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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 64,225

Journal Archives

The Sharks Are Circling Our Public Schools

from The Progressive:

By Ruth Conniff on Apr 11, 2014

Private operators want our tax dollars

Parents whose children attend the public schools in Wisconsin have been getting a barrage of phone calls lately offering "free tuition to send your child to a private or religious school."

"We at School Choice Wisconsin are proud to pay for this call, because we want the very best for you and your child," a woman's voice intones.

The friendly voice directs parents to a website: chooseyourschoolwi.org.

A little online digging reveals that the School Choice Wisconsin website address is registered to the American Education Reform Council -- a group funded by John Walton, of Walmart, to the tune of $1 million between 1999 and 2000, and also funded in part by grants worth hundreds of millions from the rightwing Bradley Foundation. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://progressive.org/content/sharks-are-circling-our-public-schools

Paul Robeson: A Life

from truthdig:

By Paul Von Blum

“Paul Robeson: A Watched Man”
A book by Jordan Goodman

“Paul Robeson,” historian Joseph Dorinson ruefully wrote in the 2002 introduction to his co-edited collection of essays about him, “is the greatest legend nobody knows.” When the man who was one of the most striking Renaissance people in American history died in 1976, in loneliness and obscurity, his magnificent athletic, scholarly, artistic and political accomplishments were largely erased from national consciousness, stricken from the media and from history books. This tragic void, eerily reminiscent of Stalin-era removal of enemies from photographs and other Soviet documents, was a deep stain on American history, resulting from the worst excesses of McCarthyism from the late 1940s through much of the 1960s.

The long overdue restoration of Robeson’s stellar reputation, fortunately, began shortly after his death, slowly propelling him back to some public recognition. Several books, plays, films and conferences, especially after the 1998 centenary of his birth, highlighting his life and multifaceted activities, complemented such awards and honors as his posthumous election to the College Football Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The belated issuance of a Robeson United States postage stamp constituted an oblique government apology and encouraged people to explore his diverse artistic and political contributions.

The growing literature about Robeson encompasses every feature of his life. Some books and articles are overviews, giving readers an opportunity to understand and gauge the full range of his life and work. Others address particular areas such as his films, music, theater or politics. Jordan Goodman’s new book, “Paul Robeson: A Watched Man,” is an effective and informative treatment of Robeson’s political awakening in the United States and England, and the disgraceful pattern of persecution he suffered, especially during the Cold War years after 1945. Readers who are already familiar with Robeson and seek greater detail about the complex political activities that increasingly became the major focus of his life will find the book especially valuable, though it is also useful for general readers.

Goodman is a British academic who is particularly well positioned to address Robeson‘s political activities in the U.K., especially in the postwar era. He provides informative detail about Robeson’s close associates and contacts in Britain as he worked publicly for peace with the Soviet Union, which resulted in increased surveillance by both British and U.S. intelligence agencies. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/paul_robeson_a_life_20140411

Chris Hedges and Eugene Jarecki:The Failed War on Drugs


Published on Apr 7, 2014
©2014 Leigha Cohen Video Production

On April 4-5, of 2014 Students for Prison Education and Reform (SPEAR) hosted "Building a New Criminal Justice: Mobilizing Students for Reform," http://pace.princeton.edu/features/20... a conference at Princeton University. The conference enabled students to discuss how to "build and transition to a new system of criminal justice that prioritizes effectiveness, fairness, and humanity."

The conference, SPEAR http://pace.princeton.edu/node/816 created by a network of students who are interested and involved in criminal justice system reforms. One of the featured speakers on late Friday April 4, was Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist with award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki in discussion together after the filmmaker screening of his award-winning film The House I Live In, http://www.thehouseilivein.org/see-th... a documentary about the rise of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration's effect on society.

After the film, both Chris Hedges http://www.nationinstitute.org/fellow... and Eugene Jarecki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_J... spoke for over 80 minutes with the first 20 minutes focusing on commentary of the film and the remainder of the time a very thought provocative and educational series of Q&A regarding the film, its production and insights from an wonderful pairing of two men into issues facing our criminal justice system and society as well. They look at of how and why we got where we are and the impacts of the drug "class" warfare has impacted millions of lives in the US.

David Sirota: Corruption in the Windy City

from In These Times:

Corruption in the Windy City
In times of budget crises, public employees take the fall while the corporate class prospers—and nowhere is this better exemplified than in Chicago.

