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How Bad are Charter Schools?

John Oliver’s rant –

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in American Genocide, The Post-Racial Life

 

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UN Finally Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

The whole truth of this, as I suspect a lot of things in the 3rd world, has never been admitted. Having been in Haiti working when the epidemic started, I think the numbers provided by the world press are off by 5 or more. Indeed, one person I know who was in position to say – put the number of dead the first two days at double the claimed total number today.

The Haitians figured out pretty quick where the cholera came from. A disease which Papa Doc had eliminated in the country. The UN promptly went into cover-up mode, even when it was found that the sewage trenches dug by their soldiers from Nepal were leaking directly into the river. And even after it was discovered by DWB that the strain of cholera was native to the Nepal region of Asia. Even when it was shown that those soldier hadn’t been screened for cholera and other infectuous diseases (which is a UN requirement) prior to deployment.

Haitian despise the UN’s Minustah which is their “Peacekeeping” Military force – and this is just one of the reasons.

U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by United Nations peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the initial outbreak and that a “significant new set of U.N. actions” will be needed to respond to the crisis.

The deputy spokesman for the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in an email this week that “over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.” He added that a “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”

The statement comes on the heels of a confidential report sent to Mr. Ban by a longtime United Nations adviser on Aug. 8. Written by Philip Alston, a New York University law professor who serves as one of a few dozen experts, known as special rapporteurs, who advise the organization on human rights issues, the draft language stated plainly that the epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.”

The secretary general’s acknowledgment, by contrast, stopped short of saying that the United Nations specifically caused the epidemic. Nor does it indicate a change in the organization’s legal position that it is absolutely immune from legal actions, including a federal lawsuit brought in the United States on behalf of cholera victims seeking billions in damages stemming from the Haiti crisis.

But it represents a significant shift after more than five years of high-level denial of any involvement or responsibility of the United Nations in the outbreak, which has killed at least 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands. Cholera victims suffer from dehydration caused by severediarrhea or vomiting.

Special rapporteurs’ reports are technically independent guidance, which the United Nations can accept or reject. United Nations officials have until the end of this week to respond to the report, which will then go through revisions, but the statement suggests a new receptivity to its criticism.

In the 19-page report, obtained from an official who had access to it, Mr. Alston took issue with the United Nations’ public handling of the outbreak, which was first documented in mid-October 2010, shortly after people living along the Meille River began dying from the disease.

The first victims lived near a base housing 454 United Nations peacekeepers freshly arrived from Nepal, where a cholera outbreak was underway, and waste from the base often leaked into the river. Numerous scientists have since argued that the base was the only plausible source of the outbreak — whose real death toll, one study found, could be much higher than the official numbers state — but United Nations officials have consistently insisted that its origins remain up for debate.

Mr. Alston wrote that the United Nations’ Haiti cholera policy “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.” He added, “It is also entirely unnecessary.” The organization’s continuing denial and refusal to make reparations to the victims, he argued, “upholds a double standard according to which the U.N. insists that member states respect human rights, while rejecting any such responsibility for itself.”

He said, “It provides highly combustible fuel for those who claim that U.N. peacekeeping operations trample on the rights of those being protected, and it undermines both the U.N.’s overall credibility and the integrity of the Office of the Secretary-General.”

Mr. Alston went beyond criticizing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to blame the entire United Nations system. “As the magnitude of the disaster became known, key international officials carefully avoided acknowledging that the outbreak had resulted from discharges from the camp,” he noted.

His most severe criticism was reserved for the organization’s Office of Legal Affairs, whose advice, he wrote, “has been permitted to override all of the other considerations that militate so powerfully in favor of seeking a constructive and just solution.” Its interpretations, he said, have “trumped the rule of law.”

Mr. Alston also argued in his report that, as The New York Times hasreported, the United Nations’ cholera eradication program has failed. Infection rates have been rising every year in Haiti since 2014, as the organization struggles to raise the $2.27 billion it says is needed to eradicate the disease from member states. No major water or sanitation projects have been completed in Haiti; two pilot wastewater processing plants built there in the wake of the epidemic quickly closed because of a lack of donor funds.

In a separate internal report released days ago after being withheld for nearly a year, United Nations auditors said a quarter of the sites run by the peacekeepers with the organization’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or Minustah, that they had visited were still discharging their waste into public canals as late as 2014, four years after the epidemic began.

