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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.

North Carolina has been in the news quite a lot recently, and for almost uniformly bad reasons. North Carolinians have watched as their legislature passed one of the nation’s “most wide-ranging” voter ID laws, enacted the “harshest” cuts to unemployment insurance during the recession in the entire country, banned the use of modern science to project sea level rise,  attached a restrictive set of requirements on abortion providers to a motorcycle safety bill in order to ramrod it through, and made a host of other questionable decisions about our state and its future.

Nov 30

Bumper Cars for the Bundestag

By Victor Grossman, Berlin Bulletin | News Analysis
If you’ve ever been on a bumper car at an amusement park - and who hasn’t? - you can get an idea of current German politics. Here, too, the noise is terrific and everyone zooms back and forth, round and round, clashing with everybody else. And, similarly, there may be no real winner - except perhaps the man at the cash register. 
 
The main car to watch is steered by Angela Merkel. Her Christian Democrats (CDU) barely missed out on the expected majority in the Bundestag, so a partner is needed in order to rule. Its former partner, the right-wing Free Democratic Party, was pushed off the floor, and a possible replacement, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), even further right, didn’t quite make it past the entrance.

In the midst of the confusion and uncertainty that characterizes current US-Egypt relations and with American and Egyptian attitudes toward each other having plummeted to all-time lows, I recently had the opportunity to participate in a "little" gem of a project that shows a way forward.

Last month, twenty American and Egyptian young professionals visited the US as part of a program sponsored by the Shafik Gabr Foundation. This group of Gabr Fellows was evenly divided between nationals from both countries and included artists, academics, and specialists in fields ranging from law to energy. 

As the oil industry amps up its campaign to expand fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in California, a prominent California Congresswoman is calling for a moratorium on offshore fracking in federal waters off the California coast.

On November 19, Representative Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for a moratorium on offshore fracking activities in federal waters off the coast of California until a comprehensive study is conducted to determine the impacts of fracking activities on the marine environment and public health.

I love movies, but they’re usually about people I have nothing in common with. The new film Sunlight Jr. starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon so accurately portrays the difficult yet mundane lives of a working poor family in Florida that I was struck with a mix of discomfort and catharsis. I saw parts of my own life reflected on the screen.

Sunlight Jr. follows a relationship between a weary convenience store clerk, Melissa, and her achingly flawed boyfriend Richie. Living in a weekly rate motel, they struggle to make do on his disability checks and her tenuous job.

Online merchant KlearGear.com must retract its reports to consumer credit agencies concerning a phony $3,500 debt it has sought from customer John Palmer since late spring of 2012, Public Citizen wrote the company today in a demand letter.

In December 2008, John attempted to make a purchase on the site, but the order was never delivered. His wife Jen then wrote a critical review on RipoffReport.com. In 2012, the company contacted John demanding $3,500 pursuant to a non-disparagement clause prohibiting "any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com [or] its reputation," a clause that it claimed was included in its online Terms of Use. However, the website TechDirt.com found that this clause did not exist when Jen wrote her review.

Nov 28

Pilgrim's Regress and the "Hand of God"

By Dallas Darling, SpeakOut | News Analysis
When climbing aboard the Mayflower and learning that his young wife, Dorothy, had fallen overboard and drowned, more than likely committing suicide, William Bradford called his tiny flock of English Separatists (Pilgrims) together for another prayer. He attributed his wife’s death to the “hand of God,” as another test of faith. 
 
Days earlier, Bradford had insisted on setting out with a small group of men in search for a place to establish a colony. He did this regardless of Dorothy’s sickness and her bouts of severe depression, which were caused by weeks of being confined to a small ship (the Mayflower) while enduring fierce storms and a near mutiny.
 
Nov 28

Iran Nuclear Deal as Geopolitical Global Warming

By Julie R Butler , SpeakOut | News Analysis

The Cold War may have officially ended when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, but conflict defined by the US's obsession with thwarting communism and the USSR's responding measures throughout the post-WWII world have proven to be a glacial force – a reservoir of brooding anger that has carved out valleys of hostility and strife in the global geopolitical landscape. With Iran holding the dubious honor of being the CIA's first adventure in the overthrow of a foreign government in 1953, the blowback for that and every other insidious incident of the Cold War has been so forceful that the deal reached in Geneva in the early hours of Sunday, November 24, 2013, matches the scale of the cracking off of the Singapore-sized iceberg (and that's just the tip of it!) from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier on November 13, 2013.

In the United Sates, One out of every three women has had an abortion. If you are a women living in Texas, that state has passed hundreds of laws in the last several years that strip a women's right to privacy, limit access to abortion and shame women into thinking that their choice about what to do with their bodies is wrong.

Recently, Lizz Winstead and Sarah Silverman decided to do something about the war for female reproductive rights and served as co-hosts of the "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can Choose" telethon, which raised over 50 thousand dollars to benefit groups that provide funding for women seeking abortions.

During the Atlantic Slave Trade Squanto, the Amerindian credited for helping the Pilgrims survive a harsh winter and their “starving time” which led to the first Thanksgiving, was captured in 1605 and placed in chains by Captain George Weymouth. Tisquantum, Squanto’s real name, was forcibly taken to England where he learned to speak English. After nine years and longing to return to his people, the Patuxets on Cape Cod, he finally traveled home on Captain John Smith’s ship.