Monday, 24 November 2014 / 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.

California's Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) just published a draft plan that would allow the CDFA to spray any pesticide anywhere, at any time, for any pest, with no opportunity for public input – indefinitely.

Under the guise of its mandated mission to prevent the introduction and spread of injurious insect pests, plant diseases and noxious weeds in California, this overarching, dictatorial proposal is clearly an insidious covert ploy to overtly destroy organic farming in the state of California, an egregious assault on public health and a racket. It is an irresponsible, unconscionable mandate for chemical toxin industrial manufacturers to sell and apply poisons - cancer causing, pollinator- bird- and bee-killing pesticides and herbicides throughout the state of California, and a trial run to, if successful, apply the same toxic martial spraying laws across the entire United States.

Oct 27

Nurses Emerge as Front Line "Climate Workers"

By Tamanna Rahman and Brendan Smith, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As the Ebola outbreak continues to dominate headlines, so too do the stories of health care workers fighting to contain the disease. The climate crisis is morphing into a public health crisis, forcing nurses to join the ranks of other workers on the front lines of climate change: firefighters battling ever more destructive fires, farmers struggling to coax crops from drought-ravaged fields, fishermen hauling empty nets from warming waters. The nature of work is changing and we're not prepared.

For nurses, the risks became strikingly clear when news leaked out that Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, two nurses at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, had contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national infected with the disease. While both nurses thankfully recovered, their situation highlights nurses as a new generation of "climate workers" exposed to expanding dangers on the job.

Oct 27

Disappeared

By Emanuel E. Garcia, SpeakOut | Art

Acrylic on canvas 24 x 30 inches

Emanuel E. Garcia, 2014

Front View:

2014 1027pntn 1(Photo: Suzanne Herschell)

In the home of the Free Speech Movement at the U.C. Berkeley campus, students got a rude awakening when what they describe as an administrator "with clear political motivations" shut down the Beehive Collective's art project on drought and Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond.

The Post is really angry that people are talking about the rich getting everything at the expense of everyone else. It demands in the headline of an article, "stop with the fiction of a binary economy." 

Actually, nothing in the article really gives us much reason to question the reality of the binary economy that many economists have written about. For example, it tells readers:

"The jobless rate in the center of the United States from North Dakota to Texas is less than 5 percent and has been well below the national rate for five years."

Washington, D.C.- Dilma Rousseff’s victory in presidential elections no doubt signals a desire from voters to see the past decade’s economic and social gains continue, Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. With 98 percent of the votes counted, the Workers Party’s (PT) Rousseff was declared the winner with 51.4 percent of the vote over challenger Aécio Neves of the Social Democrats (PSDB), who had 48.5 percent.

“It really should never have been close,” Weisbrot said. “The Workers Party governments have delivered on clear economic and social gains since they first came to power in 2003, and voters apparently want those gains to continue. Even with the recent recession, and taking into account the financial crisis and Global Recession of 2008-2009, there has been average annual per capita GDP economic growth three times that of the previous PSDB administration.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has officially released a Fair Foodlabel to help shoppers identify which tomatoes come from ethical farms.

The label will be available to all grocery stores and restaurants that participate in the Fair Food Program. Participants in the Program pay a small premium when they buy Florida tomatoes, with the premium going to increase wages for farmworkers. They also commit to a worker-created Code of Conduct to ensure safe working conditions and prevent forced labor, sexual harassment and child labor in the fields.  The Fair Food Program has been called “the best workplace monitoring program in the US,” in the New York Times and “one of the great human rights success stories of our day,” in the Washington Post

Oct 25

On Taking Risks and Eating Crow

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

A long, warm, coatless autumn made some wonder whether climate change might cancel winter this year in a reverse of the canceled summer two centuries ago in a year called "1800-and-froze-to-death". But no, I now read that the weather will change after all. Northern blasts may soon be here.

