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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

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The Con Artistry of Charter Schools

from In These Times:

The Con Artistry of Charter Schools
Once an effort to improve public education, the charter school movement has transformed into a money-making venture.


There’s been a flood of local news stories in recent months about FBI raids on charter schools all over the country.

From Pittsburgh to Baton Rouge, from Hartford to Cincinnatti to Albuquerque, FBI agents have been busting into schools, carting off documents and making arrests leading to high-profile indictments.

“The troubled Hartford charter school operator FUSE was dealt another blow Friday when FBI agents served it with subpoenas to a grand jury that is examining the group's operations. When two Courant reporters arrived at FUSE offices on Asylum Hill on Friday morning, minutes after the FBI's visit, they saw a woman feeding sheaves of documents into a shredder.”—The Hartford Courant, July 18, 2014

“The FBI has raided an Albuquerque school just months after the state started peering into the school’s finances. KRQE News 13 learned federal agents were there because of allegations that someone may have been taking money that was meant for the classroom at the Southwest Secondary Learning Center on Candelaria, near Morris in northwest Albuquerque … “—KRQE News 13, August 1 2014

“Wednesday evening's FBI raid on a charter school in East Baton Rouge is the latest item in a list of scandals involving the organization that holds the charter for the Kenilworth Science and Technology School. … Pelican Educational Foundation runs the school and has ties to a family from Turkey. The school receives about $5,000,000 in local, state, and federal tax money. … the FBI raided the school six days after the agency renewed the Baton Rouge school’s charter through the year 2019.”—The Advocate, January 14, 2014

“The state of Pennsylvania is bringing in the FBI to look into accusations that a Pittsburgh charter school [Urban Pathways Charter School] misspent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxuries such as fine-dining and retreats at exclusive resorts and spas.”—CBS News November 12, 2013

“COLUMBUS, OH—A federal grand jury has indicted four people, alleging that they offered and accepted bribes and kickbacks as part of a public corruption conspiracy in their roles as managers and a consultant for Arise! Academy, a charter school in Dayton, Ohio.” —FBI Press Release, June 2014

What’s going on here?

Charter schools are such a racket, across the nation they are attracting special attention from the FBI, which is working with the Department of Education’s inspector general to look into allegations of charter-school fraud.

One target, covered in an August 12 story in The Atlantic, is the secretive Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who runs the largest charter-school chain in the United States.

The Atlantic felt compelled to note, repeatedly, that it would be xenophobic to single out the Gulen schools and their mysterious Muslim founder for lack of transparency and the misuse of public funds.

“It isn’t the Gulen movement that makes Gulen charters so secretive,” writes The Atlantic’s Scott Beauchamp, “it’s the charter movement itself.” .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17109/the_con_artistry_of_charter_schools

Big Dallas Plunder (rule change can open the door for school privatization)

from In These Times:

Big Dallas Plunder
Dallas business interests stacked the school board. Now, a rule change could open the door for wholesale school privatization.


Dallas school board elections are generally lackadaisical affairs. In 2011, the school board elections were cancelled for lack of interest, as all three candidates ran unopposed. But since the beginning of 2012, hundreds of thousands of Super PAC dollars from Dallas’ richest neighborhoods began flowing into nearly all of the district’s school board elections.

Since 2011, Educate Dallas, a PAC backed by the Dallas Regional Chamber (the local Chamber of Commerce), has raised $661,953 in cash on hand for its school board war chest, and the Dallas-based education reform PAC Kids First, led by millionaire tech CEO Ken Barth, has raised $661,616. The majority of their donations come from Dallas’ famous aristocrats, including Barth, Ross Perot, Ray Hunt—an oil heir with a net worth of $5.8 billion—and Harlan Crow, a real estate heir and buddy of Clarence Thomas.

What made white businessmen from Dallas’ segregated northern enclaves, who typically donate to their children’s private academies, start caring about the plight of a low-income district? In Dallas Independent School District, 89 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch and 95.4 percent are students of color.

One hint may come from trips that the Chamber funded for school board and city council members. District records show that since at least 2011, the Chamber spent thousands on its so-called “best practices” tour—trips for city council and school board members to Denver, Houston and Los Angeles to better understand charter schools, publicly funded but privately operated institutions. For-profit charters have been expanding in Dallas over the past 15 years, especially in the wake of the closure of 11 public schools in early 2012. And the Chamber boasts a number of charter-school operators among its members, including longtime affiliates Uplift Education and Texans CAN Academies, two of the city’s largest charter chains. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17110/dallas_home_rule_push_could_open_the_charter_floodgates

Amy Goodman: The Ghost of Dred Scott Haunts the Streets of Ferguson

from truthdig:

The Ghost of Dred Scott Haunts the Streets of Ferguson

Posted on Aug 20, 2014
By Amy Goodman

FERGUSON, Mo.—The ghost of Dred Scott haunts the streets of Ferguson.

