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.

I did not spend Thanksgiving evening with my wife and my five children. I spent it, instead, handing out turkey sandwiches to workers in WalMart. And showing my support for one brave soul who walked off the job in protest against exploitation. 

WalMart “associates” make an average of just more than $10 an hour. That means that if they manage to get a full 40 hours a week – and many don’t – they get paid $1,700 a month, before taxes. Somehow, that is supposed to pay for their food, shelter, clothing and medical care, and that of their children. Quite a trick.

Nov 27

Unusual Shredding and Worrisome Polling in Germany

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | News Analysis

No, it wasn‘t shredded wheat. This shredding was not of breakfast food and has been much harder to digest; it was evidence on serial murder! The related biliousness is all the more painful due to a worrisome new survey of rightist hatred in Germany. But first some background.

For a year now the case of three mystery killers has roiled the German scene. Their mug shots, shown over and over on TV, have made them as recognizable as family members. The two men are dead, eliminated by rather dubious “suicides”. The third, Beate Zschäpe, still awaits trial for her role in the killing, between 2000 and 2006, of ten men with immigrant background, nine Turkish and one Greek, of shooting down a policewoman, robbing banks, and igniting a bomb in 2004 in a Turkish neighborhood in Cologne which injured 22 people, four of them severely.  

Almost four years ago after the Israeli 22 day attack on Gaza that killed 1440, wounded 5,000 and left 50,000 homeless, in late January, 2009, I travelled to Gaza and witnessed the terrible destruction.

Now 4 years later, the Israelis have mounted another major military attack on Gaza that so far has killed 97 and wounded at least 780 Palestinians.

During these past four years I joined international citizen activists in many projects to educate our fellow citizens about the frequent Israeli military attacks on Gaza, the land and sea blockade of Gaza, the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, the illegal settlements built by the Israeli government in the West Bank and the apartheid walls that separate children from schools, farmers from their land and workers from their employment.

Nov 26

K-12 Reform: The Fog of War

By Ronald Willett, Edunation | Op-Ed

The public K-12 reform movement that was initiated with NCLB has now been underway for a decade. The perhaps unintended consequences of the alleged reform have expanded to expenditure of double-digit billions of taxpayer dollars without material K-12 improvement, and have taken on the properties of a cold war. The protagonists have multiplied, in this election going beyond a government versus public education dyad, to engaging education's civilians, parents and voters as in Indiana's state superintendent race.

As any conflict escalates, the categories of adversaries expand, and all can become enveloped in the "fog of war." The term, coined by Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz in 1837, "seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding one's own capability, adversary capability, and intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign." Our reform conflicts have now reached a stage where a growing question is; who is doing what to whom, and inferentially why? Intentions may not be what they seem.

A new Institute for Policy Studies report reveals the massive windfalls members of the "Fix the Debt" campaign stand to gain from their proposed solutions to the nation's fiscal challenges.

This corporate campaign is a major player in the debate, with a $60 million budget and a roster of more than 80 powerful CEO endorsers. The IPS report focuses on the extreme self-interest behind Fix the Debt's corporate tax proposals and how these CEOs have enriched themselves under the current tax regime.

Nov 26

A Call to Stop Israel's Ruthless Violence Against the People of the Gaza Strip

By Concerned Citizens of the World , SpeakOut | Press Release

We the undersigned watch with horror yet another ruthless and criminal Israeli assault on the defenceless people of the Gaza Strip. The assassination of the Hamas' military commander, Ahmad al-Jabari, by Israel was intended to disrupt any chance for a permanent cease fire between the two sides and caused the current cycle of violence. For the last five years al-Jabari had been responsible for limiting rocket attacks on Israel.

The inaction of the Western governments is further proof of their indifference to their electorates' wish to stop Israel from perpetrating yet another massacre against the Palestinian people.

The 2012 election cycle saw two persons of color believed to be socialists competing against well funded candidates representing the interests of the wealthy and corporations.

In one of these contests, Socialist Alternative candidate Kshawa Sawant acquired 28% of the vote in a Seattle district.

That was the important race.

The other one--not so much.

Nov 21

What's Up with This Bibi Guy, Part VIII

By Lee R. Haven, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I've said this before, in earlier pieces about Bibi the war criminal, but allow me to delve once more, if only to sum it up. A major problem with the state we now call "Israel" is that it was born in colonization, when it was common for European or white or whiter types to take over the relatively darker people's land. No, this conflict does not date back to 2,000 years ago, certainly not continuously. The UN made Israel a state officially in 1948, the year I was born. In order to make it a one dominant religion state, as requested by the new inhabitants, thousands of the indigenous folks, Muslims primarily, were run off land on which their ancestors lived for many, many years. That's what that whole right to return issue is about. A lot of Palestinians were forcibly run off by groups like the Stern Gang. The British newspapers called such groups "terrorists."

Nov 21

Inside the Hostess Bankery

By bluebarnstormer, The Daily Kos | Op-Ed

I love Wonder Bread. It has supported our family financially and medically for the last 14 years. When my wife wanted to attend graduate school we found a university near a bakery and moved to Lawrence, KS, home of the greatest basketball team in the history of ever. I will miss the overwhelming smell of baking bread and the friendships I built at both bakeries. Including with engineers, truck drivers, supervisors and managers who have also lost their jobs.

Many of them likely blame the Bakers Union, me. Most understand that this was inevitable. There has been no confidence in the leadership of this company at any level of any department for years. We have watched 6 CEO's come and go since 2002 and all of them left the company worse than when they took over. All of them got paid, not just the salaries they agreed to, but bonuses and increases all along the way. Including the current joker, who announced he was leaving with less than a year on the job, before he even submitted this last contract offer to us.

Try imagining what reality television starring war criminals might look like and you will begin to get an idea of the surreal, outrageous, and courageous new documentary The Act of Killing, which won the top prize at this year's CPH:DOX film festival. Mass murderers are encouraged to describe their past atrocities through dramatic art, by creating their own movie. They set out enthusiastically contriving their version of history, a bizarre and bloody vision that includes the liberal use of special effects make-up, brightly-colored costumes, musical numbers, and cross-dressing. In the process, we learn about the horror unleashed on Indonesia in the mid-1960s, the complicity of Western governments in the civilian massacres that ultimately left 500,000 dead (the U.S. was a key ally in the anti-communist purge), and contemporary life under the ongoing military dictatorship, bloodthirsty youth groups and all.