Sunday, 01 February 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.

Jan 22

Greece's Revolutionary Moment

By Joshua Tartakovsky, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

How do you know when you are in a country that is experiencing a Revolutionary moment?

There is mass unemployment; high numbers of people are radicalized either in the Left (Communists, socialists, anarchists) or Right (fascist, neo-Nazis). Modest poverty that seeks to still disguise itself somewhat is widespread to the point where it can no longer disguise itself as convincingly. There is massive graffiti throughout the city, not merely in certain neighborhoods, but in the downtown area next to luxurious shops. The police do not enter certain neighborhoods, while it stands guard outside of them. Tents of protesters can be seen in parts of the city. People walk into cafes, trying to sell things. Others pass by and ask for a few coins.

On a cold night in November, many of us stood outside police headquarters in Chicago awaiting news that would cause a great deal of pain in our communities. Those of us who had organized an emergency response to the announcement of the grand jury’s decision in the Darren Wilson case never expected an indictment. And while I don’t believe that the punitive nature of our judicial system offers even the potential of justice, I know that each non indictment and acquittal of a murderous police officer is yet another painful reminder of who matters in this system, and who does not. From the very beginning, it was clear that another reminder was pending in that case.

What most of us didn’t see coming that day was another reminder in the form of a resolution in the case against Marissa Alexander.

Jan 21

"Gospel"

By Jen Chapin, SpeakOut | Video

“Gospel,” Jen Chapin’s understated anthem, celebrates the hard and sometimes dangerous work of grassroots democracy; organizing, strategizing, and marching to achieve a more just society and economy from Selma to the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street to People’s Climate March and the current movement for police accountability and the end to racial profiling. 

 

In the past several days we have experienced the same repeated shocks as all our fellow citizens. As Jews, we were profoundly upset by the horrible attack carried out on Jews solely because they were Jews. This can only evoke memories of the worst periods of Judaism in France. All we believe in as activists, citizens, and human beings, and all that we struggle for – the value of life, equality among human beings, and ta'ayush (living together) – was trampled in the editorial office of a magazine and in a kosher market. We are convinced that freedom of expression is a fundamental value of any democratic society and that it must be defended at all costs against obscurantist violence.

We are also conscious of the rise of a formidable anti-Semitism in France. But we seek to analyze it and understand its causes, because, like all racisms, it breeds blindness, hatred and bloodshed. For years, our association has been denouncing the trap set for French Jews and it is important to describe this trap again in the wake of this murderous attack.

As we recognize and celebrate the birthday of Dr. King, I believe his words and actions are no less relevant today than they were over forty years ago. In particular his actions.  I know I will never be the orator that he was, but I can be a similar active, participating force, an agent for change, a contributor to peace and nonviolence.  In voicing his commitment to nonviolence, he said "If I am the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence, that I will do."  And so the relevant question today is "am I willing to be the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence"?  Am I willing to express my deep desire for peace?  Am I willing to do whatever it takes to never give up hope, never give up the message, never submit to apathy, never to say "oh, let THEM take care of it"? 

Because what I see today, and I think Dr. King saw in his day, too many people are too quick to say "I don't have time", "What difference could it make?", "My friends/family don't agree". 

Property Seizures by Local and State Police Often Conducted Under Pretext that Property Is Connected to Illegal Drugs

Advocates Applaud Holder for New Policy, Urge Congress to Make Reforms Permanent

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder issued an order establishing a new policy prohibiting federal agencies from accepting civil asset forfeiture assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies unless the owner is convicted of a crime. The US Treasury Department, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a similar policy.  The Department of Justice becomes involved after a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law. 

The world is changing. And, unfortunately, it is changing for the worse. The worsening geopolitical situation calls on us to support the nations and peoples who oppose the dictate a unipolar world and seek to propose an alternative agenda. Progressive part of mankind stands for the development of international cooperation and solidarity, respectful of other peoples, their sovereignty, values and lifestyles as opposed to the current destructive manifestations of the "new world order": the barbaric exploitation of the majority of the world population, the destruction of national sovereignty and spiritual foundations of society, suppression of sovereignty of personality through the illegal collection of information.

