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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,639

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Where Food Injustice Wanders Next: South Africa


from Civil Eats:



Where Food Injustice Wanders Next: South Africa
By Judy Bankman on August 13, 2013




One of the defining landmarks in Johannesburg, South Africa is the Coca-Cola dome: A 19,000-person arena sponsored by the beverage giant. Coke has become increasing popular in South Africa, where an average of 254 Coke products were consumed in 2010. That’s more than the international annual average of 89 per person and quickly approaching the 403 Coke products consumed by the average American.

KFC is also a significant presence in South Africa, with more than 600 locations in the country. Thanks to the increasing availability of soda and fast food, South Africans are developing the chronic diseases associated with the nutrient-poor standard American diet.

As diets around the world are becoming less varied, and more dependent on processed convenience foods, few places demand the attention that South Africa does. As the home to strong historical inequalities and a fierce ongoing battle for racial justice the question arises: What is fueling the adoption of the Western-style diet there? Who is affected the most?

In recent years, South Africans have been migrating from rural areas to urban centers in search of work. Along with more opportunity, life in an urban environment offers easy access to big supermarkets and fast food chains. While access to supermarkets can often be a good thing, large chains like Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay carry mostly packaged foods that contain the processed meat, refined flour and sugar, and artificial preservatives, the very ingredients that are tied to diet-related illnesses in the developed world. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://civileats.com/2013/08/13/where-food-injustice-wanders-next-south-africa/#sthash.qVB1yAEV.dpuf



David Sirota: Our Gilded Age Education System


from In These Times:



Our Gilded Age Education System
The main lesson from the ongoing education debate has little to do with schools and everything to do with money.

BY David Sirota


Paradoxes come in all different forms, but here's one that perfectly fits this Gilded Age: the most significant lesson from the ongoing debate about American education has little to do with schools and everything to do with money. This lesson comes from a series of recent scandals that expose the financial motives of the leaders of the so-called education “reform” movement—the one that is trying to privatize public schools.

The first set of scandals engulfed Tony Bennett, the former Indiana school superintendent and much-vaunted poster boy for the privatization push. After voters in that state threw him out of office, he was quickly given a job as the education chief in Florida. At the same time, his wife not-so-coincidentally landed a gig with the Florida-based Charter Schools USA—a for-profit company that not only has an obvious interest in Bennett privatizing Florida schools, but that also was previously awarded lucrative contracts by Bennett in Indiana.

Grotesque as it is to shroud such self-enriching graft in the veneer of helping children, the self-dealing controversy wasn't Bennett's most revealing scandal. That distinction goes to recent news that Bennett changed the grades of privately run charter schools on behalf of his financial backers. Indeed, as the Associated Press reported, “When it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett's education team frantically overhauled his signature 'A-F' school grading system to improve the school's marks.” Yet, the Associated Press also reported that just a year before, Bennett “declined to give two Indianapolis public schools (the) same flexibility.”

In response, the American Federation of Teachers is asking Indiana to release emails between Bennett and the education foundation run by former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.)—another prominent face of the “reform” movement. The union is requesting this correspondence because of another scandal—this one publicized by the Washington Post. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15471/a_civics_lesson_from_americas_education_debate/



The Tea Party Targets Public Libraries


from OnTheCommons.org:


The Tea Party Targets Public Libraries
Even a $1 year tax hike to maintain services is too much

| by David Morris


In September 2012 the Library Board of Pulaski County, Kentucky raised property taxes $1 per year for a typical homeowner to maintain the existing level of services in its five libraries. Voters were not given the opportunity to reject the increase; in 2006 however, they were and resoundingly approved a much larger increase to finance a new library.

But in 2006 the county and the country did not have a Tea Party. That grassroots movement sprang up early 2009 in fury at the federal government’s attempt to help millions of people facing foreclosure stay in their homes. In 2010 it escalated into a full-throated attack on the federal government’s attempt to expand medical care access to tens of millions. By 2012 the Tea Party movement’s virulent anti-government, anti-tax philosophy and take-no-prisoners, I’m-not-my-brother’s-keeper attitude had come to define American politics.

Pulaski County Tea Partiers, justifying their fury by noting the $1 increase had not been voted on by the people began circulating a petition to dissolve the library tax district completely. The effort’s leader declared her group would stop accumulating signatures only if all members of the current library board resigned.

