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.

Dec 09

Let's Begin Ending War Again

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

Recently I noticed a post on a social media site honoring Rosa Parks for her refusal to move out of her seat on a segregated bus. Someone commented underneath, that in fact another individual deserved credit for having done the same thing first. What happened next was entirely predictable. Post after post by various people brought out the names of all kinds of forerunners of Parks, pushing the date of the first brave resister to segregated buses back further and further -- many decades -- into the past.

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro today introduced the Sequester Delay and Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, a bill that would end sequestration and curb corporate use of offshore tax havens. The legislation also requires country-by-country reporting of corporate tax payments to both developed and developing nations. This reporting is critical to curb corporate tax avoidance, a systemic cause of poverty. 

“Congressman Doggett and Congresswoman DeLauro have introduced legislation that will benefit millions of people," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, a faith-based antipoverty organization. "When corporations don't pay their taxes, it's always the poorest people who are hurt the most.”

New York – Federal prosecutors routinely threaten extraordinarily severe prison sentences to coerce drug defendants into waiving their right to trial and pleading guilty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In the rare cases in which defendants insist on going to trial, prosecutors make good on their threats. Federal drug offenders convicted after trial receive sentences on average three times as long as those who accept a plea bargain, according to new statistics developed by Human Rights Watch.

Google may have been, until now, the Obama of hip internet monopolies.  No matter how many nations the President bombs, people still put Obama peace-sign stickers on their cars.  No matter how many radical rightwing initiatives Google funds, people still think it's a "progressive corporation" -- How could it not be? It's making progress!

Google is funding Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union, and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation.

As a child my favorite chore was hand-pumping water from the thirty-foot well on our family homestead. The pump was shiny black and the water ice-cold. Then my father was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer linked to chemicals used in oil and gas production. It’s been nine years since I drank that water.

I am from an impacted community in East Texas, home to oil and gas industry, on the southern route of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. My involvement in the climate movement is motivated by the reality my community faces.

Sometimes the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) make it too easy.  On November 19th, the anti-worker association — which represents 19,000 construction and “industry-related” firms (some of which are car dealerships) — filed a request for an injunction against a new Department of Labor (DOL) rule which is intended to promote the hiring of veterans and disabled workers.  Geoff Burr, ABC vice president of federal affairs, said that the DOL has exceeded its authority with the new rule. He calls it “wasteful and burdensome.”  

Do you hear that? There seems to be an unmistakeably unpatriotic whir in here…?

WASHINGTON - Yesterday, more than 30 cities across the U.S. and Mexico joined a Global Day of Action against toxic trade agreements. Called for by groups in Indonesia as the World Trade Organization begins meetings in Bali, the events also preceded negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) set to begin in Singapore on Dec. 7th. Thousands of Japanese farmers protested Vice President Biden's visit to Tokyo, while hundreds marched in Bali's Renon Square.

In Washington, DC, advocates delivered a petition signed by 4,000 people to the US Trade Representative, demanding that negotiator Stan McCoy stop pressuring countries to accept pharmaceutical policies that protect profits at the expense of people’s lives. They also delivered a second petition, signed by 42,000, demanding transparency by releasing the text of the agreement.

The Government is again planning the destruction of Rosia Montana and advances a new law proposal to boost cyanide mining in Romania. The law proposal registered under no 304/2013[1] wishes to modify the current mining law no.85/2003 in the sense that all mining activities by private companies are considered of public utility. The law proposal received positive notifications and amendments from various Commissions and can be anytime registered for a vote in the Senate’s plenary. The Chambers of Deputies is the decisional chamber. As such decision-makers are again attempting to foster interests of private companies by the old tactic of introducing amendments to existing laws, in spite of previous declarations that after the rejection of the special law for Rosia Montana, a whole new legal framework shall be created for mining.

On the 16 November, 2013, a number of rallies were held across New Zealand calling for an end to the rape culture that is so prevalent in New Zealand's society. I attended the Dunedin rally and I was reminded and informed of all the issues that come into play in this broader problem - including workplace harassment, abuse by family members (including fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, partners), stalking, a patriarchal culture and the current justice system, to name a few.

All of us are quick to demonize other cultures for their treatment of women, yet perhaps the reason rape culture has been allowed to prevail in New Zealand – land of the Long White Cloud, beacon of human rights and model citizen of the international community – is because rather than actively accepting that we have a problem, we have been duped into thinking that this fantasy of an egalitarian and just society is indeed exactly what we are as a nation.

Dec 05

Impossible Dialogue: The Choice in Yemen

By Ramzy Baroud, Dissident Voice | News Analysis

Chances are dim that elections will be held in Yemen next February. Yet without elections, the push for reforms and change that were inspired by the Yemeni revolution would become devoid of any real value. Yemenis might find themselves back on the street, repeating the original demands that echoed in the country’s many impoverished cities, streets and at every corner.

It is not easy to navigate the convoluted circumstances that govern Yemeni politics, which seem to be in a perpetual state of crisis. When millions of Yemenis started taking to the streets on January 27, 2011, a sense of hope prevailed that Yemen would be transferred from a country ruled by elites, and mostly beholden to outside regional and international powers, to a country of a different type: one that responds to the collective aspirations of its own people.