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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.

If you ask Google "Has American Democracy been destroyed?" you get 56,800,000 answers. You don't need an exact count to see that the yeas have it. It is straightforward to list members of a set of sufficient, already existent conditions to kill our democracy. The list is not complete, but it is enough to decide whether the Democracy is still viable.

Classical government takeovers involve potential resistance from the existing government branches, the military, the free press and the people. The roles of future elections, education and the success or failure of the financial infrastructure are crucial.

Nov 02

Don't Forget About The Hood

By Jasiri X, SpeakOut | Video

Directed by Emmai Alaquiva, "Don't Forget About The Hood" illustrates how the issues of the poor and urban communities have been all but forgotten in this current election season, and wonders what happened to all of the energy and organizing that took place in the wake of the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin.

Nov 01

More On Savage Israel

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | Op-Ed

In my last analysis I noted that a Zionist organization run by the Islamophobe Pamela Geller is posting messages on buses and subways calling for support for Israel. The messages claim that Israel represents the "civilized man" in a struggle against Jihadist "savagery." I questioned Israel's qualifications for civilized status in the earlier piece, but am drawn back to the subject by the almost daily revelations of the Zionist state's questionable behavior. It is not that the Jihadist cannot be a savage at times, it is that the Israeli government seems quite incapable of being civilized. For instance:

– On 16 October 2012 the Israeli organization Zochrot talked to dozens of veterans of Israel's 1948 "War of Independence" for a look at what that struggle really entailed. The veterans testified to what can only be called a conscious effort at ethnic cleansing–the systematic destruction of entire Palestinian villages and numerous massacres.

With just two weeks remaining before Colorado's voters decide whether to make marijuana possession legal in their state, a new report -- "210,000 Marijuana Arrests In Colorado, 1986-2010" -- reveals that more than 200,000 people have been arrested in Colorado since 1986. Police made more than half of those marijuana arrests in just the last 10 years.

The study, based on FBI-UCR crime data, reports that nearly everybody arrested was young. In the last ten years, 86% of the people arrested were 34 years or younger.

In the last decade, Colorado arrested Latinos for marijuana possession at 1.5 times the rate of whites, and arrested blacks at 3.1 times the rate of whites.

Senator Dick Durbin is a hard guy not to like. This August, I was able to meet with the Senator along with several other leaders with IIRON and other Illinois affiliates of National People's Action. Senator Durbin, though short in stature, quickly filled the space with affable banter and storytelling. Of course, we weren't there to schmooze. We had come to talk with the Senator about the threats that are facing our communities in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois.

To understand why we found ourselves in Senator Durbin's office that day, we need to go back to what happened in our national's capital during the summer of 2011. If you are like me, you spent some mornings that summer reading about the so-called "debt ceiling" negotiations – in which Congress debated whether to pick up the tab for checks they'd already written – and wondering if anyone in Washington still knew that the rest of the country existed.

The book 1984 introduced us to doublespeak and to severe punishment for independent thinking. We have a doublespeak democracy "of the people" controlled by the 1%. Our ability as ordinary citizens to participate in the decisions of "our" government are nil. Obama in the past year has threatened any activist, dissenter, or critical journalist with indefinite detention without trial. Obama himself hasbroadened the tools of surveillance on Americans, approving the use of drones in the USA. The Democratic party itself significantly weakened its position on civil liberties in its 2012 platform...Our need as human beings to participate fully in our own governance is no longer available in the USA.

Oct 31

The Basic Fact of Life on Earth

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Sometime in the 1990s I heard the Harvard professor of medicine, Eric Chivian, make a presentation on Capitol Hill about the anthropogenic origins of global warming. He is an academic who speaks to the world. He co-founded International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which, in 1985, won the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also the founder and director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.

Tariq Aziz was just sixteen years of age when we met at a jirga on October 27th, 2011, in Islamabad, Pakistan. The jirga had brought tribal elders together along with human rights lawyers, international journalists and politicians to discuss the ongoing drone strikes and rising civilian deaths as a result of poor CIA "intelligence". Tariq was one of a small group of boys that had endured a perilous journey from their home village in Mir Ali, North Western Waziristan, a village that forms part of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Oct 31

Operation Caymans

By Lee Camp, The Other 98% | Video

"Will you support the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act to bring back $100 billion of lost offshore tax revenue a year, or will you let corporate pirates continue to bleed our treasury dry?"

We say NO to fracking, you bet we do. We say NO to the heavy industrialization of bucolic and wild places. NO to poisoning our air, water, and our children's health and future. NO to poisoning our croplands, and thus our food supply. NO to permanently withdrawing water from our precious rivers, aquifers, lakes, and streams -- water that will never again return to the water-life cycle of the planet. NO to diminished (and in some cases completely negated) property values. NO to increased traffic, fumes, smog, and accidents. NO to dangerous pipelines running through our villages and countryside. NO to job promises that always -- always -- fall short.