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.
You have heard about Seattle's fight for a $15 minimum wage, or the teachers who organized a mass boycott of the MAP test. But you might not be aware of the newest movement–organized for one of the most basic human rights–that was recently ignited in the emerald city: The struggle for the right to play.
Parents and educators across Seattle are taking action to defend their children's right to ample time for recess and lunch. Parents and students at Whittier Elementary school set this movement in motion when they voiced objection to the school reducing lunch and recess time from 40 minutes to half an hour–gaining important local TV and media attention. Parents at Leschi Elementary soon launched an online petition that has gathered nearly a thousand signatures in a few short days. Now there is a city-wide organization of parents, students, and teachers called, "Lunch and Recess Matter." Lunch and Recess Matter is organizing a rally at the Seattle School District headquarters before the November 5th school board meeting (If you have a message of solidarity, relevant research, or attend a school with an important recess story, please contact me).
The text of the letter was short and precise, leaving no room for any misinterpretation in the “promise” made by Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour to a powerful representative of the Jewish community in Britain, Lord Rothschild on a fateful day of 2 November 1917.
“I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet: His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
A report from a commission chaired by the former Director of GCHQ has called on the British Government to implement “safeguards” to ensure that UK drone personnel “remain compliant with international law.”
Citing the “sinister cultural and political salience” of US drone operations, the commission – which is chaired by Sir David Omand and was initiated by the University of Birmingham – recommends that measures be taken to ensure that where intelligence is shared with the US, “the UK government does not inadvertently collude in RPA [drone] actions contrary to international law.”
Seattle’s Garfield High School (where I graduated from and now teach history) has once again united the students, parents, and educators in common struggle. Last Friday it was announced that our school had until the following Friday, October 24th, to raise $92,000 or else one of the teachers in a core subject area would be displaced. We still don’t know which of us will be targeted for displacement, but we do know the pain of this cut will be severe. As the joint letter to the superintendent from the Garfield staff and PTSA states, “One hundred and fifty students will have no place to go for one period each day, which will inevitably lead to greater class disruptions, absences, and truancy. One hundred and fifty students may not graduate on time.”
What makes this teacher displacement so outrageous is that the school district won’t explain why it is happening–as this King 5 News report makes clear. It is a common disruptive practice of the school district to displace staff at a school if that school does not meet its enrollment projections, however Garfield has exceeded our enrollment projections. What’s worse, the school district is sitting on tens of millions of dollars in their “rainy day” fund, yet is willing to throw our school into chaos over $92,000.
The recent publicity surrounding episodes of police violence around the country makes clear that police officers need to be properly trained and prompt and thorough investigations and corrective action must be taken against officers who unnecessarily use force against individuals, especially those who are disabled.
When National Guardsman shot and killed students on the campus of Kent State in 1970, it inspired legendary artist Neil Young to immediately write the song "Ohio" in which he implored "how many more?" The incident galvanized our nation and, indeed, there has not been a killing of students by the National Guard since that tragic event.
From: Biofuelwatch, Dogwood Alliance, Energy Justice Network, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Save America’s Forests, and Global Justice Ecology Project
Groups around the country denounce the Biomass Power Association, Biomass Thermal Energy Council and their industry partners' designation of this date as "National Bioenergy Day." Pointing to growing opposition to bioenergy facilities around the nation and the world, they say burning trees, contaminated wastes, and garbage is grossly and dangerously misrepresented by industry advocates as “clean, green, and carbon neutral." The groups point out that biomass power pumps more CO2 into the atmosphere than even coal, along with comparable amounts of toxic air pollution, while also posing new threats to forests, ecosystems, and our health.
In a macho violation of common sense and the needs of hundreds of millions of people living in crushing poverty, the ruling elite of India (that's the government and multinational corporations who own the country) recently launched a satellite that "after a journey of 300 days and 420 million miles…arrived to orbit around Mars," reported The Guardian. The $74 million "Mars mission" is "cheap by American (or Chinese) standards," The Economist says, but amounts to a fraction of a much more expensive – not to say insane - space program that drains US $1 billion a year from the national budget, a sum, which "is more than spare change, even for a near $2-trillion economy."
The "Mars Madness," or Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) to give it its official title, makes India one of four (the US, the EU and Russia being the other three) that have ventured to our closest cosmic neighbor, and constitutes a conspicuously extravagant part of what economist-activist Jean Dreze describes as "the Indian elite's delusional quest for superpower status." Competition and nationalism drive such escapades, not the quest for knowledge and understanding. The space race between the US and the Soviet Union for example, "was not an affordable luxury undertaken for the sake of knowledge, but intrinsically tied to the military-industrial complex," The Guardian rightly states. India's primary competitor in all things economic is that other mammoth nation, China. The Chinese space program is advanced (in 2012, it put a Chinese woman in space and last year, launched its first un-crewed lunar mission), and therefore intensely intimidating to the Indian nationalists' psyche.
On Friday, Sept. 25, 2014, Thomas Eric Duncan went to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He had a high fever and stomach pains. He told the nurse he had recently been in Liberia, part of the Ebola zone. But he was a Black man with no health insurance, so he was released after being given antibiotics and Tylenol.
Two days later Duncan returned to the hospital in an ambulance. Two days after that, he was finally diagnosed with Ebola. Eight days later, he died alone in his hospital room.
It is really bizarre how folks find it so difficult to mention the trade deficit as the obvious source of weak demand in the economy. This is not a debatable point. We have a trade deficit of around $500 billion a year or roughly 3.0 percent of GDP. This is money that is creating demand elsewhere, not in the United States.
If we are going to maintain something like full employment then we need to make up this $500 billion in lost demand with higher than normal expenditures from another sector, which means either government spending, investment, residential construction, or consumption. This is all simple GDP accounting, the stuff everyone learns in intro economics. This is about an accounting identity, it is not a theory that can be debated. It is by definition true.
It's been one month since the largest climate march in history, and recent "Climate Action" pledges from global leaders like the Department of Defense, President Obama and the United Nations do not add up to what communities need.
The People's Climate March on Sunday September 21, 2014 was a major historic event. It was historic because of the unprecedented numbers - 400,000 people came out to march. It was historic because the participants and leaders of the march were made up of primarily people of color on the frontlines of the climate and economic crises: communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy, youth of color doing environmental justice work, and indigenous peoples from around the world led a broad march from many sectors including faith communities, labor, and more. For Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), as co-anchor of the Our Power Campaign, it was historic to mobilize for this march because of the way the grassroots organizing sector and climate policy organizations came together to collaborate in the planning of the march, and laid the groundwork for strengthened relationships and a broader united movement for climate justice.