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.

People are showing their depth of support for Bradley Manning by signing up to serve part of his prison time. Comments from people signing indicate great appreciation for Manning exposing the truth about U.S. foreign policy, especially the conduct of the wars, the drone program, Guantanmo and the operation of the State Department.

There's a new trend in surveillance and that trend involves drones in our skies. Many have seen them, but most don't report them. Why not? It's because until recently, there has been nowhere to report these sightings. The FBI recently admitted to using drones to spy on US citizens. Are you one of them?

The Sleuth Journal, in association with Staticwave Studio has just launched a new site called Drone Patrol where you can report drone sightings and read others' encounters of their sightings. Like the MUFON for drones, it allows you to add images, video and location, as well as details of your sighting. You can also access the site by clicking on "drone patrol" at the top of our main site.

Aug 07

Bringing Gitmo to the Senate

By Tarak Kauff, War Is a Crime | Report

On July 30 we had a combined action both inside and outside the Hart Senate Bldg. A gaunt looking Elliott Adams, on day 73 of his hunger strike, managed to get there from his home in upstate NY and spoke outside the Hart. Perhaps not quite as gaunt, I also spoke to those assembled. Cynthia Papermaster also spoke. Diane Wilson was there and spoke passionately. Tighe and Gail from CODEPINK with Dr. Margaret Flowers commenting staged a simulated forced feeding which was so well done and powerful that for me at least, it was hard to watch.

Seven of us, six VFP members and one from CODEPINK, Cynthia Papermaster, Mike Tork, Margaret Flowers, Will Thomas, Crystal Zevon, Jay Wenk and myself went inside to read compiled accurate information put in first person mode statements from prisoners at Guantanamo and from prisoners in long-term solitary confinement here in the U.S.

After a month of being held hostage in the Moscow airport, U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has finally been granted a one-year temporary asylum in Russia. Still, the future is always uncertain for high-profile asylum seekers like Snowden. Whether he ends up staying in Russia for the full year, if it turns out that Snowden can't stick to Putin's terms, or if the cold Russian winters simply just aren't his thing, you might be wondering: what are his options? If you were an American on the run, where would you go? Despite the fact that you'd have just been charged with a criminal offense, it may not be the end of the world. In fact, certain parts of the world may still be open to you—though some maybe more than others.

Edward Snowden is not a constitutional lawyer. But his public statements explaining his decision to blow the whistle on what he and Congress both know to be only the "tip of the iceberg" of state snooping secrets express a belief in the meaning of the Constitution: in a democracy, the people – not his defense contractor employers or the government that hires them - should ultimately determine whether mass surveillance interfering with everyone's privacy is reasonable. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.'s July 23, 2013 letter to Russia's Minister of Justice Konovalov has opened negotiations that suggest a means by which the public might be able make that determination.

Aug 06

An Easy Toll Tax

By William John Cox, SpeakOut | News Analysis

While the weight of taxation continues to shift to the backs of the working and middle classes and onto the books of small businesses, Congress dithers about reforming the "broken" income tax code and President Obama proposes a "grand bargain" to reduce the corporate tax rate even more. Instead of further gaming the system, they should get rid of our unfair, outdated and complex system of income taxation altogether. Taxes on income should be entirely replaced with an easy toll tax on the financial highway which would balance the burden of taxation with the benefits of government.

Wouldn't it be more sensible and much fairer to simply tax the movement of all money in our economy? Not a sales tax, not a value-added tax, not a flat income tax, not a speculation tax, but rather an easy toll tax on every single financial transaction within our economic system. Not just every time you fill up your gas tank, but every time stocks and bonds are bought and sold, every time currencies, derivatives, futures and options are traded, every time banks borrow and loan money, and every time Exxon-Mobil buys a new oil rig.

Late yesterday, In the Public Interest (ITPI) filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all correspondence relating to the contracting of Detroit's public services from December of last year until now. The request comes on the heels of emails showing Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr was focused on taking Detroit into bankruptcy from the start and the news that the process for privatizing the city's residential solid waste and recycling services has already begun.

The City has five days to respond with all emails, faxes, letters, proposals and other relevant communications between city and state officials and corporate executives who stand to make billions by taking over public services, including any solicited or unsolicited bids for these services.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the most radical authoritarian in the radically authoritarian U.S. Senate, has introduced a legislative measure that would impose trade sanctions on any country that offers asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The amendment was approved unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee and will no doubt become law (at least in some form).

As the Washington Post report points out, Graham asserts, on no evidence, that Snowden's revelations have had "incredibly disturbing" implications for national security. This in itself is not particularly interesting. Graham is a proven liar and a dedicated authoritarian whose mission in life is to expand the Security State in order to stop the mythical Terrorists who continue to haunt his dreams at night nearly a dozen years after 9/11. There is virtually no punitive action against Snowden, including assassination, that Graham would conceivably oppose.

The current Industrial mass production of food for profit is a political, economic and social crisis that has devastating effects on human health and threatens the survival of the planet. Certainly one of our most fundamental of human needs is our ability to grow and procure adequate nutrition. Yet over the past 50 years, Western societies, and particularly the United States, have radically shifted methods of growing and producing food for human consumption. Using the twin vehicles of destructive food policy implements and growing reliance upon industrialization and oil, this unsustainable model of food production continues to spread and grow unabated in an era of declining oil production and clean water availability.

Judith Newman is, together with Allen Hornblum and Gregory Dober, author of Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America. She discusses the background for and the extent of non-consentual experimentation on human beings, in particular underprivileged children, in the United States through the twentieth century.

Dr. Judith Newman has been a faculty member at Penn State's Abington College for 36 years and has been the recipient of several outstanding teaching awards during that time. Dr. Newman teaches a wide array of life-span developmental courses, from Infancy and Early Childhood to Adult Development and Aging. She also teaches an Ethics course for students entering the mental health field.