Well, the papers these days are just full of violence and idiocy due to religious extremists. I’m not going to focus on the nutjobs on the other side of the word. I prefer to focus on those trying to see that our children get very bad educations. Texas Religious Whackos are at it again! They’ve decided that American History needs to be rewritten to their specification and are once again trying to put out textbooks that have very little basis in reality and overplay the role of religion in the formation of the country.
They are also on a full scale attack against AP History and its associated testing. They believe that history classes and history books should be more friendly to their fairy tales rather than reality. Scholars find the books “inaccurate, biased, and political”. But then scholars had nothing to do with the writing or choice of textbooks. It seems theologians of a specific sort played a much bigger role. They also refuse to recognize that the idea of a “free market” economy is about as nonsensical as a Marxist Utopia. But, when you are gullible enough to embrace a literal view of an ancient world mythology as truth, you’re likely to buy just about any lunatic idea some one throws at you.
There’s a new fuss about proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools that are based on what are called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Scholarly reviews of 43 proposed history, geography and government textbooks for Grades 6-12 — undertaken by the Education Fund of the Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog and activist group that monitors far-right issues and organizations — found extensive problems in American Government textbooks, U.S. and World History textbooks,Religion in World History textbooks, and Religion in World Geography textbooks. The state board will vote on which books to approve in November.
Ideas promoted in various proposed textbooks include the notion that Moses and Solomon inspired American democracy, that in the era of segregation only “sometimes” were schools for black children “lower in quality” and that Jews view Jesus Christ as an important prophet.
Some of the distortions are just outrageous.
Two government textbooks include misleading information that undermines the Constitutional concept of the separation of church and state.
McGraw-Hill School Education – United States Government
The text states: “Thomas Jefferson once referred to the establishment clause as a ‘wall of separation between church and state.’ That phrase is not used in the Constitution, however.’”
The statement is factually correct, but it could give students the inaccurate impression that Jefferson’s view was personal and lacked significant connection to the First Amendment. The text neglects to mention, for instance, the significant support for the separationist position shared by both Jefferson and James Madison, the Founder with the greatest influence on the drafting of the First Amendment’s religion clauses. The text also neglects to mention reference to Jefferson’s “wall” metaphor in important Supreme Court establishment clause cases, such as Justice Hugo Black’s decision in Everson v. Board of Education, the first Supreme Court case to apply the establishment clause to the states and local government.
Perfection Learning – Basic Principles of American Government
This product does not mention Thomas Jefferson’s use of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state” at all. The text also includes an unbalanced discussion of the background to the Supreme Court’s seminal ruling against school prayer in Engel v. Vitale. The discussion has four paragraphs that are devoted primarily to examining the logic of the rulings of lower, state courts in favor of school prayer. These paragraphs mention that a state court decision notes that “neither the Constitution nor its writers discussed the use of prayer in public schools” and that the judges in these cases “noted that the prayer did not fall into the same category as Bible readings or religious instruction in public schools.”
The four-paragraph discussion of lower courts’ logic in favor of school prayer is followed by only a single paragraph about the Supreme Court’s majority opinion striking down school prayer, which contains little discussion of the logic of that opinion.
Several world history and world geography textbooks include biased statements that inappropriately portray Islam and Muslims negatively.
Social Studies School Service – Active Classroom: World History
The text states: “Much of the violence you read or hear about in the Middle East is related to a jihad.”
This broad charge effectively blames Islam for a very complex cycle of violence and counter-violence, a cycle driven by a host of factors (e.g., natural resources, population pressures) besides radical Islam.
WorldView Software – World History B: Mid-1800s to the Present
The text states: “The spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism which opposes Western political and cultural influences and Western ideology.”
Also, at various points in this product, parts of the Middle East and North Africa are referred to as being “occupied” by “the Muslims” or “in Muslim hands.” The text also adopts the revisionist trope that Islam synthesized, stored, and annotated Classical Greek and Roman learning but did not do much to add to it.
The statement about international terrorism is inaccurate and misleading. Not all international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism; for example, ETA in Spain and the Irish Republican Army are unrelated to Islamic fundamentalism. Further, the use of loaded terms like “occupied” makes little sense when discussing the Middle Ages, when the population of those regions were by and large Muslim themselves. While there is a lengthy section on Islamic scholarship in this product, in nearly every instance the “original” scientist whose work inspired the scientist described is identified, which serves to minimize the contribution of Islamic scholarship.
Evidently they don’t consider the Salem Witchhunts or the Spanish Inquisition or for that matter the Crusades which kicked off with killing Jewish folks in the Middle East. I guess some religious violence is holier than others. That also doesn’t count the number of times Hitler’s speeches refered to NAZIs as being part of a Christianity identity that was eliminating–among other things–atheists.
“There is far more violence in the Bible than in the Qur’an; the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam.” So announces former nun and self-professed “freelance monotheist,” Karen Armstrong. This quote sums up the single most influential argument currently serving to deflect the accusation that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant: All monotheistic religions, proponents of such an argument say, and not just Islam, have their fair share of violent and intolerant scriptures, as well as bloody histories. Thus, whenever Islam’s sacred scriptures—the Qur’an first, followed by the reports on the words and deeds of Muhammad (the Hadith)—are highlighted as demonstrative of the religion’s innate bellicosity, the immediate rejoinder is that other scriptures, specifically those of Judeo-Christianity, are as riddled with violent passages.More often than not, this argument puts an end to any discussion regarding whether violence and intolerance are unique to Islam. Instead, the default answer becomes that it is not Islam per se but rather Muslim grievance and frustration—ever exacerbated by economic, political, and social factors—that lead to violence. That this view comports perfectly with the secular West’s “materialistic” epistemology makes it all the more unquestioned.
Therefore, before condemning the Qur’an and the historical words and deeds of Islam’s prophet Muhammad for inciting violence and intolerance, Jews are counseled to consider the historical atrocities committed by their Hebrew forefathers as recorded in their own scriptures; Christians are advised to consider the brutal cycle of violence their forbears have committed in the name of their faith against both non-Christians and fellow Christians. In other words, Jews and Christians are reminded that those who live in glass houses should not be hurling stones.
All three of these religions are responsible for violence and have roots in the same violent prescriptions like “an eye for an eye”. Far right whacko, possible Republican Presidential candidate and Fox Contributor Ben Carson believes that the current AP History curriculum will cause students to join ISIS.
Fox News contributor thinks that a new framework for Advanced Placement U.S. History courses will cause students “to go sign up for ISIS.”
When speaking at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Action Summit this week, Ben Carson, an author and retired neurosurgeon who provides commentary on Fox News, implied that the College Board’s new course framework has an anti-American bias. Over the past few months, conservatives have rallied against the course’s new framework, saying it shines an overly harsh light on American history and leaves out information about important historical figures. In August, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution calling for a push against the course, claiming it “deliberately distorts and/or edits out important historical events.”
Carson, who has said he will likely run for president in 2016, apparently agrees with the RNC resolution.
“There’s only two paragraphs in there about George Washington … little or nothing about Martin Luther King, a whole section on slavery and how evil we are, a whole section on Japanese internment camps and how we slaughtered millions of Japanese with our bombs,” Carson said at the event.
He continued, “I think most people when they finish that course, they’d be ready to go sign up for ISIS … We have got to stop this silliness crucifying ourselves.”
In recent weeks, controversy surrounding the course has gained increased national attention, as hundreds of students from the Jefferson County School District in Colorado have staged ongoing protests after a conservative school board memberproposed forming committees to review the course and make sure it properly promotes patriotism. Teachers in the district have also participated in numerous “sick-outs,” where large groups called in sick to protest the proposal.
We continue to see right wing religious whackos attack science, history, and facts in an attempt to drag the country into their reality. Afterall, an ignorant population benefits their personal crusades against modernity. Part of their hysteria appears to be grounded in the fear they could be losing their grip on the Republican Party. I doubt that but they don’t seem to like that many Republican leaders are trying to re-message their completely out of the mainstream views on the rights of GLBT, women, and things like birth control and social safety nets.
At this year’s Values Voters Summit, held this past weekend, religious right leaders were showing fear of being left behind. “There was a palpable fear throughout the conference that the Republican Party is moving away from the Religious Right,”writes Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch. At one panel, social conservatives tried gallantly to argue that opposition to abortion and gay rights is actually somehow libertarian, because supporters of those rights are “using the government to impose this new, strange sexual orthodoxy.” And at one point,Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage defensively said, “It’s not our fault” that Republicans keep losing.
The Family Research Council—the religious right group that hosts the Values Voters Summit, along with Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage—released a letter right before the conference announcing its plans to “mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots” for Republican House candidates Richard Tisei of Massachusetts and Carl DeMaio of California, as well as Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby of Oregon. The two men are gay andWehby is pro-choice.
At one panel, titled, “How Conservatives Can Win With Millennials and Women,” Kristan Hawkins, Kathryn Jean Lopez, and Catherine Helsley Rodriguez tried to convince Republicans to stay on the anti-contraception message in order to reel in the votes. Nathalie Baptiste of the American Prospect described the scene:
Though birth control is popular among, well, everyone, panel members seemed indignant that anyone in the GOP would support over-the-counter birth control, as several Republican senatorial candidates have done. According to Hawkins, birth control is carcinogenic and so the people providing these “dangerous chemicals” to women are waging the real War on Women.
According to Emily Crockett at RH Reality Check, Hawkins also compared contraception “to asbestos and cigarettes.”
It really is time the entire Republican Party shut down this kind of disinformation. The entire gambit of reactionary social issues from abortion to being against climate change or the civil rights of GLBTS is basically rooted in falsehoods. It’s amazing one of our two political parties continues to let these kooks air their disturbing lies. Indeed, potential Republican candidates seem to line up to deny their educations and spew outright lies about science, psychology, history, and any other topic that these religious extremists find unpalatable. Stephen Colbert took a huge swing at Governor Bobby Jindal who seems to have forgotten everything Brown University taught him in its honors Biology program.
Comedian Stephen Colbert took aim at Gov.Bobby Jindal on Tuesday night during a segment of “The Colbert Report.”
Colbert suggested Jindal, who has an honors degree in Biology from Brown University, is running from his academic record to cater to voters, specifically religious voters that don’t believe in the theory of evolution.
“Jindal is off to an impressive retreat from knowledge, but there’s a lot more science he could run away from. For example, he should insist thunder is just God bowling,” Colbert said.
Colbert also mocked Jindal’s apparent presidential aspirations, citing a 4th place finish in last weekend’s Values Voter Summit straw poll and getting just 3 percent of the vote in a recent CNN poll. That 3 percent fell below “No one,” which got 4 percent.
“I say he can use it to his advantage. Jindal 2016: No one is more popular,” Colbert said while flashing a fake campaign sign.
