Friday, March 27, 2015

OWS: May Day, college education, Charter Schools, propaganda

Occupy Wall Street has begun their May Day Protests in New York and around the wo

Breaking News: Obama has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan!

We interrupt this Blog post to inform you that President has conducted a surprise visit to Afghanistan and the corporate media has provided obsession coverage of it on the day that the Occupy Wall Street protests were set to begin. There has been no discussion on whether or not this was done to intentionally overshadow the protests and there is no solid evidence to indicate that this is a possibility; however intentionally or not this is exactly what has happened. The corporate media has relegated the protests to a small side story if it is mentioned at all while they spend an enormous amount of time on Obama’s visit and the speech that he made Tuesday evening.

During his speech Barack Obama said, “As President, nothing is more wrenching than signing a letter to a family of the fallen, or looking in the eyes of a child who will grow up without a mother or father.” Transcript He didn’t say whether or not this mattered only for the children of American soldiers that died during wars that were based on lies or also to foreign children including the thousands of children that were killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere that have received little or no acknowledgement from the US government including the one below.

The source cited for the story was a Washington Post article “Bush Estimates Iraqi Death Toll in War at 30,000” which is no longer available at the Washington Post web site for one reason or another; if you go to the page that is linked in the picture you will find that the source it cites is a dead link. In order to present the article to you I had to find it elsewhere and repost in under the fair use policy of copyright laws which shouldn’t be a problem for educational material that is important to making decisions about participating in a democratic system. However these things are routinely taken down; and I don’t know whether this is more likely when it comes to material that may be inconvenient to the political and business establishment.

Regardless of why this isn’t available on line it makes it much harder for many people to find material if they don’t know where to look although this could easily be confirmed at any good library. This is just a small example of how much more difficult the corporate media makes it for most of us to research important subjects when this information is readily available to many people with the proper access in data bases that aren’t available to the general public.

This particular incident happened on George W Bush’s watch but Obama has been carrying on the same military agenda and has declined to investigate anything more than necessary to appease the public. There continues to be no review of the policies that lead up to this war on terror including the fact that George HW Bush could have spoken up loud and clear a week before Iraq invaded Kuwait and made an enormous difference possibly avoiding the first invasion which led to the presence in Saudi Arabia that enraged Osama bin Laden and contributed to the circumstances that led to 9/11. There continues to be no effort to stop the non-stop state of war and the amount of collateral damage continues under his watch in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other areas including the much lower profile reporting of “the drone strikes [that] sometimes kill innocent people.” they claim that these are “exceedingly rare;” however they total three hundred according to the official tally which is about thirteen percent of the people killed in the drone strikes and it is presumably a small fraction of the total number of civilians killed by collateral damage. Furthermore even the “guilty” people don’t receive trials anymore and the circumstances continue to receive minimal investigation.

Furthermore I don’t mean to imply that the lives of the soldiers that they send to fight in foreign countries shouldn’t be disregarded; however the best way to do this involves simply not sending them in the first place. Many details may be more complicated than that but some of those can be summed up quickly.

Instead of maintaining a massive class divide they can provide more jobs by bringing back the factories they shut down. This will save money even though they will have to pay the workers more because they will no longer have shipping costs, subcontractor costs and they can do much more direct marketing; additional savings can be achieved by cutting the advertising budgets that are mainly professional lies and the lobbying and campaign contributions which are virtual, if not literal, bribes.

They can also reduce the cost of education dramatically by reforming the draconian copyright laws which drive the cost of education through the roof and they can reduce the reliance on income from gambling which is an extremely inefficient way of collecting revenue.

If they do these things, and more relatively simple and easy to understand things, then the poor will have more opportunities and won’t need to rely on the military for a career. They would also reduce their foreign involvement by abstaining from inciting hatred through collateral damage and there will be much less need for sincere defense activities and there will be no need to use boot camp tactics to indoctrinate troops.

