Saturday, 01 August 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.

Today the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio's announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view. Advocates expressed concerns about the overburdened and complex summons court system, biased police practices, collateral consequences of summonses, and lack of data transparency. The plan announced today includes a new NYPD summons form, website, and automated call-in system to help New Yorkers more easily navigate the NYC Summons court system.

In an October 2014 report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor De Blasio's Two New Yorks: The NYPD Marijuana Arrests Crusade Continues in 2014, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance noted the de Blasioadministration was on track to meet or surpass the Bloomberg 2013 marijuana arrests. Following the report's release, the deBlasio administration announced that New Yorkers found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a court summonsand immediately released. This marked a shift from past arrest practices, wherein police charged people with a misdemeanor – the person was then handcuffed, taken to the precinct and held for hours, fingerprinted and photographed, and eventually released with a court date and a virtually permanent arrest record.

We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence Against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a landmark report from the Oakland Institute documents testimony from members of several ethnic groups from different areas of the country, bringing forward the voices of those most directly impacted by land grabs and villagization. The Ethiopian government's villagization program aims to resettle up to 1.5 million Ethiopians, mainly pastoralist and indigenous communities, from areas targeted for industrial plantations. These resettlements have happened without free, prior and informed consent, and when communities resist, they have been forcibly removed by means of violence, imprisonment, intimidation, political coercion, and the denial of humanitarian assistance.

Apr 15

By the Shores of Kitchi-Gami

By Leslie Thatcher, Truthout | Press Release

The two follow-up volumes to Vidar Sundstøl's Riverton Prize-winning The Land of Dreams have now been released.The haunting rugged country of Minnesota's Arrowhead region remains almost solid and the driving force and sole boundary in these final volumes of The Minnesota Trilogy where dreams and actual events, loyalty and enmity, the past and the present, the hunted and the hunter, the personal and the political, love and hate, family and foe meld and conjoin like the strands of a multi-dimensional Möbius strip.

When US Forest Service Ranger Lance Hansen finally solves the mystery of the Norwegian tourist's murder that sets these coils in motion, other mysteries of identity and allegiance resolve themselves in a most satisfying way. Sundstøl teamed with Nunnally brilliantly succeed in creating atmosphere, empathy and concern for the characters and deep suspense.

Translated by Danica Jorden.

The Uruguayan writer and journalist, author of emblematic books such as Open Veins of Latin AmericaMemory of Fire and The Book of Embraces, died at 74 in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Eduardo Germán Hughes Galeano was born in Montevideo on September 3, 1940, the son of EduardoHughes Roosen and Licia Ester Galeano Muñoz, whose last name he took as a writer and journalist. When he was a teenager, he began publishing cartoons in El Sol (The Sun), a socialist newspaper in Uruguay, under the pseudonym "Gius." He also worked as a laborer in an insecticide factory and signboard painter, among other jobs, despite coming from an upper-class family.

Annapolis, Maryland – The General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a bill to restore voting rights to approximately 40,000 Maryland citizens who live in their communities but cannot vote because of a criminal conviction in their past. The bill, which has a broad coalition of support, now heads to Gov. Hogan for his signature.

Current Maryland law prohibits individuals from voting until they have finished probation and parole. SB 340/HB980, introduced by Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) and Del. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore), simplifies the process by allowing an individual to become eligible to vote upon release from prison or if they are no longer incarcerated.

In contrast to what occurred at the last Summit of the Americas in 2012, when President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and Bolivia's Evo Morales walked out, this time, Cristina stood her ground and spoke forcefully about the issues she believes to be at the crux of the region's problems. In her nearly 30-minute speech, the Argentine president spoke with her characteristic candor, noting that this is to be her - as well as Barack Obama's - last summit as head of state, and welcomed President Raúl Castro to Cuba's first.

In her apparently unscripted speech, Cristina congratulated Cuba and"sister republic"Venezuelaand repeatedly called the US position that those two smaller countries constitute a threattoUS security "absurd." She likened it to the experience of her own country under dictatorship, when the United Kingdom maintained "almost cordial" relations with the military junta, in contrast to last week's revelations ofthe UK's recent espionage and plans for enhanced military operations on the disputed Malvinas/Falkland Islands.

With two days left until tax day, most Americans have already spent several hours finalizing their 2014 tax returns. For years, Congress has been sitting on a proposal to make it easier for people to file their taxes. The proposed bill would implement a return-free filing system, where the IRS would provide taxpayers with a filled-out form containing all of their information and estimate their taxes. The taxpayer would just have to look it over before confirming the information. Other industrialized countries like Denmark and Spain, have already adopted a similar process. In the United States, though, a few powerful companies have a large financial stake in ensuring long, complicated tax returns continue to be the norm.