“Victims are living in fear because the disease is still out there,” Mario Joseph, a prominent Haitian human rights lawyer representing cholera victims, told demonstrators in Port-au-Prince last month. He added, “If the Nepalese contingent returns to defecate in the water again, they will get the disease again, only worse.”

In 2011, when families of 5,000 Haitian cholera victims petitioned the United Nations for redress, its Office of Legal Affairs simply declared their claims “not receivable.” (Mr. Alston called that argument “wholly unconvincing in legal terms.”)…More…

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Haiti

 

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Businesses Voting With Their Feet to Leave Republican States

The only thing worse than Republican Stone Age fundamentalist social hate…Is the failed Republican economic beliefs trashing their states and forever leaving them on the tail end of economic development.

Unable to locally hire educated and qualified staff, unable to get qualified people who want to move there, and burdened by hateful conservative social laws and tax cuts for the rich destroying everything from the quality of life through the ability for children to get an education companies are increasingly fleeing the red states.

‘Resign in shame’: Fed-up Kansas CEO flees GOP governor’s disastrous reign

A Tech CEO blamed Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his ultra-conservative policies for his decision to move his company — and its jobs — to another state.

“It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas,” said Jeff Blackwood, CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations.

Blackwood, whose privately held company provides software to autism therapy centers, wrote a blistering attack of Brownback and the Republican-dominated legislature — which he said had destroyed the state’s economy with failed conservative policies.

“Kansas has become a test center of ‘trickle down’ economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years,” Blackwood wrote in a personal post on the company’s blog. “Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations — and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government.”

The CEO blasted an unprecedented tax cut enacted in 2012, which Brownback promised would be a “shot of adrenaline” to the state’s economy, but instead has cost Kansas jobs, revenue and its bond rating.

Kansas has faced budget shortfalls in 11 of the past 12 months, and its economy shrank in three of four quarters last year.

Blackwood ripped the governor for placing the burden for his mistakes on children and the developmentally disabled with cuts to education and social services.

“You’ll hear claims from Kansas officials that funding to education is at an all time high, but it’s just an accounting trick – they chose to shuffle money for special education and retirement funds through the schools so it could appear as an increase on the books,” Blackwood said.

The Republican legislature had instead focused on freezing teacher salaries, pursuing funding cuts later ruled unconstitutional and laws calling for teachers to be imprisoned for introducing “offensive” content, Blackwood said.

He accused Brownback and his GOP “cronies” of intentionally undermining public education and diverting taxpayer funds — and students — to private and religious schools.

“In the end, I believe the goals of the Brownback administration are going exactly to plan — starve the state of resources to the point where it just makes sense to turn over critical government functions to for-profit entities,” Blackwood said.

The CEO accused Brownback of turning the state’s Medicaid program, KanCare, into a cash cow for three insurance companies — which he said forced pregnant women to wait months for care and kept health care providers from being paid for their service.

Blackwood blamed the governor’s policies for the murder of a 61-year-old man by a patient improperly released from an underfunded mental health care facility and the rape of a worker at another hospital.

“I can’t, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored,” Blackwood said.

Blackwood said his decision to move Pathfinder Health Innovations, which is adding new jobs, to Kansas City, Missouri, was a matter of conscience — and a decision he hoped other business leaders would emulate.

“I believe that it is the responsibility of business owners and people with some voice in society should speak up against these destructive policies,” Blackwood said. “And I believe it is far past the time that Sam Brownback and his cronies admit the damage they’ve caused to the people of Kansas and resign in the shame they deserve.”

 

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HBO Special Reviews Clarence Thomas vs Anita Hill

The biggest failure by the Democrat Party since passing the Civil Rights Act and earning the black vote was the confirmation of Clarence Thomas. In a bow to conservative racism, President George HW Bush nominated Thomas – and lost any possible confidence and ability to attract black votes for the next 40 years. Of course Republicans are whimpering at the retelling of events, because they know they stole one from the Yellowback Donkeys.

Anita Hill in 2013

 

HBO’s ‘Confirmation’ sparks conservative backlash even before its debut

HBO’s dramatic retelling of Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Clarence Thomas at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 doesn’t debut until Saturday, butconservative critics have already come out in full force to discredit it.

