Monthly Archives: April 2014

NY Times: Walton Family Foundation Funds Charter Movement

by Diane Ravitch, 4/27/14

Readers if this blog have long known that the Billionaires Boys Club has pledged its allegiance to the privatization of American public education. Among the Billionaires Boys Club, we include the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foubdation, the Walton Family Foundatioon, and hedge fund managers. They are allied with ALEC and other rightwing “think” tanks, all of which are in live with charters and vouchers.

Motoko Rich wrote in Saturday’s Néw York Times about the dedication of the vastly wealthy Walton Family Foundation. The Waltons do not like public education. They do not like unions. They like charters and vouchers. They spend $160 million every year to spread the gospel of privatization and to destroy the public schools that are the heart of most communities.

With their support, the US is recreating a dual school system: one that chooses its students and the other that accepts all. Further, they have got the media cheering for segregated schools, determined as the Waltons are to establish the success of all-black schools.

They use their vast wealth not to pay their workers a living wage but to destroy their communities, killing off mom and pop stores, and destroying their local public school, replacing it with a corporate chain school.

Altogether a great triumph for the cold and mean face of American capitalism, which cares not at all for family , community, tradition, or humane values.

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LOSING TIM: A Mother Unravels Her Military Son’s Suicide

A Review/Essay by John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 4/25/14

I met Janet Burroway when I was a Vietnam veteran on the GI Bill at Florida State University and I signed up for a creative writing workshop she was just hired to teach. She was a worldly, published novelist seven years older than me. She had just left an oppressive husband, a Belgian, who was an important theater director in London where she’d been to parties with the likes of Samuel Beckett. I graduate in 1973, and in a turn of events that still amazes me, I asked her out and ended up living with her for a couple years. She had two beautiful boys, Tim, 9, and Toby, 6, who I grew to love.

Cut to 2004. Even as a kid, Tim had a hard-headed moral code about what was right and wrong. As he grew into manhood, he became enamored of all things military; he loved guns. He had a career in the Army as a Ranger, where all his evaluations suggest a stellar soldier. He reached captain, but a promise to his wife and other reasons led him to resign his commission in the active Army. He worked in the Army reserves for a while in places like Bosnia. Contacts led him to civilian jobs in the military contractor world in Africa and Iraq, where he ended up running de-mining operations and training de-miners for RONCO Consulting Corporation.

By Spring 2004, he decided to resign from RONCO. He visited his mother in Tallahassee, then flew to Namibia, northwest of South Africa, to be with his wife Birgett, a white Namibian he’d met during an assignment in Africa where she worked for the UN. Birgett had an adolescent son from a previous relationship. They had a one-year old daughter.

The details are not absolutely clear. Tim was certainly disillusioned from his experiences in Iraq and was apparently sinking into depression. For reasons only he could know, one afternoon he put a nine-millimeter pistol to his head and, in front of Birgett, shot himself dead at age 39.

What is one to make of an act like this? What is a mother to make of the death of her son in this way — especially a mother who throughout her son’s military and contractor career was politically at odds with her son and against the war in Iraq? If that mother is a respected novelist with a talent for spare, honest prose, the answer is a memoir like Losing Tim, just published by Think Piece Press.

For a flavor of the writing in Losing Tim, here’s Burroway on the political tension between her and Tim and how it matured her as a mother:

“Here’s the irony: that nothing led me toward eventual adulthood quite so insistently as the passive endurance of my disappointment — that I had borne, and must adore, a golden right-wing gun-toting soldier son.”…

continue reading at This Can’t Be Happening

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Filed under John Grant, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War

We’re NOT Number 1: Guess Which Country Now Has a More Affluent Middle Class Than America?

By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet, 4/23/14

America’s rich are surging ahead, but the rest are falling behind. What happened?

Fancy living up in Canada? Granted, it’s a bit chilly. But the middle class up there has just blown by the U.S. as the world’s most affluent. America’s wealthy are leaping ahead of the rest of much of the globe, but the middle class is falling behind. So are the poor. That’s the sobering news from the latest research put out by LIS, a group based in Luxembourg and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

After taxes, the Canadian middle class now has a higher income than its American counterpart. And many European countries are closing in on us. Median incomes in Western European countries are still a bit lower than those of the U.S., but the gap in several countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain, is significantly smaller than it was a decade ago. However, if you take into account the cost of things like education, retirement and healthcare in America, those European countries’ middle classes are in much better shape than ours because the U.S. government does not provide as much for its citizens in these areas. So the income you get has to be saved for these items.

The report found also found that the median U.S. income, which stands at $18,700, has remained about the same since 2000. And it found that the poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

So what does Canada have that the U.S. doesn’t have? Well, it has universal healthcare, for one thing. And more unions. And a better social safety net. Ditto with the European countries whose middle classes are better off than ours when you take into account government services.

The LIS researchers found that American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality. Our growth is on par with many other countries, but our middle class and poor aren’t really getting much out of it.

Things have been going downhill for the middle class since 1990, the report shows. Remember anything that got started in those years? Ah, yes! Deregulation….

continue reading at AlterNet

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The New York Times Declares the Peace Process Futile – An Analysis (27 April 2014)

by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses

Part I

In 1988 Yasser Arafat declared independence for Palestine based upon the notion of two states living in peace in historic Palestine. The border between those two states was to be set roughly at the armistice line established at the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Palestinian state’s capital was to be located in East Jerusalem.

That was 26 years ago. Then on14 April 2014, the editorial board of the New York Times (NYT) decided that Arafat was correct and, in general, the “principles” that “must undergird a two-state solution” are those he had proposed. Of course the board did so without ever referencing the great Palestinian leader.

Not only does the NYT declare the pre-1967 border and a shared capital at Jerusalem necessary and valid, but it calls on the U.S. government to do the same: “It is time for the administration to lay down the principles … should the Israelis and the Palestinians ever decide to make peace.”

Part II

Before anyone gets too excited over this seeming miracle on Eighth Avenue (where the paper is headquartered), it should be noted that the NYT editorial board made this pronouncement at a point when its fulfillment was impossible. And the editorial board knew this was the case. “The pointless arguing over who brought the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to the brink of collapse is in full swing. The United States is still working to salvage the negotiations, but there is scant sign of serious purpose. … President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry should move on and devote their attention to other major international challenges like Ukraine.”

Having reached this point in the editorial board’s text one starts to suspect that the board is being disingenuous….

continue reading at To the Point Analyses

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Filed under Lawrence Davidson, Palestine & Israel