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.

As President Obama prepares for his long-delayed April trip to Asia, corporate lobbyists and other supporters of the massive 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal have released deceiving polling results to imply that a large majority of Americans support new fast-track authority for President Obama. The corporate special interests are relying on fast-track authority so that the TPP can sail through Congress with no real debate. If approved, fast track would allow the President finalize the TPP and then send it to Congress for limited debate, no amendments, and a simple up-or-down vote.

President Obama's trip is widely seen as an effort to breathe new life into a trade bill that is all but dead due to the broken promises of past trade agreements, the ongoing secrecy of negotiations that are dominated by corporate interests, and increasing opposition to a pact that includes weak environmental standardsthreats to sovereigntyaccelerated job loss and much more. It is in the self-interest of multinational corporations to confuse and mislead the public with the phrasing of polling questions. After all, they stand to benefit from fast-tracking TPP --- a deal that they are helping to negotiate in secret at the expense of ordinary Americans.

Mar 28

The Turn of the Key

By David Krieger, SpeakOut | Poetry

The missile launch officers failed to grasp
the ratio of death and destruction to the simple act
of following orders and turning a key.

And they were caught cheating.
All they were after was a good grade, to help
them climb the slippery walls of promotion,
so that one day they could be the ones to give the orders.

I have previously written about (here, for example) what I call economism, or excessive belief in the little bit that you remember from Economics 101. The problem is twofold. First, Economics 101 usually paints a highly stylized, unrealistic view of the world in which free markets always produce optimal outcomes. Second, most people in the world who have taken any economics have only taken first-year economics, and so they never learned that, from a practical perspective, just about everything in Economics 101 is wrong. (Complete information? Rational actors? Perfectly competitive markets?) This produces a nation of people like Paul Ryan, who repeats reflexively that free market solutions are always good, journalists who repeat what Paul Ryan says, and ordinary people who nod their heads in agreement.

The problem is not the economics profession per se. These days, to make your mark as an economist, it helps to be arguing (or, better yet, proving) that the free market caricature of Economics 101 is wrong. The problem is the way it is taught to first-year students, which pretty much assumes that Joseph Stiglitz, Daniel Kahnemann, Elinor Ostrom, and many others had never existed.

Mar 27

The Time for Obama To Pardon Snowden Is Now

By Dennis Trainor Jr, Acronym TV | Video Report

Now that President Obama is proposing that the NSA end its bulk collection of data, it is time that Obama take this narrative to the next logical conclusion and offer a full and unconditional pardon to Edward Snowden.

President Obama’s War on whistle blowers (he has charged eight individuals with Espionage, compared to only three under all previous presidents) needs to end.  His recent proposal, even though it was forced by the courts, and to a large degree Mark Zuckerberg and the other titans of the tech world who warned that the U.S. government spying programs would hurt business, is still an admission that Edward Snowden’s actions were justified.

Mar 27

There Is a Deeper Wave Than This

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

A wave of action is coming on April 4, the date they killed MLK, the date Cindy Sheehan lost her son, the date cherry blossoms and resisters to fascism begin to show after an endless winter of many, many years.  Take a look at Wave of Action.

Electing a different president six years ago was not a partial step, a failed attempt, a warm-up round. It was a halftime show of circus clowns and cheerleaders.  The partial step, the failed attempt, the warm up, the ground work, the base of experience and training and testing was Occupy.

Mar 27

Supreme Court Keeps Guns Away From Domestic Violence Abusers

By Staff, National Network to End Domestic Violence | Press Release

Washington DC (March 26, 2014) – “Victims of domestic violence and their advocates are breathing easier today, since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that convicted domestic violence abusers will be prohibited from possessing firearms,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), which celebrated today’s significant decision in U.S. vs. Castleman.

“A contrary decision would have eroded the very heart of the long-standing federal protections that prohibit abusers from possessing firearms,” said Gandy. “Frankly, we were terrified that a decision would re-arm thousands of abusers -- the very people who are most likely to murder their intimate partners – which would have been tragic beyond measure.  We are delighted that the Court upheld this vital law.” 

Jubilee USA Network, a religious anti-poverty coalition, along with 78 other religious and development groups filed with the US Supreme Court in the case between Argentina and NML Capital. The Amicus Curiae brief takes the side of Argentina because the precedent of the case impacts predatory behavior on vulnerable populations. The friend-of-the-court brief argues that the case will have a detrimental impact on the poor, undo bipartisan United States debt policy and cause global financial instability. Filers joining Jubilee USA include: American Jewish World Service, Church World Service, Action Aid USA, numerous synagogues and churches across the US and a deluge of Catholic religious orders of nuns and priests. Read the full list of the 79 groups and Jubilee USA's Amicus Curiae.
"At the end of the day, this case is about a precedent that could expose developing economies to extreme predatory behavior," noted Kent Spriggs the attorney representing the 79 groups "The Supreme Court's decision will affirm or harm current bipartisan US debt policy." 
Mar 25

The People's Hearing? Why It Matters to All of Us

By Jennifer Pacanowski, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

We are still in Iraq. The veterans, the deployed and the surviving Iraqi people. The war is raging inside the hearts and minds of an entire generation of military members, veterans and Iraqi civilians. The veterans are praised with, "Thank you for your service" and baited by "Excellence in Healthcare." Mainstream society and media are scarred from previous forgotten wars such as Korea and Vietnam and cover their asses with slogans. However, compensation and reconciliation are elude most Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who arrive in their communities unable to transition and find peace.

After years of the US government failing veterans, military members and civilians of the occupied countries, "The right to Heal" campaign started on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion to hold the USA accountable for the violations of the rights to life and health of war-torn peoples and veterans. Since then, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Organization of Women's Freedom of Iraq and Federation of Workers Councils and Unions of Iraq have been working together to improve the state of affairs for veterans and the civilian populations in these occupied countries.

Mar 25

An Unconscious Truth Lurking in Ukraine

By Frank Smecker, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Last November, when Washington and Brussels dismissed President Vladimir Putin's proposal to help lift Ukraine out of its economic malaise by way of a trilateral agreement, the universe pulled a fast one on NASA. What was originally thought to be a single galaxy located 100-million light years away, once presumed to be a unified collection of celestial bodies, turned out to be two galaxies masquerading as one. Initial radio images of these two galaxies appeared as "one fuzzy blob," duping astronomers into thinking they were observing a single galaxy. But more recent observations have identified a new structure emerging from this distorted appearance, revealing a separate galaxy that was there all along, one that had simply been obscured by the dominant, prevailing image.

SOIL is proud to announce that SOIL’s Co-Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Sasha Kramer, was selected as a 2014 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Every year the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship selects 20-25 social entrepreneurs achieving transformative social and/or environmental change through the application of innovative and practical approaches to benefit society in general, with an emphasis on underserved populations.

In recognition of Sasha’s groundbreaking work developing new social business models for the ecological and financially sustainable provision of sanitation services in some of the world’s most impoverished communities, Sasha was selected to join a global network of Schwab Social Entrepreneurs.