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.

Let’s start with irony:

Compelling research suggests that the public in the U.S. is unique in its commitment to belief, often at the expense of evidence—leading me to identify the U.S. as a belief culture.

Additionally, while I remain convinced that the U.S. is a belief culture, I also argue that, below, the political cartoon posted at Truthout captures another important dynamic: Many committed to their own beliefs both do not recognize that they are committed to belief and belittle others for being committed to their beliefs.

Dec 28

Big Spring

By Jason Flores Williams, The Brooklyn Rail | Op-Ed

Big Spring is at the heart of the prison-industrial complex in America. The total population of the West Texas town is little more than 20,000, but there are two full prisons and an immigration facility that, in total, house no fewer than 4,000 prisoners. Considering day shifts, night shifts, weekend shifts for the guards, support systems like food service, sanitation, administration, health care, janitorial duties, and maintenance: more than 60 percent of the households in towns like Big Spring are dependent on the prison paycheck. And there are thousands of towns like Big Spring across the country. In other words, if you stop jailing people in The Land of The Free, a good chunk of America would wither up and die.

The guilty pleas Monday by Alvin Watts and Jacob England to the killing of three African-Americans and the wounding of two others in a fit of racial rage brings many lessons for the citizen at large. There are lessons in patience, community, faith, hope, and not least, hypocrisy.

Watts and England embarked on a night of terror in North Tulsa on the Friday night of Easter weekend 2010. They became known as the Good Friday killers.

They were arrested a couple of days later. Initially the state asked for the death penalty.

Dec 27

Poem: Why Worship the Rich?

By Matthew Sotak, | Poem

They call it democracy, they say that we're free.

Two rich guys to choose from, oh, who will it be?

Both puppets of wealth, secret orders from above,

Agendas to keep them in power, if push comes to shove.

They say you have options, lots of channels to choose,

Keeping us brain dead, it's a game we all lose.

"The War to End all Wars" never achieved what H.G. Wells implied with this term. On the contrary, World War I not only resulted in the death of  more than 16 million humans, it also resulted in a victor’s peace directly setting the stage for World War 2 where an estimated 60 to 100 million people died. I like to believe that no World War is on the horizon, but I was quite surprised to read the headline of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece "To Secure Peace, Be Ready for Battle." The surprise not so much was the title itself. This language—promoting ‘peace’ by amassing more military—has been all-too-familiar and all-too-common in the twenty-first century perpetual ineffective and counterproductive war on terror and other misguided relics like humanly insane nuclear deterrence or the offensive, war-waging North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Dec 27

Snow Job About Israel-Palestine - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

In our house we get the New York Times (NYT) because the Philadelphia Inquirer’s (that is our city paper) coverage of international affairs is very limited. Sometimes I wonder why we bother. One can find a more thorough and certainly more balanced coverage on the web. However, we still enjoy the tradition of perusing a newspaper at the breakfast table.

It is important to keep in mind that a newspaper, or really any media source, really, is a reflection of the political and cultural sensibilities of its owners and managers. So you can politically and culturally peg those who run a media outlet such as a newspaper by what makes up its content as well as what is left out.

Idle No More and Defenders of the Land networks condemn the December 16, 2013, court judgment granting an injunction to Penn West Petroleum Ltd (Penn West) to remove Lubicon Lake Nation Land Protectors from protecting their land against fracking.  The Lubicon Lake Nation were in a Calgary court December 16, 2013, on an injunction hearing that would determine the fate of their land protection camp initiated for operation Frack OFF.  In their application, Penn West applied for a 7 day short term order under the Public Lands Act and was granted 6 month injunctive relief.  The judge did not even take the time to hear evidence from the Lubicon Lake Nation on a matter that affects their future and livelihood.  It’s a sad day for those who have braved cold winter conditions for weeks to protect their lands and waters from environmental devastation.

I published a column this morning about the Kansas Regents’ effective elimination of academic freedom of tenure.

In thinking about the rule I realized that I had failed to make in blunt terms five points about how radical a rule it was.  I circulated these five points about an hour ago to a number of my contacts.

Latest reports now indicate that about 34,000 South Sudanese civilians have sought refuge in United Nations missions in Juba and Bor. South Sudan, having only recently come into existence as an independent nation, July 9, 2011, has a population of 11,367,276 ( Since fighting broke out on December 15, about 500 are thought to have been killed and about 800 wounded.

According to a recent, exhaustive study commissioned by the US Department of Energy and headed by a scientific team from the US navy, by the summer of 2015, the Arctic Ocean could be bereft of ice, a phenomenon that will engender devastating consequences for the earth's environment and every living creature on the planet.

Yet, recently, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said (in defiance of common sense and even a modicum of sanity) that the US military will escalate its presence in the Arctic, due to the fact that "[the] potential for tapping what may be as much as a quarter of the planet's undiscovered oil and gas."