Wednesday, 22 October 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

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.

Sep 22

Domestic Violence Center Stage

By Sarah L. Blum, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It is all over the news that the NFL has a problem, as a number of players were indicted for domestic violence or are under investigation for that. The problem the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, is having relates to the public relations and money, not domestic violence specifically. When league sponsors began to make statements and withdraw support for the NFL, then Goodell stepped up to actually act like he cared and do something about the crimes his players were committing. It took his concern for money for him to take more appropriate action, not facing the issue of criminal violence committed by his players. 

At his press conference on 9/19/14 the media took their job seriously enough to actually confront the commissioner with difficult questions. I am gratified by that because the media often do not care about domestic violence or violence against women perpetrated by football players. Consider what happened in Steubenville Ohio in March of 2013 when two football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year old girl. The media reacted with empathy for the rapists - not the girl they victimized. The boys who raped her were proud of what they did and put it out on social media. They believed they would not be held accountable and they would be protected -  because they were football players. Where does that belief come from? Do our NFL players and even the commissioner believe they will be able to get away with that behavior because there is no one to hold them accountable? Our society tends to idealize football players and men in the military and those men count on that to protect them from their worst actions. 

Women want a men’s movement. We are literally dying for it."

             —Gloria Steinem

 It’s way past time to put on the pads, guys. We’ve got to put our shoulders to the wheel of change if we’re going to stop domestic and sexual violence. Are you ready to suit up for the big game? Except, of course, it ain’t no game; the lives of our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers are on the line.

Sep 22

Violent Conflict: We Can Do Better

By Glen Gersmehl , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Pres. Obama's speech on dealing with ISIL -- the violent Islamic movement in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere -- was front page news around the US. Newspaper headlines quoted Obama’s assertion that “we will degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIL.”  Now Congress is backing him.

Pres. Obama’s military focus echoes our nation’s accustomed response in numerous situations deemed threatening:  from the coups we engineered in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, the Vietnam War, to Nicaragua in the 80s, and war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That few experts consider any of these violent responses “successful” should encourage skepticism regarding a new campaign that is almost entirely military focused.

Syracuse, NY - Carrying flowers and three documents to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base can result in severe consequences. Drone resister Mark Colville of the Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Connecticut, was found guilty after a two-day trial and fifty minutes of deliberation by a DeWitt Town Court jury. 

On December 9th, 2013, Colville and two Yale Divinity students brought a People's Order of Protection to the front gate of the base to demand an end to drone attacks which are carried out from Hancock.  This action was in response to a recent request by Raz Mohammad, an Afghan national, whose brother-in law was killed by a U.S. military drone strike. Gate personnel rejected the petition. 

Sep 22

Virtual Learning and Social Currency

By Raquel Rios, Real World | Op-Ed

There’s a scene in the movie The Internship that really hits home for me. It's when Vince Vaughn’s character (middle aged) is anxiously studying tech terms for the following day’s big Google challenge when the undercover head of talent acquisition (who pretends to be a nerdy, anti-social intern) gives him a pep talk to ease his fear of failure. He tells Vince that he has an amazing way with people and is expert at the fine art of building relationships. In contrast, he says, most young people (like himself) can hardly maintain a conversation without texting. In an age when a young person bursts out in tears for being pulled off the line at an Apple store the day they launch iPhone 6 or when progressive educators advocate for 1:1 Learning Environments (which puts a laptop front and center in the learning process), I have to ask: what impact will this new age techno philosophy have on future generations?

In 2003 when I decided to become a pioneer in a new on-line educational leadership Ph.D. program (designed for the most part for military officials who lived in the field), I was ecstatic to find I could engage in learning and independent research from the comforts of my own home; not to mention connect with others who lived hundreds of miles away and obtain a doctoral degree while still raising two small children without having to hire a nanny. The benefits were enormous back then but upon completion of the degree and reentering the real academic world of my peers, I realized I had lost the opportunity to establish critical partnerships with those in my field that later translates into contacts. The traditional social network in academia leads to jobs, further research and ultimately the much needed “social currency” for anyone who wants to teach at the university.

An untold story of our congressional system is the lucrative cottage industry of “political intelligence consultants.” These are lobbyists and Wall Street operatives who roam the halls of Congress and executive agencies trolling for inside information affecting the marketplace to sell to those looking to manipulate the stock market.

This enterprise is dubbed the “political intelligence industry,” consisting of some 2,000 political intelligence consultants soaking up information from government sources and selling it to clients to the tune of anywhere between $100 million and $400 million annually, although the amount is a very rough estimate.

