Friday, 18 August 2017 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG
  • Steve Bannon's Former Site Is the New Monarch of Right-Wing Media

    Steve Bannon's Breitbart News has elected a president, reshaped the media landscape, and eclipsed Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

  • When "Free Speech" Kills

    Every person who's ever misused arguments for free speech to defend Nazis or white supremacists  --  just so they could puff out their chests and apocryphally quote Voltaire with smug certitude  --  has some measure of Heather Heyer's blood on their hands.

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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.

Aug 14

Exploding Number of Reading Teachers Reflects Test Prep Obsession sion

By Marion Brady and Susan Ohanian, SpeakOut | News Analysis

In this SpeakOut post, Marion Brady interviews Susan Ohanian on the unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind Legislation.

MARION: Susan, I taught in four different high schools--one, rural; one, small town; one, urban; and one on a university campus. They all served the general population in their immediate areas, so there were no cherry-picked students. None of the four high schools had even one reading teacher. That was then. This is now. The three high schools here in Florida with which I'm now most familiar have TEN reading teachers. Ten EACH! That's big money. What's going on here?

SUSAN: I was a reading teacher in five different urban schools-elementary, middle, and high school, and I admit to being stunned by the idea of ten reading teachers in a school. Surely this is the triumph of test prep. Since from the get-go the imposition of a national test has been the point of thuggery masquerading as school reform, I guess this is no surprise.

California – This week, in collaboration with Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, the Move to Amend campaign launched a fundraising drive to fund a national tour of the "Amend-O-Matic" to travel the United States as part of the group's "Stampede to Amend" campaign.

The Amend-O-Matic is part art spectacle, part money-stamping machine, part road-worthy vehicle, and will allow participants to insert their dollar bills to be printed with messages calling for an amendment to the US Constitution. Slogans to be printed include, "Corporations are not people," "Money is not speech;" and "Not to be used for bribing politicians."

Move to Amend and Cohen plan to kick off Stampede to Amend tour in Los Angeles in late September to encourage "thousands of people to buy rubber stamps and stamp any currency that comes into their possession," Cohen told Yahoo News. This campaign targets the highly controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate money in elections.

As the "advanced" nations of the world sink deeper into financial, ecological, and moral bankruptcy, a growing contingent of the global population refuses to stand idly by while our collective future is carelessly gambled away by a rapacious few. With the aid of the internet we are tangibly connected across borders and oceans, banding together and supporting one another in droves, pooling resources, knowledge, and skills to build a do-it-ourselves grassroots revolution of a kind the world has never known. This is not a war - the Indignados and the Occupiers are not after blood – we are fighting to have our voices heard, to have our concerns and ideas considered, and to have the freedom to participate in building the kind of society we envision. It is becoming clear that many around the world share a common outrage: we are no longer willing to tolerate systems of governance that represent the wealthiest few at the expense of the many.

Today was a historic date of sorts; the supremacist, Randall Leon Thompson, who threatened me pled guilty today Aug. 7, 2012, for sending threats over the telephone. He will be under managed supervision for a year, after he completes another 18 months of probation from another unrelated case.

Yet, this is not the end of the story. Please read this statement, that I was permitted to read in court. The end will give you a clue as to why this is not over.

(If you would like to read the Aug 8, 2012 story in the Arizona Daily Star, please go to and feel free to leave a message there: Mohave man given probation for death threats vs. UA prof)

Aug 10

Massacre of the Week

By Karl Grossman, SpeakOut | News Analysis

As New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after the Aurora, Colorado massacre: "this cannot continue." But it is —and gun violence in America will no doubt go on and go on. When—if ever—will there be adequate gun control in this nation? And what about the violence in U.S. society that especially permeates movies?

The issues must be grappled with and no longer avoided, with the National Rifle Association leading the way in blocking action.