Lobbying Spending Data: MapLight analysis of the money spent by tax preparation companies, including H&R Block, Intuit, which owns TurboTax, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Jackson Hewitt, and National Society of Accountants, lobbying Congress and federal agencies since 2011. 

Washington, DC - Ahead of the vote to repeal the federal estatetax taking place in the U.S. House of Representatives this week on Tax Day, Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) has compiled a list of direct quotes from conservative leaders exposing the misinformation being spread to justify this tax giveawayto the wealthiest 0.2%. ATF also collected quotes from conservative leaders expressing their concernabout income inequality, exposing the hypocrisy of claiming to care about the growing gap betweenthe wealthy and everyone else while voting for a $270 billion tax giveaway to the estates of multi-millionaires and billionaires.

"Conservatives know their economic priorities are extremely unpopular – the American people want an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. So when they try to eliminate the estate  tax, which affects only multi-millionaires and billionaires, they resort to outright falsehoods in making their case and use phony rhetoric claiming they care about the rest of us," said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. "Repealing theestate tax will only increase inequality in America. These quotes help the American people understand what conservatives do, not what they say."

What will happen at Garfield High School with Common Core testing?

I have been asked this question by people all over the country as they learned that this would be the first year that Common Core testing would come to Washington State. All year, teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School have debated whether to administer the new Common Core test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Garfield High School became a leader in the movement for authentic assessment in 2013 the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, and were joined by the parents and students in a mass opt out campaign. After the tested subject teachers were threatened with a ten day suspension without pay for refusing to administer the MAP, the superintendent finally gave in at the end of the school year and announced that the test would no longer be mandatory at the high school level. Many took inspiration from the MAP test boycott, and during the ensuing months an "education spring" was born as students, parents, and teacher's refused high-stakes testing across the country. This ongoing education spring has now produced the largest uprising against high-stakestesting in U.S. history, highlighted by the 60,000 students who were opted out in NewYork State alone.

If his Twitter account is any indication, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) had a no good, very bad weekend.

Rohrabacher, who represents California's 48th district, tweeted in response to @UANews4ENMedi this past Friday that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine began "started by assassination of elected president," further noting that "hostility toward Russia not justified. Will create new Cold War."* The conversation appears to have begun when @UANews4ENMedi posted an article by James Kirchick of The Daily Beast on the annual World Russia Forum, for which Rohrabacher provided introductory remarks.

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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.

Today the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio's announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view. Advocates expressed concerns about the overburdened and complex summons court system, biased police practices, collateral consequences of summonses, and lack of data transparency. The plan announced today includes a new NYPD summons form, website, and automated call-in system to help New Yorkers more easily navigate the NYC Summons court system.

In an October 2014 report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor De Blasio's Two New Yorks: The NYPD Marijuana Arrests Crusade Continues in 2014, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance noted the de Blasioadministration was on track to meet or surpass the Bloomberg 2013 marijuana arrests. Following the report's release, the deBlasio administration announced that New Yorkers found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a court summonsand immediately released. This marked a shift from past arrest practices, wherein police charged people with a misdemeanor – the person was then handcuffed, taken to the precinct and held for hours, fingerprinted and photographed, and eventually released with a court date and a virtually permanent arrest record.

We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence Against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a landmark report from the Oakland Institute documents testimony from members of several ethnic groups from different areas of the country, bringing forward the voices of those most directly impacted by land grabs and villagization. The Ethiopian government's villagization program aims to resettle up to 1.5 million Ethiopians, mainly pastoralist and indigenous communities, from areas targeted for industrial plantations. These resettlements have happened without free, prior and informed consent, and when communities resist, they have been forcibly removed by means of violence, imprisonment, intimidation, political coercion, and the denial of humanitarian assistance.

Apr 15

By the Shores of Kitchi-Gami

By Leslie Thatcher, Truthout | Press Release

The two follow-up volumes to Vidar Sundstøl's Riverton Prize-winning The Land of Dreams have now been released.The haunting rugged country of Minnesota's Arrowhead region remains almost solid and the driving force and sole boundary in these final volumes of The Minnesota Trilogy where dreams and actual events, loyalty and enmity, the past and the present, the hunted and the hunter, the personal and the political, love and hate, family and foe meld and conjoin like the strands of a multi-dimensional Möbius strip.

When US Forest Service Ranger Lance Hansen finally solves the mystery of the Norwegian tourist's murder that sets these coils in motion, other mysteries of identity and allegiance resolve themselves in a most satisfying way. Sundstøl teamed with Nunnally brilliantly succeed in creating atmosphere, empathy and concern for the characters and deep suspense.

Translated by Danica Jorden.

