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 24

Yes Virginia, There Is a Police State

By Lynn Fitz-Hugh, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hyperbole?  You decide if this is how you believe the police should behave when citizens are exercising their constitutional right to free speech.

On Monday, December 16, 16 people were arrested at two different locations on Hwy 26 outside John Day, OR.  They were there in response to Omega Morgan Company moving a heat condenser from the port of Umatilla to the Tar Sands site of the XL pipeline in Canada.  This mega-load is so wide that it takes up two lanes of traffic, is 18 feet high, 376 feet long and weighs 450 tons.  A similar load was unstable enough to tip over the next day and snarl up traffic on I-205 for hours.

Dec 24

Santa Claus Arrested at the White House for Minimum Wage

By Staff, Time for a Raise Campaign | Press Release

The Time For a Raise campaign has released the official video footage of Santa Claus being arrested at the White House while attempting to deliver his Christmas wish list to Santa.

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." 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."

Dec 23

Talking with Jesus

By Camillo Mac Bica, Truthout | Op-Ed

Jesus spoke with me last night. I guess you can imagine my surprise that of all the people in the world he could have spoken to – clergy members, political leaders, Fox "news" commentators, etc. – he chose me. After all, judging by what I see around me, I am not by any stretch of the imagination what many, perhaps even most, would deem agood Christian, or even remotely religious as commonly understood. But who am I to question the will of the son of god? Maybe he just needed to rant a bit, I thought, to blow off steam. I can certainly understand his frustration given the state of the world and the way his teachings have been ignored, misinterpreted, and exploited by those who claim to be his followers. Or maybe he just wanted to talk with someone he could trust to just listen and not distort his words for their advantage or to the disadvantage of other human beings.

Dec 23

An Australian Defense of Marriage

By Mary W Maxwell, Flipside News | Op-Ed

Last week the High Court of Australia struck down as unconstitutional a statute allowing same-sex marriage. That act had been passed by the legislatures of one of Australia’s territories, namely, the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra, in an area of law in which it lacked authority. Ah, but the High Court, in rolling back the offending law, also said that the gay men and women who were legally married during the life of that law are no longer married today. Sorry, High Court, no can do. This is not in your jurisdiction. Your jurisdiction is only law, not biological reality.

How did it happen that we are allowing the conservatives to label The Affordable Care Act (ACA) socialized medicine and/ or socialism? Are they trying to hide just how capitalistic the ACA really is?
The ACA is a gift to capitalists. It develops competition in each state between private insurance companies, a sort of textbook definition of capitalism. Granted, this isn’t free market capitalism based on the regulations, but any American knows the US is not run on free market capitalism, as it would never work in the real world.

The intellectual dishonesty of Israel’s supporters is appalling. But in some odd way, it is also understandable. How else could they respond to the massively growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign?

When thousands of committed civil society activists from South Africa to Sweden and most countries in between leads a non-violent campaign to isolate and hold into account an apartheid country like Israel, all that the supporters of the latter can do is spread lies and misinformation. There can be no other strategy, unless of course, Israel’s friends get their own moment of moral awakening, and join the BDS flood that has already broken many barriers and liberated many minds from the grip of Israeli hasbara.

Dec 23

Boycotts, Backlash, Authority and Change

By David Palumbo-Liu, Truthout | News Analysis

The decision on the part of the American Studies Association to honor a call from Palestinian civil society for an academic boycott of Israel has garnered a wide range of responses. Here I want to focus on a particular aspect of the academic response and then broaden the scope.

Among all the responses, the most visible ones take the form of strident criticism coming from high-ups in university and college administrations, such as the op-ed in The Los Angeles Times from Wesleyan President Michael Roth, who calls the boycott "repugnant." His criticism is typical in that it mistakenly believes academic institutions are endowed with academic freedom rights (they are not) and that the ASA resolution prohibits its individual members from engaging with, partnering with, working with Israeli scholars.  The resolution decidedly does not do that.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An online retailer that retaliated against a Utah couple for posting a critical review online should compensate the couple, whose credit the retailer damaged, Public Citizen said in a lawsuit filed today on the couple’s behalf. In addition, the complaint asks the court to declare that the couple does not owe the retailer money for criticizing it online.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah against online retailer and debt collector Fidelity Information Corp., Public Citizen details the harms caused by’s false allegations that John Palmer owed $3,500 because his wife Jennifer posted a critical review of the retailer online. When John refused to pay, the company reported the $3,500 “debt” to credit agencies.

A recent incident in Hempstead Texas made news when a middle school principal ordered Mexican-American students not to speak Spanish or else face punishment. While this principal’s bigoted attitude and behavior may sound like something out of the segregated past this type of incident and psychological abuse of minority children is not an isolated one. Parents complained about this insensitive principal and she was reprimanded for her actions by school district authorities and placed on paid leave. I would describe this principal’s intolerant attitude and practice as that of a die-hard supporter of the traditional policy of forced linguistic and cultural amnesia. In essence, the objective of this archaic and lingering policy that this principal is enforcing constitutes an ongoing disrespect and discriminatory practice toward the language and cultural rights of other ethnic and linguistic groups and particularly harms the children at her school. This ideological outlook and policy is derived from a backward world view that predominated during the nineteenth-century colonial era.

WASHINGTON, DC – Argentina is expected to appeal to the US Supreme Court by mid-February in response to a US 2nd Circuit Court ruling ordering the country to pay $1.33 billion to predatory hedge funds. The precedent the case sets will hurt poor countries in financial distress and could allow a small group of hedge funds to target assets that benefit vulnerable populations. At the same time, debt holders who restructured their debt with Argentina have hired lawyers to help negotiate the dispute between holdout hedge funds and Argentina. Nearly 93% of debt holders restructured their debt with Argentina after the 2001 default. The majority of bondholders are concerned that their settlements could be disrupted if hedge funds win the final ruling.