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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.

Dec 10

"Zero Tolerance" to "Zero Occurrence"

By Cristell Alejandra Perez, Sayra Alanis, Jasmine Isokpunwu and Alisha Zou, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The stories of sexual assault in the military continue to emerge, yet most victims will never find justice, given the response from within the military. Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice covers rape, sexual assault and other sexual misconduct offenses. The U.S. Army's Study Guide defines sexual assault as "heterosexual and homosexual rape, as well as non-consensual oral or anal sex, unwanted sexual contact or fondling, or attempts to commit these acts." Thanks to the Department of Defense, more realistic figures surrounding sexual assault in the Armed Forces are beginning to be published. Last year alone, there were an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual harassment within the Armed Forces, but only 3,374 incidents reported.

While Nelson Mandela became the foundation and architect for a free and peaceful democratic South Africa, Frederik de Klerk was the catalyst. They are living witnesses that two, not one, makes for a better peace and democratic system. And when the United States Congress decided to implement economic sanctions against South Africa's brutal and racist apartheid system, it showed how even three, not two, always makes for an enhanced peace with political and economic equality.

Dec 09

When Religious Leaders Support Class War

By Justin Doolittle, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Buried on the fourth page of Lori Montgomery's recent piece in the Washington Post on Paul Ryan's alleged anti-poverty crusade is an incredibly disparaging quote from Bishop Shirley Holloway, a minor religious celebrity in D.C., who, after assuring us that "Paul wants people to dream again," omnisciently asserts that "you don't dream when you've got food stamps."

It's a bizarre sentiment that understandably provoked a snarky backlash from liberal bloggers. But it's also an unusually honest expression of how religious conservatives and allies of Paul Ryan view the lower classes. For many on the broadly defined Christian Right, what ails the poor is that they are not "dreaming" as they should be.

Dec 09

Nelson Mandela: A Jewish Perspective

By Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun | News Analysis

Jews love and loved Nelson Mandela. He inspired us with his insistence that the old regime of apartheid would crumble more quickly and fully when faced with revolutionary love and compassion than when faced with anger and violence.
Mandela also challenged us to think deeply about whether the current situation in Israel/Palestine reflects the ethic of compassion that is so central to Judaism.
Some people on the Left reject Mandela's strategy. "How can one be openhearted toward one's oppressors?" they say. "Fostering compassion toward oppressors will undermine the revolutionary spirit needed to defeat the evil ones."

t's 1983, and for some reason, Facebook exists. Ronald Reagan is President. The Cold War is still a thing. And an increasingly isolated South African government's apartheid rule is still at-large, holding revolutionary anti-apartheid fighter Nelson Mandela in Pollsmoor Prison. On December 5, 1983, Nelson Mandela dies while incarcerated. 1980s Facebook explodes with activity as people post about his passing.

The only catch is, instead of "Rest in Peace," the overwhelming message from Americans is "Good Riddance." Instead of calling Mandela a freedom-fighter, most people call him a "terrorist." President Reagan makes an impromptu address from the Rose Garden to tell the American people that "a convicted terrorist finally got what he deserved."

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.