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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.

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.

Apr 29

Awful Managers

By Aaron Leonard, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The day after Hugo Chavez died the New York Times ran a remarkably ungenerous OpEd, titled, "In the End, an Awful Manager." That the column appeared amid coverage of the sequester, threats of U.S. government shutdown, and other indicators of the systemic disfunction in play within the U.S., was either testament to the Times developed sense of irony or its bedrock cluelessness. Regardless, the story -- with its railing against Chavez's rule of disfunction, corruption and crumbling infrastructure -- called up something else.

Today, the Brennan Center for Justice sent a letter to President Obama, co-signed by 30 additional organizations, urging him to establish a steering committee to help rein in the government's systemic overclassification of information.

Classification activity has risen dramatically in recent years, with more than 92 million decisionsto classify information in fiscal year 2011 alone. Experts agree that much of this information could safely be released. This overclassification creates unnecessary barriers to public debate over counterterrorism policy, intelligence policy, and foreign affairs.

Apr 26

How About A Real Peace Prize?

By William Fisher, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

So carried away with anticipation that they could no longer contain their enthusiasm, back in 2009 the Nobel Committee opted to award the Peace Prize to newly-elected President Barack Obama.

For many who took in this news, it sullied the reputation of the Nobel awards almost beyond reclamation. But most of us forgave the Committee for being carried away by the stark contrast between Obama and the war-making George W. Bush.

The critically acclaimed new film Beyond the Pines, written and Directed by auteur filmmaker Derek Cianfrance, missed the mark in many ways. Cianfrance succeeds in bringing together visually stunning sequences with deeply nuanced character development in the film. From Ryan Gosling's ninety mile and hour race scenes along the turbulent backwoods of New York State to Bradley Cooper's gut-wrenching portrayal of a good man among a world of greed and corruption, the first hour of the film has all the elements of an amazing feature. The only thing missing is a coherent story. While the trailer leads you to believe that the film is an intense look into the conflict between cop and criminal, Cianfrance delivers a seventeen year epic focusing on the relationship between two men who both make decisions that cause their lives to intersect for only one moment - but be revisited in the lives of their sons.