The Uruguayan writer and journalist, author of emblematic books such as Open Veins of Latin AmericaMemory of Fire and The Book of Embraces, died at 74 in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Eduardo Germán Hughes Galeano was born in Montevideo on September 3, 1940, the son of EduardoHughes Roosen and Licia Ester Galeano Muñoz, whose last name he took as a writer and journalist. When he was a teenager, he began publishing cartoons in El Sol (The Sun), a socialist newspaper in Uruguay, under the pseudonym "Gius." He also worked as a laborer in an insecticide factory and signboard painter, among other jobs, despite coming from an upper-class family.

Annapolis, Maryland – The General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a bill to restore voting rights to approximately 40,000 Maryland citizens who live in their communities but cannot vote because of a criminal conviction in their past. The bill, which has a broad coalition of support, now heads to Gov. Hogan for his signature.

Current Maryland law prohibits individuals from voting until they have finished probation and parole. SB 340/HB980, introduced by Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) and Del. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore), simplifies the process by allowing an individual to become eligible to vote upon release from prison or if they are no longer incarcerated.

In contrast to what occurred at the last Summit of the Americas in 2012, when President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and Bolivia's Evo Morales walked out, this time, Cristina stood her ground and spoke forcefully about the issues she believes to be at the crux of the region's problems. In her nearly 30-minute speech, the Argentine president spoke with her characteristic candor, noting that this is to be her - as well as Barack Obama's - last summit as head of state, and welcomed President Raúl Castro to Cuba's first.

In her apparently unscripted speech, Cristina congratulated Cuba and"sister republic"Venezuelaand repeatedly called the US position that those two smaller countries constitute a threattoUS security "absurd." She likened it to the experience of her own country under dictatorship, when the United Kingdom maintained "almost cordial" relations with the military junta, in contrast to last week's revelations ofthe UK's recent espionage and plans for enhanced military operations on the disputed Malvinas/Falkland Islands.

With two days left until tax day, most Americans have already spent several hours finalizing their 2014 tax returns. For years, Congress has been sitting on a proposal to make it easier for people to file their taxes. The proposed bill would implement a return-free filing system, where the IRS would provide taxpayers with a filled-out form containing all of their information and estimate their taxes. The taxpayer would just have to look it over before confirming the information. Other industrialized countries like Denmark and Spain, have already adopted a similar process. In the United States, though, a few powerful companies have a large financial stake in ensuring long, complicated tax returns continue to be the norm.

Lobbying Spending Data: MapLight analysis of the money spent by tax preparation companies, including H&R Block, Intuit, which owns TurboTax, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Jackson Hewitt, and National Society of Accountants, lobbying Congress and federal agencies since 2011. 

Washington, DC - Ahead of the vote to repeal the federal estatetax taking place in the U.S. House of Representatives this week on Tax Day, Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) has compiled a list of direct quotes from conservative leaders exposing the misinformation being spread to justify this tax giveawayto the wealthiest 0.2%. ATF also collected quotes from conservative leaders expressing their concernabout income inequality, exposing the hypocrisy of claiming to care about the growing gap betweenthe wealthy and everyone else while voting for a $270 billion tax giveaway to the estates of multi-millionaires and billionaires.

"Conservatives know their economic priorities are extremely unpopular – the American people want an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. So when they try to eliminate the estate  tax, which affects only multi-millionaires and billionaires, they resort to outright falsehoods in making their case and use phony rhetoric claiming they care about the rest of us," said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. "Repealing theestate tax will only increase inequality in America. These quotes help the American people understand what conservatives do, not what they say."

What will happen at Garfield High School with Common Core testing?

I have been asked this question by people all over the country as they learned that this would be the first year that Common Core testing would come to Washington State. All year, teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School have debated whether to administer the new Common Core test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Garfield High School became a leader in the movement for authentic assessment in 2013 the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, and were joined by the parents and students in a mass opt out campaign. After the tested subject teachers were threatened with a ten day suspension without pay for refusing to administer the MAP, the superintendent finally gave in at the end of the school year and announced that the test would no longer be mandatory at the high school level. Many took inspiration from the MAP test boycott, and during the ensuing months an "education spring" was born as students, parents, and teacher's refused high-stakes testing across the country. This ongoing education spring has now produced the largest uprising against high-stakestesting in U.S. history, highlighted by the 60,000 students who were opted out in NewYork State alone.

If his Twitter account is any indication, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) had a no good, very bad weekend.

Rohrabacher, who represents California's 48th district, tweeted in response to @UANews4ENMedi this past Friday that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine began "started by assassination of elected president," further noting that "hostility toward Russia not justified. Will create new Cold War."* The conversation appears to have begun when @UANews4ENMedi posted an article by James Kirchick of The Daily Beast on the annual World Russia Forum, for which Rohrabacher provided introductory remarks.