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Current location: NC
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 40,349

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The Value of Teachers


The Value of Teachers

Published: January 11, 2012

Suppose your child is about to enter the fourth grade and has been assigned to an excellent teacher. Then the teacher decides to quit. What should you do?

The correct answer? Panic!

Well, not exactly. But a landmark new research paper underscores that the difference between a strong teacher and a weak teacher lasts a lifetime. Having a good fourth-grade teacher makes a student 1.25 percent more likely to go to college, the research suggests, and 1.25 percent less likely to get pregnant as a teenager. Each of the students will go on as an adult to earn, on average, $25,000 more over a lifetime — or about $700,000 in gains for an average size class — all attributable to that ace teacher back in the fourth grade. That’s right: A great teacher is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to each year’s students, just in the extra income they will earn.

The study, by economists at Harvard and Columbia universities, finds that if a great teacher is leaving, parents should hold bake sales or pass the hat around in hopes of collectively offering the teacher as much as a $100,000 bonus to stay for an extra year. Sure, that’s implausible — but their children would gain a benefit that far exceeds even that sum.

Conversely, a very poor teacher has the same effect as a pupil missing 40 percent of the school year. We don’t allow that kind of truancy, so it’s not clear why we should put up with such poor teaching. In fact, the study shows that parents should pay a bad teacher $100,000 to retire (assuming the replacement is of average quality) because a weak teacher holds children back so much.


Bob Weir's Sweetwater Music Hall to Open this Month in Mill Valley


Bob Weir's Sweetwater Music Hall to Open this Month in Mill Valley, CA

Facebook page...Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 3:33pm
by Shelley Champine

This just in from the Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley, CA:

The much-anticipated Sweetwater Music Hall – a community gathering place and live music venue dedicated to bringing back the Sweetwater’s musical legacy to Mill Valley – is set for a soft opening this month. The opening of Sweetwater Music Hall marks a rebirth of the landmark roots music venue and San Francisco Bay Area treasure founded by original owner Jeanie Patterson nearly 25 years ago.

A local venture that will be comprised of multiple investors including Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Furthur) and other longtime supporters of Patterson’s club, the Sweetwater Music Hall is a state-of-the-art nightclub and café that will not only present nationally recognized top-quality entertainment but also will provide a comfortable home venue for local and emerging talent to perform and experiment.


Is this land made for you and me? by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Published on Thursday, January 12, 2012 by Moyers & Company

Is This Land Made for You and Me?
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Over the next few weeks, on the air and on our new website, BillMoyers.com, we’ll be talking a lot about “winner-take-all” politics and how economic inequality – the vast gap between the rich and everyone else– isn’t the result of market forces and Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” It has been deliberately, politically engineered.

But first, as they used to say on radio, a musical interlude. The traveling medicine show known as the race for the Republican presidential nomination has moved on from Iowa and New Hampshire, and all eyes are now on South Carolina. Well, not exactly all. At the moment, our eyes are fixed on some big news from the great state of Oklahoma, home of the legendary American folk singer Woody Guthrie, whose 100th birthday will be celebrated later this year.

Woody saw the ravages of the Dust Bowl and the Depression firsthand; his own family came unraveled in the worst hard times. And he wrote tough yet lyrical stories about the men and women who struggled to survive, enduring the indignity of living life at the bone, with nothing to eat and no place to sleep. He traveled from town to town, hitchhiking and stealing rides in railroad boxcars, singing his songs for spare change or a ham sandwich. What professional success he had during his own lifetime, singing in concerts and on the radio, was often undone by politics and the restless urge to keep moving on. “So long, it’s been good to know you,” he sang, and off he would go.

What he wrote and sang about caused the oil potentates and preachers who ran Oklahoma to consider him radical and disreputable. For many years he was the state’s prodigal son, but times change, and that’s the big news. Woody Guthrie has been rediscovered, even though Oklahoma’s more conservative than ever – one of the reddest of our red states with a governor who’s a favorite of the Tea Party.



OWS Protesters Re-Occupy Liberty Square!

Ron Paul's Strange Bedfellows - "What is it with progressive mancrushes on right-wing Republicans?"


Ron Paul's Strange Bedfellows

Katha Pollitt January 4, 2012 This article appeared in the January 23, 2012 edition of The Nation.

What is it with progressive mancrushes on right-wing Republicans? For years, until he actually got nominated, John McCain was the recipient of lefty smooches equaled only by those bestowed upon Barack Obama before he had to start governing. You might disagree with what McCain stood for, went the argument, but he had integrity, and charisma, and some shiny mavericky positions—on campaign finance reform and gun control and… well, those two anyway.

Now Ron Paul is getting the love. At Truthdig, Robert Scheer calls him “a profound and principled contributor to a much-needed national debate on the limits of federal power.” In The Nation, John Nichols praises his “pure conservatism,” “values” and “principle.” Salon’s Glenn Greenwald is so outraged that progressives haven’t abandoned the warmongering, drone-sending, indefinite-detention-supporting Obama for Paul that he accuses them of supporting the murder of Muslim children. There’s a Paul fan base in the Occupy movement and at Counterpunch, where Alexander Cockburn is a longtime admirer. Paul is a regular guest of Jon Stewart, who has yet to ask him a tough question. And yes, these are all white men; if there are leftish white women and people of color who admire Paul, they’re keeping pretty quiet.

