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 06

Aristotle's Lantern

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Report

At a time when there's an almost universal attack on the natural world, it helps to remember Aristotle, the fourth century BCE Greek natural philosopher. He remains a model of intelligence to our day.

Aristotle studied all nature, indeed the cosmos. His preference was the natural world, especially animals because, as he put it, we live in their midst.

He urged us to be curious even about the lowest of the animals because all animals are beautiful. They illuminate the why and causes of natural things. Nature is full of purposefulness, he said. There is nothing accidental in animals, fish, wildlife and plants.

Nov 06

End of Enlightenment

By Angelo Letizia, SpeakOut | News Analysis

In a recent article, Dr. Henry Giroux argued that we may be witnessing the dismantling of democracy [1]. He pointed to the neoliberal assault on public education and the transformation of public education into workforce training for the global economy at the hands of state and federal law makers [2]. Giroux's remarks are sobering. They may actually be more telling than even he realized. Perhaps the neoliberal assault on education is not the destruction of democracy, but rather something much more profound; it may be the end of the Enlightenment.

While it is impossible to put exact definitive markers on historical events, historians argue that the Enlightenment began roughly at the end of the seventeenth century [3]. Enlightenment thinkers such as Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau , Marquis Condorcet, Mary Wollstonecraft Thomas Jefferson and later Georg Hegel all wrote of the power of a progressive and liberal education grounded in history and the liberal arts, they wrote about civic duty, public service and the infallibility of true democracy. While their thoughts are varied, and at times contradictory, they all demanded equality, freedom, justice, the rule of reason and the suppression of superstition.

Nov 06

The Shock Doctrine in Texas prisons

By Kenneth Foster, SpeakOut | News Analysis

This article is an analysis of the torture tactics and repressive methods used in administrative segregation prisons across Texas, and generally in America. To highlight these matters and how they're applied, I want to draw a parallel with Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

The Shock Doctrine is a book that documents the brutal economic tactics pioneered by University of Chicago professor Milton Friedman. His approach to economics became orthodoxy in almost every corner of the globe. It has been described as "neoliberalism," "free market," "laissez-faire capitalism" and "globalization," but the term that would stick in the minds of most people is "shock therapy."

"Shock therapy" has been applied both economically and physically. I will focus on the latter, but let me first talk about the former, because the economic shock doctrine allowed the physical shock doctrine to thrive.

I am a long-time advocate of both climate justice and fundamental system change. I am writing to you with whom I share these central political commitments because I believe you are making a serious strategic mistake by categorically rejecting international carbon trading.

Recently your organization, together with over sixty other environmental justice organizations, sent a letter to the President of the AFL-CIO "imploring labor to join us in the fight against climate change," explaining what labor must do differently if it expects to advance its cause. You obviously understand why we must sometimes reach out with advice to allies in struggle who we believe are making serious mistakes. That is the spirit in which I write you this letter.

Nov 05

Everything That's Happened Since Supreme Court Ruled on Voting Rights Act

By Mike Tigas and Kara Brandeisky, ProPublica | News Analysis

Last year, we wrote extensively about photo ID laws and the Supreme Court's decision to strike a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, with gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and the debt ceiling and healthcare debates already shaping the 2014 midterms, we're revisiting voting policies to see which states have enacted tougher restrictions since the Supreme Court ruling in June.

Nov 05

Eisenhower's Drones

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | News Analysis

President Dwight Eisenhower is often admired for having avoided huge wars, having declared that every dollar wasted on militarism was food taken out of the mouths of children, and having warned -- albeit on his way out the door -- of the toxic influence of the military industrial complex (albeit in a speech of much more mixed messages than we tend to recall).

But when you oppose war, not because it murders, and not because it assaults the rights of the foreign places attacked, but because it costs too much in U.S. lives and dollars, then your steps tend in the direction of quick and easy warfare -- usually deceptively cheap and easy warfare.

Nov 05

NAPF Congratulates Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

By Staff, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation | Press Release

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) congratulates the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for receiving the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

OPCW is the body that enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention, the international treaty that prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons. Since the Convention came into force in 1997, it has been ratified by 189 states and the OPCW has conducted more than 5,000 inspections in 86 countries. According to its statistics, 81.1 percent of the world's declared stockpile of chemical agents has been verifiably destroyed.

Nov 05

We Won't Go Back!

By Alexandria Petersburg, Stop Patriarchy | Op-Ed

Why is unrestricted and unapologetic access to abortion rights a critical front for the war on women?

Reactionary movements led by Christian fundamentalists, or the Catholic Church -- like the March for Life -- are working on the very concrete and attainable agenda of redefining life in the Constitution so that abortion is illegal on the federal level. So that women's lives are legally defined as less important than the potential life of a fetus. condemns in the strongest possible terms the outrageous ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 31st which will have the effect of immediately closing down abortion services at as many as 13 clinics throughout Texas! That this ruling came just three days after a federal judge had blocked the implementation of a new Texas law that would require abortion doctors to have arrangements to admit patients with local hospitals shows how extreme and intense the fight is right now over the direction of abortion rights – and the lives of women – throughout this country.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate briefing today, lawmakers, prominent pension fund leaders, investors and securities law experts built a robust case for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue a rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who sponsored and keynoted the briefing, said, “Investors have a right to know how corporate executives are spending investors’ money. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United that corporations are people and can spend unlimited money to influence elections has triggered a flood of secret money that undermines our democracy and often occurs without shareholders’ knowledge or consent. Basic disclosure would bring much needed transparency and accountability and help ensure that corporations’ political spending accurately reflects the will of the shareholders who own them.”