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.

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.

Oct 31

Lawsuit: NSA Can't Detect Satire

By Public Citizen, Public Citizen | Report

BALTIMORE, Md. – A Minnesota activist who uses images and names of government agencies on satirical merchandise is entitled to do so under the First Amendment, Public Citizen argued in a lawsuit filed today against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of the merchant.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, targets cease-and-desist letters sent to the merchant’s producer by the NSA and DHS.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new poll commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake finds that an overwhelming number of voters believe campaign donations and other special interest spending on judicial elections have an influence on a judge’s decision on the bench.  The findings were released today at a National Press Club event highlighting a new report by the groups, The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts.

Despite the common misconception that science fiction (SF) is aimed at predicting the future—Orwell writing in 1948 to predict the world of 1984—SF often seeks to criticize the contemporary conditions of the writer’s time as well as to capture the enduring truths confronting humanity. To that second end, Orwell in 1984 dramatizes the political use of language to mislead, not to inform.

And it is with Orwellian grace that we now have President Barack Obama calling for “political courage” related to funding education...

Oct 31

Remembering Lou Reed

By Gary Roland, Truthout | Op-Ed

I can still remember the first time I listened to Heroin.  I was 18 and Rock & Roll was an escape valve for the growing alienation that accompanies becoming.  My friend and I had secured an overnight shift at a local college radio station, to satisfy not only our desire for rebellion, but also as an expression of our fumbling adolescent attempts at grasping onto something more authentic than the often disingenuous moral certitude expressed by the institutions that defined our life in a small southern town.  The transformation from the magic of childhood, a time of seemingly wondrous unlimited potential, to the ‘realistic’ and confining roles we are forced to assume as young adults; is never an easy transformation.  The sting of becoming something limited from that which was once unlimited led me, and many of my adolescent friends who did not survive the transition, to look for identity and transcendence in frequent drug use, occasional sex, and the ever present beat of Rock & Roll.

Fei Xiaotong, a world-renowned Chinese anthropologist, visited America in the 1940's and thought it was a country devoid of ghosts. Americans live in brightly lit cities, he noted. They illuminate all parts of a room. They believe in individual progress -- not clanship, not past history. Americans move about, forming few, if any, permanent ties to places and people. So how could ghosts find room to dwell in such a place?

But the bright and shiny ghost-less land that Mr. Fei saw in World War II-era America is long gone. The America that believed in technology as a solution to all things, that believed in upward mobility as the norm, that saw itself as defender of the world from evil, has become almost a century later a landscape where ghosts comfortably dwell.

Oct 29

Boys, Toys, and Guns — A Fatal Mix

By Shepherd Bliss, Truthout | Op-Ed

“Guns are not toys,” my military father taught me as a youngster, as hunter parents also tend to teach their children. “Toys are not guns,” police and sheriff deputies should learn. Confusing them can be deadly.

Officers sworn to serve, protect, and keep the peace should not show off their guns to children and put them in their eager hands. This happened in August of 2011 here in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, Northern California. The community was not happy about that, and it is even more angered now.