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Speakout

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 25

The Translator

By Donna Schatz, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

One of my students at the college where I taught a summer workshop was a young Iraqi who had worked as a translator for the US military. He adamantly opposed the US occupation of his country and spoke to me about the destruction and splintering of Iraq. When the US invaded, he was a high school student living a fairly normal life. As a naive kid, at first he was excited, but soon circumstances and utter chaos forced him to make choices he never would have dreamed of in order to survive. He worked in the Green Zone, was threatened by insurgents, lived in fear for his life, and finally became a translator with Special Forces where he was caught between his own people and the actions of the US military. He was afraid that if the US withdrew from Iraq before he got an exit visa, he would be killed. I met him two years after he came to the US where his outrage at what Iraq had been subjected to had only grown. He would not appear on camera out of security concerns, but, after hesitating, agreed to an audio interview. He wanted to tell his story and finally speak his mind about the ruin of his country and his life. I decided to animate his narrative - a new medium for me as I am basically a camerawoman.

I know many citizens of Ohio are shocked by the recent revelation that our state appointed regulatory agencyis actually promoting drilling, and working to “convince” the public that it is safe.  But I’m not.

Call it “lessons learned on the front lines.” Based on personal experience with drilling in my hometown, I was not surprised when I read this information on the ODNR’s 12-page memo listing allies, threats, and strategies to convince us that drilling in state parks was a good idea.  I was not surprised to read notes that revealed the Governor’s office, Halliburton, the Ohio EPA, Local Chambers of Commerce and media outlets like the Youngstown Vindicator are “allies” and environmental groups are considered “threats.”

Feb 25

Horse of a Different Color

By Gabriella Callender, SpeakOut | Poem

Here’s the completed outpouring of my emotions that will never really be complete. This is dedicated to Philip, Whitney, Lou , ALL the addicts in Kings Park, in Jamaica, Queens, who I transported methadone to (in a paper bag) when I was six years old. To all the addicts at the Sutphin Boulevard methadone clinic who gave me their best gangsta heroin lean and smile when I went there, as a little girl, with my sister to get her “medicine”. To my sister Lorraine who is no longer with us, and to my brothers who are still using, and really, to all of us addicts of an American system of abuse and misuse. This is for you/ us/ them."

Feb 24

No Gays Allowed

By Mark Faulk, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Finally! Our state legislatures are getting down to governing the way our Constitution meant for us to be governed…using Biblical and Christian beliefs.

In Arizona, a law was passed stating that “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly, or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity” may refuse service to a gaycouple if  “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Feb 24

Planning for the Future of the BDS Movement

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Much has been made of the rising influence of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Indeed, there is a growing sense that the boycott power of civil society, particularly as it is manifesting itself in Europe, is on track to repeat history—to do to Israel what it once did to South Africa. Simultaneously, there is the persisting assumption that the latest effort at negotiating a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now being managed by Secretary of State Kerry, will go down the same ignoble path as all its predecessors.

Feb 24

Where Is Your Car Location Data Going?

By Jordan Perch, SpeakOut | Report

Nowadays, practically all new cars are equipped with sophisticated GPS navigation systems that provide drivers with maps, turn-by-turn directions, and real-time traffic information, making it easier for them to get to their destination as quickly as possible. Of course, drivers get a lot of use out of these features, which can help them save a lot of time, and money, by showing the most fuel-efficient routes. But, there is another side to navigation systems, one that will likely stir controversy and is expected to raise a few red flags with privacy advocates, as it recently became clear that car makers and navigation companies use them to collect data related to drivers' location and movement, and store them for an unspecified period of time.

Feb 24

Peter Seeger's Last Letter

By Debbie Metke, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The day he died, my organization got a hand-written letter from Pete Seeger, the 94 year old, iconic folksinger who departed last month after decades of inspiring us onward with his peace and justice ballads.  Now with his loss, we realize it is quite a gap to fill. Indeed, one political cartoon showed a hapless banjo player reading his paper’s page: “JOB OPPORTUNITY: New Pete Seeger needed. Must start immediately.”

Feb 24

Gossip and Tectonics, Nude Boys and Naked Truths

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
Gossip and scandal are part of politics; the German media is currently overflowing with these commodities. Both a leading feminist and the man in charge of spending on theaters and museums in Berlin were caught stashing their fortunes illegally (and un-taxed) outside Germany; the latter case briefly threatened to cost Mayor Wowereit his job, since he had hush-hushed the matter for a year.
 
Then a raid in Toronto found that an up-and-coming Social Democratic deputy in the German Bundestag collected internet photos of nude boys. Last fall, just when the major parties were forming their “grand coalition,” a cabinet minister from Merkel’s sister party in Bavaria (the CSU) tipped off the top Social Democrat, Sigmar Gabriel, warning him not to give the man an important job. Gabriel denies it, but someone seems to have passed the info on, the man was warned, his hard disks were smashed just before a police raid. The CSU man, taking the blame, resigned as Minister of Agriculture, but he and the Social Democrats are all blaming each other while the three coalition leaders are trying to plaster over the first crack in a coalition which is only two months old.   
Feb 22

The Libyan Bedlam

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | News Analysis

On Friday, Feb 14, 92 prisoners escaped from their prison in the Libyan town of Zliten. 19 of them were eventually recaptured, two of whom were wounded in clashes with the guards. It was just another daily episode highlighting the utter chaos which has engulfed Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.

Much of this is often reported with cliché explanations as in the country’s ‘security vacuum’, or Libya’s lack of a true national identity. Indeed, tribe and region seem to supersede any other affiliation, but it is hardly that simple.

Feb 22

Europe's Failed Mission Facilitated by Mr. Barroso & Co.

By Werner de Gruijter, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Current European politics is infused with laissez-faire economic ideology despite this orientation's lack of legitimacy given the absence of a meaningful democratic debate on the subject in recent years. Consequently, there is a lack of support and a surplus of uneasiness among the general public. As the European Union slowly slides into a process of disintegration,  that realization is still missing among most politicians and opinion makers. Is Europe really failing in its mission?