Organizations participating in the international panel discussion urge people worldwide to unite and establish a united front against discrimination, violation of human rights, religious and racial intolerance. We condemn the crimes and murders perpetrated against the people of Novorossia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the innocent victims in Odessa, Lugansk and Donetsk. We strongly condemn political repression, particularly in countries that have positioned themselves as democratic nations.

Last night, over 600 people marched behind some of Chicago's brightest and most politically conscious elementary school students as they rallied to reclaim the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speakers touched on a spectrum of issues, reflecting numerous intersections of struggle, but the words that may have best summarized the night came from a powerful young organizer named Kaleb Autman, when he told the crowd, "I am willing to live for my people."

Kaleb is a powerful speaker, organizer, and leader in his community. He's also twelve years old.

The yoga class was near maximum capacity. There was a spot up front but it usually belonged to D, a teacher who practices yoga with us plebes when not teaching.

So I moved to the crowded second row. My new neighbor, however, was clearly annoyed at having to rearrange her mat. "You're a paying customer," she said. "D's late. He should move, not you."

"He's a teacher," I offered meekly as she scowled and turned away.

Neoliberal policies promoting charter schools have not created healthy competition promoting improved educational outcomes benefiting all students. The market-based approach to education has actually accomplished the opposite, precipitating segregation, unequal class structure and the disenfranchisement of certain ethnic groups and children from families earning low incomes. As funding is being pumped into charter schools, public schools are receiving reduced funding - negatively impacting the educational experiences of some Latino and African-American students precipitating class hegemony gearing these students for working class jobs, rather than professional positions. (Saltman, The Politics of Education, 2013, P. 19)

The recent article in the New York Times, "Racial Isolation in Public Schools", discusses the lack of resources and funding in public schools negatively impacting minority children, especially children in Buffalo. The so-called, "criteria schools" are known to be schools offering better education for students. However, increasing the cap limits into these schools will not benefit the population as a whole. Rather than funneling funding into alternative educational institutions, funding should be allocated toward public schooling. Privatization has not demonstrated improved outcomes beneficial for all students, especially minority students.

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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.

Jan 22

Greece's Revolutionary Moment

By Joshua Tartakovsky, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

How do you know when you are in a country that is experiencing a Revolutionary moment?

There is mass unemployment; high numbers of people are radicalized either in the Left (Communists, socialists, anarchists) or Right (fascist, neo-Nazis). Modest poverty that seeks to still disguise itself somewhat is widespread to the point where it can no longer disguise itself as convincingly. There is massive graffiti throughout the city, not merely in certain neighborhoods, but in the downtown area next to luxurious shops. The police do not enter certain neighborhoods, while it stands guard outside of them. Tents of protesters can be seen in parts of the city. People walk into cafes, trying to sell things. Others pass by and ask for a few coins.

On a cold night in November, many of us stood outside police headquarters in Chicago awaiting news that would cause a great deal of pain in our communities. Those of us who had organized an emergency response to the announcement of the grand jury’s decision in the Darren Wilson case never expected an indictment. And while I don’t believe that the punitive nature of our judicial system offers even the potential of justice, I know that each non indictment and acquittal of a murderous police officer is yet another painful reminder of who matters in this system, and who does not. From the very beginning, it was clear that another reminder was pending in that case.

What most of us didn’t see coming that day was another reminder in the form of a resolution in the case against Marissa Alexander.

Jan 21

"Gospel"

By Jen Chapin, SpeakOut | Video

“Gospel,” Jen Chapin’s understated anthem, celebrates the hard and sometimes dangerous work of grassroots democracy; organizing, strategizing, and marching to achieve a more just society and economy from Selma to the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street to People’s Climate March and the current movement for police accountability and the end to racial profiling. 

 

In the past several days we have experienced the same repeated shocks as all our fellow citizens. As Jews, we were profoundly upset by the horrible attack carried out on Jews solely because they were Jews. This can only evoke memories of the worst periods of Judaism in France. All we believe in as activists, citizens, and human beings, and all that we struggle for – the value of life, equality among human beings, and ta'ayush (living together) – was trampled in the editorial office of a magazine and in a kosher market. We are convinced that freedom of expression is a fundamental value of any democratic society and that it must be defended at all costs against obscurantist violence.

