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Jefferson23

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Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
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Journal Archives

Groups Want Federal Autism Dollars Reallocated

By Michelle Diament

April 11, 2014

With the nation’s primary autism legislation set to expire soon, some disability advocates are pressing for major changes in the federal government’s approach to the developmental disorder.

In a letter this week to key members of Congress, 18 national organizations are asking for a greater emphasis on services and the needs of adults with autism when lawmakers reauthorize legislation known as the Combating Autism Act.

“Congress should make common-sense changes that will ensure that federal funds are better used to benefit the community that this legislation is designed to serve,” wrote the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Autism Society of America, the American Association of People with Disabilities, TASH, the National Disability Rights Network and other groups in the letter.

snip* The groups also said they’d like the law renamed to remove the negative connotation they see in the word “combating” and want to see changes at the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory panel comprised of government officials and members of the autism community. Specifically, in the letter advocates told lawmakers that the IACC should include greater representation from people with autism and the committee ought to be reorganized to address more than medical research.

“Autistic people do not like being excluded from a conversation that at the end of the day is about us,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “(The Combating Autism Act) really needs to be about supporting autistic people.”


http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/04/11/groups-autism-reallocated/19276/

Reforming China’s State-Market Balance

BEIJING – No country in recorded history has grown as fast – and moved as many people out of poverty – as China over the last thirty years. A hallmark of China’s success has been its leaders’ willingness to revise the country’s economic model when and as needed, despite opposition from powerful vested interests. And now, as China implements another series of fundamental reforms, such interests are already lining up to resist. Can the reformers triumph again?

In answering that question, the crucial point to bear in mind is that, as in the past, the current round of reforms will restructure not only the economy, but also the vested interests that will shape future reforms (and even determine whether they are possible). And today, while high-profile initiatives – for example, the government’s widening anti-corruption campaign – receive much attention, the deeper issue that China faces concerns the appropriate roles of the state and the market.

When China began its reforms more than three decades ago, the direction was clear: the market needed to play a far greater role in resource allocation. And so it has, with the private sector far more important now than it was. Moreover, there is a broad consensus that the market needs to play what officials call a “decisive role” in many sectors where state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominate. But what should its role be in other sectors, and in the economy more generally?

Many of China’s problems today stem from too much market and too little government. Or, to put it another way, while the government is clearly doing some things that it should not, it is also not doing some things that it should.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/joseph-e--stiglitz-asks-what-role-government-should-play-as-economic-restructuring-proceeds#qBs5kk4cAjOicVkq.99

Corporates carve up the African cake


03 April 2014

A guest post from Stanley Ellerby-English.

This week World Development Movement activists, dressed as representatives of some of the world's largest food and drink companies, delivered an Africa shaped thank-you cake to the Department for International Development (DfID). This tongue-in-cheek action highlights the support that DfID is giving to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the stated aim of which is to lift 50 million people out of poverty and improve food security.

"Sounds great", I hear you say. "WDM has clearly made some kind of mistake; these folks are just doing their best to tackle hunger". Well, if you're on WDM’s website you're probably not saying that, but many people might think so. So what’s this all about?

The New Alliance sees ten African countries making commitments to change their land, seed and trade policies to encourage greater agricultural investment, in return for aid money and commitments from major companies to expand their businesses. Unfortunately, this is likely to do little to support the small-scale farmers who feed the majority of the African population – and instead, looks set to exacerbate poverty and inequality.

Despite their supposed goals, policies being adopted by African governments that have joined the New Alliance have been largely aimed at integrating African farmers more directly to international markets. This is good for multinational companies which are set to sell more of their products, and can source raw materials from a larger number of producers. But it’s not a recipe for reducing hunger and poverty.


http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/blog_comments/corporates_carve_up_the_african_cake


Tech Company Ramps Up Hiring Of Workers With Autism

* Good stuff!


By Michelle Diament

April 1, 2014

An international software giant that’s looking to tap the unique talents of those with autism is taking on its first group of American employees on the spectrum.

Germany-based SAP said it has added workers with autism at its offices in Palo Alto, Calif. and Newtown Square, Pa. The hires bring the number of people with the developmental disorder working as software developers, data quality assurance specialists and in other positions at the company to more than 30 worldwide, SAP said.

Last year the company said it would launch a strategic effort to employ people with autism, saying that doing so offered a “potential competitive advantage.”

Prior to bringing the concept to its offices in the United States, SAP piloted the idea in India, Ireland and Germany. Opportunities will be available in Canada as well starting this spring, the company indicated.

in full: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/04/01/tech-hiring-autism/19243/

A Debate on Torture: Legal Architect of CIA Secret Prisons, Rendition vs. Human Rights Attorney

From Democracy Now, video at link, transcript will be posted as soon as available.

As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence feuds with the CIA over the declassification of its 6,000-page report on the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs, we host a debate between former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo and human rights attorney Scott Horton.



