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UNDERNEWS: August 10, 2011

UNDERNEWS: August 10, 2011

Since 1964, the news while there's still time to do something about it


Flotsam & Jetsam: Reacting to riots

Sam Smith

The day before Obama’s inauguration I was in the block next to my old office on Capitol Hill. There were two National Guardsman drinking coffee on the corner. I looked at them with a stroke of undeciphered déjà vu. Then I remembered. The last time I had seen two National Guardsman patrolling that block was over 40 years ago. . .in the wake of the 1968 riots.

At the time, I was editing a community newspaper in a neighborhood next to the Capitol where 25% of the labor force was either unemployed, earning less than $3000 a year or employed only part-time. Over half of all adults living in the east part of the neighborhood had eight years or less schooling. Over a quarter of the housing units in this same area were listed by the census as dilapidated or deteriorating.

There were more than a few in the neighborhood trying to make things better. In late 1967 I came up with the idea of pulling together the various leaders of Capitol East into an informal council with the possibility of forming a major neighborhood coalition. Fourteen people attended the first meeting on January 31, 1968: 7 white and 7 black. This group was making a little headway in helping white businesses become more responsive to the community’s problems, when all hell broke loose.

Two of the capital’s four major riot strips were in our neighborhood. In the vicinity of H Street and some 124 commercial establishments and 52 homes were damaged. Another 21 businesses were damaged on or near 8th Street.

Our house was five blocks from the H Street riot strip. Smoke flavored our living room as my wife and I watched what was happening on TV

My office was a few blocks further away, but the laundry in the next block was trashed and the Safeway supermarket up the street was looted a number of times.

So I know a bit about riots. And the reactions to them. I wrote later about ours:

“Reaction varied from the intense anger of many white merchants at the failure of police to shoot looters to the feeling on the part of some community leaders that a new opportunity had been created to correct old economic and social wrongs.

“During the riots, black mayor Walter Washington had been called to the office of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, where he was told to start shooting looters. Washington refused, saying that ‘you can replace material goods, but you can't replace human beings.’ Hoover then said, ‘Well, this conversation is over.’ Replied Washington, ‘That's all right, I was leaving anyway.’"

Today, I know the riots did some good, some bad and left much right where it had been. I would write that fall, “The Republicans have nominated Richard Nixon for president. The Democrats have nominated Hubert Humphrey for president. The reading scores of Capitol East schools are lower than ever. Some 9th Precinct patrolmen don't want to ride in integrated scout cars. Some white DC fireman don't want to use the same breathing apparatus as black firemen. Congress has passed, and the President has signed a bill ordering the District to complete a freeway program overwhelmingly opposed by the people of the city. DC Transit wants another fare hike and the transit commission says there's nothing it can do about it.”

One could argue that the riots helped bring the capital colony its first elected government in a century and one could argue that it helped put Richard Nixon in the White House. One thing we know: it took nearly four decades for the H Street riot strip to make it to the planners’ and the media’s economic score card – and it did, as typically the case, through ethnic displacement with benefits going to those doing the replacement.

After the riots I had argued for a five year suspension of property taxes in damaged areas to bring backs residents and businesses. Of course, it didn’t happen then. . . and when, years later, the idea cropped up as something called a TIF, it applied only to convention centers, sports stadiums and similar corporate icons.

In 2006 I wrote, “A few years ago, white America decided it wanted the cities back again. H Street leaped from despair to displacement without ever stopping for a dream. Now you can't even install the car part you just bought in the Auto Zone's parking lot without someone calling the cops. Someone who doesn't understand that the city isn't only theirs. Someone who doesn't understand that there are people with as much right as they to live near H Street but who would rather go to Cluck-U Chicken than Starbucks.”

Following the riots in Britain, memories poured back. As did the realization that much that was being said about them made no sense at all. Such as politicians responsible for the conditions that led to the riots pompously condemning the outbreak. Or a glib news anchor asking someone, “Well do you condone the riots?”

It has nothing to do with condemning or condoning.

One way to think about riots is that they are like the cancer that results from things like too much smoking or too many pesticides. You don’t condemn or condone cancer; you try to deal with it. And the things that cause it.

If we handled health problems the way we handle politics and economics, most of us would be dead right now.

