Dennis Hopper: R.I.P.

From HuffPo:
Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper has died after a long bout with prostate cancer, according to reports. He was 74.



--On May 30, 2010, we will have spent one trillion dollars on our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

--On June 7, 2010, the war in Afghanistan will be America's longest war.

--The Gulf Coast now has oil all over it, and the cleanup has so far cost BP about $900 million. It makes that much in a week or two.

--1 in 6 American students attends a high-poverty school.

--Monday is Memorial Day.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Cartoon Fun: Privacy Edition

Gary Coleman: R.I.P.

Gary Coleman is dead. He was taken off life support on Friday morning and passed away, both TMZ and Radaronline.com first reported. His wife Shannon Price and her father were at the hospital.

Coleman died Friday at 12:05 PM MDT.

Coleman, 42, was best known for his role as Arnold Jackson on "Diff'rent Strokes." Word got out that he was hospitalized Thursday and in critical condition.

Robert Reich Needs Our Action To Rein In Wall Street

What You Can Do To Bring Wall Street Under Control

FRIDAY, MAY 28, 2010

The most important remaining battle to rein in Wall Street is over Senator Blanche Lincoln’s measure to stop the big banks from being subsidized by taxpayers for their risky derivative trades. Miraculously, it’s still in the bill but it’s on life support. The bill has now gone to the conference committee where differences between the House and Senate bills are to be ironed out.

But official Washington (read: dependent on Wall Street for money) is dead set against it. Even Barney Frank — who Massachusetts voters used to consider a reliable progressive until he became chair of the House Financial Services Committee — has vowed to kill Lincoln’s provision. And the White House says the measure is “not core,” which in Washington-lingo means “you’re free to dump it.”

Big, big money is at stake. Wall Street’s five largest banks have a corner on the trade, raking in about in about $30 billion in over-the-counter derivatives last year. It’s the single largest reason they’re too big to fail. So they’re spending like mad on Washington lobbyists and campaign donations in order to keep the subsidy in place. (Lincoln’s provision doesn’t force them to give up derivative trading, by the way; it only forces them to do it in a separate entity that doesn’t get subsidized by deposit insurance or the Fed’s discount window).

All the guns are aimed at this measure. But it’s still possible that the people can prevail, if we’re organized and active. Here’s a list of all the Dems on the Senate Banking and House Finance Committee, as well as Republican conferees. All conferees are indicated by ->.

Organize and mobilize your friends and acquaintances, especially those who live in these states or districts, to call their members and make their voices heard. Tell them you want Lincoln’s measure (Section 716 of the Senate bill) to remain in the final bill. Say you’ll hold them responsible if it goes.

Alabama -> Senator Richard C. Shelby (202) 224-5744

Arkansas -> Senator Blanche Lincoln (202) 224-4843

California -> Rep. Maxine Waters (202) 225-2201 (California-11)
Rep. Brad Sherman, CA (202) 225-5911
Rep. Jackie Speier, CA (202) 225-3531
Rep. Joe Baca, CA (202)225-6161

Colorado -> Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) (202) 224-5852
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, CO 202.225.2645

Connecticut -> Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) (202) 224-2823
Rep. Jim Himes, CT (202) 225-5541

Florida -> Rep. Ron Klein, FL (202) 225.3026
Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, FL (202) 225-2706
Rep. Alan Grayson, FL (202) 225-2176

Georgia -> Senator Saxby Chambliss 202-224-3521
Rep. David Scott, GA (202) 225-2939

Hawaii -> Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) (202) 224-6361

Idaho -> Senator Mike Crapo (202) 224-6142
Rep. Walt Minnick, ID (202) 225-6611

Illinois -> Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (202) 225-8203 (Illinois-4)
Rep. Melissa L. Bean, IL (202) 225-3711
Rep. Bill Foster, IL (202) 225-2976

Iowa -> Senator Tom Harkin (202) 224-3254

Indiana -> Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) (202) 224-5623
Rep. Joe Donnelly, IN (202) 225-3915
Rep. Andre Carson, IN 202-225-4011

Kansas -> Rep. Dennis Moore (202) 225-2865 (Kansas-3)

Massachusetts -> Chairman Barney Frank (202) 225-5931 (Massachusetts-4)
Rep. Michael E. Capuano, MA (202) 225-5111
Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, MA (202) 225-8273