The Board did not resign and ultimately the petitioners found they had too little time to gather the necessary signatures. But the Tea Party had demonstrated its strength and revealed its willingness to use scorched earth tactics. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/tea-party-targets-public-libraries#sthash.7ufMNSyk.dpuf



Chris Hedges: Murdering the Wretched of the Earth


from truthdig:


Murdering the Wretched of the Earth

Posted on Aug 14, 2013
By Chris Hedges


Radical Islam is the last refuge of the Muslim poor. The mandated five prayers a day give the only real structure to the lives of impoverished believers. The careful rituals of washing before prayers in the mosque, the strict moral code that prohibits alcohol, along with the understanding that life has an ultimate purpose and meaning, keep hundreds of millions of destitute Muslims from despair. The fundamentalist ideology that rises from oppression is rigid and unforgiving. It radically splits the world into black and white, good and evil, apostates and believers. It is bigoted and cruel to women, Jews, Christians and secularists along with gays and lesbians. But at the same time it offers to those on the very bottom of society a final refuge and hope. The massacres of hundreds of believers in the streets of Cairo signal not only an assault against a religious ideology, not only a return to the brutal police state of Hosni Mubarak, but the start of a holy war that will turn Egypt and other poor regions of the globe into a cauldron of blood and suffering.

The only way to break the hold of radical Islam is to give followers of the movement a stake in the wider economy, the possibility of a life where the future is not dominated by grinding poverty, repression and hopelessness. If you live in the sprawling slums of Cairo or the refugee camps in Gaza or the concrete hovels in New Delhi, every avenue of escape is closed. You cannot get an education. You cannot get a job. You cannot get married. You cannot challenge the domination of the economy by the oligarchs and the generals. The only way left for you to affirm yourself is to become a martyr or shahid. Then you will get what you cannot get in life—a brief moment of fame and glory. And while what will take place in Egypt will be defined as a religious war, and the acts of violence by the insurgents who will rise from the bloodied squares of Cairo will be defined as terrorism, the engine for this chaos is not religion but the collapsing global economy, a world where the wretched of the Earth are to be subjugated and starved or shot. The lines of battle are being drawn in Egypt and across the globe. Adli Mansour, the titular president appointed by the military dictator of Egypt, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, has imposed a military-led government, a curfew and a state of emergency. It will not be lifted soon.

The lifeblood of radical movements is martyrdom. The Egyptian military has provided an ample supply. The faces and the names of the sanctified dead will be used by enraged clerics to call for holy vengeance. And as violence grows and the lists of martyrs expand it will ignite a war that will tear Egypt apart. Police, Coptic Christians, secularists, westerners, businesses, banks, the tourism industry and the military will become targets. Those radical Islamists who were convinced by the Muslim Brotherhood that electoral politics could work and brought into the system will go back underground, and many of the rank-and-file of the Muslim Brotherhood will join them. Crude bombs and explosive devices will be set off. Random attacks and assassinations by gunmen will puncture daily life in Egypt as it did in the 1990s when I was in Cairo for the New York Times, although this time the scale of the attacks will become fiercer and wider, far harder to control or ultimately crush.

What is happening in Egypt is a precursor to a wider global war between the world’s elites and the world’s poor, a war caused by diminishing resources, chronic unemployment and underemployment, declining crop yields caused by climate change, overpopulation and rising food prices. Nearly half of Egypt’s 80 million people—33 percent—are 14 or younger and live under or just above the poverty line, which the World Bank sets at $2.00 a day. The poor in Egypt spend more than half their income on food, and often food that has little nutritional value. An estimated 13.7 million Egyptians or 17 percent of the population suffered from food insecurity in 2011, compared to 14 percent in 2009, according to the report by U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). Malnutrition is endemic among poor children with 31 percent of children under 5 being stunted in growth. Illiteracy runs at over 70 percent. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/murdering_the_wretched_of_the_earth_20130814/



The Emergent Academic Proletariat and its Shortchanged Students


from Dissent magazine:


The Emergent Academic Proletariat and its Shortchanged Students
By Claire Goldstene - August 14, 2013


The phrase “corporatization of the university” captures the reorientation of colleges away from a primarily educational mission and toward one that resembles the financial bottom line. The evidence of this shift is myriad: the growth of for-profit degree-granting institutions, rising tuition and student debt, the pursuit of elevated rankings, disproportionate resources spent on athletic programs and sports facilities, the identification of students as “customers,” assessment of accomplishment in the classroom as that which can be quantified, a small number of highly compensated academic “superstars,” and a swelling cadre of overpaid administrators. According to Stephen Trachtenberg, former president of George Washington University and an unapologetic pioneer of tuition inflation, success for colleges is measured by continuous new construction on campuses and substantial endowments. The achievement of this never-ending growth requires constantly greater revenue, which in turn, necessitates escalating tuition and fees. As Trachtenberg explained, “people equate price with the value of their education.”

Comparatively little of this money, however, is dedicated to supporting the educational mandate of colleges by, for example, reducing the teacher-to-student ratio or paying the majority of faculty a livable salary. Rather, the burden of these “business-like” endeavors has been borne on the backs of onerously indebted students and low-wage temporary faculty.