Rather than pontificating, this is also a good time to listen. To things like that reported by Martin Fletcher for NBC:

|||| A Londoner [was] asked by a television reporter: Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

The TV reporter from Britain's ITV had no response. So the young man pressed his advantage. "Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere. ||||

And, finally, bear in mind: what you don’t do in decency, you may pay for in anger.

Study finds taxes not a big factor in migration

Robert Frank, Wall Street Journal - A study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that “the effects of tax increases on migration are, at most, small¬so small that states that raise income taxes on the most affluent households can be assured of a substantial net gain in revenue.”

Here are the main findings:

Tax Migration is not common: “On average, just 1.7 percent of U.S. residents moved from one state to another per year between 2001 and 2010, and only about 30 percent of those born in the United States change their state of residence over the course of their entire lifetime,” the study said. “When people do relocate, a large body of scholarly evidence shows that they do so primarily for new jobs, cheaper housing, or a better climate. A person’s age, education, marital status, and a host of other factors also affect decisions about moving.”

The Rich Are Not So Different: After New Jersey hiked rates on incomes over $500,000, the net out-migration of this income group accelerated. But the net out-migration rate of filers with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000 was the same. At most, 70 tax filers earning more than $500,000 might have left New Jersey between 2004 and 2007 because of the tax increase, costing the state an estimated $16.4 million in tax revenue. That compares with a revenue gain of $3.77 billion over the same period.

Weather Matters More than Taxes. Rich retirees are presumably the most mobile income group, since they’re not tied down by jobs and they can live where they please. But the study looked at rich flight from Oregon and found that weather, and a high concentration of other wealthy retirees “is much larger than the impact of the tax variable.” In other words, what rich people want is a sunny place with lots of golf partners–while taxes may be secondary.

Internet Sightings:

The Conde Nast elevator tweet

Conde Elevator Girl #1: She's making me run a million errands this afternoon. Girl #2: Oooh, will you bring me an iced coffee on your way back?

When I interned there, I heard lady on the phone: I’m sorry you’re in the hospital, but I really need those photos.

Conde Elevator Girl #1: There should be an elevator that only goes to Vogue. Just up to the 12th floor and back down. Girl #2: totally.

[Guy walks into elevator wearing "Legalize Gay" t-shirt] Teen Voguer: That shirt is so two months ago.

Conde Elevator Girl #1: I love that necklace, I saw it at Banana last week and almost bought it too. Girl #2: [flips hair] This is Gucci.

Elevator Blazer #1: Whatcha reading? Blazer #2: Gaddis. You? Blazer #1: Same, actually.

Conde Elevator Girl: Omigod what happened to your knee?! Fashion boy: Oh god, I fell dancing! Girl: Omigod it's like you came back from the war.

Conde Elevator Suited male #1: (presses 9, nods) "Dude." Suited male #2: (presses 9 simultaneously, nods) "Bro."

Conde Elevator Girl 1: Oh man, I'm so tired, I was at the Rangers game late last night… Girl 2: Wait, really? Me too. Which one do YOU date?

Conde Elevator Male editor: "There's got to be a way to make a pun on tumescence in the hed."

Conde Elevator Woman #1 to Woman #2, holding an omelet: "What's the occasion?" Woman #2: "...huh?" Woman #1: "I would need an occasion to eat that."

An easy way to cut budgets: stop sending to many people to prison

Paul Krassner on the brink of 80

Paul Krassner was, among a ton of other things, a contributor to the now deceased print version of the Progressive Review

Michel Signam, Huffington Post- There's irony in the fact that Paul Krassner sees "increasing insanity" in our current politics and culture. The 1960s activist whom the FBI once tagged "a raving, unconfined nut," told me recently that "insanity is evolving along with everything else."

And yet? "And yet I'm still optimistic that compassion is on the rise," he says. "Or is that just wishful thinking? As singer-songwriter Harry Chapin once told me backstage at a benefit, 'If we don't act like there's hope, there is no hope.' Maybe that's only a placebo, but placebos do work."
It's hard to believe that that man will turn 80 next year.

The founder and editor of the groundbreaking journal The Realist says he feels 23. He's publishing a new, expanded edition of his 1993 autobiography Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counter-Culture.

