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.

The following petition, signed by over a dozen experts on Latin America and the media, was sent today to Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of The New York Times:

May 14, 2013

Dear Margaret Sullivan,

In a recent column (4/12/13), you observed:

Although individual words and phrases may not amount to very much in the great flow produced each day, language matters. When news organizations accept the government’s way of speaking, they seem to accept the government’s way of thinking. In The Times, these decisions carry even more weight.

In light of this comment we encourage you to compare The New York Times’s characterization of the leadership of the late Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and that of Roberto Micheletti and Porfirio Lobo in Honduras.

Despite media exposes and a public backlash, a lot of meat today continues to be treated with gasses to keep it looking red. Like mercury in tuna, just because the risks are exposed and the public is outraged doesn’t mean the producers change anything. They know the furor will die down and the public will forget.

Treating meat with carbon monoxide keeps its oxymyoglobin, what makes it red, from turning brown or gray. In defending the use of gasses to keep meat looking fresh, the meat industry says that meat turning brown is no different than apples turning brown when exposed to the air–a harmless discoloration that does not affect wholesomeness. Right. But the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food have voiced concerns about meat food appearing fresher than it is because of the artificial hues.

May 15

The Boston Bomber, Superman and the American Way

By James and Jean Anton, PenPoints | Op-Ed

The Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is arguably most hated man in America.  He also may be the man who hates America most.  He also believed in America as much as he hated it.  He believed in America even more than some other Americans, who claim they love America, believe in America.

He believed in the Superman myth, the one that proclaimed belief in "Truth, Justice, and the American Way."

But let us put Tsarnaev aside for a moment.  Let us look at the Superman myth and the American way: Superman believed the American Way is embodied in the Sixth Amendment.  

May 15

Burning Down the House of Horrors, Again

By Lisa Factora-Borchers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It's rare for news media to recycle headliners. A few years ago, the title "the house of horrors" was used to describe the gruesome findings ofeleven African-American women who had been murdered and hidden in a Cleveland home by Anthony Sowell. This week, as the case of Ariel Castro unfolds with details of how he abducted, raped, and held three women captive in his Cleveland home, the "house of horrors" cloud has once again descended on the Cleveland skyline.

The questions and inquiries as to how so many women went missing and were held in common houses, plotted on ordinary streets with everyday activity bustling around them has raised intense questions over the consequences of the United States cultural proclivity to live in, as Connie Schultz describes, "a community of strangers." How did these women disappear without a trace? How did community fail these women?

The environmental challenges we face today, from spreading deserts to rising oceans, compel us to reconsider the conventional concepts of growth and recognize that they cannot easily be reconciled with the dangerous implications of runaway consumption and unlimited development.

Above all, we must get away from a speculative economy born of an irrational dependence on finance, which has becoming increasingly unstable as digital technology accelerates and financial transactions take place without any objective review. We must return to a stable and long-term economy. In part, that process concerns the restoration of regulation on the banking system, but the change must also involve the very conception of finance and banking. Finance must be aimed at stable, long-term projects which have relevance for ordinary people.

Corn is in 3 out of every 4 products you buy at the grocery store. There's some things you should know about it. Here's a link to an info-graphic on it, and the sources for that info-graphic are at the bottom of it. ...This is segment two from episode 4 of the Moment of Clarity show.

A carpet cleaning service that got bad reviews on Yelp should not be able to use the courts to find out the identities of its critics, Public Citizen told the Virginia Court of Appeals today.

Further, a lower court ruling that Yelp must provide identifying information about seven critics of the company, Hadeed Carpet Cleaning Inc., should be reversed, according to the brief, available here.

Although many courts throughout the country have adopted standards that spell out when anonymous Internet critics can be identified and when they can't, Virginia courts have not. If no legal standard exists, or if a lax standard exists, businesses and their lawyers could use litigation to intimidate dissatisfied consumers into silence.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats gathered information today regarding concerns being raised about imports of food from China that are entering the U.S.

"We don't trust, for good reason, the Chinese to supply ingredients for our dog and cat food," said hearing witness Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. "Why," Kastel asked, "should we trust Chinese exporters for the food that we are feeding our children and families?"

May 14

This Is A Goat

By Merve Ayparlar, SpeakOut | Video

A light look on the distorted perception of reality in which one seeks for meaning and fulfilment through consumption, while ignoring the consequences.

Sound design by Isaac Ray.

May 10

The Neoliberal Harvest: Routine Economic Fraud

By Dr. Jörg Wiegratz, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Are you tired of yet another revelation of fraud in the food industry or the banks? Are you paying less attention to those stories? Are you getting numb, thinking more and more "that's just how the system works?"

If so, congratulations! You're learning to lower your expectations to meet the new normal: pervasive, institutional economic fraud. This used to be the sort of thing you read about in income-poor countries in Africa and South America. Nowadays, though, it turns out (yet again) that We Do It Too, and not just the usual suspects in the shadowy corners of the arms trade. Supermarkets and the rest of the food industry, pharmaceutical firms, hospitals and care homes, housing and construction, great swaths of the financial sector - tales from all of these show that fraud and trickery are in the mainstream, the New Black of commercial life. In particular, there appears to be an expansion of organized fraud in the economies and markets for legal, everyday goods and services; the recent horsemeat scandal in Europe is one example of this. And it is not just companies. There's corruption and crime in governments here and around the world: crony capitalism, powerful oligarchies, elite criminality.