first_img Vascular etiology Other 3.5 7 Such a dramatic increase in research funding for a disease has no precedent at NIH aside from the War on Cancer, an effort launched in 1971, and an explosion of AIDS funding in the late 1980s. With the largesse come logistical challenges. Overworked NIH staff are scrambling to review and process thousands of grant proposals, including those for this year’s $414 million bolus—a sum that equals the entire budget of some smaller NIH institutes—which Congress approved in March.NIA, which oversees the new funds, doesn’t just want to plump up existing Alzheimer’s labs, says Director Richard Hodes. The institute is also luring investigators, such as Baker, from other fields to bring in fresh ideas. Many are answering the call. “Nearly everyone I know is putting the words ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ in their grants in an effort to tap into the money,” says Matt Kaeberlein of the University of Washington in Seattle, who studies aging.The funding blitz targets a problem that looks more intractable than ever. The only approved drugs for Alzheimer’s don’t stop the neurodegeneration, but merely treat symptoms—and not very well. In the past year, several major clinical trials based on the field’s leading hypothesis—that reducing the level of β-amyloid plaques that riddle the brains of Alzheimer’s patients would halt disease progression—have flopped. An antibody that targets β-amyloid recently delivered seemingly promising results in a phase II trial. Yet given past failures for other eagerly watched compounds, many researchers remain skeptical and want to see a larger phase III trial. Senator Susan Collins (right), visiting a retirement home specializing in dementia care, co-sponsored a bill that made research on Alzheimer’s disease a national priority. 8.7 4 2050 10.3 Nearly everyone I know is putting the words ‘Alzheimer’s disease’ in their grants in an effort to tap into the money.  (GRAPHIC) N. DESAI/SCIENCE; (DATA) NIH APPROPRIATIONS DATA, OFFICE OF AIDS RESEARCH. NIH RCDC 1970 7.3 9.3 8.3 Presenilin biology Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Immunity andinflammation 100% Alzheimer’s disease 2010 National Cancer Institute 3.5 Those setbacks have amplified concerns that U.S. officials and some scientists have oversold the plan for a treatment by the middle of the next decade. “I am convinced that we are destined to fail to make the 2025 goal and therefore look like we have failed at our promise,” says Alzheimer’s researcher Samuel Gandy of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Some researchers also worry about focusing so much money on just Alzheimer’s. The biomedical community “has mixed feelings” about such targeted funding, says biogerontologist Judy Campisi of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California, who wonders whether more should go to basic research.Even Baker has qualms. “I think it is great that there’s all of this funding. I just hope it’s not at the expense of something interesting in the cancer realm.”But naysayers are few. “Overall, what is wrong with it? Nothing,” says biochemist Rozalyn Anderson of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who studies caloric restriction in monkeys to slow aging and is now tying that work to Alzheimer’s. “It’s a great experiment underway: By increasing funding and access to resources, can we bring on a game-changer in research in a particular area?”A “confluence of factors” unleashed the funding surge, says Sue Peschin, president and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research in Washington, D.C. Families became more open about the once-hidden disease, and advocates became savvier. In the late 1990s, the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, Illinois, and later other groups began to frame care for Alzheimer’s patients as a financial crisis looming as the large baby boomer population ages. Alzheimer’s already costs Medicare and Medicaid $186 billion per year, and the figure will balloon to $750 billion by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Advocates also argued that Alzheimer’s is underfunded in the United States in comparison with major killers such as cancer and heart disease. That’s especially true for AIDS, which until recently received a fixed 10% of NIH’s overall budget—it now gets $3 billion per year—yet affects far fewer Americans. “Neurodegenerative diseases have historically never really had the same funding. In a sense this is a correction,” says Alzheimer’s researcher John Hardy of University College London.Those messages resonated with U.S. lawmakers, including Senator Susan Collins (R–ME) and then-Representative (now Senator) Edward Markey (D–MA), who in 1999 co-founded the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease. In 2011, they co-sponsored the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which called for a U.S. plan to improve research and care for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. After Congress passed the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NIH’s parent department, outlined ambitious goals, the most striking being to “prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.” Some Alzheimer’s researchers had misgivings about the deadline, says David Holtzman of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri: “I don’t think most thought it was realistic.”The Mayo Clinic’s Ronald Petersen, who chaired the advisory board that drafted the HHS plan, defends the 2025 goal: “We wanted to make a bold statement. Not ‘We hoped to make progress.’ That isn’t going to inspire anybody.”As more lawmakers joined the cause, Congress in 2015 mandated that NIH prepare a “professional judgment” budget on Alzheimer’s research, a wish list of needs to meet the 2025 target that would bypass the federal budget process and go directly to the president and Congress. Until then, only cancer and AIDS had enjoyed that special treatment. Alzheimer’s advocates also lobbied the administration of former President Barack Obama to include extra funding in the White House budget request, Peschin says. The Alzheimer’s gamble: NIH tries to turn billions in new funding into treatment for deadly brain disease Circuits and synapses Tau Neuroendocrine mechanisms ApoE and lipid neurobiology Matt Kaeberlein, University of Washington in Seattle 12.1 3 Genetics Annual spending ($ billions) AIDS 2017 2008 15 The lobbying began to pay off as early as 2012 when then–HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a press conference to announce modest increases in funding for Alzheimer’s research. That gained the attention of some scientists, including Baker, who submitted his grant proposal to NIA in 2015. However, the big ramp up began only in 2016 after Obama and lawmakers struck a deal to lift federal spending caps and Congress boosted NIH’s overall budget after a decade of stagnation. That fiscal year, the share of NIH money going to Alzheimer’s shot up 56% to $986 million, including $57 million for separate research on three related dementias, such as vascular dementia. By now, 3 years of such funding boosts have transformed NIA—once a midsize NIH institute and “almost a backwater,” as one official put it on a blog—to the fifth-largest of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers with a $2.6 billion overall budget. “Our continued investment will pay dividends for the millions of families affected by Alzheimer’s,” Collins said in a statement to Science.The windfall is incredible, says Eliezer Masliah, director of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience. “I’ve been in this field for over 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is really a golden era for [studying] Alzheimer’s disease.”Now, the onus is on NIA and the research community not to waste the money. Under the national plan, NIH holds summits every 3 years to guide its Alzheimer’s efforts, targeting the most promising lines of research. Some 140 treatment or prevention trials are underway, testing both drugs and preventive interventions such as exercise. The funding has supported a consortium working on novel mouse models, genetically engineered to mimic the common, late-onset form of the disease. Other money goes to modeling the disease by editing Alzheimer’s risk genes in neural cells derived from stem cells.Basic researchers are exploring new hypotheses. Some of NIA’s recent funding opportunities invite research on alternatives to the long-dominant idea that β-amyloid deposits outside brain cells and “tangles” of the protein tau inside neurons are the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and the best treatment targets. The announcements call for proposals in less-explored areas, such as the role of protective genes, how neurodegeneration affects other animal species, and how metabolic changes might contribute to Alzheimer’s. “This brought in many people who were reluctant to submit an Alzheimer’s application in part because they thought, ‘We’re never going to do well, we’re going to be outsiders,’” Hodes says. At a recent Senate hearing, he pointed out that of 452 investigators who won new Alzheimer’s and related dementia grants from 2015 to 2017, 27% were receiving their first independent NIH grant, like Baker, and 36% were established researchers who had never had NIH support for Alzheimer’s. (Some had funding from Alzheimer’s foundations, however.) “We’re not just repeating the things that failed and hoping we get a different result,” Hodes says. 6 17.9 27.2 9.5 9.2 2008 Shifting priorities Researchers seeking Alzheimer’s drugs are choosing targets other than β-amyloid and tau, the proteins long thought to be the key to treatments. The bars below reflect the percentage of National Institute on Aging grants for basic research devoted to various topics in 2008 and 2017. 9 1984 *Alzheimer’s disease funding, which NIH began to track in 2008, does not include related dementias. 