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

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.

Feb 11

Black History Month

By Dr James J Zogby, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

This is Black History Month in the United States— a time to reflect on the contributions African Americans have made to our nation's history and to take note of the progress that has been made in advancing racial equality and the challenges that remain.

A special focus of this year's programs will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 by then President Lyndon Johnson. That historic legislation marked a turning point in American life, ending racial discrimination in public accommodations. In this context, Black History Month provides an opportunity to reflect on a past we should never forget and the extent to which the legacy of racial inequality is still with us.

Feb 11

Hollande's Visit to the US: the Poodle and the Fox

By Pierre Guerlain, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

French president François Hollande's visit to the US is preceded by the publication of an op-ed in both the Washington Post and Le Monde written jointly by Obama and the French leader. François Heisbourg gets to publish his two cents in the New York Times and his title is an involuntary release of the proverbial cat out of the bag: "Hollande's Martial Prowess." What Heisbourg praises is precisely what should be criticized and the achievements the two presidents are proud of need to be questioned.

Feb 11

Nationwide Response Planned for McCutcheon Ruling

By Public Citizen, SpeakOut | Press Release

Hundreds of activists nationwide are planning rallies, protests and other events in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which could be decided as soon as the week of Feb. 24. More than 100 events are being organized in some of the largest cities around the country, to take place on the day of the ruling.