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.

May 02

Can a Drone Murder?

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

Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee hearing on drones was not your usual droning and yammering. Well, mostly it was, but not entirely. Of course, the White House refused to send any witnesses. Of course, most of the witnesses were your usual professorial fare.

But there was also a witness with something to say. Farea Al-Muslimi came from Yemen. His village had just been hit by a drone strike last week. He described the effects -- all bad for the people of the village, for the people of Yemen, and for the United States and its mission to eliminate all the bad people in the world without turning any of the good people against it.

Out this month is a new book telling the rich history of public art in San Francisco. Written by award-winning author, Susan Wels, the book is entitled Arts for the City—Civic Art and Urban Change, and was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission.

In the book, Wels narrates the role of the San Francisco Arts Commission as "the force behind the city's evolution into an urban center filled with world-class painting, sculpture, music, dance, literature and community arts programs."

Director of Cultural Affairs, Tom DeCaigny, says that art and design is as vital to San Francisco as "libraries and parks," and he believes "ensuring broad access to the arts is an essential city service."

This week Free Press launched a campaign asking the Tribune Company not to sell its eight major daily newspapers to the Koch brothers, the billionaires notorious for funding a range of far-right causes.

But this isn't about partisan politics. Our opposition to the Koch brothers is rooted in the issues Free Press has been working on for a decade: promoting quality journalism and curbing media consolidation.

Our communities need journalism that serves communities and uncovers corporate and political wrongdoing. That's why we've fought media ownership battles against the owners of Fox News (Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.) and the owners of MSNBC (cable giant Comcast), among many others. And in all of these fights we've worked alongside both liberal and conservative groups.

More than 400 students and community people joined black faculty to protest the racist and anti-Semitic behavior of the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University. The result is the re-installment of Professor Molefi Asante, the founding chair of the doctoral program in African American Studies.

It's sad that mostly black faculty and the local community seem to understand that of which many white faculty across the nation are afraid: one should always fight against what is wrong. There is no dignity in cowardice.

The School board is in the dark; parents are angry, the community is under threat and students, many of them special needs, face loss.

This is the newest round of emergency manager dictated school closings, announced without parent, board or community input.

Retired auto company employee Roy Roberts, the emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, announced April 11, that only four schools were to close before the 2013-2014 school year begins.

Tlazocamati huel miac – thank you to members of the Ella Baker/Septima Clark Human Rights Award Committee, American Educational Research Association, Division B, for 2013.

I first want to acknowledge the Ohlone peoples – the peoples Indigenous to these lands. And I want to pass on a teaching I received: everyone of us, we are all Indigenous... to somewhere. That should create the consciousness within us to help us understand that we are all stewards of this earth, responsible for the health of Pachamama.

Our nation is failing when it comes to health and health care, and the policies of the Obama administration will make the situation worse. We are headed towards greater privatization of health care which will mean greater profits for Wall Street while those who need medical treatment will struggle to afford it. And the social, economic and environmental factors that affect health such as housing, employment, education, the growing wealth divide and toxins in our air, land and water, are not being adequately addressed.

We have the resources to meet our nation's health needs. We are spending more than twice what other industrialized nations spend per person on health care and they have better health outcomes than the U.S.. We have hospitals, health professional schools and excellent research facilities. We know what types of health systems create the best health outcomes and control costs. The fundamental reason that we are not solving the health care crisis is that the political system is owned and operated by the corporations that profit from the status quo.

The Senate's Immigration proposal is titled: Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernity Act. While being touted by the "gang of 8" senators and the media as a compromise, it should have been filed simply as a "pathway to apartheid" and also a "pathway toward Indian Removal II."

It is a border enforcement and national security piece of legislation – which continues to rely heavily on racial profiling – and is anything, but "comprehensive immigration reform." It will be a slow process and in regards to legalization, nothing will commence prior to a five-year project of building more walls and fences and a certification that the border is secure.

Shareholders of Abbott Laboratories will vote on whether the manufacturer of Similac, a leading brand of infant formula, should adopt a policy of sourcing ingredients that have not been genetically engineered.

The vast majority of corn and soy-based ingredients in processed foods in the United States, including infant formula, come from genetically engineered crops developed by Monsanto and other biotechnology companies. Dairy ingredients may come from dairy cows that were treated with genetically engineered bovine growth hormones.

The annual meeting, open to all owners of Abbott stock, takes place at Abbott Laboratories' headquarters in Abbott Park, Illinois on April 26.

Fifty years ago, the white citizens of Birmingham, Alabama denied the city's black citizens the right to work in their stores, pray in their churches, sit at lunch counters next to them, borrow books from the public library, learn at public schools and ride on public buses alongside them. Although those days may seem long gone, Wilcox County, Georgia continues to live under the enduring shadow of racism.

On April 20, 2013, the white seniors of Wilcox Country High and their guests gathered for a private whites-only prom. But for the first time in the school's history, the black students are not settling for a separate (but equal?) prom. Instead, a group of both black and white students has organized an integrated prom to which all seniors are invited.