He's also writing lots of magazine articles, updating his website, publishing every issue of The Realist online and, in his spare time, maintaining what he calls his "cottage industry"-- peddling a digitally colored edition of the infamous "Disneyland Memorial Orgy" parody, created by Mad magazine artist Wally Wood and first published in 1967 as a centerspread in The Realist. This may look tame today, but that's owing in part to Krassner, who relentlessly pushed the cultural envelope.

Krassner is something of a Zelig of the left, except he wasn't just there, he was a key player. He co-founded the Yippies with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, and took LSD with Ram Dass, Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary -- Leary let him listen in on a call from a Wall Street broker thanking him for turning him onto acid "because it gave him the courage to sell short." He accompanied Groucho Marx on his first acid trip and later named the protagonist of his first novel Kevin "Schmucko" Marx.

He edited Lenny Bruce's autobiography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. He was a musical prodigy who debuted at Carnegie Hall at age 6, a stand-up comic who recorded comedy albums and a radio host. He's written many books and thousands of articles in newspapers and magazines too numerous to mention.

Paul Krassner, LA Times - In 1967, Abbie Hoffman, his wife Anita and I took a work-vacation in Florida, renting a little house on stilts in Ramrod Key. We had planned to see "The Professionals." "That's my favorite movie," Abbie said. "Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin develop this tight bond while they're both fighting in the Mexican revolution, then they drift apart." But it was playing too far away, and a hurricane was brewing, so instead we saw the Dino Di Laurentiis version of "The Bible."

Driving home in the rain and wind, we debated the implications of Abraham being prepared to slay his son because God told him to. I dismissed this as blind obedience. Abbie praised it as revolutionary trust. This was the week before Christmas. We had bought a small tree and spray-painted it with canned snow. Now, we were tripping on LSD as the hurricane reached full force. "Hey," Abbie yelled over the roar, "this is powerful [bleepin'] acid!"

We watched Lyndon Johnson on a black-and-white TV set, although LBJ was purple-and-orange. His huge head was sculpted into Mount Rushmore. "I am not going to be so pudding-headed as to stop our half of the war," he was saying, and the heads of the other presidents were all snickering to themselves and covering their mouths with their hands so they wouldn't laugh out loud.

This was the precise moment we acknowledged that we'd be going to the Democratic convention in August to protest the Vietnam war. I called Jerry Rubin in New York to arrange for a meeting. On the afternoon of December 31, several activist friends gathered at the Hoffmans' Lower East Side apartment, smoking Colombian marijuana and planning for Chicago.

Our fantasy was to counter the convention of death with a festival of life. While the Democrats would present politicians giving speeches at the convention center, we would present rock bands playing in the park. There would be booths with information about drugs and alternatives to the draft. We sought to utilize the media as an organizing tool, but we needed a name so that journalists could have a "who" for their "who-what-when-where-and-why" lead paragraph. . .

I came up with Yippie as a label for a phenomenon that already existed, an organic coalition of psychedelic hippies and political activists. In the process of cross-fertilization at antiwar demonstrations, we had come to share an awareness that there was a linear connection between putting kids in prison for smoking pot in this country and burning them to death with napalm on the other side of the planet. It was the ultimate extension of dehumanization. And so we held a press conference.

A reporter asked me, "What happens to the Yippies when the Vietnam war ends?" I replied, "We'll do what the March of Dimes did when a cure for polio was discovered; we'll just switch to birth defects." But our nefarious scheme worked. The headline in the Chicago Sun-Times read, "Yipes! The Yippies Are Coming!" What would later happen at the convention led to the infamous trial for crossing state lines to foment riot. . .

Workers rebel against Verizon

Socialist Worker – Some 45,000 workers at Verizon are on strike across the Northeast, from Massachusetts to Virginia, in one of the largest labor actions in years. Union members are taking a stand against a company that, despite huge profits, is demanding ever more concessions from workers.

The telecommunications giant is attempting to strip its employees of benefits the union workforce has successfully fought for over the years, including the imposition of 25 percent of health care costs onto workers who have paid nothing until now; the elimination of traditional pensions; and the weakening of job security.

