environment - was peppered with references to US leadership and a commitment to clean-energy innovation ahead of his attendance at COP21 in Paris.

Shortly after midnight on April 2, 2015, Donald "Dontay" Ivy died after being unconstitutionally stopped, violently assaulted and Tasered by Albany, New York, police officers.

On October 28, 2015, Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced that a grand jury had decided not to indict anyone in Ivy's death. Given that district attorneys are almost always able to obtain indictments from grand juries, it seems likely that Soares did not try seriously (if at all) to obtain this indictment.

The state of Ohio is trying to kill my friend. On October 21st, Keith LaMar, who I know as Bomani Shakur, lost his final appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He's got ninety days from the 21st to convince The US Supreme Court that his case should be part of the one percent of cases they will hear. After that, the State of Ohio is free to give him an execution date. While few of us are optimistic about finding justice within the US Prison System, Bomani's friends and family were actually struck by the Circuit Court's rejection of Bomani's appeal.

During the current drought, the state and federal water agencies systematically drained Trinity, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs, imperiling salmon and steelhead runs on the Sacramento and Klamath/Trinity River systems and bringing Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species closer and closer to the abyss of extinction. This subsidized water was exported to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating toxic land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods.

The origins of Armistice Day, also known as Remembrance Day, were all about ending war, marking the signing of a ceasefire to begin to halt the destruction of World War I. That signing occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. Since the vast majority of war dead in World War I were military, it was inaugurated as a commemoration of their service and sacrifice.

As Americans click their way toward a third presidential election even more dynamic and interactive than our last two data-driven presidential elections, personalized social media and socially-embedded campaigns are changing our culture, social structures and political self-determination.

Nov 10

End the US-Israel Occupation

By L. Michael Hager, Speakout | Op-Ed

Israel is not alone in its military occupation of Palestine and blockade of the Gaza Strip. While the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confine and represses Palestinians on the ground, the US government provides both the military aid and the international political support that allows the illegal occupation to endure in the face of broad international opprobrium. The US has become complicit in the Israeli occupation.

Perhaps you've never heard of "The Resident," or the Russia Today network for that matter. The Resident is Lori Harfenist, a counter cultural news personality that delivers quick and insightful assertions during the late afternoon on the Russia Today (RT) network. Harfenists argues that "society pushes people to be mindless."