Minnesota -> Rep. Keith Ellison, MN (202) 225-4755

Mississippi -> Rep. Travis Childers, MS (202) 225-4306

Missouri -> Rep. Gary Peters, MI (202) 225-5802

Montana -> Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) (202) 224-2644
Rep. William Lacy Clay, MO (202) 225-2406
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, MO 202.225.4535

New Jersey -> Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) (202) 224-4744
Rep. John Adler, NJ (202) 225-4765
Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ) (R) (202) 225-4465

New Hampshire -> Senator Judd Gregg (202) 224-3324
Rep. Paul W. Hodes, NH (202) 225-5206

New York -> Senator Charles E. Schumer (202) 224-6542
Rep. Gregory W. Meeks 202/225-3461 (New York-6)
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, NY (202) 225-2361
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, NY (202) 225-5516
Rep. Dan Maffei, NY (202) 225-3701

North Carolina -> Rep. Melvin L. Watt (202) 225-1510 (North Carolina-12)
Rep. Brad Miller, NC (202) 225-3032

Ohio -> Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (202) 224-2315
Rep. Charles Wilson, OH (202) 225-5705
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, OH (202) 225-2015
Rep. Steve Driehaus, OH (513) 684-2723

Oregon -> Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) (202) 224-3753

Pennsylvania -> Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski (202) 225-6511 (Pennsylvania-11)

South Dakota -> Senator Tim Johnson (202) 224-5842

Tennessee -> Senator Bob Corker (202) 224-3344

Texas -> Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, TX (202) 225-2531
Rep. Al Green, TX (202) 225-7508
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX) (R) (202) 225-3484

Wisconsin -> Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) (202) 224-5653
Rep. Gwen Moore, WI 202-225-4572

Vermont -> Senator Patrick J. Leahy (202) 224-4242

Virginia -> Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) (202) 224-2023

Ayaan Hirsi Ali On American Academy of Pediatrics New Love Of Female Genital Mutilation: Updated, AAP Changes Its Mind

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently put forward a proposal on female genital mutilation. They would like that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls born into communities that practice female genital mutilation.
Read the whole thing here.

Update: It appears the AAP has changed its mind. Good for it.

The Obama/Duncan Disappointment Hits The Nation

Pedro Noguera at The Nation:
A New Vision of School Reform

Before his election President Obama carved out what many regarded as a more progressive and enlightened position on education reform. Recognizing that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) had become widely unpopular because of its overemphasis on standardized tests, he declared, "Don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of the year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles in a standardized test." He pledged to lead the nation in a different direction.

We are still waiting for a change of course. Since the election, the president and his secretary of education, Arne Duncan, have adopted policies that, to the chagrin of many of their supporters, have had far more in common with the previous administration than expected...
h/t MK


His Friends Are The Enemy

Robert Reich expresses some indignation that Obama is not showing enough indignation.  I agree.
But it’s not just the oil gush. Most Americans continue to be livid at Wall Street executives and traders — for which they blame an economic crisis that’s cost many their jobs, savings, and homes — a crisis that’s still costing taxpayers a bundle even as the bankers are back to collecting huge compensation packages. Yet the President continues to consult and socialize with many of them. Inexplicably, the White House won’t go along with proposals by several Democratic senators to cap the size of the biggest banks (the only way to ensure they’ll never be too big to fail and their political power is contained), to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act (except in its weaker “Volker rule” form), or to force the biggest banks to do their derivative trading without the artificial support of tax-payer insured commercial deposits.[emphasis mine]

"Socially Destructive And Morally Bankrupt"

From Valerie Strauss:
Steven Eisman, the Wall Street trader who starred in Michael Lewis’s book, “The Big Short”:

"Until recently, I thought that there would never again be an opportunity to be involved with an industry as socially destructive and morally bankrupt as the sub-prime mortgage industry," said Eisman, of FrontPoint Financial Services Fund. "I was wrong. The for-profit education industry has proven equal to the task."
Read the whole thing here.

Bernie Sanders: The People's Senator

Oil spill shows drilling is not the answer

The lesson to learn from the oil spill it is that there must be no new offshore drilling. We must transform our energy system
By Bernie Sanders

The oil spill shows that offshore drilling is not worth the risk.
Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an unmitigated disaster. Its full consequences will not be known for decades. What we do know, however, is that BP president, Tony Hayward, was incredibly wrong when he stated that the spill will have "a very, very modest environmental impact". Quite the contrary! In fact, one of the most beautiful and productive coastal regions of the world is being turned into a giant cesspool and, in the midst of a major recession, thousands of workers are going to lose their livelihoods.