2.7 When molecular biologist Darren Baker was winding up his postdoc studying cancer and aging a few years ago at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, he faced dispiritingly low odds of winning a National Cancer Institute grant to launch his own lab. A seemingly unlikely area, however, beckoned: Alzheimer’s disease. The U.S. government had begun to ramp up research spending on the neurodegenerative condition, which is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and will afflict an estimated 14 million people in this country by 2050. “There was an incentive to do some exploratory work,” Baker recalls.Baker’s postdoc studies had focused on cellular senescence, the cellular version of aging, which had not yet been linked to Alzheimer’s. But when he gave a drug that kills senescent cells to mice genetically engineered to develop an Alzheimer’s-like illness, the animals suffered less memory loss and fewer of the brain changes that are hallmarks of the disease. Last year, those data helped Baker win his first independent National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant—not from NIH’s National Cancer Institute, which he once expected to rely on, but from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Bethesda, Maryland. He now has a six-person lab at the Mayo Clinic, working on senescence and Alzheimer’s.Baker is the kind of newcomer NIH hoped to attract with its recent Alzheimer’s funding bonanza. For years, patient advocates have pointed to the growing toll and burgeoning costs of Alzheimer’s as the U.S. population ages. Spurred by those projections and a controversial national goal to effectively treat the disease by 2025, Congress has over 3 years tripled NIH’s annual budget for Alzheimer’s and related dementias, to $1.9 billion. The growth spurt isn’t over: Two draft 2019 spending bills for NIH would bring the total to $2.3 billion—more than 5% of NIH’s overall budget. By Jocelyn KaiserAug. 30, 2018 , 9:00 AM 1 Email 4.1 13 (GRAPHIC) N. DESAI/SCIENCE; (DATA) NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING AND THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION, THE INTERNATIONAL ALZHEIMER’S AND RELATED DEMENTIAS RESEARCH PORTFOLIO 10.4 7.7 4.8 2018 7.7 Catching up The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has dramatically ramped up funding for only three specific disease priorities: cancer, AIDS, and, most recently, Alzheimer’s. 2.4 β 8.4 PORTLAND PRESS HERALD/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES Deadly rise The number of people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease may reach nearly 14 million by the middle of this century. 2040 2020 11 Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe 9.4 Estimated U.S. cases of Alzheimer’s (millions) 2 Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 11 3.5 1.1 Cell death -amyloid 5 2030 Masliah says that compared with a few years ago, when less than half of NIH’s portfolio in Alzheimer’s was devoted to areas other than β-amyloid or tau, it’s now more than 60% for translational studies and about 70% for basic research. “I do believe there is more money available for us to explore these other ideas,” says Carol Colton of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who studies inflammation as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s. She and others add, however, that the academics called on to review NIH grant proposals are sometimes less open-minded than NIA staff and nix proposals in new areas. They “need to catch up,” Colton says.To cast an even wider net, NIA is offering 1-year funding supplements to researchers already funded by NIH in other areas who want to add an Alzheimer’s component to their research. The hope is that the extra money will lead to full-fledged proposals.Alzheimer’s grants are now much easier to get than other NIA grants: For most Alzheimer’s proposals this year, those ranked in the top 28th percentile by peer-review panels get money. For non-Alzheimer’s grants, that pay line is the 19th percentile. The competition for grants is still stiff, Hodes stresses. After all, he notes, high-quality applications for the Alzheimer’s pool of money have “increased dramatically” in the last couple years “as word got out.”NIA grantees in fields with scarcer funding aren’t complaining, so far. Some recipients even suggest they’re benefiting because competitors in the field of aging are shifting into Alzheimer’s. “Paradoxically, the new funding injection could improve everyone’s chances of funding,” says Duke psychologist Terrie Moffitt, a member of NIA’s advisory council.NIA has had to be creative to cope with the tide of applications for the Alzheimer’s bounty, agency officials say. After a crushing scramble to process grant proposals last summer, this year NIA called early for proposals and scheduled peer-review panels even before it knew its final 2018 budget. Adding to the pressure, President Donald Trump’s administration