"It's not just about us," said Chris Germershausen, a member of CWA Local 1101 who was on the picket line at Verizon's headquarters in downtown Manhattan. "If they get us to give in, they'll go after construction workers next, iron workers, everybody. Corporations will run everything. We can't let that happen."

Verizon is in no position to cry poverty. Verizon's top five executives collected a combined $258 million in salaries, bonuses and stock options over the last four years, during which time the company made nearly $20 billion--$10 billion in 2010 alone. This year, Verizon received a federal tax rebate of $1.3 billion. That's after a $1.5 billion federal bailout in 2008.

House Republicans kill 200 year old page program

Democrats come up short in Wisconsin recall

The crash of No Child Left Behind

Jim Broadway, State School News Service - It was launched in 2002 like a jumbo jet with no landing gear. The federal No Child Left Behind policy was bound to crash.

So now it is coming down. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan confirmed last week that states soon will be able to seek "waivers" from the requirements of the nation’s disastrous experiment with public education. Details are to come in September.

If you can't prevent a crash, it's best to look away.

NCLB requires that every child in America become "proficient" in math and reading by 2014 or their schools would face severe sanctions. The ramp of Adequate Yearly Progress, which measures a district's progress, grows steeper each year.

How have the districts of Illinois done, AYP-wise? By 2006, more than one in five had fallen off track. By 2010 more than 64% -- nearly two-thirds -- failed to meet the federal requirements. Bad as it sounds, this performance is typical among the states.

By 2014, therefore, most school districts in Illinois -- in the entire country -- could face the ultimate NCLB sanction: dissolution. The law is a political, not an educational, invention. Its fundamental premise is so flawed it has resisted reauthorization.

Congress hates to "start all over." That would be to admit a major mistake. Powerful policymakers and huge corporations, especially the testing industry, are invested heavily in NCLB and have much to lose. NCLB has resisted the overhaul most say it needs.

So it will slowly be waivered into oblivion.

Some real standardized test data Arne Duncan doesn't reveal

Nancy Creech, Washington Post - Have you ever given young children a standardized test?

Kindergartners are 4 to 5 years old and this is what happens: Some of them cry. Some get stomach aches. Many of them, all of a sudden when instructions are being explained, have to go to the bathroom or get a tissue. Some draw all over the paper. They talk. They shout out answers, as they have been taught to care for one another and help one another.

I now have to give a total of more than 27,000 check marks or grades for my class of 25 students per year. This is not counting the stars, stickers or smiley faces I put on their work each day.

Here are the assessments I am mandated by my district to administer (with check marks or grades in bold). Most of these take only a minute or two to administer, but they add up quickly.

The first is our Michigan Literacy Progress Profile (MLPP) assessed 4 times per year with the results written on a check sheet.

26 letters

26 sounds

28 letters (two forms of 'a' and 'g')

Concepts of print -- 22 questions

Rhyme supply and identification -- 16
118 check marks x 4 times per year = 472 x 25 children = 12,300

Scores from MLPP are placed on Data Director, a computer program to manage data for educators.

Total letters

Total sounds

Total concepts

Total rhyme

Total rhyme supply

5 x 25 kids = 125 marks x 4 times per year = 500

Number of boxes to be checked on report card.

150 x 25 = 3,750 marks x 3 times per year = 11,250

District Math 15 questions. Color in bubbles for 25 children = 375 x 3 times per year = 1,125

(There is no consistency in the administration of this test at all. Some teachers give it whole group, some small group, some individually. Children answer the same question different ways depending on the day.)

Put math scores in Data Director. These can be scanned in and we are expected to do this ourselves.

15 scores x 25 children x 3 times per year = 1,125

Writing-Data Director

4 point rubric + total + score = 6

6 marks x 25 = 150 marks 3 x per year = 450

6 scores on rubric sheet = 450

2 scores on paper x 25 children x 4 times per year = 100

Scores recorded in grade book x 3 times per year x 25 kids.








Counting to 100

Matches quantity to written number.

9 x 25 students = 225 x 3 times per year = 675

It is also expected that all kindergartners be given the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) as they begin to read. Sometimes determining the level at which to assess requires that 2 or 3 reading samples be attempted. A level is to be recorded as well as a fluency and comprehension rubric number. 25 x 3 = 75

Children's levels are also supposed to be recorded on the report card, adding 25 more marks. We are also supposed to analyze the DRAs to see if the children are using the syntactic, semantic, graphophonemic or pragmatic cueing systems.

