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.

As Iraq stands on the verge of a complete breakdown into mini sectarian states, former leading neoconservative and Iraq war advocate Richard Perle made a sudden appearance on Newsmax TV. His statements in the interview were yet another testament to the intellectual degeneration of a group that had once promised a 'new Middle East', only to destabilize the region with violent consequences that continue to reverberate until this day.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which didn't exist at the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, has seized large swathes of Syria and, along with a brewing Sunni rebellion, stands in control of large chunks of western, northern and central Iraq.

Since Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's visit to Burma and to see the Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the Fall of 2011, the international media with a very few exceptions has taken the line that there is real change in Burma.

Beginning in 2009, the group called the Friends of Burma, the US Government and the major non-profits active in Burma have apparently taken the view that they can tango with the entrenched Burmese junta and win.  At times it seems almost as if buttering on the praise liberally will make a regime which has had more than fifty years since 1962 to fine tune its strategies and tactics, really change to a functioning democracy.

Dozens of people rallied today outside the US federal building in downtown Los Angeles to show solidarity with tens of thousands of migrant children who have sought refuge in the United States – and to denounce President Barack Obama’s efforts to send them back to the countries they fled.

“I call upon the president not to deport any of these children and to embrace them as refugees,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who joined other speakers in attributing the recent influx of children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to decisions made in Washington. “They are products of our foreign policy. They are seeking an opportunity.”

The murder of three Israeli youth by unknown Palestinians and the less-publicized but equally tragic murder of three Palestinian youth by Israelis, along with Israeli bombing of urban areas in Gaza and the arrest and detention of hundreds of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces, serves as a reminder that Israeli-Palestinian peace is still a long way off.

And the Obama administration deserves much of the blame for the failure of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Today, dozens of elected officials, labor leaders, community members and legal experts rallied on the steps of City Hall introduce the Fairness and Equity Act -- comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences in New York.  The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Karim Camara and Senator Daniel Squadron, builds upon previous attempts to fix New York’s broken decriminalization law and seeks to advance fairness and equity within the justice system.

Edward Snowden submitting to prosecution in the United States, would be like Alice going into the courtroom in Wonderland. Alice stood before the King and Queen of Hearts who served as the judges. Knaves were chained on the ground before them. The jurors, Alice realizes are ‘stupid things’ The first witness against her was the Mad Hatter who is as mad as the culture he represents. The guinea pigs who protest are immediately “suppressed” by having the mouths tied up and being put into a bag and sat on by the King so their protests cannot be heard. The most important evidence in the trial was secret, a poem for which the author is unknown and concludes:

For this must ever be a secret,
Kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me

MPs will tomorrow (Wednesday 9 July) vote on new legal aid cuts which could see torture victims denied their day in court, and leave the Government immune from legal challenges for wrongdoing overseas.

The measures, known as the ‘residence test,’ would block anyone resident outside the UK from receiving legal aid.  The result would be that Government actions which affected people living overseas would become near-impossible for anyone but the richest to challenge in court.

Delegates to Connecticut State Council of Machinists (CSCM) conference at the end of June voted unanimously to endorse and participate in the historic People’s Climate March set for Sunday, September 21, 2014 in Manhattan. This was just the most recent of a growing number of union endorsements for the March. New York area locals endorsing the March by June 20 included:

CWA District 1
CWA 1180
Teamsters Joint Council 16
Local 3 IBEW

Two hunger-striking Guantánamo Bay detainees have asked a US court to count them as ‘persons’ with religious free exercise rights, in the wake of a new Supreme Court decision extending those rights to US craft store chain Hobby Lobby.

The prisoners – Emad Hassan of Yemen and Ahmed Rabbani of Pakistan, both detained at the prison without charge or trial since 2002 – have this week asked the DC District Court to intervene after the prison's military authorities prevented them from praying communally during Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims.

Have you tracked the stunningly widespread shout-outs to "populism" — buoyed by libertarians, Tea Partiers, gun owners as well as progressive, socio-economic reformers? Beware any century-old, catch-all by which opportunists bludgeon some "elite," willy-nilly, that ends up stripping  "populism" of meaning except as a coded call to arms. And though fat cats get predictably bashed, how many self-declared populists deliver systemic proposals that threaten the powers-that-be? Not many. For years calling someone a "populist" was a swipe, and the left cringes when "populist" right-wingers especially militant Confederate-types, sound off — or when the GOP's latest "true American," Dave Brat, conquers the Cantor loaded with populist pablum.

Surprisingly, reviving the populist vision also surfaces for Democrats dreaming up their next ideal presidential nominee (a stretch for 'Wall Street' Hillary). Palin's demagoguery boasts a populist pulpit, though like everything else about her it's faked. More substantively, Jim Hightower the "Texas populist" walks the walk by nailing the opposition as "bosses, bankers, big shots, bastards and bullshitters," smug top dogs treating ordinary people as "nothing but fire hydrants." Occupy failed to develop follow-through but never veered from its steady taunt-the-rich, anti-elitism. Today, the most cogent "populist" scrutiny comes from the focused Warren-Sanders brigade, naming names and specifying strong penalties against renegade banksters.