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.

In a recent New Yorker cartoon, a dog is shown lounging by a pool and saying to a pup: “Youtube’s one thing, but cats will never make it on the big screen.” A funny commentary, surely, but in America that statement could just as easily be applied to ethnic minorities, especially Asian Americans.

Today, New Jersey State Senator Nicholas P. Scutari announced plans to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana. Details of the proposal are pending but the senator envisions an industry that taxes and regulates marijuana like alcohol. A 2013 poll by Lake Research Partners found that 59 percent of New Jersey voters support legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. Recent national polls show similar support.

Jan 27

To Dump Citizens United, We Need To Legalize Democracy

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video Report

The premiere of the documentary, Legalize Democracy, will be airing on Free Speech TV (FSTV). 
Legalize Democracy is a 30 minute film by Dennis Trainor, Jr. about the movement to amend -- why it is needed, and how you can get involved.

Jan 27

Poverty in the US

By Staff, Best Psychology Degrees | Infographic

For the more than 40 million Americans in poverty, everyday life is a struggle — buying food, going to school, getting a job. And for a great many of them, what most people think of as simple tasks are also difficult. Let’s explore the picture of poverty in the U.S. and the psychological and physical toll it takes.

The following is a quote from Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women’s Law Center:

"Women’s union membership held steady in 2013 after dropping sharply the year before, and that’s a relief for women seeking better wages and equal pay. The wage gap among union members is half the size of the wage gap among non-union workers.  And female union members earn over $200 per week more than women who are not represented by unions—an increase that represents a larger union premium than men receive.  But a case pending in the Supreme Court challenges the right of home care providers—an overwhelmingly female and very low-wage workforce—and potentially the right of all public employees—to be represented by unions.  Today’s data make it clear that this case has high stakes for working women and men."

There are a million qualifications that need to be put on that statement.  None of them render it false.  A bill looked likely to move through Congress that would have imposed new sanctions on Iran, shredded the negotiated agreement with Iran, and committed the United States to join in any Israeli war on Iran.  This would be a step toward war and has become understood as such by large numbers of people.  Efforts to sell sanctions as an alternative to war failed. Tons of pushback has come, and is still coming, from the public, including from numerous organizations not always known for their opposition to war.  And the bill, for the moment, seems much less likely to pass.

Heads of state, financial ministers, celebrities and representatives from many of the worlds most powerful corporations are meeting in Davos, Switzerland for the 2014 World Economic Forum. This year's theme of the forum is "The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business." The Forum has focused on income inequality, the impacts of low economic growth and climate change. In advance of this year's forum Oxfam International released a report that noted that the world's 85 richest individuals have as much wealth as 3.5 billion people or half the world's population.

Washington, DC – An independent bipartisan agency within the Executive Branch has issued a landmark 238-page report that concludes the bulk metadata telephony program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) has provided only "minimal" benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal, and should be closed down.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) report further confirms the whistleblower status of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who made significant revelations to the media in June 2013 of NSA surveillance programs he reasonably believed to be unconstitutional.

Jan 24

The Thugs of Halftime

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

Three remarkable items in Thursday's Charlottesville Daily Progress.  First, a football player explaining that when he proclaimed his superiority to his opponent after a game he was caught up in the game's passion, and that the overblown reaction to his obnoxious comments seems racist. Indeed it does, but it seems to reflect another type of willful ignorance as well.

Washington, D.C. – When President Obama delivers the 2014 State of the Union on January 28, it is expected that he focus a substantial portion of his agenda on America’s growing economic inequality and steps to address this critical issue.
The President may call on Congress to pass fast track trade promotion authority so negotiators can finalize, after more than four years, the massive and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact which involves 12 countries that comprise nearly 40% of all global economic activity.