Colbert picked apart the Values Voter Summit, particularly Jindal, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. He joked about Palin referencing the White House being at “1400 Pennsylvania Avenue,” which is actually a plaza for the Willard Hotel.
Palin referenced the mistake in her recent visit to Louisiana where she campaign for Senate candidate Rob Maness. She joked that Sen. Mary Landrieu actually lived at that address, a reference to a residency controversy stirred by Maness and other Republicans.
On Wednesday morning, Jindal shot back at Colbert on Twitter with this series of four tweets, sent between 10:28 a.m. and 10:37 a.m., mostly focused on Colbert’s evolution comments.
Yes, that last statement basically says my governor spent around 10-15 minutes trolling Stephen Colbert. What a moron! It amazes me that any one even takes anything he says seriously any more. Oh, one more absolutely bugfuck crazy thing he’s doing right now instead of governing my state.
The Louisiana governor will attend an evening event with the Greens supporting their plans to build a museum dedicated to the Bible in Washington D.C.
The family’s Bible museum has raised some eyebrows, particularly since Steve Green — Hobby Lobby’s president — has referred to the Bible as a “reliable, historical document.” The Greens have already acquired a $50 million site near the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum and plan to open the facility’s doors in 2017, according to The New York Times.
The Hobby Lobby family is best known for a successful U.S. Supreme Court fight to get out from under a new federal mandate that required businesses pay for birth control. The Greens, who identify as evangelical Christians, have objections to certain types of birth control and didn’t want financially support employee access to some forms of contraceptive.
Jindal has expressed his support for the Greens and Hobby Lobby several times. He mentioned the family during a speech about religious issues at Liberty University in May. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the craft store chain last June, he sent out several tweets in support of the decision.
Read some of the governor’s tweets in support of the Greens below.
This man just has to be look for money and a job at some right wing thought-free tank. He can’t seriously think he’s got a shot at the presidency chasing morons like a dog on an ambulance.
Extremism is showing up in many races through out the country. I’m amazed at the Iowa Governor’s race among others. Ed Kilgore wonders when extremism will be considered a character issue.
Braley has gamely stuck to issues, primarily by hammering Ernst for very unpopular right-wing positions on the minimum wage and Social Security. But he’s also used issues to raise his own “character” issue: the claim that this mild-mannered hog-castrating war veteran woman in the soft-focused ads is actually an extremist. And in that pursuit he’s found plenty of ammunition in Ernst’s record in the Iowa legislature and on the campaign trail, particularly early in the 2014 cycle when she was looking for wingnut traction.
Ernst is crying “unfair,” most notably in an exchange in their first debate last Sunday. Braley criticized her for sponsoring in the legislature a state constitutional amendment establishing prenatal “personhood” from the moment of fertilization, which he accurately said would outlaw now only the very earliest abortions but also IV fertility clinics and several types of contraception. This was Ernst’s response:
“The amendment that is being referenced by the congressman would not do any of the things that you stated it would do,” Ernst said. “That amendment is simply a statement that I support life.”That’s true in a highly technical sense — perhaps using the reasoning of a trial lawyer — insofar as constitutional amendments don’t inherently create the laws they rule out or demand, but in a more basic sense, it’s just a lie, as Ernst and her campaign surely know. “Personhood” amendments are so extreme they have been routinely trounced when placed on the ballot (twice in Colorado and once in Mississippi). And if sponsoring one of them is a “statement” of anything, it’s a statement of absolute submission to Iowa’s powerful antichoice lobby, in the sense of ruling out any of those weasely “exceptions” to a total abortion (and “abortifacient”) ban.
But the impulse to let Ernst off the hook for outrageous positions is fed by media cynicism as well as candidate mendacity. Consider another Ernst primary campaign theme that some Democrats have criticized, in the eyes of the outstanding political reporter Dave Weigel:
The individual attacks on Braley, at this point, aren’t individually important. They’re important as bricks in a wall. Democrats are pursuing a similar strategy, plunking down tape after tape of Ernst, who spent a long time as the right-wing candidate in the primary, sounding like a … well, right-wing candidate. Meredith Shiner [of AP] has the latest example, a debate clip in which Ernst promised that she would oppose the threat posed by the U.N.’s Agenda 21 to suburbanites and farmers. Democrats seek to make voters see Ernst as a Sarah Palin golem; Republicans seek to make voters see Braley as an unrelatable, lawsuit-happy snob. It’s all very inspiring.So Democrats calling attention to Ernst’s multiple passionate statements subscribing to the insane, John Birch Society-inspired conspiracy theory that the United Nations is behind land-use regulations of every kind is treated as the equivalent of Republicans howling about Braley’s “chicken suit.” The reason, I suppose, is that you can’t criticize a pol for pandering to “the base” during primaries and then “moving to the center” in general elections. It’s just what you do.
I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. Extremism is, or should be, a “character” issue. And so, too, should be flip-flopping. Personally, I respect “personhood” advocates for taking a dangerous position based on the logical extension of strongly-held if exotic ideas about human development. I don’t respect those like Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst who try to weasel out of such positions the moment they become inconvenient.
We’ve got to stop this. The children of the United States deserve better. This reminds me. In a day and age where Republicans are obsessed that every missed period is an abortion, where are they on this embarrassing show on US Infant Mortality? Go look at what kinds of country do better than us at just keeping their infants alive from birth to age 1.
The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan. That same American baby is about twice as likely to die in her first year as a Spanish or Korean one.
Despite healthcare spending levels that are significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see his first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland or Slovakia. Or in Belarus.Or in Cuba, for that matter.
The U.S. rate of 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births masks considerable state-level variation. If Alabama were a country, its rate of 8.7 infant deaths per 1,000 would place it slightly behind Lebanon in the world rankings. Mississippi, with its 9.6 deaths, would be somewhere between Botswana and Bahrain.
We’re the wealthiest nation in the world. How did we end up like this?
I hate to break the news to the author of this but we’re not the wealthiest nation on the earth any more. I would also like to add that it’s imperative that you vote in November. Also, one more pitch for a few donations so we can renew our domain name and our specialized format on wordpress. We don’t need much so just small amounts will help push us over! Thanks!!!
So, what’s on your news and blogging list today?
As you can see from the title, today’s reads deal with women and art.
Now, I have been trying to write this post for a month…but something has kept me from digging in and getting the job done. The internet was down, the kids were sick, things were too busy…ugh.
Finally, I had the time and the inclination to do the damn thing and what do you think happened? All my saved links have disappeared. This happened earlier in the month when I wrote my Hollywood suicides post. It is very disheartening.
I really think it is a sign…what it means…I have no idea.
So, I was able to find two of the articles and I will post them at the end of the thread. As for the newsy links, some big shit went down in Ferguson overnight:
A police officer from the strife-hit Missouri city of Ferguson was shot while responding to a burglary on Saturday and the suspects were still at large, law enforcement officials said.
The officer was chasing two suspects outside the Ferguson Community Center on Saturday night when one turned and shot him in the arm, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told a news conference.
The officer, who is expected to survive, returned fire but apparently did not hit either suspect, Belmar said.
Belmar said the shooting did not seem to be connected to peaceful protesting occurring elsewhere in Ferguson.
Well that is something…
“I wouldn’t have any reason to believe right now that it was linked in any way, shape, manner or form with the protests,” he said.
I wonder what other news outlets are saying?
Fox News makes no mention of the shooting being unrelated to the protest:
Authorities said a Ferguson (Mo.) police officer was shot and wounded while on patrol Saturday evening.
St. Louis County Police Sgt. Brian Schellman said the shooting took place at approximately 9:30 p.m. local time. KTVI reported that the officer was shot in the arm and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. At least a dozen law enforcement agencies responded to the shooting, and police helicopters canvassed the area, but no arrests were immediately reported.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters early Sunday that the officer was shot after approaching two men at the Ferguson Community Center, which was closed at the time. As the officer approached, the men ran away. When the officer gave chase, “one of the men turned and shot,” Belmar said.
Belmar did not give further details about the officer’s condition. He said the officer returned fire but said police have “no indication” that either suspect was shot.
The shooting comes amid a fresh flare-up of unrest following the deadly August 9 shooting of a black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. The shooting sparked days of violent protests and racial unrest in the predominantly black community. Some residents and civil rights activists have said responding police officers were overly aggressive, noting their use of tear gas and surplus military vehicles and gear.
Saturday’s shooting occurred approximately two miles from where Brown died near his grandmother’s apartment building. KTVI reported that dozens of protesters initially showed up at the scene in the mistaken belief that the officer had shot someone. By midnight, approximately two dozen officers stood near a group of about 100 protesters who mingled on a street corner across from the police department, occasionally shouting, “No justice; no peace.”
The LA Times has more information on the speech Obama gave Saturday night at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s award dinner, as well as a few quotes from the Brown family regarding the “apology” from Ferguson”s Chief of Police:
At one point Saturday night, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who oversaw police during last months’ protests, appeared near the shooting scene and confirmed to the gathering crowd that “an officer has been shot.” He told the crowd to disperse.
Anthony Gray, a Brown family attorney, said the Saturday night shooting was unrelated to the Brown case. Belmar also said the officer’s shooting was unrelated to protests surrounding the Brown case.
A grand jury is examining evidence in Brown’s shooting and will determine whether Wilson will face any charges. Some in the community, including Brown’s parents, have called on Ferguson’s police chief to step down. In a video earlier this week, Jackson said to Brown’s family that he was “deeply sorry for their loss.”
Brown’s parents said they were unmoved by Jackson’s apology in an interview with the Associated Press.
Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, said, “yes,” when asked if Chief Tom Jackson should be fired, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., said rather than an apology, they want to see the officer who shot their son arrested for his Aug. 9 death.
“An apology would be when Darren Wilson has handcuffs, processed and charged with murder,” Brown Sr. told the Associated Press.
President Obama, who spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s award dinner Saturday night, addressed the Brown shooting, saying that Brown’s death and the unrest that followed exposed a “gulf of mistrust” between residents and police in many communities.
“Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement — guilty of walking while black or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong things are getting tense. Have y’all kept up with the situation over there?
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters braced for a showdown with police on Sunday after accelerating a plan to shut down the heart of the global financial hub.
Leaders and supporters of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement, many wearing plastic capes and goggles to fend off any police pepper spray attack, urged the public to join the protest to pressure Beijing to allow free elections in the former British colony.
Publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, a key backer of the democratic movement, said he wanted as big a crowd as possible, after a week of student demonstrations, to thwart any crackdown on a protest branded as illegal.
“The more Hong Kong citizens come, the more unlikely the police can clear up the place,” said Lai, also wearing a plastic cape and workmen’s protective glasses.
“I believe more Hong Kong citizens will show up later on Sunday.”
