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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.

On July 21, 2014, the United States filed a motion to dismiss the Nuclear Zero lawsuit that was filed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) on April 24, 2014 in U.S. Federal Court.

The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands filed a lawsuit against the United States, claiming that the U.S. has breached its obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by continuing to modernize its nuclear arsenal and by failing to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament. The RMI requested that the Court declare the United States in breach of its Treaty obligations and order the U.S. to call for and convene, within one year from the Court’s judgment, negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

Cornucopia, WI - The Cornucopia Institute has called upon USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to make public all candidates for appointment to fill the four vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOSB, a 15-member board of organic stakeholders representing farmer, consumer, environmental, retail, scientific, certifying and organic food processing interests, was established by Congress to advise the USDA on organic food and agriculture policies and review materials allowed for use in organic food production and processing.

Past investigations by The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, found that prior appointments, during the Bush and Obama administrations, violated the letter of the law, and congressional intent, by appointing agribusiness executives to fill slots on the NOSB reserved for farmers and other independent stakeholders. Public interest groups have suggested that these extra agribusiness representatives on the board have voted in favor of weakening the organic standards.

New York - Anna Conte, a nine year old from Orchard Park, NY who passed away last week after falling into a coma following a severe seizure, was laid to rest today. Anna suffered from Dravet Syndrome, a life-threatening seizure disorder that has been treated with medical marijuana in states where it is legal. Medical marijuana has dramatically reduced the number of seizures in many children with similar seizure disorders. 

In an effort to help their daughter, the Conte family joined the successful fight to pass a medical marijuana bill in New York. The Contes travelled repeatedly to Albany, persuading several powerful New York senators to support the bill and generating thousands of phone calls and emails to Albany leadership. Advocates around the state came to know and love Anna and her family and admire their selfless advocacy which was always accompanied with a sense of humor.

Jul 24

An Open Letter for the People in Gaza

By Staff, The Lancet | Press Release

More than 20 leading doctors and scientists* from the UK and Italy denounce ongoing Israeli military aggression in Gaza in a letter to The Lancet, published today [Tuesday 22 July]. 

“On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel,” write the authors. “We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression.”

New Hampshire has passed a law that prohibits the automatic release of student information to military recruiters gained through the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test in the state’s high schools.

Jul 23

Gaza's Resistance Will Not Be Crushed

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On the 13th day of Israel’s so-called Operation Protective Edge, stories of entire families collectively pulverized, women and children keenly targeted by Israeli soldiers saturate the media. Until now, 430 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and 18 Israel soldiers been killed at the hands of the Resistance. In Shejaiya, elders, mothers and children scrambled for cover as shells mercilessly rained down, stealing the souls of countless innocents.

The destruction is overwhelming, and everywhere, Palestinians lament there is nowhere that is safe. Regardless, resolve is strong and the people of Gaza will not resign themselves to surrender.

Washington, DC – With U.S. corporations fleeing, or planning to flee, the country to avoid taxes, and the Senate Finance Committee scheduled to hold hearings on the U.S. tax code with an emphasis on corporate inversions, the FACT (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) Coalition supports efforts to ensure that U.S. multinational corporations remain in the country and pay their fair share of taxes.

The news has been filled lately with U.S. companies announcing plans to invert, or completing an inversion: Pharmaceutical companies AbbVie and ShireAllergan and ValeantWalgreen’s “moving” to Switzerland, and even the failed merger of Pfizer and AstaZeneca (which may be coming back).

There's a chance to watch DRONES, the movie, online on July 30th and then to join a discussion with filmmakers and experts.  There's a preview video below. The movie's website is at http://dronesthefilm.com and the free screening is at http://demandprogress.tv/drones.

I saw a screening of this film back in November at the drone summit in DC. It's wonderful. I was a bit put-off and staggered, to be frank, at the time, because someone involved with the film bragged about how inexpensively it had been made, and yet the budget was so unfathomably huge that I knew that if an anti-war organization had that kind of money we could hire organizers all over the world and quite possibly make the abolition of war a major mainstream force. 

Jul 23

Harassing the Drones

By Kathy Kelly, TeleSUR | News Analysis

Kabul - On July 10, 2014, in New York State, Judge David Gideon sentenced Mary Anne Grady Flores to a year in prison and fined her $1,000 for photographing a peaceful demonstration at the U.S. Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field  (near Syracuse) where weaponized Reaper drones are remotely piloted in lethal flights over Afghanistan.  Dozens have been sentenced, previously, for peaceful protest there. But uniquely, the court convicted her under laws meant to punish stalkers, deciding that by taking pictures outside the heavily guarded base she violated a previous order of protection not to stalk or harass the commanding officer.

Mary Anne is a 58 year-old grandmother of three, from Ithaca, New York, where she is part of the Upstate Drone Action

The stain of death spreads below,

but from my cockpit I see none of it.

I only drop bombs as I have been trained

and then, far above the haze and blood,

I speed toward home.