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.

According to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, there's a disturbing trend in SAT scores in America. The score over all has fallen 20 points, dropping to 1498 in 2012 from 1518 in 2006, six years later. White students' average score has fallen relatively small by 4 points, other ethnic groups have fallen by up to 22 points.

There's one exception, however. Asian American students are scoring higher than ever before, and on the average this population has seen their score rise by a shocking 41 points.

The University of Michigan's fracking study's steering committee members contributed to Michigan Chamber of Commerce's political campaign against the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan's ballot initiative... and an analysis of the Committee's campaign–or anything about Michigan's ballot initiative process–is nowhere to be found.

One of 7 technical reports by U of M--steered by the Michigan gas industry.

With great fanfare, the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute finally released technical reports as part of its integrated assessment of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan on Sep 3. Along with an overview, the seven reports cover fracking technology, geology/hydrology, environment/ecology, human health, policy/law, economics, and public perception.

The Caribbean may be about to wake up to the fact that they have been missing the boat on a major new trend in their region – the rejection of failed US-led anti-drug policies. So often lumped with South America in the “Latin America and the Caribbean” (LAC) grouping, the Caribbean has been in many respects, including this one – the debate surrounding what policies to pursue with respect to drugs, and marijuana in particular – clearly out of step with its counterparts.

Sep 16

Being Hannibal Lecter

By David Cupples, Truthout | Op-Ed

Art at its best provokes insight into the human condition. Film, depicting various human situations and inviting critical analysis as it does, can provide a mother lode of potential enlightenment.

What do films like Silence of the Lambs and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo reveal about us? For one thing, both feature female heroines - a profound shattering of age-old myths about woman's helplessness and dependence on man. Interestingly, in the earlier film, Silence, the heroine is proper and pretty, whereas two decades later, in Girl, she is counter-culture to the max. The directors of these films and especially the authors of the novels upon which they are based are owed a debt for their contributions toward greater inclusiveness and acceptance of those who don't fit societal stereotypes or ideals.

The term "Democracy" has been preached as a form of Government "Of the people, For the people and By the people." If Democracy truly were to be as described above, namely as a civilian democracy, then why would such an ideal system not rescue mankind from the ills of unemployment, poverty, starvation, etc. Why has there been a situation of uncontrolled corruption (legal and illegal)? Why do political parties just change their roles in every election and the suffering of the masses keep rising in spite of the election of a candidate of their choice? Do political parties truly act as elected representatives of the people who vote for them? How do these supposed servants of local people become their arrogant masters? What are the loopholes in the current democratic system that makes it a government of politicians who have no care for the people, but are primarily serve their own interests?  What reforms are needed to have a meaningful Democratic system, namely Civilian Democracy, and put an end once and for all to the current form of Political Democracy - A Foolocracy? These questions take on urgency as there seems to be a repeat telecast of frenzied talk about Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Syria and decision to invade Syria without waiting for UN inspectors to reveal the result of their investigation of use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians.

Sep 16

Free the Cuban Five: 15 Years of Unjust Imprisonment

By National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Free the Five | Press Release

Fifteen years ago, on Sept. 12, 1998, the FBI raided the homes of five Cuban men living in Miami, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, and indicted them on trumped-up charges of espionage conspiracy and related charges. The U.S. government knew that the Five were in the United States monitoring the actions of Miami-based, U.S.-backed terrorist Cuban exile organizations that operate with impunity against the people of Cuba. It was fully aware that the men had no weapons and had never harmed any individual.

Sep 16

There Is A Time For Everything

By Simon Davis-Cohen, Truthout | Op-Ed

Some say a diplomatic agreement between Obama and Putin is the only way a USA ‘intervention’ in Syria can be permanently avoided. Should talks between the two countries go sour, recent coverage of the Russian treatment of Queers could help provide the public support Obama needs to defame Russia and justify a preemptive strike that doesn’t have Russian approval. Publishing negative press about Russia, at this point in time, should be taken seriously, as it may have the unintended consequence of drumming up public frustration about Russia at a time when diplomacy is needed.

Civil Rights veteran, Rev. James Lawson addressed the AFL-CIO's Diversity Conference in Los Angeles 9/7/13. In a brief interview with GRITtv's Laura Flanders, he described what he believes labor is up against: "plantation capitalism."

Sep 13

Older Than Her Chronological Age

By I.G. Frederick, Erotica | Op-Ed
I find the concept that any underage girl can be culpable in her own rape absolutely disgusting. The damage to the individual girl is deadly, as evidenced by Cherice Moralez, the 16-year-old Montana rape victim (and others) who committed suicide.
The damage to our society from allowing pedophile rapists to get away with this type of thinking, and the impact of victim blaming and slut shaming on our young woman, is incalculable.
Sep 13

Is the Baby-Making Business Selling False Hopes?

By Women Make Movies, WMM | Report

NEW YORK, NY - Infertility patients, women's health advocates and medical professionals are launching a national initiative to draw long over-due attention to the rarely reported enduring traumas, societal impacts, health risks and myths associated with infertility, childlessness and assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments--including annual global failure rates as high as 77 percent in 2012 (1).