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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.

Jason Collins has announced to the world that he is a gay.

This is a marvelous act. It is being congratulated by many including many NBA players and many other professional athletes as well as politicians, team owners, and celebrities. Good. Jason Collins exhibits admirable courage and eloquence albeit that this announcement would have been more difficult to make five or ten years ago. And even greater than that fifteen or twenty years ago. Yet, alas, how much the better thingswould now be in many ways if an athlete not yet retired could have made such an announcement twenty, fifteen, ten or five years ago. Because the social and socio-political resonances and permutations of this could have played a role, small but significant, in what would have been a historically even more beneficial impetus towards helping to reduce the sum of suffering, anguish, fear, and indecision, particularly among LGBT children and young people, and the sum of prejudice and violence against this community. If something is truly possible at an earlier historical moment, and I believe such an annoncement was, then better sooner rather than later. Better positive effects and their potential to proliferate earlier rather than later. 2013 is very late in relation to what could have happened five and ten and even fifteen years ago and this missed possibility can give us much upon which we can reflect and particularly in terms of what those who did not have contemplate the kind of announcement that Collins had now made.

 

The Obama administration has seemingly painted itself into yet another military corner by announcing that use of chemical weapons by Syria would constitute a red line that would mandate military action on the part of the United States. Now we are hearing reports that the red line may have been crossed, and some prominent officials are calling for the U.S. to step up its aid to the rebels and/or impose a no-fly zone. Proponents of military action such as Secretary of State John Kerry and hawkish Senator John McCain seem to think that the U.S. can sort out the "good guys" in the Syrian civil war, and use U.S. military assets to help the rebels take down the Assad government.

Demanding Accountability For The Past, Democracy For The Future, The People's Response gathered in Dallas, TX April 22-26, 2013 to coincide with the dedication of the Bush Presidential Center on April 25, 2013.

Former President George W. Bush said he's "really looking forward to writing the final chapter of my life" at Southern Methodist University as the school formally welcomed his presidential center to campus. "I hope it's a long chapter. But however long it is, it's going to be here," Bush said at the welcome ceremony, part of SMU's Founders' Day celebration.

Glenn Greenwald's article in The Guardian titled "Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced" has internationally publicized the cowardly decision of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee to rescind its election of political prisoner U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning as a Grand Marshal of the annual Gay Pride Parade. Manning is the gay service member charged with giving WikiLeaks thousands of classified documents exposing U.S. atrocities in Iraq, along with other materials.

The decision to rescind the invitation was made in less than 24 hours after the president of the American Military Partners Association (AMPA) made the request to reverse the invitation. The amazing election of Manning and subsequent and scandalous renunciation of that election, however, may prove to be the galvanizing point of the left of the LGBTQ community, which has become increasingly vocal in criticizing the conservative bastion that promotes a pro-corporate atmosphere of the Parade and Festival. Indeed, there is the beginning of a struggle and a political revival of the SF Pride Parade as a vehicle for raising awareness of progressive political causes because of the latest Manning decision.

May 08

In Praise of Richard Falk

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

Shortly after the 15 April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories, published an analysis of the episode entitled "A Commentary on the Marathon Murders."

In this analysis Falk pointed out that there are "serious deficiencies in how the U.S. sees itself in the world. We should be worried by the taboo . . . imposed on any type of self-scrutiny [of U.S. foreign policy] by either the political leadership or the mainstream media." This taboo essentially blinds us to the reality of our situation. Falk continues, "The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world. . . . Especially if there is no disposition to rethink U.S. relations with others . . . starting with the Middle East."

May 08

The Cure

By Gregory Gull, For Progress, Not Growth | Op-Ed

Cancer cells don't know they are cancerous! Though this may be an obvious fact even a so what fact to many, if we think more critically about this we realize that it is quite significant. Why? Unlike other cells, cancer cells grow uncontrollably and without limit and in so doing attack the viability of the body they live in thus leading to the death of both their host and themselves. So if they knew they were cancerous then they'd stop killing the body upon which they so much depend. No reasonable cell would behave in a way that diminishes its viability.

So to stop cancer all we have to do is let these cells know that (their) uncontrolled growth—using up the body's supply of energy—is detrimental to the viability of the living system they live in and in turn to their very own ability to continue to exist; that is, such behavior would be suicidal. If only we could educate and reason with cells that unlimited growth and the exploitation of one's environment is self-destructive! While this sounds so simple a solution, the problem with it is that cells haven't the capability of self-awareness and for learning at this level. Cells aren't so evolved that they can critically examine their own purposes and behavior relative to the environment within which they exist.

Cable news networks thrive on tragedy.

That's nothing new.

What is new is the incredible, monomaniacal programming mantra that has taken over CNN—the ever-more inane and dementia-addled granddaddy of the 24-hour news business.

Their unwillingness to let go, cut away or—perish the thought—actually cover a wide array of "news" stories, first manifested itself during the infamous coverage of the Carnival Cruise "Poop Ship."

May 07

How Little Has Changed

By Dan Riker, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

How little has changed: Some excerpts of writings on the capitalism of the 19th and early 20th Centuries – excerpted from my book, a work still in progress, Let's Do What Works and Call it Capitalism:

Capitalism in some form has existed since mankind first began to sell goods and engage in trade thousands of years ago. Until the 19th Century it did not become known as a distinct economic system. The word, "capitalism" did not appear in English until William Makepeace Thackeray used it in his 1854 novel, The Newcomes. Karl Marx, inDas Kapital, and other writings, gave the term greater definition.

Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of early twentieth-century America. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist, he was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers, in "World's Great Men of Color" as "the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time." Rogers adds that "No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten" others and "none of the Afro-American leaders of his time had a saner and more effective program." Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described Harrison as "the father of Harlem Radicalism." Harrison's friend and pallbearer, Arthur Schomburg, fully aware of his popularity, eulogized to the thousands attending Harrison's Harlem funeral that he was also "ahead of his time."

Momentum to free elections from corporate influence is growing. This afternoon, Maine became the 13th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The resolution passed overwhelmingly with a 25-9 vote in the Senate and a 111-33 vote in the House, which included five Republican supporters in the Senate and 25 in the House.

The State Legislature's resolution reads in part, "United States Supreme Court rulings, beginning with Buckley v. Valeoand continuing through Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and others, disproportionately elevate the role of wealthy special interests in elections and diminish the voices and influence of ordinary Americans."