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Gender: Female
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Feb 9, 2017, 01:31 PM
Number of posts: 4,809

Journal Archives

Elizabeth Warren: Solitary confinement is a cruel & unnecessary practice. It's appalling


Warren: I hope you'll read this powerful story from my friend, @AdyBarkan. We need #MedicareForAll


The Curious Case of Elizabeth Warren and the "Charter School Lobbyist" Who Wasn't

How internet insinuation can quickly become campaign fact
Rebecca Solnit

June 7, 2019

The Internet is a costume party in which everyone comes dressed in an opinion, or rather dozens of them or an endless array, one right after another. An opinion is, traditionally or at least ideally, a conclusion reached after weighing the evidence, but that takes time and so people are dashing about in sloppy, ill-formed opinions or rather snap judgments which are to well-formed opinions what trash bags are to evening gowns. If opinions were like clothes, this would just be awkward, but opinions are also like votes. They shape the discourse and eventually the reality of the world we live in. Journalists used to say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts, but opinions are supposed to be based on facts and when the facts are wrong or distorted or weaponized, trouble sets in.

There was actually a nice victory over distortion and insinuation a couple of weeks ago. The Washington Post put out a story on May 23 that was titled “While teaching, Elizabeth Warren worked on more than 50 legal matters, charging as much as $675 an hour.” (If you look it up now, the title has been changed to not shout about the money any more.) It was kind of a nonstory: one of the nation’s leading bankruptcy lawyers, while teaching at one of the nation’s most distinguished law schools, did some work on the side, as law professors apparently often do.

If you didn’t know anything about legal experts’ compensation rates, $675 an hour might seem high, and the whole thing seemed to be trying to suggest that there was something shady about the whole thing. Perhaps women are not supposed to earn a lot of money, though we knew from the sideswipes about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s waitress work that we are not supposed to work in low wage jobs either. Perhaps women are always either too much or not enough. For the record, I am wildly enthused about Warren as a presidential candidate, but I was enthused about accuracy a long time before she came along, and this is a story mostly about accuracy and its opposites. The stories I’m relating could be told about any number of other candidates who’ve been misrepresented in ways that have stuck as smears.

One of the two journalists, Annie Linskey, had penned an earlier Post story whose headline suggested a desperate reaching for controversy: “Elizabeth Warren reshaped our view of the middle class. But some see an angle.” The story declared there had been, “a bitter dispute over the integrity of Warren’s work that shadowed her for years as she climbed the academic ladder,” which turned out to be one angry competitor whose claims about her integrity didn’t hold up, according to others in the field. One of the peculiarities of journalism is that “evenhandedness” can degenerate into pretending that everyone is equivalent, that the fossil fuel industry and the scientists have equally valid positions on climate change, that everyone has to have a scandal and all scandals are approximately the same size.

Response to the Washington Post’s story about her $675 an hour was a best case scenario. A barrage of legal experts, lawyers, and law school professors (and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) hit social media, while readers hit the Washington Post with 2,700 comments; those that I read were all scathing. By the end of the day, Slate had a story headlined “Washington Post Discovers That Elizabeth Warren Was Paid a Reasonable Fee for Providing Legal Services to Unobjectionable Clients” and Esquire and New York Magazine had also mocked the Post’s insinuations.

Eight days later, things didn’t go as well, perhaps because the misinformation didn’t start out in a high-profile outlet. Warren spoke at a big outdoor gathering—the crowd was estimated at 6,500—in Oakland, California, and a young woman introduced her. The introduction was full of praise for public education, for Warren’s plan to make preschool affordable by taxing billionaires, for her college debt plan, for “full funding of cradle to college funding as a cornerstone of her presidency.” The speaker, Sonya Mehta, had taught kindergarten for five years at an Oakland school that became a nonprofit charter school the year she started, at age 24, and then gone on to work for a ballot campaign to increase public school funding in the county, then for an Oakland educational nonprofit focused on teacher sustainabilty called The Teaching Well.

But an education blogger in Pennsylvania called her a “charter school lobbyist,” and then education policy figure Diane Ravitch said on her blog that Warren “was introduced by a representative of Great Oakland Public Schools, a billionaire-funded anti-teacher, pro-charter, pro-‘reform’ operation.” By the end of the week, The Progressive had stated, with a link to the education blogger’s piece, that “her introduction at an Oakland rally by a former charter school teacher associated with a charter lobbying organization was seen by some as a calculated signal that she is more supportive of charter schools than her progressive rival, Bernie Sanders.”

Seen by some as a calculated signal is both vague and incriminating: we never find out who the some are, but the implication of “calculated signal” is that Mehta was chosen to make a political statement and that that statement is pro-charter school. The calculated signal: would it matter unless Warren was the one making it? So is that an assertion Warren was involved in the decision, or is the vague language a way to have it both ways? The carelessness with which they represented this young woman of color—who had not previously been in the public eye—was also disconcerting.

For the record, Warren has been an ardent public school supporter, a critic of for-profit charter schools, and a fierce opponent of education secretary Betsy DeVos. She’s promised she would put a public school teacher in DeVos’s job; if elected, she’d also put a former public school special education teacher, herself, in the White House.


ACLU: For the record: Restricting abortion is about social control.