Barrack Obama has also been walking a fine line on the recent incident about Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng who recently escaped in China. He seems to be attempting to portray himself as a defender of human rights and attempting to maintain good relationships with China, presumably so that the corporations that donate to his campaign can continue to profit from the sweatshop labor in China and this puts Obama in a bind. Due to the fact that Mitt Romney isn’t in power yet and he knows that he can etch a sketch before he gets into power he has called for Obama to Protect Chen Guangcheng.

However this is all besides the point which is that you shouldn’t allow the Occupy Wall Street protesters to draw your attention; nor should you consider any candidate for political office that hasn’t been approved by the corporations and their mass media!

We now return to our regularly scheduled blog already in progress.

This is part of a semi-regular update of some of the latest stories from the Occupy Wall Street web page for additional details see previous post introduction to series.

Ahem, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, Occupy Wall Street has begun their May Day Protests in New York and around the world. The following are just a small sample of the related stories:

Legalize! Organize! Unionize!
We want to be heard! We need to be heard! We will be heard!
We are here to celebrate May Day. We are here to celebrate our power as people who have found unity of purpose. Today we assert our power as working people. We declare our solidarity with all people of the world. We affirm our rights to economic security, to meaningful work, to health care, to public services, to safe and healthy communities, to free, quality public education from pre-K to college, and to civil liberties. Today, we stand in solidarity with all who take popular action to secure such rights, as we begin to form genuine alliances that challenge a system that breeds inequality. full article

The Struggle Continues! May 2nd Brooklyn College Education Convergence

Another University is Possible. Today, May 2nd, students from across NYC will be joining together at the Brooklyn College Campus to take back our future from the 1%. Hundreds of students will be staging a continuation of May Day and the Free University by taking over the Quad at Brooklyn College with teach-ins, political theater, food, music, and events to show an alternative university. While subsidies, tax breaks, and corporate loopholes continue to exist allowing banks and corporations to make record profits, slashes to education have resulted in students paying more and more in CUNY while receiving less and less. full article

One of the biggest problems with the education system especially college education is the use of copyright laws to control the distribution of educational knowledge which they refer to as “intellectual property.” This creates an enormous bureaucracy that spends more trying to restrict access to educational material than it does trying to provide it. This has overwhelmingly proven to be an extremely inefficient way of financing research and often does the opposite. A recent Globe article about Harvard University has indicated what some people are trying to do to solve this problem over the objections of those that want to strictly control access to education and make large profits from it.

Harvard panel pushes benefits of free journals 
Harvard may be the world’s wealthiest university, but fees for its academic journal subscriptions have gotten so steep - some as much as $40,000 a year - that an advisory council is encouraging faculty to submit their work to “open access’’ online journals that are available for free.
The council also asked Harvard faculty to consider resigning from the editorial boards of the high-priced subscription publications and to urge professional associations to “take control’’ of scholarly literature in their fields.

In a memo sent to faculty last week, the council called the rising prices of journals, which connect researchers with cutting-edge ideas and findings, “untenable,’’ “fiscally unsustainable,’’ and “academically restrictive.’’ It is a sentiment being aired by scholars and universities around the world as academic libraries struggle with rising costs.

“The escalation is simply spectacular and it’s inflicting serious damage,’’ said Robert Darnton, a university professor and chairman of the council. The memo states that in 2010, a fifth of the library’s entire expenditures on subscriptions went to certain unnamed publishers that bundle together journals and raise prices. This year, the memo said, the library is spending about $3.75 million on journals from just those publishers…. full article at Boston Globe

This is also driving up costs for information that the public need to participate in the democratic process including the ability for corporations to use their copyrights to withdraw news stories or make them harder to find when it suits their purposes and put more emphasis on the stories that advance their agenda while the majority have a much tougher time doing research. And on top of that the efforts to corporatize schools is continuing in Philadelphia as indicated in the following report from the Black Agenda:

Why Isn't Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News? Where Is the Black Political Class?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

If some racist made an inappropriate remark about the First Lady or her children our national "civil rights leaders" Obama fans all of them, would be all over that. But standing up for ordinary black children is something our leaders just don't do much any more. When was the last time you heard Sharpton, Jealous or any of that tribe inveigh against school closings and the creeping privatization of our schools?

