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.

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?

On Thursday, August 22nd, travelers to Iceland received an e-mail from the United States Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland, that discouraged US citizens from participating in political protest against the actions of the US government. It also labeled a peaceful advocacy organization a potential security threat, representing the increased used of a tactic to describe protesters using the language of terrorism. These actions have deep implications for the right of US citizens to dissent.

Titled "United States Embassy Reykjavik, Iceland Security Message for US Citizens," the e-mail would first appear to warn of a terror threat or natural disaster. In context, the message arrives at the tail of the shutdown and evacuation of several embassies across the Middle East following an Al Qaeda terror threat.

So the State Department recently announced that Shaun Casey, professor of Christian theology and ethics, will head a new office of "Religious Engagement." This is a curious phrase in a country with constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state. Far more worrisome is the notice that this new office will "focus on engagement with faith-based organizations and religious institutions around the world to strengthen U.S. development and diplomacy and advance America's interests and values."

Sep 03

Welcome Chef Djamel

By Doug Minkler, Berkeley No More Guantanamos | Press Release

chefsmallIn October 2011 the Berkeley City Council passed a Resolution to close Guantanamo Prison and welcome cleared-for-release detainees to settle in Berkeley.

This makes Berkeley the first city in the U.S. to welcome detainees. Djamel Ameziane is a famous Algerian-born European-trained chef who the U.S. cleared for release in 2008, but he's still stuck in Guantanamo.

Cablevision workers from Brooklyn ask CEO James Dolan: Where the papers at? in this awesome new video. Performed live on stage at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.