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 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?

Aug 13

Egypt's Coup: Progressive or Regressive?

By Jack A. Smith, Speakout | News Analysis

What is really happening in Egypt? Are the latest developments a progressive step forward or a regressive step backward for the millions of Egyptians seeking political change primarily through prolonged mass mobilizations in the streets?

It's been over a month since a military coup d'état, with popular support, ousted the country's first democratically elected government July 3 after only one year in office, following an earlier military coup with popular support that brought down dictator Hosni Mubarak.

There are diametrically opposed interpretations about what is taking place in Egypt. One fact remains certain, however. In 1952 during the overthrow of the monarchy, and in 2011 during the overthrow of the dictatorship, and in 2013 during the overthrow of the newly elected government, the military was the ultimate power. It has no intention to forego that power regardless of the outcome of the next election in 2014.

Aug 12

Lynne Stewart Needs Our Help

By United National Anti-War Coalition, SpeakOut | Press Release
Today, Judge John Koeltl DENIED Lynne Stewart's petition for compassionate release. But he left the door open for  another decision.
Citing the "law" that requires the Bureau of Prisons to first make a recommendation to the Judge for Compassionate Release Koeltl wrote:
"The petitioner has appropriately submitted a renewed motion for compassionate release to the BOP, and the court is prepared to give prompt and sympathetic consideration to any motion by the BOP that seeks compassionate release. But the current application seeking to circumvent a motion by the BOP is without merit and is DENIED."
Aug 12

Drug Prohibition Is a Threat to National Security

By Julie R Butler , SpeakOut | News Analysis

The tide is turning on opposition to the criminalization of marijuana. More and more prominent persons and organizations are supporting legalization as an alternative to the Drug War, including former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, and the ACLU. As the folks at Just Say point out, even The Partnership at is talking in terms of how legalization of marijuana should work rather than if it should be legalized.

Aug 12

Oh What a Web Textbooks Weave...

By Dan Falcone, SpeakOut | Interview

History Teacher Daniel Falcone Interviews James W. Loewen, Author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me."

FALCONE: You have written a great deal about textbooks. What are the things people need to know about the politics and economics of textbook adoption and textbook publishing?

LOEWEN: I think the first important thing is that usually most textbooks are not written by their authors. And so by author I mean the people who did not write them; so it's a new definition of "author." In relation to that, we, members of the public and we, K-12 teachers grant all kinds of deference to the textbook, most of us. Textbooks are written in an oracular monotone, so that they claim to be true and important.

Maryland may soon join Oregon in exploring solutions to the crisis of student debt and unaffordable education.

Education is supposed to be a human right.  But the United States puts people into deep debt to pay for it.  Short of taxing billionaires or dismantling bombers (both of which we're all, I hope, working on), what's the solution?

The state of Oregon has passed a law creating a commission to study a plan called "Pay it forward. Pay it back."  See Katrina vanden Heuvel: An Oregon Trail to End Student Debt.

Aug 11

Final Thoughts on the Swartz Affair

By John Halle, SpeakOut | News Analysis

On July 30, MIT released its long awaited report on its role in the prosecution and suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz.

Some will regard its release coinciding with the Bradley Manning verdict as suspicious, designed to distract the attention of many of those who would be otherwise interested in and critical of the report's contents.

But it is almost certainly overly conspiratorial to credit MIT with a media strategy on this level of sophistication. In fact, something like the exact opposite is more likely the case: rather than being aware of public perceptions, the report provides many indications of an administration largely unaware of or unconcerned with a widespread cynicism in some circles with respect to its intentions and motives. The tone deafness towards its critics should be seen as of a piece with a routine legalistic arrogance and institutional cowardice, the combination of which would be a decisive factor in the Swartz tragedy.