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.

A new era in Canadian Politics has opened as two of the country's most-controversial politicians suddenly face unparalleled challenges after years of persuasive, steadfast authority. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toronto mayor Rob Ford together signal a trend, and not an anomaly. The trend is one less indicated by parallels in leadership style and including in a common unflinching, self-assured and self-declared, paramount right to exercise power.

Nov 18

All Drone Politics Is Local

By David Swanson, David Swanson's Blog | Op-Ed

Charlottesville, Va., passed a resolution that urged the state of Virginia to adopt a two-year moratorium on drones (which it did), urged both Virginia and the U.S. Congress to prohibit information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into court, and to preclude the domestic use of drones equipped with "anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being," and pledged that Charlottesville would "abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

Germany had planned to buy a fleet of "Euro Hawk" killer drones -- perhaps in an effort to bring the European Union up to speed with certain other Nobel Peace laureates.

But something happened on the way to the celestial colosseum.

Of course, Captain Drone Man himself undoubtedly learned the news first, unless the NSA misplaced some of Frau Merkel's emails under a pile of exchanges among nonviolent activists planning the upcoming drone summit in DC.

Nov 18

Israeli Exceptionalism at the United Nations

By Brad Parker, 972 Magazine | News Analysis

Last month, Israel ended a 20-month boycott of the United Nations Human Rights Council when Israeli officials participated in the Universal Periodic Review, a process where every UN member state has their human rights record reviewed before the council. The process is designed “to ensure equal treatment for every country” by assessing each country based on the same body of international law. Yet, at the opening of Israel’s review session on October 29, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Eviatar Manor, declared, “The unfair treatment of Israel must come to an end.”

To be clear, the international community is not treating Israel unfairly; Israel is simply being treated and recognized as the persistent human rights violator that it is. The deep-rooted notion of Israeli exceptionalism inherent in Ambassador Manor’s statement is consistently used to delegitimize any international criticism of Israel’s serious human rights violations against Palestinians.

Isn't it enough that this man has been dragged through the mud and made to sit through weeks of testimony and hear the tedious details of sadistic group killing?

Isn’t it enough that he was charged with a crime in the first place, and had to explain himself and answer to a judge in his native Guatemala, a country he once saved from reformist troublemakers? 

And then of all things, to be found guilty of the crime charged! Can you imagine the humiliation?

Fats: In the family jewels?
Gary: In the family jewels, man!
Wyatt: Worst pain there is.
Gary: Broke my heart in two!
Fats: She broke more than your heart.
--Weird Science

It turns out that procreation of secretive criminal government agencies doesn't require a male or a female, and family jewels have little to do with it. The CIA (short for Criminal Implementation of Arrogance) calls certain reports on its immoral and illegal activities its "family jewels." John Prados, author of The Family Jewels, the CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power, calls all of the CIA's outrageous secrets its family jewels.  But the CIA reproduces itself whether or not its secrets are exposed, and if it's a family we might just all end up dying from a bad case of family values.

A group of 27 concerned NGOs and activist organizations have united to express outcry over the treatment of hundreds of Indigenous Penan women, men and children who have been peacefully protesting at the site of the Murum Hydroelectric Project since September. As of November 5th, a barricade of armed police has cordoned off the protestors, denying them basic supplies, such as food and water. These groups are asking Prime Minister Najib Rzak to intervene at the Murum Dam site to protect the rights of the affected communities.

Should the final resting place for America’s 16th President and his family be part of a city’s civic pride or be used to pad the profits of a private company? Should the man who freed the slaves, saved the Union and whose funeral is considered “the greatest funeral in the history of the United States” be buried in publically-run Oak Ridge Cemetery or should that cemetery be the next piece in privately-run StoneMor Partner’s national network of properties?
That is the question that has been suddenly thrust upon Springfield, Illinois aldermen after it was revealed that Mayor Mike Houston and other city officials have been in behind the scenes conversations with StoneMor.
In reference to the latest reports concerning the resignation of the Palestinian negotiations team from the final status negotiations, the PLO – Negotiations Affairs Department would like to announce the following:
1) Several days ago, Dr. Saeb Erekat and Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh wrote to H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas explaining that they would not be able to continue fulfilling their duties as negotiators, and thereby requesting that the President relieve them of their positions. This request was motivated by a number of factors, including: an unprecedented escalation of colonization and oppression against Palestine and the Palestinian people by the State of Israel; a lack of seriousness from the Israeli government about reaching a two-state solution; and the Israeli government’s failure to fulfill commitments undertaken before the resumption of direct negotiations on July 29th 2013.
Nov 15

House Bill Would Restrict Court Access

By Christine Hines, Truthout | Press Release

The House today approved, by a 228 to 195 vote, the deceptively named Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 2655), which would not do as its title suggests, but instead would slow litigation, eliminate judges' discretion, and increase court costs.

By encouraging additional legal maneuvers and requiring unnecessary court orders, this legislation would harm people with valid claims. It is another backdoor tactic by corporate lobbyists seeking to make it difficult for consumers and employees to hold corporations accountable for wrongdoing.