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.

Jan 23

Mr. President, Put Our Spending Priorities in Order

By R. Aura Kanegis and Mary Zerkel, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Dear Mr. President,

As you begin your second term in office this week, we hope you will let the US public in on one of Washington's best-kept open secrets: We're not broke.

Of course, you – along with many on Capitol Hill – know full well that the dire warnings of disaster if we do not drastically cut safety net programs, enforcement of environmental protections, or job creation and training initiatives are patently false. We are a wealthy nation with the means to secure the common good for generations to come. But like a family blowing our money on luxury vehicles – such as the $610 million-per-plane F-35 – while failing to feed our children, we urgently need to reexamine our priorities.

This. Is. Awesome.

In a public ceremony yesterday at the Wisconsin Capitol, Dr. Margaret Rozga accepted the MLK 2013 Heritage Award for her husband, the late Father James Groppi. She used her acceptance speech to deliver a pointed attack on Governor Scott Walker as he sat just feet from her

While the US celebrates the re-election of its first African American President and the successes of numerous African Americans in all walks of life, there remain troubling challenges.

While remembering how far this nation has come since Dr. King was alive, we cannot forget how far we have still to go to combat the oppressions of racism, materialism and militarism.

Jan 23

Manly Lance Armstrong

By Jill S Schneiderman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Regarding Lance Armstrong's admission to Oprah Winfrey that he used illegal drugs to win as a cyclist, the L.A. Times (and others) reported:

...surprisingly, he attributed it to his battle with testicular cancer that changed his attitude.

"I was always a fighter," Armstrong said in the first of the two-part interview that aired Thursday night. "Before my diagnosis, I was a competitor, but not a fierce competitor. Then I said I will do anything I need to do to survive. Then I brought that ruthless, win-at-all-costs attitude into cycling."

Jan 22

Digital MLK

By Jason Adams, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

If MLK Day 2013 taught us anything, it is that after the Internet, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has become one of the most contested of all American legacies. While relevant examples abound, one viral YouTube clip from the day was sufficient in itself: Cornel West Explains Why it Bothers Him That Obama Will be Taking the Oath With MLK's Bible

Reshared by thousands of MLK-memorializing Twitter and Facebook users, as well as dozens of media venues ranging from The Huffington Post to the The National Review, the West clip asserts that the POTUS's swearing-in on MLK's Bible devalues MLK's radical critique of racism as fused with the militarism and capitalism that Obama's position facilitates.

Jan 22

Crazy for Guns

By Michael I Niman, ArtVoice | Op-Ed

2012 made the record books for mass shootings in the United States, with seven incidents involving lone gunmen each murdering at least five people per spree.

The grotesque Sandy Hook elementary school shootings and the melee at a Colorado movie theater got our attention. Flying under the radar, however, is the fact that Sandy Hook's 28 fatalities amount to only one third of the death toll bullets take on an average day in the US. Guns are now on track to soon claim more American lives than automobiles. The reason is simple.

It has been 200 episodes of Moment of Clarity, and what have we learned?

I arrived in Athens on Christmas Day in the afternoon. As we strolled through the muted streets of Exarcheia, the Athenian neighborhood considered by residents and authorities alike to be the heart of Greek resistance, my friend and guide, Mo, lamented the unusual calm blanketing the city.

He said he was worried I would not experience the "real" Athens. Then he quickly amended himself: his principal concern was to bring across that there is no "real" Athens; events of the last four years have caused both onlookers and participants to fetishize the Greek experience in distinctly unhelpful ways. "It's complicated" was an oft-heard refrain throughout my visit.

Jan 22

Exterminating Shia Bedbugs

By Shahid Mahmood, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Years ago, in an airport in the Middle East I struck-up a conversation with an Arab while we waited for our connecting flights. In our ensuing conversation he made many references to a minority group in his country called "rafidah.". I had never heard of the term and asked him about it. He told me, that in Arabic, "rafidah" refers to someone who has defected – someone who rejects rightful leadership. It was apparent this was a depreciatory term for Shias living and working in the region.

Jan 22

Confessions of a Juiced Journalist

By Walter Brasch, Wanderings | Op-Ed

Before Congress creates yet another useless special investigation committee and subpoenas me, I wish to come clean and confess.

I took steroids. Strong steroids. The kind that bulk you up and make you look like Stone Mountain. In my case, they just fattened me up, gave me rosy-red cheeks, and destroyed about half of my systems.

The first time I took steroids was for a year when I was a high school freshman. My physician prescribed it. Its side effects were that I didn't have to worry about acne or my voice changing. The last time I took steroids was about a decade ago. For the first four or five months of what would be almost two years, it was a heavy dose. My hematologist said the drugs helped save my life. They also saved my writing career.