Thursday, 29 September 2016 / 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.

On 31st Jan, I followed Zekerullah, an Afghan Peace Volunteer who coordinates the Borderfree Street Kids School in Kabul, to visit Zuhair and his family in their rented room. Zuhair attends the School on Fridays with 92 other working and street kids, a minuscule number in the context of 6 million working children in Afghanistan. My heart squirmed at the unequal math of today's economics.

Like most animal advocates, I was thrilled when California's Proposition 2 passed back in 2008, as it prohibited three of the cruelest agricultural practices of our time: battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates. Prop 2 promised future animals a better life - or, perhaps more precisely, a less horrible one. But Prop 2 has already proven a colossal failure, worse yet, it has helped perpetuate the misperception that the problem of animal suffering in farms has already been solved.

I know that you might be angry or frustrated that Flint's water crisis is fading from national attention. In this fast-paced news environment, the devastation that families in Flint, Michigan are facing is beginning to fade from front-page news. Yet Flint's residents are still dealing with the short and long-term effects of contaminated water. Even as donations have arrived to help families, safe drinking water remains a precious resource. It is all too familiar.

Early spring is audition time for high school seniors hoping to get into the music departments or schools at colleges, universities or conservatories around the country. Unlike their peers who aim to major in liberal sciences or other fields, music majors need to perform a rigorous and competitive audition to be accepted. Acceptance rates vary from 5 percent to about 40 percent in the US. In the past few weeks at Northwestern University, I listened to 50 hopeful candidates perform and interview for a slot in music education, where each year more than 1,100 high school seniors apply for approximately 100 slots.

Feb 29

Peace and Planet: Responses to Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock Announcement

By Andrew Lichterman, Jackie Cabasso, Joseph Gerson and Alyn Ware, Speakout | Op-Ed

Peace and Planet welcomes the stark warning provided by the Doomsday Clock hands being held at "3 Minutes to Midnight," but calls for bold and integrated actions to reverse the urgent existential threats of nuclear war and climate change. Measures to abolish nuclear weapons and to move to a carbon-zero economy must be accompanied by a shift from the competitive, dominance and violence-based political and economic systems that violate human rights and have caused these and other threats to civilization.

The climate justice movement, however, won't take this 366th day for granted. Those activists are spending those extra 24 hours - and then some - brainstorming how the world might move on from a corporate-controlled and fossil-fueled economy toward a greener and more equitable way of life that does a better job of taking care of human needs.

Feb 26

Democratic Primaries: The Latino Vote

By Naqi A. Jaffery, Speakout | News Analysis

Early in the current primary season, Hillary Clinton had a significant edge over Bernie Sanders among Latino voters. Clinton further seemed to solidify her position when she grabbed the endorsement of secretary of housing and urban development, Julián Castro and some key Latino heavy hitters. Sanders' supporters include Rep. Raul Grijalva, son of a migrant worker from Mexico, who happens to be the first congressman to endorse the candidate, and prominent activist Arturo Carmona, who Sanders appointed as his Latino outreach director.

Bolivian President Evo Morales lost the referendum last Sunday that could have given him the ability to run for re-election in 2019. The margin was small, but the implications are huge: Bolivia's longest standing and most popular president finally has an end date for his time in power, on January 22, 2020. The lead up to the election was brutal, with an array of corruption scandals and conflicts, the most tragic of which was a protest last Wednesday against the opposition-controlled mayor's office that resulted in a fire leading to six deaths.

For those "feeling the Bern," this is not the moment to throw another log on the fire, curl up on your couch and immerse yourself in books about the most popular brand to emerge from Vermont since Ben & Jerry's. In upcoming Democratic primary states, door-knocking, phone banking and voting will likely be a far higher priority - particularly among those newly fired up by Bernie Sanders' landslide victory in New Hampshire on February 9.

On Thursday, February 18, minimum wage and housing justice activists in Oregon descended on Salem to protest a weakened wage proposal and delayed renters' rights legislation. $15Now Oregon - the state wing of the larger Fight for $15 movement sweeping the country - saw opposition over the last several months coming from the much more moderate Raise the Wage coalition and its $13.50 minimum wage proposal. The bill that passed the Oregon Legislature, which would raise the minimum wage to the highest in the country, would bring the minimum wage in Portland to $14.75 by 2022.

