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.
Washington, D.C. – The US Chamber of Commerce is both the largest overall spender in the 2014 congressional elections among outside groups that do not disclose their contributors and the largest such spender in 28 of the 35 races in which it has gotten involved, Public Citizen reported today.
The Chamber has gotten involved in 16 of the 20 races that have seen the most outside spending, and it has spent an average of $908,000 per race, according to the new analysis, “The Dark Side of Citizens United,” conducted by Public Citizen’s US Chamber Watch program. Citizens United is the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling that permitted corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.
Jesse Snodgrass was a 17 year-old autistic student in Temecula, California and in 2012 he was tricked into buying weed for an undercover cop. Jesse, since he was young, has always had trouble finding friends. That's why he was ecstatic when Deputy Daniel Zipperstein befriended him and multiple other people at his school. Unfortunately Deputy Zipperstein was a cop part of an undercover drug sting for Jesse’s High School. Deputy Zipperstein went around the school targeting vulnerable people and “loners” and once they became so called friends, he would barrage them with demands asking for them to sell him drugs. He would constantly ask Jesse and Jesse would deny but once the Deputy realized he wouldn't budge, he wanted nothing to do with that relationship. So Jesse not wanting to lose his friend, reluctantly decided to buy some marijuana from a dispensary and gave it to the Deputy. On December 11, 2012 Jesse’s art classroom door was busted in and he was charged with two felony counts.
Durham, N.C. - Researchers at Duke University have developed a mathematical model that shows how changes in North Carolina’s congressional voting districts could affect election outcomes.
Focusing on the last election, the researchers varied the state’s congressional districts to calculate what the outcome of the 2012 US House of Representatives elections might have been had the state’s districts been drawn to emphasize nonpartisan boundaries. The team re-ran the election 100 times -- using the same votes as in 2012 and tweaking the voting map with only the legal requirements of a redistricting plan in mind. Not once did they get the split of Democratic and Republican seats seen in the actual election.
A billboard challenging Amazon to fully disclose the terms of its $600 million contract to provide cloud computing services for the Central Intelligence Agency has been unveiled at a busy intersection near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
The billboard’s launch — asking “the $600 million question: What’s the CIA Doing on Amazon’s Cloud?” — marks the escalation of a campaign by the online activist organizations RootsAction.org and ExposeFacts.org. The groups are calling for accountability from Amazon in an effort to inform the public of serious privacy implications of the Amazon-CIA collaboration. (ExposeFacts.org is a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)
Clayton, MO: My daughter eats her school lunch indoors with an armed policeman standing by because even here in this desirable seat of St. Louis County, we’re not free to send our kids to school without fearing for their lives.
Last weekend a crowd of heavily-armed, white people marched through downtown St. Louis, right past the courthouse where Dred Scott was tried and thrown back into slavery. A small group of police officers stood casually to the side. Despite its stunning irony, this spectacle garnered nearly no media attention.
They say that the longest journey begins with one step. The Great March for Climate Action took its first steps on March 1 in Los Angeles. By November 1, when the marchers arrive at the White House, they will have taken over 15 million steps.
Thirty-four people started in Port of Wilmington in Los Angeles and will have walked over 3,000 miles in eight months when they finally reach Washington, D.C. Even the wagon trains of the 1800’s took less time to cross the country.
“The nineteenth century lynch mob cuts off ears, toes and fingers, strips off flesh and distributes portions of the body as souvenirs among the crowd.” -Ida B. Wells
Lennon Lacy did not hang himself; he was lynched! He did not commit suicide; he was murdered! Capturing the correct language is so critical in this case, which is probably why mainstream media has refused to cover it. The correct language reflects a history America would rather not share, while “lynching” is a word most Black folk would rather forget. The harsh reality is that Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old Black kid from North Carolina, was lynched just two months ago.
A new get-out-the-vote video campaign has been launched by Drug Policy Action, a related organization of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The series of videos, entitled "In the Time It Takes,” show how easy it is to vote and to support Measure 91, a measure on the November ballot that would regulate, legalize and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.
In the videos, supporters of Measure 91, including actor Tate Donovan and comedian Rob Cantrell, demonstrate something that can be done in the same amount of time it takes to vote for measure 91 and mail a ballot in Oregon. From the mundane to the ridiculous, each “In the Time It Takes” video emphasizes the fact that it only takes a minute to fill out and mail a ballot. Drug Policy Alliance and the local Yes on 91 campaign are counting on this new initiative to rally younger voters to get out and vote.
Matt O'Brien gave readers a thoughtful discussion on how the euro zone's stagnation is likely to persist for the indefinite future, primarily because Germany is acting to obstruct any serious efforts at stimulus. However at one point the logic gets a bit weak.
In laying out the various options for promoting stronger growth O'Brien suggests that Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank could try to push ahead with quantitative easing even without the support of Germany. He says this could prompt Germany to take legal action and it "might even threaten to leave the euro zone over it."
Part I - A Problem with a History
The problem of special interests or lobbies was one of the foremost concerns of the Founding Fathers of the United States. In their day they were called factions. James Madison, who is considered the architect of the US Constitution, devoted the entire tenth Federalist Paper (1787) to the problem. He defined a faction as “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority … actuated by some common … interest, adverse to … the aggregate interests of the community,” and believed that within the context of liberal republicanism, they could never be eliminated. However, he did feel they could be controlled. To this end he sought to create representative bodies with high numbers of delegates and a wide diversity of interests in the hope that they would counterbalance each other.