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.

Today, dozens of elected officials, labor leaders, community members and legal experts rallied on the steps of City Hall introduce the Fairness and Equity Act -- comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences in New York.  The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Karim Camara and Senator Daniel Squadron, builds upon previous attempts to fix New York’s broken decriminalization law and seeks to advance fairness and equity within the justice system.

Edward Snowden submitting to prosecution in the United States, would be like Alice going into the courtroom in Wonderland. Alice stood before the King and Queen of Hearts who served as the judges. Knaves were chained on the ground before them. The jurors, Alice realizes are ‘stupid things’ The first witness against her was the Mad Hatter who is as mad as the culture he represents. The guinea pigs who protest are immediately “suppressed” by having the mouths tied up and being put into a bag and sat on by the King so their protests cannot be heard. The most important evidence in the trial was secret, a poem for which the author is unknown and concludes:

For this must ever be a secret,
Kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me

MPs will tomorrow (Wednesday 9 July) vote on new legal aid cuts which could see torture victims denied their day in court, and leave the Government immune from legal challenges for wrongdoing overseas.

The measures, known as the ‘residence test,’ would block anyone resident outside the UK from receiving legal aid.  The result would be that Government actions which affected people living overseas would become near-impossible for anyone but the richest to challenge in court.

Delegates to Connecticut State Council of Machinists (CSCM) conference at the end of June voted unanimously to endorse and participate in the historic People’s Climate March set for Sunday, September 21, 2014 in Manhattan. This was just the most recent of a growing number of union endorsements for the March. New York area locals endorsing the March by June 20 included:

CWA District 1
CWA 1180
Teamsters Joint Council 16
Local 3 IBEW

Two hunger-striking Guantánamo Bay detainees have asked a US court to count them as ‘persons’ with religious free exercise rights, in the wake of a new Supreme Court decision extending those rights to US craft store chain Hobby Lobby.

The prisoners – Emad Hassan of Yemen and Ahmed Rabbani of Pakistan, both detained at the prison without charge or trial since 2002 – have this week asked the DC District Court to intervene after the prison's military authorities prevented them from praying communally during Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims.

Have you tracked the stunningly widespread shout-outs to "populism" — buoyed by libertarians, Tea Partiers, gun owners as well as progressive, socio-economic reformers? Beware any century-old, catch-all by which opportunists bludgeon some "elite," willy-nilly, that ends up stripping  "populism" of meaning except as a coded call to arms. And though fat cats get predictably bashed, how many self-declared populists deliver systemic proposals that threaten the powers-that-be? Not many. For years calling someone a "populist" was a swipe, and the left cringes when "populist" right-wingers especially militant Confederate-types, sound off — or when the GOP's latest "true American," Dave Brat, conquers the Cantor loaded with populist pablum.

Surprisingly, reviving the populist vision also surfaces for Democrats dreaming up their next ideal presidential nominee (a stretch for 'Wall Street' Hillary). Palin's demagoguery boasts a populist pulpit, though like everything else about her it's faked. More substantively, Jim Hightower the "Texas populist" walks the walk by nailing the opposition as "bosses, bankers, big shots, bastards and bullshitters," smug top dogs treating ordinary people as "nothing but fire hydrants." Occupy failed to develop follow-through but never veered from its steady taunt-the-rich, anti-elitism. Today, the most cogent "populist" scrutiny comes from the focused Warren-Sanders brigade, naming names and specifying strong penalties against renegade banksters.  

Jul 03

Creating Out of Crisis

By James Anderson, GA United | Op-Ed

My older sister, a friend of the family and I were driving on a bridge over Lake Ray Hubbard in Dallas, Texas, when the car tire popped.

Despite the jolt, my sister managed to get over to the shoulder of the road. However, the narrow shoulder was only wide enough for the car – not enough space for someone to change a tire.

Chris Crass is a longtime organizer, educator, and writer working to build powerful working class-based, feminist, multiracial movements for collective liberation.  He gives talks and leads workshops on campuses and with communities and congregations around the U.S. and Canada, to help support grassroots activists efforts. He balances family with his public political work and believes they are deeply interconnected, as both are about working to bring our vision and values into the world.

Throughout the 1990s he was an organizer with Food Not Bombs, an economic justice anti-poverty group and network; with them he helped build up the direct action-based anti-capitalist Left internationally.  Building on the successes and challenges of the mass direct action convergences of the global justice movement, most notably in Seattle against the WTO in 1999, he helped launch the Catalyst Project with the support of movement elders and mentors Sharon Martinas, Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.  Catalyst Project combines political education and organizing to develop and support anti-racist politics, leadership, and organizing in white communities and builds dynamic multiracial alliances locally and nationally.

Jul 03

Flag Held Hostage… Circa 2003

By Philip A Farruggio, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

After viewing President Bush's recent speech to the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute, one realizes that life can imitate film. In Barry Levinson's 1997 satire, Wag the Dog, we laugh at how the 'powers that be' can manufacture a crisis to mask domestic problems, carrying a nation right into a war. In Norman Jewson's chilling 1975 film, Rollerball, we view a corporate-controlled state destroying the individual, and what once was history, to suit their agenda. Finally, in Harold Becker's 1996 film City Hall, the mayor of NYC, played by Al Pacino, gives the most rousing speech this writer has ever heard. Pacino's Mayor Pappas, attending the church service for a young black boy killed innocently during a 'cop and robbers' shootout, bellows to the congregation: "This city should be a palace where a society melds together in safety and harmony."

The Bush gang succeeded in stripping me of My Flag, or, at the very least, forced me into hiding it. I no longer display it in my windows, my lawn, my car, or on my lapel. Through the 'go along- get along' corporate-controlled media, they have made it 'their flag,' representing a different America than the one I have come to love and cherish. To paraphrase Mayor Pappas, they have taken over our palace. Recently, that wonderful 'no spin' Bill O'Reilly stated categorically on his show that once this war begins, he would not tolerate any dissent. We either 'go along' or become traitors. That is the mindset of the new Orwellian America we now live in.

Over sixty five million people in the US, perhaps a fifth of our sisters and brothers, are not enjoying the “unalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” promised when the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776.   They are about twenty percent of our US population.  This July 4 can be an opportunity to remember them and rededicate ourselves and our country to making these promises real for all people in the US.

More than two million people are in our jails and prisons making the US the world leader in incarceration, according to the Sentencing Project, a 500% increase in the last 30 years.