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.

As a father and grandfather, I appreciate the feelings of those Newtown, Connecticut, parents who don't want the gruesome crime-scene photos of last December's massacre released. But it is now imperative that the people of the United States and especially the Congress face up to the horrible realities resulting from the nation's cavalier attitude toward assault weapons.

If we are to prevent future Newtown massacres, we need – as a country – to study what actually happens to human beings when they are subjected to the violence of these powerful weapons. Yet, viewing these awful photos is equally necessary if we – as a nation – decide to place some twisted notion of what the Framers intended in the Second Amendment over the bodies of these 20 first-graders and the many other victims from mass killings.

On April 25th the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and General Rehabilitation Project will be dedicated in Dallas, Texas. It takes up 23 acres at Southern Methodist University, 23 acres that neither humanity nor any other species may ever reclaim for anything decent or good.

I'll be there, joining in the people's response with those who fear that this library will amount to a Lie Bury.

"The Bush Center's surrounding native Texas landscape," the center's PR office says, "including trees from the Bush family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, continues President and Mrs. Bush's longstanding commitment to land and water conservation and energy efficiency."

Injustice often operates in secret ways. This has certainly been the case with predatory prison phone rates. But after nearly a decade of advocacy from public interest and civil rights groups, meaningful change is in sight.

In 2003, inmates and their families presented the Wright Petition, which asked the Federal Communications Commission to regulate prison phone rates. The FCC failed to act, so in 2007 the Wright Petitioners submitted an alternate proposal. Last December, the FCC finally invited the public to weigh in.

A nationwide, month-long campaign of counter-drone teach-ins, rallies and protest, called "April Days of Action" by its organizers, will challenge the escalated use of drones for targeted assassination by the Obama Administration as well as domestic surveillance by police agencies around the United States. The actions will call for a total halt to drone killing and surveillance.

The campaign, that has been months in the making, is being boosted by a groundswell of domestic opposition to use of drones against American citizens in the United States, sparked by the leaking in February of a government "white paper" on drone targeting of United States citizens and the drone filibuster by United States Senator Rand Paul in early March.

Gun control presents the greatest test in recent memory of whether we still have a representative democracy in the United States. Despite national polls showing 92 per cent support for background checks, as well as strong support for several other proposals, the chances of any gun control legislation passing Congress this year are rapidly diminishing. If you favor any gun control legislation, now is the time to contact your senators and your representative in Congress, particularly if they are Republicans. It may be too late, but only enormous constituent pressure can alter the course of events.

We are supposed to have a representative democracy in the United States, but when it comes to gun control, the NRA and the gun manufacturers may overrule the popular will. No matter how many kids are killed.

During the contentious public Bay Delta Conservation Plan public meeting held in West Sacramento on March 20, Natural Resources Agency Deputy Director Jerry Meral twice evaded a question by Burt Wilson of Public Water News Service about water being used for fracking of oil and natural gas wells in California.

However, in a post on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) website the same day, Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications of the California Natural Resources Agency, claimed that only 8 acre feet of water is used every year for hydraulic fracturing in California, in an apparent attempt to minimize the amount of water employed for fracking.

Mar 27

The Holy Land Gets Skunked

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | Op-Ed

Part I – Something Is Rotten in the State of Israel

It is said that the devil has about him the smell of fire and brimstone (sulphur). Evil deeds are often described as "most foul." On the other hand, people who appear, accurately or not, as always innocent are described as "smelling like roses." There seems, then, to be a long standing, if improbable, association between behavior and smells.

The Israeli army has recently dedicated itself to demonstrating this association.

How do you solve Detroit's financial problems?

Unfortunately, emergency management has been the clarion call of local corporate media, the business elite and uninformed citizens. If measures were in place to ensure steady and improve incoming revenue, collect taxes and strengthen small business ventures, there would not be a need for an emergency manager to oversee the city's finances. We've been asked what are the options.

Mar 26

Detroit Raw

By Sam Riddle, The Michigan Citizen | Op-Ed

Mind snacking while walking to the Y, I glance over to the Elmwood Grill where there are normally a plethora of marked and unmarked Detroit police cars, hmmm, there are a couple of blue state police rides decorating the street. It hits me. All critters mark their territory. State boys are now running Detroit. Get used to it. I step up my pace — can't put the mind snack down. Are we on the cusp of neo-martial law with state police taking the lead? Dunno. But fear justifies a lot of bully actions designed to make you feel protected. Brown shirts are free.

Mind snacking is contagious.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the following at a news conference regarding proposed school closings:
"We are standing here today in the beautiful Mahaila Jackson elementary school in our city's Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. This school was named for one of the greatest gospel singers in our nation's history, a woman who sang at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral, a woman who was instrumental in our Civil Rights struggle. Unfortunately, we are gathered here today not to talk about this pioneer or even about how this school does an outstanding job of providing a great learning community for some of our special needs students. We are standing here because this school, along with scores of others, has been targeted for closure by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago Public Schools district.