Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteI have to admit that I very rarely watch CNN these days but today while reading through the posts at Crooks & Liars, I may have to consider watching Soledad O'Brien. Most of the this morning Romney surrogate John[...]
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Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteNo agreement is perfect but the settlement that was reached Tuesday afternoon with the New York Department of Financial Services over Standard Charter Bank's illicit money laundering with Iran and other countries[...]
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Mitt Romney clearly wants the issue of his tax returns to go away. At the same time he adamantly refuses to do the one thing that would make the issue go away: release more returns. So Romney's newest strange attempt to get the media to drop the issue[...]
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There is a frontal assault on public schools coming next week, courtesy of Phil Anschutz, ALEC and Wal-Mart. ProPublica has the story:
The world?s largest private-sector employer and the country?s most prominent conservative entertainment company have teamed up to sponsor a fundraiser called ?Teachers Rock.? Backed by Walmart and Anschutz Film Group, the August 14 event will feature live performances from musicians like Josh Groban and appearances from actresses like Viola Davis; it will be broadcast August 18 as a CBS special with messages from actresses like Meryl Streep. And it will promote the upcoming feature film Won?t Back Down, Anschutz?s entry in the ?education reform? wars.
Won?t Back Down is reportedly a highly sympathetic fictional portrayal of ?parent trigger? laws, a major flashpoint in debates over education and collective bargaining. Under such laws, the submission of signatures from a majority of parents in a school triggers a ?turnaround option,? which can mean the replacement of a unionized school with a non-union charter. Such laws have been passed in several states, but due to court challenges, the "trigger" process has never been fully implemented.
?It's another Waiting for Superman," says Jose Vilson, a New York City math teacher and board member of the Center for Teacher Quality. "You have these popular actors, who as well-intentioned as they may be, they may not know all the facts, but they?re willing to back up a couple of corporate friends or people maybe they've become familiar with" in "trying to promote this sort of vision."
The point of the movie is to get parents all excited about the ALEC-created "parent trigger" law, or what is more commonly referred to among teachers as the "parent tricker law." The "parent trigger" law is effective here in California, but efforts to actually pull that trigger have been turned back, at least so far.
The law allows parents to petition school boards to take over the school and then close it, turn it over to a charter management firm, or firing all of the staff. All three options are a way of scapegoating and shaming teachers. Oh, and nullification of the teachers' union contracts. Big surprise there.
Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst and DFER areadvocates of the parent trigger law. One of the hallmarks of every effort to actually invoke it in California is the helpful petitions circulated to parents drafted by billionaire-funded organizations, all containing a provision to force the school to a takeover by a for-profit charter management organization.
Post parent-trigger, the WalMart model for public education kicks in. Inexperienced teachers with no seat at the table and a corporate profit model make a school into something else, something that's not necessarily good for students or their parents. Worse yet, the so-called trigger is based upon test results that are not necessarily reflective of the school's performance or student achievement.
Sadly, some Democrats also buy into the idea that the way to improve public schools is to privatize them. They should really read some informed literature from the people who actually deal with those students on a daily basis.
What they'd discover is that poverty isn't an excuse at all, but actually does affect children's ability to learn.
They would discover that test results have empirically been shown to be an ineffective measure of teacher success or effectiveness.
They would discover that teachers are professionals who deeply care about their students and reach for new ways to help them learn when they're actually given the opportunity to teach.
There are no turnkey fixes to public education. Parents are no better judges than politicians of what is needed to be effective. If they were, we would have homeschooled all of our kids always and never sent them to school. This is a fact. Parents are a necessary piece of a child's educational success, but they are not the only one.
At any rate, this parent trigger isn't being pulled by parents. It's being pulled by outside organizations like StudentsFirst and for-profit organizations who stand to profit.
But while the movie depicts an inspiring story of parental revolt, actual efforts to use the Parent Trigger have been driven by billionaire-funded supporters of privatization, and have sparked acrimony and division. None of these efforts has actually improved a school. [See Beyond the Hype of the Parent Trigger; Just the facts.]
Here is more about how this movie and event was funded:
The movie, due to open September 28, is produced by 20th Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch, and Walden Media, owned by Philip Anschutz. Murdoch?s right-wing politics are well known. Anschutz is an oil-and-gas billionaire who co-produced the anti-teacher film, ?Waiting for ?Superman?.? He contributes to organizations that oppose gay rights and support teaching creationism in schools. Anschutz has also donated to Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Koch brothers, which opposes environmental regulations and union rights, and to the political career of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
And finally, a little background on the Parent Revolution group active in California who backed the Adelanto effort and failed. (They are now filing a lawsuit):
The Parent Trigger was first conceived by a LA-based organization called the Parent Revolution, founded by a charter school operator and funded by the Broad, Walton and Gates Foundations. The legislation was introduced in California by then-State Senator Gloria Romero, who now heads the California branch of the pro-privatization organization, Democrats for Education Reform.