imposed a federal hiring freeze last year that was only recently lifted at NIH. “I think our staff has managed heroically to still be doing an extremely conscientious job. … Where we’ve compromised probably is the quality of life of a lot of our staff,” Hodes says.At the NIH Center for Scientific Review in Bethesda, which arranges peer-review panels for much of the funding, “We’re handling the load as best we can,” says acting Director Noni Byrnes. The pool of potential reviewers—U.S. Alzheimer’s researchers who aren’t applying for the new funding themselves and so don’t have a conflict of interest—is limited. So, for NIA-organized review panels, the institute is also using Alzheimer’s experts in Canada and Europe, says Ramesh Vemuri, NIA’s chief of scientific review. Metabolism and bioenergetics (GRAPHIC) N. DESAI/SCIENCE; (DATA) L. E. HEBERT ET AL. NEUROLOGY 80, 1778 (2013) Clinical trials won’t be easy to staff either. Clinical researchers and neuropathologists focused on dementia are in short supply, says Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer Maria Carrillo. NIA is trying to attract them by funding fellowships. Another huge problem is finding enough subjects for trials—especially those who are at high risk for the disease but still without symptoms, the population on which some researchers think amyloid-busting drugs could yet work. NIA plans to launch a national recruitment strategy that includes raising awareness about trials.Looming over the massive research push is the 2025 goal. It was set when optimism ran high that drug trials based on the β-amyloid hypothesis would pan out, Carrillo and others say. But if patients must begin antiamyloid treatments well before symptoms set in, seeing clinical benefits could take decades, Gandy notes. And the chances of meeting the deadline by targeting a different disease mechanism are small; such treatments remain far off. Still, Holtzman hopes for good news from an antiamyloid treatment trial. “Something is likely to be approved by 2025. It won’t be the be all, end all,” he says, but he hopes it will keep everyone motivated. “Because we don’t just need money from the NIH, we need the pharmaceutical industry to not drop out”—as Pfizer did this year when it announced it was abandoning Alzheimer’s research.Some researchers point to the mixed success of NIH’s other disease “wars”: AIDS funding hasn’t led to a cure or a vaccine, though it has yielded drugs that allow people infected with HIV to lead nearly normal lives. The war on cancer has led to treatments that are improving survival, but cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the United States.That history makes former NIH Director Harold Varmus cautious about the 2025 goal. “No one denies the enormous need to make progress against Alzheimer’s,” he says. But, “I wish a date were not attached.”Hodes concedes that, like real wars, disease wars can last far longer than anyone imagined—or feared. But that doesn’t mean it was a mistake to launch an all-out offensive against Alzheimer’s disease, he says. “If 2025 comes and we haven’t achieved all we wanted, I’m not going to stop there and declare failure.”last_img

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first_img  19 total views,  1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis Howard Lake | 10 December 2008 | News AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis e-Learning Foundation wins £50k Lloyd’s Special Award 2008 Lloyd’s Charities Trust, the grantmaking charity for the Lloyd’s market, has donated £50,000 to the e-Learning Foundation to provide children from low income families with computers at home and access to their schools’ online networks for their studies.The e-Learning Foundation is this year’s recipient of Lloyd’s Special Award 2008, a donation which goes to a charity working to address issues of interest to the Lloyd’s market.The Special Award donation will be directed towards supporting e-learning projects in schools in East London where Lloyd’s has long-standing links through Lloyd’s Community Programme.The project will be rolled out to local schools in 2009, which will coincide with the 20th anniversary of Lloyd’s support for East London through Lloyd’s Community Programme.Established over fifty years ago, Lloyd’s Charities Trust has a long tradition of providing charitable support to a wide range of national and international charities on behalf of the Lloyd’s market. The Trust also works with and supports three partner charities, which change every three years. The current partner charities are Coram, FARM-Africa and the Samaritans.www.lloyds.com/About_Us/Corporate_responsibility/Charity/Lloyds_Charities_Trust/ Tagged with: Funding About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving.last_img

