Saturday, 28 March 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.

"I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect." Audre Lorde

As a member of the Afrikan-Canadian community in the city of Toronto, I am quite puzzled by the exuberant display of irrationality and misplaced expectations over the possibility of the appointment of either Deputy Chief Peter Sloly or Deputy Chief Mark Saunders as the next police chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS). These two cops are both Afrikan-Canadians.

Mar 11

Libya, ISIS and the Unaffordable Luxury of Hindsight

By Ahmad Barqawi, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Who are you?" the late Muammar Gaddafi once rhetorically asked in a famous speech of his towards the end of his reign; (rightly) questioning the legitimacy of those seeking to over-throw his government at the time, calling them extremists, foreign agents, rats and drug-addicts. He was laughed at, unfairly caricatured, ridiculed and incessantly demonized; a distasteful parody video poking fun at the late Libyan leader even went viral on social media; evidently the maker of the video, an Israeli, thought the Libyan colloquial Arabic word "Zenga" (which means an Alleyway) sounded funny enough that he extracted it from one of Gaddafi's speeches, looped it on top of a hip-hop backing track and voilà... he got himself a hit video which was widely (and shamefully) circulated with a "revolutionary" zeal in the Arab world. We shared; we laughed; he died.

But the bloody joke is on all of us; Gaddafi knew what he was talking about; right from the get-go: he accused the so-called Libyan rebels of being influenced by Al-Qaeda ideology and Ben Laden's school of thought; no one had taken his word for it of course, not even a little bit. I mean why should we have? After all, wasn't he a vile, sex-centric dictator hell-bent on massacring half of the Libyan population while subjecting the other half to manic raping sprees with the aid of his trusted army of Viagra-gobbling, sub-Saharan mercenaries? At least that's what we got from the visual cancer that is Al Jazeera channel and its even more acrid Saudi counterpart Al-Arabiya in their heavily skewed coverage of NATO's vicious conquest of Libya. Plus Gaddafi did dress funny; why would anyone trust a haggard, weird-looking despot dressed in colorful rags when you have well-groomed Zionists like Bernard-Henri Lévy, John McCain and Hillary Clinton at your side, smiling and flashing the victory sign in group photo-ops, right?

Mar 11

Domestic Workers From Across Globe Urge Inclusion at United Nations Women's Summit

By Staff, National Domestic Workers Alliance | Press Release

March 8, 2015 - New York, NY: For the next two weeks, the United Nations will be the central site for any effort to address gender equality as world governments attend the Commission on the Status of Women: Implementing the Beijing Platform of 1995. At the events, domestic workers from multiple countries will push for adoption of international labor standards and labor projections for domestic workers  as central components of any plan for women’s rights in the next twenty years.  

In a rare opportunity, representatives of the International Domestic Worker Federation, a global network formed in 2006 representing the 53 million member workforce with 47 affiliates in 43 countries, will take the stage at the historic event to speak to the phenomena of forced labor and common abuse within domestic and care work.

"The families homelessness has nothing to do with the Housing Authority, we couldn't help what the landlord did." I listened as the Housing Authority of Monterey County supervisor rattled off a long list of reasons that they thought released their agency from any responsibility for the crisis of Bessie Taylor and her disabled sun Devonte who are now living houselessly in Salinas, California because the Housing Authority took too long to move on the families reasonable accommodation claim and they subsequently lost their home of 22 years.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protects you from illegal discrimination and harassment in housing based on a mental or physical disability. Discrimination includes, but is not limited to, the following actions failure to provide reasonable accommodation in rules, policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, read at the Press conference by Krip Hop Nation/POOR Magazine reporter Leroy Moore.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples' rights, has received disturbing reports that the smallest and most vulnerable tribe in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley is starving, as a result of the destruction of their forest and the slow death of the river on which they depend.

The Kwegu, who number just 1,000, hunt, fish and grow crops along the banks of the Omo River. But the massive Gibe III dam and associated large-scale irrigation for commercial plantations on tribal land will stop the Omo River's floods, and destroy the fish stocks on which the Kwegu depend. Recent satellite images show that the Ethiopian government has started to fill the Gibe III dam reservoir.

Mar 10

An Ugly Week in Washington

By Dr James J Zogby, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

If "l'affaire Netanyahu" weren't bad enough, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell added insult to injury when he announced that early next week, he will move for a vote on a bill requiring the White House to secure Congressional review and approval of any agreement concluded between the P5+1 negotiators and Iran.

McConnell's surprise move may have made AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobby) and Netanyahu happy, but in acting unilaterally, he may have driven a nail in the coffin of bipartisan cooperation on Iran. In just one week, not only did Republicans try to embarrass the President by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress, they also broke the deal they made with their Democratic colleagues to delay consideration of the "Congressional review" bill until after the March 23 deadline for this phase of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Shortly after McConnell announced his intentions, key Democratic Senators who were among the original co-sponsors of the bill denounced his move as partisan, raising doubts that it would get the votes it needs to be debated on the Senate floor.

