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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.

May 28

Securing Press Freedom for All

By Josh Stearns, FreePress | Op-Ed

Just days after news broke that the Justice Department had secretly obtained AP journalists' phone records as part of its ongoing crackdown on leaks, the New Yorker released a new tool — Strongbox— to enable people to safely and securely leak electronic files. The late Aaron Swartz largely built the system (for a good discussion of its strengths and weaknesses, see here, here and here).

Meanwhile, Wired has "Hear Ye, Future Deep Throats: This Is How to Leak to the Press" — a post offering a terrific set of recommendations for leaking via email, phone or postal mail.

May 28

OBAMAHEAD, a rose by any other name...

By James and Jean Anton, PenPoints | Op-Ed

Would you have a problem if Obama changed political parties?
Judging from his actions, it seems he would be much happier as a Republican, which is reason enough for you to encourage him to switch parties. Best of all, he'd still be Obama – your darling Obama – and doesn't a rose by any other name smell just as sweet?

Understandably you detest and despise Republicans.
But you should accept the fact that your man, your hero, does not feel the same way you do about it. He has made no secret of this from his frequent praise of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum where he described the man most Democrats despise as: "to know him is to like him." Most Americans feel the complete opposite way about George W. Bush; that is to say, the more we find out about him the less we like him.

Yesterday, the citizens of Los Angeles voted to regulate medical marijuana by voting to pass Proposition D, one of three medical marijuana regulation measures on the ballot. The Proposition received 62.57% of the vote. Proposition D caps the number of collectives at those who opened prior to 2007, about 130, raises the gross receipts tax from $50 to $60 per $1000 of gross receipts, and establishes the distances they must keep from schools, parks, one another and residential neighborhoods. It also requires that collectives be closed between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m., prohibits the consumption of marijuana on the premises and requires background checks on managers. The Proposition also does not allow for a new collective to receive a permit if one of the pre-2007 collectives closes.

Proposition D was also supported by several members of the City Council, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Association (GLACA), the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), both Los Angeles mayoral candidates and the current city attorney and his challenger. Under the Proposition, organizations consisting of four or more people who cultivate, process, distribute or give away medical marijuana must obtain a license from the city.

This morning, Kerry Kennedy, human rights leaders, and an interfaith group of a dozen clergy, joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in front of Wendy's corporate shareholders meeting in Manhattan, demanding the fast food chain join the White House-recognized Fair Food Program – an effort to ensure humane working conditions and fair pay for farmworkers in the company's supply chain.

Inside the meeting, the CIW had three proxies, Gerardo Reyes, Rev. Noelle Damico, and Citlalic Jeffers Peña who asked questions directly of CEO Emil Brolick.

During the annual shareholder meeting Brolick stated that Wendy's was already participating in the Fair Food Program because the company purchases its tomatoes from growers in the Fair Food Program. He also said that they were paying a premium for their tomatoes. Mr. Brolick's misleading statements were categorically refuted by Gerardo Reyes and Rev. Damico.

Mariame's post (linked here) on anti-blackness prompted some further reflection on militarization and also on merit-based immigration, extending the question of who and what is rendered invisible. One of the key questions mentioned in her post had to do how anti-blackness operates to frame the relationship between race and migration. Mariame received many comments on the facebook note, including suggestions for a number of texts that provide further analysis into how the figure of the "hard working immigrant" and the tropes of the "nation of immigrants" reinforce long-standing racist stereotypes. In a short text for AREA, I tried to deal with the ways that immigrant rights activism often reproduces this rhetoric, not only rendering invisible the colonial project as an ongoing process but also by working to produce the myth of undifferentiated arrivals that erases racial subordination. In other words, we do not all arrive under the same conditions. And we are not all "white on arrival".

It seems an odd time for environment policy wonks to throw a party. The level of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere is higher than it has been in three million years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US.

That sobering news hasn't stopped the organisers of Carbon Expo in Barcelona from promising a celebration when the annual event is held for the tenth time at the end of this month. Ardent defenders of the polar ice caps like Shell and Statoil will spend the day gazing at mathematical models about the ideal price of pollution. After all those cerebral chinwags, they will surely have worked up an appetite for tapas and sangria.

On second thoughts, maybe it is apt for the oil industry and its chums in the world of finance to kick up the high life as the climate breaks down. For they have been dexterous enough both to cause that breakdown and to present themselves as the cure to it.

May 23

How the Spanish Police Celebrated 15M

By Peter Gelderloos, SpeakOut | Report

On Wednesday, the 15th of May, people across Spain were preparing to celebrate the second anniversary of the 15M movement - the wave of plaza occupations, open assemblies, and huge protests that coincided with a series of general strikes against the worsening effects of capitalism. In some cities, people planned to march, in others they would attempt to reoccupy the central plazas and hold assemblies and other events. The protest came at a time when crowds of people are increasingly coming together to resist evictions and foreclosures, or sack supermarkets to feed themselves.

But the police had their own plans. In a coordinated wave of assaults across the country, the government marked the two year anniversary with the eviction of a popular rural social center in a Catalan village, the beating and injury of protesters in Málaga, the arrest of a Basque activist, and a major anti-terrorist operation targeting anarchists in Sabadell.

At 2:06 pm on Monday, May 13th, a message from Seattle school superintendent Jose Banda stated: "High schools may opt out of MAP in 2013-14."
Banda was referring to the controversial Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), which has been boycotted by teachers in several Seattle high schools since January because of the deep flaws in the test, which is not aligned with the school curriculum and was brought to Seattle Public Schools through what a state investigator found was a conflict of interest. The boycott gave a boost to the national movement against the overuse of standardized tests, with support from across the U.S. and even abroad.

The announcement of this victory over the MAP test led to spontaneous celebrations at Garfield High School as students and teachers traded high fives, fist-bumps in the hallways.

On Wednesday, May 22nd, members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus will gather with commuity groups to demand an end to the biased and costly practice of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession every year. Dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state will join them at a press conference and rally to urge passage of sensible marijuana decriminalization legislation, A.6716A (Camara)/S.3105A (Squadron). The proposal, introduced at the request of Governor Cuomo, would decriminalize possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana in public view, though smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor. Community members and elected officials are demanding that leadership in Albany make fixing this law a top priority. The bill would help end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people per year for possessing marijuana in public view when police demand that someone "empty their pockets" during a stop-and-frisk encounter.