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.

Aug 03

An Eyewitness to Shujaia Massacre

By Marah Alwadia, SpeakOut | First Person Account

It is the 13th day of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip, the 20th of July to be exact. The time meter might have stopped, but the death meter is still claiming more and more martyrs.

A single room not wider than 4 meters hosts 17 individuals, 4 of whom are children. It is somewhat the safest at home and does not overlook the street. No power; no water; no security.

Washington, D.C. – Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the Overdose Prevention Act today with Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The legislation supports community-based efforts to prevent fatal drug overdoses from opioid pain medications, heroin and other drugs. The Overdose Prevention Act is being introduced as a Senate companion to the Stop Overdose Stat (S.O.S.) Act (H.R. 4169), which was authored earlier this year by Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD).

"We can't let more young people fall victim to heroin and opioid abuse. This is a serious public health and safety problem in Rhode Island and communities across the country. A lot of cities and towns don't want to admit it, but this is a growing problem that cuts across social and economic boundaries and we need to take action or it will continue to get worse," warned Senator Jack Reed. "The Overdose Prevention Act will establish a comprehensive national response to this epidemic. It emphasizes collaboration between state and federal officials and employs best practices from the medical community. And it invests in programs and treatments that have been proven effective to combat this startling national trend. This is an emergency and it requires a coordinated and comprehensive response. The Overdose Prevention Act brings together first responders, medical personnel, addiction treatment specialists, social service providers, and families to help save lives and get at the root of this problem," said Senator Reed.

Aug 02

Hiroshima, 69 years later

By Robert Dodge, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Sixty-nine years ago this Tuesday, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing 80-140 thousand people immediately. Three days later on August 9th, a second U.S. nuclear bomb was dropped over Nagasaki, killing an additional 74,000 people. From that week to the present moment the world has been held hostage to the insane threat and potential annihilation by these weapons that now number in excess of 17,000 worldwide.

However daunting, we have witnessed this past year some of the most significant progress and awareness of this threat and work to eliminate nuclear weapons, thus realizing the long standing desires of people everywhere, to live in a world free of nuclear weapons. It is time for our elected officials to support the international efforts toward this end.
There have been four significant events over the past year.

Washington, D.C.- Over 100 economists, including Nobel laureate Robert Solow, Branko Milanovic and Dani Rodrik called on Congress today to take action to mitigate the harmful fallout from the recent ruling by Judge Griesa of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that requires Argentina to pay holdout creditors at the same time as the majority of creditors. The letter warns that "The District Court's decision – and especially its injunction that is currently blocking Argentina from making payments to 93 percent of its foreign bondholders -- could cause unnecessary economic damage to the international financial system, as well as to U.S. economic interests, Argentina, and fifteen years of U.S. bi-partisan debt relief policy."

"It's a widely shared opinion among economists that the court's attempt to force Argentina into a default that nobody – not the debtor nor more than 90 percent of creditors – wants, is wrong and damaging," said Mark Weisbrot, economist and Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who helped circulate the letter.

If only President Barack Obama had declared war. If only he had exceeded his executive authority and preemptively invaded and militarily occupied another nation. If only he had unleashed the dogs of war to slaughter thousands of foreigners. If he had done all of this, Republicans would not have just passed a lawsuit against him for trying to ensure everyone had affordable healthcare. Nor would there be an Impeach Obama Movement. They won't admit this publicly, but their anger and intolerance stems from their war addiction. Their love affair with militarism and imperialism. Their need to identify against a common enemy. Their craving to seek meaning in a perpetual state of war.

President Obama had many opportunities to declare war. But each time he has refused, despite being pressured from ultraconservatives and Cold War warriors, military contractors and corporate lobbyists, and Republican warmongers religious fanatics. He did not attack Iran for aiding groups in Iraq which were fighting U.S. troops. Regarding the Arab Spring and the destabilization of Syria, Libya, Egypt, even Gaza and Lebanon, he refused to send a half-a-million troops. More recently, the Obama Administration has pursued a cautious approach regarding the Ukrainian-Russia crisis. Too cautious for Republicans. Less spectacular but deadly drone strikes have not pacified them.