Thousands have been protesting the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. He was due to start college just days after he was shot dead in broad daylight. Police left his bleeding corpse in the middle of the street for over four hours, behind police tape, as neighbors gathered and looked on in horror. Outraged citizens protested, and police brutally cracked down on them. Clad in paramilitary gear and using armored vehicles, they shot tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and flash-bang grenades, aiming automatic weapons at protesters. Scores of peaceful protesters as well as journalists have been arrested.

The protests have raged along Ferguson’s West Florissant Avenue. Four miles south of the protest’s ground zero, along the same street, in the quietude of Calvary Cemetery, lies Dred Scott, the man born a slave who famously fought for his freedom in the courts. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 is considered by many to be the worst one in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. It ruled that African-Americans, whether slave or free, could not be citizens, ever.

Scott was born into slavery in Virginia around 1799 (the same year noted Virginia slaveholder President George Washington died). Scott’s owner moved from Virginia, taking him to Missouri, a slave state. He was sold to John Emerson, a surgeon in the U.S. Army. In 1847, Scott sued Emerson for his freedom in a St. Louis court. Scott and his family prevailed, winning their freedom, only to have the decision overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court. The case then went to the U.S. Supreme Court. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_ghost_of_dred_scott_haunts_the_streets_of_ferguson_20140820

EXPOSED: Corp Taxes Are NOT High, U.S. Corps “world leaders in global tax avoidance strategies”

from the Working Life blog:

EXPOSED: Corp Taxes Are NOT High, U.S. Corps “world leaders in global tax avoidance strategies”
Posted on 19 August 2014

I couldn’t help the “EXPOSED” start to the headline because, actually, this is no surprise. Citizens for Tax Justice has been making this case for a very long time (including here, just as one example). But, here’s another piece of evidence to try to undo that hard-wired, decades-long rhetorical nonsense about corporate taxes being too high in the U.S.

In an academic article, reported yesterday in The New York Times (and kudos for that), entitled “Competitiveness” Has Nothing to Do With It”, Edward D. Kleinbard of the USC Gould School of Law writes (and you gotta love the accessible kick-off):

In the movie Night After Night, a young and naďve coat check girl admires Mae West’s jewelry. “Goodness,” says the woman, “what beautiful diamonds!” – to which Mae West replies, “Goodness had nothing to do with it.”And so it is with the recent wave of corporate inversion transactions.2

Despite the claims of corporate apologists, international business “competitiveness” has nothing to do with the reasons for these deals


Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, a pharmaceutical manufacturer that is pursuing an inversion into a Dutch firm, effectively spoke for many other chief executives when she recently gave an interview describing herself as entering into the inversion deal only “reluctantly.”5 In her telling, she has abandoned hope that Congress will overhaul the Code to make U.S. companies “more competitive,” and therefore must pursue a tax-driven redomiciliation in the Netherlands against her patriotic instincts, and even though (and here is a point that Ms. Bresch forgot to mention) the merger will subject her firm’s taxable owners to capital gains tax. But all this is a false narrative: U.S. multinationals’ “competitiveness” arguments are almost entirely fact-free.

Well, he meant to say: they lie. I invite you to read the entirety of his discussion of “stateless income” but the upshot:

In the international arena, U.S. multinational firms have established themselves as world leaders in global tax avoidance strategies, through the generation of stateless income. The result is that many well-known US multinationals today enjoy single-digit effective tax rates on their foreign income, and effective tax rates on their worldwide income far below the nominal 35 percent federal corporate tax rate

- See more at: http://www.workinglife.org/2014/08/19/exposed-corp-taxes-are-not-high-u-s-corps-world-leaders-in-global-tax-avoidance-strategies/#sthash.ezRNdERg.dpuf

The Making of Ferguson

from Dissent magazine:

The Making of Ferguson

[font size="1"]At a vigil and rally for Michael Brown, Milwaukee, August 14, 2014 (Light Brigading/Flickr)[/font]

By Colin Gordon - August 16, 2014

In many respects, the script is a familiar one. A deeply segregated American city; an episode of police violence; a week of rage and protest—directed against both the police and the underlying segregation—and a chillingly militarized restoration of fragile order. Detroit in the summer of 1943. Miami in 1980. Los Angeles in 1992.

