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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 39,405

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How many other countries have had revolutions over trade deals like the Ukraine?

At best, a little more than half the people there supported the deal offered by the European Union, and Russia offered a non-exclusive deal that would have allowed ties with Europe as well.

I'm not sure why any of them want to join given how the EU is treating poorer countries with austerity and "structural adjustments" that make the lives of average citizens far worse.

Why didn't we have revolutions over NAFTA, CAFTA, or have one over the coming TPP?

Didn't those trade deals, as bad as they were for average people, mostly get debated by policy wonks and everyone else went about their business not even aware of the negotiations or even their passage?

What will it take to stop our government from covertly overthrowing other governments?

Within my lifetime, we have made two great strides reducing our government's violence toward other countries: eliminating the draft, which makes it harder and more expensive to put a lot of troops into a conflict, and just recently, preventing direct intervention in Syria.

While not dropping bombs or putting boots on the ground in Syria was a major victory, it hasn't stopped our government from backing rebels, including the same kind of religious extremists we claim to be fighting in the War on Terror.

Our government is also backing right wing violence in Venezuela and the Ukraine.

While these actions may not result in the loss of the lives of any of our troops, the damage to the people in the targeted countries, and therefore the potential blowback for average Americans and our foreign policy is incalculable.

Sixty years later, we are still dealing with the negative effects of overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran, and it took Chile and other South American countries decades to quietly and carefully pry the fingers of the blood-thirsty but business friendly dictators we installed.

You would think 9/11 would have been the wake up call to Americans that destroying other countries and installing puppet governments to make them obey Wall Street, banks, and oil companies can have fatal consequences.

In the Ukraine, our government is baiting a former superpower, who may not be a match for us in conventional weapons, but does still have quite a few nukes.

Russia ended the Cold War and gave up communism and the thanks Washington seems to be giving them is doing everything possible to reignite a Cold War with Russia, to dismember it piece by piece, and starve them of income by taking away their oil an gas exporting business.

If our government's long term strategy for Russia works or to the extent it already has worked, don't you think that will have consequences at least as severe as our meddling in Iran?

What will it take to stop these proxy wars and astroturf revolutions that will come back to bite us on the ass?

Another nice angle on Arizona GayBan veto: in conflict between religious right and big money

The GOP chose money.

When even some of those who voted for the bill backtracked when they realized what it would cost the state in lost revenue, it tells you how deeply held their "Christian" homophobia beliefs are: a little less than skin deep.

At best, they figured they could throw a bone to the rubes in their base without a penny in government spending, but didn't realize it would cut into the profits of their true masters.

I hope the far right makes more bold moves like this.

Also, their anti-gay stuff makes it harder for anyone to take seriously Washington pontificating about Putin's anti-gay laws. The only thing the far right doesn't like about them is since they're in Russian, they can't copy and paste them directly into their own bills.

DEMOCRACY NOW: tapes reveal US backing coup in Ukraine

Some of our corporate Democrat friends here screamed conspiracy theory when anyone suggested the US had a hand in the violence in the Ukraine and Venezuela, but leaked tapes have shown US diplomats choreographing ways to "midwife" the outcome they wanted and micromanaging down to the level of who should be included in the new government and who shouldn't, deciding between our favorite candidate and Germany's Angela Merkel's.

I've gone a little over the four paragraph limit, but our tax dollars paid for all but the last paragraph.

The speakers are the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and Victoria Nuland, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe.

Do we want our diplomats trying to dismember Russia to the point that it starts a new Cold War?

VICTORIA NULAND: So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue it. And, you know, [bleep] the EU.


GEOFFREY PYATT: Let me work on Klitschko, and if you can just keep—I think we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. Then the other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych, but we can probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.

VICTORIA NULAND: So, on that piece, Geoff, when I wrote the note, Sullivan’s come back to me VFR saying, "You need Biden?" And I said, "Probably tomorrow for an attaboy and to get the deets to stick." So Biden’s willing.


VICTORIA NULAND: Good. So, I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think it’s a good idea.

GEOFFREY PYATT: Yeah. I mean, I guess, you think—in terms of him not going into the government, just let him sort of stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking, in terms of sort of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys. And, you know, I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all of this. I kind of—

VICTORIA NULAND: I think—I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the guy—you know, what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week. You know, I just think Klitsch going in, he’s going to be at that level working for Yatsenyuk. It’s just not going to work.

