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.

For years, corporations have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for the opportunity to develop legislation that diverts public dollars into their corporate coffers. A new report by In the Public Interest, "Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets," exposes ALEC's extensive privatization agenda. The report details how private prison corporations, online education companies, health care corporations, and major industry players pay large membership fees to ALEC in exchange for valuable and unfettered access to state legislators. Corporations are able to work with ALEC lawmakers to craft bills that allow private control of public functions, and guarantee a steady stream of tax dollars to enhance profits.

Corporate and legislative ALEC members work together to jointly develop pro-privatization model bills, and then legislators introduce and push these bills in their state legislatures. These bills make it easier to create virtual public schools, encourage states to privatize vital health programs that help vulnerable populations, force state governments to sell public prisons to prison corporations, and help other industries take control of public assets and services.

If you want to change the direction and future of this country then we need a different point of view. The two candidates are not going to be talking about the real issues: exploding debt, unfair taxation, two standards of justice, and corporate control of what used to be our democracy. If you want to see these and other issues fixed : Occupy the debates.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is so cash-strapped that it plans to close and consolidate under-utilized schools, with rumors that it could be upwards of 120 schools this coming year. Many people would consider this to be fiscally prudent. Mayor Emanuel is of course going to blame the soon-to-be agreed upon new union contract.

What the public does not understand, however, even though both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have been writing about it for months, is that CPS is also simultaneously planning to open 60 new charter schools in the next few years. That decision was made last year under the "Gates Compact" in which CPS went into an agreement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase charter schools in Chicago.

In a landmark case, on September 6, 2012, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Judge gave standing to an Australian woman to collect a Japanese civil judgment against a former US Navy sailor for raping her in Japan ten years ago.

A civil judgment by a Tokyo court in 2004 ordered sailor Bloke T. Deans to pay ¥3 million yen (approximately $38,000) in damages to Catherine Jane Fisher as compensation for emotional and physical harm from the rape. However, despite knowing of the Japanese court case against Deans, the US Navy issued Deans an honorable discharge and allowed Deans to leave Japan without informing the Japanese court or Ms. Fisher.

For ten years, Ms. Fisher searched for Mr. Deans and in 2011 she finally located him in Milwaukee. In May, 2012, Ms. Fisher filed a suit against Mr. Deans in Milwaukee Circuit Court.

[M]an's 21st century response to dramatic events is not necessarily just to simply interact with it, but to also record it. If communication technology was created to enhance our daily lives, something has dramatically shifted along the way: More and more, we are altering our behaviors in service of the digital world.

So many of us now have been raised on video games, cell phones and iPods. We've spent a large bulk of our lives in chat rooms, on Skype and posting videos to YouTube, to the extent that we've become news reporters and newsmakers, without even making much of an effort. We announce our actions and, in some cases, our impending demise online without giving it much thought. We have been so conditioned to invest our emotional life in the virtual space that it has become second nature. What's more, many of us have learned to split our attention, with one eye on the electronic mirror and the other on reality.

Housing activist Reyneld Sanon is beginning a tour to key cities in the United States. The tour will raise awareness about Under Tents, the international campaign for housing rights in Haiti. The campaign is a joint initiative of Haitian grassroots groups and more than 30 international organizations that are demanding a solution for Haiti's homeless.

The January 2010 earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. In its wake, survivors spontaneously created more than a thousand temporary encampments throughout Port-au-Prince. There has been no long-term planning for a solution to the country's housing crisis, and the Government of Haiti has no comprehensive plan to relocate the majority of people into safe, permanent homes.

In characteristic wit and toughness, Gore Vidal once answered a question about his legacy by remarking, "Anyone stupid enough to worry about how he'll be remembered deserves to be forgotten." A renaissance man of letters who wrote award winning novels, essays, stage plays, and screenplays, now achieves the greatest goal of any writer: immortality. In his second memoir, Point to Point Navigation (2005), Vidal wrote that he was "moving toward the door marked 'exit'." He has now crossed that threshold, and is, as he liked to explain, reunited with the universe's more primitive forms. Vidal said that he did not know what it was like for him before he was born, and therefore he was not troubled with fear and anxiety over what it would be like for him after he died.

He did not, and now does not, have to worry about how we will remember him—but we should worry. We must approach any consideration of his vast body of work with fear and trembling, because if we do not properly understand and absorb the wisdom of Vidal, we will have missed yet another opportunity to truly grasp American history and identity.

In the past, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has traded campaign barbs with incumbent President Barack Obama about who has destroyed more jobs for U.S. workers by "outsourcing," or moving American companies overseas. Today, however, Mr. Romney changed his tack, saying that outsourcing is "America's best way to preserve democracy," and pledged that, if elected, he would outsource to a developing country his own job as Commander in Chief. Possibly to counter a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that showed 0% support from Black voters, Mr. Romney chose to deliver this campaign message to the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP.

Whatever your preconceived notions regarding the content of this pseudo op-ed may be, there are a few things you should know. I am an Occupier. I have been since the movement spread like wildfire to the major cities across the states, and when I got the call in my city of Washington D.C. on October 1st, I enthusiastically took the metro down to McPherson square, and I haven't ceased involvement since then... [My] heart lies with this movement, despite our many imperfections, and any critique of it coming from me is out of nothing but love and a desire to become better and more cohesive everyday. Coupled with that, the desire to topple this regime and the ruthless capitalists who own it and to create a better world is integrated into every facet of my existence