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.

Public Citizen today called on the IRS to investigate whether Freedom Partners, a relatively obscure group but one of the largest entities to fund political activities in the 2012 election cycle, is a legitimate business league, as it claims on its tax forms.

Freedom Partners is registered as a 501(c)(6) organization. Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues can be exempt from taxes under this section of the IRS code. Business

"International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind."

I'd like to focus on that last paragraph; that is the only thing you and I have any control of. There are those who will say that there are mean, hurtful, crazy people out there and there is nothing we can do to change them, yet I submit that at the root of whatever we perceive is their behavior or attitude, is a human being, and human beings need love. 

The US’s dependency on drone warfare reveals a laziness in properly imagining geography. At the same time, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) project was a rash decision. It was launched not to save the lives of soldiers, but in response to the geopolitical defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq. This geographical illiteracy and careless thinking explain drone warfare’s extremely hig hcivilian casualty rates  as compared to conventional warfare. For example, and since the beginning of UAV warfare, there have been over 5,000 casualties in Pakistan, 200 children. In Yemen and Somalia, there have been over 1,000 deaths and almost 50 children killed. Those killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places far surpass those killed in the regions just mentioned.

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4. 

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Einstein said, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”

This week the world is intently watching developments in Syria hoping and praying for a peaceful solution.  As the United Nations convenes its 68th general assembly there is a strong push for peace and hope that the UN can realize one of its most important missions, the prevention of war. All nations and particular those of the Security Council have an opportunity and obligation to promote this process. Ultimately the outcome of this crisis affects the fate of the planet.  In adherence to international law with the ban on the use of chemical weapons and holding accountable those who use them we see parallels when it comes to the greatest existential threat we face, the use of nuclear weapons.  This is a time for leadership by example.

Sep 23

Enough DeLay: Do the Crime, Serve the Time

By Sam Jewler and Angela Bradbery, Public Citizen | Op-Ed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – By appealing today’s reversal of the conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas is taking the step necessary to ensure that justice is done, Public Citizen said today.

Public Citizen and Texans for Public Justice provided then-Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle with much of the information on which DeLay’s conviction was based. The organizations compiled records of all the funds raised by DeLay’s state PAC (TRMPAC) and other committees, and provided evidence that DeLay did not raise enough non-corporate money to account for all the funds he laundered into the 2002 redistricting election.

The picture that emerged as the case unfolded was of a calculated operation designed specifically to undermine the will of voters.

This report discusses the use of prison bed occupancy guarantee clauses in prison privatization contracts and explores how bed occupancy guarantees undermine criminal justice policy and democratic, accountable government. The report sheds light on the for-profit private prison industry’s reliance on high prison populations, and how these occupancy guarantee provisions directly benefit its bottom line. Also discussed are the prevalence of bed guarantee clauses, drawing on set of contracts that ITPI obtained through state open records requests. We also address how occupancy guarantees have harmed states, focusing on the experiences of Arizona, Colorado, and Ohio — three states that have agreed to these provisions to detrimental consequences. Lastly, the report discusses our recommendation that governments can and should reject prison occupancy guarantees.

Half a year into Obama's second term, it has become clear what has been done under his watch. He brought to the world continued and unprosecuted massive banking fraud, drone attacks, indefinite detention, assassination of US citizens and an unprecedented war on whistleblowers. The rhetoric of hope and change has finally and undeniably revealed its true colors. Prominent dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky remarked how Obama's assault on civil liberties has progressed beyond anything he could have imagined. All of these telltale signs mark the slippery slide toward totalitarianism that seems to now be escalating.

Sep 22

What Will It Take To End the Suffering in Syria?

By Michael Z Youhana, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Americans concerned about the crisis in Syria should consider an insightful quote from an August 31 op-ed by the Brookings Institution's H.A. Hellyer: "Give the people of Syria a better choice than one type of madness over another." One madness being the Obama administration's proposed strikes in Syria, the other being a perpetuation the status quo, which entails the steady escalation of violence in Syria.

For the time being, ostensibly punitive but practically aimless US strikes in Syria have been halted in favor of the widely publicized plan to confiscate the Assad regime's chemical weapons. The international reputations of both Obama and Putin are left essentially intact, along with the grinding, miserable status quo that is Syria's brutal civil war and unsustainable refugee crisis. Madness still reigns in Syria and Hellyer is right to argue that Syrians should be granted "a better choice."

In this moment in which the public will and a bit of nerve in Congress have made refusing to let a president launch a bunch of missiles into a foreign country a reality and therefore mainstream and respectable (rather than vaguely treasonous as it might have been widely understood a decade ago or depicted by the corporate media a couple of weeks ago), there are signs of possible wider outbreaks of sanity.