Conditional cash

Last night I attended the Newton MA School Committee final hearing and vote on Massachusetts ballot question 2. The committee voted to endorse “No on 2” (my position as well). Question 2 would vastly expand (without additional revenues) charter schools in Massachusetts.

Pretty interesting that the New York & California money only rolls in to promote charter schools in Massachusetts – supposedly because public schools are failing to educate kids in low-income districts – and never to replace the huge annual funding cuts in the budgets of those districts when revenues run low. It’s almost as if the big donors actually have an agenda more concerned with diverting public dollars to private operators and breaking up unions than with any substantive assistance to struggling districts.

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What’s up with HRW and Colombia? Yikes

This past weekend amid a tropical storm that hampered turnout, voters in Colombia very narrowly rejected – upsetting polls showing an overwhelming public approval – a referendum to endorse a permanent peace deal between the government and FARC rebels after 50 years of civil war. (Some previous discussion of this here.) The country’s militarized right-wing was joined bizarrely by “Human Rights Watch,” the global NGO, in campaigning viciously against the peace deal.

The Nation detailed this in an article headlined “Did Human Rights Watch Sabotage Colombia’s Peace Agreement?”

HRW has been embarrassing itself very publicly on the global stage for a couple years now, particularly with regard to its propaganda seeking a Western military invasion of Syria. This should be the last straw. They are not promoting a human rights or peace agenda. They are pursuing some arbitrary set of agendas in various countries that is inscrutable to the rest of us and very dangerous for the people’s lives who are affected directly. Five decades of war and HRW is gloating about helping to defeat the referendum to end it? What is wrong with you?

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French collateral damage

I believe (based on extensive previous evidence) that Burkina Faso would not be getting attacked by Al Qaeda were it not for France’s selfish decision in 2014 to deploy counterterrorism troops to the country indefinitely (and to put them up regularly at the hotel that was attacked on Friday). Burkina Faso is extremely poor and fragile, but it’s working hard to secure its fledgling democracy. Burkina Faso doesn’t bother anyone or get involved in these matters, but France used its influence to meddle and endanger everyone there. This is spreading terror, not containing it.

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Bundy recap: Our past coverage

Trying to remember what the deal is with the Bundy clan that has now seized a National Wildlife Refuge building in rural Oregon? We covered it several times on this site and our radio show. Here’s our best of:


Arsenal For Democracy Radio – Background Discussion on Bundy Ranch Standoff:
Part 1 – Move Your Cows, Bundy – AFD 81


#MoveYourCows, Bundy
AFD Radio: April 21, 2014
No shock there: Bundy a raging racist
Alt-history novelists have got nothing on Cliven Bundy
Vegas attack was domestic terrorism, tied to Bundy standoff
AFD Radio: June 9, 2014 – Should right-wing violence in America be considered terrorism? Should terrorism be treated differently from other crimes?
Op-ed | American Unexceptionalism & The Republic
Your New Nevada Assembly Speaker…

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“Religious pluralism, one of the foundations of American democracy”

For some reason last night I was reminded of this August 2010 post my co-founder Nate wrote about the Islamic community center proposed for Lower Manhattan and all the hysteria surrounding it. I re-read it and kept thinking about it in the context of the widespread fear in the past year.
It still holds true:

I definitely understand that 9/11 was a traumatic experience for all Americans and New Yorkers especially. And because the terrorists attacks were carried out in the name of Islam, it is not at all surprising that some Americans would feel uneasy about other members of that religion. But the pain of that day should not blind us to the fact that Islam is the second largest religion in the world and the vast majority of its followers are not terrorists and do not wish to kill innocent Americans. Our prejudices, not matter how understandable they may be, should not allow us to deny fundamental rights to other Americans.

In this case, having the government prevent the mosque would violate both the religious rights and property rights of the Cordoba Initiative (they own the building and are mostly free to do whatever they choose with it). Maybe the Cordoba Initiative could choose to stir less controversy and outrage by building the mosque somewhere else. But if they want to build the mosque there, they have the right to. Don’t like it? Too bad, we live in a free country.

This all brings me back to another point I have touched on several times before: every time we compromise our fundamental rights in the name of fighting “terrorism,” we are in fact advancing the terrorist cause. Religious pluralism, one of the foundations of American democracy, is antithetical to the jihadist ideology and when we compromise our ideals we create an America less free and more like the nation Al Qaeda would like to create.

Read the rest…

 

Collective

Massachusetts has historically been at the forefront in the United States on worker safety and labor rights, compensation, activism, and organizing. Organized labor has been and must remain a fundamental component of our economic structure. Without it, there is no significant force representing our workers on an equal level with management and owners.

Our courts must uphold the rights of workers – including state and municipal workers – to organize themselves and bargain collectively and cooperatively for compensation and benefits proportionate to their productive work, as well as safe workplaces and fair scheduling.

Our courts must uphold contracts signed with workers’ unions, particularly by the state or municipal governments. It is the responsibility of employers to negotiate contracts they can actually execute.

We cannot achieve economic justice without securing the rights of organized labor to fight for fair and living wages in our society.

Humphrey For Massachusetts: Organized Labor

Representation

Millennials are seriously underrepresented in our government at every level. We’re the largest generation alive right now and we’re going to deal the longest with the consequences – positive and negative – of the policies set today. My campaign for Governor’s Council is to represent all of us, but it is especially to help represent my generation. That’s why so many people our age are excited about this campaign.