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.

The state of California has ordered a Southern California warehouse that processes merchandise for Walmart and other retailers to pay 865 workers more than $1 million in stolen wages.

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued the citations Monday, Jan. 28 against Quetico, LLC, a large warehouse complex in Chino, California. Back wages and unpaid overtime total more than $1.1million and in addition the state issued about $200,000 in penalties.

Jan 30

Welcome Home: The New Old Evangelicals

By Charles Redfern, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As I read Marcia Pally's Evangelicals who have left the right, I've realized that I'm like the old man guarding the family's abandoned homestead. The lights were off; the heat was low; the couches and chairs were draped in sheets. I haven't left the right because I was never there. I remained in a home once alive with compassion for the poor and love for the environment. The kids are finally coming back and, like every old man, I'm rasping advice as we throw logs on the fire and unveil the furniture.

I became an evangelical Christian in a "born again" experience on July 6, 1973, when I was almost 17, before civil religion's invasion. Like many, I was dubious of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson. But, like many, I said nothing.

Jan 30

An Unconstitutional Twofer

By Alan Grayson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

This week, the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives did something that you wouldn't think is even possible: they introduced (and then the House passed) a five-page bill that, despite its brevity, may violate two separate provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

The bill increases the debt limit by some unspecified amount, but only for those expenditures "necessary to fund a commitment by the Federal Government that required payment before May 19, 2013." What does "necessary" mean here? I don't know, and the bill doesn't say.

Jan 30

A New Model Drone Resolution

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

...Concerns include the following: drones can crash into airplanes, buildings, and each other; drones can fall out of the sky; drones can produce noise pollution; drones can produce visual pollution if put to the same use that everything from brick walls to urinals has been put to, viz. advertising; drones can be used to spy on us whether by private or public entities; police surveillance with drones will violate our Fourth Amendment rights as all existing technologies are currently used to do; police forces that view the public as their enemy will deploy drones armed with rubber bullets, tear gas, or other weapons; and ultimately a program run by the U.S. military and the CIA that has targeted and murdered three U.S. citizens that we know of, along with thousands of other men, women, and children, may eventually find it acceptable to include U.S. soil in its otherwise unlimited field of operations.

Jan 29

Abuse and Fear of the Natural World

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

...Despite the value of the Holmes Run Creek, every so often and quite surreptitiously, crews of city loggers would invade the Creek, cutting down most of its luxurious trees on the excuse they protected us from muggers and the "one hundred year flood."City loggers would repeat their atrocity at their convenience.

Since 2008, I live in Claremont in southern California. This is a small town with enough beautiful trees and a life-giving breeze that I thank the gods for their gift of this exquisite part of the natural world. Yet, like Alexandria, southern California has mad loggers, too. On December 29, 2012, the US Corps of Engineers destroyed some 43 acres of trees next to the Los Angeles River in the Sepulveda Basin. The Corps said they cut down the trees for "public safety."

Hillary Clinton once said of abortion that it is a "tragic" decision for women. 40 year after the passage of Roe V. Wade, Sunsara Taylor of the group Stop Patriarchy wrote of Hilary's statement: Bullshit. You know what is tragic? Forced motherhood! You know what else is tragic. Rape is tragic. Pregnancies that result from rape are tragic. Being able to have an abortion to prevent women from being double-penalized by these tragedies, to prevent women from having to foreclose their lives and futures and dreams, to prevent women from being further trapped in poverty or abuse, this is POSITIVE AND LIBERATING!

Jesse Long-Bey, longtime Michigan Citizen editor, was admitted to the hospital in early December after a month-long illness. He had suffered a stroke in December 2009 and was in a coma for 30 days but recovered. Jesse was in Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak when he died Jan. 21, 2013 the day of the first Black President Barack Obama's second inauguration and of the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. He was 64.

Jesse was born on Dec. 1, 1948, in Bessemer, Ala., to the late Jesse Long and Elizabeth Lewis Long. He would talk about "coming-up" down south where he believed many of the men and women were role models and most were hardworking.

A son of the segregated south, as well as Detroit, he developed a strong sense of self-awareness, a belief in African pride and community service.

The repercussions of our acts - the constructs we create - endure well past the dissolution of our convictions and desires. Our actions exist as living architecture that surrounds the breathing moment. Future generations will dwell in the world we erect, thought by thought, deed by deed.

And what if we construct an architecture of evasion and deception?

What does such a place look like? If you live in the current day US, take a perusal around you.

"Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow was invited by the Los Angeles Times to compose a statement defending her film against accusations that it promotes the tolerance of torture and actually endorses torture in certain situations.  The following is what Bigelow presented, with some opposing commentary.  She begins with some description of the difficulties she and screenwriter Mark Boal had to overcome to bring "ZD30" to the screen.

Then came the controversy. Now that "Zero Dark Thirty" has appeared in cinemas nationwide, many people have asked me if I was surprised by the brouhaha that surrounded the film, while it was still in limited release, when many thoughtful people were characterizing it in wildly contradictory ways.

Four years ago, people across the world watched intently as the United States inaugurated its first black president. Thousands of people expressed hope that policies implemented under previous administrations - including wars, torture and detention, and inadequate economic support of developing nations - would change. While many acknowledge some of the progress made, there is also criticism. FSRN reporters in five countries, Canada, Mexico, Haiti, Cameroon and Pakistan, spoke to residents about the legacy of President Obama so far and what they’d like to see in the future.