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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.

Starting tomorrow, people aged 21 and over will be able to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Washington State. On Election Day last month, 55 percent of voters in both Washington State and Colorado voted to make marijuana legal, making those states the first two to approve legally regulating marijuana like alcohol. The Washington State Liquor Control Board has until December of next year to implement rules for the regulated market.

There were more than 241,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Washington State over the past 25 years at a cost to the state of over $300,000,000. In 2010 alone there were 11,000 arrests for marijuana possession. A single arrest for possession costs from $1000 to $2000 and creates a permanent criminal record that can severely limit an individual's ability to obtain housing, schooling, employment, and credit. Tomorrow this waste of taxpayer dollars – and human potential – comes to an end.

Dec 05

CNN Heroes and Hero-ization

By David Cupples, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It's that time of year again and CNN's annual Heroes show is coming up. Any reasonably compassionate viewer is likely to be thrilled by the accounts of noble souls performing selfless acts of loving kindness and social justice and will be glad these wonderful persons are being honored. It might not be disrespectful or inappropriate however to reflect upon Arundhati Roy's argument against the "NGO-ization" of social programs to promote the common good. [e.g., Democracy Now, 8/23/2004]

First, a brief digression to consider the origins in American culture of such social programs or as the founding fathers put it in their Preamble to the Constitution, programs to "promote the general welfare." This was 200­-some-odd years before "welfare" became the dirty word it is today. The venerated icons of the American way of life recognized that hardships that were nobody's fault were likely to arise from time to time.

Dec 05

"Fiscal Cliff" Solved. You’re Welcome

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Op-Ed

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations on your electoral victory.

In defeating the grandfatherly Ken doll with the heart of a blood sucking vampire squid and his religiously radical running mate who claimed that a child conceived in the act of rape is a blessing from God, you might not want to gloat too much. To use a sports analogy, you did not so much win as the other guy lost. Even so, you never- in your entire life, have to run for public office again. What a weight off of your shoulders that must be!

Unmanned killer robot planes have convinced certain people that there is a better way of waging war.

But these drones have now made the United States as unpopular in places like Pakistan and Yemen as any nation has ever been in another. Making our nation hated does not make us safer. It endangers us.

These drone wars are not a reduction in war-making but an expansion. They're underway in nations the United States was not previously at war with. They're beginning to result in the addition of ground troops, the opposite result of the image we have in our heads of drones taking the place of ground troops.

Two "tipping points" related to climate change occurred in 2012. The earth's temperature increased more than the critical 2o Celsius, and climate change science deniers became a discredited minority of fossil fuel advocates. The eventual threat to life on earth by climate change is recognized, but the path to the end and the time involved is still at issue. The magnitude and projected consequences of climate change allow it to maintain possession of center stage, but there are other deadly players lurking in the wings that also threaten the life forms on the planet. There is every chance one may become the shortest path.

Here is my argument for the shortest path to the destruction of life.

On Saturday, December 15, the United Workers and the Maryland chapters of Physicians for a National Health Program and Healthcare-Now are launching the statewide campaign "Healthcare Is a Human Right Maryland." Local chapters have already been formed in Baltimore City and Ann Arundel, Calvert, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, and Montgomery counties. At the launch, members from across the state will share testimonies about the importance of fighting for universal health care and basic human rights. Leaders from Vermont's successful universal healthcare campaign will also be attendance. Over the last few months, local chapter members have organized healthcare teach-ins, hosted movie screenings, and surveyed hundreds of Marylanders about their personal struggles with the current healthcare system. A substantial majority of those surveyed believe healthcare is a human right and support the creation of a universal healthcare system.

Jeh Charles Johnson, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, on Friday admitted that murder by drone is not a form of law enforcement:

"Some legal scholars and commentators in our country brand the detention by the military of members of al Qaeda as 'indefinite detention without charges.' Some refer to targeted lethal force against known, identified individual members of al Qaeda as 'extrajudicial killing.'

ABC World News has done two pretty tough reports from Brian Ross on the horrible fire at the Tazreen garment factory in Bangladesh that killed 114 workers.

On November 25, Ross talked about the

shameful record, as previously reported by ABC News, of more than 600 garment factory fire deaths in Bangladesh over the last five years, a place of the cheapest labor in the world and some of the most deplorable conditions.

Dec 04

Dear Governor Cuomo

By New York Against Fracking, SpeakOut | Video

Trailer for the 2012 documentary film "Dear Governor Cuomo".

Dec 03

The Anti-Thesis to Segregation: Raza Studies Now!

By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I will say it again: Arizona continues to be a distraction, though it is undeniable that it is indeed the epicenter of ignorance, a laboratory for hate legislation and a mecca for the private prison industry. Yet, as a distraction, it continues to permit people to ignore their own backyards.

Most people associate Arizona with Jan Brewer and Sheriff Arpaio... and their bigoted views, but they are not alone, though whatever it is they are selling has an expiration date that is now long past due.