HONG KONG, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Violent clashes between Hong Kong riot police and students galvanized tens of thousands of supporters for the city’s pro-democracy movement and kick-started a plan to lock down the heart of the Asian financial center early on Sunday.
Leaders and supporters of Occupy Central with Love and Peace rallied to support students who were doused with pepper spray early on Saturday after they broke through police barriers and stormed the city’s government headquarters.
“Whoever loves Hong Kong should come and join us. This is for Hong Kong’s future,” publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of China’s communist government who has backed pro-democracy activists through publications that include one of the city’s biggest newspapers as well as donations, told Reuters.
Occupy demanded that Beijing withdraw its framework for political reform in the former British colony and resume talks.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a formula known as “one country, two systems.” that guaranteed a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Universal suffrage was set as an eventual goal.
But Beijing last month rejected demands for people to freely choose the city’s next leader, prompting threats from activists to shut down Central, Hong Kong’s financial district. China wants to limit elections to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing.
Look at this photo of the protest:
This demonstration, which has drawn thousands of protesters armed with goggles, masks and raincoats in preparation for a violent confrontation with police, is one of the most tenacious acts of civil disobedience seen in post-colonial Hong Kong.
Roads in a square block around the city’s government headquarters, located in the Admiralty district adjacent to Central, were filled with people and blocked with metal barricades erected by protesters to defend against a possible police crackdown.
Some of Hong Kong’s most powerful tycoons have spoken out against the Occupy movement, warning it could threaten the city’s business and economic stability.
The latest protests escalated after demonstrators broke through a cordon late on Friday and scaled perimeter fences to invade the city’s main government compound in the culmination of a week-long rally to demand free elections.
Student leaders said about 80,000 people participated in the rally. No independent estimate was available.
Read lots more at the link.
A little more world news: Losing the Race Against Ebola – NYTimes.com
The race to control the expanding Ebola epidemic in West Africa looks increasingly dire. Official projections of how fast the virus will spread have soared while pledges of help from advanced nations and global organizations have failed to keep pace.
On Sept. 22, the World Health Organization published estimates indicating that the epidemic could infect more than 20,000 people in the three hardest hit countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — by early November, months before earlier estimates. Unless new measures can turn the tide, the number of cases and deaths could increase by thousands per week for months to come. It is possible that the virus will become permanently lodged in the West African population, posing a continuing threat of dispersal to the rest of Africa and other parts of the world.
On Sept 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued in a worst-case projection, based on computer models, showing that Sierra Leone and Liberia may have 1.4 million cases by Jan. 20 if the disease keeps spreading without effective containment. A best-case scenario showed that the epidemic could be brought to an end if 70 percent of the patients were treated in settings like isolation wards that reduce the risk of disease transmission and if burials were performed safely. Currently, only about 18 percent of the patients in Liberia and 40 percent in Sierra Leone are in such settings.
I posted a link about Cuba sending hundreds of doctors to Africa, I wanted to front page it here: Cuba sends 300 more doctors to fight Ebola – Africa – Al Jazeera English
Cuba says it will send nearly 300 more doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight the Ebola epidemic.
The Cubans will work in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Regla Angulo, head of the Cuban medical relief agency, said in a statement on Friday.
The announcement means that up to 461 Cuban medical personnel would have been sent to help address the epidemic spreading across West Africa.
Angulo said the staff were currently undergoing intense training ahead of their deployment, working in a mock field hospital of the kind they expected to find in the region.
A group of 165 healthcare workers is due to arrive in Sierra Leone in early October. The 62 doctors and 103 nurses have been training for their mission with international experts at a Havana hospital specializing in tropical diseases.
The second contingent of 296 doctors and nurses will head to Liberia and Guinea, the official news agency Prensa Latina said on Friday.
Cuba has more than 50,000 doctors and nurses posted in 66 countries around the world, including more than 4,000 in 32 African countries.
The overseas missions are part of a medical diplomacy and a leading export earner for the communist government. Cuba also educates foreign doctors for free at one of its medical schools.
Heading over to Vatican City, the latest details from an arrested Catholic’s Archbishop are making headlines: Arrested Catholic Archbishop’s computer contained over 100,000 images of children
Yeah, you read that right!
Vatican detectives analyzing a computer used a by an archbishop arrested earlier this week discovered over 86,000 pornographic photos and 160 sexually explicit video files of children, reports the International Business Times.
According to investigators, another 45,000 pictures had been deleted.
Former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, 66, was arrested at the Vatican earlier this week on charges that he paid to have sex with minors when he was a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic from 2008 to 2012.
Wesolowski is the first Vatican official to be arrested within the city state on charges of pedophilia.
The former archbishop was recalled to Rome by the Vatican last year while still a diplomat in Santo Domingo and relieved of his duties following accusations from Dominican media that he was paying for underaged sex partners.
Until earlier this week, he had been free to roam Rome, but is now being held in in a small room in the basement of the Collegio dei Penitenzieri, which hosts the Vatican’s court and military police.
Vatican authorities are now investigating if Wesolowski was part of a network of pedophiles and whether he abused children in other posts during his career.
Wesolowski previously served in South Africa, Costa Rica, Japan, Switzerland, India and Denmark.
If convicted, Wesolowski faces 12 years in jail in the first trial for sexual abuse to be held inside the Vatican City.
12 years? That is it? I have nothing to say…because if I start, I won’t get to the rest of the day’s links. As it is…Pope Francis revisits ‘punishing’ Catholics who get divorced . Pfffft! Divorce? Now that is a real crime.
This next article discusses a new form of male birth control, and how the Big Pharma may get their knuts in a knot because it will cut into the Pill profits. Male Birth Control, Without Condoms, Will Be Here by 2017 – The Daily Beast
Vasalgel, a reversible, non-hormonal polymer that blocks the vas deferens, is about to enter human trials. How will rhetoric change when male bodies become responsible for birth control?
Vasalgel, a reversible form of male birth control, just took one step closer to your vas deferens.According to a press release from the Parsemus Foundation, a not-for profit organization focused on developing low-cost medical approaches, Vasalgel is proving effective in a baboon study. Three lucky male baboons were injected with Vasalgel and given unrestricted sexual access to 10 to 15 female baboons each. Despite the fact that they have been monkeying around for six months now, no female baboons have been impregnated. With the success of this animal study and new funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Parsemus Foundation is planning to start human trials for Vasalgel next year. According to their FAQ page, they hope to see it on the market by 2017 for, in their words, less than the cost of a flat-screen television.So how does Vasalgel work? It is essentially a reimagining of a medical technology called RISUG (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance) that was developed by a doctor named Sujoy Guha over 15 years ago in India, where it has been in clinical trials ever since. Unlike most forms of female birth control, Vasalgel is non-hormonal and only requires a single treatment in order to be effective for an extended period of time. Rather than cutting the vas deferens—as would be done in a vasectomy—a Vasalgel procedure involves the injection of a polymer contraceptive directly into the vas deferens. This polymer will then block any sperm that attempt to pass through the tube. At any point, however, the polymer can be flushed out with a second injection if a man wishes to bring his sperm back up to speed.
Hot diggity dog…finally!
Does this still go against the Church I wonder? (Yeah…of course. Damn. Yet another thing to be punished for…but is it a worse sin than say, kiddie porn on a computer?)
Since we are on the subject of Dicks…Breitbart Writer: Men Who Support Feminism Are “Sexually Frustrated Dickless Wonders” – Little Green Footballs You will just have to go to the link yourself to find out what LGF is talking about. ;)
Not to be outdone…yes, I am still on the “Church’s” ass a little while longer. Stephen Hawking comes out: ‘I’m an atheist’ because science is ‘more convincing’ than God
Stephen Hawking clarified this week that he was an atheist because science had provided him with a “more convincing” explanation of the origins of the universe.
El Mundo’s Pablo Jauregui pointed out that Hawking had written in his book “A Brief History of Time” that scientists could “know the mind of God” if a unifying set of principles — or theory of everything — was discovered to explain the physical universe. But Hawking later wrote in “The Grand Design” that God was no longer necessary because science had provided a better understanding of the universe.
“Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe,” the world-famous theoretical physicist told Jauregui. “But now science offers a more convincing explanation.”
“What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t,” he added. “I’m an atheist.”
But Hawking does believe that humans are not alone in the universe, and that meeting extraterrestrial life could be like Christopher Columbus coming to the Americas.
“Which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans,” he warned.
“The idea that we are alone in the universe seems to me completely implausible and arrogant,” Hawking told the paper. “Considering the number of planets and stars that we know exist, it’s extremely unlikely that we are the only form of evolved life.”
Video at the link.
This thread is getting long, so here are the rest of today’s stories on the quick:
“Michele Bachmann took the stage at the Values Voters Summit today, and fired up the crowd with shots at President Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as a firm call for the U.S. to keep killing ISIS terrorists until they surrender.
Bachmann cracked a few jokes at the top, including a dig at MSNBC and a wonder of whether Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner would miss her more.
She talked up her strong stand against the Obama administration, especially on foreign policy. Bachmann said Obama is “the first anti-Israel president in history.” And as for Clinton, Bachmann recommended another goal for the former Secretary of State to accomplish: “permanent retirement!”
Bachmann also talked about how to combat the threat of ISIS.”* Ben Mankiewicz, Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show), John Iadarola (TYT University) and Brian Unger break it down.
You may have seen the shit going on in Texas earlier in the month: Don’t Mess With Texas History | BobCesca.com
The imagined slight of an Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum that is “anti-American” has swept the state of Texas and the state Board of Education has taken steps to eliminate it.
From the Associated Press
The Board of Education approved a measure declaring that the history curriculum its members set trumps that covered by the AP history course created for classrooms nationwide. That class concludes with an exam that can earn college credit for students who score high enough.
The board must still take a final vote, but the measure’s content isn’t expected to change.
Critics contend that the revised Advanced Placement curriculum is anti-American because it has narrowed the amount of content students are required to memorize but, rather than omit events that paint America in a less-sympathetic light, it excluded events that are more endearing.
In other words, critics contend that it’s anti-American because it does not whitewash our history.
the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum because it was “anti-American,” has spread to the Denver, Colorado area where the local school board is following suit.
The Jefferson County school board appears to be going a step further, however, by dropping negative events in our history and discouraging civil disobedience.
According to the curricula proposal, students would only be taught lessons depicting American heritage in a positive light, and effectively ban any material that could lead to dissent. Under the proposed policy, a review committee would regularly read instructional text and course syllabi to ensure that educational materials do not stray from subject matter that complies with the policy.
There was also protest in Colorado last week: CO Students Walk Out To Protest Wingnut Plan To Censor History Curriculum | Crooks and Liars
Be sure to read all those links in full to get the whole story. The Koch Brother’s are involved. Nuff said.