first_imgBy Ben C. and Sara C.Oklahoma City, Okla.As the walkout by Oklahoma teachers completes its first week on Friday, April 6, schools in districts serving the majority of the state’s students are officially closed as righteously angry educators continue to pack the Legislature building and grounds. According to the Oklahoma Education Association (@okea twitter), Friday’s goal was to obtain education funding of $84 million yearly via taxes on online purchases like Amazon, allowing “ball and dice” games at casinos, and rejecting the repeal of a $5 tax on hotel/motel stays.OEA President Alicia Priest sent out an action alert at the end of Friday’s legislative day, announcing victory in the passage of the online tax and casino tax bills. But the hotel/motel tax was not repealed, and she asked members to push the governor to veto that.Priest added: “Lawmakers should expect to see us at the Capitol on Monday, fighting for the passage of capital gains legislation.” Ending capital gains deductions could generate $120 million in state income, especially from corporations.Teamsters Local 886 refused to cross the education workers’ picket line to do renovations on the state Capitol.Beginning on Monday, April 2, tens of thousands of teachers, school workers, students and community members have shuttered schools across Oklahoma and rallied inside and out of the Capitol building. The contradiction of resource-poor classrooms on oil-rich land is so sharp that even many district administrators endorse this mobilization as necessary to bridge the funding gap.Generally speaking, these workers are not defying management but are confronting the state institutions that actually determine their pay and the education budget: Oklahoma’s governor and the state Legislature. Other unions have joined the ongoing demonstrations at the Capitol building as well, including state workers’ Oklahoma Public Employees Association denouncing their own low pay. Teamsters are driving shuttle vans for demonstrators and have refused to cross education workers’ picket lines. Oklahoma Education Association members include public school teachers, coaches, counselors, librarians, nurses, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, secretaries and other support personnel.“We didn’t walk out on them–they met us there! Love our kids!” said teacher Steve Gilliland.Community supportThe National Indian Education Association issued a statement of support for the strike, noting: “More than 100,000 Native students attend public schools in the state. They deserve a quality education provided by adequately funded schools. With their strike, Oklahoma educators are demanding the state fulfill its responsibility and fully fund public schools and provide raises to educators. Funding for textbooks, supplies and professional development are critical and are necessary to create positive, culturally responsive learning environments where students can be inspired and thrive.”On April 4, a hundred teachers began a 110-mile march from Tulsa to the Capitol in Oklahoma City to dramatize their commitment to better schools for all. Marcher Aaron Baker confirmed to WW that the date was chosen to align with the #MLK50 commemorations in Memphis. He and other protesters that WW met prior to Wednesday are now posting scenes of children lined up to give them high-fives, and of other Oklahomans providing food and first aid.  As of Friday morning, a newsok.com poll ​asking, “Do you support the teacher walkout​?” had an over 86 percent “yes” response from some 24,000 online readers.“You can’t wear me down! I teach Middle School.”High school students held their own rally April 3 outside the state house, backing the goals of the walkout. Though the emphasis may have been on voting in the future, these youth are realizing their organizing power, and some are highly class conscious. As Noah Frost of the Edmond North Young Socialists told WW: “It’s important for students to stand with the teachers not only because we are also fighting for our own education, but to promote class unity and consciousness. This whole movement is more than just asking for more pay, it’s standing up to the ruling classes to demand what’s right.”The progressive movement in the capital has chimed in as well. The Oklahoma Peace House took out paid full page ads in the two largest Sunday papers, showing that this state pays the lowest tax on oil profits of all oil-producing states. Local women’s, Indigenous, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQI, environmental, pro-Cuba and pan-African organizations are among those helping to arrange food and housing in Oklahoma City for out-of-town teachers, as well as library enrichment for out-of-school youngsters. Activist Camille Landry told WW that these groups support the teacher unions’ efforts on principle, despite the unions’ failure so far to center their issues and voices—and the statistical likelihood that many of this week’s demonstrators voted for the bigot-in-chief Trump.Recent attempts by lawmakers such as Gov. Mary Fallin to undermine support for the walkout include labelling marchers as “outside agitators,” “actors,” “paid protesters” and “Antifas”; and assigning the state Bureau of Investigation to look into “threats made against legislators.” These code words may work on convinced right-wingers, but could also teach people involved in their first protest movement to ultimately identify with other movements that are treated similarly and worse by the media and state.Del City High School student president, Xavier Turner (center), spoke to the massive April 4 walkout rally at the Capitol.No-strike orders defiedMany schools across the state have remained closed throughout the week, during which major standardized testing had been set to begin in the younger grades. Education workers are vowing to remain out of the classrooms until their demands are met and education is fully funded by the Legislature and governor. Certain districts have reopened schools and demanded that teachers and school workers return, with mixed results. In solidarity, teachers in districts with vacancies are encouraging colleagues to apply for another job at a more supportive site.Western Heights, considered an urban and poor small district in Oklahoma City, had lawyers issue a threat to dock striking teachers for the cost of hiring substitutes (about $87 a day). The next day, at least one marcher’s sign read, “Western Heights, we walk for you too.” In fact, 30 Western Heights staff defied the order. By Thursday, district teachers resolved the problem by organizing field trips to bring classes to the Capitol in yellow buses! (tinyurl.com/y8p8apym)Impressions from the ground“They want to shut down and privatize public services and make them to be for profit,” a veteran Oklahoma teacher, Tom Smith, told WW. “That’s why we see all these things about charter and private schools. Nobody’s making any money [on public schools]. That’s why you see everybody wanting to privatize your pension funds, and so forth. We need to solve the root cause and then we can begin to heal up.”Smith was one of hundreds who gladly received solidarity handouts from Workers World and the Southern Workers Assembly in the first two days of the strike.Every day, education workers have filled the grounds of the Capitol building in what resembles in many ways an encampment, setting up canopies with the names of their school districts, and even conducting classes for students. Thousands have packed the plaza on the south side of the building for daily rallies. These rallies, in addition to featuring Oklahoma school workers, parents and students, have included West Virginia teachers, have acknowledged the strikes by education workers taking place in Kentucky and elsewhere, and have included defiant calls to continue to return to the Legislature en masse each day until demands are met.The atmosphere outside the building also has a marked tone of jubilant resistance, featuring cultural performances, music, dancing and a generally celebratory environment. Many carry creative, homemade signs that reiterate the call for full funding, or highlight the abysmal state of education in Oklahoma, including textbooks that are 20 years old, crumbling school buildings and other deplorable conditions. Some signs point to the role that the big oil and gas companies in the state play and demand that they pay up to fund education. Other signs draw the connection between the massive amount the state spends to incarcerate people compared to the meager funding it provides for education.Long lines that last throughout the day snake around the Capitol building from both entrances as education workers and their supporters have also maintained a strong presence each day inside the halls of the Legislature. Packing the rotundas of each of the four floors of the building — in a scene that is reminiscent of the state Capitol takeover by state workers in Wisconsin in 2011 — education workers fill the building each day with speeches and chants. When the House or Senate have been in session, hundreds of teachers pack the seating area and the narrow halls outside the doors leading to the chambers, drowning out the sessions with chants for full funding of education.After Oklahoma Gov. Fallin compared education workers to “a teenage kid that wants a better car,” many pursued her when she appeared on Thursday at the Capitol, jangling their keys in the air and chanting, “Where’s my car?”Big Oil & Jim CrowOklahoma teachers are ranked 49th in pay countrywide. Only Mississippi and South Dakota rank lower. (In addition to the 50 states, the District of Columbia is included in the ranking.) Ninety of the state’s 500 school districts have switched to a four-day school week due to a lack of funding to keep schools open for a full five-day week.The state is also one of the top five petroleum and shale producing states in the country. