Articles ~ Actlions ~ Scattering of a few Events (from Adrienne Fong)

Am NOT back posting…

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’

Please post your actions on Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12

 See Indybay also for other listing of events.

Listing of other Bay Area Events

ARTICLES:

A. Donald Trump Executioners May Have Misled Courts, Sparking Calls for Investigation  – February 23, 2021

https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-executioners-may-have-misled-courts-sparking-calls-investigation-1570984

B. Malcolm X’s family releases letter alleging FBI, police role in his death  – February 22, 2021

Malcolm X’s family releases letter alleging FBI, police role in his death (nbcnews.com)

C. Independent probe accuses police and paramedics of wrongdoing in death of Elijah McClain – February 22, 2021

Independent probe accuses police and paramedics of wrongdoing in death of Elijah McClain (nbcnews.com)

D. A Man Died After Police Knelt on His Neck for 5 Minutes  – February 22, 2021

What We Know About the Killing of Angelo Quinto (thecut.com)

 R.I.P.

 ♥ Angelo Quinto ♥

  30-year-old Navy veteran

  Antioch, California

  See Action # 2

E. Haiti’s Century of US Coups, Invasions & Puppets – February 20, 2021 (YouTube – 8 min. long)

Haiti’s Century of US Coups, Invasions & Puppets – YouTube  –

   See Action item # 1   and  Event # 5

F. Damaged Fukushima Reactors Leaking Coolant After Last Weekend’s 7.3 Earthquake  – February 20, 2021

Damaged Fukushima Reactors Leaking Coolant After Last Weekend’s 7.3 Earthquake (naturalblaze.com)

  See  Action # 4  and  Event # 7

G. The Radical Practicality of Community Control Over Policing – February 18, 2021

https://spectrejournal.com/the-radical-practicality-of-community-control-over-policing/

H. US State Department accusation of China ‘genocide’ relied on data abuse and baseless claims by far-right ideologue – February 18, 2021

I. The Covid Vaccine On Trial: If You Only Knew…(Panel discussion)

The Covid Vaccine On Trial: If You Only Knew… • Children’s Health Defense

   World renowned experts (physicians, scientists, lawyers, activists etc.) discussed the many unanswered questions regarding the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccine on

February 10, 2021. Read video transcript.

J. Israel censored this film. Watch it here – January 21, 2021

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/israel-censored-film-watch-it-here

8 ACTIONS:

1. Sign On Letter: U.S., OAS and UN: Hands Off Haiti!

  SIGN: Sign On Letter: U.S., OAS and UN: Hands Off Haiti! (google.com)

   See event # 5

2. Justice for Angelo Quinto

Petition · Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe: Justice for Angelo Quinto · Change.org

3. Immediately add your name: Tell Facebook to NOT add the term “Zionist” to its hate speech policy

  SIGN: https://act.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/a/facebook-we-need-to-talk?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=f162f300-6fd0-4d28-8241-5cd291d152c2

  Petition will be delivered Wed. 2/24

4. International Signature Campaign Against Discharge of Contaminated Water & Discontinuation of Nuclear Power Plants

  SIGN: http://chng.it/djybxBBC 

   See event # 7

5. Stop USDA from automatically approving all GMO animals

  SIGN:Add your name: Genetically engineered animals should be regulated under strict FDA protocols!

6. Strengthen the EITC and Child Tax Credit

  SIGN: MomsRising.org | SIGN our letter to strengthen the EITC and Child Tax Credit!

7. Tell the Biden administration: Police accountability is a priority

  SIGN: Tell the Biden administration: Police accountability is a priority. | Campaign to End Qualified Immunity

8. Reverse Trump Era Approvals for Dangerous Pesticides

 SIGN:  Reverse the Trump Era Approvals for Dangerous Pesticides (sumofus.org)

FEW EVENTS

Friday, February 26

1. Friday, 3:00pm, Sixth anniversary of Amilcar’s death

Online  info:

https://zoom.us/j/370674815?pwd=U2hXNVFXRWhUSTRnUmVmNHJ2RGlzUT09
Meeting ID: 370 674 815
Password: 697565
One tap mobile:  +16699006833,,370674815# then 697565
Dial in:  +1 669 900 6833 US then 370 674 815# and  697565

Join us for a Zoom gathering to remember Amilcar and the common struggle that has made us friends over these last six years. We’ll look back at where we’ve been, take stock of where we are, and discuss where to go from here.

