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Starry Messenger

Profile Information

Name: Decline to State
Gender: Female
Hometown: Bay Area, CA
Home country: USA
Current location: Left Coast
Member since: Sat Apr 9, 2005, 08:01 PM
Number of posts: 27,333

About Me

Artist, high school teacher and "hard-liner" (yet to be defined).

Journal Archives

IMF chief says banks haven't changed since financial crisis

*Big surprise*


The head of the International Monetary Fund has warned that a persistent violation of ethics among bankers and rising inequality pose a major threat to growth and financial stability.

Christine Lagarde told an audience in London that six years on from the deep financial crisis that engulfed the global economy, banks were resisting reform and still too focused on excessive risk taking to secure their bonuses at the expense of public trust.

She said: "The behaviour of the financial sector has not changed fundamentally in a number of dimensions since the crisis. While some changes in behaviour are taking place, these are not deep or broad enough. The industry still prizes short-term profit over long-term prudence, today's bonus over tomorrow's relationship.

"Some prominent firms have even been mired in scandals that violate the most basic ethical norms - Libor and foreign exchange rigging, money laundering, illegal foreclosure."

Lagarde warned the too-big-to-fail problem among some of the world's largest financial institutions was still unresolved and remained a major source of systematic risk, with implicit subsidies of $70bn (£42bn) in the US, and up to $300bn in the eurozone.


Bonus: irony alert

Posted by Starry Messenger | Tue May 27, 2014, 11:37 AM (3 replies)

A dozen problems with charter schools



1. Most are not helping kids. Rep. Roebuck’s new report shows that for the 2012-23 academic year, “the average SPP score for traditional public schools was 77.1,” but for charter schools it was 66.4, and cyber-charter schools came in at a low 46.8. What’s more, “none of the 14 cyber charter schools had SPP scores over 70, considered the minimal level of academic success and 8 cyber charter schools had SPP scores below 50.” The latest national research found that charter students in Pennsylvania cover 29 fewer days of reading material on average, and 50 fewer days of math than traditional public schools. That puts us in the bottom three states in the country. If we’re going to have charter schools, shouldn’t they be helping students?

2. Some are actually hurting kids. In a new report out last week, Gordon Lafer, a political economist at the University of Oregon, reviewed the growing low-budget-charter sector in Milwaukee, which has the oldest charter system in the country, and found startling results with national implications. Cost-cutting charters such as the Rocketship chain offer a narrow curriculum focused on little more than reading and math test prep, inexperienced teachers with high turnover, and “blended learning” products designed to enrich charter school board members’ investment portfolios. Lafer “questions why an educational model deemed substandard for more privileged suburban children is being so vigorously promoted—perhaps even forced—on poor children…” Others have pointed out significant problems with zero-tolerance, strict discipline charters made famous by the “no excuses” KIPP chain of schools.

3. Far too many are cash cows. When Pennsylvania is seen by hedge fund managers as prime ground for “investment opportunities” in charter schools, you know something is terribly wrong. And when four of the top political campaign donors in the entire state are connected to charter schools, you have to start asking why. Publicly funded schools should not be serving to line the pockets of private companies and individuals.

4. The industry is rife with fraud and corruption. Who can forget the scheme by PA Cyber Charter founder Nicholas Trombetta, right here in Beaver County, to steal $1 million in public dollars? Federal investigators filed 11 fraud and tax conspiracy charges against him and indicted others in the case. And then there is the Urban Pathways Charter School in downtown Pittsburgh under FBI scrutiny for trying to spend Pennsylvania taxpayer money to build a school in Ohio. A related investigation by the state auditor general revealed a history of expensive restaurant meals, a posh staff retreat at Nemacolin Woodlands resort, and payments for mobile phones belonging to the spouses of board members. Not to be left out, Philadelphia just had its eighth charter school official plead guilty to federal fraud charges.