Climate change and world peace will each be highlighted on Sunday September 21, the International Day of Peace. In our nuclear-armed, temperature-rising, resource-depleting world these issues are intricately related and represent the greatest threats to our planet. It is not coincidence that they be highlighted together. We must make the connection between peace on the planet and peace with the environment. Sunday's Peoples Climate March will empower citizens the world over to demonstrate the will of the people and demand action as global leaders convene in New York on Tuesday for the U.N. Climate Summit.

As our planet warms, causing severe droughts and weather conditions that in turn cause crop losses at home and around the world, conflict ensues as competition for finite resources develops. Entire populations, huge cities, and countries are at risk with rising sea levels. Climate change is a catalyst for conflict. This is occurring the world over where two-thirds of global populations live on less than two dollars a day.

Sep 20

My Chipotle

By Diana Martinez, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Borderline sweatshop conditions." That's how a group of Chipotle Mexican Grill employees, including several managers, described their working conditions before walking off the job last week at a Penn State restaurant location, causing it to close for several hours. The story, and images of the note the employees posted on the door explaining why "[a]lmost the entire management and crew...resigned," has since gone viral. Good. When I heard about the walkout, I could relate: I also worked at Chipotle, and my working conditions were equally dreadful. People should know.

Between 2012 and 2013, I worked at a Chipotle restaurant in Torrance, CA. I had hoped to be hired as a cashier, but there was only one person fast enough to work the register during the busy lunch shift, so the position was not to be mine. This speed - what Chipotle calls "throughput" - is well-known: show up at lunchtime, and even in a line snaking all the way to the door, you'll be out, burrito in hand, in just a few minutes. But the demand to work fast puts enormous pressure on workers, creating the kinds of conditions that can compel someone to walk out on the job.

Are you scared? How will we pay for that? This is the context that was missing from the discussion of a bill from Utah Senator Orin Hatch which would encourage state and local governments to replace traditional defined benefit pension plans with cash balance type plans tied to an annuity which would be run by the insurance industry.

The piece told readers:

"For local governments and states, the unfunded liabilities are huge, ranging anywhere from $1.4 trillion to more than $4 trillion, depending on the assumptions plugged in by actuaries."

While President Reagan's report on education in America is famous for the words "a rising tide of mediocrity," the lesser-known words from A Nation at Risk were those describing the solution to America's education woes - to create a "Learning Society."

Unfortunately, Reagan did not speak in public about a "Learning Society" - a concept that has now been redefined by a variety of organizations further muddying our political "education reform" waters.

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Speakout

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.

Sep 22

Domestic Violence Center Stage

By Sarah L. Blum, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It is all over the news that the NFL has a problem, as a number of players were indicted for domestic violence or are under investigation for that. The problem the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, is having relates to the public relations and money, not domestic violence specifically. When league sponsors began to make statements and withdraw support for the NFL, then Goodell stepped up to actually act like he cared and do something about the crimes his players were committing. It took his concern for money for him to take more appropriate action, not facing the issue of criminal violence committed by his players. 

At his press conference on 9/19/14 the media took their job seriously enough to actually confront the commissioner with difficult questions. I am gratified by that because the media often do not care about domestic violence or violence against women perpetrated by football players. Consider what happened in Steubenville Ohio in March of 2013 when two football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year old girl. The media reacted with empathy for the rapists - not the girl they victimized. The boys who raped her were proud of what they did and put it out on social media. They believed they would not be held accountable and they would be protected -  because they were football players. Where does that belief come from? Do our NFL players and even the commissioner believe they will be able to get away with that behavior because there is no one to hold them accountable? Our society tends to idealize football players and men in the military and those men count on that to protect them from their worst actions. 

Women want a men’s movement. We are literally dying for it."

             —Gloria Steinem

 It’s way past time to put on the pads, guys. We’ve got to put our shoulders to the wheel of change if we’re going to stop domestic and sexual violence. Are you ready to suit up for the big game? Except, of course, it ain’t no game; the lives of our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers are on the line.

Sep 22

Violent Conflict: We Can Do Better

By Glen Gersmehl , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Pres. Obama's speech on dealing with ISIL -- the violent Islamic movement in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere -- was front page news around the US. Newspaper headlines quoted Obama’s assertion that “we will degrade, and ultimately destroy ISIL.”  Now Congress is backing him.

Pres. Obama’s military focus echoes our nation’s accustomed response in numerous situations deemed threatening:  from the coups we engineered in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, the Vietnam War, to Nicaragua in the 80s, and war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That few experts consider any of these violent responses “successful” should encourage skepticism regarding a new campaign that is almost entirely military focused.

Syracuse, NY - Carrying flowers and three documents to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base can result in severe consequences. Drone resister Mark Colville of the Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Connecticut, was found guilty after a two-day trial and fifty minutes of deliberation by a DeWitt Town Court jury. 

