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On Tuesday, April 7, 2015 Gerald Hankerson, the President of the Seattle/King CountyNAACP and Rita Green, the Education Chair of the Seattle/King County NAACP, began our press conference with a powerful idea and a call for action that holds the potential to help produce a tremendous social transformation. Together their opening remarks at the press conference—a gathering of parents, teachers, and community leaders that I helped to organize in opposition to the CommonCore "Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium" (SBAC) tests—represent a clarion call to both education advocates and social justice activists across the country. Their simple, yet mighty, proposition is that the movement to oppose high-stakes standardized testing and the Black Lives Matter movement (and other struggles against oppression) should and can unite in a great uprising in service of transforming our schools into an environment designed to nurture our children, in body and intellect, rather than to rank, sort, and reproduce institutional racism.
Hankerson, kicking off the event, referenced the "long and ugly history" of using standardized tests in an effort to establish white supremacy. This is a history that the corporate "testocracy" is desperate to insure remains hidden from the public, as the uncovering of this history would bury their attempts to claim that standardizing testing is the key to closing the "achievement gap."
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus (ALC) today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter seeking government action to evacuate American citizens trapped in Yemen. [NOTE: The lawsuit was filed by ADC and CAIR attorneys.]
Plaintiffs in the case, all American citizens or permanent citizens trapped in Yemen, are challenging "the constitutionality of the United States government's action and/or failure to act to protect United States citizens in Yemen, whose lives are in danger from ongoing military action and violent attacks." [NOTE: The plaintiffs are all part of the more than 450 people who registered on the StuckInYemen.com website. See below.]
Progressive groups are mobilizing in opposition to a bill that would threaten the tenuous diplomatic process underway to limit Iran's nuclear program. The bill, S. 615 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, sponsored by Republican Senator Bob Corker, would give Congress review power over the any final agreement with Iran. As it currently stands, the bill would undermine the ongoing negotiations, and move the US closer towards the possibility of war with Iran. Jewish Voice for Peace joins the National Iranian American Council, Move On, Credo Action, Just Foreign Policy and many other progressive groups in calling for Senators to reject the bill.
Some Congressional Democrats are pushing back against specific provisions in order to weaken the bill's ability to stymie negotiations with Iran. But, with the support from Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, the bill could gain a veto-proof majority. Jewish Voice for Peace supporters around the country are calling their Senators to encourage them to let diplomacy work.
Montevideo, UY and New York, US - Today the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) formally approved an industry request to release genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. The application was made by FuturaGene, a company owned by Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano. This is the first approval for commercial release of GE trees in Brazil or Latin America.
Organizations in Brazil are exploring legal avenues to stop the commercial release of GE eucalyptus trees, pointing out that this decision violates national law.
New York, NY - After Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State legislature failed to pass the most needed ethics and campaign finance reforms this spring, the Board of Elections must close a corporate loophole that allows wealthy donors to bypass campaign limits and donate millions of dollars in state elections, urged theBrennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP in a letter Thursday.
The New York Board of Elections currently classifies limited liability companies (LLCs) as individuals rather than "corporations" or "partnerships," as they are treated under federal law. This allows each LLC to give hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, many times the corporate limit.
The private health insurance industry in the U.S. has had a long run since shifting to medical underwriting and a for-profit status in the early 1960s. It finds itself increasingly dependent on the government as the costs and prices ofhealth care have continued upward since the 1980s. Its many perks from government include tax exemptions for employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), privatized Medicare and Medicaid programs, and longstanding over-payments to Medicare Advantage programs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has added to these perks since 2010 with subsidized premiums through the exchanges, a “risk corridor system” to protect insurers from losses, and allowing automatic self-renewal for 2015 plans.
Kingston, Ontario - Multi-instrumentalist, music producer and social justice activist Shuggie Brown, aka Hugh Christopher Brown, releases a new original song, "Ravensong," penned exclusively for the purpose of helping to raise funds for the Beaver Lake Cree Nation's tar sands devastation global crowd ("Grrowd") funding project. "Ravensong", written and performed by Shuggie Brown, and featuring Beaver Lake Cree Nation member Crystal Lameman, is available as an immediate download to every supporter who pledges a donation of € 5 or more.
The GOP's new budget proposal finally does what we've all wanted - takes food away from the disabled. The wheelchair-bound have been living up in their ivory tower for TOO LONG!
Washington, DC - Ahead of President Obama's trip to Jamaica this week,a new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finds that Jamaica is running the most austere budget in the world, with a primary surplus of 7.5 percent, due to its IMF agreement, and that the government's interest payments on the debt and austerity have brought public investment to a low.
The paper, "Partners in Austerity: Jamaica, the United States andthe International Monetary Fund" by Jake Johnston, notes that Jamaica has a debt-to-GDP ratio of nearly 140 percent and its public interest burden is one of the very highest intheworld, at over 8 percent of GDP last year.
Below is the thank you letter that educators at Seattle's Garfield High Schoolwrote to Nathan Hale High School for their courage in taking the lead in the movement to oppose the new "Smarter Balanced Assessment Common Core Tests. Their example helped inspire Garfield to win a major victory against the SBA test, and has helped ignite the opt out movement around Seattle. Seattle's opt out movement is now the largest in the city's history. Thank you Nathan Hale!