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.

Half a year into Obama's second term, it has become clear what has been done under his watch. He brought to the world continued and unprosecuted massive banking fraud, drone attacks, indefinite detention, assassination of US citizens and an unprecedented war on whistleblowers. The rhetoric of hope and change has finally and undeniably revealed its true colors. Prominent dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky remarked how Obama's assault on civil liberties has progressed beyond anything he could have imagined. All of these telltale signs mark the slippery slide toward totalitarianism that seems to now be escalating.

Sep 22

What Will It Take To End the Suffering in Syria?

By Michael Z Youhana, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Americans concerned about the crisis in Syria should consider an insightful quote from an August 31 op-ed by the Brookings Institution's H.A. Hellyer: "Give the people of Syria a better choice than one type of madness over another." One madness being the Obama administration's proposed strikes in Syria, the other being a perpetuation the status quo, which entails the steady escalation of violence in Syria.

For the time being, ostensibly punitive but practically aimless US strikes in Syria have been halted in favor of the widely publicized plan to confiscate the Assad regime's chemical weapons. The international reputations of both Obama and Putin are left essentially intact, along with the grinding, miserable status quo that is Syria's brutal civil war and unsustainable refugee crisis. Madness still reigns in Syria and Hellyer is right to argue that Syrians should be granted "a better choice."

In this moment in which the public will and a bit of nerve in Congress have made refusing to let a president launch a bunch of missiles into a foreign country a reality and therefore mainstream and respectable (rather than vaguely treasonous as it might have been widely understood a decade ago or depicted by the corporate media a couple of weeks ago), there are signs of possible wider outbreaks of sanity.

"If fully implemented in dozens of sites throughout Syria, this effort to secure the chemical weapons would amount to a cease-fire, with a large U.N. peacekeeping force deployed.  In the best of circumstances, this could lead to convening the Geneva peace conference, perhaps including Iran, that could end the conflict."  Jimmy Carter, "The World Now Has a Chance to End War in Syria," from Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution:  Jacksonian America, 1815-1846.

 [1813 and] 1815 opened with the fate of the American republic – and worldwide republicanism – hanging in the balance. A pall of chill, ashes, and gloom lay over muddy little Washington. Burned out of the Capital, congressmen found standing room in a patent office spared by British invaders' reverence for technology. Amid blackened rubble, they dreaded news from every direction.

“The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.”  Karl Marx
The “back to the basics” movement is here, again. Doesn’t this remind you of the 1980s? In response to the overall dissatisfaction with the programs popularized in the 60s, declining test scores and disruptive classrooms, Ronald Reagan called us to action.  A Nation at Risk warned, “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”
Sep 20

Nina Davuluri is America's Future

By Andrew Lam, Truthout | Op-Ed

Nina Davuluri is the first Indian-American to hold the title of Miss America and it should be something for all Americans to celebrate. Her story, after all, is one of the more optimistic news about immigration in recent times. Alas, it's a victory marred by waves of racist backlash in social media. Davuluri is called a "terrorist," and derogatory references to convenience stores - "Miss 7-11" -- and Muslims are mentioned. But the biggest complaint? Miss America should be more "American."

The rise of the MOOCs, that is, massive open online courses, so labeled by the Times, gives us a clear picture of the future of American education and, consequently, of America. Thus, we should be asking ourselves serious questions about the desirable and undesirable forms soon to found in online education. To evaluate these courses and programs, we should understand both: (1) how MOOCs can be a distinct improvement over traditional classroom courses; and (2) how they can be devastatingly inferior to traditional classroom programs.

NEW DELHI - The Indian rupee touched a lifetime low of 68.85 against the US dollar on August 28, 2013. The rupee plunged by 3.7 percent on the day in its biggest single-day percentage fall in more than two decades. Since January 2013, the rupee has lost more than 20 percent of its value, the biggest loser among the Asian currencies.

fund the legislators then legislate their poverty then legislate their debt. 

steal their money then steal their elections. 

destroy their tribes (neighborhoods) then gut their economy. 

reignite colonial sentiments.

Sep 19

Five Years Later

By James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario | Op-Ed

Five years ago, Lehman brothers went bankrupt, AIG was nationalized, Ben Bernanke stared into an abyss, and Mohamed El-Erian asked his wife to take out as much cash from the ATM as she could. And Simon and I started blogging.

I already wrote my anniversary reflections on the financial crisis for The Atlantic. Here I wanted to talk a bit about how this blog started.