STEPHEN COHEN: All right. And notice the intimacy with which the Americans deal with the two leading so-called "moderate"—and these are big shots, they both want to be president—Ukrainian opposition. Klitschko is Vitali Klitschko, a six-foot-eight former—he resigned his title two months ago to enter politics—heavyweight champion of the world. His residence has been Ukraine—I mean, Germany. He plays—he pays taxes in Germany. He’s a project of Merkel. He represents German interests. I’m sure he’s also faithful to Ukraine, but he’s got a problem. Yatsenyuk, however—not Yatsenyuk, but the other guy she calls "Yats" is a representative of the Fatherland Party. It’s a big party in Parliament. But Washington likes him a lot. They think he’ll be our man. So you could see what they’re saying. We don’t quite trust Klitschko. Now, if you want to get esoteric, that’s the tug between Washington and Berlin. They’re not happy with Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. They don’t like the role Merkel is playing, generally. They think Germany has gotten too big for its britches. They want to cut Merkel down. So you noticed Klitschko, the boxer, is Merkel’s proxy, or at least she’s backing him. You notice that they say, "He’s not ready for prime time. Let him do his homework."


A Teacher’s Advice to Bill Gates

An awesome letter to the one of the biggest financial backers of the corporate take over of public education.

Dear Mr. Gates,

“I don’t know many business leaders who are satisfied with America’s schools. In fact, just about every CEO I know is worried that this country simply isn’t producing enough graduates with the skills they need to compete globally.” – Bill Gates

I find it ironic that you opened your notes with this remark just prior to a story was published about two hundred wealthy and famous Wall Street figures to the Kappa Beta Phi dinner in New York City. It consisted of a group of wealthy and powerful financiers making homophobic jokes, making light of the financial crisis, and bragging about their business conquests at Main Street’s expense. The reporter who witnessed this dinner didn’t mention any CEO’s worried about the plight of the American schools.

As a 7th grade middle school Social Studies teacher in Carmel, NY, I never thought about the need to satisfy business leaders. I focus on teaching students to value American History and to question the choices that have been made in the past. Since the Industrial Revolution, business leaders have been given enormous opportunities in this country and throughout the world. The technology has made American lives remarkably more convenient but certainly at a price to our environment and to economic equality.

As a teacher, I am worried that this country simply isn’t producing enough CEO’s with the moral and ethical skills they need to create a sustainable future. The news is constantly reporting on chemicals being leaked into drinking water or how the CEO of McDonald’s makes $8 million a year compared to his employers making minimum wage and yet nothing gets done to make it better. The Common Core Standards do not address how our future CEO’s will be prepared to make compassionate and ethical decisions that will benefit all of humanity.

The public is skeptical about Common Core because they see the individuals who are backing this privatization of education. The public views the standardized testing and modules being produced by Pearson Corporation as products that Americans are being forced to purchase. These tests will not produce the leaders with the collaborative and innovative skills to solve the problems of the 21st century. The public views Common Core as a marketing scheme designed to make a few CEO’s and the shareholders billions of dollars. Your foundation money has bought off our elected officials and teacher unions but the public outcry remains.


GRAPHIC: Why Corporations Want Our Public Schools

YES magazine has a couple of articles on this including a good history of the conservative assault on public education.

Corporate Democrats betray their true loyalties on this issue: they are like Abraham sacrificing our kids on the altar to their jealous god on Wall Street, and they can't claim Republicans are making them do it in heavily Democratic areas like New York and Chicago.

WashPo: U.S. intelligence agencies can’t justify why they use so many contractors

You can believe the private sector does some things better than government, but the worst of all possible worlds is when the government delegates some of their functions (and our tax dollars) to for-profit contractors.

Most disturbing in this article is most agencies couldn't justify why they turned these functions over to contractors in the first place or prove that government employees couldn't do them.

Also, if you have a private contractor listening to everyone's phone calls and reading their emails, is there any chance they'd use that information to blackmail politicians who tried to take away those lucrative contracts?

But the GAO reserves its harshest judgment for the agencies that couldn't fully explain why they resorted to contractors in the first place.

"In preparing their inventory submissions, IC elements can select one of eight options for why they needed to use contract personnel, including the need to provide surge support for a particular IC mission area, insufficient staffing resources, or to provide unique technical, professional, managerial, or intellectual expertise to the IC element that is not otherwise available," the report says.

