Will There Be a Future for Public Education in Detroit?

Interview with Steve Conn who is in a runoff election for presidency of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.  Conditions in Detroit schools are pretty shocking with class sizes in the high ’30′s and many of the schools turned over to private “charter” companies.   

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Demand This Now from Our Broken Justice System

December 6.  There’s a “must read” piece in the New York Times by a man who was badly beaten as a youth by New York cops, later became a policeman, rose to the rank of captain and is now Borough President of the Bronx.  His name is Eric Adams.

He has this to say about training.  “After six months in the police academy, that instruction is effectively wiped out by six days of being taught by veteran cops on the streets.”  In effect the veterans told him to protect himself and the hell with the goody-goody stuff he learned in the academy.    This brings into doubt the usefulness of any new training the New York City Mayor DeBlasio wants for his officers.

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Three Comments about U.S. Police Brutality

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Put Obama on the Spot Over Keystone KXL

I don’t understand why climate activists are not out in the streets over the pipeline.  Yes, the bill that would have given permission to the company to the need for State Department approval of the project failed.  It didn’t get the 60 vote super-majority needed in the Senate.  Yet we know that once the next Congress takes office in January the Republican majority could easily take it over the top.  Perhaps the president wants that so he can he claim that he had nothing to do with approving the pipeline.  More likely he’ll make some deal to go along with the pipeline in exchange for something or other.

All it takes to stop the project (for at least two years) is Obama’s signature, his veto.  Demand he do it now, before the new year.  Why aren’t some of the 400,000 people who marched in NYC in September demonstrating against Obama and every Democrat at every fund raiser and appearance.  Send them a message that we won’t be fooled, that if the climate killing pipeline is approved the world will know the Democratic Party is to blame and we will never let them live it down.

If the pipeline gets approval from the Congress and the White House it’s not the end of the road.  Indian nations and ranchers have vowed resistance.  They should get total support.

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A World Class Suicidal Strategy

While the politicians and the liberal media pat themselves on the back for a China-U.S. “promise” of carbon reductions that might happen 15 years from now, Democrats are adopting a suicidal strategy on Keystone XL.  Majority Leader Harry Reid, who in the past  blocked attempts to get the Senate on record as supporting the pipeline, now will allow a vote as a way of helping Sen. Mary Landrieu win re-election in Louisiana.  Louisiana is often described as “energy-rich” meaning that a number of people are growing rich in the fossil fuel business and others have jobs that pay decent money.  Louisiana is also the state that saw its major city New Orleans devastated by the type of hurricane that will become more and more common as nature warms up and leaves the best-for-human-climate behind as a memory.

For those who don’t remember two years ago climate expert James Hansen said if we built the pipeline and used the tar sands for oil it was “game over” for the climate.  By “game over” he meant things like disintegration of the ice sheets, and a 50’ rise in sea level.  He predicted, “Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.”

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The White House is Open for Business

Nov.7.   The White House is ready to deal.  That’s my take on Obama’s post election speech.  He didn’t admit that Obamacare was blown opportunity  or that his Middle East wars were failures.  No, the lesson he learned from losing the Senate is that people want government to get things done, period.  So he’s ready to make grand bargains with the Republicans and he’ll give away the store to get them.  He’s concerned  about his legacy, you see

Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News today tells us the Republicans want an immediate amnesty, not for hard working immigrants who risked their lives to come to the U.S.to work all the crap jobs.   The Republicans want amnesty for the bankers and corporate tycoons who’ve been working their asses off figuring schemes to avoid taxes.  One thing they’ve done is to keep the profits from outsourcing and other such “investments” overseas.  That way they don’t have to pay any U.S.tax which on the books is officially 35%. (the real tax companies pay is less than 18%)

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Jobs Situation Just a Bit Better, Wages Meh

Nov. 7.  The October jobs report is out today.  E-pop, employment as % of the total working age population is up .2%. That’s certainly positive, but at 59.2% it’s still well below the 63% before the Great Recession

Mike Cassidy of the Fiscal Times looked into this a bit more. He wrote about prime-age workers, who are from 25 to 54 years old. He says, the prime-age E-P ratio, which averaged 79.4 percent from 2003 to 2007, has rebounded much more slowly than the unemployment rate, rising from a low of 75.1 percent to just 76.9 percent today.” So it has only recovered half of what was lost.

The official “unemployed” are down 267,000… to about 9 million.  That’s over 2 million less than last year.  In addition there are 7 million working part time who want to work full time.  So there are still 16 million in the US labor force out of work completely or unhappily on  part time

As for wages, average pay went up  3 cents an hour (champagne for everyone!).  The New York Times points out that since the recovery from the Great Recession began five years ago, corporate profits went up 46% and the stock market rose 92%!  Household family income has not been so lucky.  It dropped 3%.  

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Time’s Rotten Article

Time magazine this week had as its cover story a piece it called, “Rotten Apples”.  The subject was, rotten teachers and why “it’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher”.  It was written by Haley Sweetland Edwards, a Time political reporter, who looks to be in her mid-20’s and who a quick Google search reveals specializes articles about Yemen and Libya.  I could be wrong but her only article on education appears to be a 2009 piece about the experiences of a group of Maplewood, New Jersey high school students applying for college.   

