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.

There's an ongoing joke in China that both captures the long standing competitive nature between Beijing and Shanghai while tying it neatly with the country's number one preoccupation: pollution. "In Beijing you just need to open your window, inhale and you'll get the equivalent of having smoked three cigarettes," a Beijing guest boasted at a dinner party, to which his Shanghai host responded, "Oh, that's nothing: Here in Shanghai we turn on the hot water faucet and we get pig soup."

Guests roar with laughter as both scenarios have become too real, if not too painful to take seriously. The Shanghai Daily kept count of the rising number of dead pigs floating down the Huangpu as if tracking numbers on the stock exchange. At last count the number surpassed 13,000.

The city's hip hop community is protesting Detroit's new status under emergency management in its own unique way.

Will Copeland, a community activist and emcee who performs under the name Will See, has recently released a song with a heated message to mobilize citizens against the state's takeover of Detroit through an emergency manager. The song "Emergency" is a powerful example of hip hop as a tool of resistance and awareness.

"These different messages need to be put out there because if they're not put out front and center, a lot of people aren't going to think of hip hop as rebel music, they'll think of it as party music or materialism," says Copeland.

Chávez believed heavily in creating transformative Southern power and a new unity in the South. One of Chávez's greatest achievements was realizing an active, dynamic internationalism that can create new realities of progress.

He carried the heritage of Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Simon Bolívar, who believed strongly in integration. Chávez thought everyone was an American and that there was no reason to be split into so many different, little countries. He wanted to create a large federation of people, a socialist federation of all peoples of Latin America. Everything he did worked toward that end. And during 14 years of power, there has been more progress on the question of Latin American integration than during the preceding 70 years.


A report came out showing the NYPD has spent over a million hours in the past decade arresting hundreds of thousands of people for possessing less than 25 grams of marijuana. Is that really the best use of their time? Does it really make our society safer?

Once again, the largest corporations and their governmental cohorts succeeding in sealing their dominance over our lives without any oversight, transparency or leniency. This time it concerns food safety, as Monsanto and lobbyists have shoved through dangerous legislation that effectively makes any oversight of GMO food void.

The Monsanto Protection Act, which President Obama signed into law this week, will strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, consumers and the environment. The result is that GMO crops will be able to evade any serious scientific or regulatory review.

I fit in with the other 40% of Americans who really and truly don’t give a fuck about the S&P 500 andDow Jones both hitting all-time record highs this month. The rest of us who don’t draw income taxed at a preferential rate by throwing numbers at each other in space can barely keep up with basic necessities, much less have anything left to invest.

After my seasonal political work ended last November (successfully ousting a Tea Party congressman from office and helping out on the Jill Stein campaign as her debates organizer), I’ve been supporting myself with writing. And I know that out of rent, utilities, a car note, groceries, medical bills, gas, moving expenses and a smartphone, one of those bills won’t get paid on a freelancer’s income. I’ve most recently learned how to do without the smartphone, as my service was finally shut off after not being able to pay the bills that have piled up. And because I have a roof over my head and a vehicle, and no student debt nor children to care for, I’m still in a far better financial situation than most Americans.

“[Tunisian dictator] Ben Ali's departure on January 14, 2011 released a host of formerly unaired and long-suppressed grievances. After decades of repression, many Tunisians are talking openly across the political table -- hearing one another's views in an atmosphere of free debate for the very first time. This process of self-reckoning has proven both exhilarating and immensely frightening for many Tunisians, some of whom are shocked to see their so-called Islamist party rejecting a fully sharia-based constitution, others of whom find it difficult to fathom that their seemingly secular state could be the site of anti-blasphemy protests and pro-niqab rallies.”

This observation from the Tunisia scholar Monica Marks remains as relevant today as when she made it six months ago, and very much resonates with my own experience over the last 10 days in the small but hugely pivotal North African country: it was here, after all, in December 2010, that the cascade of uprisings that would convulse the Arab world got going.

Angela Merkel's face usually displays a rather plain, friendly, almost benign expression, matching her simple, benign words. But in rare unguarded moments, some claim, they glimpse a very hard visage, which is matched, equally rarely, by hardly benign words, like her annoyed statement that Cyprus was "exhausting the patience of its euro partners". Yes, Angela can get annoyed and lose patience, above all with those irresponsible lands and leaders to the south so reluctant to manfully bear the required share of their burdens.

Such burdens include cutting wages and government salaries, amputating pension rights, letting prices on staples rise, watching joblessness soar while cutting the means of helping those afflicted, and privatizing key elements of the economy, selling them off to the best bidders – or the most favored ones. Must hospital and child care be reduced, schools starved out? Such prices must be paid if economies are to be rescued "within the framework of the euro". That is Austerity, Merkel's magic code-word for economic revival.

A large crowd of students, parents and education advocates gathered at Rocklin City Hall yesterday to demonstrate their opposition to Representative Tom McClintock's vote for the Ryan budget that makes major spending cuts while refusing to ask corporations to pay one more cent in taxes. Instead of balancing spending cuts with revenues, the Ryan budget gives corporations and the wealthiest Americans a $5.7 trillion tax cut. In response to the action organized by California Fair Share and Organizing for Action, Representative McClintock's staff announced that he will offer an amendment to close corporate tax loopholes.

Mar 29

No News Is Not Good News

By Josh Stearns, FreePress | Op-Ed

For too long, media companies have slashed newsroom jobs and replaced hard-hitting journalism with celebrity gossip, sensational crime stories and pay-for-play content. They defended these decisions by arguing that they were just giving the people what they want.

The latest "State of the News Media" report from the Pew Research Center suggests otherwise. One third of the people Pew surveyed say they have abandoned a news organization because of the declining quality of news.