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.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an apology is worth a thousand interpretations, at least in the United States. Such was the case when President Barack Obama issued an apology over the struggling Affordable Care Act (ACA) and fledgling website, something he had hoped would be an indelible part of his legacy. Despite assurances to Americans that "if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan," millions have been dropped by insurance companies. Since the summer of 2010, President Obama was well aware of how the new law would cause millions to lose their insurance. In a recent interview on NBC News, President Obama said, "I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me."

From the picture window of our family's eighth floor apartment at the intersection of 23rd Street and Avenue C, we have a view of the inhuman currents of the East River and the dehumanizing, vehicular currents of the FDR expressway. The tenor of the river is timeless while the FDR's voice is mindlessly urgent - an addict on a dope run evincing the urgency of an errand undertaken to relieve distress, on a trajectory that hurtles towards annihilation.

Nov 26

Aftermath - The Vulgarity of Empire

By Kieran Manjarrez, Woodchip Gazette - Journal | News Analysis
The sting of Stone's portrayal gives it a taste of truth and he was true in his prediction that the "level of literacy and civilization will fall again, as it did after F.D.R."

But it is a tad unfair to subject public figures to too much light.  Men do not accomplish anything without power and do not get into power by being poets. Politics is the art of the sordid.

If Kennedy was -- as his ghost writer once put it -- the author of his poetry, it was only because his father, Joe Sr.,  had authored all the sordid deals for him.  Jack was untouchable because he hadn't touched a damn thing.  Johnson, a true nobody from nowhere, had to claw his way in and clawing is never pretty.

A new, powerful coalition of Latino, social justice, green, progressive Democrats, student, civil liberties, peace, and other groups has emerged in Sonoma County, California. The killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus on October 22 unites them.

Over forty members of diverse groups met--many who had never been in a room together--on November 19 to strategize about how to keep the strong momentum going in response to the slaying of Lopez. Many of those who spoke identified themselves as mothers or fathers, who felt the pain of the parents whose son was taken from them.

What does Martin Heidegger have to do with Harry Potter? Is there an intelligible thread that ties together the last century of European philosophy? Is there a philosophical explanation for recent social/political phenomena like the revival of religiosity, environmentalism, identity politics, anti-globalization, and political Islam? Nancy J. Holland’s Ontological Humility: Lord Voldemort and the Philosophers answers these questions in a way that makes philosophy publicly relevant again. And despite the scope of its task, the book remains captivating and accessible. What follows is an eagle’s eye view of Western philosophy since 1600 in the form of a book review.

Nov 26

McDonald's, Hollande and Future Government

By Ahmed R Teleb, Truthout | News Analysis
 McDonald’s now serves espressos, lattes, smoothies, ice cream, and, yes, even salads. On Monday, November 18, François Hollande made history when his approval rating dipped to 20 percent, the lowest of the 1958 Republic. Apple now sells several kinds of phones, tablets, computers, even plastic cases. Over the last two years Congress’s approval rating has been in the teens, dipping as low as 11%.

What do these facts have to do with one another and with the future of government?

“Are you the guy who hates Thanksgiving?”

The man posing that question on my voicemail continued with a sharply critical comment about one of the essays I have written in recent years about the holocaust-denial that is at the heart of that U.S. holiday. My first reaction was not to argue but to amend: “I don’t hate Thanksgiving—I just think it’s appropriate to critique a celebration that obscures the reality of the European conquest of the Americas.”

Nov 26

Shalom with Iran: 100 Sign Rabbinic Statement

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center | Press Release

The process of working out the statement and then gathering signatures began four weeks ago.The 100th signature arrived after Shabbat ended on Oct.23, just minutes before breaking news reports came that the Great Powers and Iran had come to an interim agreement toward settling the major differences between them. 
Luminaries of the Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, and Humanist streams of Judaism have signed.  Among them are Rabbis Leonard Beerman, Amy Eilberg, Sue Levi Elwell, Everett Gendler, Marc Gopin, Sharon Kleinbaum, Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Mordechai Liebling, Ellen Lippmann, Gerry Serotta, David Shneyer, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Jonathan Slater, Susan Talve, Arthur Waskow, and Sheila Weinberg, Cantor Steven Puzarne, and Rabbi/Kohenet Jill Hammer.

Please see below the full list of signers up to now.  

Nov 26

Boycotts, Academic Freedom, History

By David Palumbo-Liu, Truthout | Op-Ed

At the November 22 weekend's annual meeting of the American Studies Association, a resolution for an academic boycott of Israel was presented for a vote in the National Council. I won't repeat the information found in the reports that have already been published in Inside Higher Education and the Chronicle of Higher Education here, nor the fine rebuttal of the charge that such boycotts violate academic freedom, to be found in David Lloyd and Malini Johar Schueller's "The Israeli State of Exception and the Case for Academic Boycott," nor will I go over the points made in  Joan Scott's account of how she came to change her mind and support a boycott.  My perceptions of what happened in Washington, DC this past weekend and especially its relevance to the passing of such a resolution by the Association for Asian American Studies in April 2013, an act mentioned by Angela Davis in her remarks at a panel on Friday, follow.

This morning, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held the second of two hearings on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international disability treaty that was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities worldwide. The Disability Treaty is a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around the world, modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities. In spite of widespread support from veterans service organizations, faith organizations, business, and the disability community, as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle, the treaty fell just five votes short of ratification in a controversial Senate vote last December.