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.

Sep 03

How To Invent A Misleading Statistic

By Ari Rabin-Havt, Media Matters | Report

The Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold hyped the size of the federal government out of context, presenting an excellent example of how to construct a misleading statistic.

Writing on the size of the federal workforce, Fahrenhold claims:

Measured another way -- not in dollars, but in people -- the government has about 4.1 million employees today, military and civilian. That's more than the populations of 24 states.

Sep 02

Taking Sides In Egypt

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

There are a series of historical precedents that can give us insight into the problems now seen in Egypt. These precedents are from both the West and the Middle East. Both are relevant because the conflict in Egypt has modern structural qualities that are transcultural. Among others, these qualities are: a traditional military caste allied to a reactionary police force, to a reactionary judiciary and to "big business" elements; a middle class most of whose members have a stated aspiration for both stability and a democratic society; and a bete noire (dark beast) factor – a fear shared by the first two groups of a third group. In the European/U.S. context this bete noire group is usually identified as a politically organized left designated as Communist. In the context of the Middle East this role is usually played by politically active Islamist organizations. In both cases the bete noire element may represent a significant portion of the population.

Sep 02

Fear and Loathing II: Liberation Theology

By David Cupples, Truthout | Op-Ed

The "Peace-Love" counter-culture of the American Sixties can be considered a revolutionary period that was met by Old Power with a "Fear and Loathing" Counter-Revolution based upon instilling fear in the masses while implementing harsh policies of repression and exploitation (reflecting a systemic devaluing of human life). It was suggested that a corollary precipitating factor was the ending of colonialism, in the traditional sense, with the post-war wave of newly independent nations that henceforth constituted the "Third World." It was further argued that the Counter-Revolution is ongoing and in important ways increasingly authoritarian.

The Brennan Center for Justice, along with the ACLU of Michigan, and the Michigan State Planning Body filed an amicus brief late Friday appealing the prison sentence of Joseph Bailey, whose inability to pay his court-ordered restitution was not considered during sentencing. The amici are represented by the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP. The brief argues that jailing Bailey for being too poor to pay is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause and the Michigan constitution.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that indigent individuals may not be incarcerated based on their inability to pay criminal-justice related debt, Michigan routinely jails poor defendants who cannot pay court-ordered fees and fines.

Sep 02

Detroit, Labor Day and a Hard Day’s Night

By Anna Lane Windham, The Hill | Op-Ed

The Beatles first visited Detroit just before Labor Day in 1964, and they gushed with admiration for the Motown sound. Detroit hummed with industry then, like the Beatle's own Liverpool, England with its bustling ports and pop music scene. Both industrial cities would soon flounder, losing 40 percent of their populations over the next 30 years.

As we approach Labor Day 2013, Detroit still endures its "Hard Day's Night," filing for bankruptcy last month. Yet Liverpool thrives once more, a showroom for urban renaissance. Why did Detroit and Liverpool follow such different paths? It turns out that workforces thrive best in a challenging world economy when they have a solid, government social safety net, not one woven from the vanishing threads of employer-provided job security and benefits.

A 40-year reunion is being planned for the end of this month in Gainesville, Fla., of the Gainesville 8. Sadly, Richard Nixon won't be able to join them, although his presidential library has just released more audio recordings of his descent into madness -- or what we like to call today: standard government practice.

The Gainesville 8 were eight men, seven of them members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), who planned to nonviolently demonstrate at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami. They were wrongfully prosecuted for planning violence, and they were all acquitted by a jury on August 31, 1973, in a highly publicized trial.

In the landmark case of NML Capital, LTD v.  The Republic of Argentina, the New York based U.S. Circuit Court upheld a previous ruling ordering Argentina to pay $1.33 billion to hold out hedge funds. Argentine bonds soared and antipoverty advocates held their breath as the 2nd Circuit Court delayed the ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court decides if they will take appeals on the case. 
“Our eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court. We pray the court will not forget the world’s poor as they consider taking the case,” asserted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious antipoverty campaign known as Jubilee USA.
Aug 30

The ‘Holy War’ in Detroit

By Elena Herrada, The Michigan Citizen | Op-Ed

The voters of Detroit and Michigan repealed a draconian and racist law that strips all public officials of power and authority in only Michigan’s Black cities and school districts. Yet, the law remains, and as an elected school board member, I receive decrees from the illegitimate emergency manager on a regular basis.

To all who oppose US/European military action against Syria: We have reached a moment when the United States and some of its European allies are threatening to rain more death and suffering down on Syria, and when the vast majority of Americans have absolutely no political power to stop these threats or to prevent attack. It is apparent that the White House and the Congress are responding to powers other than the American people. Arguably the most powerful influence in Washington is that of the major banks – Bank of America, Capitol One, Chase, Citicorp, US Bancorp, Wells Fargo. 
I'm a billionaire with a private army that leaves you really scared
One father had heart attack when we aimed at his silly head
I don't think you understand he's literally dead
Now I'm hearing these dumb rappers say my city is theirs?