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.

Jun 14

Turkish Protests Are Part of a Global Revolution

By Dennis Trainor Jr, AcronymTV | Video Report

In this Acronym TV report, host Dennis Trainor, Jr speaks with Selin, a 19 year-old female resident of Isthanbul, who recounts the physical and physiological abuse she endured after she was arrested during the Occupy Gezi protest last week. Occupy Wall street organizer, Justin Wedes, at her side in Isthanbul sums up the five immediate demands that have emerged from the Gezi occupation while Jenna Pope, photojournalist and OWS activist also reports from Gezi park that the protesters are well aware that the whole world is watching and drawing strength from their efforts.

As comedian Doug Stanhope watched CNN's Wolf Blitzer insinuate that Rebecca Vitsmun must thank the Lord for saving her life, he jumped off the couch, high-fiving himself when she outed herself as an atheist. "For her to say she's an atheist in that type of a crisis in front of her neighbors takes balls. So I thought we should start a fund as a reward to show there's a spine of atheism that will support people who stand up. This is especially true in a state like Oklahoma where you're dealing with snake-talking kind of Christians."

On May 22, he set up Atheists Unite, an Indigogo fundraiser to help rebuild her home in Moore, Oklahoma which was devastated by the deadly tornadoes that killed 24 people. "I felt this was a way of giving where people could give the finger to Christian America. This was something people could do quickly to change a person's life under the flag of atheism."

When referring to Honduras you must make the reader understand that Honduras is the original Banana Republic, no exceptions. The country is now more so known for its crime, so the title must accordingly make a reference in some way to cocaine, gangs, violence or bananas. An ideal title would be: « Cocaine Gang Violence in the Banana Republic. »

In order to attract ax-grinders and readers alike, you must mention the United States in your opening sentence, reference Venezuela without any context at least three times and devote one paragraph to the Cold War and the Central American civil wars of the 1980s. It would be wise to remind the audience that Central America is located South of the Border and forms part of what is collectively known as America's Backyard; a region which is a member of the Third World, a subsidiary of the First World.

Germany's two biggest cities are on course to re-nationalize their electricity grids. In both Berlin and Hamburg, citizen coalitions have successfully forced referenda to re-organize their cities' distribution of electricity in municipal companies. Backed by widespread opposition to the ongoing privatization of public goods, the coalitions "Unser Hamburg, Unser Netz" and the "Berliner Energietisch" now pose a serious threat to multinationals E.On and Vattenfall. The referendum campaigns have started to play a significant role at the start of the campaign for the federal parliamentary elections, to be held on September 22.

On Wednesday, June 11, the "Berliner Energietisch" officially surpassed the required signature threshold. 265,000 eligible voters supported their referendum, obligating the Berlin state government to put the proposal up to a vote. The opposition in parliament, made up of the green, left and pirate parties, propose that the Berlin referendum take place alongside the general election.

On May 16th, during a Senate hearing revisiting the Authorization for Use of Military Force, Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, predicted that the war against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates could last up to 20 more years.

In April, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the current US commander in occupied Afghanistan, had already told the Senate Armed Services Committee that US troops should remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Dunford said he had not made any assessments on the US troop level beyond 2014. In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon plans to leave roughly 3,000, 6,000, or 9,000 US troops in after the 2014 deadline for NATO operations in the country.It's been over 11 years since 9/11 and the unilateral and criminal declaration of "War on Terror" by President George Bush three days later, but the "War on Terror" was planned even before 9/11 – and planned to be an endless occupation in the Middle East.

Jun 13

Jail Bankers Not Grandmas

By James Anderson, SpeakOut | Report

Protest against the plight of the elderly, poor, disenfranchised and dispossessed as opposed to the fate enjoyed by wealthy plutocrats took the form of multi-pronged actions on June 11 in St. Louis, Mo., as activists showed solidarity with seven grandmothers who went to jail for justice.
During a week of demonstrations with the Home Defenders League, Occupy Our Homes and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), seven women were arrested during an act of civil disobedience as they blocked the revolving doors at the Covington and Burling law firm in Washington, DC, on May 23. The women engaged in symbolic protest against the proverbial revolving doors between financial institutions and the Department of Justice.

Since that time, Midwest activists decided MORE needed to happen. So they took (direct) action.

This is a defense of public education. Much like Socrates, public education is on trial. And despite the defendant making an excellent defense, the judges may still convict as they convicted Socrates. Public education in America and the world over is under a relentless attack by neo-liberals, social conservatives and virtually all policymakers at the federal and state level. Educators at all levels perform their work in a hostile climate. They are under constant scrutiny and attack. Thus, educators and anyone concerned with public education should begin to understand the roots of this attack, how it came to be and what its central tenets are. Perhaps the most logical place to start is Milton and Rose Friedman's work Free to Choose published in 1978. While Freidman was by no means the only critic who attacked education, nor was he the first, his influence cannot be overstated. Free to Choose is perhaps Freidman's most succinct and direct work. Subsequently, in 1980, the book was turned into a 10 part mini-series which aired on PBS.

Fourteen economists and other academics have written an open letter to the media calling for the reporting of "overwhelming statistical evidence" that shows that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro won the April 14 elections as verified by Venezuela's electoral authorities. The economists, who include James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, point to a statistical analysis of the initial audit of 53 percent of votes as irrefutable proof that Maduro won the election, but the media's failure to report this fact could mean that "many if not most Americans believe that the election was stolen or that the result is somehow in question."

The letter cites three "uncontested facts" about Venezuela's electoral process and the audit: the existence of both electronic records and paper receipts of voters' choices; the completion of the initial audit of 53 percent of votes on election night in the presence of [tens of thousands] of witnesses; and the fact that this audit found no discrepancies between the electronic vote tally and paper receipts.

Jun 12

A Day in the Life of a Congressman

By Alan Grayson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

One of the interesting things about this Congress job is that at any given moment, there are three or four different things to do. What one has to show for one's time in Congress is, more than anything else, a question of time management.

Last Wednesday posed an interesting choice for me. I was invited, like all members of Congress, to the Radio/TV Correspondents Association annual dinner. This is a spectacular opportunity to "network with" (i.e., suck up to) major figures in the national news media, like network news anchors, national radio show hosts and White House correspondents.

As the trial of Bradley Manning continues, Edward Snowden comes out as the NSA whistleblower who revealed the secret massive surveillance state.