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.

On December 12 the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on thenConstitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights held an official hearing on ending the so-called School-to-Prison Pipeline. The witness list for this hearing included the National Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, the National Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Ohio Attorney General, Edward Ward, a former Chicago City Schools student and youth leader of Blocks Together and the Chief Judge Juvenile Court of Clayton County, Georgia, Steven Teske. Despite the good intentions of some of these witnesses, and the senate hearing in general, all persons involved concentrated on the worst abuses, the most heinous instances of injustice, and none addressed the larger, systemic issue which plagues public education in this country.


Woman, wipe that mascara off your cheeks


Why is it that you are all so weak?

Early Americans could not care less about the Second Amendment or the views of their cohort on militias and guns. Americans kept dueling pistols as prized possessions, not to protect their homes, but to protect themselves and their "honor" from each other. They loved these weapons the way Samurais loved their swords and treated them in the manner art collectors treat their paintings. As long as guns were available, even our Forefathers found ridiculous excuses to kill each other.

If you compare what's been written over the last several years, you'll find that our Forefathers reputations are like tattoos. They stretch and become distorted with old age. Nowhere is that more apparent than in their purported attitudes towards American's affinity for guns.

Teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School, announced on January 10, 2013, they would no longer be willing to proctor the flawed and expensive "Measures of Academic Progress" standardized tests the school district requires at every grade level, starting in kindergarten. The computer-administered test, given three times per year to students at every grade level in Seattle, provides a summary score on student performance in reading and math. The Seattle Schools purchases the tests from a company (NWEA), despite an ethics ruling that the purchase was a conflict of interest for the former superintendent. Further, the tests are not aligned with curriculum in Seattle schools.

A new report documents how a dam and series of irrigation projects being built in Ethiopia threaten the world's largest desert lake, and the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on it. It describes how hydrological changes from the Gibe III Dam and irrigation projects now under construction in the Omo River Basin could turn Lake Turkana in Kenya into East Africa's Aral Sea (the infamous Central Asia lake that almost disappeared after the diversion of rivers that fed it).

The environmental impacts, which include a huge drop in the lake's level, could lead to a collapse of local livelihoods, and foment insecurity in the already conflict-ridden Horn of Africa.

Jan 11

American Culture and the Psychology of Mass Shootings

By Alan James Strachan PhD, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

How are we to understand the psychology of the gun violence that afflicts American society?

Peter Michaelson goes to great lengths to describe the aberrant psychology of an individual who would slaughter innocent strangers, in an article recently published by Buzzflash on the "The Psychology Behind Mass Shootings."

What mainstream psychology ignores about mass murderers:

While such an analysis can provide important insights and is a necessary contribution to reducing such violence, it is at the same time extremely one-sided and unfortunately displays a bias that is typical of mainstream psychology. This is particularly evident when Michaelson writes, "our suffering is produced through inner conflict—we have nowhere to turn for relief but inward."

Today, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman sent a letter to Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke regarding internal company documents that appear to show that Duke and senior Wal-Mart executives had specific knowledge as early as 2005 about the bribery allegations associated with Wal-Mart's controversial store in Teotihuacan, Mexico. The documents contradict the company's claims that senior executives had no knowledge of these allegations.

In response to bribery allegations raised by the New York Times on December 17, 2012, Wal-Mart's spokesperson, David Tovar, denied that executives in the United States knew anything about corruption pertaining to the construction of a store in Teotihuacan, stating that Wal-Mart officials did not "recall any mention of bribery allegations related to this store."

Three years after Haiti's devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed over 217,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless, Haiti continues to struggle despite – and partly because of – the failures of the international aid and reconstruction effort, Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today.

"The numbers are an indictment of how the international community has once again failed Haiti, in this case in its time of greatest need," Weisbrot said. "The housing effort has been abysmal, people are facing a food crisis, and even worse, some of the very people supposedly in Haiti to help – U.N. troops -- caused a cholera epidemic that has killed almost 8,000 people.

fter close to one year of lobbying efforts and a public campaign, the American Federation of Government Employees—the union for TSA workers in Sacramento and nationwide—today applauded the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors for voting to rescind its approval for Sacramento International Airport to be allowed to privatize, or use corporate airport screeners in place of federal employees.

"AFGE is very pleased that the Sacramento Board recognizes the value in a federal workforce at TSA and has revoked its previous approval for privatization," AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

Jan 10

The Sacred Cow of American Tax Spending

By Lynn Fitz-Hugh, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

2012 headlines were full of horrible depressing news: cuts on the federal, state, county and the city level. The nation was subjected to a full time diet of descriptions of cities agonizing over whether to cut libraries or sewage treatment, or of the city that, in one fell swoop, cut all its employees—from firefighters to garbage collectors— to minimum wage. Or the story of the governor who left the budget discussion to hide her tears over the cutting of hospice while one of her family members was in hospice dying. We have argued as a nation over whether teachers and firefighters are "greedy" because they want a cost of living raise as compared to other private employees who also don't have dignity in their pay.