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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.

In a scathing decision, a U.S. Department of Labor judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency improperly sought to conceal exonerating evidence and illegally retaliated against a whistleblower.  In the ruling posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a U.S. Department of Labor administrative law judge catalogued a trove ofmisconduct by EPA lawyers covering years of litigation.

The April 15, 2015 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Linda Chapman involved EPA senior chemist Cate Jenkins, who had reported fraudulent agency limits on corrosive dust and improper testing and cover-up of the toxic properties of the dust emanating from the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster which contributed to deaths and illnesses of First Responders.  Judge Chapman found that EPA had "failed to produce literally thousands of documents" in a campaign of concealment. 

A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, isexpected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration. 

"Leonhart's DEA reflects an outdated, disastrous approach that President Obama claims he wants to leave behind," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "If she leaves he has an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the DEA and support drug policy reform."

The Washington Post has established itself over many decades as a major mouthpiece of elite opinion. Its editorial pages argue strongly for the interests of the wealthy, with scarcely concealed contempt for people who have to work for a living. (They do support alms for the poor, hence they are okay with programs like food stamps and TANF.) 

This attitude has been shown many times over the years, but perhaps never more clearly than in its editorial on the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, where it fumed about auto workers who earned $56,650 a year. By contrast, it was an ardent supporter of the Wall Street bailout, which was largely about helping people who make this much money in a day.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá will be the first Amazon Indian to run the London Marathon on Sunday, April 26, 2015.

Nixiwaka is raising vital funds for Survival International – the global movement for tribal peoples' rights – together with Survival's co-founder and President Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who is running the marathon as one of eight challenges to mark his 80th year.

Today marks the fist day scheduled for Common Core testing, such as it is, at Seattle's Garfield High School. As I reported last week, Garfield educators were debating about how best to oppose the new deeply flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Common Core tests, when the parents spoke and opted out hundreds of students from the test. With so many students having opted out of the Common Core tests, the teachers are no longer being asked to administer the exam—a huge victory in this struggle against the testocracy! (Now the few remaining students who don't have an opt out letter will be pulled out of class individually).

Garfield High School teacher Heather Robison delivers her declaration at a recent press conference.

The 55-point headline in Slate blares, "Letter from Prominent Doctors Implies Columbia Should Fire Dr. Oz for Beinga Quack." The story by Ben Mathis-Lilly is based on a letter by a group of doctors who want Columbia University to relieve Dr. Oz of his position as vice chair of the department of surgery at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops," states the letter, which was sent soon after Dr. Oz aired a show about glyphosate, the herbicide associated with most genetically engineered crops that was recently designated as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

The Center for Media and Democracy and CREDO Action are denouncing an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to silence its critics.

CREDO Action, the activism arm of San Francisco-based mobile phone company CREDO Mobile, has refused to honor a cease and desist letter that ALEC sent to CREDO.

Before the testing season began, educators in Seattle knew that because of the lack of proper preparations, IT support, technological upgrades, and training - and due to the outlandish number of tests administered this year - testing pandemonium would ensue. 

Last week the Social Equality Educators (SEE) put a call out for teachers to share their stories of this first year of CommonCore, "Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium" (SBAC), testing in the schools. The numerous responses from teachers and parents around the school district describe standardized testing chaos. We heard many stories about SBAC testing that are common to high-stakes, standardized tests: the tests dramatically disrupted the educational process, deprived students of hours of instructional time, reduced stressed out students to tears, and monopolized the computer labs and libraries in service of test administration for weeks at a time.

As the Spring International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings open, the World Bank announced $650 million of new grants and concessional loans to the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. About $220 million will be aid in the form of grants and the remainder will be in the form of highly concessional loans. Currently the three countries owe a combined $518 million to the World Bank. Liberia owes $105 million, Guinea $186 million and Sierra Leone $227 million.

"We urge the World Bank Group to consider bolstering their commitments with a new debt relief package for the impacted countries," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition, Jubilee USA Network. "We applaud the new aid for the affected countries and hope that the World Bank can come up with some rapid response plan to address this kind of crisis much faster in the future."

The Hatch Fast Track bill introduced today would revive the controversial Fast Track procedures to which nearly all U.S. House of Representatives Democrats and a sizable bloc of House Republicans already have announced opposition.

Most of the text of the Hatch Fast Track bill replicates word-for-word the text of the 2014 Fast Track bill, which itself replicated much of the 2002 Fast Track bill.