Perhaps economically as well? Two French economy ministers clearly felt the chill when visiting Berlin on October 20th, hoping to thaw out Angela Merkel's icy "austerity policy". Burdened with a 4.3 percent French budget deficit, above the European Union's 3 percent limit, and with President Hollande's popularity nearing the freezing point, these modern versions of Socialist politicians called for a deal: if Germany would invest 50 billion euros in projects to relieve Europe's sagging economy, France would cut its budget by 50 billion euros. But German leaders slapped down such a trade-off, tightly clutching their austere policies; Sigmar Gabriel, Merkel's Minister of Economics (but, at least according to his membership card, also a Social Democrat), said more private investments by France in areas like research were better than "flash-in-the-pan schemes". France should rather see about cutting its deficit, say by slicing up more labor laws. Noting who held the better cards, Monsieur le ministre soon ate crow: "I wasn't demanding anything," he whined. "It was just a suggestion."

The movie Kill the Messenger has brought to new attention to charges that the CIA was involved in drug smuggling in the 1980s. The central allegation is that the CIA at least looked the other way, as its allies in arming the Contras trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government smuggled large amounts of cocaine into the United States. Jeff Leen, the Post's assistant managing editor for investigations, took up the issue in the Post's Outlook section today.

Oct 25

Restore Recess: A Movement is Born

By Jesse Hagopian, I Am An Educator | Op-Ed

You have heard about Seattle's fight for a $15 minimum wage, or the teachers who organized a mass boycott of the MAP test. But you might not be aware of the newest movement–organized for one of the most basic human rights–that was recently ignited in the emerald city: The struggle for the right to play.

Parents and educators across Seattle are taking action to defend their children's right to ample time for recess and lunch. Parents and students at Whittier Elementary school set this movement in motion when they voiced objection to the school reducing lunch and recess time from 40 minutes to half an hour–gaining important local TV and media attention. Parents at Leschi Elementary soon launched an online petition that has gathered nearly a thousand signatures in a few short days. Now there is a city-wide organization of parents, students, and teachers called, "Lunch and Recess Matter." Lunch and Recess Matter is organizing a rally at the Seattle School District headquarters before the November 5th school board meeting (If you have a message of solidarity, relevant research, or attend a school with an important recess story, please contact me).

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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.

California's Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) just published a draft plan that would allow the CDFA to spray any pesticide anywhere, at any time, for any pest, with no opportunity for public input – indefinitely.

Under the guise of its mandated mission to prevent the introduction and spread of injurious insect pests, plant diseases and noxious weeds in California, this overarching, dictatorial proposal is clearly an insidious covert ploy to overtly destroy organic farming in the state of California, an egregious assault on public health and a racket. It is an irresponsible, unconscionable mandate for chemical toxin industrial manufacturers to sell and apply poisons - cancer causing, pollinator- bird- and bee-killing pesticides and herbicides throughout the state of California, and a trial run to, if successful, apply the same toxic martial spraying laws across the entire United States.

Oct 27

Nurses Emerge as Front Line "Climate Workers"

By Tamanna Rahman and Brendan Smith, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

As the Ebola outbreak continues to dominate headlines, so too do the stories of health care workers fighting to contain the disease. The climate crisis is morphing into a public health crisis, forcing nurses to join the ranks of other workers on the front lines of climate change: firefighters battling ever more destructive fires, farmers struggling to coax crops from drought-ravaged fields, fishermen hauling empty nets from warming waters. The nature of work is changing and we're not prepared.

For nurses, the risks became strikingly clear when news leaked out that Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, two nurses at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, had contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national infected with the disease. While both nurses thankfully recovered, their situation highlights nurses as a new generation of "climate workers" exposed to expanding dangers on the job.

Oct 27

Disappeared

By Emanuel E. Garcia, SpeakOut | Art

Acrylic on canvas 24 x 30 inches

Emanuel E. Garcia, 2014

Front View:

2014 1027pntn 1(Photo: Suzanne Herschell)

In the home of the Free Speech Movement at the U.C. Berkeley campus, students got a rude awakening when what they describe as an administrator "with clear political motivations" shut down the Beehive Collective's art project on drought and Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond.

The Post is really angry that people are talking about the rich getting everything at the expense of everyone else. It demands in the headline of an article, "stop with the fiction of a binary economy." 

