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.

Aug 14

With Iran US Is Stuck in False Dilemma

By Dallas Darling, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Like Longine Symphonettes that once played over and over again, the U.S. is again playing a "false dilemma" record with Iran. When President Hassan Rouhan offered an olive branch by proposing "direct" and "protracted" talks on Iran's disputed civilian-nuclear program, one would think the Obama Administration would have accepted. But not only did they denigrate President Rouhan's statement, Congress reacted by wanting more severe and austere economic sanctions. They also claimed President Rouhani' s (who is considered a moderate by the West) statement was not "substantive."

But the U.S. is accustomed to playing false dilemmas. In a diverse world, it is difficult to try and maintain preeminence through a prism of only two possibilities. In Iran's case, U.S. leaders claim it is pursuing nuclear enrichment for the purpose of developing atomic weapons. According to Iran, though, its nuclear enrichment is only for peaceful and civilian purposes, which is very common among many non-nuclear nations. In the past, direct talks, even public debates, have also been ridiculed and derided and often met with severe sanctions, ones that have hurt some of Iran's civilian populations.

Aug 14

In America

By Rachael Kilgour, SpeakOut | Video

"In America"

One by one we fall in line
To reach for the precious prize
To the promised land
Singing "Yes we can!"
Stomachs bigger than our eyes
And it's yelled out loud
It's murmured low
There's a chance for you and me
To have all we dreamed
And even more it seems
That's the curse of liberty

There are few people in the sports world I respect more than Cyd Zeigler the founder of the website Outsports, which deals with the sporting lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes. I tweeted Mr. Zeigler's excellent article titled "Don't Boycott Olympics Ban Russia From Competing Instead" precisely because it was incisive and made me think. I do however feel that on principle I need to state that I strongly disagree with his central premise.

Zeigler's argument is that Russia should be treated as a pariah state not unlike South Africa during the time of apartheid, excluded from most major international sporting events.

Half a century ago, on the spurious grounds that extreme sacrifices were required in the battle to prevent a communist takeover of the world, the US government decided to use the citizens of Nevada as nuclear guinea pigs. Although atomic testing was pursued there for several years in the 1950s, notification would have alarmed area residents. As a result, they weren't even advised to go indoors. Yet, according to declassified documents, some scientists studying the genetic effects of radiation at the time were already concerned about the health risks of fallout.

For most of those committed to the US nuclear program, the need to keep this type of research secret was a no-brainer. After all, if the public realized that the technology used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki had led to experiments at home, early nuclear research – not to mention weapons deployment – might have met stronger opposition. The government badly wanted its nukes, and the scientists yearned to unlock the secrets of human mutation. Thus, an unholy alliance was struck.

Aug 14

Terror Alert Now!; Tar Sands Blocked; ALEC Turns 40

By Dennis Trainor Jr, AcronymTV | Video Report

Even a former CIA analyst who was part of the team that hunted Osama bin Laden for years, Nada Bakos said- "We just showed our hand, so now they're obviously going to change their position on when and where". And Will McCants, a former State Department adviser on counterterrorism said -"It's crazy pants -- you can quote me."

So what's happening in Detroit? It seems like every time we hear about the motor city we hear about its economic struggles and everything in between, from the blighted neighborhoods, thousands of boarded up homes, abandoned local businesses, rampant crime, and a more than 50% decline in the cities population since 2008. What we don't hear about is the new game that our friends in the banking department of the bourgeoisie are playing with the livelihoods of Detroit's residents. As we know, Wall Street has a tendency to bundle, repackage and gamble on the market anything from Margaretville Mixers to Credit Default Swaps, and it just so happens that they've added Interest Rate Swaps to the same category. Joel Northam reports.

The Freedom Rides of 1961 saw some of the most iconic moments of the United States' Civil Rights movement. Courageous, idealistic young people boarded busses to the segregated South to stand up for their ideals of freedom, equality and justice. Like our most fearless armed servicemen/women, they knew that they were risking their lives for their beliefs. What made them different, however, was that they were unarmed and trained in nonviolence. Referring to his participation in the rides, Georgia Congressperson John Lewis said, "I was like a soldier in a nonviolent army." Myriad images, questions and ideas capture our imagination: what would a nonviolent army do? How would it be organized? Would it ever be practical? What would it take to build one?

Aug 13

Past Wars on Indians Aren't Even Past

By David Swanson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hammer in hand, one sees nails everywhere. Successful unpunished genocide at home in hand, the Pentagon sees Indian Country on six continents. But don't imagine the U.S. military is finished with the original Indian Country yet, including Native American reservations and territories, and including the places where the rest of us now live.

Out of the blue earlier this week we were hit with the news* that the FAA has approved Reaper "training" flights over Syracuse, NY. These unmanned robots are piloted from our own Hancock air base.

The Reaper is a weaponized surveillance drone notorious for spying and assassination and for killing civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. According to United Nations investigations some of these attacks qualify as war crime.

The Reaper is hyped as key to the so-called "war on terror." Because they prey on civilians across North Africa, the Mideast and Central Asia, drones are themselves instruments of terror. They generate dread. They perpetuate hatred.

Kevin "Rashid" Johnson is a prisoner-journalist, political organizer, and advocate, who the Virginia, Oregon, and Texas prison authorities would very much like to silence, permanently. If that sounds ominous, it's because it is.

For several years now, Rashid has worked as the main public organizer of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, a small Marxist-Leninist group most of whose members are to be found behind bars. He has also lent his talents to various progressive political movements as an artist, and is a prolific writer on a variety of subjects ranging from Black nationalism to economics to dialectical materialist philosophy. But if anything has provoked the powers that be, it is Rashid's documenting of abuse behind bars, of beatings and starvation and medical neglect and the mundane cruelty that plays out between captor and captive every day in jails and prisons across America.

For the current demonization of Edward Snowden and whistleblowers to be put into some perspective it would help to be old enough to remember the My Lia massacre—including the initial military cover-up, the related trial, the harrowing evidence, the verdicts and the subsequent pardon of 2nd Lieutenant William Calley by then-president Richard Nixon. Calley was the only person convicted of any My Lia crimes despite several other servicemen admitting their role in murdering at least 347 and likely as many as 504 unarmed civilians including elderly men, women, children and infants.

When does duty to conscience override the oath of secrecy one may have been compelled to take in order to work within the federal government?