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Member since: Tue Apr 5, 2005, 09:55 AM
Number of posts: 6,776

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Poverty, militarism and the public schools

By Robert C. Koehler

What’s the difference between education and obedience? If you see very little, you probably have no problem with the militarization of the American school system — or rather, the militarization of the impoverished schools . . . the ones that can’t afford new textbooks or functional plumbing, much less art supplies or band equipment.

The Pentagon has been eyeing these schools — broken and gang-ridden — for a decade now, and seeing its future there. It comes in like a cammy-clad Santa, bringing money and discipline. In return it gets young minds to shape, to (I fear) possess: to turn into the next generation of soldiers, available for the coming wars.

The United States no longer has a draft because the nation no longer believes in war, except abstractly, as background noise. But it has an economic draft: It claims recruits largely from the neighborhoods of hopelessness. Joining the U.S. military is the only opportunity to escape poverty available to millions of young Americans. We have no government programs to build the infrastructure of peace and environmental sustainability — we can’t afford that, so it has to happen on its own (or not at all) — but our military marches on, funded at more than half a trillion dollars a year, into ever more pointless wars of aggression.

Glory, glory hallelujah. I’d never been to a Memorial Day parade in my life, but I went to this year’s parade in downtown Chicago because members of the Chicago chapter of Veterans for Peace were going to be there, protesting the militarization of the city’s schools.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/poverty-militarism-public-schools/

Business groups sue government over Obama administration retirement rule

A coalition of leading business groups announced a lawsuit Thursday aiming to block new regulations set forth this year by the Labor Department. The new regulations are designed to protect retirement savers from conflicts of interest in the market for financial advice.

The group argued the rule would limit the choices available to investors and impinge on the services offered by financial advisors and their firms, reviving a bitter dispute that has followed the rule since it was first proposed in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

“Instead of helping savers plan for retirement, the new rule will unfortunately restrict their access to affordable retirement advice and limit their options for saving,” the group wrote in a joint statement. “The rule will shackle Main Street financial advisors with extensive new requirements and constant liability, forcing them to limit the options and guidance they provide to retirement savers.”

The rule, a top priority of the outgoing Obama administration, requires insurance brokers, retirement advisors and other financial professionals to avoid monetary conflicts of interest when offering financial advice to holders of 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, or IRAs.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/business-groups-sue-retirement-rule-2/

Donations sought to support independent journalism in Detroit (I hope it's OK to post this here)

Motor City Muckraker, an independent news website in Detroit (I have no affiliation with it, except as a reader and a small donor) is trying to raise money to stay alive. I encourage everyone here who can to pitch in to support this absolutely non-corporate, non-mainstream media outlet.

Since we launched Motor City Muckraker in May 2012, we have exposed numerous political scandals, dangerous school conditions, neglected neighborhoods, chronically broken fire hydrants, civil rights abuses and the far-reaching impact of chronic poverty.

Editor and Publisher Steve Neavling, a former Detroit Free Press reporter, worked up to 80 hours a week – with no compensation – because of his sincere passion to provide meaningful, insightful news that often is ignored or glossed over by the establishment media.

Now we’re asking for your help to raise $25,000 over the next three weeks so Motor City Muckraker can become stronger and operate long into the future. We plan to hire freelance reporters and videographers, launch a podcast and provide more in-depth news and investigations.

The time for independent watchdog journalism has never been more important. As newspapers and television media continue to shed reporters, many of Detroit’s most critical issues aren’t getting enough attention – unsafe and underfunded schools, lack of jobs, the nation’s highest infant mortality rate, massive water shutoffs, chronic poverty and a widening racial divide.

DONATE HERE: http://motorcitymuckraker.com/2016/06/01/fundraiser-launched-keep-motor-city-muckraker-alive/

Does lawsuit against Gawker create playbook for punishing press?

Word last week that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolled wrestler Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker added a wrinkle to a case already featuring colorful characters and a US$140 million jury verdict.

At a sensational and personal level, the story highlights the animus between PayPal co-founder Thiel and Gawker founder Nick Denton stemming from a 2007 gossip item that publicly outed Thiel as gay. Thiel sees Denton as “a singularly terrible bully” who invades privacy for profit. In turn, Denton sympathetically portrays Gawker, in an open letter to Thiel, as “a small New York media company” being bullied by a man with “a net worth of more than $2 billion.”

But regardless of whether it’s framed as a personal battle between Thiel and Denton or a larger one between protecting privacy and a free press, the revelation raises important questions about third-party financed litigation targeting U.S. news media outlets that are safeguarded under the First Amendment.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/does-lawsuit-against-gawker-create-playbook-for-punishing-press/

Bernie Sanders compares his campaign to basketball’s Golden State Warriors

Like sports fans everywhere, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders Monday perhaps put a bit too much weight on the outcome of a game. As the Golden State Warriors completed a historic series comeback and punched a ticket to the NBA Finals, Sanders said the stunning reversal of fortunes was a good sign for his chances to earn the nomination.

The Vermont senator is all but done mathematically in his pursuit of front-runner Hillary Clinton, but he's continued to pick up wins and California's June 7 primary could be a chance to try to win over superdelegates he'll now need to take the nomination. Sanders related his presidential hopes to the success of the Oakland-based Warriors, who broke the regular-season wins record this year, led by MVP Stephen Curry.

