September 16, 2012 archive

Livestream: #OWS S#17 Concert Foley Sq. NYC

Livestream: #OWS S#17 Concert Foley Sq. NYC

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h/t Kevin Gosztola at FDL‘s The Dissenter

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It’s not about the money any more

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

It’s about the naked aristocratic power to force people to wipe your bottom and lick your boots.

Bettman’s lockout will give you the Deja Blues

BY JEFF GORDON, St. Louis Today

September 13, 2012 12:25 pm

The gulf between the owners and players appears too great to bridge quickly. Barring a miracle, the NHL will shut down Saturday. It will be the third stoppage in Bettman’s checkered tenure.

This labor dispute is not all Bettman’s fault, of course, but he will ultimately flip the switch.  He is the lead negotiator for the owners. He is their mouthpiece.

“It doesn’t matter what the sport is, and it doesn’t matter what the claimed economics are,” Fehr told reporters in New York. “The proposal is always the same. It is always, ‘The players will take a lot less money, and if not, we’ll lock you out.’ That’s what the proposal always is. It’s regrettable, but that’s the world we seem to live in.”

And how would the owners fare after shelving the product?

The powerful NHL franchises can withstand a lengthy lockout, but many teams will suffer greatly as their fans move along to other interests. Another significant shutdown will force many franchises into heavy ticket discounting when play resumes.

These men can’t help themselves. They can make almost any system fail with their resolute commitment to irresponsible management.

Some of the most vehement anti-union owners – Ed Snider (Flyers), Philip Anschutz (Kings) and Craig Leipold (Wild) – have some of the most ludicrous contracts on their books. These guys are pushing the hard line after personally fueling the league’s salary inflation.

Bettman is demanding that the players help protect the owners from themselves. NHL history suggests this is an impossible task.

And, as always, the NHL will lag behind the other major team sports in terms of general U.S. popularity.

Why the NFL would rather lockout referees than pay $16 million

Nicolaus Mills, The Guardian

Wednesday 12 September 2012 13.26 EDT

What is surprising is that the league wants a new labor war now. The country is in a recession, but pro football is thriving. NFL revenues are currently $9.3 billion a year and expected to climb to between $12 and $14 billion.

The refs, for their part, are seeking benefits that they put at $16.5 million over the five years of a new contract. In a 32-team league that amounts to just $500,000 per team, less than what a typical pro player earns in a single season. ($1.9 million average NFL player salary or $770,000 median NFL player salary).

Were the NFL serious about ending the current lockout, all it would have to do is offer up the $16.5 million the refs say they need. The refs have made their $16.5 million demand so public that they have left themselves no wiggle room to ask for more.

Still, what the regular refs are asking for in their new contract is modest in light of their employer’s growing wealth. If the refs have overreached, it has been in believing their nearly 1,500 years of collective NFL experience would spare them from being treated as disposable, middle-class employees.

Like thousands of teachers and municipal workers who in recent years have been forced into accepting pay and benefit cuts, the refs are finding they are more on their own than they ever imagined.

The NFL is willing to defend its bottom line at all costs, even if that means showing its worst side. Remember, until medical evidence proved them wrong, NFL officials sought to minimize how dangerous the concussions players so often experience are. The lockout of the referees follows this same penny-wise-pound-foolish pattern.

Corporate-Led Education Reform Movement Ignores Solvable Problems to Carry Out Its Agenda

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Tuesday September 11, 2012 9:06 am

To the extent that there are problems, it appears clear that they have to do with resources. The schools in the lowest-income areas have no air conditioning. Roofs leak. The cafeteria is full of roaches. Mold sits in the ventilation systems. Kids don’t get textbooks for weeks. Administrators pack classrooms with 40 and 50 students at a time. These are pretty obvious and solvable problems.

Worse, there’s apparently money in the system to make these repairs, in the form of TIFs or Tax Increment Financing, that have been re-routed to pet projects, including a Hyatt Hotel and the Chicago Board of Trade.

The corporate-funded “education reform” movement, however, neglects these demonstrable problems. They prefer to describe American education, and in this case Chicago education, as in a state of perpetual crisis (You would think that, regarding Chicago, they would blame the guy in charge of the city’s public schools from 2001 to 2009, current Education Secretary and reform movement leader Arne Duncan). They use this assumption of a crisis, picked up by the media and prominent politicians, as a pretext to enact wide-ranging interventions into schools that may just need a solid roof, no lead in the paint and some relief from the heat. They want to overhaul so-called “failing schools,” and hand them over to entities which don’t run them any better but which make a lot of money for investors and for-profit vendors.

This is a very good overview of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, and this serves as a marker for what Chicago teachers want out of their schools. It’s about a teachers union that finally said no to the rightward drift of education policy, led by a new mayor committed to the corporate-led reform agenda. The issues of student testing evaluations and the like are the means to the end of the ultimate privatization of the education system. When you look at assessment that doesn’t incorporate the standardized tests, you see that the schools have progressed, with student achievement on the rise. But that would be deeply harmful to the corporate-led reform agenda.