Bloomberg's full quote to Piers Morgan on CNN: "Someday there will be a shooting which you would think would trigger in the American psyche this 'I'm not going to take it any more' attitude. Maybe if... you shot a president? But Ronald Reagan, when he got shot, didn't trigger it. Maybe if you shot a congresswoman? No. Maybe if you shot a bunch of students on campus? No. Maybe if you shot a bunch of people in a movie theater? I don't know what it is, we obviously haven't gotten there yet, but we just—this cannot continue."

Aug 09

NASA's Curiosity Poses Danger to Earth

By Karl Grossman, Speakout | Opinion

The first Mars rover fueled with plutonium landed on the red planet Monday­ and there was much cheerleading by mainstream media but no mention of the huge danger the device, which NASA calls Curiosity, has posed to people and other life on Earth before getting to Mars.

Indeed, NASA in its Environmental Impact Statement for Curiosity, said that the chances had been but one-in-220 of deadly plutonium being released "overall" on the mission. If the rocket that had lofted it from Florida last year blew up on launch­and one in 100 rockets destruct on launch­that could have sent plutonium 62 miles away, as far as Orlando, said the EIS. If the rocket failed to break out of Earth's gravity and take Curiosity on to Mars but, instead, fell back into the Earth's atmosphere and, with Curiosity, disintegrated as it fell, a broad area of the Earth could have been impacted by plutonium.

Aug 08

Drug Legalization Debate Continues to Escalate in Latin America

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

On July 30, the front page of the New York Times featured an article titled "South America Sees Drug Path to Legalization," which discusses the growing debate on alternatives to the drug war. Throughout Latin America, both former and current heads of state are demanding that the full range of policy options be expanded to include alternatives that help to reduce the prohibition-related crime violence and corruption in their own countries – and insisting that decriminalization and legal regulation of currently illicit drug markets be considered.

In February, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina garnered worldwide attention by calling for a debate on alternatives to the war on drugs, including decriminalization and regulation. His proposal quickly received support from other leaders in Latin America, including the presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Over the next few months, the failure of the war on drugs and alternatives to current strategies were discussed at significant high-level events, including the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, and at the World Economic Forum for Latin America in Mexico. Most recently, Belize set up a committee to analyze a marijuana decriminalization proposal and Uruguay announced a plan to legalize marijuana, which would make it the first country in the world where the state sells the drug directly to its citizens.

US presidential candidate Mitt Romney ended a three-country world tour of Britain, Israel and Poland without appearing to have learned much from his overseas trip. Even in his attempts to water-down the impact of some of his gaffs, following an influx of negative press, he seems to have stuck to the flawed logic behind them, especially when it comes to economics.

It all started with what he thought was a simple remark regarding Britain's hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games, when he said of the event- almost on the eve of its opening ceremony - that "there are a few things that were disconcerting." The event has been 15 years in the planning with an expected cost of £9 billion (almost $14 billion). The timing couldn't have been more distasteful, prompting one commentator to note that the Republican challenger "is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive."

Aug 07

Village of Wilson New York Bans Fracking

By Food & Water Watch, SpeakOut | Press Release

Buffalo, New York – At the July 2012 Village of Wilson board meeting, the village passed a resolution to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a highly controversial natural gas drilling technique currently under review by Governor Cuomo's administration. The resolution also prevents the importation and treatment of toxic wastewater that is produced as a result of the fracking process. Over 100 municipalities across New York State have enacted bans or moratoria on fracking, with the City of Buffalo having led the way last year.

"This measure was taken as a precaution to protect the natural resources of the Wilson community. Wilson has always been a farming, fishing and boating community set on the shores of Lake Ontario, a natural resource worthy of our protection. The Village Board is strongly against any fracking in our community and in any community in New York or the surrounding states," said Wilson Village Trustee Bernie Leiker.

Ruth Coleman, the controversial State Parks Director, resigned this morning as a preliminary investigation into Department of Parks and Recreation finances revealed that the agency was sitting on $54 million in surplus funds at a time when state parks were faced with closure.

For at least 12 years, the Department underreported tens of millions of dollars to the state Department of Finance, according to a statement from the Natural Resources Agency.

