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.
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.
By famously implementing the $5 per day wage in 1914, Henry Ford was the first industrialist to recognize that a consumer society can only function when workers have access to ample income to finance discretionary purchases. During the 1930s, under the tutelage of John Maynard Keynes, this understanding became a key tenet of macroeconomic policy in many parts of the world.
If you thought that poisoning a city of 100,000 people would be a bridge too far for Michigan's urbane, oh-so-reasonable business elite, think again. Last week, the Economic Club of Grand Rapids welcomed Gov. Snyder -- fresh from his Congressional grilling on the Flint Water Crisis -- with nothing less than a standing ovation.
I recently had a vivid encounter with neocolonialism when I visited my parents' homeland Kenya. A friend who'd recently returned to the country from the diaspora had organized a group of fellow young physician colleagues for anice lunch. We were all separately eager to meet up, and I looked up a trusty international travel site that rates lodging and restaurants, which I have used time and again for innumerable international trips. Atop the list on this site was a restaurant, located in a reclusive, well-to-do neighborhood in Nairobi.
Over the past few years, the debate over the state of K-12 public education has intensified. Some have made the claim that public education is in a state of crisis for reasons such as crumbling school buildings, uneven quality and availability of teaching staff and rising poverty rates among students and disengaged parents. In response, policymakers have championed new policy ideas in search of a path forward to "fix" public education.
Richmond, California's next municipal voting is less than seven months away. But memories of our last election -- one of the most expensive in local history– remain fresh in the minds of many participants. For Richmond residents whose recollections are fading, we now have a fascinating 90-minute video history of that campaign. Entitled Nat Bates for Mayor, it provides a timely reminder of the stakes involved in a key Left Coast battle against big money in politics that resonated nationally.
This spring, French authorities (supported and funded by the UK government to the current balance of £62 million) have been demolishing the "Jungle," an area saturated with landfill-derived toxins on the edge of Calais. Formerly a landfill site, 4 km² it is now populated by approximately 5,000 refugees who have been pushed there over the past year. A remarkable community of 15 nationalities adhering to various faiths comprises the Jungle.