The Worst Teacher In Chicago

By: Greg Palast Report, Firedog Lake

Thursday September 13, 2012 3:41 pm

In a school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher-I won’t use her name-who’d been cemented into the school system for over a decade, wouldn’t do a damn thing to lift test scores, yet had an annual salary level of close to $70,000 a year. Under Chicago’s new rules holding teachers accountable and allowing charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by the principal.

In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school, part of the city system, had complete freedom to hire. No teachers’ union interference. The charter school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field – for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the fired teacher.

You’ve guessed it by now: It’s the same teacher.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. This is what Mitt Romney and Obama and Arne Duncan and Paul Ryan have in mind when they promote charter schools and the right to fire teachers with tenure: slash teachers salaries and bust their unions.

They’ve almost stopped pretending, too. Both the Right Wing-nuts and the Obama Administration laud the “progress” of New Orleans’ schools-a deeply sick joke. The poorest students, that struggle most with standardized tests, were drowned or washed away.

Here is an actual question from the standardized test that were given third graders here in NYC by the nation’s biggest test-for-profit company:

“…Most young tennis stars learn the game from coaches at private clubs. In this sentence a private club is….” Then you have some choices in which the right answer is “Country Club – place where people meet.”

Now not many of the “people [who] meet” at country clubs are from the South Side of Chicago – unless their parents are caddies. A teacher on the South Side whose students are puzzled by the question will lose their pay or job. Students on the lakefront Gold Coast all know that mommy plays tennis at the Country Club with Raul on Wednesdays. So their teacher gets a raise and their school has high marks.

Chicago Teacher on Why He’s Striking Against Rahm Emanuel’s Pro-Business Education Agenda

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Monday September 10, 2012 9:08 pm

When you make me cram 30-50 kids in my classroom with no air conditioning so that temperatures hit 96 degrees, that hurts our kids.

When you lock down our schools with metal detectors and arrest brothers for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids.

When you take 18-25 days out of the school year for high stakes testing that is not even scientifically applicable for many of our students, that hurts our kids.

When you spend millions on your pet programs, but there’s no money for school level repairs, so the roof leaks on my students at their desks when it rains, that hurts our kids.

When you unilaterally institute a longer school day, insult us by calling it a “full school day” and then provide no implementation support, throwing our schools into chaos, that hurts our kids.

When you support Mayor Emanuel’s TIF program in diverting hundreds of millions of dollars of school funds into to the pockets of wealthy developers like billionaire member of your school board, Penny Pritzker so she can build more hotels, that not only hurts kids, but somebody should be going to jail.

When you close and turnaround schools disrupting thousands of kids’ lives and educations and often plunging them into violence and have no data to support your practice, that hurts our kids.

When you leave thousands of kids in classrooms with no teacher for weeks and months on end due to central office bureaucracy trumping basic needs of students, that not only hurts our kids, it basically ruins the whole idea of why we have a district at all.

When you, rather than bargain on any of this stuff set up fake school centers staffed by positively motived Central Office staff, many of whom are terribly pissed to be pressed into veritable scabitude when they know you are wrong, and you equip them with a manual that tells them things like, “communicate with words”, that not only hurts our kids, but it suggests you have no idea how to run a system with their welfare in mind.


Douglas FairbanksRobin Hood (1922) (2:13)

Pretty much the archetype of Hollywood Heros, Douglas Fairbanks’ money bankrolled United Artists (Chaplin, Pickford, Griffith, and Fairbanks) at its inception.  Robin Hood was the first movie to premier in Hollywood ever, at Grauman’s Egyptian (not Chinese) Theatre.

On This Day In History September 16

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 16 is the 259th day of the year (260th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 106 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1932, in his cell at Yerovda Jail near Bombay, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi begins a hunger strike in protest of the British government’s decision to separate India’s electoral system by caste.A leader in the Indian campaign for home rule, Gandhi worked all his life to spread his own brand of passive resistance across India and the world. By 1920, his concept of Satyagraha (or “insistence upon truth”) had made Gandhi an enormously influential figure for millions of followers. Jailed by the British government from 1922-24, he withdrew from political action for a time during the 1920s but in 1930 returned with a new civil disobedience campaign. This landed Gandhi in prison again, but only briefly, as the British made concessions to his demands and invited him to represent the Indian National Congress Party at a round-table conference in London.

In 1932, through the campaigning of the Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar, the government granted untouchables separate electorates under the new constitution. In protest, Gandhi embarked on a six-day fast in September 1932. The resulting public outcry successfully forced the government to adopt a more equitable arrangement via negotiations mediated by the Dalit cricketer turned political leader Palwankar Baloo. This was the start of a new campaign by Gandhi to improve the lives of the untouchables, whom he named Harijans, the children of God.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

U.S. Is Preparing for a Long Siege of Arab Unrest



After days of anti-American violence across the Muslim world, the White House is girding itself for an extended period of turmoil that will test the security of American diplomatic missions and President Obama’s ability to shape the forces of change in the Middle East.