"As a result, the Department of Finance was not aware that the State Parks and Recreation Fund and the Off Highway Vehicle Fund held $20,378,000 and $33,492,000 respectively above their official, most recently reported balances. The underreporting occurred over the course of two prior gubernatorial administrations," the agency stated.

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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.

Aug 14

Exploding Number of Reading Teachers Reflects Test Prep Obsession sion

By Marion Brady and Susan Ohanian, SpeakOut | News Analysis

In this SpeakOut post, Marion Brady interviews Susan Ohanian on the unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind Legislation.

MARION: Susan, I taught in four different high schools--one, rural; one, small town; one, urban; and one on a university campus. They all served the general population in their immediate areas, so there were no cherry-picked students. None of the four high schools had even one reading teacher. That was then. This is now. The three high schools here in Florida with which I'm now most familiar have TEN reading teachers. Ten EACH! That's big money. What's going on here?

SUSAN: I was a reading teacher in five different urban schools-elementary, middle, and high school, and I admit to being stunned by the idea of ten reading teachers in a school. Surely this is the triumph of test prep. Since from the get-go the imposition of a national test has been the point of thuggery masquerading as school reform, I guess this is no surprise.

California – This week, in collaboration with Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, the Move to Amend campaign launched a fundraising drive to fund a national tour of the "Amend-O-Matic" to travel the United States as part of the group's "Stampede to Amend" campaign.

The Amend-O-Matic is part art spectacle, part money-stamping machine, part road-worthy vehicle, and will allow participants to insert their dollar bills to be printed with messages calling for an amendment to the US Constitution. Slogans to be printed include, "Corporations are not people," "Money is not speech;" and "Not to be used for bribing politicians."

Move to Amend and Cohen plan to kick off Stampede to Amend tour in Los Angeles in late September to encourage "thousands of people to buy rubber stamps and stamp any currency that comes into their possession," Cohen told Yahoo News. This campaign targets the highly controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate money in elections.

As the "advanced" nations of the world sink deeper into financial, ecological, and moral bankruptcy, a growing contingent of the global population refuses to stand idly by while our collective future is carelessly gambled away by a rapacious few. With the aid of the internet we are tangibly connected across borders and oceans, banding together and supporting one another in droves, pooling resources, knowledge, and skills to build a do-it-ourselves grassroots revolution of a kind the world has never known. This is not a war - the Indignados and the Occupiers are not after blood – we are fighting to have our voices heard, to have our concerns and ideas considered, and to have the freedom to participate in building the kind of society we envision. It is becoming clear that many around the world share a common outrage: we are no longer willing to tolerate systems of governance that represent the wealthiest few at the expense of the many.

Today was a historic date of sorts; the supremacist, Randall Leon Thompson, who threatened me pled guilty today Aug. 7, 2012, for sending threats over the telephone. He will be under managed supervision for a year, after he completes another 18 months of probation from another unrelated case.

Yet, this is not the end of the story. Please read this statement, that I was permitted to read in court. The end will give you a clue as to why this is not over.

(If you would like to read the Aug 8, 2012 story in the Arizona Daily Star, please go to and feel free to leave a message there: Mohave man given probation for death threats vs. UA prof)

Aug 10

Massacre of the Week

By Karl Grossman, SpeakOut | News Analysis

As New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after the Aurora, Colorado massacre: "this cannot continue." But it is —and gun violence in America will no doubt go on and go on. When—if ever—will there be adequate gun control in this nation? And what about the violence in U.S. society that especially permeates movies?

The issues must be grappled with and no longer avoided, with the National Rifle Association leading the way in blocking action.

Bloomberg's full quote to Piers Morgan on CNN: "Someday there will be a shooting which you would think would trigger in the American psyche this 'I'm not going to take it any more' attitude. Maybe if... you shot a president? But Ronald Reagan, when he got shot, didn't trigger it. Maybe if you shot a congresswoman? No. Maybe if you shot a bunch of students on campus? No. Maybe if you shot a bunch of people in a movie theater? I don't know what it is, we obviously haven't gotten there yet, but we just—this cannot continue."

