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.

Dec 23

Boycotts, Backlash, Authority and Change

By David Palumbo-Liu, Truthout | News Analysis

The decision on the part of the American Studies Association to honor a call from Palestinian civil society for an academic boycott of Israel has garnered a wide range of responses. Here I want to focus on a particular aspect of the academic response and then broaden the scope.

Among all the responses, the most visible ones take the form of strident criticism coming from high-ups in university and college administrations, such as the op-ed in The Los Angeles Times from Wesleyan President Michael Roth, who calls the boycott "repugnant." His criticism is typical in that it mistakenly believes academic institutions are endowed with academic freedom rights (they are not) and that the ASA resolution prohibits its individual members from engaging with, partnering with, working with Israeli scholars.  The resolution decidedly does not do that.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An online retailer that retaliated against a Utah couple for posting a critical review online should compensate the couple, whose credit the retailer damaged, Public Citizen said in a lawsuit filed today on the couple’s behalf. In addition, the complaint asks the court to declare that the couple does not owe the retailer money for criticizing it online.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah against online retailer and debt collector Fidelity Information Corp., Public Citizen details the harms caused by’s false allegations that John Palmer owed $3,500 because his wife Jennifer posted a critical review of the retailer online. When John refused to pay, the company reported the $3,500 “debt” to credit agencies.

A recent incident in Hempstead Texas made news when a middle school principal ordered Mexican-American students not to speak Spanish or else face punishment. While this principal’s bigoted attitude and behavior may sound like something out of the segregated past this type of incident and psychological abuse of minority children is not an isolated one. Parents complained about this insensitive principal and she was reprimanded for her actions by school district authorities and placed on paid leave. I would describe this principal’s intolerant attitude and practice as that of a die-hard supporter of the traditional policy of forced linguistic and cultural amnesia. In essence, the objective of this archaic and lingering policy that this principal is enforcing constitutes an ongoing disrespect and discriminatory practice toward the language and cultural rights of other ethnic and linguistic groups and particularly harms the children at her school. This ideological outlook and policy is derived from a backward world view that predominated during the nineteenth-century colonial era.

WASHINGTON, DC – Argentina is expected to appeal to the US Supreme Court by mid-February in response to a US 2nd Circuit Court ruling ordering the country to pay $1.33 billion to predatory hedge funds. The precedent the case sets will hurt poor countries in financial distress and could allow a small group of hedge funds to target assets that benefit vulnerable populations. At the same time, debt holders who restructured their debt with Argentina have hired lawyers to help negotiate the dispute between holdout hedge funds and Argentina. Nearly 93% of debt holders restructured their debt with Argentina after the 2001 default. The majority of bondholders are concerned that their settlements could be disrupted if hedge funds win the final ruling.

Dec 20

Mandela and Arafat II

By Dr James J Zogby, Arab American Institute | Op-Ed

Last week, I wrote a piece about a poster that has been hanging in my office for more than two decades.  It features a photo of Nelson Mandela embracing PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat taken when the two leaders first met following Mandela's release from prison. The poster also included a quote from Mandela in which he likened his struggle against apartheid to the struggle of the Palestinian people. I noted that I was pleased to have had the poster signed by both men.

New Delhi - A large number of Sindhi Hindu refugees from Pakistan protested yesterday on Jantar Mantar, Delhi. The protesters including men, women, and children demanded the recognition of either their refugee status or citizenship in India. Referring to the painful and harassment ordeal they have underwent in Sindh province in Pakistan by the state sponsored Mullahs and Madars, they demanded that United Nations to take notice of the crime against humanity in Sindh, Pakistan particularly by the state supported Islamist terrorists against Sindhi Hindus. They also demanded that the Government of India to take necessary steps for the legal and social relief and facilitation to these refugees.

Dec 20

The Myth of Turkish Secularism

By David Boyajian, Dissident Voice | Op-Ed

Turkey is a secular state. So its government and nearly all mainstream Western media claim. They are mistaken.

In civilized, democratic countries, secularism means not only a respectful separation between church and state, but also freedom of religion. As we shall demonstrate, Turkish policies have long been the antithesis of secularism.

Dec 20

Wake Up!

By David Krieger, Truthout | Poem

The alarm is sounding.
Can you hear it?

Can you hear the bells
of Nagasaki
ringing out for peace?

Can you feel the heartbeat
of Hiroshima
pulsing out for life?

On Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 18, 2013,  about 20 people - from the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB), World Can't Wait,, Mary House (the Catholic Worker House in NYC) and Concerned Families of Westchester County - gathered in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City to witness on behalf of the 15 Yemeni wedding-goers who were killed by a US drone six days earlier.

Dec 19

Polishing Buddha

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poem

Clouds carry the rain.
Rain cleanses the earth.
Earth, sun and rain nourish
plants that nourish us.

We are a part of the whole, and
the whole is a part of us, here
on this blue-green island of life.