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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.

Tens of thousands of climate activists marched in Washington D.C.on February 17. Did the corporate media notice them?

The main focus for the activists was the White House's pending decision on the Keystone pipeline, a project that would deliver tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. The activists argue that the carbon-intensive project would only exacerbate the climate crisis, helping to extract and burn some 170 billion barrels of oil, not to mention threatening other environmental catastrophes in Canada and the United States.

Feb 22

Tipping Point, 2

By Lee R. Haven, Jack and Jill Politics | Op-Ed

White people know that you're—generally speaking—tired of them.

They know, in fact, what you suspect.

They do—at least most of—the hiring, or grant the home loans, or compose or allow the publicity of the negative punditry besmirching your very essence, or target you for frisking, or mete out the unequal sentencing, or justice.

A meteor estimated to be 10 tons by NASA exploded Friday morning over Russia's Ural region and its shockwave caused injuries to over 1,000 people. It took out windows and walls in the city of Chelyabinsk. And it temporarily shifted the conversation here on earth to talks of the heavens.

"We can find these objects, we can track their motions, and we can predict their orbits many years into the future," noted Robert Naeye of Sky and Telescope in an essay called, Lessons from the Russian Meteor Blast. "And in the unlikely event that we actually find a dangerous object on a collision course with Earth, we might actually be able to deflect it if given sufficient warning time. Now, every government in the world is keenly aware of the possibility of meteor explosions over its territory."

Canadian National Railway: please stop delaying Amtrak passenger trains with your freight trains. By ending your delay of Amtrak passenger trains, you'll help make the use of passenger rail in the United States more attractive and help us reduce our carbon emissions and our contribution to climate chaos.

Petition Background

One easy thing we could do to reduce U.S. carbon emissions that contribute to climate chaos would be to get more Americans to take trains more often. When you take the train, your marginal contribution to carbon emissions is basically zero.

Feb 21

Provocalz, a Provocative Vocalist

By Mat Ward, Green Left | Report

"Every time you see in the media someone's been killed by police it always just happens to be an Aboriginal," says radical rapper Provocalz.

It's 9.30 on a Saturday morning and the south-west Sydney spitter is telling Green Left why he made his hard-hitting horrorcore track, "Cop Shot".

"That was just like a stand-up, like, stop fucking killing our children, because they're killing our kids," says the Indigenous emcee. "It's not like it's soldier versus soldier. It's not warrior shit, it's like killing innocent kids for doing petty shit."

Feb 21

On "Lincoln" and Lincoln

By Paul Buhle, The Progressive | Op-Ed

"Lincoln" the movie raises key questions: Who was our sixteenth president, after all? And how best to represent him?

"Lincoln" has more talking than action, and some audience members have admitted slipping off into dreamland until roused by heated rhetoric or, perhaps, some swelling music.

Complaints about historical inaccuracies and controversies swirling around reception of the film--heightened by charges of elitism, even racism, given the paucity of slaves and free blacks—seem to push Lincoln himself once more into the background. Daniel Day-Lewis brings him forward, of course, but with a familiar air of mystery.

It barely made the news--like this week's Delaware courthouse shooting that left three dead. But last week the New York Times reported that Alice Boland threatened administrators at Ashley Hall, a girls' school in South Carolina with a gun she bought legally. Boland was charged in 2005 with threatening to assassinate President George W. Bush but passed her background check with flying colors. What?

Deranged gunmen who pass background checks are not hard to find. Jared Loughner (Tucson), James Holmes (Aurora) Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech) and Stephen Phillip Kazmierczak (Northern Illinois University) all sailed through their background checks.

In the halls of Congress and confines of the Oval Office, the perception is that the U.S. is at war with an enemy called al-Qaeda. Is this actually the case or is the claim an exaggerated piece of propaganda that has conveniently captured the minds of leaders whose abuse of power has become institutionalized?

In modern history "war" most often describes a condition of armed conflict between two or more states. War is also a condition that has a discernible beginning and a definite end. Your state officially declares war, you take territory, destroy the other state's army, its government raises a white flag, signs a cease fire or, preferably, a peace treaty, and that's that.

Feb 21

Innocent Exhumed

By William Manson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As the 10th anniversary of the shocking invasion of Iraq approaches, the haunting image of a little boy still sometimes appears in my mind. Several years ago, his father—an Iraqi man of grave composure, perhaps beyond grief--accompanied the child in an appearance on the "Democracy Now" TV program. The boy, perhaps four years old, sat on his father's knee, fidgeting and anxious—perhaps because his arms had been blown off and prostheses filled the sockets where his eyes used to be.

Try to visualize, if you can, many such children--their curious, hopeful world crushed and trampled in an instant when U. S. soldiers and bomber pilots "just following orders" willingly imposed the tortures of hell upon them. Can you picture in your mind, say, ten or 20 or 200 or 2000 or 20,000 or 100,000 Iraqi children—killed or burned or dismembered?

In his State of the City speech today, Mayor Bloomberg announced a new police policy: those arrested for marijuana in New York City will no longer have to spend a night in jail.

The Mayor said:

"But we know that there's more we can do to keep New Yorkers, particularly young men, from ending up with a criminal record. Commissioner Kelly and I support Governor Cuomo's proposal to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation, rather than a misdemeanor and we'll work to help him pass it this year. But we won't wait for that to happen.