Thursday, 18 December 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.

Mar 04

The Test Boycott Is On!

By Jesse Hagopian, I Am An Educator | Opinion

The testing boycott is official! Today, teachers at Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy and Thomas Drummond Elementary School are refusing to distribute the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT), even though Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has said they could lose their state certification if they boycott the test.

Why would dedicated teachers--from Seattle to Chicago---add the stress of disciplinary action against them to an already stressful job and refuse to distribute bubble tests to kids? I asked that questions to one of the leaders of the Saucedo boycott, Sarah Chambers.

March 4, 2014, New York – The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it would not hear Center for Constitutional Rights v. Obama, a lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of people within the United States. The suit sought an injunction ordering the government to destroy any records of surveillance that it still retains from the illegal NSA program. 

The Court's decision comes as increasing evidence suggests the government has been surveilling attorney-client communications for some time. The New York Times recently reported that in 2013 the NSA surveilled law firm Mayer Brown while it represented the government of Indonesia in trade talks with the United States. In 2008, The Times reported Justice Department officials had confirmed that attorney-client communications in terrorism cases were sometimes subject to surveillance. And a document accidentally released to an Islamic charity in 2004 indicated that the D.C.-based attorneys for the charity had been subject to surveillance while speaking to their clients.

Mar 03

Red Baiting Continues Long After End of the Cold War

By Rowan Wolf, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Despite the fact that we assume the Cold War is long over, both contemporary propaganda as well as US actions belie that "fact," as evidenced by current US anti-communist propaganda on two current  issues - the activities of the NSA, and the events in Ukraine. 

The power of propaganda has been on my mind a lot as of late, driven by the continuing revelations and discussion regarding the activities of the NSA and US coverage and "reporting" on the events in the Ukraine. Both share many commonalities.

Mar 03

Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture

By Karen Rybold Chin, SpeakOut | Video Report

One of the world’s foremost authorities on restoration agriculture, Mark Shepard is happy that its popularity is growing but worries that its systemic nature is being misunderstood or "much degraded." Restoration agriculture calls for the re-imagination of agriculture in which perennial systems replace annual plantings and harvests that expire in one season and leave nothing behind except scorched earth, toxic runoff and carbon emissions. What is necessary is a "systematic redesign of how we get our staple food crops," Shepard says. "Agriculture absolutely must be ecological agriculture or else it will not persist."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center joined with U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to submit joint comments (PDF) today in an IRS rulemaking advocating new regulations to stop section 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups from engaging in campaign spending in violation of statutory limits on the activities in which they can permissibly engage.

Mar 01

Report Debunks US Chamber of Commerce Myths

By Public Citizen, SpeakOut | Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Private securities lawsuits are a necessary tool in preventing fraud and protecting investors, according to a new report released today by Public Citizen’s Chamber Watch program. The report disproves misleading arguments made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund on March 5.

Washington, DC – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) today welcomed new data that highlights the devastating impact of domestic violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States 2010, based on data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), which documents the alarming prevalence of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.

Feb 28

Oklahoma Legislators Declare War on Working Poor

By Mark Faulk, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It’s official: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature don’t care about the working poor or their children, and in fact, are trying to declare a “state of emergency” in order to assure that those in poverty stay that way.

Senate Bill 1023, written by Tulsa Senator Dan Newberry and co-sponsored by Fairview Rep. Joe Hickman, who recently replaced T.W. Shannon as Speaker of the House, would make it illegal for any “municipality or other subdivision of this state” to raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma, where poverty is at a 10-year high.

Feb 28

Omar and the Checkpoint

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Omar is a 7-year-old boy from Gaza. His family managed to obtain the necessary permits that allowed him to cross thecheckpoint to Jerusalem, through the West Bank, in order to undergo surgery. He was accompanied by his father. On the way back, the boy and his father were stopped at the Qalanidyacheckpoint, separating occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The father needed another permit from the Israeli military to take his son, whose wounds were still fresh hours after the surgery, back to the strip. But the soldiers were in no obliging mood.

Feb 28

Fact Sheet: The Pro-Money Supreme Court

By Staff, Brennan Center for Justice | Report

In advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Brennan Center published a fact sheet detailing the Roberts Court’s shift, in a series of decisions since 2007, toward favoring big money interests at the expense of average American voters.

“Since 2007, the Roberts Court has used five key campaign finance cases to significantly weaken campaign finance laws, handing over more control of our government to moneyed special interests," said Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program. "As a result, our elections are more expensive than ever, with billionaires sponsoring candidates like racehorses. The wrong decision in McCutcheon would inundate with cash a political system already flush with it, further marginalize average voters, and elevate those who can afford to buy political access.”