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that oil production in Oklahoma has increased by two and a half times since 2005. However, Oklahoma taxes oil and gas production at the lowest rate in the U.S. — a dismal 2 percent. House Bill 1010xx, passed just prior to April 2 under the pressure of the impending teacher and school worker strike, raises that to a paltry 5 percent for three years and possibly 7 percent afterwards. Big Oil pipelines are often built on Native lands and there have been many struggles — and some victories — by Indigenous peoples to stop their construction.Cuts to education were higher in Oklahoma than in any other state following the 2008 Great Recession, with state funding for public schools cut by 23.6 percent between 2008 and 2014. The schools, the public sector and the people of Oklahoma were robbed to ensure that the oil and gas industry in particular, and other big business in general, would continue to make greater and greater profits.Harold Hamm — net worth estimated at $18.7 billion — is one of the biggest oil industry heads in the state. Hamm personally attended the recent vote on House Bill 1010xx to raise the tax on oil and gas production in the state. WW correspondents heard several reports that Hamm has cynically bused in oil and gas employees “any time they discuss the gross production tax” to help his efforts to lower taxes on his industry.Lyman Nichols and Doug Law — two of the other major oil industry executives in the state — have been targeted along with Hamm by demonstrators. A Native-led group of protesters placed a banner denouncing “the Oligarchy” over a state-sponsored tribute to that industry on the day the strike began.Oklahoma education workers are directly confronting Jim Crow right-to-work (for less!) and other anti-worker laws in the state through their actions. Racism — against Indigenous peoples, Black and migrant workers — has long been a tool the bosses have used to divide the working class and break apart worker struggles that have opened in Oklahoma.The fight against white supremacy is part and parcel of the class struggle, and as the resistance in Oklahoma continues to unfold, it will be critical to find more opportunities to take on that fight to build greater unity against the interests of Big Oil, the banks, and the politicians who do their bidding and impose harsh austerity measures on communities.As education strikers continue to push forward in Oklahoma on April 5, news is breaking that teachers in Washington, D.C., are also staging a walkout against underfunded school conditions there. These teachers are placing their action in the broader context of the uprising being led by education workers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Arizona, West Virginia and elsewhere.This burgeoning struggle against austerity cuts and for meeting people’s needs shows signs of continuing to expand in the days and weeks ahead — with teachers and school workers in the lead.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img

first_img Pioneer Field Agronomy Update 5/22/14 Listen to the complete report with Mary Gums on the agronomy page on this web site. Pioneer Field Agronomy Update 5/22/14  SHARE SHARE Hoosier Ag Today meteorologist Rob Wasson sees picture perfect weather expected over the weekend with sunny skies and seasonal temps, “Daytime highs will average in the middle 70s on Saturday and in the upper 70s by Sunday.  As we move into next week, farmers can look forward to partly cloudy skies on Monday and Tuesday.” He added the extended two week forecast calls for seasonal temperatures and rainfall statewide. Facebook Twitter She said soybean emergence is going well in the northern areas, but heavy rains this week in the central and southern areas may be a different story, “Soybean emergence has been good with very little ponding and soil crusting in northern areas but in areas with heavy rains this may be a problem.” Parts of Central and Southern Indiana saw hail and 2 inch plus rain totals this week. Gums says growers have about another week to get the crop planted before they should consider switching to a shorter season variety. Facebook Twitter Mary GumzThis weekend should bring warm and sunny conditions to the Hoosier State, just what our corn and soybean crops need.  After a May freeze and 2 plus inches of rain, the Indiana corn and soybean crop may finally get some good growing weather.  Mary Gums, agronomist with DuPont Pioneer, says the young crop is showing signs of stress, “I have seen some signs of frost damage, but these crops will recover since the growing point is still below ground.”  Gums expects to see significant crop condition improvement this weekend, “We have plenty of soil moisture; and, once we get the temperature up a little bit, the plants will start growing more actively. We begin to get more root development and it taps into that fertilizer band; we are going to see the crop take off.” Home News Feed Pioneer Field Agronomy Update 5/22/14 By Gary Truitt – May 22, 2014 Previous articleWarm Weather, Just What is NeededNext articleFair Oaks Breaks Ground on Pork Education Center Gary Truittlast_img

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