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Experiences and Observations from an American Student in Palestine

Devon Douglas-Bowers

There are a number of factors that influenced my decision to spend my summer in Palestine. Perhaps the largest and most salient reason is that I grew up in a very pro-Israel area and was raised to believe that I should defend Israel and support it no matter what. I was raised to believe that Israel could do no wrong. Somewhere along the way, I started questioning whether the so-called Israeli Defense Forces are really for defense. As I started learning more and more about the atrocities committed against Palestinians daily, continuing my studies as a Political Science student, one sentence repeated itself over and over in my head; not in my name. I consider it my duty to make sure that the Palestinians receive justice for the injustices that the state of Israel has committed against them in the name of Jews everywhere. The other reason stems from American perceptions of Arabs in general. The way that the Middle East is treated in the mainstream media, the portrayal of Arabs in pop culture, media and in general as "terrorists," "animals," or "uncivilized," always struck me as wrong. A whole civilization of people could not possibly be the demonized version we hear of in America. After spending a semester in Jordan, I knew I had to come back as soon as possible. I want to be able to go home and tell people what it's really like in Palestine; that not all Arabs, not all Palestinians are terrorists who value death and blood - that these are wonderful people, living in terrible conditions.

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Seattle's Former Police Chief Speaks Out on Ferguson and Police Militarization

Amanda Taub

From a distance, and without having interviewed anyone in Ferguson or talked with anyone on it, just relying on media reports, I would have to characterize the police response as an overreaction. Had you set out to make matters worse, you couldn't have done a better job. I'm just very, very disappointed and troubled that lessons that we learned in Seattle have not been embraced by American law enforcement in general, by these police departments that are facing mistrust and distrust in their communities in particular. If anything, the police in America belong to the people, not the other way around. As such, they have a responsibility to forge what I would call an authentic partnership with the community where they reject unilateral decision-making. One partner in a partnership just simply does not make unilateral or arbitrary decisions. Now there's an exception to that. The exception is where you have an active shooter, where you have a barricaded suspect, where the situation really does call for the military-like response. Those are situations where you don't hold a seminar. You don't do telephonic polling, you take action, and it had better be decisive action or somebody's likely to get hurt or killed. There are those situations that come up in police work. They are far less frequent in occurrence than one would imagine. Most times you have the luxury of time, but I fear that what's happened over the course of the last 10, 15 years, certainly with the advent of the drug war 40-plus years ago..

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Who Stole the Four-Hour Workday?

Nathan Schneider

Alex is a busy man. The 36-year-old husband and father of three commutes each day to his full-time job at a large telecom company in Denver, the city he moved to from his native Peru in 2003. At night, he has classes or homework for the bachelor's in social science he is pursuing at a nearby university. With or without an alarm, he wakes up at 5 AM every day, and it's only then, after eating breakfast and glancing at the newspaper, that he has a chance to serve in his capacity as the sole US organizer and webmaster of the Global Campaign for the 4 Hour Work-Day. "I've been trying to contact other organizations," he says, "though, ironically, I don't have time." But Alex has big plans. By the end of the decade he envisions "a really crazy movement" with chapters around the world orchestrating the requisite work stoppage. A century ago, such an undertaking would have seemed less obviously doomed. For decades the US labor movement had already been filling the streets with hundreds of thousands of workers demanding an eight-hour workday. This was just one more step in the gradual reduction of working hours that was expected to continue forever. Before the Civil War, workers like the factory women of Lowell, Massachusetts, had fought for a reduction to ten hours from 12 or more. Later, when the Great Depression hit, unions called for shorter hours to spread out the reduced workload and prevent layoffs..

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The Limits of Our Vocabulary Reflect the Limits of Our World

Anna Brix Thomsen

Those who have it, tend to take it for granted as a natural part of their cognitive capacities. Those who do not have it, most often are not aware of how many 'doors to success' get slammed in their faces because of it. It is one of the most surreptitious mechanisms in the industrial-education-machinery as it perpetuates social and economic inequality, acting like a secret handshake that, once you know it, allows you access into positions of privilege and power. It is the triteness of vocabulary. Most of us rarely consider how the words we speak determine so much in our lives; from the ability to express oneself, to effectively communicate in relationships and how the words we know affect the social and professional opportunities that are available to us. The more expansive and comprehensive one's vocabulary is, the more one is able to interact with, and gain access to various cultures, social circles and professional groups. What this means is that an expansive vocabulary elicits choices: the greater the vocabulary, the more access to a variety of life and living. Imagine that life is like a big house with many rooms that each represents certain life styles or living conditions. Each room is locked and has to be opened with a key. That key is vocabulary. The more keys you have, the more rooms you can unlock; the more choices you have in life. Now - also imagine that in order to, for example, get access to the upper levels of the house, you first must have a key that opens the doors to the stairwell.

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