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Starry Messenger

Profile Information

Name: Decline to State
Gender: Female
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Home country: USA
Current location: Left Coast
Member since: Sat Apr 9, 2005, 08:01 PM
Number of posts: 32,339

About Me

Artist, high school teacher and "hard-liner" (yet to be defined).

Journal Archives

Eight Are Charged With Chilean Singer’s 1973 Murder After Military Coup (Victor Jara)


SANTIAGO, Chile — Eight retired army officers were charged on Friday with the murder of a popular songwriter and theater director, Víctor Jara, who was tortured and killed days after the 1973 military coup in a stadium that had been turned into a detention center.

Judge Miguel Vásquez charged two of the former officers, Pedro Barrientos and Hugo Sánchez, with committing the murder and six others as accomplices. Mr. Sánchez, a lieutenant colonel, was second in command at the stadium. Mr. Barrientos, a lieutenant from a Tejas Verdes army unit, currently lives in Deltona, a city southwest of Daytona Beach, Fla., and was interrogated by the F.B.I. earlier this year at the request of a Chilean court. Attempts to reach Mr. Barrientos for comment were unsuccessful; his two listed telephone numbers had been disconnected.

Judge Vásquez issued an international arrest warrant against Mr. Barrientos through Interpol Santiago and ordered the arrest of the other seven, who were in Chile. Those charged as accomplices are Roberto Souper, Raúl Jofré, Edwin Dimter, Nelson Hasse, Luis Bethke and Jorge Smith.

Víctor Jara, then 40, was a member of the Communist Party and a leading folk singer in the late 1960s and early ’70s. A day after the American-supported Sept. 11 coup that ousted the socialist president, Salvador Allende, Mr. Jara was arrested by the military at the Santiago Technical University, where he was a professor and researcher, along with hundreds of students, teachers and staff members.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Sat Dec 29, 2012, 05:56 PM (8 replies)

Time to repeal Taft-Hartley


It is one of those ironies of history that on December 10, 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that December 10th of each year is celebrated as "International Human Rights Day." Article 23 of that document says, among other things that "everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests."


During the Great Depression the labor movement, often led by communists and other militants, achieved great breakthroughs. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act (often called labor's Magna Carta), which ensured unions the right to organize and bargain collectively. Workers in every state undertook heroic struggles to gain a voice in determining the conditions of their employment. Millions of workers joined unions and won many hard-fought strikes.

The capitalists and their political minions did not sit idly by; they did not want their power and control over the workers diminished. After World War II, at a time when the percentage of workers with union cards reached an all-time high and militancy was on the rise, the right-wing in Congress struck back. Both houses passed the Taft-Hartley Act, and though President Harry S. Truman vetoed the bill, Congress over-rode the veto. The law's provisions struck right at the heart of labor unions.


Therefore, we can conclude that the Taft-Hartley Act is an outdated relic of the Cold War. Its provisions restrict the rights of unions and weaken them in their relations with the employers. Congress should repeal the law and replace it with legislation that guarantees organized workers the right to reinstate the closed or union shop through collective bargaining in any state. It would go a long way toward strengthening the labor movement. Such a goal should be a part of any fightback by workers against the ultra-right and its drive for unfettered power.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:42 PM (18 replies)

Starry's private school story--

An anecdote, so take it for what it's worth.

I spent the first three years of school in a public school that I loved, and then our family moved to another suburb across the county. The other public schools were high quality there too, but my dad had a client that went to an exclusive private Catholic school and it was decided that I would go there.

There began 6 years of bullying and meanness. The other families in the school were upper middle class, while my family was just middle middle. We all knew this, since the kids were aware of their family status and often compared notes, houses, cars, vacations. I was not darling, was nerdy and was soon isolated and teased.

The academics were mostly packets of assignments that you were expected to complete independently. For a self-starter who had begun in this system, I'm sure it worked great. As someone who had never been on that kind of program, it was a nightmare since I could never get organized or keep track of time. Also, the school had started cursive writing and pen writing a year previous, so I was made to feel stupid and was kept in every recess and lunch to practice. I wasn't allowed to turn in any homework until I mastered this, so I was nearly flunked out from the get go.

As a result I started to hate school and learning, and felt even more isolated and would just read books and not do my homework, which was copious. One teacher would call me dumb in the class and announce my (low) grades when my attention drifted.