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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.

On 31st Jan, I followed Zekerullah, an Afghan Peace Volunteer who coordinates the Borderfree Street Kids School in Kabul, to visit Zuhair and his family in their rented room. Zuhair attends the School on Fridays with 92 other working and street kids, a minuscule number in the context of 6 million working children in Afghanistan. My heart squirmed at the unequal math of today's economics.

Like most animal advocates, I was thrilled when California's Proposition 2 passed back in 2008, as it prohibited three of the cruelest agricultural practices of our time: battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates. Prop 2 promised future animals a better life - or, perhaps more precisely, a less horrible one. But Prop 2 has already proven a colossal failure, worse yet, it has helped perpetuate the misperception that the problem of animal suffering in farms has already been solved.

I know that you might be angry or frustrated that Flint's water crisis is fading from national attention. In this fast-paced news environment, the devastation that families in Flint, Michigan are facing is beginning to fade from front-page news. Yet Flint's residents are still dealing with the short and long-term effects of contaminated water. Even as donations have arrived to help families, safe drinking water remains a precious resource. It is all too familiar.

Early spring is audition time for high school seniors hoping to get into the music departments or schools at colleges, universities or conservatories around the country. Unlike their peers who aim to major in liberal sciences or other fields, music majors need to perform a rigorous and competitive audition to be accepted. Acceptance rates vary from 5 percent to about 40 percent in the US. In the past few weeks at Northwestern University, I listened to 50 hopeful candidates perform and interview for a slot in music education, where each year more than 1,100 high school seniors apply for approximately 100 slots.

Feb 29

Peace and Planet: Responses to Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock Announcement

By Andrew Lichterman, Jackie Cabasso, Joseph Gerson and Alyn Ware, Speakout | Op-Ed

Peace and Planet welcomes the stark warning provided by the Doomsday Clock hands being held at "3 Minutes to Midnight," but calls for bold and integrated actions to reverse the urgent existential threats of nuclear war and climate change. Measures to abolish nuclear weapons and to move to a carbon-zero economy must be accompanied by a shift from the competitive, dominance and violence-based political and economic systems that violate human rights and have caused these and other threats to civilization.

The climate justice movement, however, won't take this 366th day for granted. Those activists are spending those extra 24 hours - and then some - brainstorming how the world might move on from a corporate-controlled and fossil-fueled economy toward a greener and more equitable way of life that does a better job of taking care of human needs.

Feb 26

Democratic Primaries: The Latino Vote

By Naqi A. Jaffery, Speakout | News Analysis

Early in the current primary season, Hillary Clinton had a significant edge over Bernie Sanders among Latino voters. Clinton further seemed to solidify her position when she grabbed the endorsement of secretary of housing and urban development, Julián Castro and some key Latino heavy hitters. Sanders' supporters include Rep. Raul Grijalva, son of a migrant worker from Mexico, who happens to be the first congressman to endorse the candidate, and prominent activist Arturo Carmona, who Sanders appointed as his Latino outreach director.

Bolivian President Evo Morales lost the referendum last Sunday that could have given him the ability to run for re-election in 2019. The margin was small, but the implications are huge: Bolivia's longest standing and most popular president finally has an end date for his time in power, on January 22, 2020. The lead up to the election was brutal, with an array of corruption scandals and conflicts, the most tragic of which was a protest last Wednesday against the opposition-controlled mayor's office that resulted in a fire leading to six deaths.

For those "feeling the Bern," this is not the moment to throw another log on the fire, curl up on your couch and immerse yourself in books about the most popular brand to emerge from Vermont since Ben & Jerry's. In upcoming Democratic primary states, door-knocking, phone banking and voting will likely be a far higher priority - particularly among those newly fired up by Bernie Sanders' landslide victory in New Hampshire on February 9.

On Thursday, February 18, minimum wage and housing justice activists in Oregon descended on Salem to protest a weakened wage proposal and delayed renters' rights legislation. $15Now Oregon - the state wing of the larger Fight for $15 movement sweeping the country - saw opposition over the last several months coming from the much more moderate Raise the Wage coalition and its $13.50 minimum wage proposal. The bill that passed the Oregon Legislature, which would raise the minimum wage to the highest in the country, would bring the minimum wage in Portland to $14.75 by 2022.