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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.

Politicians in Washington State are attempting to reduce educators to lifeless bits of inaccurate data. House Bill ESSB 5748, which would explicitly link teacher evaluation to standardized test scores, was recently introduced into the Washington State Legislature.  Dr. Wayne Au, the University of Washington Bothell's 2015 Distinguished Teaching award winning professor, joined scores of others in Olympia on Monday, March 30th, to express opposition to this educationally unsound proposal. 

In fact, there were so many there that wanted to use their testimony to "test-defy," that after both sides had presented arguments, there were still 322 more people who wanted to speak against the bill but there wasn't enough time.

This is a dangerous time for Medicare. The bill passed by the House on March 27, by a surprising bipartisan majority of 392-37 - H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 - threatens to end traditional Medicare as a social insurance program that protects seniors in a single large risk pool. The Senate is set to vote on the bill in two weeks.

The timing could not be more ironical. Medicare was passed 50 years ago by overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress - by votes of 302-116 in the House and 70-24 in the Senate.

Wednesday, April 1, all charges against me were dismissed. The 1st Amendment is rising again. The five freedoms - worship, speech, press, assembly and petition - suffer when we're at war. Security trumps freedom. Even Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But 9/11 was 15 years ago...

I was arrested while speaking on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Five kinds of police stood there watching: Homeland Security, NY state troopers, National Guard, NYPD and police from the transportation authority, whose officers did the hand-cuffing.

An American citizen who was disappeared in Yemen has told his lawyers 'I'm afraid for my life' on a phone call from his prison cell in the basement of a Sana'a military base. The call is the first time Sharif Mobley has spoken to anyone from his legal team in over a year.

On the phone call, broadcast today on MSNBC, Sharif can be heard telling his lawyers "there's fighting at this military base and… Saudi Arabian bombing, it's been bombed every night, and it's very frightening." He goes on to say "I'm afraid for my life."

When racial bias occurs it is customary to suggest that such practices are out of the norm or something only done by an individual out of touch with prevailing social values, but racism is part of American social ecology, often as unrecognized as the air we breathe.

That contaminant of racism in our national atmosphere has become more sharply noticeable, however, since the generalized uprising of hurt protest following the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting death of Michael Brown in August last year. We are beginning to see that it all connects, that each incident relates to the others.

Apr 02

Shame

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough.

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

The Ukraine conflict continues to fester, raising tensions in the region to levels not seen since the Cold War. Now the warring parties have agreed to a cease-fire and an approach to further negotiations towards a political solution. Despite this opportunity to move towards peace, the United States, NATO and Russia are throwing fuel on the fire.

The US is sending troops to Ukraine to train Ukraine's armed forces, NATO is holding joint military maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and Russia is conducting massive exercises of its own that include forward deployment of nuclear-capable missiles and bombers. It's time for the countries that are providing support from outsideUkraine to halt and reverse all actions that contribute to this warand to the growing confrontation in Europe.

Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka "Pygmies" and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse.

These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers - and sometimes soldiers and police - who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support.

Chicago, Illinois - In an unprecedented act of political repression, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointees at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) have banned CTA workers from sharing literature related to the 2015 Mayoral race.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 10,000 CTA employees and has endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor, CTA posted memos in bus garages and rail terminals barring employees from communications normally protected by the First Amendment. CTA's General Counsel also penned letters warning that fines could be issued if off-duty workers handed out literature to their co-workers in non-work areas of CTA property.

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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.

Politicians in Washington State are attempting to reduce educators to lifeless bits of inaccurate data. House Bill ESSB 5748, which would explicitly link teacher evaluation to standardized test scores, was recently introduced into the Washington State Legislature.  Dr. Wayne Au, the University of Washington Bothell's 2015 Distinguished Teaching award winning professor, joined scores of others in Olympia on Monday, March 30th, to express opposition to this educationally unsound proposal. 

In fact, there were so many there that wanted to use their testimony to "test-defy," that after both sides had presented arguments, there were still 322 more people who wanted to speak against the bill but there wasn't enough time.

This is a dangerous time for Medicare. The bill passed by the House on March 27, by a surprising bipartisan majority of 392-37 - H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 - threatens to end traditional Medicare as a social insurance program that protects seniors in a single large risk pool. The Senate is set to vote on the bill in two weeks.

The timing could not be more ironical. Medicare was passed 50 years ago by overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress - by votes of 302-116 in the House and 70-24 in the Senate.

Wednesday, April 1, all charges against me were dismissed. The 1st Amendment is rising again. The five freedoms - worship, speech, press, assembly and petition - suffer when we're at war. Security trumps freedom. Even Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But 9/11 was 15 years ago...

I was arrested while speaking on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Five kinds of police stood there watching: Homeland Security, NY state troopers, National Guard, NYPD and police from the transportation authority, whose officers did the hand-cuffing.

An American citizen who was disappeared in Yemen has told his lawyers 'I'm afraid for my life' on a phone call from his prison cell in the basement of a Sana'a military base. The call is the first time Sharif Mobley has spoken to anyone from his legal team in over a year.

On the phone call, broadcast today on MSNBC, Sharif can be heard telling his lawyers "there's fighting at this military base and… Saudi Arabian bombing, it's been bombed every night, and it's very frightening." He goes on to say "I'm afraid for my life."

When racial bias occurs it is customary to suggest that such practices are out of the norm or something only done by an individual out of touch with prevailing social values, but racism is part of American social ecology, often as unrecognized as the air we breathe.

That contaminant of racism in our national atmosphere has become more sharply noticeable, however, since the generalized uprising of hurt protest following the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting death of Michael Brown in August last year. We are beginning to see that it all connects, that each incident relates to the others.

Apr 02

Shame

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Hundreds of people recently paid big bucks to hear Monica Lewinsky give a carefully crafted but also quite touching TED talk announcing her survival of a public shaming of planetary proportions.

Brené Brown, a leading researcher who teaches resilience to shame, asserts that a major root cause of our collective shame originates in a paradigm of scarcity: the main message of our culture is that our ordinary lives are not special enough. We are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough.

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 22 federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. This follows the commutation of eight federal inmates convicted of drug offenses by President Obama in December of 2014.

According to White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

The Ukraine conflict continues to fester, raising tensions in the region to levels not seen since the Cold War. Now the warring parties have agreed to a cease-fire and an approach to further negotiations towards a political solution. Despite this opportunity to move towards peace, the United States, NATO and Russia are throwing fuel on the fire.

The US is sending troops to Ukraine to train Ukraine's armed forces, NATO is holding joint military maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and Russia is conducting massive exercises of its own that include forward deployment of nuclear-capable missiles and bombers. It's time for the countries that are providing support from outsideUkraine to halt and reverse all actions that contribute to this warand to the growing confrontation in Europe.

Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka "Pygmies" and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse.

These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers - and sometimes soldiers and police - who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support.

Chicago, Illinois - In an unprecedented act of political repression, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's appointees at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) have banned CTA workers from sharing literature related to the 2015 Mayoral race.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents more than 10,000 CTA employees and has endorsed Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor, CTA posted memos in bus garages and rail terminals barring employees from communications normally protected by the First Amendment. CTA's General Counsel also penned letters warning that fines could be issued if off-duty workers handed out literature to their co-workers in non-work areas of CTA property.