Saturday, 28 May 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.

Apr 12

Portland Tenants Rally for Rent Control and a Halt to Evictions

By Daniel Vincent and Shane Burley, Black Cat Films | Video Report

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.

Apr 07

Preparing for the End of Consumer Society

By Maurie J. Cohen, Speakout | Op-Ed

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.

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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.

Apr 12

Portland Tenants Rally for Rent Control and a Halt to Evictions

By Daniel Vincent and Shane Burley, Black Cat Films | Video Report

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.

Apr 07

Preparing for the End of Consumer Society

By Maurie J. Cohen, Speakout | Op-Ed

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.