Ron Paul has an advantage over most of his fellow Republicans in having an actual worldview, instead of merely a set of interests—he opposes almost every power the federal government has and almost everything it does. Given Washington’s enormous reach, it stands to reason that progressives would find targets to like in Paul’s wholesale assault. I, too, would love to see the end of the “war on drugs” and our other wars. I, too, am shocked by the curtailment of civil liberties in pursuit of the “war on terror,” most recently the provision in the NDAA permitting the indefinite detention, without charge, of US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism. But these are a handful of cherries on a blighted tree. In a Ron Paul America, there would be no environmental protection, no Social Security, no Medicaid or Medicare, no help for the poor, no public education, no civil rights laws, no anti-discrimination law, no Americans With Disabilities Act, no laws ensuring the safety of food or drugs or consumer products, no workers’ rights. How far does Paul take his war against Washington? He wants to abolish the Federal Aviation Authority and its pesky air traffic controllers. He has one magic answer to every problem—including how to land an airplane safely: let the market handle it.

It’s a little strange to see people who inveigh against Obama’s healthcare compromises wave away, as a detail, Paul’s opposition to any government involvement in healthcare. In Ron Paul’s America, if you weren’t prudent enough or wealthy enough to buy private insurance—and the exact policy that covers what’s ailing you now—you find a charity or die. And if civil liberties are so important, how can Paul’s progressive fans overlook his opposition to abortion and his signing of the personhood pledge, which could ban many birth control methods? Last time I checked, women were half the population (the less important half, apparently). Technically, Paul would overturn Roe and let states make their own laws regulating women’s bodies, up to and including prosecuting abortion as murder. Add in his opposition to basic civil rights law—he maintains his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and opposes restrictions on the “freedom” of business owners to refuse service to blacks—and his hostility to the federal government starts looking more and more like old-fashioned Southern-style states’ rights. No wonder they love him over at Stormfront, a white-supremacist website with neo-Nazi tendencies. In a multiple-choice poll of possible effects of a Paul presidency, the most popular answer by far was “Paul will implement reforms that increase liberty which will indirectly benefit White Nationalists.” And let’s not forget his other unsavory fan base, Christian extremists who want to execute gays, adulterers and “insubordinate children.” Paul’s many connections with the Reconstructionist movement, going back decades, are laid out on AlterNet by Adele Stan, who sees him as a faux libertarian whose real agenda is not individualism but to prevent the federal government from restraining the darker impulses at work at the state and local levels.


The biggest threat to Citizens United --Montana AG explains why


The Montana AG explains why his state's challenge to the controversial decision could hold up in the Supreme Court

The biggest threat to Citizens United
by David Sirota

Last week, while the national press corps was busy pretending the tiny Iowa caucus was the only news in America, a major ruling out of Montana paved the way for a likely U.S. Supreme Court showdown over the role of corporate money in politics.

In the case, which was spearheaded by the state’s Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock, Montana’s top court restored Big Sky country’s century-old law banning corporations from directly spending on political candidates or committees. Legal experts believe that upon appeal, this case will come before the nation’s highest court. While there, it could serve as the first test of the precedents in the infamous Citizens United decision that essentially allows unfettered corporate spending in campaigns.

This week on my weekday morning radio show on KKZN-AM760, I spoke with Bullock about the case. What follows is an edited transcript of our discussion (you can find the full audio podcast here).

Walk us through what this case was all about and why it’s important not just for Montana but for politics all across the country.


PRESS RELEASE (NLG): Rights Groups Urge City to Halt Illegal Restrictions at Zuccotti Park


PRESS RELEASE: Rights Groups Urge City to Halt Illegal Restrictions at Zuccotti Park
By admin, January 9, 2012 2:32 pm
Jennifer Carnig, 212.607.3363 / jcarnig@nyclu.org
NLG Contact, Gideon Orion Oliver, 212.766.8050

Rights Groups Urge City to Halt Illegal Restrictions at Zuccotti Park

January 9, 2012 – Arbitrary and inconsistently applied rules and security measures restricting the public’s access to Zuccotti Park violate city zoning laws, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild argued today in a letter to the New York City Department of Buildings.

The groups urge Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri to promptly address the violations and ensure that Zuccotti Park is open and accessible to all members of the public on an equal basis.

“Right now, Zuccotti Park is a public space in name only,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The metal barricades, security checkpoints and selectively enforced rules not only raise serious constitutional concerns, they violate city zoning laws. We expect the city to ensure that the park is managed in a manner consistent with its own laws.”

Metal barricades have encircled Zuccotti Park since the NYPD cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment there on Nov. 16. The public can only enter the park through two gaps where security personnel selectively subject people to searches.

The groups maintain that these security measures and the constantly changing, selectively enforced and unwritten park rules violate zoning laws, longstanding city policies, and park-owner Brookfield Properties’ legal obligations under a 1968 special zoning permit that established the park as a “permanently open park” for “the public benefit.”