Out of 102 records that were filed under "unique expertise," 81 failed to convince investigators that an ordinary civil servant couldn't have handled the job.

"Overall," the report went on, "the civilian IC elements could not provide documentation for 40 percent of the 287 records we reviewed."
Federal contracting is notoriously opaque, in part because of its complexity. That can be especially so in the intelligence world, where even the people inside it have no clue how large it really is. If the GAO's findings are to be believed, many agencies exhibit almost a reflexive tendency to turn to contractors when a government employee will do. But their inability to say no contributes to what is now a half-trillion dollar industry every year.


Corporate driven education reform: "Cookies for Corporations, Crumbs for Children"

That cookies and crumbs comment seems to sum up how Republicans and corporate Democrats deal with almost everything: the public good is at best considered a happy accident and at worst isn't considered at all.

In every place where Democrats have a choice between a corporate Democrat and a progressive, we have to do whatever we can to get the progressive in power.

Otherwise, our public schools will eventually look like shopping malls

Who Robbed the Children?
by dianeravitch

A reader comments:

"It's rather ironic and infuriating that our schools have been robbed of necessities under the catchy phrase "No Child Left Behind" and the more straight foward one, "Race to the Top" ( or push to the bottom) I have been teaching for over 30 years and have watched as the robbing and eventual exploitation of our children has become the norm. The bad old days before any of this began were so much better. In my opinion, they have segregated education once again. Now it's the haves and have nots. I read a phrase that describes it well, "Cookies for Corporations, Crumbs for Children" That's how it is and now they are trying to take away the crumbs!"

dianeravitch | February 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Categories: NCLB (No Child Left Behind), Race to the Top | URL: http://wp.me/p2odLa-68W

progressives should counter Comcast-Time Warner merge with call for public high speed internet

Instead of playing defense and trying to undo the deal (or at least along with that), we should renew efforts to make the internet a public utility that cuts these bastards out of the loop entirely.

Many people are canceling their cable subscriptions anyway, which may be one of the things that prompted this merger--consolidating the power of an abusive, dying cartel that consistently overcharged customers and didn't deliver the a la carte services that even some Republican politicians tried to legislate them into providing.

They do however still have their high speed internet business.

Since they did and do such a poor job with their effective monopolies on cable TV (for decades you really had one option per location, and even now, it's just up to three or so if you count satellite too), why should we let them control the internet coming into our homes and businesses?

The internet was largely developed by the government at taxpayer expense, and the monopolies these companies enjoy is artificially created by regulation and legislation.

What the people give, the people can take away, and make the internet public again.

Local governments have experimented with government provided internet.

ISP's saw it as enough of a threat that they fought back and lobbied for laws and regulation to hobble it.

If it was done at the state or even national level, it might be harder for the telecom monopolies to fight back, and if you framed the issue correctly even many conservatives would back it like, "You how cable companies make you pay for 50 channels you'll never watch like Korean soap operas and Mongolian cricket matches? Now we can get even."

The price could be significantly below commercial ISP's and even include a modest profit because it would need to support the corporate profits and bloated executive salaries of private providers nor would it constantly be looking for more ways to scam money out of customers.

Would this be a good response to the mega telecomms along with trying to prevent the mass mergers?

RAVITCH: Joe Biden's brother runs a for-profit charter school and said this:

Joe's thinking of running for president.

This might be a sign of where he'll stand on Wall Street's drive to break teachers unions and privatize public education.

On this issue, we need two parties to choose from and our choice right now is between a party that is aggressively pushing the corporate agenda and another that would like to AND starve traditional schools of more funding.

If you were a teacher, who would you vote for?

The party that wants to turn your career into a McJob that puts profits before pupils and teachers, or the one that wants to do it even faster?

Frank Biden, brother of Vice President Joe Biden, is president of the Mavericks charter chain in Florida, explained the secret of charter success.

He said,

“It’s all about the 501(c)(4) and how much money we get in it,” he said. “And we go see our friends and we tell them we’ll support them. And we go see our enemies and look ‘em in the eye and say we’re going to take you down.”

In that state, charters give handsomely to politicians and have a lock on the legislature.

Biden spoke truth.

At a conference in Florida celebrating Nationsl School Choice Week.

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