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.

Feb 14

Bring Back Democracy to One Person, One Vote

By Edward Erikson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In 1902, at the height of the women's suffrage movement in England, advocates began carving messages into the English penny that read "Votes for Women." The suffrage movement tapped into the viral movement of money in order to spread their message and help create visual demand for the change that soon followed. While the emergence of the internet has profoundly altered the way we communicate, connect and organize, the tactic of using money to spread a message can create an unparalleled symbolic demand for action. That's what Ben Cohen is doing with the and, along with tens of thousands of patriots, he is stamping all of his dollars with messages like 'not to be used for buying elections' in support of a 28th amendment that states: 1) Corporations are not people; and 2) Money is not free speech.

Feb 14

CCR, NLG and CAIR-USA Ask House Education Committee to Oppose Anti-Boycott Bill

By The Center for Constitutional Rights, SpeakOut | Press Release

New York - The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations-USA (CAIR-USA) sent members of the House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee a letter urging them to oppose legislation that would deny federal funding to colleges and universities that participate in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars. According to the legislation’s sponsors, H.R. 4009 was drafted in response to the American Studies Association’s recent resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.  

Feb 14

12 States Now Moving to Curb Reckless Outsourcing of Public Services

By In The Public Interest Team, SpeakOut | Press Release

Washington, DC – Six more states have joined what appears to be a national movement to reign in reckless outsourcing of public services to for-profit corporations.  Lawmakers in Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington introduced proposals that would, in various ways, promote responsible contracting by improving transparency and accountability standards. In all, a dozen states have now introduced legislation to curb recklessoutsourcing so far this year.

Feb 14

Biased Because of Misplaced Priorities (Part II)

By Kasit Piromya, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Western intellectual elites pride themselves on being liberal and democratic. But is this only form over substance? These Western opinion leaders seemingly want to propagate, export and share their vision of liberal democracy. Occasionally, Western governments even venture abroad to help angry citizens topple oppressive or tyrannical regimes and replace them with elected ones.

But – an unfeeling fixation on formalism can convert the best of intentions into a kind of neo-colonialism, a project to bring others under one's tutelage and "improve" them so as to better measure up to Western preferences.

In a campaign reminiscent of Vietnam War days, military veterans and family members will travel to ten west coast cities promoting GI outreach centers in Texas, Washington state, and Germany.  The GI Coffeehouse Tour will begin in San Diego on Thursday, February 13 and end in Seattle on Saturday, March 1.

Local communities will welcome the GI Coffeehouse Tour with special events featuring poets, artists and musicians.Participants at tour stops will learn about GI coffeehouse history, find out what current-day coffeehouses do to support the troops, and join in conversations about the current state of the military and what that means for service members and their families

The budget deal at the end of 2013 reduced the bite sequestration will take out of the military budget.  But about $30 billion will still be coming out of Pentagon spending for 2014, and more the next year, as the nation begins its postwar military downsizing.

Communities across the country will be affected.  For the most part we don’t know which ones.  But economic development professionals agree on one thing: getting ahead of the curve is critical to a successful economic strategy. 

One of my aides sent me a clip of a recently aired Super Bowl advertisement. In it, Laurence Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus, who, instead of the red and blue pills, this time offered blue and red keys for a couple to choose from the parking valet. The woman picked the red key and thus had a new experience that completely changed their perception of the luxury car.

The Farm Bill is the federal blueprint for the American food system. Due to pass into law as soon as this Friday, the bill does little to address poor nutrition, GMO and other unsustainable practices, and dangerous corporate control over the U.S. and global food supply.

The Green Shadow Cabinet have analysed the bill, and have reached the conclusion that it should be vetoed and replaced by new legislation with the wellbeing of farmers, consumers and the land -rather than corporate interests, at its heart.

Margaretta D'Arcy a 79 year old Irish peace activist on Wednesday 5th of February will have served three weeks of a three month sentence in Limerick Prison, Co Clare, Ireland, for protesting against the use of Shannon Airport by US troops who use it to fly to and from their perpetual wars. Margaretta is suffering from cancer, but the Irish Fine Gael / Labour Government shows no sign of issuing her a pardon. We need to rapidly expand our international solidarity campaign to help her.

So, we have eleven aircraft carrier groups. No other country in the world has more than one. Everyone who has looked at the issue has agreed that we could do with fewer than eleven while still achieving our national security goals: Bush/Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and think tanks on the left and the right.