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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.

Several months ago, there was a huge outcry that the Swedish furniture store IKEA was found using horsemeat in their meatballs and sausages. [1] Apparently they had been doing this for years, but only now did they get found out and shamed for it. Critics called this revelation, "disgusting", "an outrage", and even "immoral."[2] Apparently people don't like horses mixed in with their cows.

The last thirty years has shown a huge increase in the amount of children being used as soldiers in many conflicts around the world, but most notably in the Sudanese, Burmese, and Somalian conflicts. This unfortunate aspect of wartime culture has been brought to the forefront by many human rights groups and concerned individuals in the West, largely due to such movies as "Blood Diamond," "Invisible Children," and more recently "War Witch." It is estimated that over 300,000 children between the ages of seven and fifteen are currently engaged in military conflicts around the world, with more being "recruited" every day.[3]

Oh, the sweet irony.
Pete Peterson is the conservative billionaire who is a major financier in the effort to dismantle, cut and privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Recently he and his foundation held a contest asking folks to submit videos on why it is important to "fix" the national debt of which, he and his foundation falsely claim, Social Security is a major contributor.

Sometimes the best-laid plans for a propaganda campaign can go awry. The winner of the $500 grand prize determined by popular vote on the website came from the completely opposite side of Peterson's cut Social Security argument.

The US Occupy movement is still alive and well in many cities and small communities across the nation. Despite the lack of mainstream corporate news coverage of their activities, Occupy Wall Street affiliated groups have been marching and protesting against a wide range of issues effecting the nation. Two prime examples of their active participation in the cultural dialogue are recent nationally organized demonstrations against Monsanto, and also major protests in opposition to the US government's PRISM surveillance program.

As further proof that they did not completely disappear, Occupy activists have scheduled their second national conference for August 21 - 25 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The organizers of "Occupy National Gathering 2013" say they chose Michigan as the location for their conference because the state is a perfect place to discuss economic injustice. Some of the major metropolitan areas in the state (including Detroit) are currently being governed by financial managers as a result of bankruptcy. The Midwestern United States has been suffering for many decades from high unemployment and economic austerity.

Across the country, people are waking up to the state of emergency facing the right to abortion. As legislators in Texas pass legislation that will close down 37 of 42 abortion clinics statewide, new laws in North Carolina would close four of their five remaining clinics. Meanwhile, Ohio's recently passed budget could close as many as three abortion clinics. North Dakota, on August 1st, may become the first state to effectively ban abortion. Already Mississippi's last abortion clinic is merely an appellate ruling away from closure. We could go on.

If we do not reverse this trajectory now, we will condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame. Women will be forced to have children they do not want, trapping them in abusive relationships, driving them into poverty, forcing them out of school, and extinguishing their dreams. Women will go to desperate and dangerous measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies, once again flooding emergency rooms and turning up dead in cheap motels with blood caked between their legs.

Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman Saturday for the death of Trayvon Martin, there have been thousands of tweets, dozens of blogs. Some are relieved by the verdict; others try to explain the legal basis. But most are part of a collective scream of outrage and grief. Of these latter, the predominant feeling is one of disbelief - how can the facts of the matter not bring some sort of punishment for Zimmerman? Any at all? How is he not guilty of taking the life of another human being who had done nothing to him of his own accord? As much as I get the legal reasoning - often delivered to us sanctimoniously and condescendingly by both legal scholars and those simply wanting to say the system works - we just don't understand how fair it is - my reaction to the verdict is very much that of Lawrence Bobo: "The most elemental facts of this case will never change.

The Supreme Court's decision to strike the Defense of Marriage Act not only reflects progress towards equality, but also the great polarization of American society over gay rights. The case was decided by the narrowest of margins, a 5-4 split, and concerned a 1996 law that could have been repealed by today's Congress but for gridlock over the issue.[1] Even as tolerance of homosexuality has progressed significantly in recent years, divisions over the matter run deeper in America than in many other democracies.

Efforts to outlaw gay marriage are not exceptional by international standards. Gay marriage is only legal in fifteen countries so far. The considerable contrasts one witnesses within the United States are what stands out. Paradoxically, America is one of the Western countries where homophobia is the most intense, as well as one of those where gays have made the greatest strides towards acceptance and legal equality.

Jul 15

Decolonizing the 99% Come August

By James Anderson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Comprehending that we live in a world "colonized by corporations," social movement actors intend to converge in Kalamazoo, Mich., this summer to assemble collectively, "Decolonize the 99%," identify common aims and develop specific strategies for social transformation.

The Occupy Wall Street (Inter) National Gathering will kick off Aug. 21 and last for five days. The name and decolonization subtitle underscore roots with Occupy Wall Street while also acknowledging "the injustice the United States' forbears brought to this continent and our solidarity with decolonization," a press release for the event states.

Jul 12

Women and the Woolwich attack

By Mohammed Ilyas, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Since the Woolwich attack on soldier Lee Rigby, much has been written and spoken about the courage of Amanda Donnelly, her daughter Gemini Donnelly-Martin and Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the three women at the scene. They were seen coming to the aid of Lee Rigby, as well as speaking to the suspects. In the days after that attack the women were referred to by newspapers as 'heroic' and the 'Angels of Woolwich'. As someone who has never been in such as situation, like many others, I can only imagine the types of thoughts and feelings the women must have been experiencing while interacting with the suspects.

However, the involvement of women in the incident at first glance may not seem an important issue to discuss. Closer inspection, though, reveals interesting parallels in how gender has become a weapon of choice for the media and Islamists in the war over public opinion.

With the tagline "The Magazine for Men," it is almost unsurprising that Portmagazine, a British quarterly, celebrated "A New Golden Age: The Increasing Importance of Print Media" (Summer/13) by putting six white men on its cover. Not surprising, but also not excusable.

To introduce interviews with the editors of the magazines New York,Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Wired and GQ, Port editor Dan Crowe wrote:

For our current cover story we thought it would be the right time to champion print, and put the editors we admire on the cover of Port. FromVanity Fair's Graydon Carter to the New York Times' Hugo Lindgren, we feature the editors running the best magazines in the world.... These editors are producing magazines that are bold, confident, sexy, smart and growing.

Professor Hilary Jones showcased her book, "The Métis of Senegal: Urban Life and Politics in French West Africa," at Source Booksellers June 22, in Midtown Detroit.
Jones, an associate professor of history at Florida International University in Miami, felt it was very important to debut her first book in her hometown of Detroit.

"For me this is where it started," Jones said. "I feel like I grew up with people who instilled in me the importance of books and reading. It was very important for me to do this here."

Jones, a proud product of Detroit Public Schools, says her love for history and African history began with a project from her French teacher as a student at Cass Technical High School.