No word yet from the DA

As I mentioned in the last email, the new District Attorney Chesa Boudin had agreed to review each of the police shootings of these last few years, including Amilcar’s. 

From what he’s shared with some of us so far, it is unlikely the DA will change his predecessor’s decision not to charge the cops who killed Amilcar. From what I gather, this is for technical reasons. For example, after six years and many delays, all the statutes of limitations in Amilcar’s case are about to expire. From what he’s told us, the DA feels he has no choice given the constraints imposed on him by law and legal practice.

So far we have no word about how or when the DA will announce his decision. Stay tuned!

About Amilcar Perez-Lopez:

Amilicar was a 21 year old Guatemala immigrant shot to the back six times boy San Francisco police on February 26, 2015 as he was running for his life.

Amilcar came to the U.S. when he was 17 to earn money for his family in Guatemala. He worked at construction sites and restaurants throughout SF. Friends and coworkers remember him as a hardworking, thoughtful, generous young man. He provided for his family, sending remittances back home.

Amilcar is survived by his parents and five siblings, in Guatemala. He also had a significant other in San Francisco.

Host: Justice4Amilcar

Info: Remembering Amilcar, 6 years after | Facebook

Saturday, February 27

2. Saturday, 1:00pm- 2:30pm (PT); 4:00pm – 5:30pm (ET), Training on the New Sanctions Kill Toolkit

Online

Anyone on/off FB

Register: bit.ly/SKtoolkit

The Sanctions Kill coalition created a new toolkit that anyone can use to educate their organization, group or community about what economic sanctions are, the impact they have, why they are illegal and how they also hurt people in the United States. The toolkit is composed of a 20-minute slideshow, a sample script and resources.

You are invited to a webinar to learn more about the toolkit, hear a sample presentation and ask questions. This is led by members of groups in the Sanctions Kill coalition

Info: Training on the New Sanctions Kill Toolkit | Facebook

3. Saturday 2:00pm, Celebrate the life of Oscar Grant

In-person

Meet at:

Fruitvale BART Station
Oakland

Oscar Julius Grant was born February 27, 1986 during Black History Month. Who would have thought that he would make a permanent mark on Black History and be celebrated as an icon of social justice around the world.


The January 1, 2009 public execution of Oscar Grant propelled the community into rebellion. Oscar was not the first but the most extreme visual epaulet of state repression and police brutality since the beating of Rodney King.

nfact the notorious knee in the neck and illegal chokehold used on Oscar Grant has been used on 70 unarmed unarmed Black men while in the custody of law enforcement leading to their demise, according to New York Times.

The most recent case known was the 8:46 George Floyd laid under an officers knee echoing the all so familiar plea ‘ I cant breathe’.

Info: Celebrate the life of Oscar Grant | Facebook

4. Saturday, 3:00pm – 4:30pm, NUCLEAR WEAPONS: How Do We Seize Our Movement Moment?

Online – on/off facebook

Register to receive link: NUCLEAR WEAPONS: How Do We Seize Our Movement Moment? (google.com)

As part of our 14th annual Bravo Test Nuclear Memorial Weekend of Action, the Pacific Life Community invites you to join a conversation with two illustrious representatives of sister antinuclear organizations.

Featuring:

Seth Shelden, Liaison to the United Nations for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), awardee of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation; National Co-Convener, United for Peace and Justice; and North American Coordinator, Mayors for Peace

Introduced and Moderated by PLC member, Jim Haber

Info: NUCLEAR WEAPONS: How Do We Seize Our Movement Moment? | Facebook

Monday, March 1

5. Monday, 4:00pm – 5:30pm, Stand with the People of Haiti – Emergency Demo

In – person

Meet at:

SF Public Library (in front)
100 Larkin St.
SF

Practice Social Distancing

Demand an End to US / UN Support of Moise Dictatorship!

Stop the Deportations!

