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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.

When Bubbles Burst

Those seeking deeper understanding of the planet's shaky economic and financial condition should watch Hans Petter Moland'sWhen Bubbles Burst. The main subject of this Norwegian documentary is the relationship between finance and what economists call the real economy, and how unleashing finance to grow at the expense of the real economy—to allow a parasite, essentially, to overtake its host—leads inexorably to greater economic suffering and environmental degradation. The film revolves around the tragic story of a small town in Norway whose elected officials were persuaded by financial consultants, at the height of the stock boom, to invest in Citibank's mortgage-backed securities, products that became worthless with the crash of the global casino in 2008.

Education is a billion dollar industry and if corporations are to make the money off these cash cows they must create an economic pipeline to redirect public funding to private enterprises via destructive public education policy. Diane Ravitch, noted scholar, policy analyst and former Secretary of Education for the Bush Administration highlights frequently via her Blog that this is the agenda of corporate enterprise and special interest groups across the country. However, we're seeing it played out in Michigan with Detroit as the laboratory for how far the 1% can go before education professionals, advocates, and labor will unite. This is not a separate fight; their agenda is calculated and designed to simultaneously dismantle public education and weaken unions.

Jan 31

Community Takes Over Chicago School Closing Hearing

By Adeshina Emmanuel and Benjamin Woodard, DNA Info | Video

Chanting "Save our schools" and "No school closings," several hundred parents, teachers and community members refused to let Chicago Public Schools officials speak during a public hearing on school closings Monday night in Uptown.

Attendees filled the bleachers and stood against the wall at Truman College for the opening meeting in the second phase of community hearings being held around the city on the district's plan to close underutilized schools.

Jan 31

Ethelbert Miller's Fifth Inning

By Paul Buhle, Swans Commentary | Book Review

A distinguished African American poet and for decades a prime cultural organizer on the campus of Howard University in the glory era of Black Studies and in the largely black community of D.C., Ethelbert Miller has always been a surprisingly youthful Wise Old Man in the African sense, a senior figure, soothsayer, and a poet. Now he is not so young any more.

He is still, however, an undiminished baseball fan of note, and there is no doubt that his appreciation of the National Pastime blossomed under the warm sun of his favorite philosopher and mine, C.L.R. James. Around 1970, the aged James -- who many across the world took to be that ancient Wise Man -- took a job teaching at what was then Federal City College.

The state of California has ordered a Southern California warehouse that processes merchandise for Walmart and other retailers to pay 865 workers more than $1 million in stolen wages.

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued the citations Monday, Jan. 28 against Quetico, LLC, a large warehouse complex in Chino, California. Back wages and unpaid overtime total more than $1.1million and in addition the state issued about $200,000 in penalties.

Jan 30

Welcome Home: The New Old Evangelicals

By Charles Redfern, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As I read Marcia Pally's Evangelicals who have left the right, I've realized that I'm like the old man guarding the family's abandoned homestead. The lights were off; the heat was low; the couches and chairs were draped in sheets. I haven't left the right because I was never there. I remained in a home once alive with compassion for the poor and love for the environment. The kids are finally coming back and, like every old man, I'm rasping advice as we throw logs on the fire and unveil the furniture.

I became an evangelical Christian in a "born again" experience on July 6, 1973, when I was almost 17, before civil religion's invasion. Like many, I was dubious of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson. But, like many, I said nothing.

Jan 30

An Unconstitutional Twofer

By Alan Grayson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

This week, the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives did something that you wouldn't think is even possible: they introduced (and then the House passed) a five-page bill that, despite its brevity, may violate two separate provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

The bill increases the debt limit by some unspecified amount, but only for those expenditures "necessary to fund a commitment by the Federal Government that required payment before May 19, 2013." What does "necessary" mean here? I don't know, and the bill doesn't say.

Jan 30

A New Model Drone Resolution

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

...Concerns include the following: drones can crash into airplanes, buildings, and each other; drones can fall out of the sky; drones can produce noise pollution; drones can produce visual pollution if put to the same use that everything from brick walls to urinals has been put to, viz. advertising; drones can be used to spy on us whether by private or public entities; police surveillance with drones will violate our Fourth Amendment rights as all existing technologies are currently used to do; police forces that view the public as their enemy will deploy drones armed with rubber bullets, tear gas, or other weapons; and ultimately a program run by the U.S. military and the CIA that has targeted and murdered three U.S. citizens that we know of, along with thousands of other men, women, and children, may eventually find it acceptable to include U.S. soil in its otherwise unlimited field of operations.

Jan 29

Abuse and Fear of the Natural World

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

...Despite the value of the Holmes Run Creek, every so often and quite surreptitiously, crews of city loggers would invade the Creek, cutting down most of its luxurious trees on the excuse they protected us from muggers and the "one hundred year flood."City loggers would repeat their atrocity at their convenience.

Since 2008, I live in Claremont in southern California. This is a small town with enough beautiful trees and a life-giving breeze that I thank the gods for their gift of this exquisite part of the natural world. Yet, like Alexandria, southern California has mad loggers, too. On December 29, 2012, the US Corps of Engineers destroyed some 43 acres of trees next to the Los Angeles River in the Sepulveda Basin. The Corps said they cut down the trees for "public safety."

Hillary Clinton once said of abortion that it is a "tragic" decision for women. 40 year after the passage of Roe V. Wade, Sunsara Taylor of the group Stop Patriarchy wrote of Hilary's statement: Bullshit. You know what is tragic? Forced motherhood! You know what else is tragic. Rape is tragic. Pregnancies that result from rape are tragic. Being able to have an abortion to prevent women from being double-penalized by these tragedies, to prevent women from having to foreclose their lives and futures and dreams, to prevent women from being further trapped in poverty or abuse, this is POSITIVE AND LIBERATING!