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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.

In a scathing decision, a U.S. Department of Labor judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency improperly sought to conceal exonerating evidence and illegally retaliated against a whistleblower.  In the ruling posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a U.S. Department of Labor administrative law judge catalogued a trove ofmisconduct by EPA lawyers covering years of litigation.

The April 15, 2015 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Linda Chapman involved EPA senior chemist Cate Jenkins, who had reported fraudulent agency limits on corrosive dust and improper testing and cover-up of the toxic properties of the dust emanating from the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster which contributed to deaths and illnesses of First Responders.  Judge Chapman found that EPA had "failed to produce literally thousands of documents" in a campaign of concealment. 

A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, isexpected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration. 

"Leonhart's DEA reflects an outdated, disastrous approach that President Obama claims he wants to leave behind," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "If she leaves he has an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the DEA and support drug policy reform."

The Washington Post has established itself over many decades as a major mouthpiece of elite opinion. Its editorial pages argue strongly for the interests of the wealthy, with scarcely concealed contempt for people who have to work for a living. (They do support alms for the poor, hence they are okay with programs like food stamps and TANF.) 

This attitude has been shown many times over the years, but perhaps never more clearly than in its editorial on the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, where it fumed about auto workers who earned $56,650 a year. By contrast, it was an ardent supporter of the Wall Street bailout, which was largely about helping people who make this much money in a day.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá will be the first Amazon Indian to run the London Marathon on Sunday, April 26, 2015.

Nixiwaka is raising vital funds for Survival International – the global movement for tribal peoples' rights – together with Survival's co-founder and President Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who is running the marathon as one of eight challenges to mark his 80th year.

Today marks the fist day scheduled for Common Core testing, such as it is, at Seattle's Garfield High School. As I reported last week, Garfield educators were debating about how best to oppose the new deeply flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Common Core tests, when the parents spoke and opted out hundreds of students from the test. With so many students having opted out of the Common Core tests, the teachers are no longer being asked to administer the exam—a huge victory in this struggle against the testocracy! (Now the few remaining students who don't have an opt out letter will be pulled out of class individually).

Garfield High School teacher Heather Robison delivers her declaration at a recent press conference.

The 55-point headline in Slate blares, "Letter from Prominent Doctors Implies Columbia Should Fire Dr. Oz for Beinga Quack." The story by Ben Mathis-Lilly is based on a letter by a group of doctors who want Columbia University to relieve Dr. Oz of his position as vice chair of the department of surgery at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops," states the letter, which was sent soon after Dr. Oz aired a show about glyphosate, the herbicide associated with most genetically engineered crops that was recently designated as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

The Center for Media and Democracy and CREDO Action are denouncing an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to silence its critics.

CREDO Action, the activism arm of San Francisco-based mobile phone company CREDO Mobile, has refused to honor a cease and desist letter that ALEC sent to CREDO.

Before the testing season began, educators in Seattle knew that because of the lack of proper preparations, IT support, technological upgrades, and training - and due to the outlandish number of tests administered this year - testing pandemonium would ensue. 

Last week the Social Equality Educators (SEE) put a call out for teachers to share their stories of this first year of CommonCore, "Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium" (SBAC), testing in the schools. The numerous responses from teachers and parents around the school district describe standardized testing chaos. We heard many stories about SBAC testing that are common to high-stakes, standardized tests: the tests dramatically disrupted the educational process, deprived students of hours of instructional time, reduced stressed out students to tears, and monopolized the computer labs and libraries in service of test administration for weeks at a time.

As the Spring International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings open, the World Bank announced $650 million of new grants and concessional loans to the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. About $220 million will be aid in the form of grants and the remainder will be in the form of highly concessional loans. Currently the three countries owe a combined $518 million to the World Bank. Liberia owes $105 million, Guinea $186 million and Sierra Leone $227 million.

"We urge the World Bank Group to consider bolstering their commitments with a new debt relief package for the impacted countries," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition, Jubilee USA Network. "We applaud the new aid for the affected countries and hope that the World Bank can come up with some rapid response plan to address this kind of crisis much faster in the future."

The Hatch Fast Track bill introduced today would revive the controversial Fast Track procedures to which nearly all U.S. House of Representatives Democrats and a sizable bloc of House Republicans already have announced opposition.

Most of the text of the Hatch Fast Track bill replicates word-for-word the text of the 2014 Fast Track bill, which itself replicated much of the 2002 Fast Track bill.