● End all support for the dictatorship of Jovenel Moise

● End all recognition of the government of Jovenel Moise as of February 7th, 2021 as required by Haiti’s constitution


● Stop all funding of the criminal Haitian police and security forces

Haiti Action Committee strongly condemns the continued US and UN support for Haitian dictator Jovenel Moise as he flaunts the Haitian constitution and clings to power. Moise has been ruling by decree for months, and is now pushing to enact illegitimate constitutional reforms that would give him even more power. Having come to power through a US-UN supported fraudulent election, denounced widely in Haiti as an “electoral coup,” the Moise regime is now poised to stage another series of phony elections to maintain its stranglehold over the country. We stand in solidarity with the resistance and resolve of Haitians in and outside of Haiti to get rid of this criminal regime.

Bring signs / banners.

Host: Haiti Action Committee

Info: https://haitisolidarity.net/join-march-1st-s-f-protest/  and  Haiti Action Committee | Facebook

Tuesday, March 2

6. Tuesday, 5:00pm (PT), Online Memorial for Don Bechler, Co-founder of Single Payer Now

Online

Register to receive info:  bit.ly/DonBechlerMemorial

You will be able to zoom call by phone or computer.

Long time chair and co-founder of Single Payer Now, Don Bechler, died this past October, 2020.  There will be an online memorial on what would have been Don’s 74th birthday we will celebrate his amazing life and share our sadness that he is gone.

Info from friends of Don Bechler

Thursday, March 11

7. Thursday 3:00pm – 4:00pm, Rally-Speak Out on Tenth Anniversary of Fukushima NUKE Meltdown

In-person

San Francisco Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St. (nr. California St.)
SF

Masks & Physical distancing

No More Fukushimas, No Olympic In Japan In the Middle Of Pandemic

March 11, 2021 is the tenth anniversary of the earthquake and meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima.
The nightmare for the people and refugees of Fukushima and Japan continues. They are struggling to survive.

Despite promises that the melted nuclear rods would be removed they have not been and the recent earthquake has added greater dangers.
Two reactors at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have begun leaking cooling water following last weekend’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake, indicating that the existing damage to TEPCO’s Unit 1 and 3 reactors has worsened

The government is also planning to dump over a million tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean despite the opposition of the Fisherman’s co-operative and the people of Japan and Korea.

At the same time the Japanese government under former Japanese prime minister Abe and now Suga continue their denialism mode. They say that they have overcome the nuke plant meltdowns and still want to have the Olympics in Japan this summer 

They also have shown their sexist attacks on women when the former head of the Olympics Yoshiro who was also a former prime minister said women speak too much. He was forced to
resign but their reactionary sexism, denialism and racism continues.

Nuclear clean-up workers including workers from overseas and other workers continue to get contaminated with no proper health and safety education and tens of thousands of bags of radioactive waste continue to remain scattered throughout the prefecture with no place to go.

It’s time to remember the families and children who are still suffering from this man-made
disaster and let them know that people in the United States and around the world stand with them.

Host: No Nukes Action

Info: Rally-Speak Out Thursday On Tenth Anniversary of Fukushima NUKE Meltdowns : Indybay

8. Thursday 6:00pm- 7:30pm (PT), 10th Anniversary of Fukushima: an update on impacts of radiation on females

Online

Register: Meeting Registration – Zoom

MOTHERS FOR PEACE INVITES YOU TO A WEBINAR FEATURING BIOLOGIST MARY OLSON

On the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, Mothers for Peace is hosting an online event, featuring a presentation by biologist Mary Olson. Learn about her work showing greater harm to the female body from radiation than the male body, the basis of data for regulators. This must change!

 The event will begin with a current update on Fukushima by Yuji and Beverly Findlay Kaneko, co-producers of Voices from Japan, a special segment of Libbe HaLevy’s Nuclear Hotseat podcast.

Colin Kaepernick forms a SPAC

Colin Kaepernick

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

February 10, 2021 (axios.com)

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Tuesday disclosed that he has formed a blank-check company that will seek to raise $250 million in an IPO.

Why it matters: Kaepernick hasn’t played pro football since 2016, but has remained a cultural lightning rod — either loved or loathed for his social activism, including his strong support of the Black Lives Matters movement.

Details: The SPAC is called Mission Advancement Corp., and designed to acquire a company at “the intersection of consumer and impact.”

  • Kaepernick is the SPAC’s co-chair and co-sponsor, and is working in partnership with venture capital firm The Najafi Companies.
  • Directors include Attica Jaques, Google’s head of global brand consumer marketing, and Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and CEO of Birchbox.

