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.

May 08

In Praise of Richard Falk

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

Shortly after the 15 April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories, published an analysis of the episode entitled "A Commentary on the Marathon Murders."

In this analysis Falk pointed out that there are "serious deficiencies in how the U.S. sees itself in the world. We should be worried by the taboo . . . imposed on any type of self-scrutiny [of U.S. foreign policy] by either the political leadership or the mainstream media." This taboo essentially blinds us to the reality of our situation. Falk continues, "The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world. . . . Especially if there is no disposition to rethink U.S. relations with others . . . starting with the Middle East."

May 08

The Cure

By Gregory Gull, For Progress, Not Growth | Op-Ed

Cancer cells don't know they are cancerous! Though this may be an obvious fact even a so what fact to many, if we think more critically about this we realize that it is quite significant. Why? Unlike other cells, cancer cells grow uncontrollably and without limit and in so doing attack the viability of the body they live in thus leading to the death of both their host and themselves. So if they knew they were cancerous then they'd stop killing the body upon which they so much depend. No reasonable cell would behave in a way that diminishes its viability.

So to stop cancer all we have to do is let these cells know that (their) uncontrolled growth—using up the body's supply of energy—is detrimental to the viability of the living system they live in and in turn to their very own ability to continue to exist; that is, such behavior would be suicidal. If only we could educate and reason with cells that unlimited growth and the exploitation of one's environment is self-destructive! While this sounds so simple a solution, the problem with it is that cells haven't the capability of self-awareness and for learning at this level. Cells aren't so evolved that they can critically examine their own purposes and behavior relative to the environment within which they exist.

Cable news networks thrive on tragedy.

That's nothing new.

What is new is the incredible, monomaniacal programming mantra that has taken over CNN—the ever-more inane and dementia-addled granddaddy of the 24-hour news business.

Their unwillingness to let go, cut away or—perish the thought—actually cover a wide array of "news" stories, first manifested itself during the infamous coverage of the Carnival Cruise "Poop Ship."

May 07

How Little Has Changed

By Dan Riker, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

How little has changed: Some excerpts of writings on the capitalism of the 19th and early 20th Centuries – excerpted from my book, a work still in progress, Let's Do What Works and Call it Capitalism:

Capitalism in some form has existed since mankind first began to sell goods and engage in trade thousands of years ago. Until the 19th Century it did not become known as a distinct economic system. The word, "capitalism" did not appear in English until William Makepeace Thackeray used it in his 1854 novel, The Newcomes. Karl Marx, inDas Kapital, and other writings, gave the term greater definition.

Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of early twentieth-century America. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist, he was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers, in "World's Great Men of Color" as "the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time." Rogers adds that "No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten" others and "none of the Afro-American leaders of his time had a saner and more effective program." Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described Harrison as "the father of Harlem Radicalism." Harrison's friend and pallbearer, Arthur Schomburg, fully aware of his popularity, eulogized to the thousands attending Harrison's Harlem funeral that he was also "ahead of his time."

Momentum to free elections from corporate influence is growing. This afternoon, Maine became the 13th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The resolution passed overwhelmingly with a 25-9 vote in the Senate and a 111-33 vote in the House, which included five Republican supporters in the Senate and 25 in the House.

The State Legislature's resolution reads in part, "United States Supreme Court rulings, beginning with Buckley v. Valeoand continuing through Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and others, disproportionately elevate the role of wealthy special interests in elections and diminish the voices and influence of ordinary Americans."

After six weeks of testimony — sometimes dramatic, sometimes data-driven, but consistently disturbing in its findings — the plaintiffs in the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial finished presenting the liability portion of their case. CCR and its co-counsel (from Covington & Burling LLP and Beldock, Levine & Hoffman LLP) will present additional witnesses during the remedies phase, but for now, it is the city's turn to try and counter the massive evidence presented of the NYPD's unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policy.

Testimony last week was mostly from NYPD officials in positions responsible for oversight of officer conduct. The theme that emerged over and over was one of a department apparently unwilling or uninterested in ascertaining whether stops are lawfully conducted. On Wednesday, Lou Reiter, our police practices expert, commented on the lack of supervision of stops throughout the NYPD, saying "it's like everybody sticks their head in the sand."

May 07

USA is #1 Jailing Its Population

By Dennis Trainor Jr, AcronymTV | Video

This video is an excerpt from the documentary, American Autumn: an Occudoc -- rent it or own it today. Go here.

The question of whether persons convicted of a crime should be imprisoned or not is now increasingly influenced by economic interests. While prisons have long tended to be located in rural communities because of the availability of cheap land, this trend has accelerated in recent decades as a result of lobbying by rural officials. With declining economic prospects in many of these communities, many local leaders have come to view prisons as their best hope of economic opportunity through the jobs that are generated. In practice, this has not proven to be beneficial to these areas, but nonetheless rural legislators continue to seek such opportunities. Perhaps not coincidentally, many of these officials are also strong supporters of harsh sentencing policies. -- Marc Mauer

Most weeks there's more Internet-related news than people can handle.

Given the constant flux, we at Free Press are taking a stab at listing, every week, the top five things you need to know about developments impacting Internet freedom.

Here's our first shot. Be nice....

Life, as lived, moment to moment, in the corporate/consumer state, involves moving between states of tedium, stress, and swoons of mass media and consumer distraction. Therein, one spends a large portion of one's economically beleaguered life attempting to make ends meet and not go mad from the pressure and the boredom. Where does a nebulous concept such as freedom even enter the picture, except to be a harbinger of an unfocused sense of unease...that all too many look to authority to banish?

Finding a balance between anxiety and freedom is not something that comes easy to us.