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.

As a social epistemologist, my work has been focused on highlighting the ways misinformation, disinformation and ignorance adversely affect policy in the geopolitical and tactical spheres. I subscribe to the via negativa because it is both easier and more reliable to identify epistemic blindspots and errors than to predict the best strategy for events which are fluid and massive in scale and complexity, with volatile and/or opaque payoffs and risks. Virtually all geopolitical events tend fall into this domain (anyone who tries to convince the public otherwise is likely a hack, a fundamentalist or a cynical bastard—categories which, regrettably, fail to be mutually-exclusive).

But the situation isn't totally hopeless–negative epistemology has profound and obvious implications for its (more precarious) positive aspect: with each malformed strategy cast aside, each false narrative exposed (beginning with the most popular, influential or otherwise pernicious), with each mistake learned from, each pitfall avoided, each constraint identified–one becomes increasingly likely to make a good decision in the face of uncertainty, or at the least, minimize harm from error.

April 15th, Tax Day, our nation funds our national budget. On this day we fund the nation's business and provide a proclamation to the world of the U.S. priorities for the next year. Ultimately, because they reveal our choices, budgets are moral documents and are supposed to represent the people's priorities.

What are those priorities? Surveys show them to be education, economic security, environmental protection, healthcare, climate change, peace and security. With so many challenges facing us as a nation and planet how will we wisely provide for our future and spend our finite treasure on infinite need? We must ask, are there opportunities to reallocate funds to more pressing needs?

Washington, DC – Today, the Make It Safe Coalition (MISC) marks the 25th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), the primary law ensuring freedom of speech and accountability in the federal workplace, and the model for occupational free speech globally.

The MISC statement reads:

The Whistleblower Protection Act continues to be a work in progress. Congress put off controversial decisions on court access and administrative due process hearings until completion of a four-year study. Also, notably, the WPA does not provide our military and most national security and intelligence community workers with protections. It is critical that the national security workforce – including contractors – have adequate protections for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing. Thanks to Congressional whistleblower and government accountability advocates, legislation is now moving through Congress that would address some of this unfinished business.

The story of "post colonial" begins on August 17, 1945 when Sukarno declared Indonesia an independent and independent and free nation. The Dutch colonization of Indonesia had begun in 1602 with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch controlled all aspects of Indonesian life and its great wealth of natural resources including its vast quantities of oil and natural gas until the Japanese military invaded in 1942. Sukarno became the newly independent Indonesia's first president in 1945. Much of Sukarno's popularity came from his strong opposition to colonialism and the exploitation of people and resources in poor and exploited lands. President Sukarno, ten years after becoming president of Indonesia, held a conference April 18-24 of 1955, the Bandung Conference to encourage and map out strategies for independent economic and social development free from the control or dictates of any European country, the U.S. or the USSR. Attendees of the first Bandung Conference included Burma, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, Indonesia, Pakistan. It was also attended by 18 other countries from Asia-Afghanistan, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Nepal, Peoples Republic of China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Vietnam, Syria, Thailand, Turkey and Yemen. From Africa there was Egypt, Ethiopia, Gold Coast (now Ghana), Liberia, Libya and Sudan.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the Democracy Restoration Act, which would restore voting rights in federal elections to nearly 4.4 million Americans citizens with criminal convictions in their past.

Based on a Brennan Center proposal, the bill builds on recent support for rights restoration. In February, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder called on states to restore voting rights. But 35 states continue to disenfranchise people after they are released from prison. The Democracy Restoration Act would restore voting rights to these citizens for federal elections.

“Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of the Center’s Washington, D.C., office. “Restoring voting rights to citizens who have served their time will strengthen our democracy.Congress should move quickly to pass this bill and ensure our voting system is free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans.”

Apr 14

One Nation the US Actually Should Liberate

By David Swanson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Secretary Kerry? It's Ukraine on the phone asking about liberation again. Have you been able to get them a reference letter yet from Libya or Iraq or Afghanistan? How about Vietnam? Panama? Grenada? Kosovo maybe? Ukraine says Syria says you have a reference letter in the works from Kosovo. No? Huh. They said they'd accept one from Korea or the Dominican Republic or Iran. No? Guatemala? The Philippines? Cuba? Congo? How about Haiti? They say you promised them a glowing reference from Haiti. Oh. They did? No, I am not laughing, Sir. What about East Timor? Oh? Oh! Sir, you're going to liberate the what out of them? Yes sir, I think you'd better tell them yourself."

Some nations the United States should probably not liberate -- except perhaps the 175 nations which could be liberated from the presence of U.S. soldiers.  But one nation I would make an exception for, and that is the nation of Hawai'i.

Apr 14

Empire Beyond Salvation

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

US Secretary of State John Kerry couldn’t hide his frustration anymore as the US-sponsored peace process continued to falter. After 8 months of wrangling to push talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority forward, he admitted while in a visit to Morocco on April 04 that the latest setback had served as a ‘reality check’ for the peace process. But confining that reality check to the peace process is hardly representative of the painful reality through which the United States has been forced to subsist in during the last few years.

The state of US foreign policy in the Middle East, but also around the world, cannot be described with any buoyant language. In some instances, as in Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Ukraine, and most recently in Palestine and Israel, too many calamitous scenarios have exposed the fault lines of US foreign policy. The succession of crises is not allowing the US to cut its losses in the Middle East and stage a calculated ‘pivot’ to Asia following its disastrous Iraq war.

The California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 8 passed SB 1132, legislation that will place a moratorium on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and well stimulation until the state fully studies the impact of the oil extraction on California's air and water quality, public health and economy.

The bill, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell and Senator Mark Leno, will next be considered by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 30t 2014.

The legislation, approved by a 5 to 2 vote as anti-fracking activists packed the State Captiol hearing room, would expand the current study focused on the environmental and public health effects of fracking to include the economic costs and harms, effects on private property and land use, and risks to worker safety, according to a statement from a coalition of groups.

When Hannah Arendt, the famous German-American political philosopher, criticized American involvement in the Vietnam War, she said that our foreign policy "experts" fell prey to using excessive means to achieve minor aims in a region of marginal interest to the United States. You could say the same of most of America's foreign interventions since 1945. We are a superpower with a boundless propensity for meddling in world affairs. We waste enormous amounts of money and resources intervening in areas that are of marginal importance to our national security.

There are many reasons for these wasteful interventions, of course. The military-industrial-Congressional complex plays its role. Presidents love to intervene as a sign of "strength." Natural resources, especially oil, are usually in play. The usual motives, in short: profit, power, greed.

Apr 12

The Certain Future of Swarm Intelligence

By Jan Wellman, | News Analysis

Just moments before his life ended on April 10, 1955, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was having a lively discussion with his cousin on Park Avenue, New York. Most likely they were discussing his favorite subject, the "Omega Point," his theory on the destiny of evolution. Pierre was a French philosopher, Jesuit priest, paleontologist, geologist, physics and chemistry teacher, botanist, and zoologist. Let's just say he was well versed.

Pierre had cast all of his disciplines into a philosophical-theological-mathematical cocktail mixer, identified the common patterns, and fought against the literal interpretations of the Book of Genesis, in order to formulate a unified evolutionary theory of the cosmos. One that reconciled both the Jesuit and the Scientist.