Actually, nothing in the article really gives us much reason to question the reality of the binary economy that many economists have written about. For example, it tells readers:

"The jobless rate in the center of the United States from North Dakota to Texas is less than 5 percent and has been well below the national rate for five years."

Washington, D.C.- Dilma Rousseff’s victory in presidential elections no doubt signals a desire from voters to see the past decade’s economic and social gains continue, Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. With 98 percent of the votes counted, the Workers Party’s (PT) Rousseff was declared the winner with 51.4 percent of the vote over challenger Aécio Neves of the Social Democrats (PSDB), who had 48.5 percent.

“It really should never have been close,” Weisbrot said. “The Workers Party governments have delivered on clear economic and social gains since they first came to power in 2003, and voters apparently want those gains to continue. Even with the recent recession, and taking into account the financial crisis and Global Recession of 2008-2009, there has been average annual per capita GDP economic growth three times that of the previous PSDB administration.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has officially released a Fair Foodlabel to help shoppers identify which tomatoes come from ethical farms.

The label will be available to all grocery stores and restaurants that participate in the Fair Food Program. Participants in the Program pay a small premium when they buy Florida tomatoes, with the premium going to increase wages for farmworkers. They also commit to a worker-created Code of Conduct to ensure safe working conditions and prevent forced labor, sexual harassment and child labor in the fields.  The Fair Food Program has been called “the best workplace monitoring program in the US,” in the New York Times and “one of the great human rights success stories of our day,” in the Washington Post

Oct 25

On Taking Risks and Eating Crow

By Victor Grossman, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

A long, warm, coatless autumn made some wonder whether climate change might cancel winter this year in a reverse of the canceled summer two centuries ago in a year called "1800-and-froze-to-death". But no, I now read that the weather will change after all. Northern blasts may soon be here.

Perhaps economically as well? Two French economy ministers clearly felt the chill when visiting Berlin on October 20th, hoping to thaw out Angela Merkel's icy "austerity policy". Burdened with a 4.3 percent French budget deficit, above the European Union's 3 percent limit, and with President Hollande's popularity nearing the freezing point, these modern versions of Socialist politicians called for a deal: if Germany would invest 50 billion euros in projects to relieve Europe's sagging economy, France would cut its budget by 50 billion euros. But German leaders slapped down such a trade-off, tightly clutching their austere policies; Sigmar Gabriel, Merkel's Minister of Economics (but, at least according to his membership card, also a Social Democrat), said more private investments by France in areas like research were better than "flash-in-the-pan schemes". France should rather see about cutting its deficit, say by slicing up more labor laws. Noting who held the better cards, Monsieur le ministre soon ate crow: "I wasn't demanding anything," he whined. "It was just a suggestion."

The movie Kill the Messenger has brought to new attention to charges that the CIA was involved in drug smuggling in the 1980s. The central allegation is that the CIA at least looked the other way, as its allies in arming the Contras trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government smuggled large amounts of cocaine into the United States. Jeff Leen, the Post's assistant managing editor for investigations, took up the issue in the Post's Outlook section today.

Oct 25

Restore Recess: A Movement is Born

By Jesse Hagopian, I Am An Educator | Op-Ed

You have heard about Seattle's fight for a $15 minimum wage, or the teachers who organized a mass boycott of the MAP test. But you might not be aware of the newest movement–organized for one of the most basic human rights–that was recently ignited in the emerald city: The struggle for the right to play.

Parents and educators across Seattle are taking action to defend their children's right to ample time for recess and lunch. Parents and students at Whittier Elementary school set this movement in motion when they voiced objection to the school reducing lunch and recess time from 40 minutes to half an hour–gaining important local TV and media attention. Parents at Leschi Elementary soon launched an online petition that has gathered nearly a thousand signatures in a few short days. Now there is a city-wide organization of parents, students, and teachers called, "Lunch and Recess Matter." Lunch and Recess Matter is organizing a rally at the Seattle School District headquarters before the November 5th school board meeting (If you have a message of solidarity, relevant research, or attend a school with an important recess story, please contact me).