In what should be the biggest story of the week, the city of Philadelphia's school system announced Tuesday that it expects to close 40 public schools next year and 64 by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of current enrollment to charter schools, the streets or wherever, and put thousands of experienced, well qualified teachers, often grounded in the communities where they teach, on the street. full article at the Black Agenda Report

Or for more information about other stories go to their home page at Black Agenda Report

This is actually an old story as well; in 2001 there was a major protest and walk out that led to the scaling back of attempts to increase charter schools, at least temporarily.

Students protest privatization of Philadelphia schools 
On Nov. 29 hundreds of students walked out of Philadelphia high schools and took to the streets to protest a looming state takeover of the city's school district. The action was organized by the Philadelphia Student Union and Youth United for Change.

The students later formed a human chain around the school administration building to protest plans to allow Edison Schools, Inc., to privatize some of the city's schools.

"We're fighting for our rights," one high school senior told reporters. "We're fighting for our future."
Angry students extended their protest by camping overnight outside Mayor John Street's office. They refused to leave City Hall until they had won a demand for a meeting with the mayor, where they laid out their own ideas about how to run the schools….. full article at Workers World
For update from 5/2/2012 see “Fight to save Philadelphia schools” at Workers World

For additional details on this story and a follow up one year later see Quietly, battle over private management of schools rages on PDF at Philadelphia Schools Notebook

After the first walk out they scaled back on the efforts to privatize their education and elected a democratic governor, Ed Rendell, who didn’t try to fix more than he had to in order to appease the public, as far as I can tell. He also did what he could to increase the reliance on revenue from gambling which targets the poor and those least able to pay for it and adds many more social problems than it solves. Then power was handed right back to the Republicans where they continue their efforts to try to take over the schools for the benefit of the corporations. If it suite their purposes they may have the Democrats come in and pretend to save the day again. This was mentioned by Ed Schultz last night who criticized Governor Tom Corbett for supporting charter schools but failed to mention the fact that president barrack Obama is also doing what he can to advance the use of charter schools.

Clearly they have no intention of allowing the lower classes obtain quality education without allowing the upper classes control it, presumably to ensure that it fits their ideology, and profit from it.

Unless of course the ninety-nine percent stand up to both the Republicans who don’t bother pretending to represent the people anymore and the Democrats who do pretend to represent the public.

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

“presumably so that the corporations that donate to his campaign can continue to profit from the sweatshop labor in China”

Made me laugh but do not underestimate Afghanistan Zachary. Recently I have become somewhat of an expert on the history of the Pashtun. And I have to say there is more going on in Afghanistan than meets the eye.

We don’t really need to know what's in the Harvard Journal, I would rather read OS. What we need to do is take the inordinate amount of political power the Alumni of Harvard and its ilk wield. Forty thousand a year is about the equivalent for the elitists of what you and I would spend on a subscription of Newsweek.

The government works on the assumption that if you just smile and nod at the Black man everything will be just fine. But I think they are in for a rude awakening. I know a lot of Black people and I can tell you the Obama “throw the dog a bone thing” is no longer working.

Jack Heart May 03, 2012 01:15 PM

Jack, I still think Afghanistan deserves attention but don't trust the way they're handling it.

The Harvard journal is just an example although I suspect that they do have something worthwhile to say. The bigger point is that we need to have more open source material of all sorts and we need to find a way to get the incentives to those that do the work, not those that control the system. Thanks

zacherydtaylor May 03, 2012 01:38 PM

Thanks for taking on the job the corporate media is neglecting - reporting news of importance to ordinary Americans, rather than the Dow Jones average.

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall May 04, 2012 02:11 AM

Stuart, no problem. This would be a lot easier if my corporate sponsors were up to date on the payments for their ads on my site; I don't remember the last time I saw a dime from them.

zacherydtaylor May 04, 2012 09:39 AM

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