Protesting Indian farmers vow to amass more supporters outside capital Delhi

By Danish Siddiqui

February 21, 2021 (reuters.com)

Link to video: https://www.reuters.com/video/?videoId=OVE0LD6QZ&jwsource=em

BARNALA, India (Reuters) – More than 100,000 farmers and farm workers gathered in India’s northern Punjab state on Sunday in a show of strength against new farm laws, where union leaders called on supporters to amass outside the capital New Delhi on Feb. 27.

Tens of thousands of Indian growers have already been camped outside Delhi for nearly three months, demanding the repeal of the three reform laws that they say will hurt them and benefit large corporations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which introduced the laws last September, has offered to defer the laws but refused to abandon them, arguing that legislation will help farmers get better prices.

Both sides have met for several rounds of negotiations but failed to make any headway, and farmers’ unions have vowed to carry on the protests until the laws are rolled back.

At Sunday’s rally at a grain market in Barnala, a town in Punjab, union leaders outlined plans to mobilise farmers and farm workers from across the northern state and move to a protest site outside Delhi later this month.

“We came here to make Punjab’s farmers aware of the movement in Delhi. We came to tell them what’s happening there and what will happen next,” prominent farmer leader Joginder Ugrahan told Reuters.

A sea of supporters, including tens of thousands of women, began gathering in Barnala early in the day, riding in on buses, tractors, trailers and cars. Local police estimated a crowd of between 120,000 and 130,000 eventually gathered, comprising one of the largest rallies against the laws.

Baljinder Singh, a 52-year-old farmer, said he had travelled 30 kms (18.6 miles) to attend the rally. “Our objective is that the black laws enacted by the Modi government are repealed,” Singh said, tightly grasping a flag of a farmers’ union.

In New Delhi, a senior official from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party blamed opposition parties for attempting to prolong the agitation but said the government was open for further talks.

Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

RIP RUSH LIMBAUGH, WHO SPENT HIS ENTIRE LIFE ON THE GOVERNMENT DOLE

Rush Limbaugh in His Studio During His Radio Show (Photo by mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)

DRush Limbaugh in his radio studio on Jan. 12, 1995. Photo: Mark Peterson/Corbis via Getty Images

The hilarious irony at the core of Limbaugh’s life was that his career and wealth were a handout from the U.S. government.

Jon Schwarz

Jon Schwarz

February 19 2021, 9:37 a.m. (TheIntercept.com)

AFTER RUSH LIMBAUGH died on Wednesday, there was an outpouring of analysis of his impact on U.S. politics. He popularized a hard-right perspective on economics, celebrating the worthy wealthy and pouring scorn on the undeserving poor. Along the way, he amassed a personal fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

What’s gotten no attention, however, is the hilarious irony at the core of Limbaugh’s life: His career and wealth were a handout from the U.S. government.

This is because Limbaugh was a radio broadcaster. The section of the electromagnetic spectrum used for radio is an extremely valuable resource, and different stations in the same area can’t broadcast at the same frequency. This means the federal government has to regulate radio, and grant monopolies in the form of licenses to broadcast at every point on the band. And until fairly recently, the government handed out these licenses — and thereby the opportunity to exploit the radio spectrum — at essentially no cost.

This situation is equivalent to huge gold mines on public land. Imagine if the government simply gave the rights to extract the gold to corporations, and then the corporations hired a contractor to mine the gold, splitting the proceeds with them. The contractor would easily grow stupendously wealthy. But it would be a little hard to take if he constantly lectured everyone else about the nobility of the rich and the dangers of dependence on the government.

Yet this is exactly what Limbaugh did. No. 1 on a Limbaugh list of “undeniable truths”: “There is a distinct singular American culture — rugged individualism and self-reliance — which made America great.” No. 2 on the list: “The vast majority of the rich in this country did not inherit their wealth; they earned it. They are the country’s achievers, producers, and job creators.” Down at No. 27 is “Our cities have not been neglected, but poisoned with welfare dependency funds.”

Limbaugh returned obsessively to these themes for decades, turning them into common sense in the minds of his listeners. “There will always be poor people,” he said, and “this is not the fault of the rich.” He proclaimed constantly that the super-wealthy are not under-taxed, but woefully over-taxed. (The misleading statistics he used are one of the right’s favorite lies.)