Although Kerry Washington, the film’s star and executive producer, has claimed that the goal of the film is not to declare “winners and losers” in their politically and racially charged clash, supporters of Thomas have criticized the television movie as an attempt to rewrite history to serve a liberal agenda.

“Anita Hill looks good, Clarence Thomas looks bad, and the rest of us look like bumbling idiots,” former Sen. Alan Simpson recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

In a separate interview, former Sen. Jack Danforth told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that “The script that they sent me is just totally wrong. It’s a hybrid of fact and absolute make-believe.”

The band of cowards included Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy

The most vociferous opponent of the film has been Mark Paoletta, an attorney and veteran of the George H. W. Bush White House who worked to shepherd Thomas’ nomination through the U.S. Senate. He considers the justice a “good friend.” Paoletta has been making the media rounds decrying “Confirmation”  — although he has yet to see the finished film, he obtained what he believes to be a “late draft” of the screenplay — and he has even launched a website dedicated to debunking its assertions: confirmationbiased.com.

“What I’m interested in is bringing out the facts that I don’t think are represented in this movie and then people can make their own decisions and they can look at my background and draw their own conclusions,” Paoletta told MSNBC on Friday. “This movie in my view leaves out a lot of the troubling testimony that showed that Anita Hill’s story didn’t add up.”

Among the issues Paoletta has raised is what he considers the film’s lack of emphasis on alleged inconsistencies in Hill’s testimony, as well as the fact that, despite her accusations of sexual harassment, she stayed in contact with Thomas and continued to work with him a second place of employment (The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)l He also claims it misrepresents how and when she shared her story with the Senate and FBI investigators, and what he calls its “ludicrous” portrayal of a second Thomas accuser, Angela Wright, who did not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, for reasons which remain in dispute

The segment does concede that when Thomas’ hearings concluded, the public overwhelmingly believed his version of the events by a margin of 47 to 24 percent among registered voters, according to a NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll. (Some polls placed the margin wider at 60 percent to 20 percent.) But it also points out that just a year later, sympathies in that same survey swung back Hill’s way by a 44 to 34 percent margin.

“A lot of people initially were put off by her coming forward. It was hard to listen to what she said. It was gross,” Mark Crispin Miller, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, told The Baltimore Sun in 1994. “But that initial feeling of revulsion has passed. People now have thought about it and realized women don’t have to take this anymore.”

Other facts may have also swayed Americans to believe her: One of Hill’s most prominent antagonists, author David Brock, later retracted his attacks on her, and others have since come forward tocorroborate elements of Hill’s account. In addition, Hill reportedly passed a polygraph test amid the hearings and a hagiographical documentary on Hill was released in 2014. Thomas’ very conservative bent and relative silence on the court has also infuriated many progressives….Read the Full Article Here

 

 

 

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Why DC’s Metro Subway System Is Failing

One of the central destructive beliefs of right wingers is that the Government is evil. That and that somehow you can tax cut your way out of debt. That is about as stupid as saying I am jobless, so I don’t need my computer and the Internet. When Republicans control the House, which appropriates all the monies to run the Government – bad things happen. Having an inborn and irrational hatred of DC, that means that cuts and services to the region tend to go to hell in a handbasket.

One of the original designs for the DC Metro included Red Cars

The METRO Subway system is the second largest in the United States behind that of New York City. It carries 800,000 Passengers a day. 53% of those riders are Federal employees, and as such, the system is crucial to the day to day operation of the Federal Government, which actually “leases” all the Federal Grounds, including that of the White House, Capitol, Mall, and Federal Buildings in lieu of paying Taxes for city maintenance of roads, sewer, water, and City Services (Police/Fire). There is no Federal Fire and Rescue, although there are about 25,000 Federal “Police” of different types in the City – making the City have the highest number of Police per capita in the US…And perhaps the world. There are 28 separate police departments in DC, only 4 of which belong to the city.

