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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.

In Caracas, politicking for the Oct. 7th election is literally a party. Marches of thousands take to the streets; the hottest commodities are the graffiti-styled Chavez campaign shirts, and on a daily basis, gigantic trucks drive through the barrios blaring salsa music and campaign slogans for their candidate on the loud speakers.( http://youtu.be/DJxLi875pSM)

From the outside, it might seem to be an election decided by who has the cooler t-shirt, or the most people in the streets: Capriles, a clean cut young man, who talks of "efficiency" while keeping the "social programs" of the revolution's past ten years, or Chavez, an outspoken leader who has led the way for gigantic structural shifts in the nation´s infrastructure and focus, with an unprecedented focus on the poorest (majority) of society. 

Oct 03

On the Savage Ad and Western Values

By Sara Khorshid, On Islam | Op-Ed

The incident about the subway ad sponsored by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller ("In any war between the civilized man and the savage support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat Jihad"), and the arrest of Mona Eltahawy over spray painting the ad, leaves one disillusioned with many of the Western world's much celebrated values.

One of the classic questions that I often encounter as a Muslim and Egyptian is whether my religion is "compatible" with democracy and human rights — a question about which I have been cynical because it sounds to me like asking if my religion is transformable to the ways of the "civilized people."

Oct 03

Budget Showdown 2012 and the 98% Mandate

By Jacob Swenson, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

On November 6th, 2012, President Obama will be re-elected to a second term. This will be achieved, in part, because his opponent is hapless. But we should not forget the other reason that President Obama will be re-elected: his aggressively center-right policies in key areas – in addition to national "security," these include education and social safety net "reform" – make it hard for any Republican contender to differentiate her or himself from the president without alienating moderate voters.

This second reason for Obama's soon-to-be victory will become clear as soon as the President and Congress return to Washington to address the looming $1.2 trillion in sequestration cuts that are set to take place on January 1st.

Although most "fiscal cliff" rhetoric concerns Defense cuts, Congressional budgetary intransigence could also push federal investor protection agencies off the cliff come January 1. Should public securities law enforcers be sent to the bench, private enforcers will continue to hold fraudsters accountable and deter future wrongdoing. And they may even prove more effective.

A case in point is the recent $2.43 billion settlement by Bank of America of a securities class action lawsuit brought by its investors alleging fraud in valuing mortgage-backed financial instruments and sub-prime mortgages the Bank acquired when it bought Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial meltdown in September, 2008. No major federal prosecutions – civil or criminal – have yet been initiated in arguably the world's biggest financial crime.

Oct 03

Barry Commoner: Feminist Environmentalist

By Jill S Schneiderman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

When, as a 21-year-old geology major I chose scientist and activist Barry Commoner as my presidential candidate, I was lambasted by some of my lesbian sisters at Yale for wasting my vote. But upon reading his obituary in the New York Times, I feel proud of the choice I made back then. Barry Commoner, who died September 30, deserves to be remembered as a visionary scientific thinker who advocated for connecting the dots between components in systems of oppression.

Oct 03

California's Historic Opportunity to End Death Penalty

By John Cusack and John Dear, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

This Sunday I met with John Dear, a longtime Jesuit priest and peace activist who has been arrested many times during acts of peaceful civil disobedience, including with the late Phil Berrigan. He is also an editor and curator of Daniel Berrigan's works. We spoke at length and I want to introduce John to the Truthout community and help bring attention to one of the issues he is working on now, which he believes is at a tipping point. You can follow John Dear here, learn about what he's up to and get involved if you're inclined. Here is the letter he wrote me.

~ John Cusack

Sep 28

The World in a Grain of Sand

By Richard Lichtman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I am usually attracted to monumental themes in theory and literature: works like A C Bradley's Appearance and Reality would seem to encompass everything. The first major book I wrote was The Production of Desire, a comparison and evaluation of the theories of Marx and Freud. There is a great deal to be said, however, for seeing 'the world in a grain of sand ... and eternity in an hour.'

The same notion applies to the tragedy of democratic corruption under capitalism. The foundation of this corruption is adumbrated in the pompous and bloated rhetoric we were to witness at the Democratic National Convention. However, what was equally revealing was the ubiquitous manifestation of such pervasive themes as militarism and self-sacrifice as embodied in the person of Tammy Duckworth, whose grievous physical wounds were the result of her involvement in the war in Iraq. A wound seems quite the opposite of an abstraction like patriotism, courage, or imperialism; a concrete instance rather than a distant generality. Yet, in her physical existence and her speech, we witness, permeating the surface, the synthesis of patriotism, sacrifice, glorification of military culture and the disregard of the wholly unnecessary, dishonest and brutal military invasion of Iraq that lead to the death and displacement of at least 500,000 Iraqi civilians. In this grain of sand a world is foreshadowed.

You might think corn looks so sweet and innocent, but there's a sh**load you don't know about it. Corn is involved in some pretty shady operations and most of 'em are on your dinner table. [more at LeeCamp.net]

Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed historic legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.

AB 685, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations.

By signing this bill into law, California becomes the first state in the nation to declare safe, clean, affordable and accessible water a human right.

Lee Camp is a comedian / political commentator / online video ranter extraordinaire. In the edition of Talk Nation Radio, we sample his rants and discuss with him the development and political value of his medium. For more see http://leecamp.net

Lee Camp's new book is called Moment of Clarity: The Rantings of a Stark Raving Sane Man