At the same time, the shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath in Ferguson, Missouri offers a twist on this story. Greater St. Louis has always been a starkly segregated city, with the lines drawn at Delmar Boulevard between the city’s north and south sides and—until recently—at the border between the city and the suburbs sprawling west through St. Louis County and beyond.

Over the course of this history, local segregation was enforced and reinforced by a tangle of public and private policies. St. Louis was one of a handful of cities, early in the last century, to propose an explicitly racial zoning ordinance. When the Supreme Court checked this offense to equal protection (in 1917), the real estate industry stepped in—systematically adding race-restrictive deed covenants to transactions in white neighborhoods, and holding the line against racial transition as its core ethical standard.

When the courts outlawed race-restrictive deed covenants (in 1947), municipal zoning took over. West of the city and its inner suburbs, local zoning curtailed (and in many settings simply prohibited) all but large-lot single-family residential development. This fueled both urban sprawl and a generation of population flight, as white families rode federal subsidies (mortgage insurance, the GI Bill) out into the cornfields. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/ferguson-segregation-suburbs-white-flight-mike-brown

Cops and Donuts (cartoon)


The Militarization of Racism and Neoliberal Violence

Henry A. Giroux: The Militarization of Racism and Neoliberal Violence

Monday, 18 August 2014 15:43
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed

The recent killing and then demonization of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American youth, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer has made visible how a kind of military metaphysics now dominates American life. The police have been turned into soldiers who view the neighborhoods in which they operate as war zones. Outfitted with full riot gear, submachine guns, armored vehicles, and other lethal weapons imported from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, their mission is to assume battle-ready behavior. Is it any wonder that violence rather than painstaking, neighborhood police work and community outreach and engagement becomes the norm for dealing with alleged "criminals," especially at a time when more and more behaviors are being criminalized?

But I want to introduce a caveat. I think it is a mistake to simply focus on the militarization of the police and their racist actions in addressing the killing of Michael Brown. What we are witnessing in this brutal killing and mobilization of state violence is symptomatic of the neoliberal, racist, punishing state emerging all over the world, with its encroaching machinery of social death. The neoliberal killing machine is on the march globally. The spectacle of neoliberal misery istoo great to deny any more and the only mode of control left by corporate-controlled societies is violence, but a violence that is waged against the most disposable such as immigrant children, protesting youth, the unemployed, the new precariat and black youth. Neoliberal states can no longer justify and legitimate their exercise of ruthless power and its effects under casino capitalism. Given the fact that corporate power now floats above and beyond national boundaries, the financial elite can dispense with political concessions in order to pursue their toxic agendas. Moreover, as Slavoj Žižek argues "worldwide capitalismcan no longer sustain or tolerate . . . global equality. It is just too much." Moreover, in the face of massive inequality, increasing poverty, the rise of the punishing state, and the attack on all public spheres, neoliberalism can no longer pass itself off as synonymous with democracy. The capitalist elite, whether they are hedge fund managers, the new billionaires from Silicon Valley, or the heads of banks and corporations, is no longer interested in ideology as their chief mode of legitimation. Force is now the arbiter of their power and ability to maintain control over the commanding institutions of American society. Finally, I think it is fair to say that they are too arrogant and indifferent to how the public feels.

Neoliberal capitalism has nothing to do with democracy and this has become more and more evident among people, especially youth all over the globe. As Žižek has observed, "the link between democracy and capitalism has been broken." Theimportant question of justice has been subordinated to the violence of unreason, to a market logic that divorces itself from social costs, and a ruling elite that has an allegiance to nothing but profit and will do anything to protect their interests. This is why I think it is dreadfully wrong to just talk about the militarization of local police forces without recognizing that the metaphor of "war zone" is apt for a global politics in which the social state and public spheres have been replaced by the machinery of finance, the militarization of entire societies not just the police, and the widespread use of punishment that extends from the prison to the schools to the streets. Some have rightly argued that these tactics have been going on in the black community for a long time and are not new. Police violence certainly has been going on for some time, but what is new is that the intensity of violence and the level of military-style machinery of death being employed is much more sophisticated and deadly. For instance, as Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers point out, the militarization of the police in the United States is a recent phenomenon that dates back to 1971. They write:

The militarization of police is a more recent phenomenon [and marks] the rapid rise of Police Paramilitary Units (PPUs, informally SWAT teams) which are modeled after special operations teams in the military. PPUs did not exist anywhere until 1971when Los Angeles under the leadership of the infamous police chief Daryl Gates, formed the first one and used it for demolishing homes with tanks equipped with battering rams. By 2000, there were 30,000 police SWAT teams [and] by the late 1990s, 89% of police departments in cities of over 50,000 had PPUs, almost double the mid-80s figure; and in smaller towns of between 25,000 and 50,000 by 2007, 80% had a PPU quadrupling from 20% in the mid-80s. [Moreover,] SWAT teams were active with 45,000 deployments in 2007 compared to 3,000 in the early 80s. The most common use . . . was for serving drug search warrants where they were used 80% of the time, but they were also increasingly used for patrolling neighborhoods.

