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 02


By Philip A Farruggio, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Anyone who has seen the 1976 film Network can only imagine how CLAIRVOYANT the film's writer Paddy Chayefsky turned out to be. The film, a dark satire, showed a future society where the media became the message and celebrity was greater than reality. Ratings were the only thing that mattered- as they apparently still are on today's Nutworks! If one goes online to Wikipedia to search for the number of reality television shows created, one can surmise just how lowly evolved we have become. How many of our friends and neighbors enjoyed or still enjoy shows like The Real Housewives of… , Who Wants to Marry a MultimillionaireMy Big Fat Obnoxious FiancéBoot Camp or the most popular of all, Survivor? I await the day in the not too distant future when the little weasels that run the creative departments of our Nutworks! create a new reality show: IED Afghanistan: The cameras follow American troops on patrol for Improvised Exploding Devices used by the insurgents. In episode one some poor GI gets his legs blown off as his mates run over and hurriedly get him onto an EVAC. We see the grim and angry faces of his fellow soldiers as they vow to "make things right and settle some scores." The audience applauds at home as they watch violent and merciless payback on a civilian who may or may not be part of any insurgency… but who cares? The action is, well, REAL!

Jun 02

The Psychology of Elliot Rodger

By Dr. David Gustaf Thompson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I'm a bit scared to admit that I actually wasn't shocked when I watched Elliot Rodger's now infamous YouTube video. I was horrified, to be sure, but not surprised.  

You would think that it's unnatural not to feel shock when watching a video of an intelligent, articulate young man relish in describing his plan to "slaughter" all of the "girls" in the "hottest sorority."  

But these types of desperate, vengeful fantasies have become familiar to me in my line of work. I have, with some frequency, sat in my therapy office and listened to similar sentiments expressed by more than a few patients over the past several years. There are many more Elliot Rodgers in our country than we'd like to believe.

On April 15, 2014, when the story broke on the world that the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert program of assassination by remotely controlled drones is not distinct from the drone program of the U.S. Air Force as we had been told, I was on the “Sacred Peace Walk,” an event sponsored each spring by the Nevada Desert Experience, a 70 mile trek from Las Vegas to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. Creech Air Force Base is along the way and we had already made plans for a protest there the next morning. While the CIA’s drone program is shrouded in secrecy, the Air Force supposedly has been using drones strictly as a weapon for waging war against combatants in recognized areas of conflict such as Afghanistan and formerly in Iraq, under a chain of command that is accountable to elected officials. Some who condemn the CIA’s assassinations by drones as illegal give a pass to or even laud the Air Force use of drones as a more restrained way to fight war.

This distinction has now been exposed as a lie. In a new documentary film released in Europe, “Drone,” former Air Force drone operators, veterans of a super-secret Squadron 17 at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, reveal that “it’s always been the Air Force that flies” the CIA’s missions, “the CIA might be the customer, but the Air Force has always flown it.”

Jun 02

Insanity Extends Beyond the Shooters

By Walter Brasch, Wanderings | Op-Ed

During this past week, in Scranton, Pa., a 16-year old put two bullets into the head of a taxi driver and then stole about $500 earned by the cabbie that evening.

The teen, who showed no remorse when arrested a few hours later, mumbled a few words about his reasons. He said he murdered the cabbie "'Cause that's what I do to people that don't listen." The teen thought the cabbie was taking too long to get him to his destination. The driver was a 47-year-old man with a wife and two children. The gun was an unlicensed 9-mm.

A few days later, in Payson, Ariz., a three-year-old boy found a loaded semi-automatic gun in the apartment of family friend, began playing with it, and accidentally killed his 18-month-old brother. Police recovered several other weapons from the apartment.

I am fasting for 24 hours in solidarity with the prisoners at Guantanamo, especially for those who are on hunger strike. I am calling today out of concern for them and for the rest of the prisoners. I am asking you to resume releasing the number of prisoners on hunger strike and to stop the inhumane practice of force feeding. Lastly, the US must set free those cleared for release and close Guantanamo.

The horror of 9/11 in 2001 and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 captured both the 24/7 media attention and cultural consciousness in the U.S. In the wake of both, however, the impact of disaster capitalism has remained mostly ignored and unchallenged.

How to monetize and what will the market bear are the guiding ethics of disaster capitalism, which exists seamlessly within the larger ethic of the U.S., capitalism. Disaster capitalism came to New Orleans in full force in the wake of Katrina, possibly more powerful than a hurricane, in the person of Paul Vallas and his education policy, the Recovery School District.

May 31

Indigenous Peoples Reject Bill C-33

By Staff, Idle No More | Press Release

On Tuesday Indigenous Peoples rejected the fabricated "First Nations NOT Control of First Nations Education - Bill C-33" and asserted that we need INDIGENOUS EDUCATION FOR AND BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES!

The motion to reject Bill C-33 at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) was carried. The Chiefs in Assembly listened to the voices of the communities, making this historic decision a step forward for Indigenous peoples. As Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee stated, "The job of our Chiefs was to listen to what our experts and citizens were telling us. What we saw in the bill was a lot of government control and no First Nations control of education for our children."

As early as this Thursday the U.S. House could vote on a bipartisan amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill that would prohibit the federal government from wasting taxpayer money interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The amendment is being offered by five Republicans and five Democrats. A vote several weeks ago on allowing Veteran Administration doctors discuss medical marijuana with their patients received 195 yes votes. Support for letting states set their own marijuana policy without federal interference is rising quickly.

"This vote is about letting states help their citizens without interference from out-of-control federal agencies," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Members of Congress have an opportunity to both protect the patient/doctor relationship and save taxpayer money. No person should have to fear being arrested for following the advice of their doctor."

On Thursday of last week I attended a meeting of the Garfield High School Assessment Committee.

A report on one of many after school meetings may seem mundane. A committee of educators tasked with discussing assessment might appear innocuous. Yet that gathering of fifteen or so educators sharing their experience, expertise, and asking questions about alternatives to standardized testing was nothing short of sedition against a Testocracy that has attempted to silence teachers as it implements corporate education reform.

Once home to some of the most violent racists in the US, Jackson, Mississippi is now a key training ground for self-determination and organized "people power" throughout the South. From May 2 through May 4, 2014, activists, organizers and fellow revolutionaries from all over the world gathered at the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference at Jackson State University. An estimated 500 people participated in some or all of the conference.

The primary objective of such an assembly was "to educate and mobilize the people of Jackson to meet the economic and sustainability needs of their community," and to share with others how such strategies can help produce the radical change oppressed communities will need to survive within the current global capitalist crisis. The event was organized by the Jackson Rising Organizing Committee and was held at the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center, where students and community members were welcomed alike. The spirit of resistance and self-reliance filled the air.