For Limbaugh, all of this was a deeply felt issue of morality. “The rich, as you know, are under assault,” he explained. “They are maligned, criticized, ridiculed, impugned, and instead they ought to be held out and up as the role models.” Meanwhile, “There’s no question we have a dependent class in this country, and it’s growing. … These are people who have had their futures taken away from them.”

Limbaugh’s own dependency on the federal government had its roots in the Communications Act of 1934. At the time, radio was a thrilling new invention, much like the internet in the 1990s. Idealists saw it as opening vast new possibilities for public education and edification, and tried to amend the act so it would reserve 25 percent of the spectrum for nonprofit organizations. Corporations had a different view, which was that they should be given the radio spectrum so they could commercialize it and make as much money as possible.

The idealists lost when the Senate rejected their amendment. A previous 1927 bill had stated that each radio station “must be operated as if owned by the public. … It is as if people of a community should own a station and turn it over to the best man in sight with this injunction: ‘Manage this station in our interest.’” The 1934 Act downgraded this language to require that stations should operate for the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” What this meant was largely unspecified, and in any case would almost never be enforced.

Instead, most of the radio spectrum was simply handed over to corporations, for fees so low that it might as well have been free. The broadcast industry then predictably consolidated, especially since it was largely impossible for companies to lose their licenses. Sixty years after the 1934 Act, the Federal Communications Commission did start auctioning off available radio spectrum, but there has always been exceedingly little to auction. All of Limbaugh’s main stations appear to have acquired their licenses decades before the auctions were established.

This government dole made Limbaugh incredibly rich. In 2008, he signed a contract with Clear Channel Communications paying him $400 million over eight years. In 2018, he made $84.5 million. He lived in a Florida mansion worth $50 million and had a net worth at the end of his life estimated at $600 million.

In fairness to Limbaugh, he did work his radio gold mines with skill and verve. In a fairer world, he could have accumulated perhaps 1 percent of his wealth. It is also the case that he is by no means unique. Other radio hosts, the stars and creators of hit broadcast TV shows, professional athletes, corporate media executives — all have grown extraordinarily rich, thanks to the government’s giveaway of the electromagnetic spectrum.

But few have had the gall to gobble down so much public wealth while simultaneously berating the public about their failures and laziness. Hopefully in the future Limbaugh will be remembered not just for the stones he threw, but the fact that he threw them while living in the world’s biggest glass house.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Jon Schwarzjon.schwarz@​theintercept.com@Schwarz

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON AND DR. CORNEL WEST ON MORALITY, JUSTICE AND POLITICS

Marianne Williamson Dr. Cornel West joins Marianne Williamson for a conversation on morality, justice and politics. Follow Dr. Cornel West on social media: Twitter: https://twitter.com/CornelWest​ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drcornelwest​ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brothercorn…​ Dr. West’s website: http://CornelWest.com​ Listen to Dr. West’s podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast…​ Watch Dr. West’s podcast: https://www.youtube.com/c/thetightrop…​ Follow Marianne on Social Media Twitter: https://twitter.com/marwilliamson​ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/williamsonma…​ Instagram: https://instagram.com/mariannewilliamson​ Website: marianne.com

Book: “God of the Oppressed”

God of the Oppressed

God of the Oppressed

by James H. Cone 

God of the Oppressed remains a landmark in the development of Black Theology—the first effort to present a systematic theology drawing fully on the resources of African-American religion and culture. Responding to the criticism that his previous books drew too heavily on Euro-American definitions of theology, James Cone went back to his experience of the black church in Bearden, Arkansas, the tradition of the Spirituals and black folklore, and the black history of struggle and survival, to construct a new approach to the gospel. In his reflections on God, Jesus, suffering, and liberation, Cone relates the gospel message to the experience of the black community. But a wider theme of the book is the role that social and historical context plays in framing the questions we address to God, as well as the mode of the answers provided. Revised, including a new introduction by Cone, God of the Oppressed remains invaluable for scholars, students, clergy, and everyone concerned with vital, contemporary God-Talk.