Since the protest is about History, how about some links that deal with history…okay, it isn’t American History, but one of the links deals with uprisings.
In the eyes of the chroniclers, the Jacquerie of 1358 was the most important peasant revolt in late medieval France. Yet despite this, the uprising has not generated the quality of scholarship that other revolts from the late medieval period have encouraged, such as the Ciompi of 1378 in Florence or the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. In popular perception, the Jacquerie remains a violent spasmodic riot typical of the so-called ‘pre-industrial revolt’, itself a model forwarded thirty years ago and never rigourously examined.
By surveying the remissions systematically, and returning to the full population of documents available, this thesis offers ‘a wholly new view of the revolt its leadership, its geographical dimensions, duration, organisation and ideology. Moreover, it challenges many old theories about the medieval ‘crowd’ as mindless, doomed to failure and dominated by the clergy and other elites. In their place, it constructs a new model around communal ties in the medieval village, sophisticated organisation within the revolt itself and participants’ identities as the defining factor of the crowd’s ideology.
Until recently, studies in the architectural history of medieval and early modern Europe have assumed an all-male labor force on the construction site and in the related building trades. Historical chronicles and manuscript illuminations of construction sites support this notion, purporting the total exclusion of women from this complex industry. This chapter demonstrates the true nature of women’s contribution to construction sites from the 13th to the 17th centuries in western Europe, uncovering a wide range of occupations in which they engaged: poor women hired for manual labor, women working as slaves, women working with their husbands and fathers in the building trades, widows continuing the workshops of their deceased husbands, and women supplying building materials for particular sites. There is a history to be told of women’s repeated participation in and subsequent denial from working in the building trades that echoes a theme between towns and across language barriers and indicates a common experience shared by women in this era.
This is an interesting look at copyright law: Copyrights and Property Wrongs — Crooked Timber
This next blog post from Movie Morlocks…damn I wish they would show this film on TCM again: moviemorlocks.com – This is Not a Post About Gone With the Wind.
With all the hoopla and conversation here over the last week regarding Gone With the Wind, I thought it might be fun to take a glance at GWTW’s evil twin, Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1946 The Strange Woman.
It starts in 1945 when 20th Century Fox released a film called Leave Her to Heaven, based on Ben Ames Williams’ novel of the same name. A glorious Technicolor prestige picture with Gene Tierney, Cornell Wilde, and Vincent Price, it was a huge commercial success, nominated for several Oscars of which it won one. In Hollywood, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Bring on the clones!
Go…go and read the rest.
Now the last couple of links, that deal with art and women:
Art history books have a reputation of showcasing dead, white, European males — DWEM — and the (mostly white) women they handpicked as muses. Portrait after portrait reveals a woman’s face through a man’s gaze, casting a rather unsavory light on the tendency of artists to eroticize, objectify or idolize the female form.
Artists in the 21st century have made strides to rectify art history’s mistakes — and critics and historians have begun to give women artists and artists of color their rightful place in the canon. But it’s difficult to forget the centuries of whitewashed paintings that still reign supreme. Case in point: artFido’s three-minute survey of 500 years of female portraits.
Names like Leonardo, Raphael, Hans, Peter, Pablo and Edouard dominate the list of featured paintings. Sure, the likes of Mary Cassatt and Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun attempt to break up the monotony, but the portrait images expose the real story. Art history just didn’t really evolve in the last 500 years.
You can catch a bit of change in the last 30 seconds of the video above, as the (still very white) faces become more and more abstract. But the takeaway from this montage: the art world needs more diversity, and quick.
Well, the title is a bit strange…but the work of these women is amazing. Some of them are way more incredible than Banksy. The print up top called Own Your Power is by an artist name Indie. I bought that print for my daughter Bebe on her 16th birthday, it just said so much…
Indie was chosen by MAC as one of the graffiti artist to design a collection for them in 2013.
MAC’s 2013 Illustrated collection features the work of graffiti artist Indie 184. Born in Puerto Rico to Dominican parents and raised in New York, her style combines vivid colors with a contemporary take on old-school New York City graffiti. Her indomitable spirit is fittingly expressed in her tag, a riff on the movie adventurer Indiana Jones, while 184 comes from the street she grew up on in Washington Heights.
She seamlessly translates her style from walls to canvas, weaving together images of famous women and phrases that convey their power. In her artist’s statement, she writes, “My creative process usually starts by pouring out conflicting ideas or emotions using words, images and color. When I create a painting, it’s like a page of my personal diary – all the pieces are worlds of personal declarations. Constant use of word play, found scraps of paper, stencil, graffiti, graphics and photographs mixed with vivid colors…I use iconic female imagery provoking mood and expression embellished with dripping paint juxtaposed with words…The composed painting reflects power, motivation and with an undeniable twist of feminism in my paintings.” The feminist angle, I believe, comes partially from her struggle to be fully accepted as a genuine graffiti artist in a male-dominated environment. She says in an interview, “[A]s I got more into the culture, I learned that NYC in the 80’s produced few active girls in graf. So any new girl in the scene would stand out. But of course, that did not mean free rides. I had to push harder to get down on walls. Most male writers don’t take females writers, especially new ones, seriously. I did not want to stand out only because I was a female writer. I wanted to make my mark and represent for myself. Even now, on occasions, when I’m painting in the streets, some guy comes along and acts surprised when he sees me working with spray paint.”
The titles for some of these paintings – Powerful Creation, Call the Shots, Fearless, Knock ‘em Out and Own Your Power, combined with Indie’s signature hearts and stars – further drive home the idea of feminine strength. Some of her work is also a tribute to Latina women and a demonstration of allegiance to her cultural heritage, as she references figures such as Frieda Kahlo, Jennifer Lopez and Marquita Rivera.
Call the Shots, 2012 (I love the nod to Warhol represented by the soup cans):
Powerful Creation, 2012:
Knock ‘em Out, 2012:
Own Your Power, 2013:
(images from indie184.com)
Looking at the dizzying array of flashy colors, it’s no surprise to find that Indie’s heroines include Jem and Rainbow Brite. I also find her work to be a true expression of her outspoken, feisty personality and thoroughly unselfconscious attitude. In an interview regarding her recently launched clothing line named Kweenz Destroy, she states, “Kweenz Destroy is for ladies who hold their own and make an impact with what they do. They love to get their hands dirty and don’t give a shit what people have to say…I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anyone…I am fulfilling my own desires, not living other people’s ideal of what a graffiti writer should be, because at the end of the day people are going to talk shit regardless.”
Overall, I like Indie’s work – it’s brash, highly personal and has an exuberance and freshness to it while remaining forceful.
I love it…I hope you all do too!
Have a great Sunday and leave some thoughts in the comments below.
Oh Yeah…I almost forgot!
And my favorite:
Godspeed little Charlotte.
I’ve been watching the death of higher education in Louisiana as Sociopathic Governor Jindal continues his war on 99%of humanity in search of higher office. Right wing Donors are the only folks worth subsidizing and saving in Jindal’s sick mind. I was thinking the other day that I was glad that the girls graduated before it’s gotten to this point. Youngest daughter experienced a bit of the issue at the end of her undergrad degree since class offerings were decreasing. I’ve also been thinking about the Duquesne adjunct professor who died last year in abject poverty. I think that I’ve most likely seen my future. Here’s a refresher about her death last August.
On Friday, Aug. 16, Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct French professor who’d recently lost her job at Duquesne University at the age of 83, suffered a cardiac arrest on a street corner in Homestead, Pa.* Vojtko collapsed yards from the house where she had lived almost her entire life. She was rushed to the hospital, but she never regained consciousness. Vojtko died on Sunday, Sept. 1.
Two and a half weeks later, Vojtko’s lawyer, Daniel Kovalik, published an op-ed about Vojtko called “Death of an Adjunct” in thePittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kovalik wrote that “unlike a well-paid tenured professor, Margaret Mary worked on a contract basis from semester to semester, with no job security, no benefits, and with a salary of $3,000 to $3,500 per three-credit course.” (In fact, for many years, she’d earned less—only $2,556 per course.) She’d been receiving cancer treatment, he said, and she’d become essentially homeless over the winter because she couldn’t afford to maintain and heat her house. Then, in the spring, she’d been told that her contract wouldn’t be extended after the current semester. A social worker from a local government agency had been tipped off that she might need help taking care of herself, which horrified Vojtko—“For a proud professional like Margaret Mary, this was the last straw,” according to the op-ed.
Her recent life hits way too close to home for me. I’ve noticed the rise of administration in higher education and how they seem to be embracing the same kind of things that are wrecking secondary education. They want standardized testing and proof that the professor is doing their job to the point that I feel like I’m a lowly graduate student with an absentee professor. I spend a lot of time grading things that I’m pretty sure are not contributing to anything but some administrator’s report that justifies their high salary and position. I can also tell that many colleagues just do it arbitrarily and not too well because my students are obviously doing the same old things like recycling other people’s homework and other people’s papers. I remind you that I only teach graduate students and those at the end of their career and those doing an academic degree that should be tougher than something like an MBA. So, all of this leads up to this link from a speech by Noam Chomsky who relates the hiring of faculty to that of the Walmart hiring paradigm. Faculty are basically now mostly temps. Business like workers who live in fear and insecurity. They also like them exhausted.
That’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call “associates” at Wal-Mart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line. The effective owners are the trustees (or the legislature, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure that labor is docile and obedient. The way to do that is, essentially, temps. Just as the hiring of temps has gone way up in the neoliberal period, you’re getting the same phenomenon in the universities. The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were advising their investors on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.
This idea is sometimes made quite overt. So when Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health. At the time, everyone regarded Greenspan’s comment as very reasonable, judging by the lack of reaction and the great acclaim he enjoyed. Well, transfer that to the universities: how do you ensure “greater worker insecurity”? Crucially, by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time, so that they’d better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more. That’s the way you keep societies efficient and healthy from the point of view of the corporations. And as universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is exactly what is being imposed. And we’ll see more and more of it.
Also part of the business model is making sure you’re as miserable as possible and that your assigned management baby sitter loads you down with so much nonsense that even when you don’t have anything productive to do, you have to pretend you are. Chomsky sums up the goal of all this.
