Thursday, 30 July 2015 / 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.

Jul 29

Adjunct Professors and Workers' Rights

By Laura Finley, Speakout | Op-Ed

The workers' rights movement has exploded in the last few years, with fast food, agricultural and other workers staging strikes andother nonviolent actions to demand increased wages, benefits, and better working conditions. One group of workers that has received far too little attention is adjunct college professors.

According to data collected by the Chronicle of Higher Education, adjuncts at one college and two universities near my home in Southeast Florida earn between $1,380 and $3,000 to teach a fifteen week, three credit course. My own university's published rates range from $1,500 to $3,000. A national survey found the average pay for a three-credit course to be $2,700. Given that the typical equation for calculating preparation and grading time for a three-credit course is three hours for every one hour of class time, it's safeto assume that adjuncts put in a good 135 hours during a semester. That works out to just over $10 an hour for someone making the lowest rate and about $22 an hour for the higher rate based on the rates listed above. This is appalling, especially since most adjuncts have terminal degrees and the massive student debt that accompanies them, and it puts many adjuncts in the same camp as 42 percent of workers in the U.S who earn less than $15 an hour, according to Forbes. The American Association of University Professors has noted that of the more than 30,000 adjunct professors who would like to obtain a full-time academic position, more than 60 percent hold one or more other jobs.

In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules to crack down on predatory payday lenders. These rules would prevent many payday lending abuses and give consumers a way out of lenders' debt trap.

Under the CFPB's new rules, borrowers would first have to show they could cover their basic living expenses while repaying loans. Lenders could skip "means testing" and instead limit each person's total borrowing to $500 – with a single finance charge and no repeated charges. Gone would be auto title loans: if you can't repay, lenders can't grab your car. (Workers often lose their jobs when they lose their wheels, a "death spiral" that spreads personal and financial chaos.)

Faced with the rising rents of commercial properties in cities, one New York organization is modeling a way for people to invest in permanently affordable, commercial real estate. The New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative (REIC) leverages patient crowdfunding—small investments by a large number of people over time—to turn vacant municipal properties into sustainable community resources.

Created in February, REIC aims to leverage the investments and political power of its members to secure real estate that supports "cultural organizations, cooperative businesses, and sustainable neighborhoods." The organization does so through its civic crowdfunding platform.

Jul 28

Bullet Songs From Gaza

By Shrouq Hamed El-Aila, We Are Not Numbers | Video

Once Ghada Shoman, 20, and her brother Mohammed, 16, began playing music, their songs flew through the sky as if seeking the peace missing from their lives. But lately their music has become so much more.

"Now my voice and my brother's guitar are our 'weapons,'" Ghada says, staring out to what lies beyond the horizon. "During the last offensive on Gaza (in the summer of 2014), the resistance was inspired by national songs of bravery and a vision of future freedom. And now, so are we."

Out of our homeland and in the global north, we have to be intentional about the way that we use our influence to impact countries in the global south.

When I was in my first year of university I began actively studying all of the people and cultures that I learned nothing about in high school. Indigenous Studies, African, Caribbean and Latin American history.

Imagine running through endless rows of luscious trees that tower over you, while being enveloped by the sweet aroma of freshly ripened apples. Envision yourself walking your dog down a nature trail and being entranced by the transformation of green leaves to bright yellow, orange and red. See yourself walking through a calm, undisturbed forest, while the snowflakes slowly dance down all around you. Then, visualize yourself spending hot summer days running up vast sand dunes and diving head first into the clear, refreshing water of Lake Michigan.

Gov. Mike Pence recently declared that Indiana will not comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's new Clean Power Plan, calling it "ill-conceived."

However, it is Pence's position that is ill-conceived, since it will endanger the health of the most vulnerable residents of our state and is based on dubious, unsubstantiated economic analysis. Here's why.

Currently, the GOP is hailing Sen. John McCain as a war hero. As most people are familiar, in 1967, McCain became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. To most people, surviving years of alleged torture would qualify one as a war hero.

But it is funny how this honor is quickly removed when the GOP finds it necessary.

Presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets DESTROYED in this rant by Lee Camp. But then again, doesn't he deserve it? 

Sonoma County Winegrowers bought an expensive, full-page, color ad, using tax dollars, this July in the daily Santa Rosa Press Democrat and in various weeklies. It ignited a firestorm of protest with angry letters to editors and online comments storming publications that ran it.

The ad, which ran on July 12, claims that the industry is "sustainable" and "growing a better place to live, work and play." It offers no proof or third party verification by an independent agency not employed by the wine industry.

