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.

Sep 15

James Foley Is Not a War Ad

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

To the extent that the US public is newly, and probably momentarily, accepting of war -- an extent that is wildly exaggerated, but still real -- it is because of videos of beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

When 9-11 victims were used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9-11, some of the victims' relatives pushed back.

Now James Foley is pushing back from the grave.

Sep 15

Let's Bury King C.O.N.G. at People's Climate March

By Harvey Wasserman, EcoWatch | Press Release

Above all, the worldwide People’s Climate March on Sept. 21 must bury King C.O.N.G.: CoalOilNukes and Gas.

Which also means abolishing corporate personhood and saving the internet.

The fossil/nuclear corporations have been given human rights but no human responsibilities. They’re about to gut our most crucial means of communication.


The workers should own the means of production and enjoy the fruits of the surplus value they create. This has been and continues to be one of the most radical economic demands reverberating from the working and middle classes since the 19th century. Its rationale is simple; a political democracy without democracy in the workplace is a half-formed social entity, one where half of life is lived for the enrichment of others without representation or proper remuneration. The working classes during the 19th century and into the first half of the 20th century saw any selling of labor as wage slavery. Even the pre-Civil War era Republican Party compared earning a wage to slavery, only being different in that one was temporary.

Beginning in the 20th century and continuing into the 21st century is an idea of democratizing capital within certain parameters of the present political economy, whereby workers could and should become owners of the businesses they work at. The model I am focusing on is known as the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and is one more tool the working class can utilize to reorganize firms' ownership structures along more democratic lines. It is a way to smash illegitimate authority and ravage the centralization of economic power, while acting as a fundamental break on autocratic decision-making, restoring power to the predominantly working-class majority and communities. It could also be accomplished by ethical human beings who own companies and no longer wish to espouse the crude arguments of eternal ownership, economic dictatorship and chasing ever cheaper labor.

On the eve of 9/11 2014, President Obama admitted, "Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat," adding:

We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That's why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge....

Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

September 11, 2014, Urbana-Champaign, IL – Prof. Steven Salaita and his attorneys responded today to the announcement that the Board of Trustees voted to terminate him from a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) over his tweets about Gaza.

"I am disappointed in the majority of the Trustees and the action they took today," said Prof. Salaita. "Being at the school on Tuesday surrounded by so many supportive students and faculty was a professional high point for me and reinforced how rewarding it would be to work in that community. I have offered to meet with both the Board and the Administration, but not one of them has spoken with me or ever heard my side of the story. They have no reason to doubt the high standard I have always maintained in the classroom. As I said in a less-notorious tweet, 'I refuse to conceptualize #Israel/#Palestine as Jewish-Arab acrimony. I am in solidarity with many Jews and in disagreement with many Arabs.' If they had cared to learn, they would have seen this and other tweets reflecting a similar sentiment. Given the Board's vote, I am speaking with my attorneys about my options."

Today's historic vote will be remembered as an important moment in the democracy movement's successful effort to win a constitutional amendment to rescue our elections, our politics and our country from the scourge of Big Money dominance.

We owe thanks to the Senate champions who brought forward the legislation, fought for a vote and explained so eloquently on the Senate floor why our country desperately needs the Democracy for All Amendment. But today's achievement is much more a testament to the growing grassroots movement that refuses to cede control of our nation to a relative handful of corporations and the super-rich.

Sep 13

ISIL, the US, and Curing Our Addiction to Violence

By Erin Niemela and Tom H. Hastings, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

President Obama's Wednesday night address on the Islamic State (ISIL) reintroduced a war weary nation to more violent intervention in Iraq, another war weary nation. The Obama administration claims that airstrikes, military advisors and a Muslim states-American military coalition are the most effective counterterrorism tactics, but that is demonstrably false for two major reasons.

One, the history of US military action in Iraq is a repeatedly failed strategy featuring extremely high costs and poor outcomes.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas allegedly confessed to the Emir of Qatar that he would change his approach to the negotiations. Abbas claimed that he would transfer control of the West Bank to Israel if the peace talks failed to bring about the creation of a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders.

Abbas' parameters are not out of step with international opinion. The United Nations (UN) has on numerous occasions observed that the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza are not the sovereign territory of Israel. They are envisaged as the lands of a future Palestinian state.

Sep 12

Treat ISIS Like an Onion

By Adil E. Shamoo, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a symptom—not the cause—of turbulence in the Middle East. It is a symptom of oppressive, corrupt, and undemocratic regimes supported and manipulated by the United States, Europe, and Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, to serve their own interests.

ISIS, in reality an offshoot of al-Qaeda, is partly the result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The United States, through its actions and the form of governance it created in Iraq, brought forth the sectarian divide in that country.

Sep 12

Scottish Independence and Its Influence on World Peace

By Jennifer Hyde, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On September 18th, 2014, Scotland will vote whether or not it declares independence from the United Kingdom. If Scots vote yes, this historic vote will mark the first time that a country had successfully seceded from a larger territory to form an independent country without war or bloodshed in modern recorded history. But a yes vote is even more important than that. In a world of rapidly expanding neoliberal policies of privatization and profiting from war and weapons of mass destruction, an independent Scotland would contribute to the decline of the UK's imperialist power structure, the dismantling of one of the largest caches of nuclear weapons on the planet, the socialization of health and education for over five million more people and set a precedent for future movements that wish for local representation, economies based on local industries rather than war and exploitation and grassroots movements that trump big money's special interest mass media fear campaigns through local people-powered actions.

Currently, the United Kingdom has one of the largest stocks of nuclear weapons in the world. The facility where these weapons are housed is called Trident, and it is located 25 miles from Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland and home to 600,000 people. The total acquisition cost of the Trident program was £9.8 billion, with a projection that the upkeep of it will cost an additional £130 billion over the next 30 years. Beyond the arguments that the weapons housed at Trident would never be used because pushing the red button would lead to catastrophic world consequences is an argument that has more immediate effects. Every pro-independence party in Scotland opposes the presence of Trident in Scotland.