5. Lack of transparency and accountability. Charter schools are publicly funded, but often act like private entities. Here in Pennsylvania, the largest charter school operator has been fighting a right-to-know request for years in the courts so that he doesn’t have to reveal his publicly funded salary (data that is publicly available for traditional public schools). In 2012, Gov. Corbett and the Republican controlled legislature tried to introduce a bill that would have exempted all charters from the state’s sunshine laws. In California, charter school operators have even argued in court that they are a private entity and should not be treated as a public institution. We desperately need charter reform legislation that emphasizes accountability and transparency, just as we demand from traditional public schools.


Posted by Starry Messenger | Tue May 20, 2014, 10:24 PM (2 replies)

Petitioning Lawrence & Wishart: No Copyright for Marx Engels Collected Works


It is immensely ironic that a private publishIng company is claiming the copyright of the collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the philosophers who wrote against the monopoly of capitalism and its origin, private property, all their lives.

Marxists Internet Archieve is an international, public archieve which gives free access to a wide range of academic and historical writings about Marxism in multiple langauges. Lawrence & Wishart is a private publishing house in Britain which claims to hold the copyright of Marx Engels Collected Works. During the last several years, the Marx Engels Collected Works have been read by the millions of people on the Marxists Internet Archeive (MIA). However, now the private publishing company, Lawrence & Wishart - which loves to position itself as a 'radical company', claiming historical links with the Britain's Communist Party - has directed MIA to delete all texts originating from Marx Engels Collected Works (MECW).

If this happens, MECW would not be accessible on the internet for free, from 30th April, 2014, and that would be a huge loss for the students and political activists who continue to utilize this free academic source.

You cannot privatize their writings -- they are the collective property of the people they wrote for. Privatization of Marx and Engels' writings is like getting a trademark for the words 'socialism' or 'communism'.

Say NO to the copyright law for the founders of scientific socialism. Let's protest against Lawrence & Wishart for this ironic monopoly.

Sign and share! L&W are demanding that the material be pulled down by April 30th, so try to spread the word.
Posted by Starry Messenger | Thu Apr 24, 2014, 09:38 PM (0 replies)

Ukrainian ultra-rightists given major Cabinet posts in government


The ultra-right Svoboda Party has scored six major cabinet ministries in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday. Svoboda is an ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russophobic party with its base of support in the Western Ukraine.

The most important post was claimed by a co-founder of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy. He was named Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, which supervises the defense ministry and the armed forces.


The Right Sector is an openly fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Russian organization. Most of the snipers and bomb throwers in the crowds were connected with this group.

Right Sector members have been participating in military training camps for the last two years or more in preparation for street activity of the kind witnessed in the Ukraine over the last few months.

The Right Sector, as can be seen by the appointment of Parubiy, is now in a position to control major appointments to the provisional government and has succeeded in achieving its long time goal of legalizing discrimination against Russians. The new parliament has passed legislation that declares Russian speakers no longer have equal rights with Ukrainians.


Posted by Starry Messenger | Fri Feb 28, 2014, 04:52 PM (39 replies)

City College of San Francisco wins round in accreditation battle

New article of mine, good news for a change.


SAN FRANCISCO - City College of San Francisco has regained accreditation, for now. With a Jan. 2 injunction Judge Curtis Karnow blocked last summer's action by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) stripping the college's accreditation. The disaccreditation would have gone into final effect July 2014 and would have effectively shuttered the school, which has served thousands of students for decades. Karnow's injunction delays the move pending a court decision on a lawsuit brought by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera against the disaccreditation.

After hearing two days of arguments, on Dec.. 26 and 30, Judge Karnow noted in his ruling that the "consequences would be catastrophic" if the ACCJC were allowed to finish the disaccreditation process.


Posted by Starry Messenger | Mon Jan 13, 2014, 05:50 PM (5 replies)

Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela -1918-2013


It will be difficult this weekend to find a political commentator to speak ill of Nelson Mandela, but it was not always so.

The man dubbed a communist terrorist by Margaret Thatcher is now portrayed as everyone's grandfather, a loveable old man with a twinkle in his eye and a kind word for everyone.

We owe it to history to step beyond this one-sided picture and to proclaim the reality that Mandela was a revolutionary, committed to the liberation of South Africa from colonialism and imperialism.

He was firm in his views but flexible enough to discuss disagreements and to admit he was wrong when convinced of a case.