 

  • DC Metropolitan PD (MPD)
  • US Marshals (DOJ)
  • DC Dept of Corrections
  • DC Public Library Police
  • DC Housing Authority Police
  • Metro Transit Police
  • Washington National Cathedral Police (one of my personal favorites)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Was…
  • DC Protective Services (another interesting agency http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dis…)
  • US Capitol Police
  • US Secret Service – Uniformed Division
  • Supreme Court Police
  • US Park Police
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police
  • US Mint Police
  • Smithsonian Police
  • US State Dept Diplomatic Security Service
  • NCIS
  • Army Criminal Investigative Command
  • USAF Office of Special Investigation
  • US Coast Guard Investigative Service
  • US Postal Inspectors
  • FBI Police
  • Federal Protective Service (DHS)
  • Government Printing Office (GPO) Police
  • ATF
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • DEA
  • Military Police

When there is a Republican majority in the House, there is a constant effort to submarine this system of payments, which includes payments to the METRO System to provide services supporting Federal Agencies. A number of the Subway stops on the METRO are where they are, specifically to serve clusters of Federal Buildings. which doesn’t get into all the special services provided to support Inaugurations, the Capitol security and Homeland.

There has been a Republican majority in the House since 2010

This doesn’t let systemic mismanagement at Metro off the hook – but is part (a BIG part) of the problem.

Congress to D.C.: We won’t ‘bail out’ Metro

House lawmakers made it clear that Congress won’t be cutting big checks to help the struggling transit agency.

Congress won’t be cutting big checks anytime soon to help D.C.’s troubled Metro system cover its operating costs, House lawmakers warned Wednesday.

A number of the 45 year old 1000 Series Cars are still running awaiting replacement

“I tell you: I am not going to bail you out,” shouted Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of a House Oversight transportation panel, during a hearing about the sometimes life-threatening safety and maintenance woes that forced a daylong shutdown of Metro’s rail system last month. He ripped into Metro officials, saying they had millions of dollars in funding on-hand but didn’t spend it as needed.

Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly fired back at Mica for trying to pin Metro’s financial burden on D.C., Maryland and Virginia, which help pay for the system’s operations. He noted the system’s benefit to the federal government.

“He says he doesn’t want a burden on his people,” Connolly said. “Well, I don’t want a burden on mine.”

At the hearing, Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans pleaded with lawmakers to boost their contribution to the beleaguered system’s operations account, which lacks a steady funding stream despite sprawling over three jurisdictions. Evans says the feds should contribute $300 million annually for operational needs.

The new 7000 Series cars feature better seating, more handholds for standing passengers, easily replaceable flooring, and a number of electronic features, Deploying them to replace the 50 year old original cars has been held up by budgeting.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has received congressional appropriations for capital projects since 2008, in addition to grant money from the Federal Transit Administration for upgrades, but typically gets no funding for running the system aside from fare revenues and its state and local government support.

Mica said Metro’s unliquidated balance as of mid-March was $783 million. WMATA officials couldn’t immediately verify that number.

Local lawmakers have generally trod carefully when talking about Congress’ role in boosting WMATA’s accounts, saying the agency should demonstrate a better safety record and command of its finances before getting more money from them. Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, has been key to securing $150 million annually since 2008 for capital projects at Metro, but the money can’t be used for operating expenses.

“When you do the math, your United States Senate and the taxpayers of America have provided over $1 billion for Metro,” Mikulski said Wednesday at a meeting with Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld before the House hearing. “So we not only want to know if we’ll be getting our money’s worth, but we really do care about the constituents and the riders — about what is going on.”

Evans said Metro’s high operating costs are in part due to its size — it’s the second-largest transit system in the United States. If Congress doesn’t increase its commitment to Metro, he said, “next time something happens, I’m blaming it on you guys.”

Referring to Mica’s complaint about nearly $800 million of unspent money, Wiedefeld said Metro can be under contract to receive major purchases — such as new buses or rail cars — and the cash doesn’t immediately flow out if, for example, it’s still waiting to receive the products. So the money has been obligated for specific projects.

“I just would urge you quickly to help dispel this myth of, you’re sitting on a lot of capital and you don’t know what to do with it,” Connolly said.

 

 

 

 

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DC Metro May Shut Down Major Lines for 6 Months

The nation’s second busiest subway system may have to shut down service for 6 months in what could be a catastrophic outage for a system which carries 800,000 passengers a day. Once the nation’s crown jewel system, the problems that have brought Metro’ Subway System low are an accumulation of problems over years. About half of the blame rests with how the system is funded, the other half is based on gross incompetence at the middle and senior management level of the Authority.