We are also conscious of the rise of a formidable anti-Semitism in France. But we seek to analyze it and understand its causes, because, like all racisms, it breeds blindness, hatred and bloodshed. For years, our association has been denouncing the trap set for French Jews and it is important to describe this trap again in the wake of this murderous attack.

As we recognize and celebrate the birthday of Dr. King, I believe his words and actions are no less relevant today than they were over forty years ago. In particular his actions.  I know I will never be the orator that he was, but I can be a similar active, participating force, an agent for change, a contributor to peace and nonviolence.  In voicing his commitment to nonviolence, he said "If I am the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence, that I will do."  And so the relevant question today is "am I willing to be the last, lone voice speaking for nonviolence"?  Am I willing to express my deep desire for peace?  Am I willing to do whatever it takes to never give up hope, never give up the message, never submit to apathy, never to say "oh, let THEM take care of it"? 

Because what I see today, and I think Dr. King saw in his day, too many people are too quick to say "I don't have time", "What difference could it make?", "My friends/family don't agree". 

Property Seizures by Local and State Police Often Conducted Under Pretext that Property Is Connected to Illegal Drugs

Advocates Applaud Holder for New Policy, Urge Congress to Make Reforms Permanent

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder issued an order establishing a new policy prohibiting federal agencies from accepting civil asset forfeiture assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies unless the owner is convicted of a crime. The US Treasury Department, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a similar policy.  The Department of Justice becomes involved after a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law. 

The world is changing. And, unfortunately, it is changing for the worse. The worsening geopolitical situation calls on us to support the nations and peoples who oppose the dictate a unipolar world and seek to propose an alternative agenda. Progressive part of mankind stands for the development of international cooperation and solidarity, respectful of other peoples, their sovereignty, values and lifestyles as opposed to the current destructive manifestations of the "new world order": the barbaric exploitation of the majority of the world population, the destruction of national sovereignty and spiritual foundations of society, suppression of sovereignty of personality through the illegal collection of information.

Organizations participating in the international panel discussion urge people worldwide to unite and establish a united front against discrimination, violation of human rights, religious and racial intolerance. We condemn the crimes and murders perpetrated against the people of Novorossia. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the innocent victims in Odessa, Lugansk and Donetsk. We strongly condemn political repression, particularly in countries that have positioned themselves as democratic nations.

Last night, over 600 people marched behind some of Chicago's brightest and most politically conscious elementary school students as they rallied to reclaim the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speakers touched on a spectrum of issues, reflecting numerous intersections of struggle, but the words that may have best summarized the night came from a powerful young organizer named Kaleb Autman, when he told the crowd, "I am willing to live for my people."

Kaleb is a powerful speaker, organizer, and leader in his community. He's also twelve years old.

The yoga class was near maximum capacity. There was a spot up front but it usually belonged to D, a teacher who practices yoga with us plebes when not teaching.

So I moved to the crowded second row. My new neighbor, however, was clearly annoyed at having to rearrange her mat. "You're a paying customer," she said. "D's late. He should move, not you."

"He's a teacher," I offered meekly as she scowled and turned away.

Neoliberal policies promoting charter schools have not created healthy competition promoting improved educational outcomes benefiting all students. The market-based approach to education has actually accomplished the opposite, precipitating segregation, unequal class structure and the disenfranchisement of certain ethnic groups and children from families earning low incomes. As funding is being pumped into charter schools, public schools are receiving reduced funding - negatively impacting the educational experiences of some Latino and African-American students precipitating class hegemony gearing these students for working class jobs, rather than professional positions. (Saltman, The Politics of Education, 2013, P. 19)

The recent article in the New York Times, "Racial Isolation in Public Schools", discusses the lack of resources and funding in public schools negatively impacting minority children, especially children in Buffalo. The so-called, "criteria schools" are known to be schools offering better education for students. However, increasing the cap limits into these schools will not benefit the population as a whole. Rather than funneling funding into alternative educational institutions, funding should be allocated toward public schooling. Privatization has not demonstrated improved outcomes beneficial for all students, especially minority students.