Nevertheless, Time gave her four pages to bash teachers and gush over the saviors of education: tech millionaires like David Welch one “of a half-dozen teach titans who are making the repair of public education something like a second career.”  She writes about the four month old Vergara decision that ruled California’s tenure law “unconstitutional” and voided contractual layoff procedures based on seniority and waxes on about the “reform” movement led “not by activists or union leaders but by Silicon Valley business types.“ 

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Report: “Natural Gas” Not a Bridge

Oct. 16   Today Yahoo News featured a report on so-called “natural gas”, that is methane gas.  Natural gas has been hailed as the “bridge” to a cleaner tomorrow, the fuel that will let the world get off coal and let us burn away until better, cleaner things come along.  However a new study in the magazine “Nature” says,“Computer simulations show that emissions of heat-trapping gases to make electricity would not decline worldwide and could possibly go up.”

Instead of being a bridge ever more widespread use of natural gas will be a barrier.  It will discourage advances in wind and solar and energy efficiency.

Five teams of experts from around the world, using five different sets of computer model prediction models, looked at what would happen if natural gas use massively expanded by 2050.  They all found no halt to output in greenhouse gases.  Two of the five found that gases would even increase!  The reason for that is there seems to be a huge problem of methane leaks either when the gas is fracked or piped or both and methane is an even worse global warming gas than carbon dioxide.

So going from a coal addiction to a meth addiction is no improvement.

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Gasoline Prices are Way Down and That’s Bad

Oct. 15.  The big drop in oil prices is expected to give a trillion dollar boost to the world says Citigroup. That’s a trillion a year for the next few years.  It’s all because the U.S. and Canada have unlocked immense stores of oil from shale rock and tar sands.  Everything that depends of fuel from cars to framing will become cheaper.  That means more cars, more trucks, more international trade.

Whoopie.

The problem is with oil and gasoline cheaper lots more of it will be burned and our headline rush to climate hell will come that much sooner.

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Bashing Obama to Make Way for Hillary

by Alli McCracken

Three years ago, during the height of the Occupy movement, I was ejected from a Congressional hearing for allegedly “assaulting” Leon Panetta, then Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA. He was testifying to the House Armed Services Committee about “lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade.” I jumped out of my audience seat to tell him that young people were paying the price of those “lessons,” and we were sick of the government funding war instead of education. The baseless assault charges against me were ultimately dropped.

A few years and trillions of dollars later, I found myself sitting in front of Leon Panetta once again, this time for his book talk at George Washington University, where he was gunning for more war. Just when we thought the US was finally leaving Iraq alone, the world was hit with a paranoid media frenzy: showcasing ISIS beheadings ad infinitum, hysterical Congresspeople claiming that they were “coming for us all,” paving the way to more war, war, war–– no questions from the public, no Congressional debate. Bombs started falling on Iraq and Syria, innocents are dying, ISIL is gaining traction, yet the White House is declaring the whole operation so far “successful.”

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Spectra Energy Takes AIM at Danbury

Folk in Danbury, CT should read this warning carefully.  Gas line expansion is planned for the poor side of town [editor]

Spectra Energy Takes AIM at Danbury

By Anthony Sorge

As CT Governor Dannel Malloy said in November, 2013, “To secure a cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy future for the long-term, we are going to have to work together as a region to expand key energy infrastructure.” These words were music to the ears of Houston-based Spectra Energy, who had by then already hatched a plan to expand a natural gas pipeline (the offensively-named “Algonquin”) that runs through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, despite the significant health, safety, and environmental risks of such a project. Now, after this summer’s release of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Spectra’s plan is dangerously close to becoming a reality—but not if activists and concerned community members along the pipeline route have anything to say about it.

Spectra Energy would have us believe that their proposed pipeline expansion is simply fulfilling consumers’ demand for cheap, “clean” energy. However, like any corporation, Spectra’s main concern isn’t the needs of “consumers” or the environment—it’s profit.  This is why Spectra’s pipeline expansion plans don’t end with the so-called Algonquin: Spectra is already proposing a further pipeline expansion plan—the Atlantic Bridge Project—which would bring fracked gas through New England and into the Maritime Provinces, allowing the energy company to tap into Canadian markets and LNG export terminals.

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Michigan Blacks Lose the Vote, but Democrats Don’t Notice

Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report

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 Interview with Glen Ford of Black Agenda report who will be speaking in Hartford Thurs, 7/17  at 7:30 at the Urban Hope Refuge Church 136 Westland St., Hartford .  He and Stanley Heller talk about Detroit and Michigan as a whole where “administrators” run black majority cities, effectively disenfranchising blacks.   They also touch on Hartford and Newark and the sad state of the black leadership class.  This interview on You Tube on our channel EcoUp1.

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Mixed News on Jobs

Some things were better than expected, but overall things are weak. Jobs increased by 288,000, but E-pop, the number employed as a percent of the working population only went up 0.1 percent to 59.0, lots below the 63% before the Great Recession. A similar measure, the participation rate was 62.8%, unchanged for the last three months.