Although the tumult subsided Saturday, senior administration officials said they had concluded that the sometimes violent protests in Muslim countries may presage a period of sustained instability with unpredictable diplomatic and political consequences. While pressing Arab leaders to tamp down the unrest, Mr. Obama’s advisers say they may have to consider whether to scale back diplomatic activities in the region.

The upheaval over an anti-Islam video has suddenly become Mr. Obama’s most serious foreign policy crisis of the election season, and a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets of his Middle East policy: Did he do enough during the Arab Spring to help the transition to democracy from autocracy? Has he drawn a hard enough line against Islamic extremists? Did his administration fail to address security concerns?

Sunday’s Headlines:

Mayhem and death with just one click

Iran’s children look on and families cry for pardons at daily hangings

Tens of thousands in anti-Putin protests

Japan PM Noda urges China to prevent anti-Japan violence

Venezuela blasts U.S. criticism over drugs

Time to Reevaluate Middle East Policy

Cross posted

The attacks on US and Western embassies expanded today to nearly 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and some Muslim countries in South East Asia. Angered over a irreverent You Tube video that insulted the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed, angry protesters stormed American, Germany and British embassies and consulates.

At least two protesters are dead and several dozen injured when protesters stormed the US embassy in Tunis, Tunisia:

Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia’s capital, tearing down the American flag and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith on it as part of the protests. Protesters also set fire to an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. The school appeared to be empty and no injuries were reported.

Earlier, several thousand demonstrators had gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, including stone-throwing protesters who clashed with police, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Police responded with gunshots and tear gas. Police and protesters held running battles in the streets of Tunis. Amid the unrest, youths set fire to cars in the embassy parking lot and pillaged businesses nearby.

The state news agency TAP, citing the health ministry, said both of those killed were demonstrators, while the injured included protesters and police.

In Sudan, the German and British embassies were targeted along with the American embassy in Khartoum:

Police in the Sudanese capital fired tear gas to try to disperse 5,000 protesters who had ringed the German embassy and nearby British mission. A Reuters witness said police stood by as a crowd forced its way into Germany’s mission.

Demonstrators hoisted a black Islamic flag saying in white letters “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet”. They smashed windows, cameras and furniture in the building and then started a fire.

Staff at Germany’s embassy were safe “for the moment”, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin. He also told Khartoum’s envoy to Berlin that Sudan must protect diplomatic missions on its soil.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum.

In the Yemen capital of Sanaa, four protesters have been killed in demonstrations and a US Marine contingent, similar to ones being sent to Egypt and Libya, has been dispatched:

Twenty-four security force members were reported injured, as were 11 protesters, according to Yemen’s Defense Ministry, security officials and eyewitnesses.

Protesters and witnesses said one protester was critically injured when police fired on them as they tried to disperse the angry crowd.

The protests in Sanaa are the latest to roil the Middle East over the online release of the film produced in the United States.

As evening came, the number of protesters dwindled and tensions began to ease, after a day in which demonstrators breached a security wall and stormed the embassy amid escalating anti-American sentiment.

No embassy personnel were harmed, U.S. officials said.

Reports that the attack in Benghazi, Libya may not have been related to the protests over the anti-Islamic video:

BENGHAZI, Libya – A Libyan security guard who said he was at the U.S. consulate here when it was attacked Tuesday night has provided new evidence that the assault on the compound that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was a planned attack by armed Islamists and not the outgrowth of a protest over an online video that mocks Islam and its founder, the Prophet Muhammad.

The guard, interviewed Thursday in the hospital where he is being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other, said that the consulate area was quiet – “there wasn’t a single ant outside,” he said – until about 9:35 p.m., when as many as 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.

The men lobbed grenades into the compound, wounding the guard and knocking him to the ground, then stormed through the facility’s main gate, shouting “God is great” and moving to one of the many villas that make up the consulate compound. He said there had been no warning that an attack was imminent.

“Wouldn’t you expect if there were protesters outside that the Americans would leave?” the guard said.

h/t to David Dayen at FDL News Desk

Meanwhile, oil prices which climbed after the Federal Reserve announced it’s stimulus plan, rose even more due to the instability in the region.

There is obviously something radically wrong with American and Western foreign policy towards the Middle East. President Obama’s policies in the region are no different that past presidents over the last 100 years. The US has lost much of its stature in the region with it heavy handed reliance on military force to resolve problems in the Middle and Near East since September 11 and expansion of it drone attacks on alleged terrorist targets. The US needs to completely reassess these policies and take into consideration the culture and economic needs of the region.

What We Now Know

Up with Chris Hayes guest hose Sam Seder reports on the partial victory fro voting rights activists in Florida who challenged the state’s efforts to purge voting rolls. The panels guests, Hooman Majd, (@hmajd) Iranian-born writer and author of the books, “The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran” and “The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge“; Reza Aslan, (@rezaaslan) Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of  “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam“; Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, Founder of the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, Co-chair of the UN-based International Coordinating Network on Palestine; and Eli Lake, (@ELILAKE) Senior National Security reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast discuss with what they learned this week.