charter schools: the long con

Here's another way I could make lots of money if I didn't have this pesky sense of ethics: start myself a charter school, take money from the educational system, hire unqualified teachers, and pay myself a handsome salary to run it all. And when the whole thing falls apart just declare the corporation bankrupt and move on.

The Con Artistry of Charter Schools

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

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“Originally, charter schools were conceived as a way to improve public education,” Buras says. “Over time, however, the charter school movement has developed into a money-making venture.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on class war and Ferguson

The unspeakable topic in American politics is the rot at the heart of the system: class inequity.

The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race (TIME.com)

And, unless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.

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The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. Fifty million voters is a powerful block if they ever organized in an effort to pursue their common economic goals. So, it’s crucial that those in the wealthiest One Percent keep the poor fractured...

One way to keep these 50 million fractured is through disinformation. PunditFact’s recent scorecard on network news concluded that at Fox and Fox News Channel, 60 percent of claims are false. At NBC and MSNBC, 46 percent of claims were deemed false. That’s the “news,” folks!...

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With each of these shootings/chokehold deaths/stand-your-ground atrocities, police and the judicial system are seen as enforcers of an unjust status quo. Our anger rises, and riots demanding justice ensue. The news channels interview everyone and pundits assign blame.

Then what?

MD judge orders torture of defendant

The normalization of electric-shock torture continues. It's so convenient, it rarely leaves marks, and its technological nature makes it feel so much more civilized than whips.

Maryland Judge Robert Nalley ordered officer to shock defendant in court

On Nalley’s order, the Charles County Sheriff’s Department officer pushed a button that administered an electric shock to Delvon L. King, 25, of Waldorf. King, who is not a lawyer, represented himself against gun charges.

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In the moments before Nalley ordered King to be shocked, the defendant did not threaten Nalley or anyone else, according to the court transcript. King did not make any threatening physical moves toward Nalley or anyone else, and did not attempt to flee, according to the defendant and his parents, Alexander and Doris King who were in the courtroom and witnessed the attack.

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Making a pro se defendant continue with jury selection and his trial the same day a court officer shocked him at the direction of a judge could affect the defendant’s right to a fair trial, said Rocah, of the ACLU.

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Even if the defendant had recovered physically, he might be affected psychologically, Rocah said. For instance, such a defendant might feel intimidated by the judge, the civil rights lawyer said.

Orwell on Hilter

George Orwell reviewed Mein Kampf:

Orwell's review of Mein Kampf (Boing Boing)

From March, 1940, a fascinating look at the development of Hitler's reputation in Germany and the UK, and the way that his publishers were forced to change the way they marketed his book.

"Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond
ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength,
knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,’’ Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation “Greatest happiness of the greatest number” is a good slogan, but at this moment “Better an end with horror than a horror without end” is a winner.

Ferguson, filtering, and net neutrality

Interesting point. When Facebook filters your feed, what news are you missing?

What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: — The Message — Medium (Medium)

But I’m not quite sure that without the neutral side of the Internet—the livestreams whose “packets” were fast as commercial, corporate and moneyed speech that travels on our networks, Twitter feeds which are not determined by an opaque corporate algorithms but my own choices,—we’d be having this conversation.

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But keep in mind, Ferguson is also a net neutrality issue. It’s also an algorithmic filtering issue. How the internet is run, governed and filtered is a human rights issue.

cops threaten reporters in Ferguson

Authoritarians can't stand to be watched.

Cops in Ferguson Threaten to Shoot Reporter, Mace Chris Hayes (Gawker)

Police in Ferguson were caught on camera Sunday night threatening to mace one reporter and shoot another. At least two other journalists also claim they were arrested while following police orders.

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In a confrontation caught on the KARG Arugus Radio livestream, a cop noticed Mustafa Hussein filming with his camera lights on—which police claim makes it hard for them to see—and confronted him, allegedly pointing a gun at him.

"Get down, get the fuck out of here and get that light off, or you're getting shot with this," the officer yells at Hussein.

Another journalist was reportedly shot with a beanbag.

Also threatened by police Sunday night was MSNBC's Chris Hayes, who was filming when police told him, "Media do not pass us, you're getting maced next time you pass us."

Missouri sends National Guard to Ferguson

And the clusterfuck continues. Imposition of Order = Escalation of Chaos.

Missouri governor sends National Guard to Ferguson (Yahoo News)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to Ferguson early Monday, hours after police used tear gas to clear protesters off the streets following a week of demonstrations against the fatal police shooting of a black Missouri teenager.

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As night fell in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street and authorities — who said they were responding to reports of gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails — pushed them back by repeatedly firing tear gas. The streets were empty well before a state-imposed curfew took effect at midnight.

Missouri state cops continue occupation-style repression in Ferguson

So much for hopes that taking the wretched scum of the local PD of the picture would help resolve the situation in Ferguson. Someone want to tell me what legal authority a state has to suspend Amendment I's right to assemble, to turn chemical weapons on people engaged in Constitutionally protected activity? I don't see any "after dark" exception in the Bill of Rights. Curfews are legally indefensible.

Police deploy tear gas to impose Ferguson curfew (Yahoo News)

The first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, Missouri, ended with tear gas and seven arrests, after police dressed in riot gear used armored vehicles to disperse defiant protesters who refused to leave a St. Louis suburb where a black, unarmed teen had been shot by a white police officer a week earlier.

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As officers put on gas masks, a chant from the distant crowd emerged: "We have the right to assemble peacefully."

A moment later, police began firing canisters into the crowd. Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later told The Associated Press they also used tear gas canisters.

"Obviously, we're trying to give them every opportunity to comply with the curfew," Hotz said.

Fukushima's biological effects

But hey, we'll get the next generation of fission reactors safe, really!

Fukushima's legacy (EurekAlert!)

...[S]cientists began gathering biological information only a few months after the disastrous meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan in 2011. Results of these studies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds.

A series of articles summarizing these studies has now been published in the Journal of Heredity. These describe widespread impacts, ranging from population declines to genetic damage to responses by the repair mechanisms that help organisms cope with radiation exposure.

Ferguson PD: wretched hive of scum and villainy

But the problem isn't just the local PD. "...[A] federal magistrate ruled that the apparent perjury about the “property damage” charges was too minor to constitute a violation of due process and that Davis’ injuries were de minimis—too minor to warrant a finding of excessive force. Never mind that a CAT scan taken after the incident confirmed that he had suffered a concussion."

More and more it appears there is no fix possible within the system as it exists now. Radical change to the system is required -- perhaps a re-thinking of the whole notion of police forces. Maybe Robert Peel's experiment was a failure, maybe a standing police force is as bad an idea as a standing army.

The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie (The Daily Beast)

The booking officer had no other reason to hold Davis, who ended up in Ferguson only because he missed the exit for St. Charles and then pulled off the highway because the rain was so heavy he could not see to drive. The cop who had pulled up behind him must have run his license plate and assumed he was that other Henry Davis....

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“He ran in and kicked me in the head,” Davis recalled. “I almost passed out at that point… Paramedics came… They said it was too much blood, I had to go to the hospital.”

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He was driven back to the jail, where he was held for several days before he posted $1,500 bond on four counts of “property damage.” Police Officer John Beaird had signed complaints swearing on pain of perjury that Davis had bled on his uniform and those of three fellow officers.

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