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.
We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence Against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a landmark report from the Oakland Institute documents testimony from members of several ethnic groups from different areas of the country, bringing forward the voices of those most directly impacted by land grabs and villagization. The Ethiopian government's villagization program aims to resettle up to 1.5 million Ethiopians, mainly pastoralist and indigenous communities, from areas targeted for industrial plantations. These resettlements have happened without free, prior and informed consent, and when communities resist, they have been forcibly removed by means of violence, imprisonment, intimidation, political coercion, and the denial of humanitarian assistance.
Today the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio's announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view. Advocates expressed concerns about the overburdened and complex summons court system, biased police practices, collateral consequences of summonses, and lack of data transparency. The plan announced today includes a new NYPD summons form, website, and automated call-in system to help New Yorkers more easily navigate the NYC Summons court system.
In an October 2014 report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor De Blasio's Two New Yorks: The NYPD Marijuana Arrests Crusade Continues in 2014, the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance noted the de Blasioadministration was on track to meet or surpass the Bloomberg 2013 marijuana arrests. Following the report's release, the deBlasio administration announced that New Yorkers found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a court summonsand immediately released. This marked a shift from past arrest practices, wherein police charged people with a misdemeanor – the person was then handcuffed, taken to the precinct and held for hours, fingerprinted and photographed, and eventually released with a court date and a virtually permanent arrest record.
"Justice is served in this case but must be assured globally," the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries has said today, reiterating its call for global regulation of private military and security companies (PMSCs). "The outsourcing of security to these firms by States creates risks for humanrights, hence the need to regulate their activities," they said.
The expert body's call comes after a federal judge in Washington sentenced a former Blackwater Worldwide security guard to life in prison, and three others to 30 years terms for the killing of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007, in Baghdad's crowded Nissour Square. A further 17 Iraqi civilians were injured as the privatesecurity contractors opened fire.
The Our America Initiative has just released a powerful video exposing the fraud of the privately-owned Commission on Presidential Debates, the organization that unjustly took over hosting the main presidential debates after the League of Women Voters permanently dropped their support. The video chronicles one of the greatest social movements of our time, that is rallying alternative parties and independents throughout the nation towards a common goal. Lack of representation or adequate choice during presidential elections is no coincidence. It is the product of tyranny and corruption at the highest levels of our government, that has unjustly stripped the prestige and integrity from the electoral process.
Neither dissent, nor the anti-dissent has changed their historical yin-yang process. This, an ever green social-dynamic is as old as the history of human consciousness itself is. It is only the difference of time (age, era and epoch) and circumstances (socio-political ecology) that has changed the nature of dissent and manifestation of anti-dissent mostly in the form of state-offense / oppression against the dissenting citizens and the people.
What can be the most simple meaning of the dissent? "NO!" The history of "No" in human heritage is richer and magnificent than the history of "Ay." In earlier eras, dissenters poked the eyes of rulers, superstitions, obsolete ideologies, the clergy and the traditional socio-political leadership.
Dignitaries from three continents gathered in New York City recently to sharpen their strategies to confront some of the world's most powerful nations over a subject that sizeable numbers of citizens support in the nearly two-dozen nations those dignitaries represent: reparations for deprivations from slavery, colonialism and legal segregation.
Those dignitaries, that included ambassadors and legislators, along with luminary activists and legal experts, participated in the three-day International Reparations Summit convened by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a research, policy and advocacy organization based in the United States.
If his Twitter account is any indication, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) had a no good, very bad weekend.
Rohrabacher, who represents California's 48th district, tweeted in response to @UANews4ENMedi this past Friday that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine began "started by assassination of elected president," further noting that "hostility toward Russia not justified. Will create new Cold War."* The conversation appears to have begun when @UANews4ENMedi posted an article by James Kirchick of The Daily Beast on the annual World Russia Forum, for which Rohrabacher provided introductory remarks.
What will happen at Garfield High School with Common Core testing?
I have been asked this question by people all over the country as they learned that this would be the first year that Common Core testing would come to Washington State. All year, teachers at Seattle's Garfield High School have debated whether to administer the new Common Core test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Garfield High School became a leader in the movement for authentic assessment in 2013 the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, and were joined by the parents and students in a mass opt out campaign. After the tested subject teachers were threatened with a ten day suspension without pay for refusing to administer the MAP, the superintendent finally gave in at the end of the school year and announced that the test would no longer be mandatory at the high school level. Many took inspiration from the MAP test boycott, and during the ensuing months an "education spring" was born as students, parents, and teacher's refused high-stakes testing across the country. This ongoing education spring has now produced the largest uprising against high-stakestesting in U.S. history, highlighted by the 60,000 students who were opted out in NewYork State alone.
Washington, DC - Ahead of the vote to repeal the federal estatetax taking place in the U.S. House of Representatives this week on Tax Day, Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) has compiled a list of direct quotes from conservative leaders exposing the misinformation being spread to justify this tax giveawayto the wealthiest 0.2%. ATF also collected quotes from conservative leaders expressing their concernabout income inequality, exposing the hypocrisy of claiming to care about the growing gap betweenthe wealthy and everyone else while voting for a $270 billion tax giveaway to the estates of multi-millionaires and billionaires.
"Conservatives know their economic priorities are extremely unpopular – the American people want an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. So when they try to eliminate the estate tax, which affects only multi-millionaires and billionaires, they resort to outright falsehoods in making their case and use phony rhetoric claiming they care about the rest of us," said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. "Repealing theestate tax will only increase inequality in America. These quotes help the American people understand what conservatives do, not what they say."
With two days left until tax day, most Americans have already spent several hours finalizing their 2014 tax returns. For years, Congress has been sitting on a proposal to make it easier for people to file their taxes. The proposed bill would implement a return-free filing system, where the IRS would provide taxpayers with a filled-out form containing all of their information and estimate their taxes. The taxpayer would just have to look it over before confirming the information. Other industrialized countries like Denmark and Spain, have already adopted a similar process. In the United States, though, a few powerful companies have a large financial stake in ensuring long, complicated tax returns continue to be the norm.
Lobbying Spending Data: MapLight analysis of the money spent by tax preparation companies, including H&R Block, Intuit, which owns TurboTax, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Jackson Hewitt, and National Society of Accountants, lobbying Congress and federal agencies since 2011.