Only one teacher in eighth grade finally started treating me like a human being and is probably the reason I'm not living in squat somewhere.

The first year of high school was the cherry on top--all girls and toney as fuck. If your parents didn't drive you up in a Caddy or better, you were considered a second-class citizen. In PE, one girl made it her mission to line-drive softballs right to my head, to express her opinion of my shitty skills as a catcher, since I'd never managed to master sports either. This went on every day while the teacher made no effort to intervene.

I had a group of three bullies who would shanghai me in the hallways, lurk by my locker, and planted fake drugs in my locker to try to get me in trouble. My mom made numerous trips to the principal to try to get some help--finally the principal just said that if I was unhappy, I should leave. Expelling three girls would cost them three tuitions, but my leaving would just cost them one. She actually said this.

I transferred to public school for the second year of high school and instantly made friends, some of whom are still dear friends today. I got involved in art, doing make-up for theater, and became editor of the literary journal by Senior year. I still had dry heaves every day before school for a year from the stress of ninth grade, but by the end of Junior year I finally got over that. I even joined a Rocky Horror cast with another school friend and made tons of new friends there too.

Now I teach at the public high school I went to, and still love the memories of the teachers there who helped me join the human race. Mr. H who stayed through many lunches to help me matte work for my college portfolio, Mr. P who helped me do extra credit to pass Chemistry and get into a State School, Ms. R who taught us to write college level papers using the rubric of Syracuse University, and so many more. The teachers who are there now are still awesome people who love and care for the students and work very hard to actually make sure no one gets left behind, even in an era of magically shrinking budgets.

One persons story. Thank you for reading.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Mon Dec 10, 2012, 04:08 PM (20 replies)

Paul Krugman rediscovers Marxism--what's next? Fire? The wheel?


Rise of the Robots


Robots mean that labor costs don’t matter much, so you might as well locate in advanced countries with large markets and good infrastructure (which may soon not include us, but that’s another issue). On the other hand, it’s not good news for workers!

This is an old concern in economics; it’s “capital-biased technological change”, which tends to shift the distribution of income away from workers to the owners of capital.


But the college premium hasn’t risen for a while. What has happened, on the other hand, is a notable shift in income away from labor:


I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons. It didn’t seem crucial back in the 1990s, and not enough people (me included!) have looked up to notice that things have changed. It has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism — which shouldn’t be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is. And it has really uncomfortable implications.

Gee, you think?
Posted by Starry Messenger | Sun Dec 9, 2012, 01:39 PM (79 replies)

Rise of the Robots

Or, Paul Krugman rediscovers fire and Marxism.



Robots mean that labor costs don’t matter much, so you might as well locate in advanced countries with large markets and good infrastructure (which may soon not include us, but that’s another issue). On the other hand, it’s not good news for workers!

This is an old concern in economics; it’s “capital-biased technological change”, which tends to shift the distribution of income away from workers to the owners of capital.

Twenty years ago, when I was writing about globalization and inequality, capital bias didn’t look like a big issue; the major changes in income distribution had been among workers (when you include hedge fund managers and CEOs among the workers), rather than between labor and capital. So the academic literature focused almost exclusively on “skill bias”, supposedly explaining the rising college premium.


I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons. It didn’t seem crucial back in the 1990s, and not enough people (me included!) have looked up to notice that things have changed. It has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism — which shouldn’t be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is. And it has really uncomfortable implications.

But I think we’d better start paying attention to those implications.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Sat Dec 8, 2012, 04:42 PM (11 replies)

Christina Hoff Sommers, MRA enabler and Radical Anti-Feminist in group tied to ALEC

In light of our current crop of "guests" out and about in greater DU, I thought I would google some of these same repetitive memes that anti-feminists write. It looks like a great deal of them have a main source, Christina Hoff Sommers--she's a self-proclaimed Libertarian, a Resident Scholar of AEI (American Enterprise Institute, a very right-wing think tank), and her themes may look familiar to people who have travelled in recent threads.

This will be a working research thread and I hope people will add more to highlight the sources of her anti-feminist and anti-progressive web, and also add debunking material.