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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.

Jul 29

Adjunct Professors and Workers' Rights

By Laura Finley, Speakout | Op-Ed

The workers' rights movement has exploded in the last few years, with fast food, agricultural and other workers staging strikes andother nonviolent actions to demand increased wages, benefits, and better working conditions. One group of workers that has received far too little attention is adjunct college professors.

According to data collected by the Chronicle of Higher Education, adjuncts at one college and two universities near my home in Southeast Florida earn between $1,380 and $3,000 to teach a fifteen week, three credit course. My own university's published rates range from $1,500 to $3,000. A national survey found the average pay for a three-credit course to be $2,700. Given that the typical equation for calculating preparation and grading time for a three-credit course is three hours for every one hour of class time, it's safeto assume that adjuncts put in a good 135 hours during a semester. That works out to just over $10 an hour for someone making the lowest rate and about $22 an hour for the higher rate based on the rates listed above. This is appalling, especially since most adjuncts have terminal degrees and the massive student debt that accompanies them, and it puts many adjuncts in the same camp as 42 percent of workers in the U.S who earn less than $15 an hour, according to Forbes. The American Association of University Professors has noted that of the more than 30,000 adjunct professors who would like to obtain a full-time academic position, more than 60 percent hold one or more other jobs.

In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules to crack down on predatory payday lenders. These rules would prevent many payday lending abuses and give consumers a way out of lenders' debt trap.

Under the CFPB's new rules, borrowers would first have to show they could cover their basic living expenses while repaying loans. Lenders could skip "means testing" and instead limit each person's total borrowing to $500 – with a single finance charge and no repeated charges. Gone would be auto title loans: if you can't repay, lenders can't grab your car. (Workers often lose their jobs when they lose their wheels, a "death spiral" that spreads personal and financial chaos.)

Faced with the rising rents of commercial properties in cities, one New York organization is modeling a way for people to invest in permanently affordable, commercial real estate. The New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative (REIC) leverages patient crowdfunding—small investments by a large number of people over time—to turn vacant municipal properties into sustainable community resources.

Created in February, REIC aims to leverage the investments and political power of its members to secure real estate that supports "cultural organizations, cooperative businesses, and sustainable neighborhoods." The organization does so through its civic crowdfunding platform.

Jul 28

Bullet Songs From Gaza

By Shrouq Hamed El-Aila, We Are Not Numbers | Video

Once Ghada Shoman, 20, and her brother Mohammed, 16, began playing music, their songs flew through the sky as if seeking the peace missing from their lives. But lately their music has become so much more.

"Now my voice and my brother's guitar are our 'weapons,'" Ghada says, staring out to what lies beyond the horizon. "During the last offensive on Gaza (in the summer of 2014), the resistance was inspired by national songs of bravery and a vision of future freedom. And now, so are we."

Out of our homeland and in the global north, we have to be intentional about the way that we use our influence to impact countries in the global south.

When I was in my first year of university I began actively studying all of the people and cultures that I learned nothing about in high school. Indigenous Studies, African, Caribbean and Latin American history.

Imagine running through endless rows of luscious trees that tower over you, while being enveloped by the sweet aroma of freshly ripened apples. Envision yourself walking your dog down a nature trail and being entranced by the transformation of green leaves to bright yellow, orange and red. See yourself walking through a calm, undisturbed forest, while the snowflakes slowly dance down all around you. Then, visualize yourself spending hot summer days running up vast sand dunes and diving head first into the clear, refreshing water of Lake Michigan.

Gov. Mike Pence recently declared that Indiana will not comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's new Clean Power Plan, calling it "ill-conceived."

However, it is Pence's position that is ill-conceived, since it will endanger the health of the most vulnerable residents of our state and is based on dubious, unsubstantiated economic analysis. Here's why.

Currently, the GOP is hailing Sen. John McCain as a war hero. As most people are familiar, in 1967, McCain became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. To most people, surviving years of alleged torture would qualify one as a war hero.

But it is funny how this honor is quickly removed when the GOP finds it necessary.

Presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets DESTROYED in this rant by Lee Camp. But then again, doesn't he deserve it? 

Sonoma County Winegrowers bought an expensive, full-page, color ad, using tax dollars, this July in the daily Santa Rosa Press Democrat and in various weeklies. It ignited a firestorm of protest with angry letters to editors and online comments storming publications that ran it.

The ad, which ran on July 12, claims that the industry is "sustainable" and "growing a better place to live, work and play." It offers no proof or third party verification by an independent agency not employed by the wine industry.