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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.

Jan 15

Groups Protest 12th Anniversary of Guantánamo

By Staff, Center for Constitutional Rights | Press Release

January 11, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Today marks the 12th anniversary of the arrival of the first men to be detained without charge at Guantánamo.  Human rights and civil liberties groups gathered opposite the White House at noon to demand President Obama honor his many promises to close the prison. They then proceeded to the National Museum of American History to indicate that Guantánamohas become a part of the American landscape, but must become relegated to the American past.

Jan 15

The Abuse of Laughter

By Ben Barker, DGR News Service | Op-Ed

People laugh at anything and everything these days, and they expect you to laugh along. In this age of utter cynicism, little is sacred, little is off-limits from humor, little is safe from the cultural tide of callous abuse. What’s worse: you laugh along. You may not want to, but you do.

Laughter is a beautiful thing—until it meets abuse. Like a spoonful of sugar with a stab in the back, it attempts to cover for abuse. Or like pouring salt in the wound, it can be the abuse itself. “Come on, it’s just a joke,” say abusers, as they mock you to the core, as they target any trace of sensitivity—read: humanity—for utter ridicule.

When it comes to war, the American public is remarkably fickle.

The responses of Americans to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars provide telling examples.  In 2003, according to opinion polls, 72 percent of Americans thought going to war in Iraq was the right decision.  By early 2013, support for that decision had declined to 41 percent.  Similarly, in October 2001, when U.S. military action began in Afghanistan, it was backed by 90 percent of the American public.  By December 2013, public approval of the Afghanistan war had dropped to only 17 percent.

For the general public in Oklahoma, daily earthquakes are beginning to be old news. Another earthquake? So what, we have a thousand a year now. The only people who refuse to acknowledge even the existence of earthquakes are those in our state government who should be researching it.

Despite repeated denials from the natural gas industry and government officials, all studies and evidence to date points to fracking as the cause of our earthquake boom.

Jan 14

Is President Obama Too Democratic? Gates and Others Think So

By Dallas Darling, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"We must not only end war but the mindset of war." — President Barack Obama, 2008

Instead of revealing President Barack Obama as a weak and inadequate Commander-in-Chief, it appears that former Secretary of War Robert Gates' new book, "Memoirs of a Secretary of War," indicts an elite warrior culture that despises democracy. Revealing a disgust for President Obama and his administration, for wanting to bring an end to the unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring U.S. troops home, Gates also showed a disgust for Congressional hearings and oversight committees, committees consisting of freely elected citizens who questioned the Pentagon's real war strategies and purposes.

Jan 14

Delta Fish Survey Reveals an Ecosystem In Collapse

By Dan Bacher, SpeakOut | Report

A Delta fish survey released by the California Department of Wildlife this month confirms the continuing collapse of the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

The survey's release takes place at a crucial time for the survival of salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other fish populations in California and the West. 2013 was the driest year on record in California and no relief from the drought is in sight.

It's a probability of less than one in seven billion that you are here, alive on Earth.

The probability of being alive in the Universe in any form is one out of .00000000000...1 -- absolutely unknown, teeny-tiny.

So, don't blow it! While you have life, it can be about enjoying good health while appreciating all life and humanity. If not, it is to diminish yourself and waste the full cosmic experience you are receiving.

Jan 14

What 'Right' to Vote in Iowa?

By Brad Friedman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa is moving to revise its voter registration application to help clear up widespread confusion over felons' voting rights, according to an administrative rule published Tuesday.

The change, adopted by a bipartisan commission, would remove a question that some voters have erroneously marked indicating they are felons without the right to vote. Another revision would explain that convicted felons aren't qualified to vote until they have their rights restored by Gov. Terry Branstad. Prospective voters still would have to attest that they are not felons without voting right when signing the application.

Sometimes defending freedom does not require the use of bombs, rockets, or jet planes. Sometimes defending freedom just requires the Air Force to follow the orders issued by the Secretary of the Air Force and release non-classified publicly-owned information in its possession. Somehow, when it comes to this kind of freedom, the Air Force is missing in action.

Jan 13

"Fast Track" Trade Authority Already In Trouble on Capitol Hill

By Staff, International Brotherhood of Teamsters | Report

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Senator Max Baucus, Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Dave Camp introduced the long-awaited fast-track trade promotion authority legislation on Capitol Hill. Maybe it was the big press conference in New Jersey, the late in the day introduction or the minor attention paid to it by even the White House, but the introduction came and went in the news cycle so fast that you may have easily missed it.