Most teachers in higher education across the country lack long-term job stability. Presently, close to 70 percent of all faculty appointments in degree-granting institutions are off the tenure-track, a number that includes over one million people. The label “contingent academic labor” encompasses an array of arrangements, among them adjuncts paid on a per-course basis, one- or multi-year contract faculty, visiting professors, and post-docs. In general, these positions are characterized by low pay, no-to-little job security, and, frequently, no health or retirement benefits. According to the Adjunct Project, the national average remuneration for adjuncts is $2,987 for a 15-week, three-credit course, usually with a high student enrollment, and some teachers are paid as little as $1,000 per class. Currently, nearly 34,000 Ph.D. recipients receive food stamps to supplement their earnings. In an effort to cobble together a living, many adjuncts teach at multiple institutions, taking on a course load of six or more classes per semester and spending significant time traveling among campuses. Most recently, numerous university systems have reduced the number of courses adjuncts can teach in a single year to avoid the thirty-hour per week threshold established by the 2010 Affordable Care Act that would trigger access to employer healthcare benefits.

Though convenient to mark the economic contraction of 2008 as the turning point in this story, the achievement of a majority contingent faculty represents the culmination of a forty year trend. In 1970, almost 78 percent of faculty were classified as permanent, full-time. While four decades ago most adjuncts derived their main source of income from other full-time employment and taught an occasional course in their field of expertise, today more and more non-permanent faculty grind to support themselves and their families through teaching. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/the-emergent-academic-proletariat-and-its-shortchanged-students



Chris Hedges: Murdering the Wretched of the Earth


from truthdig:


Murdering the Wretched of the Earth

Posted on Aug 14, 2013
By Chris Hedges


Radical Islam is the last refuge of the Muslim poor. The mandated five prayers a day give the only real structure to the lives of impoverished believers. The careful rituals of washing before prayers in the mosque, the strict moral code that prohibits alcohol, along with the understanding that life has an ultimate purpose and meaning, keep hundreds of millions of destitute Muslims from despair. The fundamentalist ideology that rises from oppression is rigid and unforgiving. It radically splits the world into black and white, good and evil, apostates and believers. It is bigoted and cruel to women, Jews, Christians and secularists along with gays and lesbians. But at the same time it offers to those on the very bottom of society a final refuge and hope. The massacres of hundreds of believers in the streets of Cairo signal not only an assault against a religious ideology, not only a return to the brutal police state of Hosni Mubarak, but the start of a holy war that will turn Egypt and other poor regions of the globe into a cauldron of blood and suffering.

The only way to break the hold of radical Islam is to give followers of the movement a stake in the wider economy, the possibility of a life where the future is not dominated by grinding poverty, repression and hopelessness. If you live in the sprawling slums of Cairo or the refugee camps in Gaza or the concrete hovels in New Delhi, every avenue of escape is closed. You cannot get an education. You cannot get a job. You cannot get married. You cannot challenge the domination of the economy by the oligarchs and the generals. The only way left for you to affirm yourself is to become a martyr or shahid. Then you will get what you cannot get in life—a brief moment of fame and glory. And while what will take place in Egypt will be defined as a religious war, and the acts of violence by the insurgents who will rise from the bloodied squares of Cairo will be defined as terrorism, the engine for this chaos is not religion but the collapsing global economy, a world where the wretched of the Earth are to be subjugated and starved or shot. The lines of battle are being drawn in Egypt and across the globe. Adli Mansour, the titular president appointed by the military dictator of Egypt, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, has imposed a military-led government, a curfew and a state of emergency. It will not be lifted soon.

The lifeblood of radical movements is martyrdom. The Egyptian military has provided an ample supply. The faces and the names of the sanctified dead will be used by enraged clerics to call for holy vengeance. And as violence grows and the lists of martyrs expand it will ignite a war that will tear Egypt apart. Police, Coptic Christians, secularists, westerners, businesses, banks, the tourism industry and the military will become targets. Those radical Islamists who were convinced by the Muslim Brotherhood that electoral politics could work and brought into the system will go back underground, and many of the rank-and-file of the Muslim Brotherhood will join them. Crude bombs and explosive devices will be set off. Random attacks and assassinations by gunmen will puncture daily life in Egypt as it did in the 1990s when I was in Cairo for the New York Times, although this time the scale of the attacks will become fiercer and wider, far harder to control or ultimately crush.

