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.

Nov 04

The Death of a Giant

By Jack A. Smith, Foreign Policy Journal | Report

Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, who helped defeat Japan, then France, then the United States in a 35-year war for national independence, died in Hanoi on Oct. 4 at the age of 102. He had been ailing and living in a military hospital for the last four years.

Giap’s extraordinary generalship drove French imperialism out of the three countries of Indochina — Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia — in the mid-1950s. At the time, he declared that the anti-French struggle “was victorious because we had a wide and firm National United Front… organized and led by the party of the working class — the Indochinese Communist Party, now the Vietnam Workers Party.”

Nov 04

The Tea Party Setting: A Longer View

By Stafford Smith, Truthout | News Analysis

How will future historians characterize our curious era? It seems to be, above all, a time when appearances have become particularly deceptive. As suggested below, such may especially be the case with the factors influencing the more ominous escapade of our recent giddy romance with national economic suicide – the debt ceiling default melodrama.

"The society that loses its grip on the past is in danger, for it produces men who know nothing but the present, and who are not aware that life had been, and could be, different from what it is."

— Aristotle, Politics

The title is an unapologetic P.T. Barnum hook. The three reasons? Why not a sacred ten? Or 350 million? Doesn't everyone have his or her own take on Twitter? Isn't reason what is behind our opinions, or my"whatever" about your reasons? And "doomed"? This is shameless trickery in a title signaling the apocalyptic in a country nervously nudging the notion of The Rapture. At some point, the Roman Empire was doomed but even Gibbon's three volume history couldn't nail three reasons why. And it seems Shelley's Ozymandias went to his grave without suspecting that his kingdom was doomed.

Two of the most compelling aspects of the AMC series are that zombies are omnipresent and that every human is a walking potential for becoming a zombie. Now that the main characters have positioned themselves in a prison behind two layers of fences, viewers watch as the characters go about their reduced lives (sometimes casually hoeing the garden) with zombies always moaning and clawing at the fence.

There is only one world for these characters—a world saturated with zombies. And a world defined by zombies is a world that has redefined the nature of human free will and choice.

WASHINGON, DC—Today, Reps. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would significantly reform mandatory minimum drug sentencing policies. The bill, which was introduced as S.1410 in the Senate by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) in July, would cut the length of some mandatory minimum drug sentences by half and expand access to the existing safety valve for federal drug offenders. It would also afford retroactivity for the Fair Sentencing Act, which was signed into law in 2010 to reduce the disparity in crack and powder cocaine sentences.

TEMECULA, CA – The parents of a 17-year-old special needs student arrested in an undercover police operation announced today they are suing the school district that authorized the operation. The student, who suffers from a range of disabilities, was falsely befriended by a police officer who repeatedly asked the boy to provide him drugs. After more than three weeks, 60 text messages and repeated hounding by the officer, the student was able to buy half a joint from a homeless man he then gave to his new – and only – “friend,” who had given him twenty dollars weeks before. He did it once again before refusing to accommodate the officer, at which point the officer broke off all ties with the child. Shortly thereafter, the student was arrested in school in front of his classmates as part of a sting that nabbed 22 students in all, many of them children with special needs.

Several years ago, the city of Durham, NC announced that it had developed a ten-year program to eradicate local homelessness. Several years ago, city officials stated that additional housing for the poor and underprivileged was one of the city’s most sincere concerns. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like city officials have made due on their promises.
Instead, low income residents are being pushed out of their homes all over the city, especially in the communities surrounding Durham’s burgeoning downtown district. In the same manner the Durham Freeway was constructed through Durham’s historic Black community, eminent domain is once again uprooting mostly poor Black residents. Profit motives are replacing history and people with upscale restaurants and designer strip malls. 
Nov 01

School Killings Put US Culture in Spotlight

By Dennis Boatwright, NoFrillNews | Op-Ed

On Oct. 21, a 13-year-old gunman casually entered a Sparks, Nevada middle school classroom and opened-fire, killing beloved school teacher Michael Landsberry and wounding two classmates. Just two days later a lanky 14-year-old Danvers, Massachusetts student sliced to death his math teacher with a box cutter, and thereafter dumped her body in a recycling bin. What’s troubling about these two murders is that the killers closest friends and classmates regards them as “quiet and fun-loving,” and the “nicest friend a person can ever have.”

My seven-year-old daughter’s new favorite song is, no joke, “Banks of Marble,” sung by Pete Seeger. I swear I had nothing to do with it. She found a Pete Seeger CD one day, which I didn’t even know we had, and put it into our old boombox/CD player when my wife and I were out. (There was a babysitter over, but she was mainly taking care of my toddler son.) When we came home later that afternoon, she announced that it was her favorite song, and that her favorite part was the last verse.

In Washington today, 13 year old Zubair Rehmen along with his 9 year old Nabeela, spoke with members of Congress in a briefing organized by Alan Grayson, to send a message to our elected representatives who authorize our blowback inducing bull in a geo-political china shop of military budget what the rest of the world can see as plain as day: Drone attacks in countries that have not declared war on us and pose no threat to us are illegal, immoral, and create more enemies than they kill.