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.

In Washington today, 13 year old Zubair Rehmen along with his 9 year old Nabeela, spoke with members of Congress in a briefing organized by Alan Grayson, to send a message to our elected representatives who authorize our blowback inducing bull in a geo-political china shop of military budget what the rest of the world can see as plain as day: Drone attacks in countries that have not declared war on us and pose no threat to us are illegal, immoral, and create more enemies than they kill.

Oct 31

Lawsuit: NSA Can't Detect Satire

By Public Citizen, Public Citizen | Report

BALTIMORE, Md. – A Minnesota activist who uses images and names of government agencies on satirical merchandise is entitled to do so under the First Amendment, Public Citizen argued in a lawsuit filed today against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of the merchant.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, targets cease-and-desist letters sent to the merchant’s producer by the NSA and DHS.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new poll commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake finds that an overwhelming number of voters believe campaign donations and other special interest spending on judicial elections have an influence on a judge’s decision on the bench.  The findings were released today at a National Press Club event highlighting a new report by the groups, The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts.

Despite the common misconception that science fiction (SF) is aimed at predicting the future—Orwell writing in 1948 to predict the world of 1984—SF often seeks to criticize the contemporary conditions of the writer’s time as well as to capture the enduring truths confronting humanity. To that second end, Orwell in 1984 dramatizes the political use of language to mislead, not to inform.

And it is with Orwellian grace that we now have President Barack Obama calling for “political courage” related to funding education...

Oct 31

Remembering Lou Reed

By Gary Roland, Truthout | Op-Ed

I can still remember the first time I listened to Heroin.  I was 18 and Rock & Roll was an escape valve for the growing alienation that accompanies becoming.  My friend and I had secured an overnight shift at a local college radio station, to satisfy not only our desire for rebellion, but also as an expression of our fumbling adolescent attempts at grasping onto something more authentic than the often disingenuous moral certitude expressed by the institutions that defined our life in a small southern town.  The transformation from the magic of childhood, a time of seemingly wondrous unlimited potential, to the ‘realistic’ and confining roles we are forced to assume as young adults; is never an easy transformation.  The sting of becoming something limited from that which was once unlimited led me, and many of my adolescent friends who did not survive the transition, to look for identity and transcendence in frequent drug use, occasional sex, and the ever present beat of Rock & Roll.

Fei Xiaotong, a world-renowned Chinese anthropologist, visited America in the 1940's and thought it was a country devoid of ghosts. Americans live in brightly lit cities, he noted. They illuminate all parts of a room. They believe in individual progress -- not clanship, not past history. Americans move about, forming few, if any, permanent ties to places and people. So how could ghosts find room to dwell in such a place?

But the bright and shiny ghost-less land that Mr. Fei saw in World War II-era America is long gone. The America that believed in technology as a solution to all things, that believed in upward mobility as the norm, that saw itself as defender of the world from evil, has become almost a century later a landscape where ghosts comfortably dwell.

Oct 29

Boys, Toys, and Guns — A Fatal Mix

By Shepherd Bliss, Truthout | Op-Ed

“Guns are not toys,” my military father taught me as a youngster, as hunter parents also tend to teach their children. “Toys are not guns,” police and sheriff deputies should learn. Confusing them can be deadly.

Officers sworn to serve, protect, and keep the peace should not show off their guns to children and put them in their eager hands. This happened in August of 2011 here in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, Northern California. The community was not happy about that, and it is even more angered now.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty-four corporations that voluntarily disclosed information about their donations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave the trade association $6.5 million in non-tax-deductible contributions last year, which is significant because that money can be used to influence elections. This money represents less than 4 percent of the U.S. Chamber’s average annual spending, revealing how little information is available about the giant trade group, which has spent more than $1 billion on lobbying since 1998, a new Public Citizen report shows.

In a historic decision five Catholic Worker activists were acquitted earlier this evening of disorderly conduct charges for blocking the main entrance to Hancock Air Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard, Syracuse, New York.

Hancock is a Reaper drone hub whose technicians pilot weaponized drones over Afghanistan. The five went “pro se,” defending themselves in the De Witt town court of Judge Robert Jokl.

In his closing statement Fr. Bill Picard said, “We pray for you, Judge Jokl, to have the courage to do the right and courageous thing.”

Oct 28

Occupy Sandy: One Year After The Storm

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video

The Occupy Sandy community has changed the face of disaster relief. Our network of more than 50,000 volunteers provided over 300,000 meals, remediated over 1000 homes, and provided over a million dollars' worth of donated supplies by working with our neighbors to provide mutual aid throughout the rebuilding process.

Some folks have returned to their normal lives, but many remain affected by Hurricane Sandy. Our people-powered movement built something incredible, but we need your help to continue to move residents back into their homes, assist them in rebuilding their lives, and amplify the voice of communities in their own recovery. We need your help to support our ongoing work.