Aug 09

NASA's Curiosity Poses Danger to Earth

By Karl Grossman, Speakout | Opinion

The first Mars rover fueled with plutonium landed on the red planet Monday­ and there was much cheerleading by mainstream media but no mention of the huge danger the device, which NASA calls Curiosity, has posed to people and other life on Earth before getting to Mars.

Indeed, NASA in its Environmental Impact Statement for Curiosity, said that the chances had been but one-in-220 of deadly plutonium being released "overall" on the mission. If the rocket that had lofted it from Florida last year blew up on launch­and one in 100 rockets destruct on launch­that could have sent plutonium 62 miles away, as far as Orlando, said the EIS. If the rocket failed to break out of Earth's gravity and take Curiosity on to Mars but, instead, fell back into the Earth's atmosphere and, with Curiosity, disintegrated as it fell, a broad area of the Earth could have been impacted by plutonium.

Aug 08

Drug Legalization Debate Continues to Escalate in Latin America

By Drug Policy Alliance, SpeakOut | Press Release

On July 30, the front page of the New York Times featured an article titled "South America Sees Drug Path to Legalization," which discusses the growing debate on alternatives to the drug war. Throughout Latin America, both former and current heads of state are demanding that the full range of policy options be expanded to include alternatives that help to reduce the prohibition-related crime violence and corruption in their own countries – and insisting that decriminalization and legal regulation of currently illicit drug markets be considered.

In February, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina garnered worldwide attention by calling for a debate on alternatives to the war on drugs, including decriminalization and regulation. His proposal quickly received support from other leaders in Latin America, including the presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Over the next few months, the failure of the war on drugs and alternatives to current strategies were discussed at significant high-level events, including the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, and at the World Economic Forum for Latin America in Mexico. Most recently, Belize set up a committee to analyze a marijuana decriminalization proposal and Uruguay announced a plan to legalize marijuana, which would make it the first country in the world where the state sells the drug directly to its citizens.

US presidential candidate Mitt Romney ended a three-country world tour of Britain, Israel and Poland without appearing to have learned much from his overseas trip. Even in his attempts to water-down the impact of some of his gaffs, following an influx of negative press, he seems to have stuck to the flawed logic behind them, especially when it comes to economics.

It all started with what he thought was a simple remark regarding Britain's hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games, when he said of the event- almost on the eve of its opening ceremony - that "there are a few things that were disconcerting." The event has been 15 years in the planning with an expected cost of £9 billion (almost $14 billion). The timing couldn't have been more distasteful, prompting one commentator to note that the Republican challenger "is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive."

Aug 07

Village of Wilson New York Bans Fracking

By Food & Water Watch, SpeakOut | Press Release

Buffalo, New York – At the July 2012 Village of Wilson board meeting, the village passed a resolution to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a highly controversial natural gas drilling technique currently under review by Governor Cuomo's administration. The resolution also prevents the importation and treatment of toxic wastewater that is produced as a result of the fracking process. Over 100 municipalities across New York State have enacted bans or moratoria on fracking, with the City of Buffalo having led the way last year.

"This measure was taken as a precaution to protect the natural resources of the Wilson community. Wilson has always been a farming, fishing and boating community set on the shores of Lake Ontario, a natural resource worthy of our protection. The Village Board is strongly against any fracking in our community and in any community in New York or the surrounding states," said Wilson Village Trustee Bernie Leiker.

Ruth Coleman, the controversial State Parks Director, resigned this morning as a preliminary investigation into Department of Parks and Recreation finances revealed that the agency was sitting on $54 million in surplus funds at a time when state parks were faced with closure.

For at least 12 years, the Department underreported tens of millions of dollars to the state Department of Finance, according to a statement from the Natural Resources Agency.

"As a result, the Department of Finance was not aware that the State Parks and Recreation Fund and the Off Highway Vehicle Fund held $20,378,000 and $33,492,000 respectively above their official, most recently reported balances. The underreporting occurred over the course of two prior gubernatorial administrations," the agency stated.