Total Check marks or scores given per teacher in a class of 25 students equals = 27,575

This is not counting the time it takes to listen to each child retell a story three times a year, nor listen to them count to 100. It also doesn't include checking in and correcting homework.

This is how it works out. If, on average, I have the children 5 hours per day (on days we have a prep and lunch), times 180 days, we have the students 54,000 minutes per year. Recording more than 27,500 scores and checks in a year, we would be doing a check mark every two minutes of every hour of every day for district required assessments. When do we have time for a word of encouragement? When do we have time to give a sticker or a smiley face? When do we go to the bathroom? When do we teach?


When the recession began there were many wise words about having learnt the lessons of both the Great Depression and Japan’s long malaise. Now we know we didn’t learn a thing. Our stimulus was too weak, too short and not well designed. The banks weren’t forced to return to lending. Our leaders tried papering over the economy’s weaknesses – perhaps out of fear that if we were honest about them, already fragile confidence would erode. But that was a gamble we have now lost. Now the scale of the problem is apparent, a new confidence has emerged: confidence that matters will get worse, whatever action we take. A long malaise now seems like the optimistic scenario. - Joseph Stiglitz, Financial Times

Where the action is. . .

The first Democracy Convention will house at least nine conferences under one roof. The purpose is to "strengthen democracy where it matters most -- in our communities, our schools, our workplaces and local economies, our military, our government, our media, our constitution," and to unite pro-democracy efforts in all areas of American life, "in a common, deeply rooted, broad based, movement for democracy." Toe held in Madison, Wisconsin, August 24-28

45,000 Verizon workers are on strike

Major protest planned for Washington in October

October 2011 organization

Race to the Bottom

America's leading bottom crawlers

Ranked on the recent frequency and intensity of actions or comments that are rotten, unconstitutional, or stupid. State listings are also based on national ratings in various categories. Rising failures are listed in red.




Pocket paradigms

Every act in the face of wrong carries twin responsibilities: to end the evil and to avoid replacing it with another. This twin burden is analogous to what a doctor confronts when attempting to cure a disease. There is even a name for medical failure in such cases; the resulting illness is called iatrogenic - caused by the physician. In politics, however, we have been taught to believe that simply having good intentions and an evil foe are sufficient. - Sam Smith

If you think the Michele Bachman Newsweek cover was bad. . . .

Daily Beast - The straight-ahead shot of Michele Bachmann on the cover of this week's Newsweek, taken by freelance photographer Chris Buck in a Washington, D.C., hotel room, “raises eyebrows,” according to The Huffington Post. “There’s no denying that Bachmann firmly believes what she believes. Some might think she’s crazy because of it. Cover photos like this one help to cement that image,” wrote The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. “It’s sexist,” NOW president Terry O’Neill told The Daily Caller. “Casting her in that expression and then adding ‘The Queen of Rage’ I think [it is]. Gloria Steinem has a very simple test: If this were done to a man or would it ever be done to a man¬has it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man.” (Steinem was actually featured in the same issue of Newsweek). Said Newsweek editor in chief Tina Brown in a statement, “Michele Bachmann’s intensity is galvanizing voters in Iowa right now and Newsweek’s cover captures that." Many of the photographs taken for the feature showed Bachmann with similar intensity. Here are more images from the shoot, including some used inside the magazine, showing Bachmann in the nation’s capital and on the trail in Iowa.

Word: Obama's future life

James Galbraith, Common Dreams - The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive – he is not what Americans still call a “liberal.” He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result.

What Barack Obama got from the debt deal was exactly what his sponsors have wanted: a long-term lock-in of domestic spending cuts, and a path toward severe cuts in the core New Deal and Great Society insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And, of course, no tax increases at all...

The debt ceiling is a unique American law – no other country has one – a little travesty of democratic bad faith. It was first enacted in 1917, to allow congressmen to hoodwink the rubes back home even as they voted for a large issue of Liberty Bonds to finance the Great War.