If I had had the chance to shake former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich's hand at his well-publicized meet-and-greet in Derry, New Hampshire, I would have slipped him a one dollar bill emblazoned with red-ink that says "Not To Be Used For Bribing Politicians." That pretty much sums up the frustration, cynicism and raw anger Granite Staters feel about the condition of politics in our country. The Ehrlich event was supposed to be the kick-off for his swing through New Hampshire.  But they wouldn't let me in the door. Invite-only, and I wasn't on the list.

There used to be an upside to the year before the New Hampshire primary.  

Mar 10

Whither Public Education?

By Thomas J. Scott, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The author presents a critique of neoconservative education policy, arguing it is based on three fallacies: the importance of international test scores, standardized testing and failing to recognize the impact of poverty on student achievement.

Over the past three decades, public schools in the United States have come under assault from neoconservative "reformers" who see the public education system as a failing institution, threatening the ability of the United States to compete in the global economy. Neoconservatives believe the only way to save public schools is to subject them to market forces. This reform movement has been effective in framing the national debate on education: choice means privatization, achievement is measured by test scores and eliminating the collective bargaining rights of teachers enhances quality instruction. The implementation of this movement, however, has been based on several fallacies.

Mar 10

Raising Interest Rates Could Have an Adverse Effect on Federal and State Budgets

By Staff, The Center for Economic and Policy Research | Press Release

Washington, DC – Last week, the BLS announced that unemployment had fallen to 5.5 percent. Many analysts and policymakers questioned whether this would spur the Federal Reserve raise interest rates as has long been speculated. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) points out, though, that if the Fed were to raise e rates and keep unemployment from falling further, it would have a substantially negative impact on the budget.

The report, “The Budgetary Implications of Higher Federal Reserve Board Interest Rates,” calculates the plausible size of the impacts of a policy that uses higher interest rates to deliberately slow the economy. Dean Baker, Co-Director of CEPR and author of the report, demonstrates that a change of this nature in interest rate policy by the Fed would have serious consequences for both federal and state budgets.

Never underestimate the power of the US education system to produce citizens incapable of exciting themselves about anything of consequence.

Robert Sheer, University of Southern California professor, spoke in Berkeley, California, offering an impassioned lecture about the nature of modern surveillance. Sheer repeatedly expressed dismay to the audience that, while teaching courses, he is continually confronted with students reacting passively to information about US violations of personal privacy, both by corporations and governments. So why are millennials, myself included, uniquely dulled to fundamental threats against personal electronic sovereignty? I will first offer a brief analysis of the larger context in which millennials have forged their indifference to privacy violations, and then bring into focus the specific ways in which the education system manufactures millennial apathy.

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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.

"I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect." Audre Lorde

As a member of the Afrikan-Canadian community in the city of Toronto, I am quite puzzled by the exuberant display of irrationality and misplaced expectations over the possibility of the appointment of either Deputy Chief Peter Sloly or Deputy Chief Mark Saunders as the next police chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS). These two cops are both Afrikan-Canadians.

Mar 11

Libya, ISIS and the Unaffordable Luxury of Hindsight

By Ahmad Barqawi, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

"Who are you?" the late Muammar Gaddafi once rhetorically asked in a famous speech of his towards the end of his reign; (rightly) questioning the legitimacy of those seeking to over-throw his government at the time, calling them extremists, foreign agents, rats and drug-addicts. He was laughed at, unfairly caricatured, ridiculed and incessantly demonized; a distasteful parody video poking fun at the late Libyan leader even went viral on social media; evidently the maker of the video, an Israeli, thought the Libyan colloquial Arabic word "Zenga" (which means an Alleyway) sounded funny enough that he extracted it from one of Gaddafi's speeches, looped it on top of a hip-hop backing track and voilà... he got himself a hit video which was widely (and shamefully) circulated with a "revolutionary" zeal in the Arab world. We shared; we laughed; he died.

But the bloody joke is on all of us; Gaddafi knew what he was talking about; right from the get-go: he accused the so-called Libyan rebels of being influenced by Al-Qaeda ideology and Ben Laden's school of thought; no one had taken his word for it of course, not even a little bit. I mean why should we have? After all, wasn't he a vile, sex-centric dictator hell-bent on massacring half of the Libyan population while subjecting the other half to manic raping sprees with the aid of his trusted army of Viagra-gobbling, sub-Saharan mercenaries? At least that's what we got from the visual cancer that is Al Jazeera channel and its even more acrid Saudi counterpart Al-Arabiya in their heavily skewed coverage of NATO's vicious conquest of Libya. Plus Gaddafi did dress funny; why would anyone trust a haggard, weird-looking despot dressed in colorful rags when you have well-groomed Zionists like Bernard-Henri Lévy, John McCain and Hillary Clinton at your side, smiling and flashing the victory sign in group photo-ops, right?

Mar 11

Domestic Workers From Across Globe Urge Inclusion at United Nations Women's Summit

By Staff, National Domestic Workers Alliance | Press Release

March 8, 2015 - New York, NY: For the next two weeks, the United Nations will be the central site for any effort to address gender equality as world governments attend the Commission on the Status of Women: Implementing the Beijing Platform of 1995. At the events, domestic workers from multiple countries will push for adoption of international labor standards and labor projections for domestic workers  as central components of any plan for women’s rights in the next twenty years.  