On December 9th, 2013, Colville and two Yale Divinity students brought a People's Order of Protection to the front gate of the base to demand an end to drone attacks which are carried out from Hancock.  This action was in response to a recent request by Raz Mohammad, an Afghan national, whose brother-in law was killed by a U.S. military drone strike. Gate personnel rejected the petition. 

Sep 22

Virtual Learning and Social Currency

By Raquel Rios, Real World | Op-Ed

There’s a scene in the movie The Internship that really hits home for me. It's when Vince Vaughn’s character (middle aged) is anxiously studying tech terms for the following day’s big Google challenge when the undercover head of talent acquisition (who pretends to be a nerdy, anti-social intern) gives him a pep talk to ease his fear of failure. He tells Vince that he has an amazing way with people and is expert at the fine art of building relationships. In contrast, he says, most young people (like himself) can hardly maintain a conversation without texting. In an age when a young person bursts out in tears for being pulled off the line at an Apple store the day they launch iPhone 6 or when progressive educators advocate for 1:1 Learning Environments (which puts a laptop front and center in the learning process), I have to ask: what impact will this new age techno philosophy have on future generations?

In 2003 when I decided to become a pioneer in a new on-line educational leadership Ph.D. program (designed for the most part for military officials who lived in the field), I was ecstatic to find I could engage in learning and independent research from the comforts of my own home; not to mention connect with others who lived hundreds of miles away and obtain a doctoral degree while still raising two small children without having to hire a nanny. The benefits were enormous back then but upon completion of the degree and reentering the real academic world of my peers, I realized I had lost the opportunity to establish critical partnerships with those in my field that later translates into contacts. The traditional social network in academia leads to jobs, further research and ultimately the much needed “social currency” for anyone who wants to teach at the university.

An untold story of our congressional system is the lucrative cottage industry of “political intelligence consultants.” These are lobbyists and Wall Street operatives who roam the halls of Congress and executive agencies trolling for inside information affecting the marketplace to sell to those looking to manipulate the stock market.

This enterprise is dubbed the “political intelligence industry,” consisting of some 2,000 political intelligence consultants soaking up information from government sources and selling it to clients to the tune of anywhere between $100 million and $400 million annually, although the amount is a very rough estimate.

Climate change and world peace will each be highlighted on Sunday September 21, the International Day of Peace. In our nuclear-armed, temperature-rising, resource-depleting world these issues are intricately related and represent the greatest threats to our planet. It is not coincidence that they be highlighted together. We must make the connection between peace on the planet and peace with the environment. Sunday's Peoples Climate March will empower citizens the world over to demonstrate the will of the people and demand action as global leaders convene in New York on Tuesday for the U.N. Climate Summit.

As our planet warms, causing severe droughts and weather conditions that in turn cause crop losses at home and around the world, conflict ensues as competition for finite resources develops. Entire populations, huge cities, and countries are at risk with rising sea levels. Climate change is a catalyst for conflict. This is occurring the world over where two-thirds of global populations live on less than two dollars a day.

Sep 20

My Chipotle

By Diana Martinez, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Borderline sweatshop conditions." That's how a group of Chipotle Mexican Grill employees, including several managers, described their working conditions before walking off the job last week at a Penn State restaurant location, causing it to close for several hours. The story, and images of the note the employees posted on the door explaining why "[a]lmost the entire management and crew...resigned," has since gone viral. Good. When I heard about the walkout, I could relate: I also worked at Chipotle, and my working conditions were equally dreadful. People should know.

Between 2012 and 2013, I worked at a Chipotle restaurant in Torrance, CA. I had hoped to be hired as a cashier, but there was only one person fast enough to work the register during the busy lunch shift, so the position was not to be mine. This speed - what Chipotle calls "throughput" - is well-known: show up at lunchtime, and even in a line snaking all the way to the door, you'll be out, burrito in hand, in just a few minutes. But the demand to work fast puts enormous pressure on workers, creating the kinds of conditions that can compel someone to walk out on the job.

Are you scared? How will we pay for that? This is the context that was missing from the discussion of a bill from Utah Senator Orin Hatch which would encourage state and local governments to replace traditional defined benefit pension plans with cash balance type plans tied to an annuity which would be run by the insurance industry.

The piece told readers:

"For local governments and states, the unfunded liabilities are huge, ranging anywhere from $1.4 trillion to more than $4 trillion, depending on the assumptions plugged in by actuaries."

While President Reagan's report on education in America is famous for the words "a rising tide of mediocrity," the lesser-known words from A Nation at Risk were those describing the solution to America's education woes - to create a "Learning Society."

Unfortunately, Reagan did not speak in public about a "Learning Society" - a concept that has now been redefined by a variety of organizations further muddying our political "education reform" waters.