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.

Across the U.S. on Thursday, street protests will support prisoners detained at the U.S. prison in Guantánamo who are engaged in a large-scale hunger strike, which began in early February. Some are now in critical condition.

"The vast majority of the 166 men have been held for more than eleven years without any charge or fair trial, with no end to their detention in sight. The Obama administration must take swift measures to humanely address the immediate causes of the hunger strike and fulfill its promise to close the Guantanamo" says a statement from World Can't Wait andWitness Against Torture.

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced legislation today to break up banks that have grown so large that the Justice Department fears the financial system would be at risk if criminal charges were filed against them.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department may not pursue criminal cases against big banks because filing charges could "have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy."

As a general rule, musicians, artists, and writers, as well as those possessed of an ardor for self-awareness and a commitment to political activism have been advised to avoid a habitual retreat to comfort take note of the criteria that causes one's pulse to quicken, brings flop sweat to the brow, causes sphincters to seize up, and delivers mortification to the mind. In order to quicken imagination and avoid banality, it is imperative to explore the fears that cause one to awaken in the darkest of night to stare bug-eyed at the ceiling until dawn; to embrace discomfort; to shun crackpot complacency; to wander through the teeming polis of the psyche, and, in so doing, to not only stray and mingle among the outcasts, demimonde and mad, but proceed to the locked-down wards of the region's lunatic asylum, and make an exhausting inquest into the nature of the hopeless cases that have been hidden from public view.

Throughout the course of human affairs, scheming elitists -- let's call them the Plundering Class -- have devoted their days conceiving strategies and executing agendas that serve to enrich the fortunes of a ruthless few (namely themselves) by an exploitation of the harried and hapless multitudes. They scheme, hire silver tongued flacks and muster soldiers to do their biding, while, all too often, the rest of us squander the fleeting days of our finite lives in their service. They plot while we hope. They hoard the bounty of the world while we hoard resentments (generally misplaced upon those equally as power-bereft as we are).

County jails in New Jersey are packed with individuals who are incarcerated solely because they cannot afford their often nominal bail amounts, according to a new report released today by Luminosity in partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance.

The New Jersey Jail Population Analysis: Identifying Opportunities to Safely and Responsibly Reduce the Jail Populationexamined county corrections data from 19 of the 21 state counties and found that:

  • On any given day, nearly seventy-five percent of the 15,000 individuals in New Jersey jails are awaiting trial rather than serving a sentence.
Apr 09

Critical Thinking Gone Missing

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

In 2008 Rick Shenkman, the Editor-in-Chief of the History News Network, published a book entitled Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth about the American Voter (Basic Books). In it he demonstrated, among other things, that most Americans were: (1) ignorant about major international events, (2) knew little about how their own government runs and who runs it, (3) were nonetheless willing to accept government positions and policies even though a moderate amount of critical thought suggested they were bad for the country, and (4) were readily swayed by stereotyping, simplistic solutions, irrational fears, and public relations babble.

Shenkman spent 256 pages documenting these claims, using a great number of polls and surveys from very reputable sources. Indeed, in the end it is hard to argue with his data. So, what can we say about this? One thing that can be said is that this is not an abnormal state of affairs. As has been suggested in prior analyses, ignorance of non-local affairs (often leading to inaccurate assumptions, passive acceptance of authority, and illogical actions) is, in fact, a default position for any population.

When combating repulsive fundamentalist Christian religious supremacists like Chuck Norris, you don't need to be a martial arts black belt. You only need to consider the telling attributes of the pathetic source of the hatred. Then you need to let the people know about it all.

We at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) pride ourselves on being the decisive bulwark in the fight to safeguard the religious liberties and civil rights of United States armed servicemembers who have encountered a panoply of grotesquely acute abuses visited upon them for their choices of religious preferences (or lack thereof). As anyone who follows MRFF knows well, we're used to taking the fight to the very top, whether it be the hallowed halls of military academia, the highest echelons of the U.S. Department of Defense, or the war rooms of the top brass at the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Our attack arsenal of remediation regularly includes filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, drafting appropriately aggressive demand letters, breaking stories in the national and international media, litigating when necessary, and ceaselessly advocating in a plethora of other meaningful ways on behalf of our over 32,000 active duty and veteran armed forces clients. Please remember that 96% of MRFF clients are practicing Christians themselves.

Apr 09

The NYT’s Trouble with Drones

By Frank Ascaso, No Flag | Op-Ed

The New York Times is trying to push the administration on Obama’s illegal drone program.  Their appraisal is that the Obama administration is dragging its feet when it comes to reforming the program.  They want to make sure the drones have a modicum of legal cover, and advocate a judicial review panel similar to the FISA court, the oversight body charged with reviewing the federal government’s use of foreign wiretaps.

The problem, for the Times, is not the morality of the strikes themselves, for the use of drones, in the eyes of Americans, have “become a permanent fixture of national policy.”  Nor is it secretive role of the CIA and the lack of transparency.  They see the division between military strikes and those carried out by the CIA is crucial because, “if American military forces hit Pakistan,” now largely the CIA’s role, “it could be an act of war.” A legal nicety the victims of the strikes, overwhelming civilian, no doubt appreciate.

Calm down, white people. You're going all Michael Vick again. You'd think these cheating teachers were there with Vick when he created the sport of dog fighting. What's that you say? Vick didn't invent dog fighting? Well, he must have considering all that uproar. Geeze, remember that uproar?

But yeah, if they did what they did, those teachers should be fired. If the administrators created such an atmosphere, especially let them go. Where it involved money, if they stole any, make them pay it back. If it was a lot, yeah, those folks should go to jail. But I haven't read where a lot of money was stolen.

But a $7 million bail for former Superintendent Beverly Hall and other astronomical amounts for the other defendants (all since reduced)? Did they off someone that someone failed to mention?