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.
I can only imagine the horror in Gaza today as Israel intensifies its assault of that overcrowded, impoverished strip. It is a continuing nightmare story of pain and loss, of trauma and devastation. The heartbreaking numbers by themselves tell part of the story— with hundreds killed, thousands wounded, tens of thousands without homes, and now 600,000 without water. But the story of Gaza is more than these numbers and this current assault.
Even in earlier times, Gaza could be a nightmare. In the early 1990's I spent time in Jabalia— a sprawling refugee camp that is home to more than 80,000. During 25 years of Israeli occupation, nothing had been done to improve the infrastructure of the camp. The roads were unpaved, sewage ran into puddles in the streets and flowed directly into the sea, leaving the beaches polluted. The defining characteristic of the place was grinding poverty. In 1994, the then Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, visited Gaza after completing a tour of South Africa. Upon his return, he told an audience that what he saw in Jabalia was worse than Soweto.
Nation States are not moral agents but centers of power capable of complete ruthlessness in the accumulation and consolidation of power. They are limited only by their own capabilities and their population’s ability to constrain them. The U.S. is certainly no exception.
In 1884, U.S. Army Major William Shepherd observed that, "On the frontier a good Indian means a dead Indian," reflecting a commonly held attitude of the times. It was so broadly held that U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt could reflect upon it in an 1886 speech, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are..." 
On July 21, 2014, the United States filed a motion to dismiss the Nuclear Zero lawsuit that was filed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) on April 24, 2014 in U.S. Federal Court.
The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands filed a lawsuit against the United States, claiming that the U.S. has breached its obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by continuing to modernize its nuclear arsenal and by failing to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament. The RMI requested that the Court declare the United States in breach of its Treaty obligations and order the U.S. to call for and convene, within one year from the Court’s judgment, negotiations on nuclear disarmament.
Cornucopia, WI - The Cornucopia Institute has called upon USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to make public all candidates for appointment to fill the four vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOSB, a 15-member board of organic stakeholders representing farmer, consumer, environmental, retail, scientific, certifying and organic food processing interests, was established by Congress to advise the USDA on organic food and agriculture policies and review materials allowed for use in organic food production and processing.
Past investigations by The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, found that prior appointments, during the Bush and Obama administrations, violated the letter of the law, and congressional intent, by appointing agribusiness executives to fill slots on the NOSB reserved for farmers and other independent stakeholders. Public interest groups have suggested that these extra agribusiness representatives on the board have voted in favor of weakening the organic standards.
New York - Anna Conte, a nine year old from Orchard Park, NY who passed away last week after falling into a coma following a severe seizure, was laid to rest today. Anna suffered from Dravet Syndrome, a life-threatening seizure disorder that has been treated with medical marijuana in states where it is legal. Medical marijuana has dramatically reduced the number of seizures in many children with similar seizure disorders.
In an effort to help their daughter, the Conte family joined the successful fight to pass a medical marijuana bill in New York. The Contes travelled repeatedly to Albany, persuading several powerful New York senators to support the bill and generating thousands of phone calls and emails to Albany leadership. Advocates around the state came to know and love Anna and her family and admire their selfless advocacy which was always accompanied with a sense of humor.
More than 20 leading doctors and scientists* from the UK and Italy denounce ongoing Israeli military aggression in Gaza in a letter to The Lancet, published today [Tuesday 22 July].
“On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel,” write the authors. “We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression.”
New Hampshire has passed a law that prohibits the automatic release of student information to military recruiters gained through the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test in the state’s high schools.
On the 13th day of Israel’s so-called Operation Protective Edge, stories of entire families collectively pulverized, women and children keenly targeted by Israeli soldiers saturate the media. Until now, 430 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and 18 Israel soldiers been killed at the hands of the Resistance. In Shejaiya, elders, mothers and children scrambled for cover as shells mercilessly rained down, stealing the souls of countless innocents.
The destruction is overwhelming, and everywhere, Palestinians lament there is nowhere that is safe. Regardless, resolve is strong and the people of Gaza will not resign themselves to surrender.
Washington, DC – With U.S. corporations fleeing, or planning to flee, the country to avoid taxes, and the Senate Finance Committee scheduled to hold hearings on the U.S. tax code with an emphasis on corporate inversions, the FACT (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) Coalition supports efforts to ensure that U.S. multinational corporations remain in the country and pay their fair share of taxes.
The news has been filled lately with U.S. companies announcing plans to invert, or completing an inversion: Pharmaceutical companies AbbVie and Shire, Allergan and Valeant, Walgreen’s “moving” to Switzerland, and even the failed merger of Pfizer and AstaZeneca (which may be coming back).
There's a chance to watch DRONES, the movie, online on July 30th and then to join a discussion with filmmakers and experts. There's a preview video below. The movie's website is at http://dronesthefilm.com and the free screening is at http://demandprogress.tv/drones.
I saw a screening of this film back in November at the drone summit in DC. It's wonderful. I was a bit put-off and staggered, to be frank, at the time, because someone involved with the film bragged about how inexpensively it had been made, and yet the budget was so unfathomably huge that I knew that if an anti-war organization had that kind of money we could hire organizers all over the world and quite possibly make the abolition of war a major mainstream force.