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.

Sometimes the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) make it too easy.  On November 19th, the anti-worker association — which represents 19,000 construction and “industry-related” firms (some of which are car dealerships) — filed a request for an injunction against a new Department of Labor (DOL) rule which is intended to promote the hiring of veterans and disabled workers.  Geoff Burr, ABC vice president of federal affairs, said that the DOL has exceeded its authority with the new rule. He calls it “wasteful and burdensome.”  

Do you hear that? There seems to be an unmistakeably unpatriotic whir in here…?

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, more than 30 cities across the U.S. and Mexico joined a Global Day of Action against toxic trade agreements. Called for by groups in Indonesia as the World Trade Organization begins meetings in Bali, the events also preceded negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) set to begin in Singapore on Dec. 7th. Thousands of Japanese farmers protested Vice President Biden's visit to Tokyo, while hundreds marched in Bali's Renon Square.

In Washington, DC, advocates delivered a petition signed by 4,000 people to the US Trade Representative, demanding that negotiator Stan McCoy stop pressuring countries to accept pharmaceutical policies that protect profits at the expense of people’s lives. They also delivered a second petition, signed by 42,000, demanding transparency by releasing the text of the agreement.

The Government is again planning the destruction of Rosia Montana and advances a new law proposal to boost cyanide mining in Romania. The law proposal registered under no 304/2013[1] wishes to modify the current mining law no.85/2003 in the sense that all mining activities by private companies are considered of public utility. The law proposal received positive notifications and amendments from various Commissions and can be anytime registered for a vote in the Senate’s plenary. The Chambers of Deputies is the decisional chamber. As such decision-makers are again attempting to foster interests of private companies by the old tactic of introducing amendments to existing laws, in spite of previous declarations that after the rejection of the special law for Rosia Montana, a whole new legal framework shall be created for mining.

On the 16 November, 2013, a number of rallies were held across New Zealand calling for an end to the rape culture that is so prevalent in New Zealand's society. I attended the Dunedin rally and I was reminded and informed of all the issues that come into play in this broader problem - including workplace harassment, abuse by family members (including fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, partners), stalking, a patriarchal culture and the current justice system, to name a few.

All of us are quick to demonize other cultures for their treatment of women, yet perhaps the reason rape culture has been allowed to prevail in New Zealand – land of the Long White Cloud, beacon of human rights and model citizen of the international community – is because rather than actively accepting that we have a problem, we have been duped into thinking that this fantasy of an egalitarian and just society is indeed exactly what we are as a nation.

Dec 05

Impossible Dialogue: The Choice in Yemen

By Ramzy Baroud, Dissident Voice | News Analysis

Chances are dim that elections will be held in Yemen next February. Yet without elections, the push for reforms and change that were inspired by the Yemeni revolution would become devoid of any real value. Yemenis might find themselves back on the street, repeating the original demands that echoed in the country’s many impoverished cities, streets and at every corner.

It is not easy to navigate the convoluted circumstances that govern Yemeni politics, which seem to be in a perpetual state of crisis. When millions of Yemenis started taking to the streets on January 27, 2011, a sense of hope prevailed that Yemen would be transferred from a country ruled by elites, and mostly beholden to outside regional and international powers, to a country of a different type: one that responds to the collective aspirations of its own people.

Dec 05

Why Do Douche Waffles Get Elected?

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video

The full campaign spoofing the Direct TV commercials, produced by Acronym TV for Move To Amend. All six spots, each about 30 seconds, are included here in this single video.

Written by Lee Camp and Dennis Trainor, Jr, and Directed by Trainor, these spots aim to hijack a popular meme to shine a seriously unserious light on the issues of corporate personhood and money as free speech.

The Homeless are the most at-risk population. And we're waging a war on them.
The basics:
On any given night in January 2012[1]
633,782 people are homeless in the U.S.
394,379 as individuals(62%)
and 239,403 as families(38%)
62,619 were veterans (10%)
--With 6,371 homeless veterans in L.A. Alone
99,894 people are chronically homeless(16%)
[Chronic homelessness= being homeless for more than a year. Or having four episodes of homelessness is 3 years, and a disability.]

Next week, the Uruguayan Senate will vote on a bill that would make their country the first in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults. The bill was approved in the House of Representatives in July with 50 out of 96 votes. The Senate vote will most likely take place on Tuesday, December 10. Once approved in Senate, Uruguay will have 120 days to write the regulations before implementing the law.

The Corporate Reform Coalition is deeply disappointed by and demands an explanation for the removal from its agenda of the most widely supported rulemaking in the Securities and Exchange Commission's history. The agency chose to put the political spending disclosure rule on their docket for consideration based on its strong support from investors and the potential risks to companies from secret political spending. The decision to drop this rule and others from the Commission's agenda is a step back from the SEC's proactive agenda to protect investors.

Dec 03

Spy vs. Spy

By Barbara Garson, Truthout | Op-Ed
I took part in one of the 1500 Walmart protests this past BlackFriday.  It gave me a new perspective on NSA Surveillance.       
Well before noon my husband and I were sitting on a sunny bench in front of the Secaucus, NJ, Walmart.  To the Walmart security agents, conferring with groups of Hudson County Sheriff's officers, we must have looked like the silver haired elderly couple that we are.  They didn't seem to realize that we, like they, were waiting for the demonstrators.