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Infoshop News / Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Today at 06:00:52 AM »
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East

The Mesopotamian Ecology Movement (MEM) has been at the heart of Rojava?s democratic revolution since its inception. The Movement grew out of single-issue campaigns against dam construction, climate change, and deforestation, and in 2015 went from being a small collection of local ecological groups to a full-fledged network of ?ecology councils? that are active in every canton of Rojava, and in neighboring Turkey as well.
Source: Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
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Infoshop News / Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Today at 06:00:52 AM »
Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?

Populations of all kinds of wildlife are declining at alarming speed. One radical solution is to make 50% of the planet a nature reserve
Source: Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?
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Infoshop News / Gun Violence Has Dropped Dramatically in 3 States With Very Different Gun Laws
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Today at 06:00:52 AM »
Gun Violence Has Dropped Dramatically in 3 States With Very Different Gun Laws

To have an honest, nonpartisan discussion about gun violence, we must look at what happened in New York, California, and Texas.
Source: Gun Violence Has Dropped Dramatically in 3 States With Very Different Gun Laws
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AlterNet / Why the Right Wing Is So Interested in Narrowing Down Education into 'Skills'
« Last post by AlterNet on Today at 06:00:50 AM »
Why the Right Wing Is So Interested in Narrowing Down Education into 'Skills'



 
 
 



The politics behind the push to expand vocational education.


 

When California home health aide Maya Luna signed up for community college several years ago, she was after one thing: a better paying job. But taking classes in subjects like history, anthropology and art ignited a love of learning she didn?t know she had, and transformed her into a community activist. A clear success, right? Not if your goal is to mold the next generation of compliant employees.

In the latest episode of the Have You Heard podcast, AlterNet education contributor Jennifer Berkshire and co-host Jack Schneider explore the push to limit higher education for working-class and poor students to vocational skills. Mike Rose, a research professor in Education and Information Studies at UCLA and the author of Back to School, argues that narrowing what students learn also means controlling what they?re exposed to, and what they?re likely to demand after graduation.

The following is an edited transcript. Listen to the entire episode.

Have You Heard: We just heard the story of a home health aide who went back to school and was basically transformed into an activist. Maya Luna?s story seems like the right?s worst nightmare, and exactly what?s being targeted in the push to make school for poor and working-class students strictly vocational.

Mike Rose: The more narrowly you craft a training program or an educational trajectory for somebody, the more likely you are to control what it is they're going to be exposed to. That story you just shared doesn't surprise me at all, by the way; I've seen it again and again. It's not like people are politically na´ve, but you take a class in political science or you hear speakers on campus and it can begin to sharpen your awareness. You learn more facts. You're exposed to a more complex points of view. You actually read some of the statistics about, oh gosh, anything from income levels to child poverty. People always have a voice, but these kinds of experiences sharpen their voices or intensify or channel them in new ways. They end up getting involved in civic, political, social causes and issues in a way that they might not had the chance to do before.

Have You Heard: You had a great quote in the New York Times in response to President Trump?s State of the Union Address. You described his remarks on vocational education as 'characteristically ignorant.' As you point out, the working-class kids that he?s appealing to have seen firsthand how industries die. Nobody knows better than they do the danger of being trained to do a single job.

MR: There is a lot of talk as you know, about the need for people to go to college, if not a four year, at least a community college, and the rationale is always an economic one: this kind of education, this kind of training will give people more skills and that will make them more viable in this economy. I get that. I come from a working-class background. I know the difference it can make a if you have a secure job or a set of skills that enable you to gain employment versus if you don't. So I have no beef at all with the economic motive for this kind of education and training.

But what is so interesting to me is that's all you hear. There?s no justification beyond economics for folks to go off to college or to get some kind of further certification or training. But what interests me is that even folks going back to school for strictly economic reasons, all kinds of other things happen along the way. They talk about it. They say things like this. They say things like: Gosh, you know, it's really good to feel my mind working again. Or they get really excited about the new tools and technologies that they're learning. You hear people talking this way and acknowledging what this kind of training is doing for their sense of themselves as thinkers and what it's doing to their sense of their own intelligence.