Aug 01

Telling the Whole Story about Gaza

By Johanna Richmond, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Any group or movement that holds peace and love at the center, refuses hate and rejects violence deserves our support. But because hate is a tool used by power to retain power, we are not going to convert all hate to love by example only. We cannot be afraid to see and acknowledge that which lies beyond the realm of love, to speak by name the brutal and the grotesque. Those who suffer cannot wait while we indulge a fantasy only a few can afford. Not only naiveté but all too often willful denial blocks understanding and meaningful action. In social media discussions about Gaza, there is a growing narrative that suggests any attempt to dismantle media-supported governmental abuse of power by sharing facts that have been purposefully obscured risks polarizing communities of people who might otherwise find a meeting of minds. I reject this theory in all its well-meaning and darker manifestations. Although truth is one pole of a dichotomy between fact and falsehood, it is almost always the rejection of verifiable, empirical evidence that acts as the polarizing agent not the facts themselves or their telling. Ignorance is polarizing. Fear and hate are polarizing.

The targeting and killing of civilians, including children, is polarizing. You either find it inexcusable or you (sadly, in my view) believe it's OK under some circumstances. If you find it unacceptable under any circumstances, no facts will justify it. If you believe it's OK, be clear that this is your position and at least give some energy and thought to constructing a rational argument that engages the actual facts on the ground and an accurate historical context. Please refrain from offering, instead, a slogan or a picture or video of individuals who are supposed to stand for "the other side" looking scary or seeming to attempt to commit violent acts. Even if real (the one I recently saw was proven a hoax), your pictures do not tell the whole story. They do not show the backdrop of years of occupation, the extreme deprivation inflicted through economic blockade, or the futility of resisting, with little to no means, the powerful military actually killing children and their parents in large numbers right now.

Washington, D.C. – Late yesterday, reform groups asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare unlawful the dismissal of a complaint against the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS) by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The motion for summary judgment stems from the FEC's failure to investigate Crossroads GPS for not registering as a political committee. The FEC Office of General Counsel had strongly recommended that the agency investigate in the face of evidence against the group but the Commission deadlocked along party lines leading to the dismissal of the complaint.

The lawsuit, Public Citizen v. FEC, was brought by the parties to the 2010 complaint: Public Citizen; Craig Holman, campaign finance expert for Public Citizen;; and Kevin Zeese, an attorney for The Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen are handling the legal work on the case as co-counsel for the parties.

Jul 31

Global Ecosystem Collapse

By Glen Barry, Earth Blog | Op-Ed

The global environment is collapsing as human industrial growth overruns ecosystem habitats that make life possible. Either we choose now to embrace personal and societal changes necessary for global ecological sustainability, first and foremost stopping the destruction of ecosystems, or we face collapse and the end of being. The meaning of life is radical freedom, sustained ecology, freethinking, truth and justice, and loving all life like kin – so the biosphere, humanity, and all life continue to naturally evolve forever.

It appears, to my great sorrow, that the Cold War is returning. However, this is no time for despair. Rather it is a time for a renewed determination of men and women of good will on both sides to resist this drift toward confrontation, and to strive to restore the brief moment of friendship, respect and mutual cooperation that we experienced scarcely a decade ago.

For our part, we Americans are facing grave difficulties acknowledging the sources of this renewed conflict, and thus finding a remedy. Regrettably, a prominent cause of this difficulty is our corporate media.

Jul 31

Waters is Right

By Roger White, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As of July 29, 2014, the IDF has slaughtered over 1,200 Palestinians in the Gaza strip, most of them innocent, over the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hitchhikers a few weeks prior - a crime that should have been met with a demand for the perpetrators to face justice, not a three week air assault and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government makes no pretense of observing the most basic protocols of war: minimizing civilian deaths, proportionality, avoiding the targeting of third party non-combatants like the UN. There are a few voices, coming mainly from cultural and academic communities, who have found the courage to speak up. Their movement is growing. Artists and entertainers like Zayn Malik from the music group One Direction, Rihanna, Mia Farrow, John Cusack and  Penelope Cruz along with - a group that includes Chuck D from Public Enemy and Brian Eno- have all come out in support of Palestinian human rights.