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.
The research is in! An extensive Princeton University study shows that the American people have no impact on which laws get passed. Lee Camp breaks down the specifics and explains why this means we should be more active and less apathetic than ever before!
Today, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill passed by the House last month that ends the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel, co-directors of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, are available for your coverage.
"For the first time since 9/11, Congress has placed significant limits on the government's ability to spy on Americans," said Elizabeth Goitein. "Once signed into law, the USA Freedom Act will end the NSA's indiscriminate collection of Americans' phone records. If faithfully implemented, it will also narrow the collection of other types of business records under Section 215 and other foreign intelligence authorities. It will introduce a measure of transparency into FISA Court decisions and give the court's judges the option of conducting more balanced proceedings."
Commenting on the release of a newaccount by a Guantanamo detainee of his torture at the hands of the CIA, Cori Crider, an attorney at international human rights NGO Reprieve - which represents victims of rendition and torture operations - said:
"It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study."
Saad Aziz has the dubious honor of enhancing Pakistan's terrorism vocabulary. Before his May 21 confession to killing social activist Sabeen Mahmud, and gunning down Ismailis in Safoora Goth,Pakistan's political pendulum on terror swung between two stops: every hit on the homeland could be traced back to either the Taliban or India's intelligence agencies. A young man with an elite education and cosmopolitan upbringing could never be a jihadist. The fact that similar individuals were joining the Islamic State (IS) was dismissed as a first-world problem. Rich people would never go rogue in Pakistan; life was too good for them here!
Reborn fanatics like Saad Aziz and cohort Mohammed Ishrat are especially troublesome because they are hard to predict and don't conform to stereotypes. No one talks about the other killers, Haafiz Nasir or Tahir Hussain, because their socio-religious standing is within the present profile's margin of error. Local commentators are now dusting off precedents to downplay Aziz's actions, and comparing him to Omar Saeed Sheikh and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. These comparisons don't work because both of the latter embraced Al-Qaeda's original logic of jihad against the infidel occupiers of Muslims lands. Unlike Aziz, neither willfully targeted fellow Muslims, nor spewed anti-Shia hate.
This open letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and signed by 21 leading US peace activists and 21 US peace organizations, was prompted by an important court case that was brought against the German government by the Yemeni survivors of a US drone strike.
The case brought by the Yemeni plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences. The Yemeni survivors request that the German government intervene by shutting down the Satellite Relay Station at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, so as to protect Yemenis from further US drone strikes. As was recently reported byThe Intercept and by the German news magazine Spiegel, the Satellite Relay Station at Ramstein is essential for all US drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa and Southwest Asia. Under German law, extrajudicial killings are deemed to be murders.
An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry's interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.
A ceremony attended by 300,000 people was held on May 23, in the city of San Salvador to honor and celebrate the beatification of El Salvador's deceased Archbishop Oscar Romero. Supportive commemorations were also held in Los Angeles and other cities. Pope Francis made the decision to beatify Romero which is a step before sainthood after designating him as a martyr who gave his life in 1980 for the cause of social justice. Prior to his death, the Archbishop had assisted poor communities in El Salvador in order to improve their lives and had been a public and outspoken critic of the brutal Salvadoran military. He had demanded that the army halt the widespread violence and killings being committed against innocent people who were merely attempting to exercise their basic rights.
An appeal court has today ordered the Obama Administration to redact 12 hours of secret Guantánamo force-feeding footage in preparation for its public release, rejecting the Administration's argument that not one single frame should be seen by the public.
The classified videos, which show Guantánamo prisoner Abu Wa-'el Dhiab being forcibly removed from his cell and force-fed by the US military, were ordered to be released to the public by federal Judge Gladys Kessler in October 2014, following a First Amendment intervention from 16 US press organizations in the abuse case Dhiab v Obama.
Military officers often take over countries, but only a fool would call the result a government. Governments do not have to be democratic, but they do have to be rule-based. The rules can come in the form of generic laws or customs, but in all cases they have to be promulgated, that is, be publicly set forth. In addition, obedience to the rules has to rest on something more than fear. If whatever system is running the show is subject to the whim of an individual or group of individuals, or operates through rules known only to the police, or relies mostly on terror, it is not a government. It is a despotism of some sort. Most instances of military rule fit the description of despotism. Speaking of such regimes as governments is just so much nonsense.
By the way, dictionary definitions of government are usually inadequate, restricting themselves to vague statements like "a particular system used to control a country." If the mafia took over Italy, would you understand their form of control as government?
In the same region where questionable "marine protected areas" were created under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, state and federal government crews are cleaning up a big oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The spill from a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline spans four miles wide and there is still some seepage, according to authorities.