It has been a vehicle for posturing ever since – but that it would be raised has never been in doubt. (Even this time the markets never showed the slightest worry.) It became a vehicle for blackmail because it was convenient. It was convenient, because Obama failed to insist it be his price for agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts last December. Whether that omission was accidental or calculated at the time is, for the moment, unknown....

For European observers, one key to understanding how such things can happen in America is to remember that our presidencies are short. The professors who joined Obama for his opening act have already gone home. The advisers who remain face dreary futures in think-tanks funded by the likes of Michael Milken, our premier financial ex-felon.

Maybe, if they are especially loyal to their true masters, then like the former budget director Peter Orszag they can go to work for a bank. This surely accounts in part for their present actions.

And the President too is a young man. Unlike say Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter, when his term ends he won't be able simply to go home. He'll need a big house in a gated suburb, with high walls and rich friends. And a good income, too, from book deals and lecture fees. He may be thinking about that now.

The good news is: it won't save him. For if and when he ventures out, for the rest of his life, the eyes of all those, whose hopes he once raised will follow him. The old, the poor, the jobless, the homeless: their eyes will follow him wherever he goes.

The stuff TSA steals from passengers being sold as surplus

Natural News - If you have ever wondered what happens to the countless barrels of personal items that the US Transportation Security Administration confiscates/steals from air travelers every single day, you might be surprised to know that state governments are now reselling these supposedly "dangerous" items in government surplus stores for extra revenue.

According to a recent article in the Austin American-Statesman, Texas state surplus stores are reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue every year for the state by selling travelers' "legally" stolen goods.

Formerly reserved for legitimate surplus items, state surplus stores in Texas are making a killing on the thousands of new "security threat" items being stolen by the TSA, which is, of course, the result of artificially-generated government paranoia. So harmless personal items like snow globes, for instance, are now in great supply at the surplus stores because they contain more than the three ounces of liquid permitted by the TSA.

According to the Statesman, a worker at a Texas surplus shop said, concerning how the items were obtained, "We say willfully surrendered."

Some Michelle Rhee test scores

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post - As the D.C. schools reform effort launched in 2007 by former chancellor Michelle Rhee enters its fifth year, newly released test scores (Rhee’s chosen measure of progress in closing the achievement gap) still show huge gaps between schools in the city’s poorest and wealthiest neighborhoods.

In this story about the continuing achievement gap, my colleague Bill Turque wrote that children in the poorest schools (in Ward 7 and 8) trailed students in the wealthiest (in Ward 3) in reading and math pass rates from 41 to 56 percentage points on this year’s D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System exams (which are given annually to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10).

Though were small signs of forward movement, Turque wrote, the test results show that “students in schools east of the Anacostia River ¬ who represent nearly a third of the city’s traditional public school enrollment ¬ have yet to be lifted” by the reforms that started when Rhee became chancellor in 2007 and continued even after she left the job last October and her deputy, Kaya Henderson, took over.

In a key finding, only 28 percent of students in Ward 8 elementary schools, read at proficiency level or better -- down about 2 percentage points from 2010 and almost identical to the pass rate in 2007, when then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty won control of the public schools. The pass rate this year in Ward 3 elementary schools was 84 percent.

In Ward 7, elementary reading pass rates, which had jumped more than 10 points in 2008 from the year before, declined this year for the third straight year, trailing Ward 3’s by 51 points.

[Rhee] chose to make teachers wholly responsible for a student’s academic progress and ignore the outside factors that can affect a child’s school performance. Over and over she accused people who raised the issue of how living in poverty affects a child’s academic progress of being defeatist and using that as an “excuse” for keeping bad teachers in classrooms.

AIG sues Bank of America for mortgage fraud

Reuters - Bank of America Corp shares plunged more than 20 percent, capping a three-day rout in which the largest U.S. bank lost nearly one-third of its market value.

Monday's decline was triggered by a $10 billion lawsuit from American International Group Inc alleging a "massive" mortgage fraud.

The action raised new concerns about burgeoning losses related to the bank's $2.5 billion purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp in 2008 and prompted questions about the stability of the bank's management team.

Bank of America spokesman Jerry Dubrowski countered that the bank has adequate reserves to buy back mortgages if necessary and is comfortable with its strategic plan.

The bright side of the news

There are a number of kids who walk or ride their bikes through north Minneapolis who do not get shot - Minneapolis police spokesman Steve McCarty

Navy Seals did die in vain

Ray McGovern, Common Dreams -Many of those preaching at American church services Sunday extolled as “heroes” the 30 American and 8 Afghan troops killed Saturday west of Kabul, when a helicopter on a night mission crashed, apparently after taking fire from Taliban forces. This week, the Fawning Corporate Media can be expected to beat a steady drumbeat of “they shall not have died in vain.”

But they did. I know it is a hard truth, but they did die in vain.

As in the past, churches across the country will keep praising the fallen troops for protecting “our way of life,” and few can demur, given the tragic circumstances.

But, sadly, such accolades are, at best, misguided ¬ at worst, dishonest. Most preachers do not have a clue as to what U.S. forces are doing in Afghanistan and why. Many prefer not to think about it. There are some who do know better, but virtually all in that category eventually opt to punt.

Should we fault the preachers as they reach for words designed to give comfort to those in their congregations mourning the deaths of so many young troops? As hard as it might seem, I believe we can do no other than fault ¬ and confront ¬ them. However well meaning their intentions, their negligence and timidity in confronting basic war issues merely help to perpetuate unnecessary killing. It is high time to hold preachers accountable.

Many preachers are alert and open enough to see through the propaganda for perpetual war. But most will not take the risk of offending their flock with unpalatable truth. Better not to risk protests from the super-patriots ¬ many of them with deep pockets ¬ in the pews. And better to avoid, at all costs, offending the loved ones of those who have been killed ¬ loved ones who can hardly be faulted for trying desperately to find some meaning in the snuffing out of young lives.

Pocket paradigms

The words revolution and rebellion attract unjust opprobrium. After all, much of what we identify as peculiarly American is ours by grace of our predecessors' willingness to revolt in the most militant fashion, and their imperfect vision has been improved by a long series of rebellions ranging from the cerebral to the bloody. There is not an American alive who has not been made better by revolution and rebellion. In fact, the terms sit close to what it means to human, since it is our species that has developed the capacity to dramatically change, for better or worse, its own course without waiting on evolution. No other creature has ever imagined a possibility as optimistic as democracy or as devastating as a nuclear explosion, let alone brought them to fruition..- Sam Smith

Turns out the U.S, has guaranteed Israeli bonds

Market Watch -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Monday lowered the ratings on U.S.-guaranteed bonds issued by the Israeli government to AA+ from AAA. The downgrade comes in the wake of the ratings agency's move on Friday to strip the U.S. of its triple-A rating. However, Israel's sovereign rating is unchanged at A with a stable outlook. The decision affects about $6 billion in debt.

Obama supplies top level access to film makers producing Bin Laden movie to be released one month before the election

Maureen Dowd - The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of Bin Laden to counter Obama's growing reputation as ineffectual. The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made "The Hurt Locker" will no doubt reflect the president's cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 -- perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.

The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration.

It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president's image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently -- to the surprise of some military officers -- at a C.I.A. ceremony celebrating the hero Seals.

Furthermore. . .

Test score cheating roundup

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post - Buried in the job stats was a number - 193,000 - that dwarfed all the rest. That is the number of workers who left the job market. If 193,000 left and only 117,000 jobs were added, we lost 76,000 jobs.

Scores of pastors in Iowa pretend they're not speaking for their churches in endorising Michele Bachmann.

81 members of Congress, during one of our worst moments in our history, will be vacationing in Israel in a trip manipulated by AIPAC.

When he was Tezas agriculture commissioner, Rick Perry received over $9,000 in federal funds to let his farm lie fallow.

If for some reason you want to keep your wireless network
open but don't want unauthorized users connecting to your Wi-Fi, Digital Inspiration offers an ingenious tip: rename your network something most people will not likely connect to, like c:\virus.exe.

Odetta sings about that bourgeois town, Washington DC

I guarantee you the EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off and they will only be about conservation. It will be a new day and a new sheriff in Washington, D.C. - Michele Bachmann

A 2010 poll found that 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 41 percent of military veterans, 43 percent of unemployment recipients, 40 percent of Medicare recipients, 43 percent of college Pell Grant recipients and 27 percent of welfare recipients all said they had never used a government social program.


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