The budgie parakeet Disco is quite a talker (yes, he's for real) and gives Mick Jagger a run for his money! h/t nyckname. Open thread below...
41133 documents found in 0.021 seconds.
- Bank of America
- Barack Obama
- C. Wright Mills
- Chase debit card
- Discrimination against atheists
- Edward Snowden
- Eric Holder
- Foreclosure Fraud.
- Hope After Faith book review
- James Risen
- Jerry DeWitt
- Juan Cole
- Mike's Blog round up
- Minimum Wage
- NSA spying
- Natalie Gunshannon
- National Security
- Open Thread
- Recovering From Religion
- Richard Dawkins
- Russ Baker
- Saudi Arabia
- Senate Intelligence Committee
- United States
- White House
- charter schools
- crackpot realism
- education policy
- no fly zone
- working poor
Oh Thank God--Finally, War With Syria
by Russ Baker on Jun 15, 2013
As we have been reporting over the past 18 months, the Obama Administration has had a very frustrating time inventing reasons to invade Syria or otherwise topple the independent-minded Assad regime. It seemed Bush-style “Curveball” inventions were out of vogue. But good news: they’re back, under a Democrat. And the real motivations—why, those are none of your business.
Why Obama Cannot Undo The Surveillance Society--But We Can
by Russ Baker on Jun 11, 2013
When a country is truly run by a handful, how can they ever let up on surveillance? They can’t, and won’t. But we can make them do it. However, not if we wait for instructions from the establishment.
FBI: Knew About Saudi 9/11 Hijacker Ties--But Lied To Protect "National Security"
by Russ Baker on Jun 5, 2013
In new court filings, the FBI has tacitly admitted that it knows about ties between members of the Saudi royal family and 9/11 hijackers, that it lied about not knowing, and that no one should learn more about this -- for reasons of “national security.”
Philadelphia public schools are the victim of a weird and evil set of priorities. In this interview, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter attempts to explain why public schools are being closed due to state cuts at the same time the state has found $400 million to build yet another prison.
Nutter argued that Philadelphia’s school system would not suffer from the closures because of the expansion of charter schools in the city, which he insisted were still public schools. He dismissed the argument that charter schools have often been criticized for their lack of accountability, and added, “My job is to make sure we have a system of great schools all across the city of Philadelphia…and that the election officials are providing the proper funding for a high-quality education regardless of what school a parent decides to send their child to.”
About those charter schools, Mayor Nutter...Let's talk about one charter operator in particular -- ASPIRA. The ASPIRA network boasts of building Latino leaders for the future. It is a charter school network which claims to reduce gang affiliation and dropout rates, while encouraging students to serve their communities. These are admirable goals, particularly for a charter school operator which is public, more or less.
ASPIRA runs one high school in Philadelphia. The teachers in that school are trying to organize and join the American Federation of Teachers. This is partly in order to do battle with those who think closing schools and building prisons is a good thing. It is also because there should be a counterweight to the corporate-think endemic in charter schools. If education is the goal of ASPIRA and other charter operators, allowing teachers to organize should not be a problem, right?
Wrong. ASPIRA, a non-profit organization, has committed $400,000 to fight back against any effort on the part of teachers to organize in the schools they manage. In a climate where schools in Philadelphia are closing on a daily basis, a not-for-profit charter school operator is committing nearly half a million dollars? That raises a couple of key questions for me. Who is funding that battle on behalf of ASPIRA and why aren't they spending those funds on educating children?
Teachers aren't bending under the threat. You can help them by signing the petition at MoveOn.org. Here is their statement:
A teacher’s working conditions are a student’s learning conditions. In order to make improvements in schools, teachers must be free to speak out, to advocate for their students, and to work together to ensure an environment that promotes learning. All school staff and students deserve security and consistency.
That's why staff at Olney Charter High School have come together to form a union. The dedicated Olney staff are committed to building a strong voice to advocate for important improvements for themselves and their students. It is shameful that ASPIRA, which receives public tax dollars, has decided to spend education resources on anti-union lawyers and delay tactics. Join us now in telling ASPIRA to stop spending education dollars to interfere with staff's right to form a union, and start working with staff to create the best possible education for students.
Schools, not prisons. Books, not union-busting. This is not rocket science. It's sound social policy.
My new op-ed at Al Jazeera English, "Obama's crackpot realism and the real crime of Edward Snowden" argues that C. Wright Mill's concept of 'crackpot realism' helps explain and define Obama's continuity with George Bush's policies. The op-ed starts like this:
On June 8, Juan Cole, one of the few true Middle East experts in the US, posted a short entry on his Informed Comment blog. The title said it all: "We misunderstood Barack: He only wanted the domestic surveillance to be made legal, not to end it".
But domestic surveillance was far from the only Bush policy that Obama has wanted to continue, despite giving supporters the opposite impression. The continued - if reduced - use of indefinite detention is one example, the continued - vastly expanded - use of drones is another, and underlying them all is the continued self-defeating policy of fighting a global "war on terrorism" - but debranding it, because the term "war on terror" has become toxic, and renaming it makes it harder to oppose.
Foreign policy is not the only area in which Obama has turned out to be far more conservative than his 2008 campaign supporters had reason to believe, and there's surely a variety of different factors involved. But in the overlapping realms of foreign policy and national security highlighted by the revelations of Edward Snowden, one factor in particular deserves our attention: what the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills described over half a century ago as "crackpot realism".
In his 1956 book, The Power Elite, Mills wrote: "For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end... such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own."
Read the whole op-ed here.
H/t Heather for this video.