The number who have given up looking for work actually went up by 111,000. People forced to go on part time work increased by 275,000.

To pieces of definite good news, the jobless rate for Blacks is down 0.8 percent and the number of long term unemployed (27 weeks and over) is down by 300,000

Wages went up a few cents an hour since May. Over the year they went up two and a half  percent slightly more than prices. Wages have been flat for decades for working people.

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The Biggest Lesson from the Hobby Lobby Case

The Hobby Lobby case shows the twisted logic that is driving the Supreme Court judges.  People can claim religious beliefs (based on God or gods) that they say prevent them from doing this or that and the Court throws out common sense laws like the law that a big company has to provide certain minimum health insurance.  It was outlandish to read that Mr. Hobby Lobby approved certain kinds of birth control and not others so he didn’t want to pay for the required health care plan.  He was listened to seriously because he’s “spiritual”.  If,  however,  a teenager said that out of conscience he didn’t want to participate in registering for the draft because of the horrendous results of U.S. wars he would be barred from financial aid, all federal jobs and in theory could be fined $250,000.   If I decided not to pay taxes because I was sickened by the fences at the Mexico border and all the migrants who die each year trying to get to the U.S. my deep moral convictions would get me nothing other than a jail term.

An article in the New York Times today  criticizes another part of the judges’ logic.  All this concern about the owner’s religious preferences is based on the curious idea that the health insurance that the owners buy for their employees is given out of the kindness of their hearts.   Actually it’s been long understood that the benefits go to the workers because they are accepting less in wages in order to get those benefits.  Logically its the workers ideas about benefits, not the bosses that should matter.       Continue reading

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Petition: Break the “Redskins” Stalemate with a Media Boycott

Owner Dan Snyder has said he won’t change the racist name of the Washington football team. One thing that could help change his mind is a campaign to get the Washington Post and all media to refuse to mention the team or its activities. If there were no reporting of games, no feature stories, no listing in box scores, no mention of schedules, and no interviews with top players there eventually would be a drop in attendance at games, a decline in TV viewing and a fall-off in merchandise revenue. Advertisers would start to complain.

Read the whole article at Indian Country Today Media Network by clicking here.

Go directly to the petition by clicking here.

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Kiss Goodbye to Your Group Insurance

The prediction is that within six years almost all group insurance plans paid for by a company, city or state will be history.  Instead employees will be pushed onto the exchanges of Obamacare and the employers will kick in a share of the cost.

Michael Thompson of S&P Capital IQ writes,  as “many as 90 percent could end their current insurance benefits and move to public or private exchanges by 2020.”  He’s not alone.  Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Obama Administration official, says the same thing in his book “Reinventing American Health Care”.

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California Judge Deals Massive Blow to Teacher Job Security

June 11.  In a stunning decision a Superior Court judge struck down teacher job security (called “tenure”) and layoff rights in California calling them “unconstitutional”.   Claiming to base his decision on the view that all students deserve an equal education he says these job rights protections are so ironclad in California that incompetent teachers can’t be fired.   Judge Rolf M. Treu further claims the incompetents are more often than not put in minority school districts and this is another reason to strike down the laws.  Click here for  the judge’s full decision.

I taught in Connecticut for forty years (Social Studies and Computer Education) and was a lobbyist for the CT State Federation of Teachers (AFT) for a year in the CT legislature.  I know a bit about issues of job security.

Judge Treu states as a point of fact that there is “no dispute” that there are grossly ineffective teachers in California. I would bet my bottom dollar that there is a very big dispute over how many such teachers there are and whether they’re being dealt with properly.  The judge merely quotes a study that estimates the number of “grossly

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Obama Climate Plan is Not Nearly Enough

June 5.  The NYC climate march in September becomes ever more important.  While the president has finally taken climate action  it won’t achieve UN goals and  prevent catastrophe.  Interview with Chris Williams: 

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 We need a huge turnout for the Sept. 21 NYC climate march and we have to work to make “System Change, Not Climate Change” a key part of the effort.  Chris Williams is the author of “Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis”

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NYT Says Treaty Would Give the 1% “Dangerous” Power

by Dan Fischer

As a surprisingly honest New York Times editorial shows, the 1 percent has been shaping trade policy to transfer money and power to the wealthy. “Big corporations” are “shaping the American position” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its US-European counterpart TAFTA, according to Sunday’s editorial titled “This Time, Get Global Trade Right”. The Times warns that the bargaining process gives corporations a “dangerous” and “lopsided” influence, and “companies are using trade agreements to get special benefits”.

Given the Times’ loyalty to the 1 percent, the editors’ stern warning suggests that the ongoing trade discussions must be especially undemocratic. After all, the Times has repeatedly supported business-friendly policies in the past, from NAFTA to the collapsed Free Trade Area of the Americas. Just this past December, the editors strongly praised the TPP, a proposed trade agreement between the US, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Peru and Brunei. If passed, the agreement would govern 40 percent of the world economy.

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