It goes without saying that BP must pick up the full costs of the cleanup and the economic damages. BP earned $5.6bn in the first quarter of this year. BP, not the American taxpayer, must pay for the devastation it caused.

Further, we must learn that with any risky technology, whether it is offshore oil drilling or nuclear power, it is not good enough to be 99% safe. One event can have a calamitous and irreversible impact. We need a major investigation to understand how this accident occurred. We must make certain that precautions are put in place so nothing like it ever happens again.

This crisis occurred at a time when the United States was considering opening new areas to offshore oil drilling. If there is a lesson to be learned from this disaster, it is that Congress must end that policy. There must be no new offshore drilling. Not now, not ever.

Offshore drilling simply does not achieve the goals that its advocates claim, and it is not worth the risk. If we are serious about wanting to break our dependence on foreign oil and move to energy independence; if we want to lower the cost of energy; if we want to combat climate change and cut greenhouse gas emissions; if we want to create millions of new jobs – then more offshore drilling is not the way to go.

The simple truth is that we cannot drill our way to energy independence or lower gas prices. The US uses roughly 25% of the world's oil, 7.5bn barrels per year, but we have only 2-3% of the world's proven petroleum reserves. Offshore drilling today provides roughly 1% of the oil we use in the United States.

That is why I have introduced legislation to reinstate a ban on new offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves and along Florida's gulf coast and dramatically increase fuel efficiency for vehicles sold in America. Instead of saving three cents a gallon by 2030 by allowing wide open offshore drilling, we can save far more with stronger fuel economy standards. Just by raising our fuel efficiency standards to 35.5 miles per gallon for cars and trucks, as President Obama is doing, we will save consumers the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gas in 2030. If we enacted my legislation, we would reach 55 miles per gallon by 2030. That would save motorists the equivalent of $1.43 a gallon of gas. It also would eliminate the need for 3.9m barrels of oil per day, more than double the amount we now import from Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia.

We know we can get better fuel economy, because other nations are already doing it. The European Union currently gets 42 miles per gallon and is moving to 65 miles per gallon by 2020. China, Canada, Japan, and South Korea all have stronger fuel economy standards than the United States.

If we take bold action in energy efficiency, public transportation, advanced vehicle technologies, solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, we can transform our energy system, clean up our environment, and create millions of new jobs in the process. This direction, and not more offshore drilling, is where we have got to go.

Thursday Cartoon Fun: MacGruber Edition

Education Equity: The Missing Elements

From Herb Kohl:
...Do all children have the same opportunities to learn? We were careful to avoid the question of poverty, family background, etc., because we wanted to make strictly educational arguments. We wanted to focus specifically on the conditions of schooling and make the opportunity to learn an equity issue. In this context we wanted to create a series of measures of equity, amongst which were:

What are the facilities necessary to promote equitable learning?

- What is an equitable ratio of students to teachers?

- What is the range and scope of a learning program that promotes equitable learning – this would include the arts, opportunity for athletics and cultural learning, advanced placement courses, science labs?

-What are the credentials teachers are expected to have to produce excellence in learning?

-What kind of wages and conditions of work contribute to educational opportunity for children?

-What kinds of supplies and equipment must all school have access to (text books, computers, etc.)?

-What kind of facilities should house an equitable learning environment for all children?

-What kind of standards and measures should be used to measure a school’s effectiveness as an equitable learning institution?

-What role should parents and community organizations play to ensure equitable schools in their communities?...
h/t Fred Klonsky


Illegal Immigration And Superman

h/t HOG

Wake Up To Find Out That You Are The Eyes Of The World

With Brent

With Bruce and Vince

Right outside this lazy summer home
you don't have time to call your soul a critic, no
Right outside the lazy gate of winter's summer home
wondering where the nuthatch winters
Wings a mile long just carried the bird away

Wake up to find out
that you are the eyes of the World
but the heart has its beaches
its homeland and thoughts of its own

Wake now, discover that you
are the song that the morning brings
but the heart has its seasons
its evenings and songs of its own

There comes a redeemer
and he slowly too fades away
There follows a wagon behind him
that's loaded with clay
and the seeds that were silent
all burst into bloom and decay
The night comes so quiet
and it's close on the heels of the day