Have You Heard: If Trump?s remarks were 'characteristically ignorant, it?s an ignorance that?s widely shared. In recent weeks Betsy DeVos has called for letting employers help determine what gets taught by colleges, and Dan Patrick, the far-right lieutenant governor of Texas, warned that too many students were getting what he called 'BS degrees in BS.' What should we talking about as far as skills training and education?

MR: The conversation we should be having is how do we provide a good basic education and the arts and sciences for everybody. I always go back to the turn of the 20th century when in the comprehensive high school for a whole complex set of historical reasons. Um, they split the curriculum up into various tracks. One of the tracks with the college preparatory track and another was the more vocational track and this separation of the vocational or occupational from the academic I think has bedeviled us as a nation for over a century. We somehow are just not good at thinking at one and the same time about how you can provide a good, strong occupationally oriented or vocationally oriented education for people and simultaneously provide them with a decent education and the arts and sciences. That's the debate we ought to be having. How do we do a better job of this?

Listen to the entire interview.






Source: Why the Right Wing Is So Interested in Narrowing Down Education into 'Skills'
5
Richard Mellor / A poem: When Labour's flag was Palest Pink
« Last post by Richard Mellor on Yesterday at 06:49:28 PM »
A poem: When Labour's flag was Palest Pink

Readers in the UK especially may know the old song The Vicar of  Bray from the 18th century, about a vicar who kept changing his religious loyalties in line with the prevailing allegiances of successive monarchs. Roger Silverman in London has adapted this to suit the stance of Labour MPs today...

When Labour's flag was Palest Pink

I marched on every May Day.
My seat stayed safe on that green bench
For every monthly pay day.
While cowards flinched and traitors sneered
I stood for moderation.
The red flag's fine for conference time
But God save Queen and nation.

And that's my stand for evermore.
Our leaders come and go, sir.
I'll still be MP come what may.
Divine right makes it so, sir.

In the good old days of Tony Blair
I swore faith in New Labour,
I chucked my socialism in the bin
In the hope of gaining favour.
Away with red flags, picket lines,
Clause Four and nationalisation,
I stood for NATO, PFI,
The war and privatisation.  

Yes, principles are always cheap.
Our leaders come and go, sir.
I'll still be MP come what may.
Divine right makes it so, sir.

We lost the next two elections,
Our party suffered a rout.
Where had all the voters gone?
We chucked two leaders out.
The unions said they need their say.
We said, we'll show who's trusted.
Let all and sundry pay three pounds.
They did - and we got busted.

Well, never mind. We're still in place.
Our leaders come and go, sir.
I'll still be MP come what may.
Divine right makes it so, sir.

We thought, we'll let some lefty stand
And crush those reds forever.
He won a half a million votes
And half a million members.
How dare they challenge us MPs?
We lined up to oppose him.
We splashed out all the party funds
But failed to depose him.

But so what? We've got mass support!
Our leaders come and go, sir.
I'll still be MP come what may
Divine right makes it so, sir.

We counted on Theresa May
To put him in his place.
Then Corbyn gained three million votes.
May all but lost the race.
So now we all say: right on, Jez!
We always said you'd score!
I'm in Momentum! Here's my card!
A lefty to the core!

So trust me! You can count on me!
Our leaders come and go, sir.
I'll still be MP come what may.
Divine right makes it so, sir.

So don't dare question my remit,
Or call for reselection.
I'm loyal to my voting mob,
At every new election.
I stand on sacred principles,
The rights of feudal kings:
A privilege and job for life,
And all that power brings.

You get it? That's democracy!
Our leaders come and go, sir.
I'll still be MP come what may.
Divine right makes it so, sir.

Roger Silverman
Source: A poem: When Labour's flag was Palest Pink
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AlterNet / Of God, Dice And Fatal Car Accidents
« Last post by AlterNet on Yesterday at 06:49:25 PM »
Of God, Dice And Fatal Car Accidents


Are accidents an act of God, or just our own bad luck?


 

It was the second time I noticed a news story about a fatal crash of a church group that I had the uneasy feeling there was a pattern.