Metro or the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority is an odd duck in terms of organization due to the fact that a significant portion of it’s budget comes from the Government. Which means Congressional oversight and piddling in the affairs of the company. The Company’s ownership is spread across the 7 jurisdictions it serves in the Washington Metropolitan area, including the Federal Government. The Federal Government is a player here because 53% of the passengers on the system are Federal Employees. As everything from fares to which communities are served is regulated, the company is designed never to make a profit (or even break even), and each served municipality pays a proportional part of the actual operating budget each year.

In function, the Transit Agency works like a Federal Government entity – meaning there is no motivation of the employees to either improve service, to make systems operate more efficiently, or to cut costs…Ergo the old $10,000 Toilet Seat issue. Massive cost overruns are the norm. Massive project failures are the norm. The recent Silver Line expansion ballooned from $1 billion to $3 billion, in large part due to project being managed by the corrupt Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority – a situation created because of lack of faith that Metro could manage such a large project. I mean when the Federal Government is going o take over your local transit authority – not only are things truly f’d up… But they are going to get a lot worse.

While, like any big dollar enterprise, there are incidents of corruption – even to the highest levels of the management structure, there is no evidence of any major corruption issue, or that corruption is the reason behind the Authority’s failure. It really boils down to incompetence within almost the entire senior management structure at the company’s headquarters. As such, confusion, lack of vision, lack of will, turf fights, nepotism, and duplicate organizational functions are the order of the day. And to clarify a point, very little of “the problem” has to do with the rank and file customer facing employees who in general believe in the mission of serving the community and often will go above board to make things right.

Accepting Federal money means the involvement of Congress. It also means Federal Agency Oversight, which in typical form tries to solve problems at the weed level instead of systemic. It means getting whipsawed by political trade winds in Congress, being victim to corruption at the Congressional Level, and dealing with Congressional fingers in the pie at any time. Ergo the Republicans want the system to operate without tax dollars or a fare hike (It’s the same magic which destroyed some of their own states), and the Democrats want the system to operate as a social good vehicle.

A major shutdown of the system could entail putting 500,000 cars onto the Washington area’s already gridlocked streets. It will cost the Federal Government and private businesses Billions of dollars in lost work and revenue. As a Management Consultant who has done rescues, turnarounds and restructurings of companies, and a former employee of Metro, I have a pretty good idea about what needs to be done…And it isn’t initially going to be pretty.

Lengthy Shutdowns in Washington, D.C., Metro System Are Possible

Repairs to Washington’s aging subway could require the closure of entire rail lines for months at a time, the system’s chairman, Jack Evans, said Wednesday. At the very least, Mr. Evans said, riders should expect the closure of segments of individual lines for extended periods.

His remarks were the latest indication that the system, known as Metro, will be facing significant service disruptions as its management confronts financial and safety problems.

“If we are going to fix the infrastructure, we can’t do it three hours at night,” Mr. Evans, who is also a member of the D.C. Council, said at a symposium marking Metro’s 40th anniversary.

“There may be decisions where we have to close down whole lines and repair them, which are going to be very unpopular,” Mr. Evans added. “But the only way that we are going to get this system fixed is to make unpopular decisions.”

Metro officials already closed the system for a day earlier this month for an emergency safety inspection.

Mr. Evans called the system “maybe safe, somewhat unreliable, and being complained about by everybody,” and said that its health long-term requires increased — and a permanent — source of financing, like a regional sales tax and annual federal contributions.

Paul J. Wiedefeld, Metro’s general manager, will announce a systemwide maintenance plan in four to six weeks, a Metro spokesman, Dan Stessel, said Wednesday.

Mr. Wiedefeld, in his own remarks at the Wednesday meeting, said the scale of the transit agency’s woes required drastic measures.

“What we have been doing has not been working,” he said. “We cannot Band-Aid, we cannot paper over some of these issues.”

Both men’s remarks were first reported by The Washington Post.

 

 
 

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Donald Trump on George Bush’s Lies

Donald Trump gets one right occasionally – in this statement that makes the Republican base extremely uncomfortable…

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did lie the country into war.

George W. Bush and his staff were responsible for failure in stopping 9-11.

And those were just the “big” crimes.

 

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