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 McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to strike down longstanding provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act that impose an "aggregate limit" of approximately $125,000 on the amounts individuals can contribute during an election cycle to federal candidates, political parties and other political committees. The elimination of that cap would allow candidates and party officials to solicit million-dollar-plus contributions to be shared among the major parties' various candidates and committees. Despite the Supreme Court's repeated holdings that limits on such huge contributions are constitutional because they are a bulwark against corruption—the exchange of political favors for money—the Republican National Committee (RNC) and one of its large donors argue in the case that the limits should be wiped away because the resulting contributions will not be "huge" enough to cause concern.

Jul 31

Women's Initiatives Begin at Home

By Laura Finley, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Early in his first term, President Obama appointed Melanne Verveer as the first Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women's Issues. Now, a new appointee will take the lead on the state department's global women's initiatives. It is my hope that Cathy Russell uses her new position to address the continuing problems faced by women seeking legal protection from abusive partners. To date, much of the focus on women's issues has been external to the U.S. While this is very important, we need to clean up our own backyard as well.

Jul 31

I'm Going to Chevron Saturday

By Rebecca Solnit, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
I’m going to Chevron Saturday. There’s only one of me, this is only one piece of the work of trying to limit carbon emissions and thereby climate change, but I’ll be joined by hundreds, maybe thousands of others, and this is the work we are here to do, all of us, you too, because it’s your cause and your job. If you care about anything at all—your own future past next week or next year, the price of food, the poor almost everywhere, peace on earth, the people who live in fragile places from Bolivia to Ethiopia to to Alaska to Louisiana, the kids who will be living on earth in fifty years, the fish in the sea and the complex web of living things on earth, the forests of the west, the democratic process—you care about climate change. It is the overarching issue that affects all others, from the food we eat and the financial systems of the world to the nonhuman life on earth on which our lives depend. It’s everything. It’s the size of everything else: it’s the entire living surface of our earth, from the depths of
the oceans to the birds in the sky; it’s the atmosphere that shapes our weather and our fate.

On July 13, 2013, jurors in the Zimmerman trial found him "not guilty."

Since then, CNN's interviews with Juror B37 and prosecution star witness Rachel Jeantel, plus ABC's interview with juror B29, have provided additional perspective, illuminating how race, credibility, communication and misperceived "evidence" perhaps influenced the verdict.

Juror B37 said in her Anderson Cooper interview that she and other jurors didn't believe race played a role in the trial.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos disagreed, insisting, "Race had EVERYTHING to do with the trial! When they picked the jury, the case was over! Race is still the biggest issue in the criminal justice system."

Jul 30

Monsanto Soybeans May Sprout From Human Ears

By Jennifer Hollie Bowles, SpeakOut | News Analysis

While there's no imminent or specific threat of soybeans sprouting from our ears due to Monsanto chemicals and its genetic modification of food, the real risks are far worse.
The disturbing misanthropic history of Monsanto includes polyurethanes, aspartame, herbicide glysophates, and Agent Orange production, which makes the thought of their involvement with food immediately questionable at best. Many scientists, politicians, citizens, and even most of Europe agree that Monsanto should be stopped.

Jul 30

Creating the New World

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance | News Analysis

A simplified explanation of the strategy to transform our society from a greedy plutocracy to a cooperative democracy, from our destructive path to a sustainable future, is that there are two simultaneous tracks – protest what we do not like and build what we want. We call this "Stop the Machine-Create a New World." This weekly report usually focuses on the protest part of the resistance movement, but this week we will focus more on the people who are working to create the world we want to see.

It is not that there are no protest actions to report on. There continues to be a lot going on.

Like many mass shooters in the US, Pedro Vargas, the alleged Florida gunman who killed six before being killed himself, had no criminal history. That means he is the quintessential law abiding citizen whose "rights" the NRA protects by defeating background checks, bans on high capacity magazines, retention of records by dealers beyond 24 hours and most importantly a firearms registry.

With no registry, even if records showed that Vargas had mental health issues--like recent mass shooters who threatened to kill--and even if states fowarded those records, who would know he had lethal weapons? Especially if they were acquired before he melted down? No wonder, the gun lobby supports mental health reporting--it's a joke.

Jul 30

Barack Obama is NOT Trayvon Martin

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video Report

Joel Northam, reporting for Acronym TV, states: "President Obama could have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago, yet fortunately he was privileged enough to receive an elite education whilst being groomed by established power to become the Drone Bombing, Bank Bailing, Whistleblower Torturing, Immigrant Deporting, Civil Liberty shredding, corporate puppet that he is today. Although the Trayvon Martin tragedy still burns deep within our hearts, it is a blessing that he doesn't have to see politicians use his death to cater to the emotions of the angry masses while they continue their business as usual of worldwide plunder of resources and exploitation of the global working class"

Jul 30

Three Things about the TPP you need to Know and Share

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video Report

When the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections commission that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government, many of us who care about the principles of Democracy (first and foremost among them that the people rule) felt as if we had been punched in the gut by Andre the Giant, kicked in the privates by the steel toe of a Gene Simmons boot, and Mike Tyson was making a meal out of our ear.

It is hard to imagine feeling worse than that, but President Obama is working to see that you do.

Diana Zuniga is statewide coordinator for CURB, Californians United for a Responsible Budget: She discusses the hunger strike in California prisons and the ongoing struggle to resist further expansion of mass incarceration, and to move our society in a healthier direction.