Monday, 22 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.

President Obama has authorized 'a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned'.

Imagine that, like the late US war veteran Jacob George, you're sent on this 'more expansive mission'. Your military helicopter is landing on farmland amidst mud-house villages, like a futuristic war machine inserted into an agricultural community in the Middle Ages.

There are no women to be seen.

Nov 25

Ye Are Many; They Are Few!

By RA Monaco, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Provocateurs are steadily working to incite the measured dissent of would-be protesters who support the indictment of Officer Darren Wilson. Follow the #Ferguson feed on Twitter and you'll get a sense of the provocative venom flowing in anticipation of the pending grand jury verdict. "Have you looked at the comments of any of the newspapers," Stephen Houldsworth, a Boston native who has lived around St. Louis, asked a Huffington Post reporter?

Unfortunately, there is a determined effort to undermine the legitimate concern that police shootings and mistreatment of black citizens are a far too common experience in the United States. The shooting death of Kajieme Powell by St. Louis police caught on video only days after the shooting of Michael Brown showed the legitimacy of this concern justifying the community's collective mistrust of law enforcement.

Geneva, Switzerland 20 November 2014 - On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November 2014), the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) draws international attention to the ongoing, widespread and systemic culture of violence against women and girls that is present in all countries and regions. IFUW calls on states, international bodies, justice, health and education sectors to develop, implement and enforce holistic plans of action, including the introduction of legislation and specialised training of first responders, to protect the victims and end the impunity of the perpetrators. National law must include adequate criminal sanctions and civil remedies, and states should ratify regional and international instruments that address the issue, including the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the International Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

President of IFUW, Catherine Bell, highlighted the gravely concerning statistics on the frequency and severity of violence against women and girls worldwide: "Up to 70% of women will suffer violence in their lifetimes, where alarmingly, it is often intimate partners or family members that carry out the attacks with devastating effects. Research has shown that half of all cases of femicide are carried out by partners and husbands. What is more worrying still is the extremely low rate of complaint in cases of violence against women, where only 13 -14% of the most serious cases are reported to the police, with many such reports not resulting in legal proceedings and conviction. Law enforcement, health professionals, teachers and social workers need to be properly trained in treating and protecting victims of violence so that girls and women feel safe and empowered to come forward and share their ordeals."

New York – In response to yesterday’s announcement that, as part of his new immigration policy, President Obama has terminated the Secure Communities deportation program, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

While Obama’s announced immigration reforms have not gone far enough, the termination of the misguided and dangerous Secure Communities program is welcome news for the millions of individuals and families who have lived for years in fear of being deported.  We worked with our allies to fight the roll-out of S-Comm, reveal the destructive results of the policy, and warn of the dangers of turning local police into immigration enforcers. Despite three state governors publicly denouncing the program in 2011, it had continued under the Obama administration until now.

 “It’s about watching kids cry. And throw chairs. And pee their pants. And scratch their face until it turns red or they bleed. That’s what it’s about. That’s all that it’s about.”

Nikki Jones, on the impact of high-stakes tests on children and why she won’t administer them.

Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones teach first grade at Skelly Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma—and they are refusing to trade in their job titles for “test prep tutor.” Declaring that they will refuse to administer a battery of tests (including the infamous MAP test, the same test I helped to organize a boycott against in Seattle), these educators have become the most recent test-defyers in a growing movement of conscientious objectors to standardized tests.

The "testocracy" is determined to reduce the intellectual and emotional process of teaching and learning to a single score that they can use to deny students promotion, destabilize the teaching profession, label schools as failing, and turn them into privatized charter schools. Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones were quickly threatened with disciplinary measures by their Superintendent.  If you have a message of solidarity for them, please send it to me and I will pass it on to them.

When a journalist tries to do a historian’s job, the outcome can be quite interesting. Using history as a side note in a brief news report or political analysis oftentimes does more harm than good. Now imagine if that journalist was not dependable to begin with, even more than it being “interesting”, the outcome runs the risk of becoming a mockery.

Consider the selective historical views offered by New York Times writer Thomas Freidman - exposed in the book The Imperial Messenger by Belen Fernandez for his pseudo- intellectual shenanigans, contradictions and constant marketing of the status quo.