That time, it was Baptists, seniors in their church?s Young at Heart ministry, on their way to ?three days of singing, laughing and preaching? at a Fall Jubilee when their bus blew a tire and crashed into an SUV and a tractor-trailer, killing eight. Another time, it was an Assembly of God youth group coming home from a day trip to an amusement park, hit by a drunk driver?s pickup truck, killing 27.

A few more of these, and I became convinced that worshipers of all faiths, on their ways to missions to Botswana and from softball games, were disproportionately vulnerable to slick roads, texting drivers and lightning.

Hearing stories like these, we?re of course sad for the victims and their loved ones. But it?s more than sorrow that grips us, more than the bitter irony they arouse. These stories confront us with the Job question: What kind of God lets good souls suffer? They stir up our fears and confusion about the power of God versus the power of luck. They confront our fragile truce with meaning and purpose with the indignities of chance and the dumb randomness of the cosmos.

Any event can be metaphysically decoded in more ways than one. It?s like that drawing that looks like a duck one way and a rabbit the other, only here the duck is thousands of years old and hundreds of religions deep, while the rabbit is only a handful of post-Enlightenment centuries of you?re-on-your-own, kiddo.

Yom Kippur Made Me An Atheist

If you believe in a personal God who is active in our lives and involved in all that occurs on Earth, then when bad things happen, in order to comfort yourself, you need faith that God has a plan for us. It may be inscrutable, and we may be too small to comprehend it, but still it?s a good God?s good plan.

But if your God has withdrawn from the world to let free will and the laws of physics prevail; if your God is ineffable, a mystery, Ein Sof, not a God of punctured tires and reckless Instagramming; if your God is a myth that cultures tell themselves to soothe the pain of absurdity ? then an accident is just a statistic, not a sign.

Would you describe the passengers in that crumpled Econoline as having ?bad luck?? Would you call them ?unfortunate?? There?s inconsistency in how we use words, I know, and it?s easy to read too much into metaphors. But when we tie something bad to bum luck or misfortune, or something good to their opposites, I wonder whether we?re tacitly investing them with meaning and purpose in ways that we don?t typically valorize chance or probability.

The Mississippi Floods: Punishment From an Angry God?

We don?t say, ?Happy randomness!? We say, ?Good luck!? We don?t say, ?May the odds be with you.? We say ?the force.? Perhaps all of us English speakers ? atheists and worshipers alike ? believe with our tongues, and so in our heads as well, in a force that dwells beyond us.

This came into view for me a few weeks ago, when social media spread the story of a man named Donald Savastano. Talk about luck ? he literally won the lottery. A 51-year-old self-employed carpenter in upstate New York, he bought a ?Merry Millionaire? scratch-off ticket at a convenience store and found out he?d won the jackpot.

Twenty-three days later, he was dead. When he bought the ticket, he wasn?t feeling so hot, but he hadn?t been able to afford health insurance for a while. But once he had the dough to buy a new truck, think about a vacation and go see a doctor, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain and lung cancer.

Set aside the Obamacare question, and whether he?d taken good enough care of himself. I don?t know the answers ? let?s just stipulate that he didn?t bring his sickness onto himself, no more than he brought his merry million onto himself.

What made him sick? Chance. Probability. His illness came from nowhere, not from Someone. Our lives depend on billions of dividing DNA strands. Sometimes, randomly, they make mistakes. No divine hand commits those errors. The odds of that happening, like lightning, are indifferent to our loves and dreams.

Yet even though I think that, I feel and say something else. I?m thankful that what happened to him has not happened to me. I?m grateful to live another day. Who am I thanking? What merits my gratitude? I say, ?There but for the grace of?.? Of whom? Of what? I don?t ask; I don?t answer. I just bask in what poet Richard Wilbur calls ?the blind delight of being.?

Einstein famously said that ?God does not play dice with the universe.? It was a jibe at Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, whose quantum mechanics and Uncertainty Principle meant that probabilities, not laws, are the ultimate reality. Einstein admitted that he didn?t believe in a personal God, but he maintained that physics would reduce the universe to rules, not randomness. Bohr?s retort was mischievous: ?Einstein, stop telling God what to do.?