What is happening in Egypt is a precursor to a wider global war between the world’s elites and the world’s poor, a war caused by diminishing resources, chronic unemployment and underemployment, declining crop yields caused by climate change, overpopulation and rising food prices. Nearly half of Egypt’s 80 million people—33 percent—are 14 or younger and live under or just above the poverty line, which the World Bank sets at $2.00 a day. The poor in Egypt spend more than half their income on food, and often food that has little nutritional value. An estimated 13.7 million Egyptians or 17 percent of the population suffered from food insecurity in 2011, compared to 14 percent in 2009, according to the report by U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). Malnutrition is endemic among poor children with 31 percent of children under 5 being stunted in growth. Illiteracy runs at over 70 percent. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/murdering_the_wretched_of_the_earth_20130814/



Watch Werner Herzog's Devastating Documentary on Texting While Driving


from Mother Jones:



Watch Werner Herzog's Devastating Documentary on Texting While Driving

—By Asawin Suebsaeng
| Tue Aug. 13, 2013 1:39 PM PDT


Here's something you should check out now, if you haven't already. "From One Second to the Next" is a 35-minute public service announcement sponsored by AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, and directed by German filmmaker Werner Herzog (as in the internationally acclaimed and highly influential director of such films as Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Grizzly Man). It's a thoroughly effective and artfully crafted PSA that examines the easily preventable death toll caused by texting while driving.

Watch:


Screenings of the short documentary are being planned for over 40,000 high schools, as well as hundreds of government agencies and safety groups. "There’s a completely new culture out there," Herzog told The Canadian Press. "I'm not a participant of texting and driving—or texting at all—but I see there's something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us." ..............................................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/08/werner-herzog-documentary-texting-while-driving



Lindsey Graham Challenger Calls Him 'A Community Organizer For The Muslim Brotherhood'


South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright (R), who will take on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the state's primary in 2014, called Graham a "community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood" on Tuesday.

In a conference call with supporters, Bright charged Graham with not paying enough attention to the people of South Carolina. "During the [congressional] recess, when I would hope that he would be around folks in South Carolina, getting their feelings on so many issues that affect their lives, he has instead chosen to take his time to be a community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood, and that concerns me," Bright said, according to The State.

When asked for a response to the accusation, Graham's campaign sent out a statement highlighting the South Carolina senator's conservatism. "Lindsey Graham has a proven track record of protecting our conservative values and fighting for South Carolina. He was ranked in the top 5 budget cutters in the Senate by the National Taxpayer’s Union Foundation, called an ‘ACU Conservative’ with a 92 score by the American Conservative Union, recognized as the Pro-life Legislator of the Year by SC Citizens for Life, awarded the highest honor given by the Enlisted Association of the National Guard for supporting our military, and maintains an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association," Graham spokesman Tate Ziegler wrote. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/lindsey-graham-muslim-brotherhood_n_3754671.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



White People Support Academic Meritocracy When It Benefits Them, Study Suggests


(HuffPost) Do white people only support traditional definitions of meritocracy when it benefits them? A new study suggests so.

University of Miami professor Frank L. Samson looked at the idea of meritocracy through the lens of admissions standards in the University of California system. He found that white participants changed their ideas of what was meritocratic based on what benefitted white, as opposed to Asian-American, applicants.

After learning whites made up a majority of students at a school, half of the study's participants were asked to evaluate the importance of academic achievement when they were assessing university applicants. The participants related that universities should place high value on an applicant's standardized test scores and class rank.

Other study participants were told that Asian-Americans are disproportionately admitted to the school. These participants related that less weight should be placed on an applicant's academics. ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/13/whites-support-meritocracy-academics-study_n_3750312.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Pesticides Taking Toll on Farmworkers


from Civil Eats:


Pesticides Taking Toll on Farmworkers
By Raviya Ismail on August 9, 2013


If the apples in your local store are bug-free because of pesticides, then you might ask who the pesticides hurt before the apples left the farm. That’s because many pesticides are toxic enough to seriously harm the humans who work in the orchards.

A growing number of Americans recognize the hazards of toxic chemicals and as a result have reduced their consumption of produce grown with pesticides to protect their family’s health. But while U.S. consumers are finding ways to protect themselves, far too little is being done to protect farmworkers, who are on the frontlines of exposure to high levels of toxic pesticides.

To address this urgent need, farmworkers from across the nation recently met in Washington, D.C. with their members of Congress to call for stronger protections from hazardous pesticides. These farmworkers and their allies seek to strengthen the Worker Protection Standard under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, a set of outdated safeguards the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to revise for more than 20 years despite overwhelming evidence of their inadequacy.

“If policy makers truly listened to the stories of what is going on, laws would change,” said Mily Treviño-Sauceda, a former farmworker who founded a women’s farmworker group in California and is president of the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance. She added that if farmworkers aren’t protected from pesticide exposure, neither are their communities, their school-aged children, nor the food our plates. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://civileats.com/2013/08/09/pesticides-taking-toll-on-farmworkers/#sthash.TkRj09pd.dpuf



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