fresh voices from the front lines of change








Jeff Bryant

How Teachers Helped Oust Puerto Rico’s Governor

Government by the will of the people is very much alive in Puerto Rico, where a prolonged general strike that virtually shut down the island recently forced Governor Ricardo Rosselló to announce his resignation. During the strike, huge crowds mobbed the governor’s mansion around the clock, closed highways in the capital of San Juan, and persuaded some presidential candidates in the Democratic Party to join in calling for the governor to resign. Protesters had multiple grievances, but a “final straw” seems to have been a series of text messages leaked to an independent news organization in which the governor and his closest associates insulted political opponents and allies, members of the news media, and the LGBTQ community. Another notable target for insults in the text exchanges were the island’s public school teachers, whom the governor’s chief financial officer at the time, Christian Sobrino, called “terrorists.” “People in Puerto Rico felt betrayed by the governor,” says Myrna Ortiz-Castillo, a third-grade teacher who serves as finance secretary at the AMPR local teacher's union in Bayamon. “He is supposed to be the person who takes care of the people. Instead he took care of his friends.” One of the “friends” Ortiz-Castillo is referring to is the charter school industry. During his tenure, Rosselló pushed through the first law allowing charter schools on the island, and after the bill passed, he continued to press for opening more charters. Now it seems his ousting, and the legacy of corruption he leaves behind, will likely damage prospects for the charter industry in Puerto Rico for some time.

Trump Has 'No Place' In El Paso

Beto O'Rourke on Texas shooting: Trump 'has no place' in El Paso. USA Today: "2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, who is from El Paso, Texas — the location of a mass shooting where more than 20 people were killed in an apparent racist attack — said Monday that President Donald Trump is not welcome there. O'Rourke, who has repeatedly labeled Trump a "racist," said that Trump helped create the tragedy in El Paso. 'This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday's tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,' O'Rourke wrote on Twitter. 'We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.' Trump will be visiting El Paso on Wednesday, Mayor Dee Margo said during a press conference on Monday afternoon."

No Mention Of Guns In Trump's 'Unity' Speech

Trump condemns white supremacy but stops short of major gun controls. NYT: "President Trump on Monday denounced white supremacy in the wake of twin mass shootings over the weekend, and citing the threat of “racist hate,” he summoned the nation to address what he called a link between the recent carnage and violent video games, mental illness and internet bigotry. But he stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad gun control measures that activists, Democrats and some Republicans have sought for years, such as tougher background checks for gun buyers and the banning of some weapons and accessories such as high-capacity magazines. And while he warned of 'the perils of the internet and social media,' he offered no recognition of his own use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics."

DHS Diverts Resources Away From Countering White Supremacists

Trump officials have redirected resources from countering far-right, racism-fueled domestic terrorism. LA Times: "In the aftermath of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump vowed Monday to give federal law enforcement 'whatever they need' to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism. But the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with identifying threats and preventing domestic terrorism, has sought to redirect resources away from countering anti-government, far-right and white supremacist groups. The shift has come despite evidence of a growing danger. Last year, every extremist killing in the United States involved a follower of far-right hate groups or ideology, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. The FBI has noted a sharp increase in domestic terrorism cases involving white supremacists."

AOC Calls Out 'Team Mitch' Teens

AOC rips McConnell over pic of young men in ‘Team Mitch’ shirts ‘groping & choking’ cutout of her. NYP: "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night after a photo surfaced on social media, showing a group of young men groping and choking' a cardboard cutout of the freshman congresswoman — while wearing shirts that say, 'Team Mitch.' 'Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you,' Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. 'Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll,' she asked, 'or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?'"

China Trade War Escalates to Currency

China responds to US after Treasury designates Beijing as a currency manipulator. CNBC: "China’s central bank has firmly rejected the U.S. Treasury’s designation of Beijing as a currency manipulator, saying the accusation has 'seriously' undermined the international financial order and risked further market turmoil. The response from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) comes at a time of rapidly intensifying tensions between the world’s two largest economies. On Monday, the U.S. Treasury accused Beijing of deliberately influencing the exchange rate between the yuan and the U.S. dollar to gain an “unfair competitive advantage in international trade.' The move fulfills President Donald Trump’s promise to recognize China as a currency manipulator for the first time since 1994."

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