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.

All agree that chemical weapons were used (even Assad agrees); the Administration says that we have overwhelming evidence that Assad's forces deployed these chemicals (Assad denies).

1. What evidence exists to specifically lay blame on Assad's forces and NOT on Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda forces operating in Syria?  Just because the chemicals were detonated in a “rebel” controlled neighborhood doesn’t mean Assad’s forces deployed them. Could it be that Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda groups had (smuggled in? or pilfered from Assad’s storage depots?) these chemical weapons, and they were used to heighten tensions or exploded prematurely by accident?

A coalition of fair housing and civil right groups filed an amicus brief in federal court today, supporting the City of Richmond’s opposition to a motion for preliminary injunction filed by trustees Wells Fargo Bank and Deutsche Bank. The trustees (Wells and Deutsche Bank) seek to block the City’s plan to help homeowners by restructuring underwater mortgages.

The brief, filed by the law firm Relman, Dane, & Colfax PLLC, on behalf of the National Housing Law Project, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, Bay Area Legal Aid, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and the California Reinvestment Coalition, argues that the actions the securitization industry has threatened to take to block the program, known as Richmond CARES, would amount to illegal redlining and would violate federal and state fair housing and fair lending laws, including the federal Fair Housing Act.

Sep 12

Learning From World War I

By David Krieger, Truthout | Op-Ed

We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the onset of World War I. One of the lessons of that horrendous war was that chemical weapons cause inhumane suffering and death and that they are not reliable weapons. Their effectiveness depends on which way the wind is blowing, a situation subject to change. After the war, the use of chemical and biological weapons in warfare was banned by the Geneva Protocol of 1925. More recently, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997, and today 189 countries are parties to this treaty.

The situation in Syria is an object of serious preoccupation and once more the United States, assuming the role of the world's policeman, proposes to invade Syria in the name of "Freedom" and "Human Rights".

Your predecessor George W. Bush, in his messianic madness, invoked religious fundamentalism to launch his messianic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he declared that he talked with God, and God told him that he had to attack Iraq, he did so claiming it was the message of God to export "freedom" to the world.

Sep 11

LEAKED: The Internet Must Go

By John Wooley, SpeakOut | Video

In 2012, I was dispatched to help the big ISPs to figure out how to sell their vision for a "faster," "cleaner" internet. Six months later I produced this report -- and leaked it to the world. Learn more and take action.

I now ask the people of Japan for help. My country is no longer the country I once knew, a country moving at least in the direction of providing opportunity for all, regardless of income. The tendency to paranoia and international law-breaking was always there, at a low fever, in clandestine and semi-clandestine actions around the world, driven by visions of American exceptionalism pandered onto an all too naïve public. Though I like to believe that there was the intention at least to make the world a better place, in fact these actions were frankly not just frequently amateurish and inept, they resulted in the suffering and death of many. Nor it seems, have any of the lessons been learnt. Since 9/11, the United States has adopted a national security policy that can most charitably be described as one of anaphylactic shock. Terrorism ranks with shark attacks in terms of real risk. We have, however, so over-reacted, and misreacted to the tragedy that we have become a danger both to ourselves and to others. 

Sep 11

Regarding Syria

By Mike Nuess, Teleologics | Op-Ed

While thinking about Syria it may be valuable to keep in mind something Chomsky regularly and wisely suggests: that the realization of a just and eventually peaceful world certainly requires our sustained commitment to the fundamental moral principle of universality, which simply means that we hold ourselves to the same set of standards that we expect of others. Then it would be complete hypocrisy to consider ourselves civilized were we to claim an act wrong for others but not for us.

Sep 10

What is Evil?

By Pat Vaughan, Truthout | Op-Ed

What is evil? Rather than defining evil as a loss of goodness, a corruption of nature, or a type of failure, why not define evil as the injection of suffering into the world, suffering that was not there before and should not be there now? This definition provides for an Occam’s razor like resolution of complex political, economic, and social questions such as starting a war, blocking food distribution for the poor, or denying medical coverage to the needy. Simply ask yourself if a particular option will cause suffering.  The decision then becomes easy, and it becomes particularly easy on questions of war.

Journalist Mark Taylor-Canfield talks with Mike Malloy about the surveillance of Seattle environmental activists by the FBI. Six people were visited by FBI agents who were apparently investigating protests against the Alberta Tar Sands project and Northwest coal trains.

Despite his own recent statements to the contrary, President Barack Obama has no legal authority to assault the government of Syria even as “a warning shot.” Neither the United States Constitution, nor the War Powers Act of 1973 gives him such authority in the absence of an emergency that allows Congress no time to react.

Obama cannot cite the present situation as such an emergency, given his public statement that members of Congress need not act until the completion of their scheduled vacation. He has said that his proposal is “not time sensitive.” If Congress fails to approve a resolution approving acts of war against Syria, he cannot order any military assault into Syria.