This comes as the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Obama administration for closing its investigations into the CIA’s actions after September 11. A U.N. report issued Thursday stated, “The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives." Rizzo served as acting general counsel during much of the George W. Bush administration and was a key legal architect of the U.S. interrogation and detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. He recently published a book titled, "Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA." Attorney Scott Horton is contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and author of the forthcoming book, "The Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy."

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/3/28/a_debate_on_torture_legal_architect

The Unbearable Lightness of Being CIA General Counsel ( Scott Horton )

In the months following 9/11, it seems Washington just couldn’t say “no” to the CIA. The agency’s budget shot through the ceiling. Suddenly the CIA not only commanded private armies, it even had a state-of-the-art air force! Between 2006-2007, the CIA drove a proxy war, mobilizing Ethiopia’s army to invade Somalia. It was perhaps the most audacious war the CIA ever triggered. But it hardly raised a stir in Washington, where reinvigorated secrecy ensured that hardly anyone knew about it—and where to this day few analysts even understand what the CIA’s little war, in which thousands of innocent civilians perished, was about. The CIA also bore core responsibility for a nine-year-long drone war in Pakistan: 300 strikes with more than 3,000 fatalities, almost all of this in an area that U.S. military strategists describe as the core of the battlefield in the current war. It also ran, jointly with the military, drone campaigns in Yemen and Somalia. None of this is what the authors of the National Security Act had in mind with the words “covert operation.” In fact, virtually the only people in the world from whom these activities were kept secret were American voters.

Throughout this period, the dapper and good-natured John Rizzo was the CIA’s senior career lawyer. One would hope to find in his memoir a deep account of the policy battles that led to the CIA’s transformation, and particularly the legal issues. There is no other time in American history when the public has been riveted by legal policy issues as luridly appealing as those that emerged in 2004-2007. Gruesome accounts of homicide and torture in secret prisons run by the American government rocked the world. The scandal opened with now-iconic photographs from Abu Ghraib, and spread as stories emerged from Bagram, Camp Nama, the CIA’s Salt Pit prison north of Kabul, its secret prison near Rabat, Morocco, and Guantánamo. President Bush insisted that “we do not torture.” But an avalanche of secret U.S. legal documents quickly showed otherwise.

John Rizzo was at the center of this storm.

Company Man offers an interesting collection of vignettes from a 35-year career in the agency, but its essence is a rationalization of the CIA’s decision to operate black sites and use torture. Rizzo chronicles the steps that led to these decisions and then to back away from them. We discover, for instance, as John Kiriakou first revealed, that the key decisions about the use of waterboarding, mock burial, the cold cell, longtime-standing, sleep deprivation and similar techniques, were taken by the CIA both to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and to the White House. They were ultimately reviewed and approved by the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee (consisting of key cabinet officers, the national security advisor, the president and vice president). Only two members of the NSC openly voiced reservations: Condoleezza Rice didn’t like enforced nudity. Colin Powell objected to sleep deprivation. (Kiriakou, a former CIA case officer and analyst, is currently serving a prison term for what he revealed.)

Donald Rumsfeld, who once stormed out of a party when asked about war crimes, didn’t want to be in these meetings. John Ashcroft was “mostly silent.” But Dick Cheney stood tall for torture and was a forceful dissenter from President Bush’s late 2006 decision to eliminate it. One curiosity: in his recent biography, Bush proudly took responsibility for the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but Rizzo doesn’t recall that Bush was ever actually briefed on them.

remainder: http://washingtonspectator.org/index.php/Book-Review/the-unbearable-lightness-of-being-cia-general-counsel.html#.UzVyhFf535M

Teach For America To Bolster Special Education Training

* Just what they need.

By Shaun Heasley

March 25, 2014 Text Size A A

A program that places recent college graduates in teaching positions across the country after just weeks of training says it will beef up its focus on special education.

Teach for America said it will “strengthen” training that its participants receive on “ability-based mindsets and inclusive practices.”

snip* Due to shortages in the field, advocates say that special education is more reliant on alternative training programs than many other teaching specialities.

However, critics have voiced concerns about a lack of transparency in the level of expertise that Teach for America’s teachers have. Under current federal policy, rookie educators can often be dubbed “highly qualified” even as they work to complete their teaching certification.

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/03/25/teach-america-sped-training/19225/

Sins of the Fatcat

March 20, 2014

Bob Ivry’s guide for tracking down the live villains and unburied bodies of the 2008 crash

By Andrew Cockburn

Back in February, Congressman David Camp (R., Mich.), chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, unveiled a plan to reform the U.S. tax code, clarifying and simplifying its infinite and tortuous provisions. One of his proposals was to levy a tax of .035 percent on assets exceeding $500 billion held by U.S. megabanks and insurance companies. This, he explained, would offset the advantage big banks enjoy in borrowing costs thanks to their implicit government-bailout guarantee as too-big-to-fail institutions.

It was a laudable enough idea, in a modest kind of way. Coming from a House Republican it certainly had the merit of novelty. But no one among the massed ranks of financial-industry hirelings on K Street and Capitol Hill took it seriously enough to plan a vigorous counterattack. Camp is due to step down from his chairmanship soon, and everyone in Washington is well aware of the banks’ invulnerability to attempts at prizing away even a sliver of their hoards. “Dead on arrival” was the common verdict.