"Sommers explicitly identifies herself as a "libertarian."[10] The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy categorizes Sommers' equity feminist views as classical liberal or libertarian and socially conservative.[11] Sommers has criticized how "conservative scholars have effectively been marginalized, silenced, and rendered invisible on most campuses."[12] In an article for the text book, Moral Soundings, Sommers makes the case for moral conservation and traditional values.[13]"


"Christina Hoff Sommers, a former philosophy professor who taught ethics, is probably best known for her critique of late-twentieth-century feminism. She is also known for her extensive writings, among them Who Stole Feminism? (Touchstone Books, 1995) and The War Against Boys (Touchstone Books, 2001). Her textbook, Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life, a bestseller in college ethics, is currently in its eighth edition. She recently edited The Science on Women and Science (AEI Press, 2009) and is preparing a second edition of The War Against Boys."

AEI has ties to ALEC: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Enterprise_Institute

Sommers thesis: Feminism is anti-male student and education is biased toward girl students.


The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men
Christina Hoff Sommers (Author)

Sommers thesis: The wage-gap is a myth

Wage Gap Myth Exposed -- By Feminists

Sommers thesis: Sexual violence against women is overstated

How the CDC is overstating sexual violence in the U.S.

Sommers' views touted by racist and anti-feminist mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik:


{He also quotes female anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers (pg. 339), an author and MRA whose book has been recommended reading for me from numerous MRAs I’ve interacted with.The fact that she is positively referred to by a mass murderer didn’t seem to bother them much}.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:18 PM (33 replies)

What does Socialism look like to you?

We often have conversations on what it is--but I'm interested more in what we imagine when we think of life in a socialist society.

For me, I picture life in the US with an expanded and more robust version of the WPA, with public programs to bring up living standards, full unionization with workers running the bulk of decision-making processes.

I see the arts and education fully funded, with opportunities that are not dependent on corporations wanting to make a buck on you and your skills. Children from all backgrounds would be able to go on as far with their education as they hope to.

The removal of privatized monopolies from our public resources, our living needs should not be dependent on whims of profit. Our news and airwaves would be expanded into more public programming.

I have a long list, but my last one for this entry would be the return of public space exploration. I'd rather not see capitalism move out into outer space.

Anyone else with a wish list?
Posted by Starry Messenger | Sun Nov 25, 2012, 05:44 PM (134 replies)

Good luck to everyone tomorrow--

I'm not much of a writer, but I just wanted to say how much I cherish the bonds and friendships I've made in this group over the last four years, between DU2 and DU3.

Talking to everyone about what is going on in education across the US in our respective areas has kept me sane(ish) and politically aware.

We've had some bruising battles in the last few years, and the triumphs seem few and far between sometimes--but it's great to know that there are so many great teachers out there, fighting for kids, public schooling, and keeping encroaching corporate influence out of our democratic school system.

I don't know what the outcome of our various political battle fronts will be tomorrow, but I just wanted to let you all know that it is this community especially that helps make the dark days a little clearer.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Tue Nov 6, 2012, 03:59 AM (5 replies)

Infographics on Yes on 30 and No on 32 for all to share

A friend of mine designed these for FB, Twitter, email, or what have you. Very nice looking and easy to understand! Please share!

Posted by Starry Messenger | Wed Oct 17, 2012, 04:30 PM (4 replies)

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard out by ‘mutual agreement’

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s premier hires, is out by “mutual agreement” with City Hall after just 17 months on the job, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Brizard was Emanuel’s pick to lead CPS and push through the mayor’s aggressive education agenda. But with the city’s first teachers strike in 25 years in the rear view mirror and a new contract to be implemented, Emanuel said it’s “time for a clean break.”

Brizard leaves his $250,000-a-year job to be permanently replaced with Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a former teacher, principal and Cleveland schools CEO who has been filling in as Chicago’s interim chief education officer for the past six months.

Byrd-Bennett, 62, played a pivotal role in negotiating an end to the strike — and upstaged Brizard in the process. Terms of Brizard’s exit were still being finalized, but are expected to include a full-year’s salary.

Read more: http://www.suntimes.com/15699019-761/chicago-public-schools-ceo-jean-claude-brizard-out-by-mutual-agreement.html
Posted by Starry Messenger | Thu Oct 11, 2012, 10:04 PM (7 replies)
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