Elizabeth Warren:Amber pays $1,150 a month for child care, and it's holding her family back.


Ady Barkan's Dying Quest for Social Justice

On April 30, activist Ady Barkan came to Capitol Hill from his home in California to advocate before Congress for a Medicare-for-all bill. The legislation, he said from his wheelchair, was “the only solution to what ails the American health care system.” It was the first-ever hearing for Medicare-for-all legislation, but that’s not what made this moment poignant. The voice wasn’t Barkan’s, but that of a computer, which read his testimony for him. One of the most important activists in America today can barely speak or move.

In 2016, Barkan was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a terminal illness that kills motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, eventually impacting the sufferer’s ability to walk, to eat, even to breath. “I never thought I’d be in this position,” he explained in a CNN op-ed in 2017. “A year ago, I was healthy, taking morning runs on the California coast and looking forward to a new life with my newborn son, Carl.”

Not knowing how much time he had left, Barkan threw himself into activism, turning, as a Politico profile described it, “his body into a kind of campaign tool, laying it in front of members of Congress, news cameras and activists to inspire action for health care, immigrants and the election of progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

He traveled frequently to Capitol Hill—to defend the Affordable Care Act, advocate for immigrant rights and against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, and to protest against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 with a coalition of progressive groups including the Center for Popular Democracy, for which he is an organizer. He’d been an activist for years, but his work gained a new urgency; at the same moment his health was in danger, the government had begun actively working to dismantle funding and programs that millions of Americans like him depend on.


Media Release: Nature's Dangerous Decline 'Unprecedented'; Species Extinction Rates 'Accelerating'

( A big fucking deal if ya ask me )

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
Media Release
(Cliquez ici pour le texte en Français)

Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’
Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’
Current global response insufficient;
‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature;
Opposition from vested interests can be overcome for public good
Most comprehensive assessment of its kind;
1,000,000 species threatened with extinction

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

“The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

“The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,” Watson said.


Greta Thunberg: "This is not something you can like on facebook."

( Great kid or what? )


Elizabeth Warren to campaign in two Michigan cities next week

Updated May 28, 4:40 PM; Posted May 28, 4:35 PM

By Malachi Barrett | mbarret1@mlive.com

Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is planning two campaign stops in Michigan next week.

Warren will make her first appearance in the Great Lakes State on Tuesday, June 4 for a “community conversation” at Focus: HOPE in Detroit at 1:30 p.m., followed by a 6:45 p.m. town hall at Lansing Community College. The 69-year-old senior senator is the latest candidate to come through Michigan, recognized as a key 2020 battleground after President Donald Trump won by a narrow 10,704 votes in 2016.

Warren, 69, is focusing her campaign on economic issues and ending corruption in Washington. She pledged to “shut the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington.” Her campaign website includes promises to permanently ban members of Congress from trading stocks while in office and from becoming lobbyists when they retire.

She proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” on the 75,000 wealthiest American families to partially fund universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and her “Medicare for All” plan.

Warren’s abortion rights platform, released after several state legislatures passed laws restricting women’s ability to terminate pregnancies, urges Congress to pass laws protecting access to reproductive care.

The plan includes federal laws to prohibit states from interfering in a person’s ability to receive abortion services and guarantee reproductive health coverage as part of all health coverage, among other things.


Opinion: Amazon Government contracts become Amazon's new target market

( ugh )

Companies complain that the tech giant may take their business as it has in retail

Rana Foroohar
May 26, 2019

Should Amazon be the US government’s Everything Store? It’s a question being raised as a small but seismic tweak has made its way into the legislation governing how the federal government buys its annual $50bn-worth of commercial goods — from machinery, to potato chips, to toilet paper.

Thanks to what has become informally known as the “Amazon Amendment” to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, government officials must come up with an ecommerce solution for all purchasing — and wholesalers are complaining it will allow Amazon to eat their lunch, just as it has in retail.

Amazon started courting government business a few years ago, and in 2017 signed a lucrative deal with 1,500 local public agencies, which was criticised by non-profit advocacy groups like the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, alleging that the deal would leave the public sector paying more, rather than less, for goods. Last year, Amazon almost nabbed a $10bn Pentagon cloud computing contract before the deal was squashed, in part due to complaints from competitors that Amazon had hijacked the bidding process. It is now a run off between Microsoft and Amazon.

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, a group that represents the biggest companies in a sector worth $5.6tn in sales a year, is waging a public relations war to try and ensure that its members don’t lose government contracts to Amazon. In particular the trade group is upset that the General Services Administration, the part of the government tasked with figuring out which ecommerce model to use, is piloting only an “e-marketplace” version that they, and a number of others, including ILSR, believe will favour a single player. Other ecommerce options, such as a government-managed portal for multiple suppliers, were discarded.

“By designating one, and only one, channel to reach the government customer, core antitrust and broad competitive precepts are assailed,” wrote NAW president Dirk Van Dongen in a February letter to lawmakers. His members’ businesses could be under threat, too. The GSA has said nothing about capping the fees Amazon could charge sellers. Wholesalers and the ILSR worry that sellers could be hit with as much as a 15 per cent fee on the value of goods sold. Amazon would not confirm or deny that number, saying that “fees vary”.

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