Wake up to find out
that you are the eyes of the world
but the heart has its beaches
its homeland and thoughts of its own

Wake now, discover that you
are the song that the morning brings
but the heart has its seasons
its evenings and songs of its own

Sometimes we live no
particular way but our own
Sometimes we visit your country
and live in your home
Sometimes we ride on your horses
Sometimes we walk alone
Sometimes the songs that we hear
are just songs of our own

Wake up to find out
that you are the eyes of the world
but the heart has its beaches
its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you
are the song that the morning brings
but the heart has its seasons
its evenings and songs of its own

The annotated lyrics

Praying Before Legislating: America's Oxymorons

Texas State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar opens debate on new social studies standards with a politically divisive prayer on May 21, 2010.
I always get uneasy when I see prayer in a government office. America's Constitution makes the separation explicit. Why the fuck are government employees praying to Jesus in a government building as they begin government business? A new Facebook group may be in order: Stop Praying At Government Meetings. Someone go start it.

BP Might Need To Step Aside. Really?

BBC News reports that BP is not doing enough to stop its leak that will ruin America for years to come. Ken Salazar is even considering taking over from BP! Seriously? But BP was doing so well.....
A top US official has warned BP may be "pushed out of the way" if it fails to perform in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster clean-up.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the British oil giant had missed "deadline after deadline" in its efforts to seal its blown-out oil well.

But he said BP had agreed to pay clean-up costs beyond the current US $75m (£52m) liability limit.

Mr Salazar is due to visit the disaster site on Monday with other officials.

Limited options

The oil leak began more than a month ago, when a drilling rig working for BP exploded, killing 11 people.

Millions of gallons of oil have spewed into the ocean since then from the well's ruptured riser pipe, 1,524m (5,000ft) beneath the surface

The spill has reached Louisiana and is threatening Florida and Cuba.

"If we find they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately," Mr Salazar told reporters after visiting BP's US headquarters in the Texan city.

The BBC's Madeleine Morris reports from Washington that Mr Salazar presumably means the US could take over the entire operation.

The US government has been at pains up until now to stress that BP is not only legally responsible for cleaning up the spill but paying for all clean-up and restoration, our correspondent says.

It is within the US government's power to push BP aside but the question is what would that achieve when BP is the only organisation with the knowledge to deal with a situation like this at such a depth, she adds.
This is not a joke. Salazar is just now realizing this. Obama's Katrina? 'Fraid so.

Judy Chu's New Education Reform Plan

Congresswoman Announces New Framework and Principles for School Improvement Grants

May 20, 2010 1:22 PM

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) officially unveiled a plan today to improve our nation's education system using a new framework of school improvement grants, a proposal that is being supported by AFT, NEA, PTA and the National Association of School Psychologists, among other groups.

The Congresswoman's new framework constitutes a radical departure from existing guidelines on School Improvement Grants, replacing the overly punitive and restrictive model with a more flexible, holistic approach and giving schools a broader menu of research-driven options and more time to show improvement. Under the new framework, school closure would strictly be a last resort option.

"The current school improvement grant program is admirable in theory, but some of the tactics haven't been successful in practice," said Rep. Chu, noting as an example the recent mass firings, and subsequent rehiring, of staff at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. "What we need is a system that promotes flexibility and collaboration instead of tying the hands of administrators, teachers, and parents. We must remove barriers to student success instead of ignoring them. And finally, we must support teachers and leaders, instead of breaking them down."

Steven Brill Gets Math Lesson About Charter vs. Public Schools

Steven Brill wrote a bunch of crap in the New York Times Magazine and is taken to task by Valerie Strauss:
Charters vs. public schools: Behind the numbers

...It is worth noting that education historian Diane Ravitch reported in her book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System" that only about 100 of the 40,000 homeless schoolchildren in New York City public schools are enrolled in charter schools.

Charter school advocates don’t have to make bogus comparisons to boost their argument in favor of an expansion of these institutions.

The truth may not be as compelling, but it has the virtue of being, well, true. Some charter schools are excellent and work wonders with kids. Some do an average job, and some are awful. There is no evidence that charter schools are the silver bullet that will “save” public education....[emphasis mine]
h/t Valerie Strauss

Avoiding Censorship Graphically

h/t XJ

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