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.
Washington, DC – It has been one week since President Obama called for Congress to “give me trade promotion authority” in his State of the Union address so he can finalize the secret negotiations behind the massive 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While it would be normal for Fast Track supporters to enjoy a surge of momentum in the days that followed the reality has been quite different.
Large corporate media have failed America. They specialize in selling Americans trivia and sudden natural outbursts of rain, snow, and drought. They do that because they have convinced themselves Americans are stupid. In addition, hooking millions on entertainment and sports earns the networks unfathomable amounts of money.
Certainly, such practices serve no public purpose.
Washington, DC – Groups that usually do not share the same stage joined today to urge the IRS to clarify the definition of political activity.
At a symposium at the National Press Club, the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability (ECFA), the Center for American Progress, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Public Citizen called for better IRS guidance for charities and churches, which are not permitted to engage in any political activity but are left in the dark about what is and is not political by the current vague test the IRS uses to define that activity.
Before December 17, 2014, it was a natural question why the US did not change its isolation policy against Cuba in light of its ostensible failure. That day, President Barack Obama acknowledged this fact, in a demonstration of political courage never achieved by those among his predecessors who had intended to make a significant change in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Although central components of the policy of economic blockade and political subversion against Cuba remain in place, the announced resumption of diplomatic relations between the two governments is very positive because it will certainly allow a civilized interaction that could lead to new and more comprehensive understandings on key issues of the bilateral agenda, in order to establish a fully normalized relation of mutual respect, despite the predictable hindering actions of certain retrograde and recalcitrant forces.
In a consideration of the chances of success of the normalization process already underway, it becomes especially relevant to assess the US government's possible motivations, since the Cuban one had for many years made clear its interest in improving the bilateral relation, provided that occurred under conditions of full respect for Cuba's sovereignty in conformity with international law. Therefore, the question arises about what led the US government to agree to the resumption of diplomatic relations precisely at this moment, a question which does not admit simple answers, but should lead to reflection about a group of elements.
US government lawyers advised Guantanamo authorities that force-feeding is ‘never acceptable’ under medical ethical standards, at the same time as dozens of military nurses were being sent to the prison to force-feed detainees, it has been revealed.
An internal memo, obtained by Vice News through FOIA and written on June 21st, 2013 - at the height of the prison’s mass hunger-strike - states that ‘international law and certain medical ethical standards hold that the “forced feeding” of a mentally competent person capable of making an informed decision is never acceptable.’
New York – Groups from around the world  today joined together to denounce the US government for allowing the first genetically engineered tree, a loblolly pine, to be legalized with no government or public oversight, with no assessment of their risks to the public or the environment, and without regard to overwhelming public opposition to GE trees.
A secret letter from the USDA to GE tree company ArborGen , dated last August, was recently exposed by scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety . In this letter, the USDA made the unprecedented decision to allow ArborGen to pursue unregulated commercial cultivation of a loblolly pine genetically engineered for altered wood composition. These trees could be planted anywhere in the US, without public knowledge or access to information about them.
Shock and Awe is having a troubled adolescence. The US government is killing children with flying robot death planes, keeping troops in 175 countries, actively using "special" forces in 150 countries, asking us to ignore what it's done to Libya so that we'll support more wars, going silent on Yemen as the supposed model of a country that US warmaking improved rather than ruined, turning down an offer from North Korea to halt nuclear tests, continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no end in sight and no longer any pretense of Congressional or United Nations approval, oscillating on the question of starting a war on Iran (and inviting a foreign leader to give Congress its marching orders), actively antagonizing Russia and sending troops to Ukraine, building new nukes, proposing to enlarge the world's largest military budget next year, and avoiding all accountability for such horrors as human experimentation at Guantanamo.
The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs--the military sworn to defend democracy and the same military currently bombing the snot out of ISIS thugs who have been rightly vilified for beheadings--now wants his members to honor a Saudi royal whose regime beheaded countless dissidents and allowed flogging women for flirting.
The results of the Greek election are being systematically belittled by the notion that Syriza is just another product of Greek desperation. In European and American media, the radical Greek left is being treated similarly to the extreme right; like a chilly populist wind that hopefully will soon blow over. Never mind the fact that Syriza's party structure is populated by professors, community organizers and even resistance fighters who defended the country against the Nazis during the second world war, as opposed to the buffoonish thugs of The Golden Dawn. Never mind that the politics of austerity have confessedly failed, making the rise of Syriza a logical democratic occurrence rather than a desperate measure. Again we see democracy devalued when it leads to the "wrong" outcome. Or as David Cameron so diplomatically put it: "the election results in Greece will increase uncertainty."
Farmington, New Mexico—In what is one of the largest outpourings of its kind in New Mexico’s history, more than 10,000 citizens from around the US submitted comments this month against the proposed Piñon Pipeline. The response signals a growing national dissatisfaction with leasing our public lands for fossil fuel extraction, dissatisfaction with industrial development of our public lands, and with the related disruptions to health, wildlife, and the climate.
If built, the Piñon Pipeline would carry up to 50,000 barrels of oil daily across New Mexico’s Four Corners and Chaco Canyon region, threatening community safety, destroying cultural heritage and sacred sites, as well as pumping close to 8 million tons of carbon into our atmosphere every year, the equivalent of putting 1.5 million more passenger cars on the roads.