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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.

Washington D.C. – In a case that has important implications for public access to government policies and decisions, a federal district judge has ruled that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires the federal government to release to the public the Obama administration’s much-touted Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development.

The decision is the first of its kind to consider whether a presidential policy directive can be withheld from the public under the “presidential communications privilege.” A presidential policy directive is a type of document issued by the president that operates much like an executive order but is not published in the Federal Register.

Dec 25

American Versailles

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I first saw Washington, DC in 1974. I was astonished with the Greek vision of architecture on Capitol Hill. I could not get over my admiration for the beauty of the congressional buildings, the Thomas Jefferson building of the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.

I visited each building as if it were a museum, taking my time to understand and appreciate the cultural taste and grandeur of those who built the foundations of America. All the while, it did not escape me this Capitol Hill neighborhood was the Athens of America. Or, at least, politicians like Thomas Jefferson thought in such terms. I even visualized the real Athens simply by fixing my gaze on the Supreme Court building.

Supporters of naturalized U.S. citizen Nestora Salgado held protests at Mexican Consulates to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2013. Over the last four years, Salgado, a grandmother, has made numerous trips from her residence in Renton, Washington, to deliver clothing and supplies to the desperately poor residents of her hometown of Olinalá, Guerrero. Seeing the need to organize against economic and social injustice, she instilled in the women of Olinalá confidence in their ability to lead such a struggle. As a result, she was elected coordinator of a local armed indigenous police force officially authorized by the Mexican Constitution and Guerrero state law 701. Crime rates plummeted and killings stopped with the inauguration of the community police.

On Wednesday, December 18 at 11 a.m., Santa Claus himself, flanked by elves from the North Pole walked through Lafayette Park and arrived at the fence of the White House. He read his poem -­ "'Twas Two Weeks Before Christmas: Santa's One Wish for President Obama" -­ which is attached. He then unfurled his Christmas wish list for the President. St. Nick's wish list has one item: "Issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers." This was all caught on camera.

Dec 24

Yes Virginia, There Is a Police State

By Lynn Fitz-Hugh, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hyperbole?  You decide if this is how you believe the police should behave when citizens are exercising their constitutional right to free speech.

On Monday, December 16, 16 people were arrested at two different locations on Hwy 26 outside John Day, OR.  They were there in response to Omega Morgan Company moving a heat condenser from the port of Umatilla to the Tar Sands site of the XL pipeline in Canada.  This mega-load is so wide that it takes up two lanes of traffic, is 18 feet high, 376 feet long and weighs 450 tons.  A similar load was unstable enough to tip over the next day and snarl up traffic on I-205 for hours.

Dec 24

Santa Claus Arrested at the White House for Minimum Wage

By Staff, Time for a Raise Campaign | Press Release

The Time For a Raise campaign has released the official video footage of Santa Claus being arrested at the White House while attempting to deliver his Christmas wish list to Santa.

On Wednesday, December 18 at 11 a.m., Santa Claus himself, flanked by elves from the North Pole walked through Lafayette Park and arrived at the fence of the White House. He read his poem -­ "Twas Two Weeks Before Christmas: Santa's One Wish for President Obama." He then unfurled his Christmas wish list for the President. St. Nick’s wish list has one item: "Issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers."

Dec 23

Talking with Jesus

By Camillo Mac Bica, Truthout | Op-Ed

Jesus spoke with me last night. I guess you can imagine my surprise that of all the people in the world he could have spoken to – clergy members, political leaders, Fox "news" commentators, etc. – he chose me. After all, judging by what I see around me, I am not by any stretch of the imagination what many, perhaps even most, would deem agood Christian, or even remotely religious as commonly understood. But who am I to question the will of the son of god? Maybe he just needed to rant a bit, I thought, to blow off steam. I can certainly understand his frustration given the state of the world and the way his teachings have been ignored, misinterpreted, and exploited by those who claim to be his followers. Or maybe he just wanted to talk with someone he could trust to just listen and not distort his words for their advantage or to the disadvantage of other human beings.

Dec 23

An Australian Defense of Marriage

By Mary W Maxwell, Flipside News | Op-Ed

Last week the High Court of Australia struck down as unconstitutional a statute allowing same-sex marriage. That act had been passed by the legislatures of one of Australia’s territories, namely, the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra, in an area of law in which it lacked authority. Ah, but the High Court, in rolling back the offending law, also said that the gay men and women who were legally married during the life of that law are no longer married today. Sorry, High Court, no can do. This is not in your jurisdiction. Your jurisdiction is only law, not biological reality.

How did it happen that we are allowing the conservatives to label The Affordable Care Act (ACA) socialized medicine and/ or socialism? Are they trying to hide just how capitalistic the ACA really is?
 
The ACA is a gift to capitalists. It develops competition in each state between private insurance companies, a sort of textbook definition of capitalism. Granted, this isn’t free market capitalism based on the regulations, but any American knows the US is not run on free market capitalism, as it would never work in the real world.

The intellectual dishonesty of Israel’s supporters is appalling. But in some odd way, it is also understandable. How else could they respond to the massively growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign?

When thousands of committed civil society activists from South Africa to Sweden and most countries in between leads a non-violent campaign to isolate and hold into account an apartheid country like Israel, all that the supporters of the latter can do is spread lies and misinformation. There can be no other strategy, unless of course, Israel’s friends get their own moment of moral awakening, and join the BDS flood that has already broken many barriers and liberated many minds from the grip of Israeli hasbara.