Truthout

Speakout

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.

Feb 24

Where Is Your Car Location Data Going?

By Jordan Perch, SpeakOut | Report

Nowadays, practically all new cars are equipped with sophisticated GPS navigation systems that provide drivers with maps, turn-by-turn directions, and real-time traffic information, making it easier for them to get to their destination as quickly as possible. Of course, drivers get a lot of use out of these features, which can help them save a lot of time, and money, by showing the most fuel-efficient routes. But, there is another side to navigation systems, one that will likely stir controversy and is expected to raise a few red flags with privacy advocates, as it recently became clear that car makers and navigation companies use them to collect data related to drivers' location and movement, and store them for an unspecified period of time.

Feb 24

Peter Seeger's Last Letter

By Debbie Metke, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The day he died, my organization got a hand-written letter from Pete Seeger, the 94 year old, iconic folksinger who departed last month after decades of inspiring us onward with his peace and justice ballads.  Now with his loss, we realize it is quite a gap to fill. Indeed, one political cartoon showed a hapless banjo player reading his paper’s page: “JOB OPPORTUNITY: New Pete Seeger needed. Must start immediately.”

Feb 24

Gossip and Tectonics, Nude Boys and Naked Truths

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
Gossip and scandal are part of politics; the German media is currently overflowing with these commodities. Both a leading feminist and the man in charge of spending on theaters and museums in Berlin were caught stashing their fortunes illegally (and un-taxed) outside Germany; the latter case briefly threatened to cost Mayor Wowereit his job, since he had hush-hushed the matter for a year.
 
Then a raid in Toronto found that an up-and-coming Social Democratic deputy in the German Bundestag collected internet photos of nude boys. Last fall, just when the major parties were forming their “grand coalition,” a cabinet minister from Merkel’s sister party in Bavaria (the CSU) tipped off the top Social Democrat, Sigmar Gabriel, warning him not to give the man an important job. Gabriel denies it, but someone seems to have passed the info on, the man was warned, his hard disks were smashed just before a police raid. The CSU man, taking the blame, resigned as Minister of Agriculture, but he and the Social Democrats are all blaming each other while the three coalition leaders are trying to plaster over the first crack in a coalition which is only two months old.   
Feb 22

The Libyan Bedlam

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | News Analysis

On Friday, Feb 14, 92 prisoners escaped from their prison in the Libyan town of Zliten. 19 of them were eventually recaptured, two of whom were wounded in clashes with the guards. It was just another daily episode highlighting the utter chaos which has engulfed Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.

Much of this is often reported with cliché explanations as in the country’s ‘security vacuum’, or Libya’s lack of a true national identity. Indeed, tribe and region seem to supersede any other affiliation, but it is hardly that simple.

Feb 22

Europe's Failed Mission Facilitated by Mr. Barroso & Co.

By Werner de Gruijter, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Current European politics is infused with laissez-faire economic ideology despite this orientation's lack of legitimacy given the absence of a meaningful democratic debate on the subject in recent years. Consequently, there is a lack of support and a surplus of uneasiness among the general public. As the European Union slowly slides into a process of disintegration,  that realization is still missing among most politicians and opinion makers. Is Europe really failing in its mission?

Murder is the one crime that we're taught to excuse if it's done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.

Over the centuries and decades, death counts in wars have grown dramatically, shifted heavily onto civilians rather than combatants, and been overtaken by injury counts as even greater numbers have been injured but medicine has allowed them to survive.

Feb 22

American Social Classes Defined

By Adam Buchanan, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In what American social class do you or your family reside: the wealthy, middle class, working class, or poor? I posed this question to a classroom of San Diego State University students taking an introductory course on American history from the Civil War to the present. This was my third semester working as a teaching assistant, and experience taught me that students understood history concepts best when explained by connecting them to real life experience. At this point in the course, we were discussing the social upheavals that buffeted American society from 1900-1930, particularly in the labor movement, and paved the way for President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies.

Feb 21

Auditing Our Public Agencies is Hard in Spite of Sunshine Laws

By Libi Uremovic, SpeakOut | Report

The California Public Records Act made national headlines in 1968 because it clearly established the people's right to access to all government information and documentation. In 2004, voters approved Proposition 59 adding an Amendment to the California State Constitution. Article I Section 3(b)(1) states:

"The People have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials andagencies shall be open to public scrutiny."

Feb 21

A Stamp of Disapproval

By Michael Nigro, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

January 12. Dead of winter. It’s the "No Pants Subway Ride" in New York City. This newly-minted annual event, which takes place in a growing number of cities across the US, emboldens people to traipse around in public in their underwear. The reasons for doing this are varied and, it seems, open for interpretation. But so it goes...

I'm a foot away from a massive marble wall affixed with big silver letters that spell JP Morgan Chase & Co.  This is their International headquarters. For the record, I am wearing pants, and, to spare you the suspense, I keep them on.

Feb 21

Assassinations and Constitutions

By James and Jean Anton, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On one side of the aisle, there are Republicans, Conservatives, neoConservatives, and Libertarians who vocally support only two amendments to the constitution. The first is the Imaginary Amendment that says that corporations are people. The second is the Sacred Amendment (the Second), which to them means that corporations (which are virtual people) as well as actual flesh-and-blood people have the right to bear arms.

Neoliberals, who disagree violently with their neoconservative friends about the Sacred (Second) Amendment (and who are neither here nor there on the Imaginary Amendment), respect most of the other amendments except for the Sixth and the Fourth Amendments. The Sixth amendment is the one that says that Americans have the right to a speedy and public trial, must be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, must be confronted by witnesses against them and must have the assistance of counsel for their defense. The fourth is the one about needing a warrant … to surveil.