David Sirota

The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike in September of 2012, protesting layoffs and cuts in funding. Yet a series of recent revelations show that Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to place corporate interests above residents' basic needs. (Firedoglake )

In America, there is regular ol' corruption, and then there is Chicago Corruption, with a capital “C.” America's third largest city is so notoriously corrupt, all you have to do is say “Chicago politics” and many people instantly start making jokes about payoffs and reciting lines from “The Untouchables.”

Yet, while the Windy City's brand of corruption is extreme, it is also emblematic, as a recent spate of revelations prove.

Chicago is facing a pension shortfall for its police officers, firefighters, teachers and other municipal workers. If you've followed this story, you've probably heard that the only way Mayor Rahm Emanuel can deal with the situation is to slash those workers' pensions and to jack up property taxes on those who aren’t politically connected enough to have secured themselves special exemptions.

This same fantastical story, portraying public employees as the primary cause of budget crises, is being told across the country. Yet, in many cases, we’re only being told half the tale. We aren’t told that the pension shortfalls in many locales were created because local governments did not make their required pension contributions over many years. And perhaps even more shocking, we aren’t told that while states and cities pretend they have no money to deal with public sector pensions, many are paying giant taxpayer subsidies to corporations—subsidies that are often far larger than the pension shortfalls.

Chicago exemplifies how corruption is often at the heart of this grand bait-and-switch. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16546/corruption_in_the_windy_city

Twin Cities: Southwest Corridor light-rail route gets green light

Southwest Corridor light-rail route gets green light
Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune Updated: April 9, 2014 - 11:18 PM

Despite Met Council vote, Minneapolis remains opposed and could slow or kill the project.

(Star-Tribune) The Twin Cities’ biggest transit project passed a major milestone Wednesday with the approval of a $1.68 billion design that emerged from years of planning and quarreling.

The Southwest Corridor light-rail line now faces a showdown with Minneapolis that will likely decide its fate.

The Metropolitan Council, the agency in charge of the project, voted 14-2 in favor of a plan to hide the light-rail line in twin tunnels through the Kenilworth corridor of Minneapolis, despite complaints that it will disrupt and transform the neighborhood.

“This is really about building a project for the next century,” Metropolitan Council Chairwoman Susan Haigh said. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.startribune.com/local/west/254566841.html

D.C.: Second Time's The Charm? Contractor To Submit Silver Line For Approval

The Silver Line is approaching an important milestone — again.

The contractor building the Metrorail project through Virginia's Tysons Corner says it will be ready for submission to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) as early as today, triggering a 15-day review process. If approved by the authority’s project managers, the Silver Line may finally be handed to Metro to conduct safety testing and workforce training for up to 90 days.

Second time the charm for 'substantial completion?'

This will be the second time the construction and engineering giant Bechtel says the Silver Line has achieved “substantial completion.” Its work was rejected in the previous submission in February, after inspectors found a long list of problems preventing the issuance of certificates of occupancy for the five rail stations in Tysons and Reston.

“Bechtel announced today that Dulles Transit Partners, the Bechtel-led team building Phase 1 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, has made significant progress on all major work and plans to submit the project to MWAA for substantial completion designation soon,” the contractor said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon. .................................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/second-times-charm-contractor-submit-silver-line-approval/

America’s Structural Unemployment Crisis in Two Charts

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Testosterone Pit.

The enormous number of people who work only part-time for economic reasons is one the tragedies of the unemployment crisis in this country. It didn’t even start with the financial crisis. Before the 2001 recession, there were a little above 3 million of them. By September 2003, as the economy recovered, there were 4.84 million. Gradually, part-timers got fulltime work, and their number zigzagged back down. In April 2006 dropped, it below 4 million, but only briefly, then edged up again. It never returned to the “normal” that was before the 2001 recession.

Then came the financial crisis, and as layoffs soared, some of the lucky ones who got to stay on were cut to part time. Many of the unemployed, once they found jobs, found part-time jobs. And the number of involuntary part-timers just exploded.


The same structural unemployment drivers are at work with temporary full-time workers. In September 2003, as hiring finally kicked off, there were 2.26 million temps of 130.3 million total nonfarm employees. By summer of 2006, the number of temps had jumped 17.8% to 2.66 million while total nonfarm employment had risen 4.9% to 136.6 million. Then the number of temporary workers began to decline, which was seen as a good sign as the total number of employees was rising; businesses were shifting to regular hires. Or so the story went. But businesses were already having demand issues. The housing construction bubble had started to implode. And for whatever reason, companies started to shed temporary workers.