Spitting and Other Methods of Warding Off Canaries, Jinxes and Evil Eyes

Years later, Stephen Hawking put a similar point of view this way: ?Even God is bound by the Uncertainty Principle?. All the evidence points to him being an inveterate gambler, who throws the dice on every possible occasion.?

A God who has the same chance of rolling snake eyes as I do isn?t much of a God ? which is a point that Hawking may be making. But I bet that more than a few atheists are summoning a force more benevolent than chaos when they wish someone good luck, good health and safe travels.

This article originally appeared in the Forward and is republished with permission.

 

Related Stories


Source: Of God, Dice And Fatal Car Accidents
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Infoshop News / Review: Interview With Kevin Doyle about The Worms That Saved The World
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:37:28 AM »
Review: Interview With Kevin Doyle about The Worms That Saved The World

This is a storybook for kids. We decided that a direct appeal to their natural rebellious instincts was what was required. In our book a community of earthworms must fight for their home and their lives.
Source: Review: Interview With Kevin Doyle about The Worms That Saved The World
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Manufactured ignorance: The strange case of Juan Cole and the Kurdish Freedom Movement, and the International Liberal Intelligentsia

Cole approaches contemporary Middle Eastern politics from what is often described as an anti-imperialist perspective?though he has been known to depart from it in specific instances (he supported NATO intervention in Libya). - See more at: http://www.focaalblog.com/2018/02/16/david-graeber-manufactured-ignorance/#sthash.UDhZh7Br.CF0KDmYL.dpuf
Source: Manufactured ignorance: The strange case of Juan Cole and the Kurdish Freedom Movement, and the International Liberal Intelligentsia
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Infoshop News / How Do You Practice Intersectionalism? An Interview With bell hooks
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:37:28 AM »
How Do You Practice Intersectionalism? An Interview With bell hooks

In June of 2009 bell hooks agreed to be interviewed. We met at a local coffee shop and, over bagels and espresso drinks, discussed her books, politics and thoughts on recent events such as the economic downturn. I found her as forthright in person as on the page and with a subtle wit not always apparent (to me) in her writing.
Source: How Do You Practice Intersectionalism? An Interview With bell hooks
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AlterNet / We All Use Drugs, So Treat Drug Users as You Would Want to Be Treated
« Last post by AlterNet on Yesterday at 06:37:27 AM »
We All Use Drugs, So Treat Drug Users as You Would Want to Be Treated



 
 
 



Let's help people with drug problems, and hold responsible the people who harm others.


 

We are all drug users. Coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, weed, Viagra, ecstasy, antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills and more: people are using these drugs on a weekly or even daily basis.

Why do we all use drugs? Because drugs work. We all have our personal reasons for using, whether for pleasure, or treating pain or otherwise. And of course many people face challenges from their drug use.

Coffee helps me start my day and gives me a little boost in the afternoon. While I know how harmful my cigarette habit is, it also gives me pleasure. I enjoy my smoke breaks throughout the day, going outside and getting some space, clearing my head and doing my people watching as New Yorkers walk by. I really appreciate my vodka sodas after work. Whether I am kicking up my feet at home or hanging out with friends, it is pleasurable for me. Smoking weed can both relax me and also give me energy. I like watching movies or eating a nice meal after a smoke and also enjoy getting deep with friends or doing some creative writing while a little high.

It?s clear to me that some of my drug use is because of stress and an attempt to push down some anxiety and difficult feelings. Life can be hard. Most of us are stressed when it comes to jobs, money, paying bills and god forbid trying to save a little bit. Watch the news and you are inundated with scary, deadly fires, hurricanes and floods. There are wars happening around the world and people fleeing violence and oppression. We have a President who is constantly attacking women and marginalized communities and playing a game of nuclear war chicken with North Korea. We read about school shootings on a weekly basis. We are living in nerve-wracking times. I sometimes joke, if you are not self-medicating, you are not paying attention. There is a serious opioid overdose crisis in our country right now and the reasons are many and complex. But I would wager that people?s physical and spiritual pain is a major factor contributing to the widespread use and misuse seen today.

