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.

Feb 21

Assassinations and Constitutions

By James and Jean Anton, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On one side of the aisle, there are Republicans, Conservatives, neoConservatives, and Libertarians who vocally support only two amendments to the constitution. The first is the Imaginary Amendment that says that corporations are people. The second is the Sacred Amendment (the Second), which to them means that corporations (which are virtual people) as well as actual flesh-and-blood people have the right to bear arms.

Neoliberals, who disagree violently with their neoconservative friends about the Sacred (Second) Amendment (and who are neither here nor there on the Imaginary Amendment), respect most of the other amendments except for the Sixth and the Fourth Amendments. The Sixth amendment is the one that says that Americans have the right to a speedy and public trial, must be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, must be confronted by witnesses against them and must have the assistance of counsel for their defense. The fourth is the one about needing a warrant … to surveil.

Argentina will file its final US Supreme Court appeal in the NML Capital hedgefund debt case before this Tuesday, February 18th. Legal observers, economists, investors, the United Nations, the Obama Administration, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the religious community have closely monitored the proceedings.

"The final outcome affects poverty around the globe, over a decade of US bipartisan debt policy and the profits of legitimate investors," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt campaign, Jubilee USA Network. "The religious community applauds the globalconsensus to deter and not reward this exploitative, predatory behavior."

Feb 21

Dancing with Death at Death Cafes

By Shepherd Bliss, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"I have an appointment with death this evening," I explained, smiling to friends upon leaving them. Their startled faces revealed feelings such as fear and a lack of understanding.

While living in Mexico, their Day of the Dead became my favorite holiday. I especially liked celebrating it in traditional villages, like Tepotzlan. The whole town seemed to go to the cemetery that night. Morbid? Not really, more like fun - feeding and dancing with one’s ancestors, remembering them in gratitude, teaching children to accept death and not be so afraid of it. But I was not on my way to a Day of the Dead celebration this time; I was going to a Death Cafe.

Feb 21

Oakland Privacy Group Oakland Protesters Fight Spy Center Vote by City Council

By Staff, Oakland Privacy Working Group | Press Release

A disparate coalition of Bay Area activists will converge at Oscar Grant Plaza this Tuesday, Feb. 18, from roughly 6pm onward, to speak out against Oakland City Council's plan to vote to approve Schneider Electric as the contractor for Phase II of construction of the proposed Oakland Police Department surveillance hub, the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). If Schnedier Electric is approved, this would be the final vote before construction would continue on the DAC. Activists are braced for this possibility and are ready to launch a lawsuit against City Council to halt construction, based on Fourth Amendment violations and the expenditure of City funds to SAIC while it had the contract, in violation of Oakland's Nuclear-Free Zone Ordinance. The DAC vote is item number 13 on City Council's agenda and activists will stay until they stay as long as it takes to make their voices heard.

Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show.
Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are acknowledging that merchants who use images and names of the government agencies on parody merchandise are not in violation of any federal laws.

The admission settles a lawsuit Public Citizen filed against the agencies on behalf of Minnesota activist Dan McCall. Public Citizen argued that McCall has a First Amendment right to sell parody merchandise using the NSA and DHS seals.

... among people who are not the president.

On Presidents Day, set up a petition in response to this news:

"An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say," the Associated Press reports -- "and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year."

Feb 19

New Snowden Revelation Show US Targeting of WikiLeaks, Assange

By Staff, Center for Constitutional Rights | Press Release

February 18, 2014, New York – In response to recent revelations by Edward Snowden of the NSA’s global effort to surveil, intimidate and target WikiLeaks, its publisher Julian Assange, and their associates, supporters and counsel, the Center for Constitutional Rights, U.S lawyers for Assange, issued the following statement:

These documents shed even more light on the Obama administration’s continuing attacks on bona fide journalists and whistleblowers, and confirm the administration’s attempts to criminalize and put a stop to the journalistic work of the WikiLeaks media organization. The U.S. government has been spinning a web around Assange, WikiLeaks, and their supporters in order to prevent the truth about government criminality, corruption and hypocrisy from being revealed. The U.S. tried to pressure other countries to do the same.

Nicholas Kristof’s ill-conceived diatribe against the supposed self-marginalization of academics has come in for a fair amount of criticism, notably from Corey Robin. The most obvious problem with Kristof’s argument assertion is that anywhere you look in the policy sphere, you can’t help stumbling over academics left and right. Macroeconomics is an obvious one, but there many others. Take education, for example, where anyone pushing for any conceivable policy change can wave a fistful of academic papers in your face.

Feb 19

Snowden Attorney Radack Interrogated and Harassed at Heathrow

By Staff, Government Accountability Project | Press Release

Washington, DC – Jesselyn Radack, an attorney at the Government Accountability Project (GAP) in Washington, DC who represents whistleblower Edward Snowden, was interrogated and harassed by a Heathrow Border Force agent as she entered the United Kingdom over the weekend. Her questioners made it clear that she was subjected to this intrusive and hostile treatment because of her legal relationship to Mr. Snowden.