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.

Dec 27

Snow Job About Israel-Palestine - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

In our house we get the New York Times (NYT) because the Philadelphia Inquirer’s (that is our city paper) coverage of international affairs is very limited. Sometimes I wonder why we bother. One can find a more thorough and certainly more balanced coverage on the web. However, we still enjoy the tradition of perusing a newspaper at the breakfast table.

It is important to keep in mind that a newspaper, or really any media source, really, is a reflection of the political and cultural sensibilities of its owners and managers. So you can politically and culturally peg those who run a media outlet such as a newspaper by what makes up its content as well as what is left out.

Idle No More and Defenders of the Land networks condemn the December 16, 2013, court judgment granting an injunction to Penn West Petroleum Ltd (Penn West) to remove Lubicon Lake Nation Land Protectors from protecting their land against fracking.  The Lubicon Lake Nation were in a Calgary court December 16, 2013, on an injunction hearing that would determine the fate of their land protection camp initiated for operation Frack OFF.  In their application, Penn West applied for a 7 day short term order under the Public Lands Act and was granted 6 month injunctive relief.  The judge did not even take the time to hear evidence from the Lubicon Lake Nation on a matter that affects their future and livelihood.  It’s a sad day for those who have braved cold winter conditions for weeks to protect their lands and waters from environmental devastation.

I published a column this morning about the Kansas Regents’ effective elimination of academic freedom of tenure.

In thinking about the rule I realized that I had failed to make in blunt terms five points about how radical a rule it was.  I circulated these five points about an hour ago to a number of my contacts.

Latest reports now indicate that about 34,000 South Sudanese civilians have sought refuge in United Nations missions in Juba and Bor. South Sudan, having only recently come into existence as an independent nation, July 9, 2011, has a population of 11,367,276 ( Since fighting broke out on December 15, about 500 are thought to have been killed and about 800 wounded.

According to a recent, exhaustive study commissioned by the US Department of Energy and headed by a scientific team from the US navy, by the summer of 2015, the Arctic Ocean could be bereft of ice, a phenomenon that will engender devastating consequences for the earth's environment and every living creature on the planet.

Yet, recently, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said (in defiance of common sense and even a modicum of sanity) that the US military will escalate its presence in the Arctic, due to the fact that "[the] potential for tapping what may be as much as a quarter of the planet's undiscovered oil and gas."

Washington, DC - More than a month after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, the country has paid approximately $900 million in debt repayments—more than twice as much as it’s received in pledged aid from countries around the world to support the recovery effort. 

The Philippines government will spend a total of $6.7 billion on debt repayments this year alone, some of which originates from the corrupt and abusive regime of Ferdinand Marcos, who was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Filipinos and the torture of 35,000. The World Bank and international lenders have yet to cancel the debts that fueled Marcos regime corruption.

Washington D.C. – In a case that has important implications for public access to government policies and decisions, a federal district judge has ruled that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires the federal government to release to the public the Obama administration’s much-touted Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development.

The decision is the first of its kind to consider whether a presidential policy directive can be withheld from the public under the “presidential communications privilege.” A presidential policy directive is a type of document issued by the president that operates much like an executive order but is not published in the Federal Register.

Dec 25

American Versailles

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I first saw Washington, DC in 1974. I was astonished with the Greek vision of architecture on Capitol Hill. I could not get over my admiration for the beauty of the congressional buildings, the Thomas Jefferson building of the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.

I visited each building as if it were a museum, taking my time to understand and appreciate the cultural taste and grandeur of those who built the foundations of America. All the while, it did not escape me this Capitol Hill neighborhood was the Athens of America. Or, at least, politicians like Thomas Jefferson thought in such terms. I even visualized the real Athens simply by fixing my gaze on the Supreme Court building.

Supporters of naturalized U.S. citizen Nestora Salgado held protests at Mexican Consulates to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2013. Over the last four years, Salgado, a grandmother, has made numerous trips from her residence in Renton, Washington, to deliver clothing and supplies to the desperately poor residents of her hometown of Olinalá, Guerrero. Seeing the need to organize against economic and social injustice, she instilled in the women of Olinalá confidence in their ability to lead such a struggle. As a result, she was elected coordinator of a local armed indigenous police force officially authorized by the Mexican Constitution and Guerrero state law 701. Crime rates plummeted and killings stopped with the inauguration of the community police.

On Wednesday, December 18 at 11 a.m., Santa Claus himself, flanked by elves from the North Pole walked through Lafayette Park and arrived at the fence of the White House. He read his poem -­ "'Twas Two Weeks Before Christmas: Santa's One Wish for President Obama" -­ which is attached. He then unfurled his Christmas wish list for the President. St. Nick's wish list has one item: "Issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers." This was all caught on camera.