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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.

Mar 04

The Test Boycott Is On!

By Jesse Hagopian, I Am An Educator | Opinion

The testing boycott is official! Today, teachers at Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy and Thomas Drummond Elementary School are refusing to distribute the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT), even though Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has said they could lose their state certification if they boycott the test.

Why would dedicated teachers--from Seattle to Chicago---add the stress of disciplinary action against them to an already stressful job and refuse to distribute bubble tests to kids? I asked that questions to one of the leaders of the Saucedo boycott, Sarah Chambers.

March 4, 2014, New York – The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it would not hear Center for Constitutional Rights v. Obama, a lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of people within the United States. The suit sought an injunction ordering the government to destroy any records of surveillance that it still retains from the illegal NSA program. 

The Court's decision comes as increasing evidence suggests the government has been surveilling attorney-client communications for some time. The New York Times recently reported that in 2013 the NSA surveilled law firm Mayer Brown while it represented the government of Indonesia in trade talks with the United States. In 2008, The Times reported Justice Department officials had confirmed that attorney-client communications in terrorism cases were sometimes subject to surveillance. And a document accidentally released to an Islamic charity in 2004 indicated that the D.C.-based attorneys for the charity had been subject to surveillance while speaking to their clients.

Mar 03

Red Baiting Continues Long After End of the Cold War

By Rowan Wolf, SpeakOut | News Analysis

Despite the fact that we assume the Cold War is long over, both contemporary propaganda as well as US actions belie that "fact," as evidenced by current US anti-communist propaganda on two current  issues - the activities of the NSA, and the events in Ukraine. 

The power of propaganda has been on my mind a lot as of late, driven by the continuing revelations and discussion regarding the activities of the NSA and US coverage and "reporting" on the events in the Ukraine. Both share many commonalities.

Mar 03

Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture

By Karen Rybold Chin, SpeakOut | Video Report

One of the world’s foremost authorities on restoration agriculture, Mark Shepard is happy that its popularity is growing but worries that its systemic nature is being misunderstood or "much degraded." Restoration agriculture calls for the re-imagination of agriculture in which perennial systems replace annual plantings and harvests that expire in one season and leave nothing behind except scorched earth, toxic runoff and carbon emissions. What is necessary is a "systematic redesign of how we get our staple food crops," Shepard says. "Agriculture absolutely must be ecological agriculture or else it will not persist."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center joined with U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to submit joint comments (PDF) today in an IRS rulemaking advocating new regulations to stop section 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups from engaging in campaign spending in violation of statutory limits on the activities in which they can permissibly engage.

Mar 01

Report Debunks US Chamber of Commerce Myths

By Public Citizen, SpeakOut | Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Private securities lawsuits are a necessary tool in preventing fraud and protecting investors, according to a new report released today by Public Citizen’s Chamber Watch program. The report disproves misleading arguments made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund on March 5.

Washington, DC – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) today welcomed new data that highlights the devastating impact of domestic violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States 2010, based on data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), which documents the alarming prevalence of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.

Feb 28

Oklahoma Legislators Declare War on Working Poor

By Mark Faulk, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

It’s official: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature don’t care about the working poor or their children, and in fact, are trying to declare a “state of emergency” in order to assure that those in poverty stay that way.

Senate Bill 1023, written by Tulsa Senator Dan Newberry and co-sponsored by Fairview Rep. Joe Hickman, who recently replaced T.W. Shannon as Speaker of the House, would make it illegal for any “municipality or other subdivision of this state” to raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma, where poverty is at a 10-year high.

Feb 28

Omar and the Checkpoint

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Omar is a 7-year-old boy from Gaza. His family managed to obtain the necessary permits that allowed him to cross thecheckpoint to Jerusalem, through the West Bank, in order to undergo surgery. He was accompanied by his father. On the way back, the boy and his father were stopped at the Qalanidyacheckpoint, separating occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The father needed another permit from the Israeli military to take his son, whose wounds were still fresh hours after the surgery, back to the strip. But the soldiers were in no obliging mood.

Feb 28

Fact Sheet: The Pro-Money Supreme Court

By Staff, Brennan Center for Justice | Report

In advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Brennan Center published a fact sheet detailing the Roberts Court’s shift, in a series of decisions since 2007, toward favoring big money interests at the expense of average American voters.

“Since 2007, the Roberts Court has used five key campaign finance cases to significantly weaken campaign finance laws, handing over more control of our government to moneyed special interests," said Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program. "As a result, our elections are more expensive than ever, with billionaires sponsoring candidates like racehorses. The wrong decision in McCutcheon would inundate with cash a political system already flush with it, further marginalize average voters, and elevate those who can afford to buy political access.”