Well how do you indoctrinate the young? There are a number of ways. One way is to burden them with hopelessly heavy tuition debt. Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy. They can even garnish social security if you default. That’s a disciplinary technique. I don’t say that it was consciously introduced for the purpose, but it certainly has that effect. And it’s hard to argue that there’s any economic basis for it. Just take a look around the world: higher education is mostly free. In the countries with the highest education standards, let’s say Finland, which is at the top all the time, higher education is free. And in a rich, successful capitalist country like Germany, it’s free. In Mexico, a poor country, which has pretty decent education standards, considering the economic difficulties they face, it’s free. In fact, look at the United States: if you go back to the 1940s and 50s, higher education was pretty close to free. The GI Bill gave free education to vast numbers of people who would never have been able to go to college. It was very good for them and it was very good for the economy and the society; it was part of the reason for the high economic growth rate. Even in private colleges, education was pretty close to free. Take me: I went to college in 1945 at an Ivy League university, University of Pennsylvania, and tuition was $100. That would be maybe $800 in today’s dollars. And it was very easy to get a scholarship, so you could live at home, work, and go to school and it didn’t cost you anything. Now it’s outrageous. I have grandchildren in college, who have to pay for their tuition and work and it’s almost impossible. For the students that is a disciplinary technique.
And another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control. And it’s very similar to what you’d expect in a factory, where factory workers have to be disciplined, to be obedient; they’re not supposed to play a role in, say, organizing production or determining how the workplace functions—that’s the job of management. This is now carried over to the universities. And I think it shouldn’t surprise anyone who has any experience in private enterprise, in industry; that’s the way they work.
The Corporate apparatchik are the only ones that gain from a workforce that behave and think like sheep. There are so many examples of intellectual laziness these days on the part of so-called professionals that I could spend a weeks worth of posts on it. But, let’s just start with a few recent ones. Ever read BuzzFeed? Well, it seems one editor lifted material from Yahoo. I wonder who taught him that Yahoo is an appropriate source?
Yahoo! Answers, one of the great artifacts of Internet history, is intently studied at viral news website BuzzFeed, where its trove of half-literate questions (and even less literate answers) has supplied material for at least fifty different posts and listicles. One BuzzFeed editor, however, has streamlined this aggregation process to its vanishing point: Simply copying text from Yahoo! Answers and pasting it, without attribution, into his own work.
Two pseudonymous Twitter users pointed out today that BuzzFeed’s Viral Politics editor, Benny Johnson, has periodically lifted text from a variety of sources—Wikipedia, U.S. News & World Report, a random press release—all without credit. The users, @blippoblappo and@crushingbort, supply convincing evidence that Johnson slightly reworded various sentences to make them his own.
I struggle daily with telling students that none of those sites are appropriate sources. But, under the pressure of grading deadlines and having to give them tons of busy work, it sure is tempting just to throw my hands up and pass so that I can spend less time and maybe approach the minimum wage.
The funny thing is that the costs of higher education focused on by the press are cost of tenured faculty. What they don’t seem to understand is that a lot of faculty–especially those in the really low paying subject areas–generally run to administrative jobs for wages. A lot of the money is also going to fancy dorms, student centers, and leather chair laden classrooms for executives so the university can attract the cash cow students. I really don’t think people–like whoever wrote this article in The Economist--actually look at where the money goes. They believe that online education is going to be the norm in the future.
In the meantime, a second generation of MOOC is trying to mirror courses offered at traditional universities. Georgia Institute of Technology and Udacity have joined forces with AT&T, a telecoms firm, to create an online master’s degree in computing for $7,000, to run in parallel with a similar campus-based qualification that costs around $25,000. Mona Mourshead, who runs McKinsey’s education consultancy, sees a turning point. “If employers accept this on equal terms, the MOOC master’s degree will have taken off. Others will surely follow,” she says.
Although some companies have authored online courses (Google, for instance, has made a MOOC on how to interpret data), established universities still create most of them. To encourage them to spare their best academics’ time to put the courses together, online-learning companies must give them a financial incentive. EdX says it is “self-sustaining” but provides no details of its revenues. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last year that edX lets universities use its platform in return for the first $50,000 generated by the course, plus a cut of future revenues. An alternative model that it reportedly offers is to charge $250,000 for “production assistance” in creating a course, plus further fees every term that the course is offered. Coursera reveals only its revenue from certification—around $4m since its launch in 2012—for which it charges students between $30 and $100.
Some have struggled to make a business out of this. Last year Udacity underwent an abrupt “pivot”, declaring that the free model was not working and that from then on it would sell professional online training. Although web-based courses are much cheaper than on-campus ones, they will not retain ambitious students unless they replicate the interaction available in good universities. Making teachers available for digital seminars and increasing the level of interactivity could help. So would more detailed online feedback. Improvements like these raise costs. So a more varied MOOC-ecology might end up with varying price-tiers, ranging from a basic free model to more expensive bespoke ones.
The universities least likely to lose out to online competitors are elite institutions with established reputations and low student-to-tutor ratios. That is good news for the Ivy League, Oxbridge and co, which offer networking opportunities to students alongside a degree. Students at universities just below Ivy League level are more sensitive to the rising cost of degrees, because the return on investment is smaller. Those colleges might profit from expanding the ratio of online learning to classroom teaching, lowering their costs while still offering the prize of a college education conducted partly on campus.
Notice that last suggestion still says that the cost of the professor is the problem not all the supporting infrastructure and bureaucracy.
The problem that I have with all this is the underlying assumption that the private, corporate business model is efficient, effective, and lower cost. The deal is that most of the lower costs come from de-professionalizing almost all employees in the hierarchy and de-emphasizing personal service. Everything is consolidated away from service provision.
Anyway, I doubt I’ll visit this topic again anytime soon, but I did want to offer up the nightmare that’s become a university teaching job. I have to say I get ready to get my social security more and more every day. This is no longer the stuff written about in Wallace Stegner and John Updike books. I’ve started to feel like an overworked and insecure cog in a wheel over which I have no control. Yup, that’s the stench of American Business.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Things are heating up all over, in a literal, political and actual sense.
Meanwhile I feel as if I am stuck inside a glass tube of Vaseline…where I cannot move or see and I feel trapped in a situation were everything is close around me. Yesterday, my mom found out she needs to take insulin shots…she is now diabetic. But the Medicare does not cover her prescription for the shots. It is 300 bucks a month. WTF? I don’t understand this crap at all.
There’s ther stuff going on that I can’t get into now, so just letting you know that things are real shitty here, and I may need to take a break for a few days to get my bearings.
Now for today’s links…
I don’t know what to make of this headline from the New York Times:
President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen rather than an aerial bombardment, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.
Such a campaign, using either drones or fighter jets, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days, until the United States gathers adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad.
Even the most ambitious aerial campaign envisioned by administration officials would be far more limited in scope than the one conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians.
It all makes my head hurt.
But what deserves a laugh is the latest from Glenn Beckistan: Glenn Beck: ‘Liberals, You Were Right,’ We Should Never Have Gone into Iraq | Mediaite
Glenn Beck led off his radio show on Tuesday morning with a stirring monologue about all the ways he believes the left and right can come together to “heal” America. As part of that, Beck suggested that perhaps all Americans can come together to recognize the blunder that was invading and occupying Iraq in 2003 — an act that he now regrets having supported.
After listing the Veterans Affairs Department scandal and the fight against Common Core standards as two ways in which the left and right can unite, Beck asserted that “maybe we could come together now on this nightmare in Iraq.”
He then took a contrite tone and admitted [emphasis ours]:
From the beginning, most people on the left were against going into Iraq. I wasn’t. At the time I believed that the United States was under threat from Saddam Hussein. I really truly believed that Saddam Hussein was funding terrorists. We knew that. He was funding the terrorists in Hamas. We knew that he was giving money. We could track that. We knew he hated us. We knew that without a shadow of a doubt. It wasn’t much or a stretch to believe that he would fund a terror strike against us, especially since he would say that. So I took him at his word.
[...] Now, in spite of the things I felt at the time when we went into war, liberals said: We shouldn’t get involved. We shouldn’t nation-build. And there was no indication the people of Iraq had the will to be free. I thought that was insulting at the time. Everybody wants to be free. They said we couldn’t force freedom on people. Let me lead with my mistakes. You are right. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.
Well, blow me down!
Here’s another shocking bit of right-wing reactions to scratch your head about…first the news bit: U.S. captures suspected ringleader of 2012 attack in Benghazi | Reuters
The United States said on Tuesday it had captured a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador and ignited a political firestorm in Washington.
President Barack Obama said in a statement he had authorized the operation in Libya on Sunday, in which U.S. special operations forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah. He told an audience later in Pittsburgh that Khatallah was being transported to the United States.
“Since the deadly attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I have made it a priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans,” he said in a statement. He said Khatallah would “face the full weight of the American justice system.”
Khatallah’s capture was a victory for Obama, who has been accused by Republicans of playing down the role of al Qaeda in the 2012 attacks for political reasons and being slow to deliver on promises of justice.
Which is all well and good, but as Maddow made clear on her show last night: U.S. Got the Suspect and ‘Benghazi Central’ Fox News Doesn’t Care? | Mediaite
For the past 21 months in a row, conservative media outlets have kept hammering away at Benghazi, saying the Obama White House covered something up, accusing the president of dredging up other issues to distract from Benghazi, and crying foul that no one has been brought to justice for the attack. Well, today one of the alleged perpetrators of the attack was captured by U.S. special forces, and so Rachel Maddow was absolutely bewildered to see the reaction on conservative media from Drudge Report to “Benghazi Central” Fox News, ranging from either ignoring the big news or furiously spinning it as a negative for the administration.
Maddow reminded viewers that the “all-Benghazi, all-the-time Fox News Channel” is the network that basically started ignoring President Obama‘s speeches and press conferences unless he starts talking about Benghazi. And the reaction on Fox News today to the news was to question the suspicious timing of the capture.
Maddow was amused that “the take on Fox News is that’s not actually news” after all the time and space they’ve devoted to hammering away at Benghazi, and now “they have to make it bad news, they have to make into maybe a scandal itself.”
Damn Fox News.
One more Foxy link for you, only this time it deals with Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton on FOX News with Greta Van Susteren and Brett Baier | Still4Hill
Hillary walked right into the mouth of the dragon and shot her fire extinguisher all over the flames.
In fact I did not expect Greta to be hard on her, and she was not except that once the record got a little stuck on a Fourth Amendment question. Later, Greta admitted that despite all prior interviews with Hillary she did feel stressed and later wished she had had more time. For my money they could have given Greta Brett’s time.
In response to something from Brett, she suggested that people read the unclassified ARB Report.
Another Hillary link: Hillary Clinton notes distance from Obama on Syria rebels | Reuters
Potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pointed out her differences with President Barack Obama on Tuesday over his decision not to arm moderate Syrian rebels, as neighboring Iraq struggles to cope with extremist spillover from Syria.
“We pushed very hard. But as I say in my book, I believe that Harry Truman was right, the buck stops with the president,”
Clinton said in a CNN interview.
The former secretary of state said she, along with the then heads of the Pentagon and CIA tried but failed to persuade Obama to arm the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the White House resisted.
Clinton said it was not clear whether arming moderates in Syria would have prevented the rise of the al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has swept toward Baghdad aiming to build a Muslim caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.