Life Style

  • avoid car ownership: walk, use your bike
  • avoid debt, the lure of credit cards
  • consume little
  • work in coalition; live & work non-hierarchically
  • establish community roots, a sense of place

Today, Marissa Alexander has chosen to accept a plea deal with the State of Florida.  The plea deal includes time served (1,030 days), an additional 65 days in Duval County Jail which will begin today, and two years of probation while wearing a surveillance monitor. Marissa Alexander is a black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida who, nine days after prematurely giving birth, was forced to defend her life from a brutal life-threatening attack by her estranged husband, and subsequently prosecuted by State Prosecutor Angela Corey.  Alexander, her legal team, and thousands of supporters were preparing for a likely difficult trial to begin this December.  If found guilty, she would have faced a mandatory 60 year sentence.

Nov 24

Uncomplicated, in Afghanistan

By Kathy Kelly, teleSUR English | Op-Ed

On November 7, 2014, while visiting Kabul, The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, noted that NATO will soon launch a new chapter, a new non-combat mission in Afghanistan. But it’s difficult to spot new methods as NATO commits itself to sustaining combat on the part of Afghan forces.

Stoltenberg commended NATO Allies and partner nations from across the world, in an October 29th speech, in Brussels, declaring that for over a decade, they “stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan.” According to Stoltenberg, “this international effort has contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children.” Rhetoric from NATO and the Pentagon regularly claims that Afghans have benefited from the past 13 years of US/NATO warfare, but reports from other agencies complicatethese claims.

If you doubt that AP would write a story to make this point, you guessed correctly. AP actually decided it was REALLY BIG NEWS that Social Security's inspector general found evidence that 0.2 percent of payments were improper.

The news service devoted a major article to reporting that $2 billion in benefit payments over the last seven years appear to have been given to people who did not qualify for disability. The piece neglected to mention that the program paid out close to $900 billion in benefits over that period. This means that improper payments identified in the inspector general's report were less than 0.3 percent of the total payments in the program.

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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.

President Obama has authorized 'a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned'.

Imagine that, like the late US war veteran Jacob George, you're sent on this 'more expansive mission'. Your military helicopter is landing on farmland amidst mud-house villages, like a futuristic war machine inserted into an agricultural community in the Middle Ages.

There are no women to be seen.

Nov 25

Ye Are Many; They Are Few!

By RA Monaco, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Provocateurs are steadily working to incite the measured dissent of would-be protesters who support the indictment of Officer Darren Wilson. Follow the #Ferguson feed on Twitter and you'll get a sense of the provocative venom flowing in anticipation of the pending grand jury verdict. "Have you looked at the comments of any of the newspapers," Stephen Houldsworth, a Boston native who has lived around St. Louis, asked a Huffington Post reporter?

Unfortunately, there is a determined effort to undermine the legitimate concern that police shootings and mistreatment of black citizens are a far too common experience in the United States. The shooting death of Kajieme Powell by St. Louis police caught on video only days after the shooting of Michael Brown showed the legitimacy of this concern justifying the community's collective mistrust of law enforcement.

Geneva, Switzerland 20 November 2014 - On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November 2014), the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) draws international attention to the ongoing, widespread and systemic culture of violence against women and girls that is present in all countries and regions. IFUW calls on states, international bodies, justice, health and education sectors to develop, implement and enforce holistic plans of action, including the introduction of legislation and specialised training of first responders, to protect the victims and end the impunity of the perpetrators. National law must include adequate criminal sanctions and civil remedies, and states should ratify regional and international instruments that address the issue, including the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the International Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

President of IFUW, Catherine Bell, highlighted the gravely concerning statistics on the frequency and severity of violence against women and girls worldwide: "Up to 70% of women will suffer violence in their lifetimes, where alarmingly, it is often intimate partners or family members that carry out the attacks with devastating effects. Research has shown that half of all cases of femicide are carried out by partners and husbands. What is more worrying still is the extremely low rate of complaint in cases of violence against women, where only 13 -14% of the most serious cases are reported to the police, with many such reports not resulting in legal proceedings and conviction. Law enforcement, health professionals, teachers and social workers need to be properly trained in treating and protecting victims of violence so that girls and women feel safe and empowered to come forward and share their ordeals."

