Tag Archives | news

Four Unbelievable Realities for US Public Schools

Every child in the US has the right to a quality education, and the American public school system has been responsible for ensuring that occurs — regardless of a child’s location or income level. But the public school system has been slowly starved of money, teachers and even infrastructure itself — an escalating problem, as the GOP uses these challenges to justify taking even more money from “failing” schools.

Now, the situation is dire as the gap between public and private schools grows even wider. Here are four things you may not believe are happening at schools these days.

1. There Is Still Tainted Water in Flint School Drinking Fountains

The Flint water crisis continues, with lead and other contaminants making tap water undrinkable. That doesn’t just affect the homes of the families in Flint, but it also impacts the water at the schools their children attend. Flint schoolchildren have not been able to use their own drinking fountains in years, and the situation doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

“[S]tudents are drinking bottled water,” NBC News 25 reports. “But since the state has indicated it isn’t going to pay for that in the future, 4 companies have stepped forward to pay for it through June. After that there will have to be other arrangements.”

2. Baltimore Students Are Freezing in Their Classrooms

A severe winter cold snap proved just how fragile the infrastructure of many Baltimore schools really was, as failed heating systems and frozen pipes left many students huddling inside their coats for warmth in their own classrooms.

As the Baltimore Sun reports:

Nearly half of the city’s 171 schools experienced heating issues or burst pipes in the days since schools opened last week after the holiday break. In some schools students bundled up in coats, …read more

Via:: Truthout



Don't Give the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a Single Dime, Mulvaney Tells Fed

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's pick for acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, walks back to the White House from the CFPB building after he showed up for his first day of work on November 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s pick for acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, walks back to the White House from the CFPB building after he showed up for his first day of work on November 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Watchdogs’ worst fears about Mick Mulvaney undermining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are proving well-founded.

The interim CFPB director and top White House aide has asked for no additional money from the Federal Reserve for the next fiscal quarter, according to a Tuesday letter obtained by the conservative Washington Examiner.

Since the CFPB opened its doors earlier this decade, it has received on average roughly $500 million per year from the Fed, which oversees agency finances. The funds have been used to win about $2 billion per year for about 28 million consumers cheated by banks.

The budget request, or lack thereof, comes after Mulvaney announced a wider, all-encompassing review of the massively-popular agency.

It also comes days after Mulvaney announced he would issue waivers to regulations on payday loans, while opening the rules to reconsideration.

The rules were finalized in October under Obama-appointee Richard Cordray. They would force lenders to apply a “full-payment test” to determine if a borrower can actually afford to take out payday loans (the CFPB is prevented, by law, from setting maximum interest rates).

“The cycle of taking on new debt to pay back old debt can turn a single, unaffordable loan into a long-term debt trap,” the agency said, when issuing the final rule.

Even Republicans on Capitol Hill were hesitant to touch the rules, as they invoked the Congressional Review Act to annul another CFPB regulation completed last year. The …read more

Via:: Truthout



Why We Need to Stop Calling Trump “Crazy” When We Really Mean “Dangerous”

Questions about President Donald Trump hit a fever pitch this month following his tweets about the size and potency of his nuclear button. Of course, such questions are nothing new. Throughout the campaign and Trump’s first year in office, news articles, op-eds, and tweets critical of him have routinely deployed words such as “crazy,” “insane,” and “unstable” as epithets. But what are the implications of the use of mental health language in such critiques for how our society views mental illness?

I sat down with Rebecca Cokley, a senior fellow for disability policy at the Center for American Progress, to discuss this.

Rebecca Vallas: So I’ve had conversations with a lot of folks who say “Why does it matter? People can use all kinds of language but isn’t this just about people being a little too PC?”

Rebecca Cokley: I’m going to read a quote from Leslie Templeton from the Women’s March Disability Caucus. She just posted a series of snapshots of news clips talking about the mental status of Trump. She said, “When you read stuff like this, having said issue yourself, it makes you feel small. It makes you feel inferior, it makes you feel weak. Not only do I feel like my rights are being attacked by Trump, I feel who I am is being attacked by the American people.”

