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.

There are times when a line in the sand can shift the course of a life – or of history. At other times a line in the sand may push us towards a common vision – or act as an incitement to trespass. In some instances a line in the sand may be narrow and thin – easily crossed or bridged. Or, alternatively, a line in the sand may be wide and deep – betraying no easy paths or footholds, and leaving travellers vulnerable to unforeseen dangers. And, of course, there are times when a line in the sand is no more than a line in the sand.
A line in the sand is no uncommon sight, and might be drawn by a friend, lover, or stranger. More broadly, lines in the sand may be wielded as technologies or tactics of power by politicians, police, and educators. Teachers, for instance, can employ lines in the sand as tactics for teaching values or understandings. This happens, for example, when teachers disallow certain behaviours (e.g., bullying, plagiarism, tardiness, absenteeism), or utterances (e.g., homophobic, racist, sexist, violent). It follows, then, that there are times when lines in the sand can be strategically employed for inducing a more democratic and socially just otherwise.

Stop----as they say----the presses.

We just found out the reason for high black unemployment, bad neighborhoods, and other black problems.

Too many black people think black people with "books are acting white."

That's what Michelle Obama just said at a graduation speech at historically black Bowie State University in Maryland.

She said she was quoting what her hubby, the POTUS, has said, and said publicly.

In what has become a "psychiatric-pharmaceutical industrial complex," giant drug companies have corrupted mental health institutions, research, and practice. Most major mental health organizations and institution from which the general public and doctors receive information are financially interconnected with Big Pharma. This practice needs to be abolished by law.

The official psychiatric diagnostic bible that is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is called theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). DSM-5 was recently approved by the APA, and according to the journal PLOS Medicine, "69% of the DSM-5 task force members report having ties to the pharmaceutical industry." The corruption of the APA by Big Pharma is nothing new. On July 12, 2008, the New York Times reported the following about APA "In 2006, the latest year for which numbers are available, the drug industry accounted for about 30 percent of the association's $62.5 million in financing." Congressional investigators in 2008 also discovered that then president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association (Alan Schatzberg of Stanford University) had $4.8 million stock holdings in a drug development company.

A small social justice non-profit organization from Chattanooga, Tennessee is calling out former Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan for factually incorrect statements he made about them during his widely reported grilling of outgoing IRS head Steve Miller during Friday's congressional hearing.

"While it was nice to hear Congressman Paul Ryan recognize Chattanooga Organized for Action's work for social and economic justice, it is obvious from his discussion of our organization during last week's House Ways and Means Committee that he is deeply misinformed not only about the exempt status of our organization but also the very detailed level of scrutiny the IRS gave our organization before awarding us our 501(c)3 designation," said Chris Brooks, co-founder of Chattanooga Organized for Action.

May 21

Anger is a Gift

By Angelo Letizia, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Public school teachers should be angry. During the last decade, public school teachers in the United States have been forced to realize the brutal truth about their profession: everyone hates them. Most teachers did not seek fame and riches; they simply wanted to teach children, to have a positive impact on someone's life. For me personally, I thought that society supported my endeavor to help nurture its future citizens. But I learned quickly that no one seemed to share my desire to teach the children; not administrators, policymakers or the general public. I did not realize that the public and policymakers would not only neglect me, but would actively work to degrade and suppress me. They are actively working to dismantle my profession, the public schooling system, which is the quite possibly the greatest achievement that America has ever produced.

Sexual violence continues to plague U.S detention facilities, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Justice. The study, released this morning by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), confirms that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inmates and those with a history of prior sexual abuse are at exceptionally high risk for victimization, while shedding new light on the extreme vulnerability of inmates with mental illnesses.

The BJS report, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011–12, presents the results of its latest nationwide survey of inmates in state and federal prisons and county jails, as well as some special facilities, such as military jails. It found that rates of inmates reporting sexual abuse in prisons and jails – 4 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively – were consistent with the findings of previous BJS studies.Using a snapshot technique, which examines the inmate population on a single day, the report states that 80,600 inmates held in prisons and jails had been sexually victimized in the preceding 12 months.

Self-immolation isn't what it used to be.

This ultimate form of protest became global news in 1963 when the venerable monk Thich Quang Duc set himself ablaze in the middle of Saigon, Vietnam, protesting religious oppression. Doused in gasoline, the monk sat serenely in lotus position and lit a match. A bird of paradise thus blossomed and bloomed, and quickly charred his body.

The photographer Malcolm Browne captured Thich Quang Duc's fiery renouncement of the mortal coil, the image quickly becoming an icon of the Vietnam War era. The term "self-immolation," in fact, entered into common English usage after his death, which led to a coup d'etat that toppled the pro-Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem regime.

A Guatemalan court has ordered a criminal investigation of all others involved in the Rios Montt crimes.

It won't be easy. Prosecutors and judges will be risking their careers and lives. Witnesses will know that they might die if they come forward to give evidence.

But Guatemalans have already shown great courage in advancing the Rios Montt case. It's time for Americans to do the same and convene a US grand jury on Guatemala.

US prosecutors could aid law enforcement in two fundamental ways: first, with information and second, if warranted, with indictments.

The September 2012 strike of 26,000-plus Chicago teachers -- organized by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) -- was undeniably one of the most significant labor struggles in decades.

What was at stake was not only the working conditions of Chicago teachers but also their job security and preservation of their union. Moreover, the teachers were fighting for the survival of public education in the face of the campaign waged by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago School Board to charterize and privatize the nation's school system -- a plan laid out by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, formerly the head of the Chicago public school system.

Under this plan, "failing schools" would be closed and turned over to private interests or made charter schools employing non-union teachers and free from state supervision.

May 20

The Worst Crimes in UK history

By Jim McCluskey, SpeakOut | News Analysis

In a time of peace, the West is permanently at war. Massive standing armies are continuously fed their natural fare. And, incredibly, the myth of the UK being a peace-loving country is sustained by "liberal" media that endlessly regurgitate the spurious justifications of the political elite. There are currently only two states on the planet which routinely attack other sovereign states and yet the UK and the US persist in seeing themselves as on the side of righteousness and peace.

John McDonnell is an outstanding member of parliament who tells it as it is; together with Annie Machon (former MI5 officer) and Chris Coverdale (of "Make war history") they held a press conference on 23 April, 2013, under the heading "Accounting for War."