“It’s very difficult, in retrospect, to say that would have prevented this,” she said. She said it is too soon to tell whether American policy in Syria was a failure.
The countdown is began and ended here in Georgia as the BBC is picking up on the story: Georgia in first US execution since botched attempt
The US state of Georgia is set to execute the first person in the US since a botched lethal injection in Texas in April.
Marcus Wellons, who raped and killed a 15-year-old in 1989, is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday evening.
A last-minute appeal over the source of the drugs is with the US Supreme Court.
Wellons is one of three set to die in the next 24 hours, after nine executions were stayed since one in Oklahoma went wrong seven weeks ago.
Officials in Oklahoma halted the execution of Clayton Lockett after he began making noises, and he died of a heart attack less than an hour later.
Like Oklahoma, Georgia refuses to say where they are obtaining drugs for lethal injections, or if they are tested.
Lawyers for Wellons, as well as others on death row, have challenged such secrecy in court.
Well, the execution went on as expected: UPDATE: Marcus Wellons has been executed | www.ajc.com
Since I am writing this post only a few minutes after his death has been confirmed I will update this story in the comments below.
One thing all these stories have threaded together is a subject of hard news…Why Audiences Hate Hard News—And Love Pretending Otherwise – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic
You may not realize this, but we can see you. Yes, you. The human reading this article. We have analytics that tells us roughly where you are, what site you’ve just arrived from, how long you stay, how far you read, where you hop to next. We’ve got eyeballs on your eyeballs.
Why is it so important that digital news organizations track which articles you’re reading on our websites? The obvious answer is that it teaches us what you’re interested in. The less-obvious, but equally true, answer is that it teaches you what you’re interested in.
If we merely asked what you wanted, without measuring what you wanted, you’d just keep lying to us—and to yourself.
Here’s what I mean by lying. This year, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked thousands of people around the world what sort of news was most important to them. The graph below shows the responses from Americans. International news crushed celebrity and “fun” news by a margin of two-to-one. Economic and political news finished even higher.
It is an interesting thing…as far as what is most important compared to what the people actually read.
Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.
Audiences are liars, and the media organizations who listen to them without measuring them are dupes. At the Aspen Ideas Festival last year, Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera America, shared survey data suggesting that 40 to 50 million people were desperate for in-depth and original TV journalism. Nine months later, it averaged 10,000 viewers per hour—1.08 percent of Fox News’ audience and 3.7 percent of CNN. AJAM, built for an audience of vegetarians, is stuck with a broccoli stand in a candy shop.
The culprit isn’t Millennials, or Facebook, or analytics software like Chartbeat. The problem is our brains. The more attention-starved we feel, the more we thirst for stimuli that are familiar. We like ice cream when we’re sad, old songs when we’re tired, and easy listicles when we’re busy and ego-depleted. The Internet shorthand for this fact is “cat pictures.” Psychologists prefer the term fluency. Fluency isn’t how we think: It’s how we feel while we’re thinking. We prefer thoughts that come easily: Faces that are symmetrical, colors that are clear, and sentences with parallelisms. In this light, there are two problems with hard news: It’s hard and it’s new. (Parallelism!)
Since we are talking about people who lie about reading news stories, what about something dealing with handwriting. What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades – NYTimes.com
Does handwriting matter?
Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.
But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.
Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.
“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.
Could there be a connection be handwriting, news reading habits and education development?
A 2012 study led by Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, lent support to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were presented with a letter or a shape on an index card and asked to reproduce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dotted outline, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a computer. They were then placed in a brain scanner and shown the image again.
The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.
By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.
Dr. James attributes the differences to the messiness inherent in free-form handwriting: Not only must we first plan and execute the action in a way that is not required when we have a traceable outline, but we are also likely to produce a result that is highly variable.
That variability may itself be a learning tool. “When a kid produces a messy letter,” Dr. James said, “that might help him learn it.”
Finally, the last “news read” I have for you today could fall in the “fun” category. Stamp sells for record $9.5 million in New York
An incredibly rare 19th century postage stamp, a tiny one-cent magenta from British colonial Guyana, sold for $9.5 million in New York on Tuesday, setting a new world record.
Bidding began at $4.5 million and it took just two minutes to sell the stamp to an anonymous bidder on the phone, although the auction house Sotheby’s had valued the tiny specimen of British colonial memorabilia at $10-20 million.
“With the premium the stamp has just sold for approximately $9.5 million, which means it has set a new world record price for a stamp,” David Redden, Sotheby’s director of special projects, told a packed room in New York.
Can you believe it? 9.5 million dollars? Wow…
So what “candy” are you reading about today?
Although I know most of you here read “vegetables” all day long.
Can you feel it? A Minkoff rant coming to ya? Yeah, it is…so just roll with it, you may find this post all over the place. But then y’all know how I get when this happens so, I will just get on with it.
First off, this shit with the Supreme Court and public prayer at town meetings. You know…what the fuck happened to a moment of silence? Do they still do that? I mean if you are going to take time out to pray a little, do it to yourself on the quiet…if you want to…because this shit SCOTUS just ruled on gives the Christian right to fuck over anyone who isn’t born again. By that I mean you too Catholics! Which is something I think those who do vote “Republican” and are Catholic seem to fail to grasp.
You see them, especially here in small towns like Banjoville. They are high and mighty evil bastards who feel above you and actually discriminate against those who are not “born again.” That means those of the Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal faith…Jews, Buddhist, Muslims, oh you all know what I am talking about.
They will say the most horrible things to kids too…shit that is beyond fucked up! And…they teach their children to behave just like them. It is an endless cycle of disgusting behavior in the name of Jesus. (Excuse me…Geeezus.)
It is only their religious freedom they are concerned with.
It is only their “God” or “Gawd” they consider real and therefore legitimate.
So many conservatives who are not in line with the “christian” way of believing do not get this…they don’t realize that these assholes are not really speaking for them. They vote for these bastards because they only see them as the politician who spouts on about praying in school, and other conservative value shit…but they don’t see the big picture behind it.
And why am I picking on these Jesus freaks? Because these are also the people who are the hypocritical bastards, and act the least charitable. They are hateful motherfuckers and prejudice and judgmental too. They say horrible things with an air of snotty intolerant Baptist superiority. (This is from my experience here in the Southern bible belt.) Both men and women are misogynistic as hell, the women are not supportive of other women within their circle and the girls are awful to other girls who are, “not one of them.” They take any reason and twist it, manipulate it into a reason for Geezus. It is unbelievable the way they can justify their behavior…I don’t know how they can do it and consider themselves “good Christians.”
This is the backbone of the GOP, the conservatives who are changing the laws in this nation bit by bit. The assholes that are cutting out all social programs and any hope for a future in areas of science and discovery. I can honestly say these people are ruining this country. Maybe that is taking it too far, I don’t know. But what the fuck is wrong with these people?
I see what a small town mentality is like and I see it is taking over our Supreme Court. It has taken over our House of Representatives and it damn well can take over the Senate.
Gawd help us…what the hell are we going to do?
Here then are the links for today, there are a lot of them so some are in link dump fashion.
First a group of stories illustrating some of the talking points above.
House Republicans have unveiled their version of the transportation, housing and urban development (THUD) appropriations bill and, not surprisingly, it cuts funding by nearly $2 billion.
The bill cuts TIGER grants, a favorite of many lawmakers, by $500 million to a total of $100 million. It does not allow funds for bike and pedestrian paths.
The FAA is funded at $7.3 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and the Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.4 billion, a reduction of $193 million. There is no funding for high speed rail, an Obama priority.
To cut costs, Amtrak would be required to put overtime limits on employees and not use federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50 percent or more peak fares.
All together, the House bill would set spending at a level nearly $8 billion less than what President Obama requested for the next fiscal year.
Opposition to the president’s request isn’t earth shattering news, but House Republicans going out their way to eliminating funding for bike paths and railway while instituting overtime limits for Amtrak employees is certainly illuminating.
Republicans have a big problem with pedestrian-friendly urban and mass transportation. You know, hallmarks of socialism; liberal stuff.
The Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America.
Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014,” the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would be to weed out projects whose cost can’t be justified or whose sociological purpose is not apparent.
For Democrats and advocates, however, the FIRST Act represents a dangerous injection of politics into science and a direct assault on the much-cherished peer-review process by which grants are awarded.
“We have a system of peer-review science that has served as a model for not only research in this country but in others,” said Bill Andresen, the associate vice president of Federal Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. “The question is, does Congress really think it has the better ability to determine the scientific merit of grant applications or should it be left up to the scientists and their peers?”
In recent weeks, the Obama administration and science agencies have — in less-than-subtle terms — offered up similar criticisms of the FIRST Act. At an American Association for the Advancement of Science forum on Thursday, presidential science adviser John Holdren said he was “concerned with a number of aspects” of the bill.
“It appears aimed at narrowing the focus of NSF-funded research to domains that are applied to various national interests other than simply advancing the progress of science,” Holdren said.
Meanwhile, in a show of protest that several officials in the science advocacy community could not recall having witnessed before, the National Science Board released a statement in late April criticizing the bill. As the oversight body to the National Science Foundation, the NSB traditionally stays out of legislative fights. So when it warned that the FIRST Act could “significantly impede NSF’s flexibility to deploy its funds to support the best ideas,” advocates said they were surprised and pleased.
“The fact that the NSB commented on legislation, I don’t know if it is unprecedented but it is at least extremely unusual,” said Barry Toiv, a top official at the Association of American Universities. “And we think that speaks to the really serious problems posed by the legislation.”
Despite all the pissing and money about the district wasting money on outrageous teacher salaries and pensions, seems the real problem is the Santa Claus provision our Republican-dominated legislature ticked away into state law. This is, of course, contrary to the right-wing wisdom shared on our local newspaper site, but oh well! Nobody cares about schools, anyway:
Unless the Philadelphia School District raises more than $200 million extra in a hurry, Moody’s Investors Service warned it will cut the district’s bond rating — which is already down at Ba2, junk status, forcing the district to pay extra when it borrows money — because the district’s proposed $2.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year will “materially imperil its ability to provide students with an adequate education.”
Without $216 million in additional funding, Moody’s analyst Dan Seymour wrote in a report to clients, the district threatens to increase the average class size to 41 students and lay off more than 1,000 staff. ” This is credit negative because a further deterioration in education services will likely result in additional student flight to charter schools and other alternatives,” further reducing district revenues, Seymour added. 3 in 10 Philadelphia students already go to charter schools.
“Rising charter school enrollments have been a drag on the district’s finances, as state law mandates that public school districts pay the costs of sending students to charter schools. Driven largely by charter school tuition costs, the district’s costs per pupil have increased 70% since 2004. Further enrollment declines would exacerbate the district’s financial pressure as charter schools capture a larger share of the district’s expenditures,” Moody’s adds.