(Goodreads.com)

Book: “Jesus and the Disinherited”

Jesus and the Disinherited

Jesus and the Disinherited

by Howard ThurmanVincent Harding (Foreword) 

In this classic theological treatise, the acclaimed theologian and religious leader Howard Thurman (1900–81) demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised. Jesus is a partner in the pain of the oppressed and the example of His life offers a solution to ending the descent into moral nihilism. Hatred does not empower—it decays. Only through self-love and love of one another can God’s justice prevail.

(Goodreads.com)

White House says Biden supports study of slavery reparations

By Reuters Staff

February 17, 2021 (reuters.com)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden supports a study on whether descendants of enslaved people in the United States should receive reparations, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday, as the issue was being debated on Capitol Hill.legislation? He stopped short of 

Psaki told reporters that Biden “continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today.”

Reparations have been used in other circumstances to offset large moral and economic debts – paid to Japanese Americans interned during World War Two, to families of Holocaust survivors and to Blacks in post-apartheid South Africa.

But the United States has never made much headway in discussions of whether or how to compensate African Americans for more than 200 years of slavery and help make up for racial inequality.

HR-40, a bill to fund the study of “slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies” has been floated in Congress for more than 30 years, but never taken up for a full vote.

Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced it in January.

Fellow Democratic Representative Steve Cohen, who chairs the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, told a hearing on Wednesday it was fitting to consider HR-40 at a time when the country is reckoning with police violence against Blacks and a pandemic that has disproportionately affected African Americans.Slideshow ( 3 images )

Biden told the Washington Post last year that “we must acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the original sin of slavery, and the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, and trauma wrought upon Black people in this country.”

But like nearly all of the Democratic presidential candidates at the time, he did not embrace the idea of specific payments to enslaved people’s descendants, instead promising “major actions to address systemic racism” and further study.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted last June following the death in police custody in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an African-American man, found clear divisions along partisan and racial lines, with only one in 10 white respondents supporting the idea and half of Black respondents endorsing it.

Calls have been growing from some politicians, academics and economists for such payments to be made to an estimated 40 million African Americans. Any federal reparations program could cost trillions of dollars, they estimate.

Supporters say such payments would act as acknowledgement of the value of the forced, unpaid labor that supported the economy of Southern U.S. states until the Civil War ended slavery in 1865, the broken promise of land grants after the war and the burden of the century and a half of legal and de facto segregation that followed.

Reporting by Nandita Bose, Steve Holland and David Morgan, Editing by Heather Timmons, Bernadette Baum and Peter Cooney

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

GREEN NEW DEAL IX: LEARNING LESSONS ABOUT EQUALITY AND EDUCATION FROM FINLAND

FRI, 2/19/2021 – BY STEVE RUSHTON    (Occupy.com)

This is the ninth installment in a series about extending the Green New Deal to confront multiple global crises. Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, and Part VIII.

A small Nordic country, Finland tops world rankings for safety and stability, as well as protections of fundamental human rights. It has the second lowest poverty rate among OECD countries after Denmark, and the most literate population who are also the happiest and enjoy the best well-being. It also ranks top or very near it on everything from equality to health, and from having the cleanest air to the most respected media.

Still, the country’s most famous success story is education.

recently published book, Finntopia: What We Can Learn From the World’s Happiest Country, explains how Finland has become one of the most equitable societies. In it, authors Danny Dorling and Annika Koljonen substantiate their argument with data and examples from Agenda Publishing.

Dorling is a professor of geography at the University of Oxford and Koljonen is a Helsinki-based graduate of Cambridge. In Finntopia, the authors answer the questions of how Finland became such a great place to live – and speculate on why the country’s common sense has not been applied elsewhere.

Finland has gone from being a poor nation to superlatively rich, and not only in monetary terms. It is moving in the right direction on everything from life expectancy to health outcomes, welfare support to housing rights. The book provides essential reading about how to build a relative social utopia when so much of the world appears dystopian.

THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WATER

Finntopia’s authors write: “Just a century ago, Finns had it worse than almost all other people in Europe… [Yet now] Finland offers us an example of what bold policies can produce: policies that put the equality of individuals at their heart, with the aim of building a fairer, happier, more prosperous society. The story of Finland shows that anything is possible.”

