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.

COLORADO SPRINGS — On Wednesday, November 6, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) made a bold gesture in its fight to keep church and state separate in the United States military. Protesting the continued usage of unconstitutional religious tests at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), MRFF posted a billboard at the northwest corner of North Nevada Ave. and Garden of the Gods Road (facing east), one of the busiest thoroughfares in Colorado Springs, CO.

MRFF’s latest salvo comes less than a month after USAFA admitted that its honor oath has contained the phrase “So help me God” since 1984. Under fierce MRFF pressure last month, the Academy finally relented and made the unconstitutional religious phrase “optional.” MRFF currently has 435 cadets, staff and clients at USAFA, 372 of whom self-identify as practicing Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic.

Nov 07

International Community Demands New Direction, Transparency At Fukushima

By Green Shadow Cabinet Fukushima Sub-committee, Popular Resistance | Press Release

New York City – Members of the Green Shadow Cabinet Fukushima subcommittee and allies deliver a letter signed by more than 150 organizations and individuals from across the globe and petitions signed by more than 150,000 people to the United Nations today calling for a new direction in the management and clean-up of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

As more information is revealed about the ongoing crises at Fukushima and the difficulties faced by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the Japanese public and the global community recognize that the situation requires immediate and independent intervention. TEPCO has failed to demonstrate competence in managing the situation, and they continue to place profits before safety. TEPCO is cutting corners and mistreating workers, which is adding to the deterioration of the situation. They have also shown themselves to be untrustworthy hiding information about serious problems at Fukushima.

The Syrian civil war has come about as a response to the rule of Bashar al-Assad who succeeded his father in the year 2000, coming into presidency with strong support of the people and with aspirations of democracy and secularism. However, as his presidency unfolded, not much changed for the Syrian people. The economy was still strongly controlled by the authorities and any signs of uprising or Arab Spring type movements were not met “democratically.”

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz explains how Millennials' view love and relationships after the Great Recession.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal that is being negotiated completely in secret. The main actors at the table are large corporate interests like Wall Street banks, multinational drug companies, and oil and gas companies. This might lead one to think that the end product will be an agreement that furthers the upward redistribution of income rather than benefits the bulk of the population. That seems especially likely since this is a "next generation" trade agreement that is primarily about regulations, not reducing traditional trade barriers like tariffs and quotas.

Richmond, VA - November 6 - Today, in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel on behalf of four Iraqi men who were tortured at Abu Ghraib, six amici parties urged the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the case, which was dismissed by the district court in June. Plaintiffs in the case, Al Shimari v. CACI International Inc., brought claims including torture and war crimes under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) against private contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (“CACI”), which U.S. military investigators concluded participated in torture, the “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. In dismissing the torture victims’ claims, the district judge did not suggest that the plaintiffs’ allegations were unfounded, but instead ruled that the recent Supreme Court decision in Kiobel v. Shell/Royal Dutch Petroleum barred lawsuits based on conduct that occurred outside the U.S.

Today, U.S. PIRG and Americans for Tax Fairness presented over 160,000 signatures to the Department of Justice, calling for the agency to prohibit JPMorgan Chase from reaping a multi-billion dollar tax deduction on its expected record-breaking settlement over its sale of crisis-era mortgage securities.

Last month, reports emerged that the expected $13 billion settlement could be tax deductible. The bank separately settled with the Federal Housing Finance Agency last week, but a settlement for the bulk of the charges for mortgage lending abuses is reported to be finalized shortly with the Department of Justice. Unless the Department of Justice prevents it, the expected $9 billion in remaining settlements could be tax deductible – forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab for over $3 billion.

Nov 06

Visitors to Snowden and Visitors to Berlin

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Report

It was a good try, anyway - and an adventurous one. Three men flew from Berlin to Moscow, were taken in a car with tinted glass windows to a secret location - where they met Edward Snowden and his partner-in-(alleged)-crime, Sarah Harrison. The meeting was very interesting. So were the three visitors. Trio leader was Hans-Christian Stroebele, 74, Bundestag representative from a mixed East-West Berlin electoral district, the only Green Party delegate directly elected (four times); the other 62 got in thanks to Germany's proportional representation system. Anyone joining in anti-war rallies recognizes the rather haggard-looking man who - until recently - always arrived pedaling a bike.

I was still in the process of being fitted with a wireless microphone when word came that I was about to go on. That's when I reached into my pocket for the talisman that I hoped would get me through the next 20 minutes.

It was Sunday, July 7, 2013, and I was about to deliver a closing plenary address at a national conference, the Vegetarian Summerfest, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Having given several presentations at the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in years past, the sequence of having my name called, navigating the 15 yards to the stage, and speaking to hundreds of attendees had become second nature to me. But that was then, and this was now - seven months removed from an uncomfortably close brush with my own mortality.

Nov 06

Medical Advertising

By Richard Rapport, MD, SpeakOut | Report

Not too many years ago, certainly before the growth of the for-profit Humana medical plans system in the late 1970s, it was considered unprofessional and really forbidden for doctors to advertise. Now, it isn't even considered tacky.

But it is.

In almost any medium - the Internet, TV, radio, and print - sometimes outrageous claims are made for a drug, medical product, particular treatment, or particular doctor and/or hospital. These may take the form of "infomercials," and are aimed at a vulnerable, medically unsophisticated audience. Often they target readers and listeners who suffer either from a chronic, relapsing, but self-limited illness, or a condition that will eventually resolve if left alone. Sometimes claims are made for the cure of illnesses or non-illnesses that really are best left untreated. After all, everyone sometimes has pain for one reason or another.