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.

Feb 07

Florida Does it Again

By Laura Finley, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Last time I wrote about things that trouble me in my current home state of Florida, I received some pretty nasty responses. One person emailed that my criticism of some of the laws in the state was an affront to those who have served the U.S in foreign wars (I still don’t see how, but never mind) and strongly suggested that I move to Russia or Saudi Arabia. But, eight years after my arrival, I am still here, and at the risk of receiving even more hateful responses, I am again compelled to offer a criticism of some of Florida’s latest dandies.

The D.C. Council took a major step to decriminalizing marijuana in the nation’s capital today by voting 11-1 in favor of a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and treat possession as a civil offense. The D.C. Council takes a final vote on the bill in early March; it is expected to pass and to be signed into law by the mayor. It is viewed by both council members and advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Feb 07

Did Often Overlooked Black Leader Predict Plight of Obama?

By Jermel Shim, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Each February we reflect upon black history and honor prominent black leaders who have made a positive contribution to American history. However, some prominent black leaders are consistently overlooked during this month of black reflection, despite their significant roles in American history. Marcus Garvey (1867-1940) is one such leader who is too often overlooked.

Taking advantage of the Super Bowl hype, Mother Jones magazine just released an article “Offensive Lines: How Bad Is Your NFL Team’s Owner?” following up on its earlier “Is Your Team’s Owner a Major League Asshole?” While Mother Jones’s intention to decry the increasing inequality in contemporary American society is laudable, its attempted shaming of professional team owners as “evil-doers” may be a counterproductive distraction. More importantly, in blaming individuals for society’s ills, MoJo loses an opportunity to engage in good journalism.

We denounce the cyanide based mining projects from Certej, Deva-Muncel, Băiţa Crăciunești, Brad, Rovina și Roșia Montană, projects that have destructive effects towards nature and humans and can only start with no regard of legal procedures. Only at Certej, in 16 years of operation 26.448 tons of sodium cyanide and 15.280 tons of copper sulphate would be used. Large-scale cyanide use does not bring prosperity to a community, only death and the impossibility to develop other economic activities. We denounce deeds that reek of corruption, conflict of interests and abuses of Nicolae Stanca, current director at Deva Gold. He has signed, in the name of the Romanian state, the associating documents between Minvest Deva and Gabriel Resources in 1997, then being employed by the controverted businessman Frank Timis.

Feb 04

Minimum Wage: Hope for the Poor

By Dan Arel, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

After President Obama’s latest State of the Union address, the media lit up. The most controversial thing he said? Not gun control, we have heard that all before. Not the war. What could have been so controversial that it out shined some of the hottest topics in the media today? Minimum Wage.

Why is this so controversial? Why wouldn’t we want to give everyone who makes $7.25 an hour a pay raise to $9.00? The GOP is calling it crazy, but in reality it’s not crazy at all. In fact, it makes complete sense from both a moral and a prudential standpoint.

As pro se defendants, we are probably naive about how the U.S. “justice” system works.

We understood from our charges that any alleged trespass must occur on private property.

We further understood that any alleged annoyance, any alleged disturbance, any alleged recklessness, construed as disorderly conduct, must occur on public property.

Squaring that circle, we’ve been thinking, would surely result in at least one of those charges being dropped.

Feb 03

Talk Show Baloney and Europe's Future

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
There are many TV talk shows in Germany, sometimes hot, often vacuous. But the one on January 16th hit the roof, with far more people watching it afterwards via internet than at the time it was aired. And their comments, by the thousand, were mostly pounded away in great anger!
A main cause of such emotion was Markus Lanz. For years the most popular TV show in Germany had been “Wetten dass…” (copied in the USA as “Wanna bet?”). But when its extremely popular moderator stepped down after 27 years Marcus Lanz took over. With an unusual combination of stupidity, boredom and bad taste he soon managed to send theshow, which once hit a record of 14 million Saturday night viewers, skidding down to 6.3 million. But Lanz kept plodding - and did better with his late-night talk show three evenings in the week, mostly with prominent, newsworthy guests. Their views, Lanz’s jolly manners and perhaps his handsome good looks kept a much smaller audience more or less satisfied.
Feb 03

Groups Sue FEC, Call on Federal Court to Overturn Dismissal of Complaint Against Crossroads GPS

By Kevin Zeese, Karilyn Gower and Dave Vance, SpeakOut | Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A court should overturn the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) dismissal of acomplaint about the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS), watchdog groups said in a lawsuit filed (PDF) today against the commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Feb 03

Obama Out-Orwelled Orwell

By Lee Camp, Popular Resistance | Video Interview

Barack Obama may as well have delivered his 5th State of the Union address to and for the Superstate Oceania, the fictional empire mired in perpetual war from George Orwell’s 1984.

No, Obama did not come directly out and tell us that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength so much as he embodied those ideas in a nuanced, measured performance that inspired the political pundits like Chris Matthews to wax poetic like a Theatre critic praising an aging stage actor who was able to find the old magic one last time.