Sunday, 19 April 2015 / 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.

Mar 10

Whither Public Education?

By Thomas J. Scott, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The author presents a critique of neoconservative education policy, arguing it is based on three fallacies: the importance of international test scores, standardized testing and failing to recognize the impact of poverty on student achievement.

Over the past three decades, public schools in the United States have come under assault from neoconservative "reformers" who see the public education system as a failing institution, threatening the ability of the United States to compete in the global economy. Neoconservatives believe the only way to save public schools is to subject them to market forces. This reform movement has been effective in framing the national debate on education: choice means privatization, achievement is measured by test scores and eliminating the collective bargaining rights of teachers enhances quality instruction. The implementation of this movement, however, has been based on several fallacies.

Mar 10

Raising Interest Rates Could Have an Adverse Effect on Federal and State Budgets

By Staff, The Center for Economic and Policy Research | Press Release

Washington, DC – Last week, the BLS announced that unemployment had fallen to 5.5 percent. Many analysts and policymakers questioned whether this would spur the Federal Reserve raise interest rates as has long been speculated. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) points out, though, that if the Fed were to raise e rates and keep unemployment from falling further, it would have a substantially negative impact on the budget.

The report, “The Budgetary Implications of Higher Federal Reserve Board Interest Rates,” calculates the plausible size of the impacts of a policy that uses higher interest rates to deliberately slow the economy. Dean Baker, Co-Director of CEPR and author of the report, demonstrates that a change of this nature in interest rate policy by the Fed would have serious consequences for both federal and state budgets.

Never underestimate the power of the US education system to produce citizens incapable of exciting themselves about anything of consequence.

Robert Sheer, University of Southern California professor, spoke in Berkeley, California, offering an impassioned lecture about the nature of modern surveillance. Sheer repeatedly expressed dismay to the audience that, while teaching courses, he is continually confronted with students reacting passively to information about US violations of personal privacy, both by corporations and governments. So why are millennials, myself included, uniquely dulled to fundamental threats against personal electronic sovereignty? I will first offer a brief analysis of the larger context in which millennials have forged their indifference to privacy violations, and then bring into focus the specific ways in which the education system manufactures millennial apathy.

Mar 09

Costs and Affordability of Care

By John Geyman, Copernicus Healthcare | News Analysis

In this second post assessing the track record of the Affordable Care Act five years after its enactment, we now look at its impact on containment of health care costs and affordability of care, two of its principal goals. In the last post, we noted that up to 11 million Americans have gained access to care though the exchanges, but pointed out the many limits to these numbers; the Obama administration now claims that an additional 10 million have been enrolled in Medicaid or the CHIP children's health program since the start of the ACA.

Mar 09

Iran and the Memory Hole

By Arnold Oliver, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Although Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu in his speech to Congress painted Iran as a threat to peace, he left out important details concerning the relationship between Iran and the West. There is considerably more to the story.

The uncomfortable fact is that, by any fair measure, Iran has been more sinned against than sinning. To explain, we will need to dip into what George Orwell called the "Memory Hole" and review the momentous events of the 1940s and 1950s as well as their far-reaching consequences.

As the world is further immersed in social and digital media, the rulers of the United Arab Emirates have become more aggressive in arresting and deporting people for expressing their opinions, as one of the victims of this crackdown, I have learnt how freedom of expression is recently categorised as a crime and threat to the country. The halo effects of the Arab Spring have definitely shaken UAE rulers who previously had taken a less antagonising approach compared to their GCC neighbours but still essentially were always mindful of the powers of sustaining the repressive stance that always has existed.

It's been said that the devil's greatest trick is convincing the world that he doesn't exist. Maybe that's true.

Whether or not you're a person of faith you've probably been in a situation at one time or another when someone tried to convince you that what you instinctively knew to be true was not real, right?

That's where we are in 2015 with the issue of Civil Rights.

Civil Rights? In 2015? Come on. Seriously?

Mar 09

Women to Celebrate

By Kelly Hayes, Transformative Spaces | Op-Ed

As the few remaining tickets to this week's Women to Celebrate event disappear, I wanted to say a few words about why I believe this event is so important.

The first Women to Celebrate event was organized last year by Project NIA to honor women who Mariame Kaba referred to as "unsung heroines" in our city's social justice communities. When I was informed that I was an honoree, I felt as uncertain about my place in the whole affair as many of this year's honorees do. Like many of them, I had never given thought to awards or recognition of this kind, and felt certain that many women were more deserving than myself.

Salem, Oregon – Oregon created a bold new 21st century standard for voter registration. The state legislature approved a bill to streamline registration at the DMV by replacing a paper-based system with a new process in which voters are added to the rolls electronically.

The Brennan Center for Justice applauds the legislature, Gov. Kate Brown, and civic groups for their efforts to make voting more accessible by passing this groundbreaking reform, which builds on our signature Voter Registration Modernization proposal.

Part I - The Delusional Leader

On March 3, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came before the US Congress and once again painted a false picture of Iran and its ambitions. His vision was both apocalyptic and simplistic: the state of Iran is evil and the source of most of the aggression and terrorism in the Middle East; it is eternally hostile to the West and it aims at the destruction of Israel; the West, with the United States leading the way, must stop this evil regime before it gains the capacity to use nuclear weapons.

He has been saying this for at least 25 years, and, like the false prophecies predicting the end of the world, the alleged catastrophe never seems to occur. Iran never seems to come up with a nuclear bomb. However, Netanyahu never stops predicting it.