New York – In response to yesterday’s announcement that, as part of his new immigration policy, President Obama has terminated the Secure Communities deportation program, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

While Obama’s announced immigration reforms have not gone far enough, the termination of the misguided and dangerous Secure Communities program is welcome news for the millions of individuals and families who have lived for years in fear of being deported.  We worked with our allies to fight the roll-out of S-Comm, reveal the destructive results of the policy, and warn of the dangers of turning local police into immigration enforcers. Despite three state governors publicly denouncing the program in 2011, it had continued under the Obama administration until now.

 “It’s about watching kids cry. And throw chairs. And pee their pants. And scratch their face until it turns red or they bleed. That’s what it’s about. That’s all that it’s about.”

Nikki Jones, on the impact of high-stakes tests on children and why she won’t administer them.

Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones teach first grade at Skelly Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma—and they are refusing to trade in their job titles for “test prep tutor.” Declaring that they will refuse to administer a battery of tests (including the infamous MAP test, the same test I helped to organize a boycott against in Seattle), these educators have become the most recent test-defyers in a growing movement of conscientious objectors to standardized tests.

The "testocracy" is determined to reduce the intellectual and emotional process of teaching and learning to a single score that they can use to deny students promotion, destabilize the teaching profession, label schools as failing, and turn them into privatized charter schools. Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones were quickly threatened with disciplinary measures by their Superintendent.  If you have a message of solidarity for them, please send it to me and I will pass it on to them.

When a journalist tries to do a historian’s job, the outcome can be quite interesting. Using history as a side note in a brief news report or political analysis oftentimes does more harm than good. Now imagine if that journalist was not dependable to begin with, even more than it being “interesting”, the outcome runs the risk of becoming a mockery.

Consider the selective historical views offered by New York Times writer Thomas Freidman - exposed in the book The Imperial Messenger by Belen Fernandez for his pseudo- intellectual shenanigans, contradictions and constant marketing of the status quo.

Life Style

  • avoid car ownership: walk, use your bike
  • avoid debt, the lure of credit cards
  • consume little
  • work in coalition; live & work non-hierarchically
  • establish community roots, a sense of place

Today, Marissa Alexander has chosen to accept a plea deal with the State of Florida.  The plea deal includes time served (1,030 days), an additional 65 days in Duval County Jail which will begin today, and two years of probation while wearing a surveillance monitor. Marissa Alexander is a black mother of three from Jacksonville, Florida who, nine days after prematurely giving birth, was forced to defend her life from a brutal life-threatening attack by her estranged husband, and subsequently prosecuted by State Prosecutor Angela Corey.  Alexander, her legal team, and thousands of supporters were preparing for a likely difficult trial to begin this December.  If found guilty, she would have faced a mandatory 60 year sentence.

Nov 24

Uncomplicated, in Afghanistan

By Kathy Kelly, teleSUR English | Op-Ed

On November 7, 2014, while visiting Kabul, The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, noted that NATO will soon launch a new chapter, a new non-combat mission in Afghanistan. But it’s difficult to spot new methods as NATO commits itself to sustaining combat on the part of Afghan forces.

Stoltenberg commended NATO Allies and partner nations from across the world, in an October 29th speech, in Brussels, declaring that for over a decade, they “stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan.” According to Stoltenberg, “this international effort has contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children.” Rhetoric from NATO and the Pentagon regularly claims that Afghans have benefited from the past 13 years of US/NATO warfare, but reports from other agencies complicatethese claims.

If you doubt that AP would write a story to make this point, you guessed correctly. AP actually decided it was REALLY BIG NEWS that Social Security's inspector general found evidence that 0.2 percent of payments were improper.

The news service devoted a major article to reporting that $2 billion in benefit payments over the last seven years appear to have been given to people who did not qualify for disability. The piece neglected to mention that the program paid out close to $900 billion in benefits over that period. This means that improper payments identified in the inspector general's report were less than 0.3 percent of the total payments in the program.