While most people use drugs, not everyone has the same relationship with these different drugs and some of us have different experiences with drugs depending on the night or what is going on in our life at that time. The majority of people can enjoy alcohol, but for some, alcohol is a harmful drug and causes real harm and destruction in their lives. Some people can enjoy a couple of cigarettes when they have a couple of drinks. For others, there is no moderation and a single cigarette easily turns into a pack a day habit. Some use their opioids in a healthy way for their pain and for others, it can lead to serious addiction that can become the focus of their life.

While it is counterintuitive, it is worth pointing out that the overwhelming majority of people who use drugs don?t become addicted. Dr. Carl Hart, a neuroscientist and professor at Columbia University has done groundbreaking work around drug use and addiction and notes that, ?80 to 90 percent of people who use illegal drugs are not addicts. They don't have a drug problem. Most are responsible members of our society. They are employed. They pay their taxes. They take care of their families. And in some cases they even become president of the United States.?

While drug use and abuse don?t discriminate, our drug policies do. The war on drugs is a vicious war on people and African Americans and people of color feel the brunt of this war. Despite similar rates of use and sales, African Americans go to prison at 13 times the rates of whites for drugs. While marijuana legalization is becoming mainstream and entrepreneurs are getting rich, we still have hundreds of thousands of people getting stopped, frisked and arrested for marijuana ? mostly young people of color. Last year, in ?progressive? New York City, 18,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession with African Americans and Latinos making up 85% of the arrests. People who are arrested often face immediate and long-term consequences that can make it difficult to get and keep a job, maintain a professional license, obtain educational loans, secure housing, or even keep custody of a child or adopt.

So if we can agree that the majority of people in society are using drugs, and if most people who use drugs don?t have a problem, what should be done about it? The answer is not what Donald Trump is proposing. His proposals are building a wall along the border, telling people to ?Just Say No? and doubling down on law enforcement and mass incarceration. I think it is pretty obvious that our 50-year war on drugs is not the answer.

So how should our society deal with people who use drugs? I propose four simple solutions: 1) Offer treatment and compassion to people who want help for their drug problems; 2) leave people alone who don't want or need treatment; 3) continue to hold people responsible for crimes that harm others; and 4) fight like hell to end the war on drugs and stop locking up our brothers and sisters.

1) Offer treatment and compassion to people who have drug problems. While our society gives lip-service to helping people struggling with drug misuse or addiction, 90 percent of folks who want treatment can't get it. Meanwhile, thousands of people are forced into treatment every year simply because they were arrested for drug possession, even though many of them don't meet the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence.

We should have free treatment available on request. We should remove barriers to entering treatment, which is far more effective and less expensive than putting someone in jail. We need to reduce overdose deaths by getting the overdose reversal drug Naloxone into the hands of people who use opiates and their family members. We need laws that allow people to call 911 when witnessing an overdose without fear of arrest. We need supervised injection facilities where people can use in safe places with medical staff on hand to make sure people don?t die from an overdose. We should make methadone and replacement therapy available to those who want it. We should acknowledge that relapse happens and not kick people out of treatment who slip up.

2) Leave alone people who don't want or need treatment. As I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of people who use drugs don't have problems from their use.

More than 1.5 million people are arrested every year in the U.S. simply for drug possession. The majority of these people don't have drug problems and yet we are handcuffing them and saddling them with criminal records that will severely limit their opportunities in life.

3) Continue to hold people responsible for crimes that harm others. People who harm others, whether on drugs or not, need to be held responsible. Simply using or possessing drugs should not be cause for arrest, but if someone gets behind the wheel while impaired, or commits a predatory or violent crime against someone, they should continue to be held accountable.

4) Fight to end the war on drugs and stop locking up our brothers and sisters.
The war on drugs is really a war on us. It is time to decriminalize all drugs and stop arresting people simply for using or possessing a certain substance. We are all using drugs, most non-problematically. How can we allow the police to target, arrest and lock up our brothers and sisters in cages for something we are all doing? Let's help people with drug problems, leave in peace those without a problem, hold responsible those who harm others and end this tragic, inhumane war on drugs. Let's get people to care about this.

\This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog






 

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Source: We All Use Drugs, So Treat Drug Users as You Would Want to Be Treated
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