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.
“It’s about watching kids cry. And throw chairs. And pee their pants. And scratch their face until it turns red or they bleed. That’s what it’s about. That’s all that it’s about.”
Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones teach first grade at Skelly Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma—and they are refusing to trade in their job titles for “test prep tutor.” Declaring that they will refuse to administer a battery of tests (including the infamous MAP test, the same test I helped to organize a boycott against in Seattle), these educators have become the most recent test-defyers in a growing movement of conscientious objectors to standardized tests.
The "testocracy" is determined to reduce the intellectual and emotional process of teaching and learning to a single score that they can use to deny students promotion, destabilize the teaching profession, label schools as failing, and turn them into privatized charter schools. Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones were quickly threatened with disciplinary measures by their Superintendent. If you have a message of solidarity for them, please send it to me and I will pass it on to them.
When a journalist tries to do a historian’s job, the outcome can be quite interesting. Using history as a side note in a brief news report or political analysis oftentimes does more harm than good. Now imagine if that journalist was not dependable to begin with, even more than it being “interesting”, the outcome runs the risk of becoming a mockery.
Consider the selective historical views offered by New York Times writer Thomas Freidman - exposed in the book The Imperial Messenger by Belen Fernandez for his pseudo- intellectual shenanigans, contradictions and constant marketing of the status quo.
On November 7, 2014, while visiting Kabul, The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, noted that NATO will soon launch a new chapter, a new non-combat mission in Afghanistan. But it’s difficult to spot new methods as NATO commits itself to sustaining combat on the part of Afghan forces.
Stoltenberg commended NATO Allies and partner nations from across the world, in an October 29th speech, in Brussels, declaring that for over a decade, they “stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan.” According to Stoltenberg, “this international effort has contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children.” Rhetoric from NATO and the Pentagon regularly claims that Afghans have benefited from the past 13 years of US/NATO warfare, but reports from other agencies complicatethese claims.
Today, Marissa Alexander has chosen to accept a plea deal with the State of Florida. The plea deal includes time served (1,030 days), an additional 65 days in Duval County Jail which will begin today, and two years of probation while wearing a surveillance monitor. Marissa Alexander is a black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida who, nine days after prematurely giving birth, was forced to defend her life from a brutal life-threatening attack by her estranged husband, and subsequently prosecuted by State Prosecutor Angela Corey. Alexander, her legal team, and thousands of supporters were preparing for a likely difficult trial to begin this December. If found guilty, she would have faced a mandatory 60 year sentence.
If you doubt that AP would write a story to make this point, you guessed correctly. AP actually decided it was REALLY BIG NEWS that Social Security's inspector general found evidence that 0.2 percent of payments were improper.
The news service devoted a major article to reporting that $2 billion in benefit payments over the last seven years appear to have been given to people who did not qualify for disability. The piece neglected to mention that the program paid out close to $900 billion in benefits over that period. This means that improper payments identified in the inspector general's report were less than 0.3 percent of the total payments in the program.
Washington, D.C. – This week, Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) took to the floor of the House of Representatives and called on President Obama to pardon CIA whistleblower and Government Accountability Project (GAP) client John Kiriakou.
"Mr. Kiriakou is an American hero," Rep. Moran said in a moving speech chronicling Kiriakou's contributions to the country, including Kiriakou's "outstanding work in the always-demanding intelligence world" and whistleblowing activities. Rep. Moran elaborated, "John Kiriakou is a whistleblower, as well. The first American intelligence officer to officially and on-record reveal that the US was in the torture business as a matter of White House policy under President [George W.] Bush."
November 20, New York – In response to the transfer of five men from Guantanamo, including our Yemeni client Abd Al Hakim Ghalib Ahmad Alhag, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement: “We are grateful to the Republic of Georgia for offering our client a new home where he can begin to rebuild his life after more than a decade in Guantánamo without charge or trial.” This is the first transfer of a Yemeni man to any country since 2010.
Frank C. Razzano and John C. Snodgrass, who have represented Mr. Alhag for nearly nine years, said, “We are greatly gratified at the news of our client’s release, and we look forward to him building a new life for himself in Georgia.”
Recently John Tamny over at Forbes penned a review of the movie Citizenfour. As one might expect, being an establishment columnist, he launches his sophomoric diatribe with a snarky ad hominem attack:
"To watch Cizenfour is to witness an overly paranoid crank. Snowden went through all sorts of hurdles to contact the documentarian in Poitras without being detected by US intelligence, clearly traveled to Hong Kong (where Poitras and Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald interviewed him) under deep cover, but not explained enough was why?"
Paranoid crank? Has Mr. Tamny ever worked as a technical specialist for US intelligence? Should readers genuinely accept that Tamny is a voice of authority on spy tradecraft? Anyone who calls Snowden's behavior paranoid clearly hasn't had a sufficient look at leaked NSA documents. There's an entire catalogue devoted to the kind of tools that literally keep chief security officers up at night. Bridging air gap has been honed to a fine art by US spies as Stuxnet demonstrated. The NSA has capabilities that former STASI officers could only dream of and not even heads of state are immune from them.
AUSTIN—A new report by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) and Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) finds that US cities are rejecting water privatization and taking back public control of their public water systems at a growing rate. The report was released at the annual National League of Cities conference, a forum often exploited by the private water industry to lobby and market its services.
The release of the report, titled “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water” comes in the midst of uncertainty about the state of public water systems nationwide. Prominent cases like Detroit’s recent shut-offs are stoking the public’s concerns about who controls America’s water systems and to what end. As federal funding for public water infrastructure dries up, corporations are rushing to fill the void with false promises that gloss over track records of rate hikes, water quality concerns, labor abuses and political interference.