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.

Last night, a federal judge rejected the State of California's attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit challenging prolonged solitary confinement in California's notorious Pelican Bay prison. The case was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and partners on behalf of prisoners in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) who have spent between 10 and 28 years in solitary confinement and who staged two widely publicized hunger strikes in 2011. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the prisoners had failed to adequately allege cruel and unusual punishment and due process violations. CDCR also asked the court to find that the case was moot in light of a two-year pilot program that purports to reform the procedures CDCR uses before indefinitely placing a prisoner in solitary confinement. The Judge disagreed, ruling that the pilot program did not moot claims that California's use of solitary confinement denies the prisoners' right to due process, and finding that the case raised grave Eighth Amendment claims.

A group of Boston area peace activists met today to share what we know about yesterday's bombings and to discern how best to respond to the deadly attack against our community and against people from across the nation and around the world who came to Boston to participate and enjoy the Marathon. Several of us had loved ones or close friends who would have been among the attack's victims, had they not left the finish line area shortly before the bombings or who had yet to arrive there. First and foremost our thoughts and sympathy go out to family and friends of those killed yesterday, to those who injured and maimed, their families and friends.

Today, as a federal judge in Washington heard arguments related to the court's ability to intervene in the growing hunger strike at Guantanamo and, among other requests, order the government to provide clean drinking water to the men, attorneys responded to the violent crack-down at the base over the weekend. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei released the following statement...

After a two-month investigation, the City University of New York (CUNY) General Counsel's office issued a report late Friday vindicating student organizers of a February 7th event at Brooklyn College (BC) from accusations of anti-Semitic discrimination. The students, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Cooperating Attorney Alan Levine, were under intense university and media scrutiny for weeks before the event about the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). This included pressure on Brooklyn College from New York politicians condemning the subject matter of the event, from New York City Council Members threatening to withhold funding from the college, and from others who likened advocacy for BDS as a method for achieving Palestinian rights to anti-Semitic hate speech.

The bitter battle over two stricken southern California reactors has taken a shocking seismic hit.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ignored critical questions from two powerful members of Congress just as the Government Accountability Office has seriously questioned emergency planning at the San Onofre nuclear plant.

At a cost of some $770 million, Southern California Edison and its partners installed faulty steam generators at San Onofre Units 2 and 3 that have failed and leaked.

Apr 16

Stumble Stones in Germany

By Victor Grossman, Berlin Bulletin No. 56 | Op-Ed

The late, late snow has finally disappeared from Berlin's streets. Visible once again, here and there, are the "stumble stones" –Stolpersteine in German – with their brief, tragic messages.

Many Berlin tourists will enjoy the night life. They may also look upwards – at the giant TV tower, the Brandenburg Gate, at ancient and less ancient churches. There is a wide assortment of memorial monuments, some impressive, some uninspiring.

But those who look downward, to the pavement where they walk, may glimpse a very different kind of memorial – the stumble stones.

The long 2nd Circuit Court saga between Argentina and hedge funds commonly referred to as "vulture" funds, will likely come to an end soon. Judges in the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals gave holdout funds until April 22, 2013 to respond to Argentina's payment plan. In late March, Argentinaoutlined a payment plan that would give holdout creditors virtually the same deal that 93 percent of creditors took in 2005 and 2010 debt swaps.

"Argentina's payment plan protects the integrity of deals made with other debt holders, but most importantly it ensures that these holdout hedge funds can't take further advantage of the poor in developing countries," said Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA Network's Executive Director. "We feel thatArgentina's proposal to pay the holdout funds the same percentage as what was restructured in 2010 is a positive step."

Imagine if Facebook, Google and Twitter built a privacy-killing surveillance machine to help the federal government spy on us.

If Congress passes the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) this week (the same CISPA that withered in Congress last year), we'll be one step closer to that nightmare.

We've got to convince Congress to vote "NO" on CISPA. Here's how you can help...

The slogan embraced by virtually all labor organizations of merit for hundreds of years--that "An injury to one is an injury to all"--is unfortunately, indeed tragically, thought to be false by many otherwise good people who do not have a personal connection to the old labor movement and the wisdom it gained, often through bitter experience. This unfortunate state of affairs came to my attention most recently when I attended an academic conference at Boston University, called the Right of Return Conference, organized by people who support the right of return of Palestinian refugees and who oppose the Israeli government's violent suppression of this right.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on.

I founded the civil rights fighting organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), to do one thing; fight those monsters who would tear down the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal entity ever created by humankind, the U.S. military.

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation's armed forces. Oh my, my, my, how "Papa's got a brand new bag."