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.

Jan 30

A New Model Drone Resolution

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

...Concerns include the following: drones can crash into airplanes, buildings, and each other; drones can fall out of the sky; drones can produce noise pollution; drones can produce visual pollution if put to the same use that everything from brick walls to urinals has been put to, viz. advertising; drones can be used to spy on us whether by private or public entities; police surveillance with drones will violate our Fourth Amendment rights as all existing technologies are currently used to do; police forces that view the public as their enemy will deploy drones armed with rubber bullets, tear gas, or other weapons; and ultimately a program run by the U.S. military and the CIA that has targeted and murdered three U.S. citizens that we know of, along with thousands of other men, women, and children, may eventually find it acceptable to include U.S. soil in its otherwise unlimited field of operations.

Jan 29

Abuse and Fear of the Natural World

By Evaggelos Vallianatos, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

...Despite the value of the Holmes Run Creek, every so often and quite surreptitiously, crews of city loggers would invade the Creek, cutting down most of its luxurious trees on the excuse they protected us from muggers and the "one hundred year flood."City loggers would repeat their atrocity at their convenience.

Since 2008, I live in Claremont in southern California. This is a small town with enough beautiful trees and a life-giving breeze that I thank the gods for their gift of this exquisite part of the natural world. Yet, like Alexandria, southern California has mad loggers, too. On December 29, 2012, the US Corps of Engineers destroyed some 43 acres of trees next to the Los Angeles River in the Sepulveda Basin. The Corps said they cut down the trees for "public safety."

Hillary Clinton once said of abortion that it is a "tragic" decision for women. 40 year after the passage of Roe V. Wade, Sunsara Taylor of the group Stop Patriarchy wrote of Hilary's statement: Bullshit. You know what is tragic? Forced motherhood! You know what else is tragic. Rape is tragic. Pregnancies that result from rape are tragic. Being able to have an abortion to prevent women from being double-penalized by these tragedies, to prevent women from having to foreclose their lives and futures and dreams, to prevent women from being further trapped in poverty or abuse, this is POSITIVE AND LIBERATING!

Jesse Long-Bey, longtime Michigan Citizen editor, was admitted to the hospital in early December after a month-long illness. He had suffered a stroke in December 2009 and was in a coma for 30 days but recovered. Jesse was in Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak when he died Jan. 21, 2013 the day of the first Black President Barack Obama's second inauguration and of the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. He was 64.

Jesse was born on Dec. 1, 1948, in Bessemer, Ala., to the late Jesse Long and Elizabeth Lewis Long. He would talk about "coming-up" down south where he believed many of the men and women were role models and most were hardworking.

A son of the segregated south, as well as Detroit, he developed a strong sense of self-awareness, a belief in African pride and community service.

The repercussions of our acts - the constructs we create - endure well past the dissolution of our convictions and desires. Our actions exist as living architecture that surrounds the breathing moment. Future generations will dwell in the world we erect, thought by thought, deed by deed.

And what if we construct an architecture of evasion and deception?

What does such a place look like? If you live in the current day US, take a perusal around you.

"Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow was invited by the Los Angeles Times to compose a statement defending her film against accusations that it promotes the tolerance of torture and actually endorses torture in certain situations.  The following is what Bigelow presented, with some opposing commentary.  She begins with some description of the difficulties she and screenwriter Mark Boal had to overcome to bring "ZD30" to the screen.

Then came the controversy. Now that "Zero Dark Thirty" has appeared in cinemas nationwide, many people have asked me if I was surprised by the brouhaha that surrounded the film, while it was still in limited release, when many thoughtful people were characterizing it in wildly contradictory ways.

Four years ago, people across the world watched intently as the United States inaugurated its first black president. Thousands of people expressed hope that policies implemented under previous administrations - including wars, torture and detention, and inadequate economic support of developing nations - would change. While many acknowledge some of the progress made, there is also criticism. FSRN reporters in five countries, Canada, Mexico, Haiti, Cameroon and Pakistan, spoke to residents about the legacy of President Obama so far and what they’d like to see in the future.

Florida's discredited 'Tea Party' Republican Gov. Rick Scott — the man who restricted voter registration until blocked by a federal judge; attempted to remove thousands of legal voters from the rolls; presided over 6 hour voting lines after cutting Early Voting days in half and refusing to extend those Early Voting hours despite those completely predictable lines, and even went to federal court to (unsuccessfully) uphold even further restrictions on Early Voting — issued a statement today endorsing election reforms in the Sunshine State.

Jan 28

The Flobots: Reviving the Poetry of Politics

By Brendan Smith, SpeakOut | Opinion

In 2006, Neil Young told the Los Angeles Times that the silence of young songwriters during the Bush era compelled him to retake the stage as a protest singer: "I was waiting for someone to come along, some young singer eighteen-to-twenty-two years old, to write these songs and stand up. I waited a long time. Then I decided that maybe the generation that has to do this is still the '60s generation."

Jan 28

Creating a Culture of Peace

By Len Ellis, SpeakOut | Opinion

We live in a culture of violence.  Violence is so prevalent, like the proverbial fish in the sea, we aren't even aware that it surrounds us, conditions us.  We are so accustomed to violence that we mistakenly believe it is a natural state of being.  Being submerged in violence has dulled and numbed our sensitivity to our own humanity; our concept of what it means to be human has been impaired.  And like any other belief, until it is challenged, until we become aware to another way of being, until we awaken to what is our natural loving, nonviolent state, it continues.