In a rare opportunity, representatives of the International Domestic Worker Federation, a global network formed in 2006 representing the 53 million member workforce with 47 affiliates in 43 countries, will take the stage at the historic event to speak to the phenomena of forced labor and common abuse within domestic and care work.

"The families homelessness has nothing to do with the Housing Authority, we couldn't help what the landlord did." I listened as the Housing Authority of Monterey County supervisor rattled off a long list of reasons that they thought released their agency from any responsibility for the crisis of Bessie Taylor and her disabled sun Devonte who are now living houselessly in Salinas, California because the Housing Authority took too long to move on the families reasonable accommodation claim and they subsequently lost their home of 22 years.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protects you from illegal discrimination and harassment in housing based on a mental or physical disability. Discrimination includes, but is not limited to, the following actions failure to provide reasonable accommodation in rules, policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, read at the Press conference by Krip Hop Nation/POOR Magazine reporter Leroy Moore.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples' rights, has received disturbing reports that the smallest and most vulnerable tribe in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley is starving, as a result of the destruction of their forest and the slow death of the river on which they depend.

The Kwegu, who number just 1,000, hunt, fish and grow crops along the banks of the Omo River. But the massive Gibe III dam and associated large-scale irrigation for commercial plantations on tribal land will stop the Omo River's floods, and destroy the fish stocks on which the Kwegu depend. Recent satellite images show that the Ethiopian government has started to fill the Gibe III dam reservoir.

Mar 10

An Ugly Week in Washington

By Dr James J Zogby, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

If "l'affaire Netanyahu" weren't bad enough, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell added insult to injury when he announced that early next week, he will move for a vote on a bill requiring the White House to secure Congressional review and approval of any agreement concluded between the P5+1 negotiators and Iran.

McConnell's surprise move may have made AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobby) and Netanyahu happy, but in acting unilaterally, he may have driven a nail in the coffin of bipartisan cooperation on Iran. In just one week, not only did Republicans try to embarrass the President by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress, they also broke the deal they made with their Democratic colleagues to delay consideration of the "Congressional review" bill until after the March 23 deadline for this phase of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Shortly after McConnell announced his intentions, key Democratic Senators who were among the original co-sponsors of the bill denounced his move as partisan, raising doubts that it would get the votes it needs to be debated on the Senate floor.

If I had had the chance to shake former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich's hand at his well-publicized meet-and-greet in Derry, New Hampshire, I would have slipped him a one dollar bill emblazoned with red-ink that says "Not To Be Used For Bribing Politicians." That pretty much sums up the frustration, cynicism and raw anger Granite Staters feel about the condition of politics in our country. The Ehrlich event was supposed to be the kick-off for his swing through New Hampshire.  But they wouldn't let me in the door. Invite-only, and I wasn't on the list.

There used to be an upside to the year before the New Hampshire primary.  

Mar 10

Whither Public Education?

By Thomas J. Scott, SpeakOut | News Analysis

The author presents a critique of neoconservative education policy, arguing it is based on three fallacies: the importance of international test scores, standardized testing and failing to recognize the impact of poverty on student achievement.

Over the past three decades, public schools in the United States have come under assault from neoconservative "reformers" who see the public education system as a failing institution, threatening the ability of the United States to compete in the global economy. Neoconservatives believe the only way to save public schools is to subject them to market forces. This reform movement has been effective in framing the national debate on education: choice means privatization, achievement is measured by test scores and eliminating the collective bargaining rights of teachers enhances quality instruction. The implementation of this movement, however, has been based on several fallacies.

Mar 10

Raising Interest Rates Could Have an Adverse Effect on Federal and State Budgets

By Staff, The Center for Economic and Policy Research | Press Release

Washington, DC – Last week, the BLS announced that unemployment had fallen to 5.5 percent. Many analysts and policymakers questioned whether this would spur the Federal Reserve raise interest rates as has long been speculated. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) points out, though, that if the Fed were to raise e rates and keep unemployment from falling further, it would have a substantially negative impact on the budget.

The report, “The Budgetary Implications of Higher Federal Reserve Board Interest Rates,” calculates the plausible size of the impacts of a policy that uses higher interest rates to deliberately slow the economy. Dean Baker, Co-Director of CEPR and author of the report, demonstrates that a change of this nature in interest rate policy by the Fed would have serious consequences for both federal and state budgets.

Never underestimate the power of the US education system to produce citizens incapable of exciting themselves about anything of consequence.

Robert Sheer, University of Southern California professor, spoke in Berkeley, California, offering an impassioned lecture about the nature of modern surveillance. Sheer repeatedly expressed dismay to the audience that, while teaching courses, he is continually confronted with students reacting passively to information about US violations of personal privacy, both by corporations and governments. So why are millennials, myself included, uniquely dulled to fundamental threats against personal electronic sovereignty? I will first offer a brief analysis of the larger context in which millennials have forged their indifference to privacy violations, and then bring into focus the specific ways in which the education system manufactures millennial apathy.