Because of how this event and the movie is being marketed, it's playing like a big parent empowerment movie that everyone should march out of with a song in their heart and triggers in their hand. It's soft-played from the privatization side, just like Paul Ryan's Medicare-murdering proposals. Using terms like "choice" and "voice", they soft-pedal the end of universal education and universal health care for seniors with equal alacrity.
Spread the word. They lie.
While the businesses profit enormously from the overall business environment in the US, shareholders and employees usually don't enjoy quality CEOs. There's nothing that suggests higher pay is linked to better corporate performance though you'd never know it by looking at the annual pay of the pampered class. CNBC:Citigroup, Abbott Laboratories, and AT&T are among the 26 companies that...
WikiLeaks Press caption: Ecuadorian nationals show their support for Assange outside of the Embassy of Ecuador in London.
"They could storm our embassy if Ecuador does not hand over Julian Assange."
-- Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, referring to a written threat from British authorities delivered to the embassy in London
For anyone who was worried about the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K., it's alive and well, standing solid as a 1-2 punch for fascism which even Candidate Willard would be hard put to improve upon.
As the moment of writing, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still sitting in the temporarily safe confines of the Ecuadorian embassy to the U.K. in London, trying to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning about charges of sexual assault there, he has been granted political asylum by Ecuador but has no immediately clear way of getting there, facing arrest if he leaves the embassy -- or a possible British assault on the embassy!
Britain's Foreign Office issued a statement later Wednesday citing a 1987 British law it says permits the revocation of diplomatic status of a building if the foreign power occupying it ''ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post.''
Mr Patino told a news conference that Ecuador received a written threat on Wednesday from Britain that "it could assault our embassy" if Assange was not handed over.
He said Britain's threat was delivered to Ecuador's Foreign Ministry and ambassador in London.
The Australian has been holed up in the embassy since June 19, taking refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning for alleged sexual misconduct. Assange's supporters say the charges are trumped up and believe the US has secretly indicted him and would extradite him from Sweden.
approx. 3:53pm EDT
* Ecuador has granted Julian Assange's request for political asylum. In a high-octane speech in Quito, the country's foreign minister said the South American nation believed the WikiLeaks founder's fears of persecution were legitimate.
* Foreign secretary William Hague has made it clear there will be no safe passage. Although Ecuador has granted Assange's request it is unclear quite how Assange will get there, with the prospect of his arrest if he leaves the embassy.
* Assange will give a live statement on Sunday 19 August at 2pm, according to Wikileaks' Twitter feed. Again it is unclear how he will do this given the huge police presence on the doorsteps of the Ecuadorean embassy.
* Assange could appeal to the International Court of Justice if the UK blocks his exit, according to another Wikileaks tweet. Professor Eileen Denza, a legal expert on diplomatic issues, says the court has been used in the past to settle disputes. The situation is currently a standoff, with the embassy unable to hold him indefinitely and the UK not obliged to give Assange safe passage.
* Supporters and critics are still split between those who believe that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges and those who believe it would open him up to extradition to the US. Assange has said he would be prepared to return to Sweden to answer questions if he received diplomatic assurances that he would not be pursued by the US for leaking documents. So far this hasn't happened.
approx. 4:47pm EDT
The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) is due to hold an "extraordinary meeting" in Ecuador on Sunday to discuss the situation at the embassy in London.
?A statement released on the website of Peru's foreign ministry, which holds the rotating presidency of the intergovernmental union, said:The foreign ministry of Peru lets public opinion know that, in concordance with the statutory responsibilities of the temporary presidency of Unasur, at the behest of the Republic of Ecuador and after consulting member states, an extraordinary meeting of the Counsel of Foreign Ministers of the Union has been convened on Sunday August 19 in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador.
?The meeting has been requested with the intention of considering the situation raised at the embassy of Ecuador in the United Kingdom.
Julian Assange is also due to give a live address on the same day, according to Wikileaks.
approx. 5:05pm EDT (updated approx. 5:20pm)#
Wikileaks has published a translated transcript of the press conference held by Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino giving Ecuador's reasons for granting asylum:The government of Ecuador believes that these arguments lend support to the fears of Julian Assange, and it believes that he may become a victim of political persecution, as a result of his dedicated defense of freedom of expression and freedom of press as well as his repudiation of the abuses of power in certain countries, and that these facts suggest that Mr. Assange could at any moment find himself in a situation likely to endanger life, safety or personal integrity.