"They turned it around, I think that is what our campaign is going to do as well; a very good omen for our campaign," Sanders told reporters as he left the arena. The senator even confirmed to reporters that he thought his presence in the arena helped Golden State win, perhaps as some sort of good luck charm.

"Absolutely! No question about it. They were losing, then in the third quarter they did fantastically well. What other explanation is there?" he said to reporters.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/bernie-sanders-golden-state-warriors/

In historic visit to Hiroshima, Obama calls on the world to morally evolve

President Barack Obama paid somber tribute here Friday to the devastating human cost of war and pleaded with the world to progress morally as it does technologically, decades after an American warplane dropped an atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima and ushered in the age of nuclear warfare.

Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot on the site of the world's first nuclear attack, joining with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to chart the devastation and lay a wreath at a memorial commemorating the 140,000 estimated to have died.

In a sweeping address that set aside policy in favor of a rumination on the obligations of humankind, Obama reflected on early civilization and the ancient nature of conflict. He noted that as battlefield weapons and tactics evolve, accompanying norms about using them advances in fits and starts.

"Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us," Obama warned. "The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well. That is why we come to this place."

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/in-historic-visit-to-hiroshima-obama-calls-on-the-world-to-morally-evolve/

How did public restrooms get to be separated by sex in the first place?

In March, North Carolina enacted a law requiring that people be allowed to use only the public restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificates. Meanwhile, the White House has taken an opposing position, directing that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. In response, on May 25, 11 states sued the Obama administration to block the federal government from enforcing the directive.

Some argue that one solution to this impasse is to convert all public restrooms to unisex use, thereby eliminating the need to even consider a patron’s sex. This might strike some as bizarre or drastic. Many assume that separating restrooms based on a person’s biological sex is the “natural” way to determine who should and should not be permitted to use these public spaces.

In fact, laws in the U.S. did not even address the issue of separating public restrooms by sex until the end of the 19th century, when Massachusetts became the first state to enact such a statute. By 1920, over 40 states had adopted similar legislation requiring that public restrooms be separated by sex.

So why did states in the U.S. begin passing such laws? Were legislators merely recognizing natural anatomical differences between men and women?

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/public-restrooms-separated-sex/

Troubled waters: The conflict in the South China Sea explained

A United Nations arbitration court will soon rule over the sovereignty of islands in the South China Sea, a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines with global implications.

In recent years, China has been asserting claims in the region and has built up atolls and islands to be large enough to stage military exercises. This region is of major economic and geopolitical significance, with its vital commercial shipping lanes, rich fisheries and massive natural gas and oil deposits.

Even before any ruling, China has rejected the U.N. process and argued that the Philippines should seek to settle the dispute through bilateral negotiations. The U.S., meanwhile, has been stepping up military exercises in the South China Sea in recent months.

These growing tensions focus attention on an emerging geopolitical hotspot, something I view through my perspective as a researcher of political geography and globalization. What is the background to these tensions and what are their likely implications and consequences?

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/troubled-waters-conflict-south-china-sea-explained/

Drought be dammed: Has the promise of huge dams run its course?

Wedged between Arizona and Utah, less than 20 miles up river from the Grand Canyon, a soaring concrete wall nearly the height of two football fields blocks the flow of the Colorado River. There, at Glen Canyon Dam, the river is turned back on itself, drowning more than 200 miles of plasma-red gorges and replacing the Colorado’s free-spirited rapids with an immense lake of flat, still water called Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reserve.

When Glen Canyon Dam was built — in the middle of the last century — giant dams were championed as a silver bullet promising to elevate the American West above its greatest handicap — a perennial shortage of water. These monolithic wonders of engineering would bring wild rivers to heel, produce cheap, clean power, and stockpile water necessary to grow a thriving economy in the middle of the desert. And because they were often remotely located they were rarely questioned.

We built the Hoover Dam, creating Lake Mead, Glen Canyon Dam and more than 300 other dams and reservoirs at a cost of more than $100 billion. Such was the nation’s enthusiasm for capturing its water that even the lower part of the Grand Canyon seemed, for a time, worth flooding. Two more towering walls of concrete were proposed there, and would have backed up water well into the nation’s most famous national park.

But today, there are signs that the promise of the great dam has run its course.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/promise-huge-dams-run-course/

The US will arm a communist country for the first time since WWII

Diplomatic relations were finally restored in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, but on Monday President Barack Obama went a step further: During a visit to Hanoi, he announced he was lifting the embargo on US companies selling arms to Vietnam, 41 years after the fall of Saigon.

The Vietnam War was the bloodiest conflict America has been involved in since World War II. The physical and mental scars are still there for many of the Americans who served.

But on Monday Obama pointed to Secretary of State John Kerry, who served in the Vietnam War, and said veterans on both sides had shown “hearts can change, and peace is possible.''

Republican Senator John McCain has been a big advocate for lifting the arms embargo. McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five years, and was tortured.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/us-will-arm-communist-country-first-time-since-wwii-2/

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