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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.

On Thursday of last week I attended a meeting of the Garfield High School Assessment Committee.

A report on one of many after school meetings may seem mundane. A committee of educators tasked with discussing assessment might appear innocuous. Yet that gathering of fifteen or so educators sharing their experience, expertise, and asking questions about alternatives to standardized testing was nothing short of sedition against a Testocracy that has attempted to silence teachers as it implements corporate education reform.

May 28

Global Climate Change and Nuclear Abolition: One Urgent Issue

By Winslow Myers, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The Marshall Islands are filing lawsuits against the nine nuclear powers to get them to step up to their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate total nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile Bill McKibben is gathering citizens for a rally in support of urgent action on climate change in New York on September 21st and 22nd, where the next climate summit will be held.

No two trans-national issues are more closely related than the abolition of nuclear weapons and global climate instability, for three reasons: first, nuclearwar is the biggest potential accelerant of life-threatening climate change; second, the resources desperately needed to address climate issues continue to be poured into nuclear weapons and their delivery systems; and third, the solution to both challenges depends upon the same new way of thinking based in the reality that national and international self-interests have merged.

May 28

Is Elliot Rodger Our 21st Century Version of Holden Caulfield?

By Virginia Arthur, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
Of course, our modern day version has to include a gun. Holden with a gun where instead of holing up in a hotel room with a prostitute, he holes up in his BMW with his laptop and plans mass carnage because he can't get a girl.
 
An expert I saw on one of the many news channels analyzing this mentioned something about young men and testosterone; the idea that our behavior is driven by our physiology, by our biology, and as much as we may want to completely dissociate ourselves from the fact that we are animals, that we share our DNA, about 90% of it, with our closest primate ancestor, the chimpanzee, I attest that as long as we continue this strange disconnect between our biology and our behavior, as a species, we will never be able to find resolution for our natural violent tendencies.
May 28

Germany's 74% Myth Busting Renewable Energy Record

By Tony Pereira, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Sunday May 18, 2014 marked an historic day in the all-time energy hallmarks of the world. Germany had 74% of its electrical power, just about ¾, of all its peak power demand at midday generated from renewable sources - solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, wind energy and biomass - with the remaining ¼ coming from dirty fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) gases emittin genergy generation such as coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. 

On Monday, November 17, 2008, I had the great honor and pleasure to host the late Dr. Hermann Scheer at the newly opened first LEED-certified auditorium at the Institute for the Environment at UCLA, then having Dr. Mary Nichols as its Director, now currently serving as the chair of the California Air Resources Board, for a free and open to the public lecture titled "Energy Autonomy" that I had organized earlier in collaboration with the 100% Renewables Policy Institute, while working towards my doctorate in engineering at UCLA.

An international consortium of medical cannabis organisations are demanding that humans, regardless of state or allegiance and without qualification, be able to use cannabis therapeutically.  In a joint declaration, the organisations from Europe and North America refer to Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.  The declaration is the beginning of a worldwidecampaign on the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

The declaration was published in six languages on a dedicated Web site (www.medical-cannabis-declaration.org), and it states: “Every medical doctor has the rightto treat his or her patients with cannabinoids and cannabis products according to the rules of good medical care” and “every patient has the right to access cannabis and cannabinoids for medical treatment supervised by a medical doctor, regardless of social status, standard of living or financial means.”

Legal charity Reprieve has threatened legal action against the British government over its failure to investigate the role of UK telecoms giant BT in facilitating covert US drone strikes in Yemen.

BT has earned an estimated $23m from a US government contract to supply key communications infrastructure between RAF Croughton – a US military base in Northamptonshire – and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the secret base from which armed drones reportedly carry out lethal strikes in Yemen. According to the US military, American forces stationed at RAF Croughton provide “global strike operations.”

Legal investigations have begun on behalf of Mohammed al-Qawli, a Yemeni civil servant who lost his brother, a primary school teacher, and cousin, a 20-year-old student, in a drone strike in January 2013. They follow a July 2013 complaint by Reprieve to the UK government watchdog, the National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) Guidelines. That complaint was rejected after the NCP said it had no duty to “conduct research or interrogate” BT.

It was inspiring and informative attending the rally with Angela Davis and the celebration of the lifelong political work of Charlene Mitchell, the founder of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR). The rally and award ceremony honoring Davis and Mitchell capped a two-day National Forum on Police Crimes at the University of Chicago.

The National Forum held workshops highlighting police crimes against undocumented and other immigrant workers, the labor movement and all workers, the LGBTQ community, women, peace, and solidarity activists, and people of color.

Central themes reflected in the workshops and the rally included the current condition of police misconduct in the United States, an analysis of the fundamental role of the police and incarceration in the United States, the interconnectedness of forms of repression and the struggles against them, and the twin roles of repression and ideology as the glues holding together a global political economy in crisis. Last, the celebration of the 41 years of the NAARPR illustrated the possibilities of struggle and victory.

May 27

The Three Laws of Pentagon Robotics

By David Swanson, War Is a Crime | Op-Ed

The three laws of robotics, according to science fiction author Isaac Asimov, are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

I would gladly have accepted a $20 million Pentagon contract for the job of pointing out these three laws.

OK, maybe $25 million.

Sadly, the Pentagon has instead hired a bunch of philosophy professors from leading U.S. universities to tell them how to make robots murder people morally and ethically.

Brussels, Cologne, Madrid - According to a leaked position paper and statements by trade officials, current proposals being floated as part of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations would grant foreign governments and corporations an increased opportunity to influence public protections in both the European Union and the United States. This would include standards related to food safety, toxic chemicals, occupational health, and the protection of the environment.

In response, 178 environmental, health, labor, and consumer organizations are demanding detailed explanations from EU and U.S. trade negotiators about proposals to address differences in their laws. The coalition for an alternative trade policy, the Seattle to Brussels Network, LobbyControl, and Corporate Europe Observatory are among the groups that are calling on negotiators to answer questions about the potential of TTIP to weaken health, consumer, worker, and environmental protections and that are urging full transparency on regulatory issues in the TTIP negotiations.

Ruling on the case of Abu Wa'el Dhiab – a Syrian cleared for release in 2009, and one of several hunger-striking prisoners currently asking the DC District Court to order a halt to the practice – Judge Gladys Kessler urged the authorities to find a compromise that would spare him “the agony of having the feeding tubes inserted and removed for each feeding” and “the pain and discomfort of the restraint chair.”

Last night’s order follows a landmark ruling earlier this week, in which Judge Kessler ordered the government to disclose 43 tapes of Dhiab’s force-feeding and 'forcible cell extractions' (FCE), in which a team of armed guards storms a prisoner's cell to 'subdue' him. She had also issued an order stating that, until the hearing on Wednesday, Mr Dhiab was not to be subjected to FCE, nor force-fed.