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, DC - Representatives from a broad coalition including over a hundred peace, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, environmental and community groups called upon Congressional leaders Tuesday to increase funding for a wide range of domestic programs by cutting runaway, dangerous military spending by 25 to 50%. In addition to a letter, the groups also delivered petitions signed by thousands of individuals. 

Dec 12

Israel: Legitimacy and Behavior - an Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, SpeakOut | News Analysis

In the year 1762 the King of Prussia, Frederick II, launched an unprovoked attack on Austria with the aim of conquering the province of Silesia. One hundred and two years later, in 1864, Otto von Bismarck, then prime minister of Prussia, provoked a war with Denmark in order to seize the Danish provinces of Schleswig and Holstein. Since its founding, the United States has launched over 330 mostly unwarranted foreign military interventions around the globe. Concurrently the U.S. existed as a slave state until 1865 and then practiced institutional racism right up into the 1960s. Throughout all of this history the citizens of these countries never doubted the legitimacy of their nation-states.

Dec 12

Mandela and Arafat

By Dr James J Zogby, Arab American Institute | Op-Ed

In late February of 1990, just two weeks after being released from prison, Nelson Mandela met with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasir Arafat. Afterwards Mandela spoke publicly of his affinity with the Palestinian people and his support for their struggle. He described the parallels between the two peoples' struggles for justice, saying in part,

"There are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel..."

Dec 12

American Essentialism

By Tom Brennan, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The passing of Nelson Mandela prompted me to reflect that both Nelson Mandela and Thomas Jefferson chose futures for their nations rooted in the essentials of democracy, and they made their choices in times when hell appeared to be the dominant choice. But perhaps it is always the case that freedom emerges when evil is forced to recoil back on itself. In the ranks of Justice, Jefferson and Mandela are up there with the very best of them.

Last night, BuzzFeed released a gripping video about one New Yorker's harrowing experience of being arrested for marijuana possession. A Marijuana Arrest tells the story of former Manhattan Public School art teacher Alberto Willmore, who recounts how his life was upended after NYPD officers aggressively seized and charged him with marijuana possession. Mr. Willmore immediately lost his teaching job, spent nearly two years fighting the case in court, and – even though the case was thrown out – he was still penalized by his employer, the Department of Education.

Washington – Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), a coalition of 325 national and state groups, reacted sharply in response to early reports of a budget deal that would take only modest steps to blunt the impact of new sequester cuts and not include closing any tax loopholes used by corporations and the wealthy – measures that are highly popular with the American public. Republican leaders have steadfastly refused to raise additional tax revenues by closing any loopholes during the current budget negotiations.

New York, NY – Today, Free & Equal, the United Nations (UN) campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, released “A History of LGBT RIghts at the UN,” a short infographic video telling the story of LGBT rights at the UN in advance of International Human Rights Day, 10 December.  This year’s Human Rights Day marks the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in 1948.

Dec 10

The Mystery of Unearned Income

By Karl Fitzgerald, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Blackstone Capital has bought up swathes of property for $35,000. Council appraisers valued them at $60,000, but the rents charged are akin to a $173,000 property. The MSM cheerleads this as a sign of a healthy economy, despite this being a premium of more than $100,000 above pre-crisis prices. At $60,000 they should be charging $250 per month, not the reported $720. This extra $470 in rental payments is an unearned income, AKA money for jam.

Each year during the mid-Autumn Moon festival, a pastry shop near our house in Saigon, Vietnam, would display the figure of a dancing goddess in a flowing dress who, I was told, resided on the moon. Then one year the goddess was gone, replaced by three strange creatures adorned with Christmas lights.

"Mother, are those angels?" I asked.

"No," she answered. "They're American astronauts and they've landed on the moon." That was of course the Apollo landing in 1969. Ever since then other nations have followed suit, sending satellites to hover on earth's orbit, probes onto distant planets, and China has just last week launched a moon rover known as the Jade Rabbit to collect data.

Dec 10

The Drone That Takes Out Julian Assange

By Dennis Trainor Jr, AcronymTV | Video Report

Earlier this year, as the Edward Snowden story was just starting to break, Michael Grunwald -- the Time magazine senior national correspondent and poster boy for everything wrong with journalism, no strike that, poster boy for everything wrong with the blowback inducing homicidal bull in a cultural, religious and geopolitical china shop of US foreign policy that I like to call manifest destiny's child, wrote that he "could not wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange. "

While it might be a stretch to imagine that Julian Assange is on Barack Obama's infamous kill list- there is a overt trend to brand journalists as terrorists. If the objective behind this trend if successful, it might grant Michael Grunwald his sadistic wish after all.