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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.

In a knee-jerk reaction to concerns that too many people may be required to disclose personal financial data, Congress quickly and quietly approved legislation over the past 24 hours to repeal major portions of disclosure requirements designed to ensure enforcement of the nation's new law against congressional insider trading. President Barack Obama should veto this bad bill, and lawmakers should go back to the drawing board.

Lawmakers should have taken a more reasoned approach and approved a temporary suspension of the disclosure requirement for certain executive branch personnel, rather than an outright repeal. That way Congress could take the time to scrutinize the issue carefully and decide on changes to the congressional insider trading law that would allow for both personal privacy and enough transparency to limit conflicts of interest.

Apr 15

In Defense of Amira Hass

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

Amira Hass is a reporter for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. She reports on Palestinian affairs in the occupied territories and, over the years, has come to understand the Palestinians’ plight from their own point of view. On 3 April 2013 Hass wrote an op-ed for her newspaper entitled “The Inner Syntax of Palestinian Stone-Throwing,” in which she wrote,

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to give classes in resistance: how to build multiple “tower and stockade” villages; . . how to behave when army troops enter your homes; . . . how to use a video camera to document the violence of the regime’s representatives; . . . how to identify soldiers who have flung you handcuffed to the floor of a jeep, in order to submit a complaint. 

Apr 15

Dirty Clean Lies

By Maryam Henein, Honey Colony | Report

If you want to stay healthy, wash your hands. That’s the verdict of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose position is that hand-washing is one of the most critical strategies “in managing disease outbreak.” That’s because we can pass pathogenic viruses and bacteria to each other with our hands and then infect ourselves when we rub our eyes, touch our mouth, or pick our nose.

Given our lowered resistance to superbugs (read: the misuse and abuse of antibiotics), the proliferation of fear-based marketing tactics, and the fact that lethal pandemics are now a scary and very real possibility, it’s no wonder that antibacterial agents have become the most popular way we scrub and soothe away our neuroses.

In 2013, state legislators continue to push laws that would make it harder for eligible American citizens to vote. At the same time, others are pressing measures to improve elections.

Below you will find a regularly-updated, comprehensive roundup of where restrictive laws were introduced, where they are pending, where they are active, and where they have passed thus far.

Click here to read a detailed summary of all passed and pending restrictive legislation proposed nationwide in the 2013 state legislative sessions (as of April 5th).

Apr 15

The Anti-Empire Report #115

By William Blum, WilliamBlum.org | News Analysis

Wikileaks has done it again. I guess the US will really have to get tough now with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

In a secret US cable to the State Department, dated November 9, 2006, and recently published online by WikiLeaks, former US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to destabilize the government of the late President Hugo Chávez. The cable begins with a Summary:

During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.

Apr 15

Tax Dollars for the Next Generation

By Mary Zerkel, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Nothing is certain except birth and taxes. That’s right, I said birth and taxes.  We know that babies will be born.  We know that we will pay taxes.  We know that eventually those babies will pay taxes too.   In fact, that’s why we pay our taxes, to collectively invest in the future for our children.  And they in turn will pay taxes to invest in the next generation.  And so it goes.

Then why are we doing such a poor job of allocating our federal tax dollars    to make a great world for the next generation? This Tax Day is a grand opportunity to start the pivot to such a future for our children.

The Obama administration employs lethal drones for illegal targeted attacks around the world – notably in Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen, where hundreds of civilians have been killed. The United States military sends drones to spy on many other countries to establish contingency targets when secret decisions are made to advance U.S. corporate economic and/or strategic interests; the U.S. reign of terror ceaselessly expands. Countries that pose no threat to the United States are demonized by the corporate media – supplied by CIA-manufactured horror stories – to prime public opinion to accept the unacceptable.

When Jose Vilson posts a blog, I read carefully, and I don't multitask.

Why?

I am a privileged, white male who has lived his entire 52 years in the South where racism clings to our region like the stench of a house razed by fire. And as a result, I walk freely among racism because I am white.

So when Jose posted "An Open Letter From The Trenches [To Education Activists, Friends, and Haters]," I listened, and I recognized...

A delegation of Lakota elders has travelled to the United Nations in New York City to deliver an official complaint of ongoing genocide against the United States government. The delegation is currently being rebuffed by The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and high officials within the United Nations. The delegation and a group of supporters are currently waiting at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza directly across from the UN.

Today, a coalition of over 175 artists, actors, athletes, elected officials and advocates, brought together by hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and Dr. Boyce Watkins, presented an open letter to President Obama, urging him to double down on his efforts to change the United States' criminal justice policy from that of a punitive, suppression-based model to one that favors evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. According to Department of Justice data, the U.S. leads the world in the incarceration of its own citizens, both on a per capita basis and in terms of total prison population. More than 500,000 of the 2.3 million people behind bars in the U.S. are incarcerated for nothing more than a nonviolent drug offense.