At the same time, the impact of the rapid militarization of local police forces on poor black communities is nothing short of terrifying and symptomatic of the violence that takes place in advanced genocidal states. For instance, according to a recent report entitled "Operation Ghetto Storm," produced by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, "police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes extra judicially killed at least 313 African-Americans in 2012. . . . This means a black person was killed by a security officer every 28 hours. The report suggests that "the real number could be much higher." .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25660-the-militarization-of-racism-and-neoliberal-violence

"Peak Water," Methane Blowholes and Ice-Free Arctic Cruises: The Climate Crisis Deepens

Dahr Jamail | "Peak Water," Methane Blowholes and Ice-Free Arctic Cruises: The Climate Crisis Deepens

Monday, 18 August 2014 11:05
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."
- Mahatma Gandhi

We begin this month's climate disruption dispatch with comments from NASA's Earth Observatory about the extreme juxtaposition of temperatures we are experiencing in North America this summer.

"If you live in the northern hemisphere, the past few weeks have been strange," NASA states. "In places where it should be seasonably hot - the eastern and southern United States and western Europe - it's just been warm. In places where weather is usually mild in the summer - northern Europe, the Pacific coast of North America - it has been ridiculously hot."

NASA continues:
Records for high temperatures (mid-30s°C, mid-90s°F) were approached or broken in Latvia, Poland, Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, and Sweden in late July and early August. Searing temperatures also dried out forests and fuelled wildfires in Siberia; in the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington, and California; in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Northwest Territories; and even in Sweden. At the same time, cool air moved from high northern latitudes into much of the U.S., setting record-low daytime and nighttime temperatures as far south as Florida and Georgia. Temperatures dropped to the winter-like levels in the mountains of Tennessee.

The extremes generated by anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) were off the charts last year, as well, according to a recently released report from Live Science.

In 2013, global temperatures continued their long-term rising trend as the planet hit new records for greenhouse gases, Arctic heat, warm ocean temperatures and rising global sea levels. Additionally, Arctic sea ice extent was its sixth lowest and continued to decline by 14 percent per decade, Super Typhoon Haiyan recorded the highest wind speed for a tropical cyclone with sustained winds reaching 196 mph, record high temperatures were recorded in the Arctic, including record temperatures being recorded 60 feet down into the permafrost. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/25646-peak-water-methane-blowholes-and-ice-free-arctic-cruises-the-climate-crisis-deepens

Juan Cole: Crowd shouts “Death to Arabs” at Jewish-Muslim Wedding

By Juan Cole

An Israeli crowd gathered outside the wedding of a Muslim man and a Jewish woman in Rishon Lezion, shouting “death to Arabs” on Sunday. They were from the far right Lehava group, and make a specialty of harassing couples in mixed marriages. They called Maral Malka, 23, a traitor for converting to Islam and marrying Mahmoud Mansour, 26. Both hail from Jaffa. Ms. Malka’s father, Yoram, opposed the marriage as well, and said that he had a problem with his new son-in-law because he is “an Arab.” (It is interesting that he used a racial rather than a religious epithet). Israel’s recently-elected president, Reuven Rivlin, denounced the protest as “outrageous.”

Religiously mixed marriages are not permitted in Israeli law, though they are recognized if conducted abroad and then the bride and groom return. Often couples fly to Cyprus for a marriage and honeymoon if they hail from different faiths but are Israeli citizens. An average of 20,000 Israelis get married in Cyprus every year, about 60% of them ineligible for marriage by the rabbinate. For others, going to Cyprus or the Czech Republic functions like an elopement, to avoid having to throw a huge wedding party. Some Palestinian-Israelis, one a Muslim and the other a Christian, also have to tie the knot abroad because their religious authorities won’t marry them. Israeli personal status law, like that in Lebanon and Egypt, is governed by the individual’s religious community.

This marriage could be conducted in Israel because Ms. Malka converted.

I remember when I was an early teen that it was still illegal for European-Americans and African-Americans to marry in Virginia.


Police stop (cartoon)


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