On Ecuador's history of receiving those who have applied for territorial or refugee status:Our country has stood out in recent years to accommodate a large number of people who have applied for territorial asylum or refugee status, having unconditionally respected the principle of non-refoulement and non-discrimination, while it has taken steps to provide refugee status in an expeditious manner, taking into account the circumstances of applicants, mostly Colombians fleeing armed conflicts in their own country.
I have still been recovering from the last few days, which have been severely non-uproarious. Between the Mr. Bus incident, having to choose a vice presidential unit, and my opponent saying several rude things about me, I have been seriously considering abandoning this entire effort.
Looking for inspiration, I resorted to looking through my old tax returns. Looking at my tax returns never fails to reinvigorate me, and this time was no exception. "Observe," I said to myself. "According to this, you have perhaps paid as much as perhaps 13-point-something percent in taxes over these last years. Is that not cruel and outrageous, self?"
It is indeed cruel and outrageous. I remember now why I have not been creating any jobs in private industry for so many years. There hardly seems any point, if I shall only be able to keep 86-point-something percent of the resulting income. No one would purchase 86-point-something percent of a yacht, or tolerate having only 86-point-something percent of a private island.
During my required evening telephone call with the new vice presidential unit, he agreed with me that I was correct to be outraged, and reminded me that under his own tax proposals I would have only needed to relinquish zero-point-something percent. He was sorry that he had not proposed zero-point-zero percent, and said in hindsight that zero-point-zero percent was certainly an even better percent. I will admit that the conversation cheered me considerably.
I do not know whether or not I shall ever stop finding this vice presidential unit irritating, but his stance on the outrageousness of having to pay a 13-point-something percent tax rate certainly helps mask many of his other shortcomings. I also like his ability to explain why his past stances are not his current stances, and how his past stances were retroactively not his past stances. I also appreciate his convictions on the issues of budgets and how the details of budgets should not be disclosed except in quiet rooms, and only to other units of wealth, since only units of wealth can properly evaluate their obvious wisdom. I admit he is similar to me in many ways, only slightly smaller in chassis and considerably reduced in wallet.
He is beginning to grow on me, albeit slowly. I have begun to refer to him as Mini-Mitt.
The performance artist formerly known as Ace McCain has reached new heights in his dizzying continued efforts to inject himself into any available news story -- with increasing lack of self-awareness. Seemingly oblivious to Americans' reaction when the[...]
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As one of the world's most successful and prolific investors, it's no wonder Warren Buffett is closely watched by the stock market. After all, the "Oracle of Omaha" has been able to beat . . . → Read More: Buffett Sold Almost $3 Billion of these 3 Well-Known Stocks
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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Thursday insisted that he had paid more than 13 percent of his income in taxes over the last 10 years, and accused the people who want to see his returns of being "small minded."
During a press conference at the airport in Greer, South Carolina, the GOP hopeful told reporters that he couldn't understand why people keep asking about his taxes.
"I just have to say, given the challenges that America faces -- 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty -- the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small minded compared to the broad issues that we face," Romney explained.
"But I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years, I never paid less than 13 percent," he continued. "I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So, I pay taxes every single year."
Romney added that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) assertion that he had not paid any taxes over 10 years was "totally false."
"I'm sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him," the former Massachusetts governor said. "I don't believe it for a minute by the way."
"But every year, I paid at least 13 percent," he insisted. "And if you add in addition the amount the goes to charity [at the Mormon church], well, the number gets well above 20 percent."
During an interview that?s scheduled to air on Thursday, Ann Romney said that there would be ?no more tax releases given? by the wealthy couple, but she also insisted that ?there?s nothing we?re hiding.?
?We have been very transparent to what?s legally required of us,? the candidate's wife told NBC's Natalie Morales. ?But the more we release, the more we get attacked, the more we get questioned, the more we get pushed. And so, we have done what?s legally required. And there?s going to be no more tax releases given.?
?There?s nothing we?re hiding,? Ann Romney said. ?You know, we?ve had a blind trust for how many years? We don?t even know what?s in there. It?s been managed by blind trust since before Mitt was governor, you know, 2002 forward. And so, you know, I?ll be curious to see what?s in there too.?
Over the course of the summer, President Barack Obama?s campaign has successfully attacked Mitt Romney by connecting him to American jobs that Bain Capital allegedly helped send overseas. It has also hammered him for not releasing more than two years of tax returns and having offshore investments and tax shelters in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Switzerland.