As the case of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden moves forward in the press, the conventional wisdom of the media elites seems to be that Snowden is bizarre, a coward,a weasel, a traitor, and a Chinese spy, to name a few -- with little or no support for the service he provided to the American people. New information is coming out from Snowden, some of which you may disagree with, but that shouldn't define the story at hand or detract from its importance.
The stupidity surrounding some of the responses given to attack him has been beyond the pale. Jeffrey Toobin said that Snowden should have just gone to his bosses to complain about the program if he was unhappy. Riiiiight! They would have immediately promoted him and then held a press conference. Sticking up for Edward Snowden was New York Times national security journalist James Risen, who has broken some very big stories in the past and who knows the value of whistleblowers to our society.
DAVID GREGORY: And I should point out, your reporting going back into the last decade was instrumental in revealing a lot of these programs at the very start during the Bush years.
Jerry DeWitt is an atheist. So am I. I was more or less born and raised an atheist (Unitarians being notoriously tolerant about who they let in their doors), I am still an atheist, my cancer is highly unlikely to change that, so I will probably die an atheist. No real surprise there. On the other hand, Jerry DeWitt comes from a background about as far removed from the customary intellectual, secular and academic breeding ground for atheists as is imaginable. For twenty-five years, Brother Jerry was a Louisiana-born, hardcore Jimmy Swaggart styled tent revivalist Pentacostal evangelical preacher. As in... wow.
So I read Jerry DeWitt’s soon-to-be-published book, Hope After Faith, with great interest and am looking forward to a live blogchat this Tuesday - June 18th at 2:00pm EST - where our readership can engage in real time questions and answers with Mr DeWitt. But first, some background on Mr DeWitt and a review of his debut book.
Jerry DeWitt preached his last sermon in April, 2011, after decades of privately questioning his beliefs. Six months later, his ‘deconversion’ became public after an on-line photo taken of himself with Richard Dawkins at a meeting of freethinkers was circulated by an irate relative. A pastor who becomes an atheist is rather frowned upon in some circles, particularly those in the deep South. His home town of DeRidder, Louisiana, proudly considers itself ‘the buckle on the Bible belt,’ and Jerry DeWitt’s personal loss of faith was seen as a public affront to many in his community. As a result, he became a pariah – friends deserted him, most of his family shunned him, his wife left him, he was kicked out of his ministry, fired from his secular job as a buildings inspector and he nearly lost his house in a bankruptcy and is still hanging on to it by a thread. He regularly receives hate mail and threats. A cautionary tale indeed for anyone who thinks walking away from their fundamentalist Christian faith is going to be easy.
But from the ashes of his religious life, he rose to become the first graduate of The Clergy Project, a safe, private on-line support group created by Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker and Daniel Dennett for former and current clergy members who had lost their belief in God. Soon after, he was appointed the Executive Director of Recovering From Religion, where he worked to help laypersons similarly disoriented by their loss of religious beliefs. He’s rapidly become a ‘celebrity’ atheist who – somewhat to my own envy – has publishers coming to him to write a book, newspapers chasing him for stories. He’s the subject of an up-coming documentary film, The Outcast of Beauregard Parish.
The same driving ambition he acknowledges in his book – from his resentment of other ministers promoted over himself to preach to congregations he longed to lead, to noticing how women were attracted to charismatic preachers and wondering if he’d married too young – are still evident today. Despite his reputation as a self-effacing nice guy who is all about tolerance and compassion, quick with smiles and hugs, I suspect DeWitt has an iron enough backbone to hold his own as well as any of the formidable Four Horsemen of atheists; Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.
Aww. Bankers are just trying to help the poor, just like they did with mortgages!
What kind of low-life bottom-feeders came up with this brilliant idea? I guess getting away with using these cards for government benefits just emboldened the bankers to push them for the working poor.
Can they get away with it? In this case, no, they can't. Fortunately, Pennsylvania requires that workers be paid by cash or check. But I'm sure even as we speak that ALEC is working hard to pass a law in every state to allow employers to siphon off even more cash from the working poor:
All Natalie Gunshannon wanted was to be paid a fair wage for her work, she said.
Gunshannon, 27, of Dallas Township, worked at McDonald's Restaurant on the Dallas Highway from April 24 to May 15. When she received her first paycheck, enclosed was a Chase Bank debit card with instructions on how to use it and the fees attached.
Her future earnings would be deposited into the debit card account and she could access her money from there. Gunshannon never signed the card and when she returned to work she asked her supervisor if she could be paid by check or by direct deposit. She was told the card was the only option.
No, it wasn't just bad luck when that Bank of America rep kept telling you they "never got the paperwork." We've been hearing these disgusting stories for a long time. Glad to hear they're making their way into court, where there's at least a chance that a class action suit might make Bank of America actually pay for some of their sins:
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the second-biggest U.S. lender, rewarded staff with cash bonuses and gift cards for meeting quotas tied to sending distressed homeowners into foreclosure, former employees said in court documents.
Mortgage workers falsified records and were told to delay U.S. loan-assistance applications by requesting paperwork that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had already received, according to statements from ex-employees filed last week in federal court in Boston. The lender improperly disqualified applicants to the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, according to a May 23 statement from Simone Gordon, a loss-mitigation specialist who left the company in 2012.
Pinholes of Grace: How one act of love and humanity can change everything.
David von Ebers: For SCOTUS, the First Amendment starts getting confusing when it comes to protests.
Nieman Journalism Lab: In Wisconsin, Republicans are trying to hammer another nail in Journalism's coffin.
Uni-Watch: A very special Father's Day.
Finally, if it's Monday, it must be time for some Star Wars French Ballet Disco.
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Happy Father's Day.
Open Thread below...