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.
Teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School, announced on January 10, 2013, they would no longer be willing to proctor the flawed and expensive "Measures of Academic Progress" standardized tests the school district requires at every grade level, starting in kindergarten. The computer-administered test, given three times per year to students at every grade level in Seattle, provides a summary score on student performance in reading and math. The Seattle Schools purchases the tests from a company (NWEA), despite an ethics ruling that the purchase was a conflict of interest for the former superintendent. Further, the tests are not aligned with curriculum in Seattle schools.
A new report documents how a dam and series of irrigation projects being built in Ethiopia threaten the world's largest desert lake, and the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on it. It describes how hydrological changes from the Gibe III Dam and irrigation projects now under construction in the Omo River Basin could turn Lake Turkana in Kenya into East Africa's Aral Sea (the infamous Central Asia lake that almost disappeared after the diversion of rivers that fed it).
The environmental impacts, which include a huge drop in the lake's level, could lead to a collapse of local livelihoods, and foment insecurity in the already conflict-ridden Horn of Africa.
How are we to understand the psychology of the gun violence that afflicts American society?
Peter Michaelson goes to great lengths to describe the aberrant psychology of an individual who would slaughter innocent strangers, in an article recently published by Buzzflash on the "The Psychology Behind Mass Shootings."
What mainstream psychology ignores about mass murderers:
While such an analysis can provide important insights and is a necessary contribution to reducing such violence, it is at the same time extremely one-sided and unfortunately displays a bias that is typical of mainstream psychology. This is particularly evident when Michaelson writes, "our suffering is produced through inner conflict—we have nowhere to turn for relief but inward."
Representatives Cummings and Waxman Release Documents Showing that Wal-Mart’s CEO was Informed of Mexican Bribery Allegations in 2005By Staff, Energy & Commerce Democratic Press | Press Release
Today, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman sent a letter to Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke regarding internal company documents that appear to show that Duke and senior Wal-Mart executives had specific knowledge as early as 2005 about the bribery allegations associated with Wal-Mart's controversial store in Teotihuacan, Mexico. The documents contradict the company's claims that senior executives had no knowledge of these allegations.
In response to bribery allegations raised by the New York Times on December 17, 2012, Wal-Mart's spokesperson, David Tovar, denied that executives in the United States knew anything about corruption pertaining to the construction of a store in Teotihuacan, stating that Wal-Mart officials did not "recall any mention of bribery allegations related to this store."
Three years after Haiti's devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed over 217,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless, Haiti continues to struggle despite – and partly because of – the failures of the international aid and reconstruction effort, Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today.
"The numbers are an indictment of how the international community has once again failed Haiti, in this case in its time of greatest need," Weisbrot said. "The housing effort has been abysmal, people are facing a food crisis, and even worse, some of the very people supposedly in Haiti to help – U.N. troops -- caused a cholera epidemic that has killed almost 8,000 people.
TSA Union Gets Sacramento Airport Privatization Revoked: County Board Votes to Rescind Airport Privatization ApprovalBy Staff, AFGE | Press Release
fter close to one year of lobbying efforts and a public campaign, the American Federation of Government Employees—the union for TSA workers in Sacramento and nationwide—today applauded the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors for voting to rescind its approval for Sacramento International Airport to be allowed to privatize, or use corporate airport screeners in place of federal employees.
"AFGE is very pleased that the Sacramento Board recognizes the value in a federal workforce at TSA and has revoked its previous approval for privatization," AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
2012 headlines were full of horrible depressing news: cuts on the federal, state, county and the city level. The nation was subjected to a full time diet of descriptions of cities agonizing over whether to cut libraries or sewage treatment, or of the city that, in one fell swoop, cut all its employees—from firefighters to garbage collectors— to minimum wage. Or the story of the governor who left the budget discussion to hide her tears over the cutting of hospice while one of her family members was in hospice dying. We have argued as a nation over whether teachers and firefighters are "greedy" because they want a cost of living raise as compared to other private employees who also don't have dignity in their pay.
Below is a letter from an official of the World Bank's International Finance Corp., taking issue with our article posted Jan. 2 and co-published with Foreign Policy magazine. It is followed by our brief response:
We are deeply disappointed by your article, "Can You Fight Poverty With a Five-Star Hotel?," which raises an important question about the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) impact fighting poverty in developing countries. It failed to be fair and it failed to fully examine our impact.
What is our record?
I am writing to you to fill in the silence of the sheep. The sheep I refer to here are the mass media, printed or electronic, and local elected officials—always with the exception of Congressman John Conyers and of course The Michigan Citizen. Both weary warriors speak truth to power no matter what the price.
Tomorrow, the elected Detroit Public Schools board members head to court to answer the charges levied against us by the State Attorney General. We are being sued for being elected in a State-certified election. We were all sworn in and have served our districts since the election. I was appointed to fill a vacancy and then elected to my seat in November 2011. Although we are under a State-appointed Emergency Manager, and although the Emergency Manager Law has been repealed by the voters of the state of Michigan since November 2012, we remain under this illegitimate authority and our legitimate right to our elected seats is being challenged by the State Attorney General at the behest of the governor.
Something is happening in Michigan. After a failed attempt in the 2012 election to make collective bargaining a right under Michigan's constitution, Republicans fast-tracked a "right-to-work" law enabling employees to refuse to pay union dues which was quickly signed by the Governor.
In a jarring response, labor and management seemed to have switched their rhetoric. On MSNBC for instance, it was stunning to see the president of the United Auto Workers argue against the law on practical economic grounds, while the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity spokesperson suddenly pretended to be a labor rights activist.