And look what happened:

The chart (indexed to 100 for September 2003) shows that temp jobs disappeared firstest and fastest. Shortly after the recession, they bottomed out at 1.75 million while total employment bottomed out at 129.7 million in February 2010. So far so good.

Then the Structural Unemployment Drivers Became Apparent

Temp jobs have simply and relentlessly been rocketing ever higher and hit 2.84 million in March, up 62.4% from the post-recession low. Total employment grew as well, but at a stately pace, and reached 137.9 million, up a measly 6.4% from the low. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/04/wolf-richter-structural-unemployment-crisis.html

Noam Chomsky: Nuclear Weapons Won’t Keep Us Safe

from In These Times:

Nuclear Weapons Won’t Keep Us Safe
The U.S. will spend an estimated $1 trillion on its nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years. And for what cause?


The previous article explored how security is a high priority for government planners: security, that is, for state power and its primary constituency, concentrated private power—all of which entails that official policy must be protected from public scrutiny.

In these terms, government actions fall in place as quite rational, including the rationality of collective suicide. Even instant destruction by nuclear weapons has never ranked high among the concerns of state authorities.

To cite an example from the late Cold War: In November 1983 the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization launched a military exercise designed to probe Russian air defenses, simulating air and naval attacks and even a nuclear alert.


Plans for the future are hardly promising. In December the Congressional Budget Office reported that the U.S. nuclear arsenal will cost $355 billion over the next decade. In January the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimated that the U.S. would spend $1 trillion on the nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years.

And of course the United States is not alone in the arms race. As Butler observed, it is a near miracle that we have escaped destruction so far. The longer we tempt fate, the less likely it is that we can hope for divine intervention to perpetuate the miracle. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16495/nuclear_weapons_wont_keep_us_safe

Maryland To Raise Minimum Wage to $10.10 an Hour—But Only After Foot-Dragging From Some Dems

(In These Times) Maryland is on the verge of becoming the second state, after Connecticut, to heed President Barack Obama’s call for a new national minimum wage of $10.10 an hour.

Lawmakers moved in a special weekend session to pass a measure hiking the state’s minimum to $10.10 an hour, up sharply from the current minimum of $7.25. The Maryland Senate passed the bill on April 5, and the House of Delegates gave its approval around midday on April 7, just hours before the year’s legislative session ended.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to sign the bill into law promptly. In January, he called the wage hike his top legislative priority for the year.

The victory for low-wage workers, however, has left some progressive groups frustrated and a little angry. The reason? They say the most potent attempts to kill, dilute or delay the bill came from Democratic Party legislators who publicly proclaim their support for the working poor, yet worked behind the scenes to undermine the new minimum wage law. Democrats enjoy large majorities in both houses of the legislature.

“Maryland is a Democratic state, but not necessarily a progressive one,” says Pat Lippold, political director for hospital workers union 1199SEIU, a division of the Service Employees International Union, which helped push for the bill. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16523/maryland_poised_to_raise_minimum_wage_to_10.10_an_hourbut_only_after_resist

Painting for Dummies

George W. Bush Used Top Google Results For All His Paintings; Will He Be Sued For Copyright Infringement?

You may have heard the recent stories about former President George W. Bush's new exhibit of paintings of world leaders. There's been plenty of chatter about the former President picking up painting as a hobby since leaving office. While many may have assumed that he used his experience in meeting with those world leaders in order to have an accurate representation of what they looked like, the truth is that he just pulled results from Google Image search result for each one. Literally. Some people have gone through and done Google Image searches on each of the subjects he painted, and discovered that the paintings were clearly all based on either the very first result, or very near the top search result.

Yes, that's right. George W. Bush is an appropriation artist.

Many of those images are from Wikipedia, where they're under Creative Commons licensing, but others are clearly covered by copyright. As Animal New York notes, the image of former French President Jacques Chirac comes from a photo of the cover of Chirac's book cover, where the copyright on the photo is actually held by the Associated Press. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140409/11243126858/george-w-bush-used-top-google-results-all-his-paintings-will-he-be-sued-copyright-infringement.shtml

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