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 order to see the 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan you must first remove your belt and anything metal, pass through airport-level security, and show your ticket at six separate check points. After making it past all this on a sunny afternoon I did not feel especially free by the time I entered the site.
Still, the Memorial can provoke powerful emotions that tend to eclipse the oppressive experience of being processed, prodded and examined before acceptance. Standing in the wide court surrounding the two pools, built on the same spots where the Twin Towers stood, you cannot help sensing what is missing. Still water circulates below the names of victims, each die-cut into bronze, and then descends the thirty-foot waterfall into a void.
The guide touts it as the largest water cascade in North America.

On Thursday, the Drug Policy Alliance will release An Exit Strategy for the Failed War on Drugs, the group's first-ever federal legislative guide. This comprehensive report contains 75 broad and incremental recommendations for legislative reforms related to civil rights, deficit reduction, law enforcement, foreign policy, sentencing and re-entry, effective drug treatment, public health, and drug prevention education. The guide will be released at a forum on the Hill cosponsored by Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), both of whom fought for major drug policy reform at the local level before running for Congress and winning.

"The United States has approximately five percent of the world's population but twenty-five percent of its prison population, largely resulting from failed policy decisions connected to the war on drugs," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York). "The over-criminalization phenomenon has cost us in lost human capital and economic productivity. I look forward to thoroughly reviewing DPA's recommendations and working closely together to improve the fairness and humanity of the criminal justice system."

The conviction of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt is unprecedented. Never has a previous head of state been convicted of genocide or crimes against humanity in his own country. Members of the judiciary, including Claudia Paz y Paz, the first female Attorney General of the country, courageously pursued the court case in spite of numerous threats against them and their families and efforts by the current president to halt the proceedings. With evidence that the United States government under Reagan and the current president of Guatemala were complicit, one might even hope this event will start a chain reaction of accountability and turn the tide on globalism.

However, it was the hundred or so Ixil Mayan witnesses, people who barely escaped the 1982-83 atrocities of the government that tens of thousands suffered, whose courage brought forth the court’s verdict. A population of less than 1% of the country, they suffered through the unimaginable horrors perpetrated by the government’s militia and supported by American money, weapons and consultants. Declassified CIA documents reveal knowledge of the atrocities and decisions to do nothing about them. Like "Indians" throughout the Americas, the victims were not combatants for the most part, but peaceful villagers who were massacred  under mandates from the oligarchy, essentially to protect its and the US investors who backed it by preventing land reform by the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala.

The following petition, signed by over a dozen experts on Latin America and the media, was sent today to Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of The New York Times:

May 14, 2013

Dear Margaret Sullivan,

In a recent column (4/12/13), you observed:

Although individual words and phrases may not amount to very much in the great flow produced each day, language matters. When news organizations accept the government’s way of speaking, they seem to accept the government’s way of thinking. In The Times, these decisions carry even more weight.

In light of this comment we encourage you to compare The New York Times’s characterization of the leadership of the late Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and that of Roberto Micheletti and Porfirio Lobo in Honduras.

Despite media exposes and a public backlash, a lot of meat today continues to be treated with gasses to keep it looking red. Like mercury in tuna, just because the risks are exposed and the public is outraged doesn’t mean the producers change anything. They know the furor will die down and the public will forget.

Treating meat with carbon monoxide keeps its oxymyoglobin, what makes it red, from turning brown or gray. In defending the use of gasses to keep meat looking fresh, the meat industry says that meat turning brown is no different than apples turning brown when exposed to the air–a harmless discoloration that does not affect wholesomeness. Right. But the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food have voiced concerns about meat food appearing fresher than it is because of the artificial hues.

May 15

The Boston Bomber, Superman and the American Way

By James and Jean Anton, PenPoints | Op-Ed

The Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is arguably most hated man in America.  He also may be the man who hates America most.  He also believed in America as much as he hated it.  He believed in America even more than some other Americans, who claim they love America, believe in America.

He believed in the Superman myth, the one that proclaimed belief in "Truth, Justice, and the American Way."

But let us put Tsarnaev aside for a moment.  Let us look at the Superman myth and the American way: Superman believed the American Way is embodied in the Sixth Amendment.  

May 15

Burning Down the House of Horrors, Again

By Lisa Factora-Borchers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It's rare for news media to recycle headliners. A few years ago, the title "the house of horrors" was used to describe the gruesome findings ofeleven African-American women who had been murdered and hidden in a Cleveland home by Anthony Sowell. This week, as the case of Ariel Castro unfolds with details of how he abducted, raped, and held three women captive in his Cleveland home, the "house of horrors" cloud has once again descended on the Cleveland skyline.

The questions and inquiries as to how so many women went missing and were held in common houses, plotted on ordinary streets with everyday activity bustling around them has raised intense questions over the consequences of the United States cultural proclivity to live in, as Connie Schultz describes, "a community of strangers." How did these women disappear without a trace? How did community fail these women?

The environmental challenges we face today, from spreading deserts to rising oceans, compel us to reconsider the conventional concepts of growth and recognize that they cannot easily be reconciled with the dangerous implications of runaway consumption and unlimited development.

Above all, we must get away from a speculative economy born of an irrational dependence on finance, which has becoming increasingly unstable as digital technology accelerates and financial transactions take place without any objective review. We must return to a stable and long-term economy. In part, that process concerns the restoration of regulation on the banking system, but the change must also involve the very conception of finance and banking. Finance must be aimed at stable, long-term projects which have relevance for ordinary people.

Corn is in 3 out of every 4 products you buy at the grocery store. There's some things you should know about it. Here's a link to an info-graphic on it, and the sources for that info-graphic are at the bottom of it. ...This is segment two from episode 4 of the Moment of Clarity show.