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.

Basically, there are two explanations that are given for the 2008 crash: the Democratic one, which says that Wall Street was deregulated and ran wild with frauds that cheated both the people who signed to trick mortgages and the people who bought the fraudulent mortgage-backed securities; versus the Republican one, which says that there was too much regulation in order to get poor people to buy houses they couldn’t afford, and so Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ran wild with insuring or even buying mortgages to the poor, who basically ripped off the system and so caused the crash.

Samer Issawi has lived for 33 years, 1 month, and 27 days. I hope he lives another day.

He has been on a hunger strike now for six and a half months. Gandhis’ longest hunger strike was 21 days.

The IRA’s Bobby Sands and nine other Irish hunger strikers died in 1981after strikes lasting from 46 to 73 days.

Issawi’s internal organs are starting to shut down, he can no longer walk, he is reportedly suffering loss of vision and vomiting blood, it is difficult for him talk, and he is increasingly near death. He has lost over half his body weight.

Feb 13

Morsi's Last Chance

By Adil E Shamoo, Foreign Policy in Focus | Op-Ed

Egypt is rapidly approaching its most acute political and economic crisis since the 2011 revolution that swept dictator Hosni Mubarak from power.

Poverty is at an all-time high of 25 percent, with youth unemployment at a record 40 percent. Foreign currency reserves are on a rapid decline. President Mohamed Morsi is losing the most important commodity he possesses—the people's confidence and trust. Conditions seem ripe for either a new uprising from below or a new military coup from above.

There are only a few days to go before the worldwide event One Billion Rising, a campaign launched by Eve Ensler, international gender activist and author of The Vagina Monologues. This event celebrates the 15th "V-Day" on the 14th of February 2013, a day when women around the world will be called upon to dance against gender-based violence.

As a young feminist, I am inspired by these transnational movements spread by the World Wide Web that have emerged to fight against gender based violence over the past few year,. Indeed, like many feminists embracing the social networking revolution, I have been carefully following these virtual and real campaigns that link individuals beyond nationality, ethnicity, class, gender, age and religion.

Across the globe, from North America to North Africa, women have been taking to the streets in ever more powerful protests.

File this under "Breaking News That's Actually 13 Years Old." Read more about it here (or here) and watch a short video on it here.

Today, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino introduced Senate Joint Memorial 31 requesting the New Mexico's Economic Development Department to convene workgroup, conduct a study and report back to the legislature on the budgetary implications, both revenue and cost savings, of taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico.

"It is time to study how wasteful New Mexico's punitive marijuana laws are and how they continue to sustain a massive, increasingly violent underground economy, waste scarce law enforcement resources, and rob New Mexico tax-payers of millions in potential revenue," said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance. "Whether by the hand of lawmakers or a fed-up electorate, these laws are going to change."

Today, in a major victory for New Jersey's pregnant women and families, the New Jersey Supreme Court announced a unanimous opinion in New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services v. A.L. recognizing that the state's child protection laws do not give the Division of Child Protection and Permanency jurisdiction or control over pregnant women and that positive drug tests on pregnant women and newborns do not alone establish neglect. The court also acknowledged the concerns of leading medical and public health organizations that application of child protection laws to the context of pregnancy can undermine maternal, fetal, and child health.

Domestic violence is one of the most common forms of violence endured by women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one-fourth of U.S women will endure an abusive relationship, while some 1,300 people are killed each year by intimate partners. Thankfully, we have come a long way since the 1970s, when laws did not directly prohibit domestic violence, police often failed to respond, and few resources were available to victims. Yet we stand at the brink of losing much of that progress if Congress does not act now to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Feb 11

The Imperial Poisoning of the Salton Sea

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I visited Salton Sea on January 13, 2013. It was sunny and modestly cool day. The few birds wading in the lake added color and beauty to the naked nature surrounding the controversial and threatened Salton Sea.

I saw few tourists and no one in a boat or fishing. Hard times have become a permanent feature of the life and death of Salton Sea. Yet, the information pamphlets I received on entering the "Salton Sea State Recreation Area" painted a picture of a huge lake thriving on tourism, fishing and millions upon millions of birds. The Salton Sea had become "a birdwatcher's delight."

The Salton Sea is more than 100 years old, having been created by an accidental spill of the Colorado River in the middle of the Colorado Desert in southern California in 1905. It is, park cartographers say, "a landlocked extension of the Gulf of California."

“Dear Mr. Lam. I loved your essay, 'The Palmist,' but I can’t figure out what the main theme is. Is it dying and being all alone? My teacher suggests I read more of your writing… I’m glad I found you online…. Thank you very much for your help.”

The e-mail from, let’s call him, “Evan,” is not atypical. Students assigned my work sometimes reached out to me for help. “The Palmist,” however, is not an essay but a short story in my new collection, Birds of Paradise Lost. Its claim to fame is that it was read on PRI’s Selected Shorts a few years ago by not just one but two well-known actors: David Strathairn, who played journalist Edward R. Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck, and later by James Naughton of Gossip Girl.