That wasn’t the way JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Wall Street’s capo di tutti frutti, saw things, though. “He was calling everyone, from the Speaker on down,” one lobbyist reported to me in amazement. “He was frantic about the threat of Camp, as if anything was ever going to come out of that.”

The only interpretation the D.C. financial lobbying community could make of Dimon’s hysterical behavior was that they had done their work too well. “The banks have gotten absolutely everything they wanted, post-crash,” my lobbyist friend explained. The 2010 SAFE bill, through which Senators Sherrod Brown and Ted Kaufman attempted to break up the too-big-to-fails? Crushed like a bug in the Senate, 60–31. The Volcker Rule restricting banks from trading on their own account? Riddled with more loopholes than a yard of chicken wire. The Lincoln Amendment barring institutions from gambling with taxpayer-insured money? On its way out the door. “There really are no outstanding issues left for them to fight over,” my friend said, “so now even the semblance of defiance from any quarter is taken as a personal affront, and they move to crush it.”

in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2014/03/sins-of-the-fatcat/

The Sunni revolt in Syria has given al-Qa’ida more power in Iraq

In the third part of his series, Patrick cockburn looks at the growing influence of Isis, al-Qa’ida’s force in Iraq, which dominates Sunni areas and is wreaking havoc among the Shia majority



Events in Iraq are not always what they seem: take two occurrences over the past year illustrating the difference between appearance and the reality in Iraq. The first event took place outside Fallujah after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, aided by tribal militias, took over the city in January. This was a body blow to the Iraqi government since Fallujah is only 40 miles west of Baghdad and was famously stormed by US Marines in a bloody battle in 2004.

But soon after Isis had retaken it three months ago, a reassuring video was circulated on Twitter and Facebook by government supporters. It had some narrative in Iraqi Arabic, was shot from the air and showed insurgents being targeted and eliminated by air-launched missiles. This was morale-raising stuff for the Iraqi government and to those loyal to it, but unfortunately it proved to be a fabrication and after a few hours someone noticed that the video had been shot in Afghanistan and it is of American drones or helicopters firing missiles at Taliban fighters. It is doubtful if Iraqi airpower is capable of carrying out such attacks.

But such deceptions are not all on the government side. In December 2012 the arrest of the bodyguards of the moderate Sunni Finance Minister, Rafi al-Issawi, by the government led to widespread but peaceful protests in Sunni provinces in northern and central Iraq, Sunni Arabs making up about a fifth of Iraq’s 33 million population. At first, the demonstrations were well-attended, with protesters demanding an end to political, civil and economic discrimination against the Sunni community. But soon they realised that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was offering only cosmetic changes and many stopped attending the weekly demonstrations.

In the Sunni city of Tikrit, capital of Salah Ad-Din province, 10,000 people had come to rallies at first, but then the number sank to 1,000. A local observer says: “It was decided that all mosques should be shut on Fridays except for one, forcing all the faithful to go to the same mosque for Friday prayers. Cameras eagerly filmed and photographed the crowd to make it look like they were all protesters and would beam the images back to the Gulf, where their paymasters were fooled (or maybe they weren’t) into thinking that the protests were still attracting large numbers.” The eyewitness in Tikrit cynically suggests that the money supposedly spent on feeding and transporting non-existent demonstrators was pocketed by protest leaders.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-sunni-revolt-in-syria-has-given-alqaida-more-power-in-iraq-9200376.html

Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter

Mr. Porter tells Paul Jay that the American security state was and is against war with Iran, but if Obama doesn't break with the false narrative about Iran's nuclear program, he may not be able to sell a deal - March 18, 2014


GARETH PORTER, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Thank you very much, Paul.

JAY: So Gareth is a historian. He's an investigative journalist. He covers U.S. foreign and military policy. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

So we're going to pick up where we left off. And essentially at the end of the last segment I was asking the question, if, as it seems true, that Dick Cheney, vice president, and President Bush were fairly intent on attacking Iran—and in earlier segments we talked about a document called Project for the New American Century, written and signed by many neocons who made up the Bush administration, and it clearly laid out it's time to assert American power—Iraq, Syria, and with the real prize being regime change in Iran and the need for a manufactured narrative to rationalize all of this, get American people on board, especially after a failed Iraq War—how do you get people ready for another one? Well, I guess you need a mushroom scare.

Gareth, I guess that more or less says it, does it?

So why didn't they get their war?

PORTER: They didn't get their war, because there was very strong built-in resistance on the part of the national security state in the United States, particularly the military and the Pentagon, to getting into a war with Iran. And I think this reflects the reality that Iran really is capable of doing damage to U.S. military assets in the region.

U.S. bases in the Middle East are extremely vulnerable to an attack by the Iranians. Particularly, U.S. naval vessels in this narrow gulf that they have to go through are vulnerable to—.

JAY: And, at the time, tens of thousands of American troops in Iraq.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11619

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