This applied to his initial anti-communism after he joined the African National Congress Youth League in 1944, working with Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Anton Lembede, Peter Mda and others to radicalise the ANC, moving from petitions and delegations to civil disobedience, stayaways and other forms of mass action.


SACP confirms Nelson Mandela was a member


FORMER president Nelson Mandela was a member of the South African Communist Party’s (SACP’s) central executive committee at the time of his arrest in 1962, the SACP and the African National Congress (ANC) confirmed on Friday.

Even though it had always been denied, the ANC and the SACP confirmed that Mr Mandela had served on the party’s central executive committee in their statements paying tribute to the antiapartheid icon. There had been much debate about the issue among historians and academics.

SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila on Thursday said he was a member of the party, but it was denied at the time for "political reasons".

"There was a huge offensive by the oppressive apartheid regime at the time against communists. They portrayed the ANC as a communist organisation, but it was not," he said.


Posted by Starry Messenger | Sat Dec 7, 2013, 02:28 PM (5 replies)

Personal impact of government shutdown on DU.

I've seen some posts about the personal impact this partisan shutdown is having on DUers and their family. Can we get a picture of the overall impact here?

Posted by Starry Messenger | Tue Oct 1, 2013, 10:23 AM (84 replies)

City College of San Francisco: 99% vs. corporate education reform


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - The California Federation of Teachers recently labeled the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) a "rogue college accreditation commission."

The teachers union and the Save CCSF (City College of San Francisco) coalition believe that the agency is following a corporate agenda in the fight over accreditation of the San Francisco college.

Business-oriented education reform is a familiar topic to those following trends in K-12 public education. Higher education has not been immune to similar trends, with corporate reformers laying out strategies which tend to embrace a more business-type model for colleges. Free-market think-tanks like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are working in parallel with funders such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation, increasingly gaining ground in crafting education policy.

Last year the ACCJC, the body that yanked the accreditation of CCSF this July, was one of the recipients of a $1 million Lumina Foundation grant.


CCSF has one year left in its accreditation, and it's stressing me out that more people aren't worried about this school closing.

For more background, you can check out my earlier article about this: http://www.peoplesworld.org/city-college-of-san-francisco-redoubles-efforts-to-fight-closure/
Posted by Starry Messenger | Mon Jul 29, 2013, 09:29 PM (0 replies)

I just read another article where people are emptying out their 401ks to try to by even at these

prices. I think those of us who are stuck renting have gotten the memo, but the "creative class" hasn't yet. I've been documenting Silicon Valley capitalism and labor for a year. It will be interesting to look in another year where we are .
Posted by Starry Messenger | Thu Jul 18, 2013, 01:08 PM (1 replies)

Tax that oil extraction!

California Modernization and Economic Development Act needs your support.


Big Oil pumps over 200 million barrels of oil and 240 million MCF of natural gas out of California’s lands and oceans every year without ever paying their fair share for either. Alaska charges between 25-50%, North Dakota 11.5% and even Texas charges 7.5%.

In fact, California is the only major oil-producing state in the nation that gives oil companies a free ride.

Our schools and colleges are underfunded, our roads and bridges are falling apart, and unemployment remains above 9%. We simply cannot afford to give Big Oil a free ride while Californians are asked to pay more and more. It's time to stop giving away California’s resources and invest in what California needs.

That's why students organized under the name "Californians for Responsible Economic Development" and proposed the California Modernization and Economic Development (CMED) Act to make this change:

$0 (from us) + 9.5% (from Big Oil) =

$1,200,000,000 for lowering tuition and reducing class sizes

$440,000,000 for greener businesses and more jobs

$366,000,000 for parks, counties and cities

Sign this petition to support our ballot initiative and let Big Oil know that the people of California are done giving away our resources.

Big Oil lobbyists have defeated every effort in the Legislature in order to protect their $158 billion dollars in annual profits. It's time they pay their fair share for the oil and gas they extract from our state to sell on the global market.

Visit CMEDAct.org and facebook.com/cmedact to learn more.

Please sign and pass around to your networks!
Posted by Starry Messenger | Mon Jul 8, 2013, 05:48 PM (4 replies)
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