These are people’s lives. The accusation of someone’s unfitness to serve in any sort of role — whether as a parent, a colleague, a boss, an educator — is impacted by the slightest accusation, especially around mental health. It’s not about someone being PC or not, it’s really about a lack of understanding of the impact of …read more

Via:: Truthout



Racism, Not Profanity, Is the Problem With Trump's Immigration Policies

Trump’s recent profane comments about African countries came as no surprise to most Black and other people of color. While the immigration policies of the US have always had an anti-Black bias, to anyone paying attention, it’s obvious that this administration’s immigration agenda is only a perpetuation of that bias.

People take part in a protest against President Donald Trump’s recent statements and words about immigration in front of the Federal Building on January 19, 2018 in New York. (Photo: Eduardo MunozAlvarez / VIEWpress / Corbis via Getty Images)

Recently, the news cycle was dominated by reactions to President Trump’s use of the phrase “shithole countries” when describing El Salvador, Haiti and countries in Africa. But for anyone who has been paying attention to the administration’s immigration policies, these comments came as no surprise.

The Trump administration has made it very clear that it wants to halt or radically alter all US immigration programs. The underlying but often unspoken subtext is the goal of limiting immigration programs that serve people of color, and particularly predominantly Black nations. Calling a group of African nations “shithole countries” makes explicit the fact that racism is a driving force of the policies coming out of the White House.

Many have responded to Trump’s comments with examples of how immigrants from these countries play a vital role in the economic and social fabric of the US. But responding with instances in which immigrants of color have had to prove themselves worthy of acceptance is counterproductive. Narratives that further employ the term “shithole” to explain that immigrants from these “shithole” countries are hard workers, smart and contribute to the economy, misses the point. It doesn’t matter how hard people work or how “deserving” they are if the …read more

Via:: Truthout



Shutdown for the Trumpiversary: A Ghastly Symmetry

2918 0120 Shutdown

(Photo: Joe Brusky)

One year to the day since Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation’s 45th president, and here we are, smack dab in the middle of a government shutdown caused to a huge degree by the president’s own rampant racism. Of course, it could be no other way than this.

2918 0120 Shutdown(Photo: Joe Brusky)


Right? Just perfect. The one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration could not have happened any other way. A choreographer could not mark it, a screenwriter could not script it, if either tried they’d be laughed out of their respective professions, yet here we are.

The government is shut down under one-party rule for the first time in history.

As of midnight, the federal government is shut down. It will remain so until the Senate and House agree on a new spending bill. The federal government is shut down because the president of the United States is too racist to cut a deal for the Dreamers, and because the congressional Republicans who coddle him for his precious signature could not govern their way down a short hallway with one door. The federal government is shut down under one-party rule for the first time in history.

Remember when the Republicans moved Heaven and Earth to pass their terrible trillion-dollar tax bill? Now that it’s law, the IRS is scrambling to update all its tax software, staff call centers to field questions from befuddled taxpayers, resolve a myriad …read more

Via:: Truthout



Recriminalizing Cannabis Is Worse Than 1930s “Reefer Madness”

In the 1930s, parents across the US were panicked. A new documentary, “Reefer Madness,” suggested that evil marijuana dealers lurked in public schools, waiting to entice their children into a life of crime and degeneracy.

The documentary captured the essence of the anti-marijuana campaign started by Harry Anslinger, a government employee eager to make a name for himself after Prohibition ended. Ansligner’s campaign demonized marijuana as a dangerous drug, playing on the racist attitudes of white Americans in the early 20th century and stoking fears of marijuana as an “assassin of youth.”

Over the decades, there’s been a general trend toward greater social acceptance of marijuana by a more educated society, seeing the harm caused by the prohibition of marijuana. But then, on Jan. 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memorandum suggesting federal agents should let states regulate control of marijuana and focus their efforts on other drugs.

Re-criminalizing marijuana in light of current research findings, including my own research of more than 15 years, makes Sessions’ proposed crackdown on legal marijuana look worse than reefer madness.

Researchers like myself, who regularly talk with people who are actively using hard drugs, know that legal cannabis can actually reduce the harmful effects of other drugs.

