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.

Oct 21

Ideological Disaster - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

In the eighteenth century the West shifted from mercantilism to capitalism. Mercantilism was an economic system that gave governments wide-ranging regulatory powers over commerce, mostly to ensure a positive balance of trade. It also allowed for strong guild structures and protection for domestic industries. However, the Industrial Revolution ended mercantilism and brought to power a business class that wanted to be free to operate without government oversight.

Monday morning I woke at dawn and drove an hour from Phoenix to the small town of Eloy, Arizona. It was pretty warm already and I knew the Arizona sun would only grow hotter. I grabbed my bandana and prepared to chain myself to the entrance of one of the largest detention centers with the worst reputation in the United States. There were six of us in all — two men and four women. One was 16-year-old girl named Sandy Estrada. Her brother was detained inside.

“I am doing this so he and everybody else in there knows that we support them,” she said. “Obama has the power to keep families like mine together. He hasn’t done a thing.”

A common practice for introducing students to the ethical foundation of philosophy is to pose moral dilemmas, possibly the most typical example being the life-boat dilemma that forces a person to choose who lives, and thus who dies.

Science fiction (SF) and speculative fiction often build entire other worlds in which the given circumstances create a series of moral dilemmas that are the basis of the tensions and actions of the novels and films. Writers such as Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, for example) and Kurt Vonnegut (Cat’s Cradle, for example) often build these worlds in the tradition of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley as a way to say, as Neil Gaiman explains about the power of fiction: “The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.”

First they came for the Arctic sea ice, and I did not speak out--even though its volume is two thirds what it was thirty years ago.

Then they came for our mountain glaciers--Kilimanjaro, Glacier National Park, the Andes, and Himalayas--and still I didn't speak out. My water supplies were not threatened.

They thawed the permafrost and continental shelves even though these areas could release planet altering greenhouse gases. Still I remained silent.

Oct 21

The Price of Fashion

By Tom O’Connor, Truthout | Op-Ed

The price of fashion is on the rise as the death toll in Bangladesh’s garment factories grows.

Another fire in another garment factory – this one about 25 miles from the garment factory whose April collapse killed more than 1,100 workers – took the lives of at least 10 more workers on Tuesday, October 8, 2013.

Most of the workers who perished in this week’s fire were so badly burned they could not be identified. Approximately 50 other workers were injured in the fire, which took firefighters nearly 10 hours to overcome. 

Just days ago thousands took to the streets in yet another March Against Monsanto, yet many people still don't understand what Monsanto is and what it's doing to our food supply. Take ten minutes and learn the truth.

Oct 18

Blinded by the Systematic Power

By Gabriela Garcia, SpeakOut | News Analysis

African Americans and Latin Americans have been oppressed for centuries, and yet still has there not been any change. Many people of the United States blame the individual for being oppressed, jailed, or murdered. These ethnicities and races are still oppressed by the system. Not in a matter of slavery or segregation, but in the matter of poverty, discrimination and classism. I agree that wars and revolutions have made change over the past years, but not enough change that we are able to stand by the 14th amendment that guarantees civil rights for all Americans.

Poverty has been a huge effect around the world, but specifically in the city of San Francisco. According to a US Economic Inequality article, statistics show that the 1% of rich Americans are getting richer and the poor are even more poor.

Oct 18

Still Staying Sober – An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

On 22 May 2013 I wrote an analysis titled “Staying Sober.” It recounted two news stories that drew many hopeful comments from progressives. One was about the New York-based federal judge who placed an injunction on the U.S. government’s practice of indefinite detention. The other was the momentary success of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons at attaining some relief from their intolerable conditions. They too were protesting, among other things, that country’s version of indefinite detention. 

I noted that these were battles won and precedents to take heart from. They showed what was possible through determined opposition against unjust state practices. However, winning battles is not equivalent to winning wars, so it would be wise to celebrate soberly, knowing the struggles were not over.

The announcement that the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) took many by surprise. The consensus choice seemed to be the young female education activist, Malala Yousafzai. The selection of OPCW, however, fits the Norwegian Nobel Committee's history of awarding the Prize to global institutions that pursue the broad goal of the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

The complexities and contradictions of global politics can often lead to cynicism. No one can be trusted, violence is endemic, and international organizations are too incompetent to do anything about it. Just a month ago the United States was on the brink of war, once again using the threat of its military might to try to force its desired outcome.

Oct 15

Dr. King's “Dream” Denied

By Asha Sanford, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

According to Bill O'Reilly, a syndicated columnist and also the host of the political commentary program The O'Reilly Factor, the reason Trayvon Martin died is because he dressed a certain way. And that way is how "gangstas" look, so therefore he got attention and for that reason he lost his life. As he states on his show, "It would be nice if they did extend the story into the why of it rather than the what of it. The cause and effect needs to be addressed. If you want to stop these things then you have to solve the problem, which is not white people hunting down blacks." If the idea of racism was analyzed more in depth I think a lot of people's views would be different. The fact that Trayvon was a child was forgotten and the system once again refused justice to another African American young man.