In Kansas, Republicans dominate the state government. They have the Governorship (Former Senator Sam Brownback), the State House (92-33 for the GOP), and the State Senate (32-8 for the GOP). Democrats don’t have a say in this blood red state that went 60%-37% for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Brownback and his buddies have enacted all manner of conservative economic policy in the state. Cutting taxes, etcetera. What is the result? Guess.
Citing a sluggish recovery from the recession, risk inherent in the governor’s tax plan and uncertainty over the Legislature’s ability to keep cutting spending, one of the nation’s two major debt rating agencies downgraded Kansas’ credit rating Thursday.
Moody’s Investors Service dropped Kansas from its second-highest bond rating, Aa1, to its third highest, Aa2. The Kansas Department of Transportation also took the same downgrade.
As Businesweekexplained, “the immediate effect has been to blow a hole in the state’s finances without noticeable economic growth.”
Even with the cut in taxes, big companies like Applebee’s and Boeing have moved out of Kansas.
As a result, the most recent polling there shows Brownback’s approval rating down to 33%, while he’s slightly behind the Democratic challenger.
In Kansas, they can’t (honestly) blame liberals for this. They’ve been given a free hand. They were able to enact whatever they wanted, and it has been a miserable failure at a time when other states – including very blue Democratic states like here in Maryland – have been recovering from the Bush recession.
Because conservative economics doesn’t actually work. It is a faith based program untethered from reality. The numbers don’t add up and it is destructive to societies.
It was partly for that reason that Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who’s now trying to reclaim his old job as a Democrat, broke with his former party.
“I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I’ll just go there,” Crist told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “I was a Republican and I saw the activists and what they were doing, it was intolerable to me.”
Crist was savaged on the right when, as governor in 2009, he hugged Obama. He said earlier this year that racism motivated the outrage over the embrace.
“I think another part of it was that he was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American,” Crist, who’s challenging Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), said during an appearance on “The Colbert Report.”
A majority of American journalists identify themselves as political independents although among those who choose a side Democrats outnumber Republicans four to one, according to a new study of the media conducted by two Indiana University professors.
Write Lars Wilnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana, of their findings:
Compared with 2002, the percentage of full-time U.S. journalists who claim to be Democrats has dropped 8 percentage points in 2013 to about 28 percent, moving this figure closer to the overall population percentage of 30 percent, according to a December 12-15, 2013, ABC News/Washington Post national poll of 1,005 adults. This is the lowest percentage of journalists saying they are Democrats since 1971. An even larger drop was observed among journalists who said they were Republicans in 2013 (7.1 percent) than in 2002 (18 percent), but the 2013 figure is still notably lower than the percentage of U.S. adults who identified with the Republican Party (24 percent according to the poll mentioned above).
That link about the journalist is more for information purposes. Read what else Cillizza thinks too at that link.
Los Angeles councilman Paul Koretz has called for banks NY Mellon and Dexia to return $65 million in “unfair profits and termination payments” they received between 2008 and 2014. This follows a report (embedded below) revealing that the city spent more than $200 million in fees to Wall Street in 2013 alone. Koretz says he may push the city to take punitive action against the financial institutions involved if they do not renegotiate the deal.
The report, published by the union-backed Fix LA Coalition, notes that “the City of Los Angeles last year spent more on Wall Street fees than it did on our streets.” Indeed, the report notes the city “paid Wall Street $204 million in fees, spending only $163 million on the Bureau of Street Services.”
The fees are connected to the controversial interest-rate-swap deal cemented by Los Angeles in 2006. It is a deal similar to those engineered by Wall Street in cities across the country. Those deals have made headlines in recent years in some of the country’s most high-profile municipal budget crises.
For instance, a recent study by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Wallace Turbeville found that an interest-rate swap deal was a primary driver of Detroit’s fiscal crisis. Noting that the banks used the city’s bankruptcy to demand “upwards of $250-350 million in swap termination payments,” Turbeville concluded that “a strong case can be made that the banks that sold these swaps may have breached their ethical, and possibly legal, obligations to the city in executing these deals.” (A court recently reduced the amount the city has to pay Wall Street to unwind the deals).
A new report by an immigration watchdog finds that the United States’ largest federal law enforcement agency rarely punishes its agents for their mistreatment of immigrants and American citizens.
The report by the American Immigration Council found that 97 percent of abuse complaints lodged against Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers resulted in no disciplinary action once an investigation had been completed. Those included a complaint from a pregnant woman in El Paso, Texas, that she had miscarried after a Border Patrol agent kicked her in the stomach, and several complaints from women that they had been forced to bare their breasts while in custody.
The survey also found that many complaints against U.S. border agents take years to resolve. The council reviewed 809 complaints filed in the three years from January 2009 to January 2012. But of those, only 485 had been investigated and resolved. The remainder are still under investigation, including a nearly 5-year-old allegation of forced sexual intercourse lodged July 30, 2009, against a Border Patrol agent in El Centro, Calif.
Among the cases that were still “pending investigation, the average number of days between the date the complaint was filed and the last record date provided in the data set was 389 days,” the report said.
“This absolutely confirms the experiences of our border families and communities,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Regional Center for Border Rights in New Mexico. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now the largest law enforcement agency in the nation, and yet this massive buildup of border enforcement resources has not been matched with adequate accountability and oversight.”
And about that SCOTUS decision:
The 5-4 decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway shows how far the ground has shifted under the Establishment Clause in the last 30 years.
Yesterday’s ruling in Greece v. Galloway is an affront to religious equality, but it also reflects the poisoned fruit of a bad precedent.
In fact for SCOTUSblog coverage look here: Town of Greece v. Galloway : SCOTUSblog
With all this shit that happened yesterday, and the recent other shit like the repeal of some key parts of the Civil Rights Act, this next article should come as a surprise: Supreme Court popularity rebounds, survey says | Suits & Sentences | McClatchy DC
The Supreme Court’s popularity has rebounded, with more than half of U.S. residents surveyed now voicing a favorable view of the justices, a new survey finds.
The Pew Research Center survey, conducted last month among 1,501 adults, found that 56 percent have a favorable view of the court, while 35 percent had an unfavorable view. Last July, only 48 percent held a favorable view of the court. That rating was among the lowest ever recorded by the court, though still well above the abysmal poll numbers earned by Congress.
Intriguingly, 63 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the court led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., compared to 54 percent of Republicans.
Take a deep breath…I know I have to. More after the jump.
It has been a busy week…Bebe has her first official boyfriend, that means she went on an official date where he drove and everything.
So you can see why I have been a little distracted.
All this back and forth reminded me of this old skit from Saturday Night Live, that aired on March 30, 1985.
I saw this episode live when it aired all those years ago and one of the lines remained in the back of my mind…I quote it quite frequently. In fact, I used it on Bebe to find out her relationship status just a few hours ago.
Here is a description of the scene with a couple of photos I could find, it sucks there is no video clip available.
Number one: Fin-de-Siecle Prison Homosexuality. As I recall, the title of the bit when it aired was Shame Of The Prisons. Martin Short plays a terrified new prisoner named Percival, and his cellmate is the threatening Jim Belushi. Belushi doesn’t ravage him immediately, because he says, “I can’t have you until The Bull has had you.”
Guest plays The Bull as a gallant Gaylord Ravenal sort of character, and the first date is just a walk in the moonlight, with genteel idle chit-chat, until The Bull finally turns and asks “Percy? I must know this. Will you wear my ring… and be my bitch?”
Short goes back to his cell and he and Belushi start acting like high school girls, thrilled to discuss the particulars of a date.
Bold quote is my emphasis, and actually I believe what Guest says to Short is “Will you wear my pin… and be my bitch?” Which goes along with the old fashioned idea of short getting “pinned” by the Bull…it was funny as hell.
I tried so long to find pictures of just that set-up. Like that first image up top, but no luck. The rest of the illustrations are various couples. Meh…
Ah…now we will just move on to the links for this morning’s post. They start with the South and move through child rearing to fruit and hand-baskets. Hopefully the stories will be new to you…
This first link should be introduced with the joke…if your local Waffle House is held up by a man in overalls wielding a pitchfork…you might be a redneck. Man accused of robbing Waffle House with pitchfork
He’s accused of using a weapon to force Waffle House employees into the back of a restaurant so he could steal money.
But it’s the weapon he used that really caught witnesses’ attention. The suspect was carrying a pitchfork.
The suspect, identified as Jeffrey Willard Wooten, 50, was wearing coveralls and a ski mask when he entered the Buford Highway breakfast eatery Thursday night, according to Norcross police. After forcing employees into a back room, Wooten went after cash, police said.
“When he realized he couldn’t get the cash register open, he took the whole cash register and exited the store . . with his pitchfork,” Norcross police Chief Warren Summers told Channel 2 Action News.
Outside of the Waffle House, Wooten allegedly dropped his pitchfork, according to police. But he held on to the cash register.
Two restaurant employees than grabbed the pitchfork and used it to smash the back window of Wooten’s truck, police said. Wooten may have been injured while attempting to leave the restaurant.
“It wouldn’t be an offensive weapon in your garden, but it was in a Waffle House,” Summers said.
It also is a deadly weapon when used during riots in Transylvania.
But if that seems crazy to you, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Y’all ready for a WTF moment? Alabama’s chief justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians
Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.
“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”
He then noted that he loves talking to lawyers, because he is a lawyer who went to “a secular law school,” so he knows that “in the law, [talking about God] just isn’t politically correct.” He claimed that this is why America has “lost its way,” and that he would be publishing a pamphlet “this week, maybe next” that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, thereby proving that all the people “who found this nation — black, white, all people, all religions, all faiths” knew that America was “about God.”
Chief Justice Moore later defined “life” via Blackstone’s Law — a book that American lawyers have “sadly forgotten” — as beginning when “the baby kicks.” “Today,” he said, “our courts say it’s not alive ’til the head comes out.”
“Now,” he continued, “if technology’s supposed to increase our knowledge, how did we become so stupid?” Discussing Thomas Jefferson’s use of “life” in the Declaration of Independence, he said that “when [Jefferson] put ‘life’ in there, it was in the womb — we know it begins at conception. Why aren’t we going the right way instead of the wrong way?”
He later said the “pursuit of happiness” meant following God’s law, because “you can’t be happy unless you follow God’s law, and if you follow God’s law, you can’t help but be happy.”
The Center for Disease Control house found that 900,000 people a year die of five leading causes every year in the US, and that 20% to 40% of these deaths are preventable (i.e. 180,000 to 360,000 needn’t die). The five are heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke and unintentional injury. Smoking cigarettes contributes to several of them.
What is striking is that the preventable diseases occur at a much higher rate in the Deep South than in the rest of the country, especially in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. AJC.com notes that only 2% of Oregon’s heart attacks are considered to be “preventable” by the CDC, but 58 percent of Mississippi’s are.
