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.

Today members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, together with Senator Daniel Squadron, and Albany County District Attorney David Soares, gathered to end the biased and costly practices of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession. Joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state, the Caucus urged members of the Senate and Assembly to support Governor Cuomo's marijuana decriminalization proposal. The proposal, outlined in his 2013 State of the State Address, would end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people for possessing marijuana in public view by fixing the law and standardizing the penalties for marijuana possession.

The arrest statistics say it all; Approximately 45,000 people were arrested in New York for marijuana possession in 2012 alone; nearly 40,000 of those arrests were in New York City, far exceeding the total marijuana arrests from 1981-1995.

"Yesterday, the devil came here,". "Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today..." Mr. Chavez said , in 2009 comments at the United Nations. Then Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made the sign of the cross, brought his hands together as if in prayer and glanced toward the ceiling.

That is perhaps the most famous quote of a politician opposed to the US government, and one reason that Hugo Chavez was disliked by the US government. To Chavez , the Devil was George Bush. That's what you get to say, when you are a third world leader who supplies maybe a million gallons of crude oil to an oil addicted country every day. You get to say anything you want.

Mar 15

Ferlinghetti Triumphs Again!

By Paul Buhle, Swans Commentary | Op-Ed

Many poetry readers born around the time of the Second World War feel an abiding loyalty to the excitement of the rebellious 1950s-'60s poets (and of the associated magazines, like Evergreen Review) and of our own awakening that owed so much to their work. New Yorkers, San Franciscans, and maybe Chicagoans could actually see them live! The rest of us, scattered around the country, could only read the work and imagine the poets, larger than life. Ginsberg, Corso, Di Prima, Snyder, and others had well-deserved, intense followings. Lawrence Ferlinghetti was something special even among these special artists: he published most of them, and created a space in City Lights Books where global travelers could worship at the veritable shrine.

Dear House Republicans:

In the heated debates over the federal deficit, you have said repeatedly that you want to cut it without raising taxes and, therefore, that you must reduce government spending.

If that is the case, I have a suggestion for you: Why not start by cutting the nuclear weapons budget?

According to the Ploughshares Fund, the current plans for nuclear weapons and related programs could cost approximately $640 billion over the next decade.

Living with radiation sickness is not on my bucket list and I would hazard that it isn't on yours either. Nor is it what I have in mind for my children's future. Yet our government continues to manufacture nuclear materials and unsafely store radioactive waste in clear violation of the public trust. Nowhere is this more visible than at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the most radioactively contaminated site in the western hemisphere, where we now know radioactive sludge is leaking badly from at least six underground tanks.While Hanford is technically in Washington State, the management of this catastrophe is vitally important to the rest of the nation—indeed, the biosphere. Unfortunately, environmental disasters do not stop at city, state, or national borders.

Violence against women (VAW) under the present system of militarized state security is not an aberration that can be stemmed by specific denunciations and prohibitions. VAW is and always has been integral to war and all armed conflict. It pervades all forms of militarism. It is likely to endure so long as the institution of war is a legally sanctioned instrument of state, so long as arms are the means to political, economic or ideological ends. To reduce VAW; to eliminate its acceptance as a "regrettable consequence" of armed conflict; to exorcize it as a constant of the "real world" requires the abolition of war, the renunciation of armed conflict and the full and equal political empowerment of women as called for by the UN Charter.

The most bizarre part of Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is that almost no one has heard about it.

And whoever has heard about it, doesn't want to talk about it.

It's almost as if someone took Dr. Goebbels' "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed" – dictum and mutated it into a 21st century super weapon:

"Tell the truth, but make it so shocking that no one wants to hear about it."

Mar 13

Gang Green or Fresh Greens?

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Occupy Washington DC | Op-Ed

The environmental movement is at a critical crossroads. Younger and bolder environmental groups are rising up and engaging in creative and strategic direct action. Will the older and more traditional environmental groups learn from them and adjust their tactics to be more effective?

The old environmental movement, 'Gang Green,' traditionally works inside the existing power structure and takes funding directly from polluting corporations and foundations funded by polluters. Sometimes they get a seat at the table, but this ends up helping to pass and legitimize laws containing inadequate regulations that become a license to pollute. Some 'Gang Green' members show signs of realizing they are on the wrong path and that they need to re-make themselves in order to face the urgent ecological crises of widespread toxins, species extinction, water and air pollution, soil depletion and climate change.

We have entered a critical era for the future of humanity on this planet, and the stakes are indeed as high as whether there will be anything left for those who come next. In the period of expansive consumer growth following World War II, and then again with another quantum leap in the age of globalization and digitization, humankind has been collectively taxing the planet’s carrying capacity and altering basic processes that have sustained our existence for eons. At this juncture, we cannot simply go back to a more pristine time (real or imagined), and the question of where we go from here is an open and urgent one.

Unfortunately, elite interests of both the national and multinational varieties are already in the process of making this all-important decision for us. Rather than reconsidering the profligate lifestyles and extractive mindsets that have pushed us to the brink, the profit-seeking powers that be are doubling down on their efforts to procure every last usable penny’s worth from the planet in short order. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear that we are not going to drill, pump, mine, or frack our way out of this mess — and in reality, such methods are only going to exacerbate the problem.

Today Amnesty International launched an online campaign asking Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell to not appeal the District Court's ruling to either release or retry Albert Woodfox.

Please support Albert by taking action, forwarding it to your email list and asking your networks to spread the word. Now is a critical time in the fight for Albert's freedom. We want Caldwell's office to be inundated with emails so he hears it loud and clear that the cycle of injustice and cruelty must end.