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.
Under the banners of Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening, we will be sticking our necks out to demand an end to the destructive influence of big money on our politics and the need to enfranchise all people. I have signed up to risk getting arrested on April 13. Why that day? I want to show my support for the worker advocacy group Restaurant Opportunities Centers United as they take on one of the prime examples of excessive money in politics: the National Restaurant Association.
Public debate around the avalanche of corruption stories propagating from the recently publicized internal documents of the Panamanian law firm, Massack Fonseca is warranted in the current presidential elections. Labeled the Panama Papers, this anonymously leaked trove of 11.5 million legal and financial records exchanged with the large German newspaper Sϋddeutsche Zeitung reflects the global practices of a rigged system crafted for world leaders and the wealthy to cover up their dealings and hide money.
During the throes of a two-month white supremacist standoff-turned-FBI confrontation in Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge and the dawning reality of an increasingly legitimized Donald Trump candidacy, Portland Community College announced it would observe "Whiteness History Month." In what college officials promise to be an annual event each April -- not a "celebratory" project -- this observance seeks to become part of a conversation that explains how whiteness and privilege function in society.
On Thursday, April 7, 2016, Portland Tenants United (PTU), the Portland, Oregon, based tenants' union, descended on the Multnomah County building with hundreds of supporters. Since the City of Portland declared a renter state of emergency six months ago, organizers argue that the rental crisis in the hip urban areas of Portland has only gotten worse, with the city standing out with the fastest rent increases in the nation.
The formal signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in New Zealand on February 4, 2016, inaugurated a two-year window of ratification for the largest trade deal in history. Encompassing 12 countries and 40 percent of the global economy, it has polarized the US presidential elections and kindled a vigorous debate on the merits of international trade for the United States. In Peru, a similar debate is playing out.
Even as the US is on track to spend a trillion dollars -- a thousand billion -- for a new generation of nuclear weaponsand their delivery systems, there is encouraging news from the disarmament movement. In March, a combination of conscientious university professors, student researchers, local peace activists and organizers won the unanimous support of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, City Council to divest the city's pension funds and other investments from corporations and financial institutions involved in the production of nuclear weapons.
Places of worship burn to the ground and families threatened with violence flee their homes. Sounds like something out of Iraq or Syria, yet this was actually Philadelphia during the Bible Riots of 1844. Fear and hatred of Irish Catholic immigrants in 1844 follows an all too familiar narrative. During this period, Irish Catholic immigrants, and even Irish-American citizens, were viewed as lazy, uneducated, dirty, disease-ridden, criminals who stole American jobs and threatened the American way of life.
Richard Feynman, the brilliant American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, once said that, "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." Feynman's famous quote related to the space shuttle challenger disaster of 1986 and was written in the appendix of what came to be known as the Rogers Report. Feynman wrote part of the report into the disaster. What he found out about NASA's institutional structure and culture was revealing.
We have now had over two decades of school reform with not much to show for it. We have witnessed "Value Added Measures" erode the professionalism of public school teachers, charter schools drain the resources and talent from public schools and standardizing testing skew the curriculum. Despite these failures, education policy continues to plod along as usual with the same recirculation and repackaging of reforms.
Our presidential election confers access to an Online Nuclear Launch System, the gravest responsibility of a US president. A modernized US nuclear arsenal with smaller nuclear weapons may be arguably more likely to be used, which, for the sake of all humanity, mandates that our votes look beyond partisanship.