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.

Jun 02

Insanity Extends Beyond the Shooters

By Walter Brasch, Wanderings | Op-Ed

During this past week, in Scranton, Pa., a 16-year old put two bullets into the head of a taxi driver and then stole about $500 earned by the cabbie that evening.

The teen, who showed no remorse when arrested a few hours later, mumbled a few words about his reasons. He said he murdered the cabbie "'Cause that's what I do to people that don't listen." The teen thought the cabbie was taking too long to get him to his destination. The driver was a 47-year-old man with a wife and two children. The gun was an unlicensed 9-mm.

A few days later, in Payson, Ariz., a three-year-old boy found a loaded semi-automatic gun in the apartment of family friend, began playing with it, and accidentally killed his 18-month-old brother. Police recovered several other weapons from the apartment.

I am fasting for 24 hours in solidarity with the prisoners at Guantanamo, especially for those who are on hunger strike. I am calling today out of concern for them and for the rest of the prisoners. I am asking you to resume releasing the number of prisoners on hunger strike and to stop the inhumane practice of force feeding. Lastly, the US must set free those cleared for release and close Guantanamo.

The horror of 9/11 in 2001 and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 captured both the 24/7 media attention and cultural consciousness in the U.S. In the wake of both, however, the impact of disaster capitalism has remained mostly ignored and unchallenged.

How to monetize and what will the market bear are the guiding ethics of disaster capitalism, which exists seamlessly within the larger ethic of the U.S., capitalism. Disaster capitalism came to New Orleans in full force in the wake of Katrina, possibly more powerful than a hurricane, in the person of Paul Vallas and his education policy, the Recovery School District.

May 31

Indigenous Peoples Reject Bill C-33

By Staff, Idle No More | Press Release

On Tuesday Indigenous Peoples rejected the fabricated "First Nations NOT Control of First Nations Education - Bill C-33" and asserted that we need INDIGENOUS EDUCATION FOR AND BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES!

The motion to reject Bill C-33 at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) was carried. The Chiefs in Assembly listened to the voices of the communities, making this historic decision a step forward for Indigenous peoples. As Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee stated, "The job of our Chiefs was to listen to what our experts and citizens were telling us. What we saw in the bill was a lot of government control and no First Nations control of education for our children."

As early as this Thursday the U.S. House could vote on a bipartisan amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill that would prohibit the federal government from wasting taxpayer money interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The amendment is being offered by five Republicans and five Democrats. A vote several weeks ago on allowing Veteran Administration doctors discuss medical marijuana with their patients received 195 yes votes. Support for letting states set their own marijuana policy without federal interference is rising quickly.

"This vote is about letting states help their citizens without interference from out-of-control federal agencies," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Members of Congress have an opportunity to both protect the patient/doctor relationship and save taxpayer money. No person should have to fear being arrested for following the advice of their doctor."

On Thursday of last week I attended a meeting of the Garfield High School Assessment Committee.

A report on one of many after school meetings may seem mundane. A committee of educators tasked with discussing assessment might appear innocuous. Yet that gathering of fifteen or so educators sharing their experience, expertise, and asking questions about alternatives to standardized testing was nothing short of sedition against a Testocracy that has attempted to silence teachers as it implements corporate education reform.

Once home to some of the most violent racists in the US, Jackson, Mississippi is now a key training ground for self-determination and organized "people power" throughout the South. From May 2 through May 4, 2014, activists, organizers and fellow revolutionaries from all over the world gathered at the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference at Jackson State University. An estimated 500 people participated in some or all of the conference.

The primary objective of such an assembly was "to educate and mobilize the people of Jackson to meet the economic and sustainability needs of their community," and to share with others how such strategies can help produce the radical change oppressed communities will need to survive within the current global capitalist crisis. The event was organized by the Jackson Rising Organizing Committee and was held at the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center, where students and community members were welcomed alike. The spirit of resistance and self-reliance filled the air.

May 29

Stealing Our Sympathy

By Sarah Taylor, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

There is a growing sense among the public that life on our planet is being threatened by our careless misuse of its resources.

The most obvious evidence of this misuse is climate change. Unexpected dramatic weather patterns are now being experienced everywhere. Along with rising sea levels, due to the melting of polar ice, these patterns have led to increased flooding of coastal communities. Perhaps more insidious is the growing desertification of large continental areas. This is accompanied by a rapid reduction in fresh water supply, essential for food production, in neighboring agricultural regions.

May 28

Global Climate Change and Nuclear Abolition: One Urgent Issue

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The Marshall Islands are filing lawsuits against the nine nuclear powers to get them to step up to their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate total nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile Bill McKibben is gathering citizens for a rally in support of urgent action on climate change in New York on September 21st and 22nd, where the next climate summit will be held.

No two trans-national issues are more closely related than the abolition of nuclear weapons and global climate instability, for three reasons: first, nuclearwar is the biggest potential accelerant of life-threatening climate change; second, the resources desperately needed to address climate issues continue to be poured into nuclear weapons and their delivery systems; and third, the solution to both challenges depends upon the same new way of thinking based in the reality that national and international self-interests have merged.

May 28

Is Elliot Rodger Our 21st Century Version of Holden Caulfield?

By Virginia Arthur, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
Of course, our modern day version has to include a gun. Holden with a gun where instead of holing up in a hotel room with a prostitute, he holes up in his BMW with his laptop and plans mass carnage because he can't get a girl.
An expert I saw on one of the many news channels analyzing this mentioned something about young men and testosterone; the idea that our behavior is driven by our physiology, by our biology, and as much as we may want to completely dissociate ourselves from the fact that we are animals, that we share our DNA, about 90% of it, with our closest primate ancestor, the chimpanzee, I attest that as long as we continue this strange disconnect between our biology and our behavior, as a species, we will never be able to find resolution for our natural violent tendencies.