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.

Today, more than 140 international legal experts and human rights defenders from around the world, among them former UN independent experts and leading law professors, issued a joint declaration denouncing the grave violations and “disrespect of the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental rights of the entire Palestinian population” during the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, and calling for the international community, including the UN, Arab League, EU and the US, to establish clear mechanisms for accountability for international law violations. “Accountability cannot again be sidelined and stigmatized to serve political interests, our interests must be the protection of civilians and peace”, says Professor John Dugard, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

“Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), which is in the eye of the storm, victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, invoked after an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community,” says the Joint Declaration.

Jul 30

This Is Madness

By Leah Grady Sayvetz , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

My mom is in jail tonight with a $10,000.00 bail for delivering a war crimes indictment and people’s order of protection to Hancock Air Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing which pilots killer drones over Afghanistan. “That’s crazy!” you might say, and it is. Or others may say, “Well, she did do that and knew she would be arrested.” Stop and think about that statement, though. Isn’t that still crazy because what she was doing was a perfectly peaceful and legitimate action, protected by our constitution? My mother was practicing her first amendment right to petition her government for redress of grievances. For that she was handcuffed, taken to court, arraigned on criminal charges, given a $10,000.00 bail, and locked up in the Syracuse Justice Center- a notoriously freezing cold and cruel environment. If your mother were mowing her lawn or bringing cookies over to the neighbors and that happened to her you would say that was crazy, madness. Well, I do not argue that I’ve just given anything near to a stellar analogy there, but my point is simply this: If you say that you’re not shocked and upset by what has happened to my mother after she peacefully held a sign outside of a military installation, then perhaps we should all take a step back and analyze what we accept these days as normal, as given. This is crazy.

The international Freedom Flotilla Coalition (with participation from England, France, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, USA, Canada and Australia) condemns the ongoing Israeli military assault on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, denounces the failure of the international community to stop the assault, and renews its opposition to the Israeli economic blockade on Palestinians in Gaza as well as the collaboration of other governments. 

We note that the demand to lift the blockade is a central feature of talks on ending the violence, and that governments who reject the blockade should use their influence now to ensure that an agreement that ends the violence, also ends the destructive blockade. 

Press coverage of this ugly war on Gaza has only served to remind us of the fundamental problem that has plagued the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the very beginning: Israelis are seen as real individual people; while Palestinians are an abstraction— objects of contempt, scorn, or pity—but not real people with whom we can relate.

Because Israel knows how important it is to maintain this unbalanced equation, in any battle they rely on their ability to dominate and shape media messages and images to the same extent that they depend on their military to win battles. And because the Israelis have cultivated all too compliant partners in the press and in politics, their narrative of events often trumps reality.  

New powers have today come into force that allow Home Secretary Theresa May to deprive naturalised Brits of their citizenship, even where doing so would render them stateless.

The new powers, which fall under section 40 of the 1981 British Nationality Act, were passed in the Commons earlier this year, having been brought forward at the last minute. 

Jul 29

Clean, Green and Hypocritical

By David Krause, The Street Sheet | Op-Ed

What do teenage manual laborers, new patrol officers, and cuts in renewable energy have in common? All are coming to the City of San Francisco, thanks to City Supervisor Scott Wiener.

On June 26th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed Mr. Wiener’s “Clean, Green, and Safe” budget proposal, which will double the number of patrol officers, grow funding for the Recreations and Parks Department which has an ongoing program that enlists school students in tree trimming and weed pulling, and give money to the Department of Public Works (DPW) which is currently spraying San Francisco’s sidewalks with water four hours per day, five days per week, during California’s ongoing severe drought.

Jul 29

Fact-Checking "Fact Check Argentina"

By Mike LaSusa, SpeakOut | News Analysis

In 2001, Argentina defaulted on its national debt. More than 90% of lenders subsequently agreed to restructuring deals that allowed the country to exchange new bonds for the defaulted ones at a significant loss for the creditors. However, some investment firms labelled "vulture funds" by their critics - most of which are based in the Cayman Islands - bought up Argentine bonds at discount prices, hoping to use the US legal system to force the country to repay their full value.

One such firm, NML Capital, purchased a chunk of discounted Argentine debt for $48 million and has fought a six-year legal battle to force the nation to pay up. After a series of decisions in favor of the so-called "holdouts" (creditors who did not accept the restructuring deals, like the vulture funds) NML is now poised to collect more than $1 billion from the country.

Oakland, California - A new report from the Oakland Institute, Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict, exposes how the international financial institutions swooped in on the heels of the political upheaval and are vying to deregulate and throw open Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector to foreign investors. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an EU Association agreement in favor of a Russian deal was a major factor in the crisis that led to his ouster in February 2014. Immediately following the change to a pro-EU government, the country’s pivot to the West was solidified with a $17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an additional $3.5 billion aid package from the World Bank, both of which require significant economic reforms and austerity measures that are set to have disastrous effects within the nation.

Jul 28

After the Demonstrations Are Over

By David Palumbo-Liu, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The massive, worldwide protests against the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza are unlike any other we have ever witnessed with regard to Israel-Palestine.  One can fairly say that at this moment more people are learning about this topic than ever before - we are witnessing an historic elevation of global consciousness with regard to Israel-Palestine.  If the Holocaust shaped the awareness of Israel for those born after the Second World War, for this generation, Israel will be known by Gaza 2014.

While the mainstream media has covered the largest ones that have occurred in well-known metropolitan cities, the site TheWorldStandsWithPalestine documents as well much smaller but still impressive demonstrations in tiny hamlets, suburbs, and towns around the world.


Jul 28

Open Letter to President Obama

By Jose Angel N., El Beisman | Op-Ed

Dear President Obama,

I know you will probably never read this letter. But, as a good Mexican, I’ve been taught to expect disappointment in advance, so there is no harm in trying. 

My name is José Ángel N., and I am an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. I have lived in Chicago most of my life, and the night you were elected U.S. President I watched with my face pressed against a chain-link fence as you delivered an impassioned speech at Grant Park.