Graphs and picture goodies at the link, plus lots more, so go read it.
More news and “stuff” after the jump.
This is going to be exactly what the title says…nothing more to say about that.
I have saved these links over the last few days, they may be a little stale but hopefully you will still find them somewhat interesting.
And since I am completely out of it, this link dump is in no particular order.
A lost D.H. Lawrence essay in which the famed author issued a major takedown to a misogynistic contemporary has been found in a library in New Zealand.
Dr. Andrew Harrison, an English professor at the University of Nottingham, discovered the essay while doing research in the online archive of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. The essay was buried among the papers and correspondence of John Middleton Murry, a writer and editor who was married to the New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield. Murry’s papers were recently acquired by the library. Lawrence had written the 185-word essay in a letter to his friend Murry. It was never published, and its existence was unknown to scholars until now.
You can find more information about the essay here, but check this out….
Lawrence wrote the piece some time in late 1923 or early 1924 in response to an essay published in Adelphi, a literary magazine Murry edited. That essay, which ran under the byline “JHR,” was a viciously misogynistic treatise called “The Ugliness of Women.” Its author argued that “in every woman born there is a seed of terrible, unmentionable evil: evil such as man — a simple creature for all his passions and lusts — could never dream of in the most horrible of nightmares, could never conceive in imagination.”
Continued JHR, “No doubt, the evil growth is derived from Eve, who certainly did or thought something wicked beyond words.”
Murry invited readers to respond to JHR, and Lawrence — a regular contributor to Adelphi — did so.
Lawrence argued that JHR was projecting, basically:
The hideousness he sees is the reflection of himself, and of the automatic meat-lust with which he approaches another individual…Even the most ‘beautiful’ woman is still a human creature. If he approached her as such, as a being instead of as a piece of lurid meat, he would have no horrors afterwards.
Meat-lust! The revolutionary idea that women are human! Advice about how to approach the opposite sex that would still work today!
Ever wonder about, What Happens to Your Email When You Die? Google’s Got a Solution Google Announces Inactive Account Manager | Geekosystem
And another item from Geekosystem, this is a picture and I absolutely love it!!!!!
Pen and Paper, that dude takes my breath away! I think you could find a couple more kids using paper and pens in that picture, but the yellow shirt just stands out.
Another picture for you, the fiber artist in me had to save it:
An artisan hanging freshly dyed strands of multicolored thread used in Hindu rituals, at Lalgopalganj, a town in Allahabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking of Fiber Art: A Box of Sheep – NYTimes.com
This week, a sheep arrived in a box. Not the whole sheep, which is still, I hope, grazing happily in a pasture somewhere in northeast Washington State. Only its fleece. I’ve raised many animals but never sheep. My dad, who raised them as a farm boy, left me with a vicious prejudice against them, and the only sheep I saw as a boy did nothing to counter it. They stood — a dim, ghostly flock — in a grove they had denuded entirely of grass and undergrowth. It occurs to me now that this was the fault of the farmer, not of the sheep, who have no more interest in eating bare dirt than I do.
I bought the fleece because I’ve been away from the farm for a couple of months and because it’s just the right amount of commitment. No feeding, no herding, no vet bills; no wondering: What have I done? If I were home, it would have been all too easy to drive up the road, pick up a few lambs and turn them loose in the pasture — the beginning of another trial-and-error episode in livestock management. These episodes get easier and easier because the pigs, horses, chickens, geese and turkeys have taught me so much. Still, none of them are sheep.
I set the box on the kitchen table, opened it with a knife and folded back the newspaper inside. The scent of sheep rose like a genie from a bottle — a genie who used a lot of lanolin.
There is something so comforting and joyful and soothing in the smell of lanolin.
Of course you have to click these links to read the rest of the stories, I mean, that goes without saying.
Did you see this crap? Albany Teacher Gives Pro-Nazi Writing Assignment – NYTimes.com
Or how about this idiot? Justin Bieber at Anne Frank House: ‘Hopefully She Would Have Been a Belieber’
…Bieber wrote in the guestbook: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
I found this image on Pinterest and there was no information available. The website page it went to was no longer loading so I wrote to Lawrence University (the only clue I could sort out) to find out more about it….it was thrilling to get an email back from Leslie Walfish, Director of the Galleries, Wriston Art Galleries. I am quoting the email below with the image…
Dear JJ Lopez Minkoff,
Thank you for your interest in our Otto Wirsching print from Vom Totentanz Anno 1915. The particular print you have asked about is part of a portfolio created by Wirsching in 1919.
The following information was previously on the website that you mentioned, please let me know if you need more information:
Born, Nuremberg, January 29, 1889; died Dachau, December 1919
While Wirsching’s life and career were short, he left behind several notable sets of graphic works that demonstrate his devotion to the tradition of German woodcut. The son of a Nuremberg pharmacist, Wirsching studied for three years at the School of Arts and Crafts there. In 1907, he came to Munich, where he worked with Hugo von Habermann (1849-1929). In the summer of that year, he walked to Italy and Corsica; during this time he made copies in the Uffizi. He continued his travels through Spain and North Africa, living as a vagabond. Despite his thorough knowledge of Mediterranean art, Wirsching’s greatest artistic inspirations were the paintings and woodcuts of the great German masters of the Renaissance; he studied these works avidly at Munich’s City Library. When he returned to Munich at the beginning of 1913, he moved to the nearby village of Dachau, since the 1980s an important artists’ colony of the naturalist school. When war broke out, he served in the artillery, but was back in Dachau by 1916. Here he painted and also perfected his skill as a graphic artist, creating a fanciful style that translated his knowledge of the German Masters into a modern idiom. He became a leading artist of the new Dachau school, which took on a more Expressionist mode. He supported himself by making woodcut ex-libris and greeting cards for members of Munich’s artistic circles. He married in Dachau the Hungarian painter, Ankara Kowatsch. Signs of the mental instability–no doubt exacerbated by the unrecognizable presence of a brain tumor–began to appear in 1916 or 1917. He continued nonetheless to produce woodcut series and illustrations for books, as well as paintings which incorporated traditionally religious and mythological motifs into contemporary settings. While placing a new print into the press, he fell dead to the ground, the victim of a stroke. A dissertation on his woodcuts was completed in 1923, evidence of the strength of his artistic vision and its influence on Munich artists immediately following World War I.
The Death-Dance Anno 1915/10 Pictures (Vom Totentanz Anno 1915/10) 1950
According to Theime-Becker, this portfolio was the most significant of the many “death dances” produced during the First World War. In its style, one recognizes immediately Wirsching’s international allusion to the medieval German masters of the woodcut. His choice of images, however, is distinctly modern: the figure of Death, in the traditional form of a skeleton, confronts a variety of contemporary figures who will meet their doom as a result of the devastation of this new war. The first plate shows a peasant in the field learning of the declaration of war from his newspaper; Death appears over his shoulder and steals the farmer’s scythe. In another plate, Wirsching shows Death leading a spy by a rope, depicted as the obvious Jewish stereotype of the moneylender–evidence of the prevalence in German society of this anti-Semitic view. Perhaps the most griping image is that of the corpse-fleecer, one of the vandals who ransacked the bodies on the battlefields for gold teeth and anything else of value. In Wirsching’s depiction, Death surprises the fleecer himself in the field of corpses. As a whole, Vom Totentanz is a grim indictment of the evil of war and man’s innate inhumanity to man. By alluding so directly to the hallow stylistic tradition of the German Totentanz, Wirsching’s philosophical message is all the more damning.
Director of the Galleries
Wriston Art Galleries
Born in 1925 to a father from the Osage tribe and a mother of Irish-Scottish descent, Tallchief was one of the first Native American ballerinas to achieve such prominence with major companies.
Her pride in her heritage led her to refuse pressure common at the time to change her name to a more marketable, Russian-sounding version — for example turning Tallchief into Tallchieva.
She grew up initially on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma, where her family’s life had been revolutionized by the wealth that came with the discovery of oil on tribal land.
Highly musical, she took piano and ballet lessons, and at eight, when her family moved to Los Angeles, her dancing turned serious.
In 1942, she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a leading touring company, and it was there that she grew close Balanchine, who was the choreographer. They married in 1946 and divorced in 1950.
She was the prima ballerina at New York City Ballet, where Balanchine was also choreographer. Her appearance in the “The Firebird” in 1949 assured her stardom.
This is video of Tallchief dancing The Firebird.
Hey, I was happy when I saw this little headline last week: The pros and cons of going braless
Scientific research on the effect on bras on the sagging of boobs backs up the old feminist call for women to ditch the harness
I don’t care if this next study is done by a male professor, I never wear bras anyway…and I could care less if they sag all the way down to the floor.
French professor Jean-Denis Rouillon has said ‘breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity’. Photograph: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images
Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor of sports science at Besançon university, has spent 15 years studying the anatomy of 330 women, and come to the conclusion that bras are a “false necessity”. So, clever him and stupid women.
Except, wait. Rouillon isn’t any kind of expert at all, because he doesn’t have breasts. He reckons that “medically, physiologically, anatomically breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity”. But women don’t wear bras for medical, physiological or anatomical reasons. We wear them for psychological, aesthetic and practical reasons. Bras stop our breasts from wobbling about in a Don’t Forget for a Second You’ve Got Breasts manner, allowing us to forget them. Otherwise we’d be cupping them in our hands every time we broke into a trot to catch a lift.
Rouillon says that his research shows the nipples of women aged 18-35 rose by an average of 7mm when they went braless. He fails to understand that one of the many comforting things about bras is that you rarely have to think about where your nipples might be. Women are encouraged to fret about their breasts enough. The last thing we need is some fool telling us that we need to think about them, and their welfare, a great deal more.
Gotta give you a link on prehistoric dwarfism: BBC News – Study backs ‘hobbit’ island dwarfism theory
And, a bit of nature: Spring flowers along the Appalachian Trail | Today’s Image | EarthSky
EarthSky Facebook friend Tom Wildoner posted this photo yesterday. He wrote:
Spring flowers along the Appalachian Trail and Swatara State Park in Pennsylvania. What a great weekend for hiking in PA.
Thanks so much for posting Tom!
Last week I went to Atlanta for my EEG and on the way back we stopped at the Walasi-Yi Center, on Blood Mountain which is a stop on the Appalachian Trail…here are some pictures I took, the shoes are from folks who have put at least 500 miles on their boots. There are also some pictures of hikers just starting out on the trail:
No spring flowers yet, we must be at a higher elevation.
Since I am sharing pictures, here is one from last week….early in the morning facing east, looking out at the farm next door.
Pretty isn’t it?
Have a wonderful day….think of this as an open thread.