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.

Mar 01

Report Debunks US Chamber of Commerce Myths

By Public Citizen, SpeakOut | Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Private securities lawsuits are a necessary tool in preventing fraud and protecting investors, according to a new report released today by Public Citizen’s Chamber Watch program. The report disproves misleading arguments made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund on March 5.

Washington, DC – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) today welcomed new data that highlights the devastating impact of domestic violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States 2010, based on data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), which documents the alarming prevalence of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.

Feb 28

Oklahoma Legislators Declare War on Working Poor

By Mark Faulk, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It’s official: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature don’t care about the working poor or their children, and in fact, are trying to declare a “state of emergency” in order to assure that those in poverty stay that way.

Senate Bill 1023, written by Tulsa Senator Dan Newberry and co-sponsored by Fairview Rep. Joe Hickman, who recently replaced T.W. Shannon as Speaker of the House, would make it illegal for any “municipality or other subdivision of this state” to raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma, where poverty is at a 10-year high.

Feb 28

Omar and the Checkpoint

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Omar is a 7-year-old boy from Gaza. His family managed to obtain the necessary permits that allowed him to cross thecheckpoint to Jerusalem, through the West Bank, in order to undergo surgery. He was accompanied by his father. On the way back, the boy and his father were stopped at the Qalanidyacheckpoint, separating occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The father needed another permit from the Israeli military to take his son, whose wounds were still fresh hours after the surgery, back to the strip. But the soldiers were in no obliging mood.

Feb 28

Fact Sheet: The Pro-Money Supreme Court

By Staff, Brennan Center for Justice | Report

In advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Brennan Center published a fact sheet detailing the Roberts Court’s shift, in a series of decisions since 2007, toward favoring big money interests at the expense of average American voters.

“Since 2007, the Roberts Court has used five key campaign finance cases to significantly weaken campaign finance laws, handing over more control of our government to moneyed special interests," said Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program. "As a result, our elections are more expensive than ever, with billionaires sponsoring candidates like racehorses. The wrong decision in McCutcheon would inundate with cash a political system already flush with it, further marginalize average voters, and elevate those who can afford to buy political access.”

Feb 28

Whither Ukraine?

By Marilyn Vogt-Downey, SpeakOut | News Analysis

It's not just that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was a coward for fleeing in the dead of night from angry and rebellious Ukrainian nationalists in Western Ukraine to what (he hoped) would be a friendlier population in the Russian-speaking EasternUkraine. Of course, he probably was a coward to run away. However, a coup d'etat had been carried out against him, his government security forces were melting away, and roughnecks with weapons and shields were just outside his door.

But more important than his cowardice is the fact that he is a scoundrel.

Feb 28

The Ideology of Symbolism, the Symbols of Idolatry

By Benjamin Bell, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"All men are created equal," "by the grace of God," "I think therefore I am."

These are just a few famous locutions so common, they are often taken for granted. They conjure certain emotions and bolster ideologies. Phrases such as these, or words such as "freedom," are loaded with hidden meanings and become casually associated in our minds with other words and ideas.

"All Men are created equal" conjures up feelings of patriotic zeal, a sense of commonality within the citizenry of the country, and a belief that ours was a country founded on principles of equality, even despite its inherent contradiction with what we know really existed at the time of its writing, i.e. slavery.

Feb 28

Sochi's Example for Russia's Way Forward

By Jeffrey Sommers, Truthout | News Analysis

The Sochi Olympics on balance were a big success. The opening ceremonies proved a radiant display drawing on Russia's most compelling cultural equity. This artful look back to Russia's past greatness proved both a reminder and challenge to its own people to reprise their historical greatness going forward; but with the caveat, as for all nations, to not repeat past mistakes in doing so. Doing this will require concrete policies, but a vision is the place from which to depart.

In advance of the games American audiences were regaled with "Orange Alert" tales of impending doom from terrorist attacks. These proved overblown. Indeed, the Russian government's ability to provide security for the games reminds us that the United States and Russia should intensify their efforts at cooperation in global safety. Both have demonstrated successes in this endeavor. Both should also work not to overreact to terror.

Feb 28

Truth Is Overrated

By Doug Forbes, SpeakOut | Opinion

Lies are sexy and mysterious. Lies illustrate our deepest innovation. Lies make for our most historic moments. Lies are great for business. And above all, lies validate the yawn that is truth. The very health of our gross domestic product depends upon our ability to manufacture lies. Without lies, millions of moneyed men and women - congressional folk, cable newsies, corporate barons, lawyers, entertainers, athletes and, of course, organized religionists - would suddenly find themselves on a scavenger hunt for food, shelter and purpose. But fear not, for we must remember that lies are as resplendent as a Nicole Kidman facelift. 

We grow up, perhaps get married, and promise to be true to our spouses. "Oh, honey, you look great...Oh, honey, you're not overweight...Oh, honey, don't worry about the finances, we'll be fine...Oh, honey, I promise we'll have sex this weekend." Lies. Perhaps we have children and we tell them how great they did at the soccer match or piano recital or school play. More lies. We tell them that everything will work out in the end, the future is as bright as can be. Lies, lies, lies. Then they grow up. They begin to see the world for what it is. They begin to see us for what we are. Then they lie to us one day.

If you search on the internet for "the stupidest idea in the history of the world" you'll come away thinking that maybe a top contestant is the invention of Youtube. Who knew so many idiots could do so much damage to themselves with so many motorbikes and diving boards and flame throwers? Other ideas are in the running, I think, from industrial farming, to religion, to racism, to fossil fuels, to science at any cost, to the creation of the United States Senate. And yet, one idea stands out for its wild improbability, creativity, long-lasting destruction on an enormous scale, and insidious ability to turn even people who don't own video cameras and catapults into champion unwitting masochists.

The idea I'm talking about, and my nominee for Stupidest Idea in the History of the World, is the idea that any ordinary person should ever support a war.