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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.

Feb 07

US-UAE: Viewing Each Other

By Dr James J Zogby, Arab American Institute | name.

As part of their work examining the East- West divide, my students at New York University's Abu Dhabi campus designed a survey to be administered in the U.S. and an Arab country in order to better understand how Americans and people in the Arab World understand themselves and each other. Last year we examined the perceptions that Americans and Egyptians had of each other. This year we focused our study on the U.S. and the UAE. The survey, conducted on-line by jzanalytics, a New York-based polling company, found a striking gap in understanding between the two peoples.

The report tells the judicial battle fought by participants of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in Turkey and across the world.

The report, prepared by IHH Human Rights and Judicial Commission, includes information about the Mavi Marmara trial as part of which Israeli commanders stand trial in Turkey and judicial work carried out by national and international judicial organs regarding the Mavi Marmara raid.

Feb 06

The Gatekeepers

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | Op-Ed

There is a new documentary movie about Israel, called The Gatekeepers. It is directed by Dror Moreh, and features interviews with all the former leaders of the Shin Bet, the country's internal security organization. The Shin Bet is assigned the job of preventing Palestinian retaliatory attacks on Israel and, as described by Moreh, the film "is the story of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories as told by the people at the crossroads of some of the most crucial moments in the security history of the country." Along the way it touches on such particular topics as targeted assassinations, the use of torture, and "collateral damage."

Violence in American culture is increasingly finding its way into the media spotlight. With numerous mass shootings having happened–in Colorado, Connecticut and Arizona–within the last year, some members in congress are asking that gun control laws be tightened, which has prompted an expected backlash from gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association (NRA).

As well, some in politics and the press are also asking to what degree does gun related violence have to do with "manhood?" This comes on the heels of a string of suicides by several celebrated sports icons. "Too many of us have been taught manhood in a way that is not healthy...men do not cry, man up..." is what CNN sports journalist, Keven Powell, wrote in a December 2nd editorial, entitled "Manhood, football and suicide." Powell's commentary was in response to the murder/suicide of Kansas City Chief's linebacker, Jovan Belcher, who fatally shot his girlfriend, and himself.

Feb 05

Drones Are a Local Issue

By David Swanson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

No city is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.

I write from Charlottesville, Va., but am hopeful that this message applies to your city, town, or county as well.

In the absence of state or federal laws, localities around the United States are proceeding to put unmanned aerial vehicles in our skies as they see fit.  The federal government has authorized the flight of 30,000 drones, and the use of drones up to 400 feet by police departments, at least 300 of which already have surveillance drones in operation.

Feb 05

Humpty Dumpty Constitutionalism

By Alan Grayson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

A few days ago, I pointed out that the House Republicans' five-page bill to raise the debt ceiling offends two different provisions in the Constitution. I wish this were an isolated instance. It's not.

Most House Republicans are Tea Partiers, and Tea Partiers are in love with three things:

(1) those three-sided felt hats,

(2) those overly snug vests with lots and lots of brass buttons, and

(3) calling themselves "constitutional conservatives."

It is with the utmost sadness that I comment on the passing of Ed Koch, and I wish only "All the best"—Ed's noted phrase—to his family, devoted staff, and friends. The only answer now to his legendary "How'm I doing?" question he asked almost everyone on the street he met him is, "Ed, you did great."

Ed was candid, funny, studious, and mission driven. His conversations with Bella Abzug were legendary. You could hear Bella's screech over the phone in the next room, where we the staff were, while Ed would calmly ask her, before Ed himself ran for Mayor, "Bella, how is it sexist for me to support another woman, Bess Myerson, for Mayor?" (Bella was also running). It was a case of two liberals locking horns. Ed considered himself a practical liberal; Bella would take positions regardless of the likelihood of success.

Farmers in India are killing themselves every time they take a sip of water. Learn more with Lee Camp in this week's Moment of Clarity.

In light of confirmation hearings beginning today for Senator Chuck Hagel to be President Obama’s next Secretary of Defense, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

In 2005, Senator Hagel publicly opposed the prison at Guantánamo, stating that it was one reason why the United States was “losing the image war around the world.” As the next Defense Secretary, he will be directly responsible for overseeing Guantanamo’s closure and will have the opportunity to fulfill the promise President Obama made to citizens here and abroad, to end this shameful chapter in our history. The Senate Armed Services Committee should seize this occasion to press Senator Hagel to reaffirm his commitment to shutter the prison once and for all. 

Once again the corporate mass media got the story wrong. The headlines across the country were that occupiers in New York came from households with incomes of over $100,000. The movement writer for The Nation, Allison Kilkenny, interviewed one of the researchers who points out that a lot of these were young people earning under $15,000 per year who were still in school and living with their parents.

The most important takeaway from the researcher's point of view:

"The takeaway for me is that this is part of an arch of social movement activity that built on previous work, and is building into continuing work."

That struck us because we are working with political activists and occupiers across the country to develop a strategy to reach a more effective level of advocacy for transformation to a peaceful, just and sustainable society.