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 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."

Apr 16

Corporate Tax Evaders

By Dennis Trainor Jr, AcronymTV | Video

The tax deadline is upon us, that wonderful time of year when people all over the United States get their financial house in order, file their taxes and pay a fair share to a common pool so that our society can do things that benefit everyone: pay for public schools, social services for the poor and elderly, and let us not forget the very expensive Department of Defense, whose offensive efforts worldwide contribute directly to a global economy that helps keep dark skinned people in far off lands impoverished enough to accept the slave wages to manufacture the plastic gadgets, clothing and electronic devices that serve as the very objects and emblems of our entire way of life. That is an expensive tab, and it is a good thing that regular everyday people like you and me also have corporations to thank for chipping in their fair share to this common pool that benefits us all.

Apr 16

People and Peace Over Plutocracy

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

everal years ago a bunch of peace activists were eating in a restaurant in Crawford, Texas, and we noticed George W. Bush. He was actually a cardboard version of George W. Bush like you might get your photo with in front of the White House, but he was almost as lifelike as the real thing. We picked him up and stood him in the corner of the restaurant, facing the corner. We asked him to stay there until he understood what he'd done wrong. For all I know he's still standing there.

Of course, a piece of cardboard wasn't going to really understand what it had done wrong, and the real president probably wouldn't have either. The benefit of standing him in the corner, if there was one, was for everybody else in the restaurant. And the benefit of impeaching or prosecuting Bush for his crimes and abuses would have been, and still would be, for the world -- not for him and not for those who are angry at him. We shouldn't imagine that vengeance would be very satisfying. Not when you punish a man. And not when that man destroys the nation of Iraq. Wishing others ill does ill to yourself. It cannot be truly satisfying.

A delegation of Lakota Elders has been refused the opportunity to personally deliver an official Complaint of Genocide against the United States to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, his staff, or any other high ranking United Nations officials. Instead, following a march through New York City with over 100 supporters, they were barricaded in a park outside U.N. Headquarters in New York and met by security personnel.

"Its not suprising because we have been going there for thirty years, and they have yet to stop the genocide, contrary to their own mission statement to protect nations large and small," explained Lakota Grandmother Charmaine White Face.

In a knee-jerk reaction to concerns that too many people may be required to disclose personal financial data, Congress quickly and quietly approved legislation over the past 24 hours to repeal major portions of disclosure requirements designed to ensure enforcement of the nation's new law against congressional insider trading. President Barack Obama should veto this bad bill, and lawmakers should go back to the drawing board.

Lawmakers should have taken a more reasoned approach and approved a temporary suspension of the disclosure requirement for certain executive branch personnel, rather than an outright repeal. That way Congress could take the time to scrutinize the issue carefully and decide on changes to the congressional insider trading law that would allow for both personal privacy and enough transparency to limit conflicts of interest.