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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.

Years ago, an elder told me that the Indigenous cultures of Abya Yala, CemAnahuac or Pachamama – the ancient cultures of this continent – do not need to be revived, because they never died. Instead, the elder said, it is we who have been severed or disconnected from those cultures.
The culture, the languages, the songs and the stories are all there – rather than revive them, we just need to access them. And equally important, we also need to create and contribute to our own cultures.

I think about that now because of two monumental educational struggles taking place in Arizona and California, both of which have been instrumental in reconnecting our communities to ancestral and living Indigenous knowledges. In both cases, the schools and programs in question continue to be under daily siege. In Tucson, the highly successful Raza Studies program has been dismantled whereas in Los Angeles, the charter for Anahuacalmecac is on the verge of being revoked.

My name is Senior Airman, e-4 Heather Linebaugh. I joined the United States Air Force on January 6th 2009, under the impression I was going to be an Imagery Analyst. I was told by my recruiter I had a "badass job option" because I tested well on the ASVAB".

From then until 2012 I served as a Geo-spatial Intelligence Analyst for the drone program at Beale Air Force Base, California, where I witnessed daily the horrors that were released to the world by Bradley Manning. I experienced the lack of humanity of the Occupation first hand. I witnessed the disregard for human life, the dehumanizing of the culture of Afghans and Iraqi's, the moral confusion of a war where the poor fight the poor and their leaders give orders for bombings and killings with little-to-no justification. With no say in the matter, the enlisted are forced to carry out these orders, lest they be punished.

Jun 03

Like a Tree, Like a Forest in Taksim Square

By Kıvanç Eliaçık, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

My trade union is part of a platform together with professional associations and neighborhood organizations. This platform protests the construction work in Taksim that will demolish the park there. Therefore, I was following the related campaigns on Taksim Square.

When I heard that bulldozers came and the trees in the park were cut, I ran to the park. Instead of shutting down the illegal construction – the court revoked the construction project - the police used tear gas against people who want to save the trees.

The exponentially intensifying causes of the social, political, and ecological crises faced by peoples across the globe are becoming increasingly obvious; the wellbeing of all life on planet earth depends upon the eradication of market-driven social structures that bolster the few at the expense of the many. The image of ourselves as separate – from one another, from nature, and from the havoc being wreaked – has reinforced the disastrously misguided impression that competition (as opposed to collaboration) and the quest for material wealth (as opposed to the cultivation of caring relationships) are not only prerequisites for fulfillment, but inevitable factors in the course of "evolution."

Before I head out the door, I watch Morning Joe on MSNBC. It's part of my workday routine. This morning they were talking about the latest issue of the New Republic and its lead story entitled, "How the NRA is Going Down: This is How the NRA Ends." Since the Newtown tragedy, Republican Joe Scarborough, the show's host, is openly advocating for gun control. Still, Joe disagreed with the assertion that the NRA's power and influence is eroding, especially in the wake of recently defeated gun control legislation.

In the midst of this exchange, John Heilemann, an author, journalist and political analyst who frequents Morning Joe (and who occasionally says things that make sense to me), said, "But who's the SCALP?" John paraphrased this statement by saying, "who's gonna pay the price for having voted the wrong way?"

In 2011 around the world, the silence was broken. From Tunisia to Cairo, from Rome to Madrid, those who had been voiceless began to speak. In the beginning of the global uprising was the word. Acts of refusal and resistance were their language. As people took to the streets and squares, waves of awakening crossed the Atlantic, becoming a verb that was unstoppable.

"We Occupy!" At the epicenter of economic corruption and injustice, victims of the foreclosed American Dream began to fight back against the corporate powers that had stolen their dignity and future. The American Dialect Society named "Occupy" the word of the year for 2011. It had become a part of everyday language. Occupy was the movement infused by action rather than empty slogans.

We're in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the office of Professor Noam Chomsky. Thank you for having us, Dr. Chomsky. The first question I'd like to ask is mainstream media and schools promote that the United States and for the most part, only the United States fights wars for moral concerns and a desire to promote the spread of democracy. What do you see as the most serious ramifications of this idea of American exceptionalism?

When Daniel Falcone interviewed Lawrence Davidon, the Boston bombing was nearly a month old and news sources still speculating on what the event means for American security, White House politics, domestic violence and terrorism in general. The bombing came during the same week as a Texas fertilizer plant near Waco exploded and an abandoned U-Haul truck was found in Oklahoma City. Boston received a great deal of coverage when compared to other national and global events and one focus of that coverage was how to contextualize the suspects. An underreported facet of the suspects' profile was articulated by their uncle who remarked, "You put a shame on our entire family and you put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity." When asked what provoked the bombing suspects, the uncle stated: "Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves, these are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam, is a fraud, is a fake," he said. Were they acting as Muslim extremists or were they disgruntled Americans who needed to find a focus for their anger? Falcone spoke with Lawrence Davidson, Professor of Middle East Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Davidson has written several books and articles on the Near East and contemporary issues. He has authored Islamic Fundamentalism and Cultural Genocide.

His name was Charley Richardson. On May 4, 2013, after a six-year battle with cancer, at 60 years old, Charley left behind his wife and co-worker Nancy Lessin, and all of us who loved him, to soldier on in our fights for peace and justice. His long fight for life was the perfect badge of honor for all his previous fights for the well-being of workers abused by bosses and the lives of soldiers abused by political leaders.

Courage and persistence in defense of life, whether displayed on a public or private stage, are qualities that Charley possessed which blessed his friends, family and many people who do not even know who he was.

Waves of global uprising emerged in 2011. Through social media and other online communication, decentralized networks surfaced and began linking one movement to another. Faith in leading governments and institutions began to weaken. In the wake of this unrest, multiple attempts were made to pass laws that curtailed free association on the Internet. For many, the sentiment has grown that the Internet is the last avenue of real freedom. People came together to fight this trend toward digital censorship. An estimated 7,000 websites along with large companies like Google and Wikipedia organized online blackouts against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). They did this to raise awareness and protest a bill that would have severely limited free speech. Across borders, people were united in a battle for freedom of the Internet.