In its letter, the groups present a list of these violations. Among them:

The metal barricades encircling the park violate a city voting law requiring at least 50 percent of the plaza’s frontage be unobstructed with unrestricted access to all walkways through the park.

The barricades and checkpoints interfere with the public’s use and enjoyment of the park, in violation of Brookfield’s legal obligation to maintain the space as a “permanent open park.” People are reluctant to enter an area encircled by metal police barricades.

The barricades constitute a major design modification to the park. Under zoning law, such modifications must go through a city approval process, which has not occurred.

Security personnel have prohibited individuals from bringing an ever-changing list of items into the park, including food, cardboard signs, musical instruments and yoga mats even though the park’s written rules do not prohibit any particular items from entering the park. The written rules only apply to prohibited conduct.

“In a statement issued by Mayor Bloomberg explaining his decision to evict peaceful protesters from Zuccotti Park, the mayor noted that ‘we must never be afraid to insist on compliance with our laws,’” said NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass. “That is precisely what we are asking the City to do now—comply with its own laws and restore the park to its role as a functioning public space open to all New Yorkers.”

“First Amendment freedoms are particularly vulnerable to selective enforcement by the government,” said Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Like the constitution, City zoning law also recognizes that in New York City’s public plazas, members of the public cannot be selectively targeted for the enforcement of patently unreasonable restrictions.”

“Brookfield and the City must remove these restrictions and restore Liberty Park to the people immediately,” said Gideon Orion Oliver, president of the National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter. “Every day they refuse to do so, they compound the irreparable harm they have done – and continue to do – to our First Amendment freedoms.”

In addition to the complaint filed today, others have made similar complaints to the Department of Buildings. The Department of Buildings’ online complaint website shows an open complaint regarding the barricades at Zuccotti Park, and the group “whOWNSspace” states that nearly 100 additional complaints have been filed by other individuals asking the Department of Buildings to investigate the ongoing zoning law violations at the park.

To read the full letter, visit http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/NYCLU_letter_to_LiMandri_1.9.12.pdf.

Courageous Whistleblower Wants You To Know: The Keystone Pipeline is a Lemon


Courageous Whistleblower Wants You To Know: The Keystone Pipeline is a Lemon (VIDEO)

January 8, 2012
By Mitchell S. Gilbert

In their zeal to promote their personal investment portfolios and serve their godfathers in the private sector, Republicans would like the American people to believe two lies about the Keystone Pipeline that is intended to transport synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) from northern Canada to the United States:

Lie #1: The pipeline will create 20,000 or more jobs. The truth: The U.S. State Department estimates it will only create 6,000 jobs and those jobs will only exist during the construction phase.

Lie #2: The construction of the pipeline will be in accordance with the highest standards of the industry. Keystone will not pose any danger to the environment or the communities that it will pass through. The truth: Mike Klink, a whistle-blower inspector on the Keystone XL phase of the pipeline, dares to differ.

After losing his job for complaining about shoddy construction practices, Klink shared his concerns in a courageous op-ed piece. His chilling opening two paragraphs sum up the worst fears of those critics who are concerned about the potential risks of a transcontinental pipeline that will pass through many communities, farmlands and environmentally sensitive pristine areas:


the world is flat & the moon is made of swiss cheese

OR.....there are no such things as evolution and global warming. So much attention for a bunch of ridiculous quacks.

PA Village Waiting On H20 Shipments After Fracking Allegedly Destroyed Its Wells

A Pennsylvania Village Is Waiting On Water Shipments From The EPA After Fracking Allegedly Destroyed Its Wells

AP | Jan. 7, 2012, 6:21 AM

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/dimock-fracking-water-epa-2012-1#ixzz1imx9tuRy

Pennsylvania village where a natural gas driller has been accused of tainting water wells with methane and possibly hazardous chemicals say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is promising to deliver fresh water.

Homeowners in Dimock Township have been without a reliable supply of clean water since Houston-based driller Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. stopped making daily deliveries more than a month ago.

Three Dimock residents say the EPA told them Friday it's hiring a private contractor to deliver water to their homes about 20 miles south of the New York state line. The EPA says no decision has been made.

Cabot has been blamed for polluting an aquifer but denies responsibility for the contamination. It won permission from Pennsylvania environmental regulators to stop delivering water to Dimock on Nov. 30.

```and....posted by cal04,


Northeast Ohio rocked by 11th earthquake linked to Youngstown injection wells

The 4.0-magnitude quake was centered near Youngstown, reported the U.S. Geological Survey and the Ohio Earthquake Information Center.

The earthquake at 3:05 p.m. was felt as far away as Michigan, Ontario, Pennsylvania and New York, reported Michael C. Hansen, state geologist and coordinator of the Ohio Seismic Network, part of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Geological Survey.

The quake was the 11th over the last eight months in Mahoning County, all within two miles of the injection wells, he said. Saturday’s quake was the largest yet.

There is “little doubt” that the quake is linked to injection wells that the state and the owner agreed on Friday to shut down, Hansen said.

Ohio Earthquake Linked To Fracking Injection Wells
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