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 25

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poem

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

with no troops at his command

was brought down by an assassin’s hand.

That’s how the war began.

In an earlier paper (blog post here), I argued that corporate political contributions can in many cases be challenged by shareholders as conflicted transactions that further insiders’ personal interests (e.g., lower individual income taxes) rather than the best interests of the corporation. The argument (to simplify) was that if a political contribution is in the CEO’s individual interests, the resulting conflict of interest should make the business judgment rule inapplicable, placing on the CEO the burden of proving that the contribution was actually in the best interests of the corporation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen strongly supports the DISCLOSE Act of 2014, reintroduced in the Senate today by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and 50 co-sponsors. A companion bill already is pending in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“The DISCLOSE Act is a straightforward disclosure measure,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “It does not and cannot offer itself as a fix to all the damage caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But the DISCLOSE Act can provide voters with the means to weigh the merits of campaign messages by casting light on the true funding sources behind those messages.”

Jun 25

The Carnage of Pollution

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Congressional supporters of the chemical industry in the House are sponsoring "The Chemicals in Commerce Act." Similar pro-industry legislation is circulating in the Senate.

These bills intend to continue and worsen the business-as-usual chemical poisoning and pollution of our society and the natural world. They make it difficult even for the pro-industry US Environmental Protection Agency and the states to even try protecting our health from the toxic touch of thousands of untested and hazardous chemicals already in commerce or in the pipeline. These bills are giant chemical industry loopholes punched through our already-tattered environmental protection.

Where’s the big money in privatization? Take it from the teachers.


I am a graduate of the Class of 1954 of the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville Connecticut. Reunion planners invited me to speak on a panel to which all of the eight classes (since 1939) holding reunions were invited. Those of us on the panel were asked to talk about our "career paths" and "passions" in a session called, “A Road Less Traveled.” This was held on June 14 in Hotchkiss’s A. Whitney Griswold Science Building. The two other panelists were all Hotchkiss graduates at least forty years younger than myself,  an editor from Huffington Post, and a Naval aviator/“Strike Warfare Watch Officer” who “executed daily 100 sorties” over Iraq from the US carrier Ronald Reagan. (In what appears to be the familiar revolving door between the military and private industry, he is now Senior Manager of Tactical Air Support, Inc, where he is “Systems Engineering Consultant for US Navy/NAVAIR client” – not mentioned at Hotchkiss.) What follows is the full version of my talk, which had to be cut to a shorter length for delivery. I spoke first.

Ten years ago, Clint Brooks, Hotchkiss Class of 1956, an NSA lifer -- former CIA head Porter Goss was in the same Hotchkiss class -- was invited to give the keynote address to this this reunion for all classes ending in 4 or 9. (Since this was not a reunion year for Brooks, he must have been specially invited by Hotchkiss to give this keynote.) I was in the audience. It was like something right out of Dr. Strangelove: Brooks had developed the “Clipper Chip” which gives NSA secret back-door access to communications; “It would defeat the purpose if we gave the [public the] knowledge of how the algorithm worked.” Brooks’s NSA coerced manufacturers to build Clipper Chips into privately manufactured phones, computers, etc., letting NSA in through this back door. At Hotchkiss, Brooks’s 55-minute PowerPoint rant in support of Bush’s “war on terrorism” got adoring attention from the Bearcat crowd (as they like to call themselves), which shouted down a mildly critical questioner.

Washington, DC – Today, hundreds of low-wage federal contract workers working for fifty companies doing business at federal sites – like the National Zoo, Pentagon and Union Station – walked off their jobs today.  Led by an army of working women dressed like Rosie the Riveter, they marched through the Smithsonian National Zoo, where workers are joining the Good Jobs Nation campaign for the first time.  This is the 8th strike by low-wage federal contract workers in the past year.

These New Rosies are calling on President Obama to allow them to collectively bargain, so they don’t need to keep striking to win living wages, health care, and paid time off to care for their families.

Jun 24

Heathens of Wall Street

By Richard Sales, Coastal Tar Sands | Video

Stephen Harper's Conservative Government approved the Enbridge Corporation's Northern Gateway Pipeline despite the fact that 80% of BC residents and the vast majority of Canadians are opposed to this proposal to pipe Alberta Tarsands Bitumen through British Columbia to load onto Supertankers that must navigate the coastal waters of western Canada. This song draws attention to many of the issues we must address today! 

Jun 24

Failure of Democracy

By Mitch Trachtenberg, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In 1989 the World Meteorological Association warned, "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war." Our corporate-controlled "democracy" has utterly failed to respond to that burgeoning crisis.

For 25 years, our national leaders have failed to respond to an evident worldwide catastrophe.

If we are to respond to the challenge of planetary scale climate change, we must take notice of that failure and respond to the evidence that the democratic process, as it exists today, is incapable of producing any rational response to the world's most serious problems.

June 23, 2014, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement by Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei in response to the release of the Department of Justice memo outlining the Obama administration’s legal justification for the drone killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi. The Second Circuit released the memo in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by New York Times reporters and the ACLU. Ms. Kebriaei was CCR’s lead counsel on two lawsuits with the ACLU challenging the killing of Al-Aulaqi, Al-Aulaqi v. Obama and Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta.