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Posts Tagged ‘politics

Sending veteran officers to crime hotspots – What does the shift by NY’s top cop say about Teach For America

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Raise your hand if you think rookies fresh from Police Academy should be sent to crime-ridden neighborhoods, instead of local precincts where they are partnered with mentors.

Amazingly, this has been a decade-long policy under the Bloomberg administration in New York City. In what the New York Times calls a “fundamental” shift, the new Police Commissioner William Bratton announces that first-year officers will be assigned to local precincts to learn from more experienced officers. Mr. Bratton hopes that the change will also prevent inflaming tensions in those communities due to inexperience and perhaps heavy-handiness from inexperienced cops.

How does this contrast with programs like Teach for America? Consider:

  • TFA and similar programs promotes heavily on college campuses and canvasses exclusively among people with no teaching experiences;
  • New members are sent into the most high-need and desperate schools and communities where more experienced and successful practitioners are not available
  • These new teachers receive virtually no mentoring through the two-year program (no one is paid to observe the new teachers on a daily or even weekly basis to provide specific supports)

As TFA continues to thrive on tens of millions of dollars of contributions from the Walton family alone, they purport to be the solution to the educational needs of students in the most impoverished and troubled states, such as Louisiana. With a new $100 million endowment and $350 million in assets, TFA is here to stay and will continue to grow. Real teachers and students and suffer under its relentless expansion and legislative captures.

Written by Gnostradamus

Sat, 2/1/14 at 1918

Papering over a Reactionary Supreme Court

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To the shock of most commentators, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court yesterday to uphold almost the entire Affordable Care Act. Had he not done so, the Court’s historically low public confidence of 25% would have plummeted even further. Many pundits claim that Roberts saved the Court from becoming an overtly partisan operator, but it seems to have escaped almost everyone that four of the nine Justices threw away their legal training and attempted to axe the entire health care reform because they dislike, perhaps on a political level more than anything else, President Obama’s policy.

In the past, the Court has struck down laws in their entirely only when the essence is unconstitutional. While the individual mandate was a prominent part of the ACA, it was only a means to fund it, a tool of implementation. Without it, the reforms could still be carried out. Yet the Court was about to throw everything back at Obama; it was as if they would tear up the entire criminal code because one sentence for criminals was excessive.

The ACA is a set of reforms that illustrate the schizophrenic politics of many Americans. Most of its parts are strongly supported by the majority of Americans, who nevertheless want to see the totality destroyed. At least they do so on largely political grounds. Four of the five conservatives on the Court are no better, and probably far worse, judging from their latest opinions.

Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 6/29/12 at 0913

Occupy – Too Little, Too Late

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As the Occupy movement fizzles out after violent and coordinated crackdowns by police departments and the federal government across the country, inquests will begin on what led to its demise. Was it the lack of specific demands? Or the absence of a leadership team? Perhaps the opponents are too powerful and stacked with too much wealth.

Ultimately, the movement failed because it was too little, too late. The most frequent complaint–the lack of concrete demands–was only a symptom of the absence of consensus about the problem facing this country and possible solutions. It may be difficult to remember, but three years ago, there was such a consensus.

In hindsight, Occupy should have launched three years ago, as the collapse of Lehman Brothers drove the nail in the coffin of neoconservative economics – or so it seemed. Reagan-Bush policies, based on money transfers to the rich, had been abandoned by Democrats and most independents, and even some Republicans.

Unfortunately, those people chose to put their faith in politicians led by Barack Obama, who rode anti-Wall Street sentiments to the White House. Then they waited, and waited. When the AIG scandal broke (executives were discovered pocketing huge bonuses for fixing the mess), Congress was about to pass a law to claw back the taxpayer money. That was when Obama and his Wall Street team struck back. Led by Lawrence Summers and Tim Geithner, the administration killed the budding effort. They argued that contracts are sacrosanct (of course, that doesn’t apply to the likes of auto workers), as Fox News launched a full-fledged campaign called Tea Party.

History may still remember the economic collapse as Bush-era events, but most Americans now link Obama to the malaise. Government is now again seen as the main problem, not the financial robber barons. The average Joe, therefore, did not join OWS and raised hardly a voice as the movement was violent ejected from parks and minds.

Written by Gnostradamus

Sat, 12/3/11 at 1617

Posted in politics

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AP headline: Libyan claims rape by soldiers, is dragged away [Updated]

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Here’s a horrific story about a Libyan woman who barged into a hotel where foreign journalists were having breakfast, to tell the tale of being kidnapped and gang-raped by government forces. Journalists who tried to prevent her from being forcibly taken away by government “minders” were assaulted.

Let the record state that Republicans, conservatives, etc, were largely opposed to intervening in Libya and fighting the bloodthirsty Qadhafi.

Update: The Guardian’s posted a video clip of the incident.

Written by Gnostradamus

Sat, 3/26/11 at 1222

Political Prisoners: Coming to a state near you

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The Wisconsin State Senate has authorized the arrest of the Wisconsin 14, who are self-exiled from their home state to prevent the destruction of labor unions in the state and across the country. Whatever one thinks of unions or these legislators, the right to withhold participation in government is a fundamental right of a democracy.

But the Republican Party, along with the Tea Party and their corporate supporters, have now criminalized that right. If any of the Democratic holdouts return, they will be arrested and become perhaps the first overt political prisoners of modern-day America.

And yet, the national Democratic Party has stayed silent. Now that Ohio has fallen into red hands, it will lose the presidential election in 2016, if not earlier. Soon, it will be the national legislators’ turn to be threatened with arrest. But do they care? Perhaps they will have officially switched parties by then.

The irony overflows. If government is an evil, then shut it down. Instead, Republican and Tea Party have chosen to resort to anything imaginable, including locking up political opponents, to keep the government running. Talk about Big Brother–it’s more like Big Brother in Jail.

In case you missed it, political opponents can now be made into political prisoners. Welcome to Fascist USA.

Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 3/4/11 at 0636

Ohio has fallen. Wisconsin is next.

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The Ohio state senate has voted to ban strikes by public workers and to establish penalties for those who walk out. Unionized workers can negotiate wages, hours, and certain work conditions, but not health care, sick time, or pension benefits. The bill passed despite the opposition of six Republicans. The bill is not yet law, but that is just a formality: the state house is even more heavily Republican, and the GOP governor is a strong advocate of the bill. Ohio has officially fallen into the red column for the foreseeable future.

As I explained in my previous blog, this fight is labor’s last stand, yet unions have not pulled out all their stops. And the national Democratic Party has practically stood down.

Also today came news that the self-exiled state senators from Wisconsin may be forced to return. The future is very grim.

Written by Gnostradamus

Wed, 3/2/11 at 2119

Last chance to organize – Will this be unions’ final or finest hour?

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Union density and supportScott Walker made clear during the fake Koch phone call his plan to destroy labor unions: drag out the stand-off, tire out the media attention, and be the last one standing. While unions and progressive groups have wakened to the gravity of the situation, they have been unable to gain traction outside their core constituents. According to MoveOn.org’s email Sunday night, 50 thousand people went out to the streets nationwide in capitals across 50 states over the weekend. Yet there remain more than 300 million people in the country. Walker is right: the longer the fight goes on, the weaker his opposition will become. Supporters of unions and workers must expand quickly the war on workers beyond members’ right to collective bargaining, into a genuine movement to reorganize the working class in this country.

[Please see the list of brands that in effect fund the other side in Wisconsin, Ohio, and beyond. Thanks Sandra.]

The right’s audacity comes from decades of union decline, from a high in the 1950s when a third of Americans belonged to unions. The latest figures show more than 93% of private-sector workforce are non-union, and so are 88% in government agencies. That most Americans still oppose the Midwest governor is a fortunate blessing.

Many people (not just Tea Party animals) are asking: “Why should union members have health care when I don’t? Why should they have pensions when my employer took away mine? Why should they health care when I can’t afford treatments after having a heart attack?”

The truth is, neither public employees nor union workers were responsible for the economic meltdown or Ponzi schemes from Madoff to Goldman Sachs. They did not take away millions of jobs, erase thousands of pensions, or make employers and states to eliminate the life-saving vehicle that is health insurance.

Many of the same people upset at the benefits still enjoyed by some union members used to have good jobs, health care, pensions, and all the other trappings of middle class that this country was once built on. The question is not why union members still have them, but “Why don’t you have yours?”

And the answer is that they don’t have a union anymore.

You want more than poverty wages? Join a union. You want health care? Join a union. You want weekends off and not a bankrupted retirement? Join a union.

The only way unions and their supporters can win against Gov. Walker (despite an almost silent Democratic Party) is if they can leverage the power of the millions of angry and deprived workers who do not belong to any unions; if they have the backing of 100% of the private sector workforce, and 100% of public employees.

That means fighting to get them to have everything that union members have. Because if they don’t, they will turn on the ones who do.

This is the labor movement’s last chance. You have a few weeks at most. Organize, or die.

Written by Gnostradamus

Mon, 2/28/11 at 2131