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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.

Mar 10

Whither Public Education?

By Thomas J. Scott, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The author presents a critique of neoconservative education policy, arguing it is based on three fallacies: the importance of international test scores, standardized testing and failing to recognize the impact of poverty on student achievement.

Over the past three decades, public schools in the United States have come under assault from neoconservative "reformers" who see the public education system as a failing institution, threatening the ability of the United States to compete in the global economy. Neoconservatives believe the only way to save public schools is to subject them to market forces. This reform movement has been effective in framing the national debate on education: choice means privatization, achievement is measured by test scores and eliminating the collective bargaining rights of teachers enhances quality instruction. The implementation of this movement, however, has been based on several fallacies.

Mar 10

Raising Interest Rates Could Have an Adverse Effect on Federal and State Budgets

By Staff, The Center for Economic and Policy Research | Press Release

Washington, DC – Last week, the BLS announced that unemployment had fallen to 5.5 percent. Many analysts and policymakers questioned whether this would spur the Federal Reserve raise interest rates as has long been speculated. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) points out, though, that if the Fed were to raise e rates and keep unemployment from falling further, it would have a substantially negative impact on the budget.

The report, “The Budgetary Implications of Higher Federal Reserve Board Interest Rates,” calculates the plausible size of the impacts of a policy that uses higher interest rates to deliberately slow the economy. Dean Baker, Co-Director of CEPR and author of the report, demonstrates that a change of this nature in interest rate policy by the Fed would have serious consequences for both federal and state budgets.

Never underestimate the power of the US education system to produce citizens incapable of exciting themselves about anything of consequence.

Robert Sheer, University of Southern California professor, spoke in Berkeley, California, offering an impassioned lecture about the nature of modern surveillance. Sheer repeatedly expressed dismay to the audience that, while teaching courses, he is continually confronted with students reacting passively to information about US violations of personal privacy, both by corporations and governments. So why are millennials, myself included, uniquely dulled to fundamental threats against personal electronic sovereignty? I will first offer a brief analysis of the larger context in which millennials have forged their indifference to privacy violations, and then bring into focus the specific ways in which the education system manufactures millennial apathy.

Mar 09

Costs and Affordability of Care

By John Geyman, Copernicus Healthcare | News Analysis

In this second post assessing the track record of the Affordable Care Act five years after its enactment, we now look at its impact on containment of health care costs and affordability of care, two of its principal goals. In the last post, we noted that up to 11 million Americans have gained access to care though the exchanges, but pointed out the many limits to these numbers; the Obama administration now claims that an additional 10 million have been enrolled in Medicaid or the CHIP children's health program since the start of the ACA.

Mar 09

Iran and the Memory Hole

By Arnold Oliver, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Although Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu in his speech to Congress painted Iran as a threat to peace, he left out important details concerning the relationship between Iran and the West. There is considerably more to the story.

The uncomfortable fact is that, by any fair measure, Iran has been more sinned against than sinning. To explain, we will need to dip into what George Orwell called the "Memory Hole" and review the momentous events of the 1940s and 1950s as well as their far-reaching consequences.

As the world is further immersed in social and digital media, the rulers of the United Arab Emirates have become more aggressive in arresting and deporting people for expressing their opinions, as one of the victims of this crackdown, I have learnt how freedom of expression is recently categorised as a crime and threat to the country. The halo effects of the Arab Spring have definitely shaken UAE rulers who previously had taken a less antagonising approach compared to their GCC neighbours but still essentially were always mindful of the powers of sustaining the repressive stance that always has existed.

It's been said that the devil's greatest trick is convincing the world that he doesn't exist. Maybe that's true.

Whether or not you're a person of faith you've probably been in a situation at one time or another when someone tried to convince you that what you instinctively knew to be true was not real, right?

That's where we are in 2015 with the issue of Civil Rights.

Civil Rights? In 2015? Come on. Seriously?

Mar 09

Women to Celebrate

By Kelly Hayes, Transformative Spaces | Op-Ed

As the few remaining tickets to this week's Women to Celebrate event disappear, I wanted to say a few words about why I believe this event is so important.

The first Women to Celebrate event was organized last year by Project NIA to honor women who Mariame Kaba referred to as "unsung heroines" in our city's social justice communities. When I was informed that I was an honoree, I felt as uncertain about my place in the whole affair as many of this year's honorees do. Like many of them, I had never given thought to awards or recognition of this kind, and felt certain that many women were more deserving than myself.

Salem, Oregon – Oregon created a bold new 21st century standard for voter registration. The state legislature approved a bill to streamline registration at the DMV by replacing a paper-based system with a new process in which voters are added to the rolls electronically.

The Brennan Center for Justice applauds the legislature, Gov. Kate Brown, and civic groups for their efforts to make voting more accessible by passing this groundbreaking reform, which builds on our signature Voter Registration Modernization proposal.

Part I - The Delusional Leader

On March 3, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came before the US Congress and once again painted a false picture of Iran and its ambitions. His vision was both apocalyptic and simplistic: the state of Iran is evil and the source of most of the aggression and terrorism in the Middle East; it is eternally hostile to the West and it aims at the destruction of Israel; the West, with the United States leading the way, must stop this evil regime before it gains the capacity to use nuclear weapons.

He has been saying this for at least 25 years, and, like the false prophecies predicting the end of the world, the alleged catastrophe never seems to occur. Iran never seems to come up with a nuclear bomb. However, Netanyahu never stops predicting it.