Indeed, Finland’s prospects in 1951 were deemed “grey and dreary.” Yet 70 years later, the country is vibrant, colourful and a model for the world to follow. Telling this story, the authors deconstruct the oft-made “Nordic miracle” myths: Finland did not get to where it is today due to its endless summer days, deep winters, seismic seasonal shifts, ecosystems, history or sparse population. Although all these, and other factors, were somewhat advantageous.

Though the book was mostly written pre-Covid-19, the authors ask readers to judge Finland on how it has likewise dealt with the virus. We now know that this experience has been a success when compared to the rest of Europe. At the time of writing, in late December, Finland had just surpassed 500 deaths from coronavirus in a population of 5.5 million.

If people in the U.S. had died at a similar rate, this would total no more than 28,000 deaths – less than a tenth of the actual figure by that point. Throughout Finntopia, there are constant specific comparisons that show how well Finland is doing, in health and otherwise, compared to the US, UK and EU nations overall.

Dorling and Kojonen write: “Finland is a beacon for those who think that another world is possible. It allows us to put fantasies of what could be built, and look instead [at] what has actually been created. Go to Finland and see for yourself, or better still, save the carbon pollution and the airfare, and read the pages that follow.”

The book pulls no punches when it comes to politics as well – for instance, delving into Finland’s issues with right-wing populism, or the struggles of the Sami, the country’s far north indigenous population. Overall, Finntopia is a story of optimism. There is nothing in the Finnish water – it is literally considered the cleanest in the world, but also there is no magic in it. Finntopia shows how making decisions for the common good works.

EDUCATION FOR ALL

Today, Finland has the best-ranked education system and the most prepared students for the future. Yet in the mid-20th century, education was highly segregated, with access denied to the majority of Finland’s population who lived rurally.

Dorling and Koljonen write: “Alongside providing sufficient support for parents, good housing and high quality healthcare, education is one of the most important investments in society that a government can make to ensure both the productivity and the well-being of future generations.”

Alongside investment, Finland changed the way it educates, based on the latest pedagogical theories. Importantly, the need for education became a universal ethos. Finnish students are not set and divided by ability, which gives everyone the same opportunities to learn and grow – a lesson that emanates across society. Also, studies showing the importance of play revealed that Finnish students get more outside breaks and teaching through structured play.

Teachers also became highly valued, rigorously trained – and then, of critical importance, well paid. Finnish teachers have a freedom to teach not enjoyed elsewhere. For instance, students face few national assessments, and teachers are not regularly inspected for the quality of their work. As a result, students develop holistically, not forced to prepare for endless tests, while teachers avoid pointless paperwork. This creates a positive feedback loop: students get better outcomes as teachers become even more respected and empowered to teach.

In broader ways, this teaching story about good education creates its own feedback loop. Dorling and Koljonen pick out how Finland’s approach is more austerity-proof than other nations. For example, “School meals are not termed free in Finland, they are just called ‘lunch’”. The advantages of this are multifold: it is an efficient way to feed children, making sure they have the energy to learn, and most importantly, every student gets nourishment.

PUBLIC SPENDING PAYS FOR ITSELF

Finntopia addresses another key topic: how does the country pay for everything, and why are its higher paid citizens prepared – and happy – to pay high taxes? Bringing the discussion back to education, Dorling and Koljonen point out that overall spending on schools in Finland is comparable with many other nations, for instance Britain. What differs in Britain is that much of its spending is focused on the children of elites, who attend private schools.

A famous quote from Noam Chomsky reads: “That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.” Finntopia shows how Finland turned this model on its head: Finns broadly support taxes, including high taxes for high earners, because they can see where that tax money goes. To public services.

This is one essential lesson for people seeking to promote a global Green New Deal. Years of underfunding have made citizens in the UK and US cynical about public services. A Green New Deal must overcome this. The funding of education is where the journey begins, unlocking a deeper conversation about society and its values.

It is notable that in Finland, after the first Covid-19 lockdown – which was done swiftly, and thus to a lighter degree, compared with other countries – libraries were among the first places to reopen. In the UK, by contrast, much of the conversation has focused around the reopening of pubs. Good education available to everyone is a sure-fire way to reduce inequality, maintain the book’s authors. And when it comes to achieving a Green New Deal, the world should take a lesson from Finland: allow everyone to reach their potential, and perhaps we’ll find ways to deal with the crises we face.

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, and Part VIII.