Reefer Madness

Re-criminalizing marijuana is a decision that makes little sense unless we consider the motives. History can shed some light here.

Media mogul William Randolph Hearst supported the criminalization of marijuana, in part because Hearst’s paper-producing companies were being replaced by hemp. Likewise, DuPont’s investment in nylon was threatened by hemp products.

Anslinger’s tactics included racist …read more

Via:: Truthout



Tech Workers of the World, Unite!

In just a handful of years, the tide of blue-collar organizing has risen in Silicon Valley. Security officers and shuttle drivers across tech firms, workers at Tesla’s Fremont manufacturing plant and cafeteria workers at Facebook and Yahoo, have united in pursuit of more equitable working conditions.

Such momentum marks a resurgence of working-class solidarity — a response to the untenable blights of excessive hours, scant-to-nonexistent benefits and pay rates inadequate for even bare necessities. Yet the trend constitutes a mere fraction of organizing efforts necessary for the tech industry. In recent years, Silicon Valley has become home to a movement calling for all rank-and-file members of the tech labor force, including handsomely compensated engineers and other white-collar employees, to view themselves as what they are — workers — and organize for the benefit of their communities.

There are numerous barriers to uniting blue-collar and white-collar workers in Silicon Valley, not least of which is tech executives’ tradition of rigorous anti-unionism. This ethos dates back decades, rooted in the counterculture-inflected view that technology would be a democratic, pioneering tool of individual liberation from “big government.” Termed the “Californian Ideology” by media theorists Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron in 1995, this philosophy adopted, as Moira Weigel noted last year in The Guardian, tenets of “personal liberty” and “market deregulation” — that is, the proliferation of free enterprise, unchallenged by workers or governments. These tropes have seeped into the environments of high-tech companies, encouraging individualism and “entrepreneurialism” among white-collar …read more

Via:: Truthout



Consenting to Normal

Women attend a #metoo rally infant of the Trump International Hotel on December 9, 2017, in Columbus Circle, New York City. (Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images)

In the #MeToo moment, the policing of those who speak up about varying forms of sexual violence and harm persists: the good victim/bad victim and real victim/fake victim paradigms have not gone away, they have merely shifted.

Women attend a #metoo rally infant of the Trump International Hotel on December 9, 2017, in Columbus Circle, New York City. (Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images)

In the #MeToo moment, the policing of those who speak up about varying forms of sexual violence and harm remains: The good victim/bad victim, real victim/fake victim paradigm has not gone away; it has merely shifted. And even then, not by much.

The significance of #MeToo was that it highlighted how so many of us have been affected by different forms of sexual violence, rupturing the notion that sexual violence only happens between a small and silent minority. It showed how deeply sexual violence is embedded into so many different interactions, workplaces, industries and our culture as a whole, operating in plain sight all along. While many already knew this through personal experience, it has still been a noteworthy time because of how publicly many survivors have been sharing their stories and demanding to be heard. However, while many claim to support the sentiments expressed by #MeToo, some remain steadfast in the belief that in order for sexual violence to count, it must be exceptionally and violently clear-cut. It must be real sexual violence, real rape, real rapists, real victims: otherwise, it’s a distraction, a watering-down, an appropriation, opportunism, a lack of personal responsibility, attention-seeking, or inauthentic.

Over the last week I’ve seen people writing that “Grace” and …read more

Via:: Truthout



Empire Files: Abby Martin Meets Ahed Tamimi — Message From a Freedom Fighter

Recently, the struggle for Palestinian human rights gained international attention surrounding a new icon of resistance — 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi. While in the West Bank in late 2016, Abby Martin interviewed Ahed Tamimi about her hardships and aspirations living under occupation, and it becomes clear why her subjugators are trying to silence her voice. Her brother Waad and father Bassem also talk about their experiences with Israeli soldiers harassing their village and targeting their family.

In this exclusive episode, Abby outlines the Tamimi family’s tragic tale and unending bravery in the fight for justice and equality in Palestine, and how the story of their village of Nabi Saleh is emblematic of the Palestinian struggle as a whole.

…read more

Via:: Truthout