The Privatization of Education

This morning, Uprising Radio addressed the issue of how education is being privatized and how test scores are being given more importance than education.

The story is heart wrenching, explaining for example how little kids from the ghetto are asked to start taking tests in kindergarten, the kind where you have to mark the right answer with a lead pencil.

The MP3 file of the program contains an interview with Jonathan Kozol, author of “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America.”.

There is a short final commentary by Glen Ford, “Black Agenda Report on the Privatization of Education” (at the 49 minute 20 second mark of the MP3 audio playback). Glenn Ford provides an alternative point of view to the seemingly generous donation made my Mark Zuckerberg to the Newark New Jersey public school system.

Why does KPFK give air time to Gary Null?

I have tired of turning on KFPK radio (90.7 FM, Los Angeles) at night only to hear the self-aggrandizing voice of Gary Null being emitted into the vacuum of the Los Angeles radio air.

At first one tends to like what Null is saying, since he is critical of the pharmaceutical industry and promotes exercise and a good diet. Those are easy targets. But then, very soon, his rants become intolerable.

Null represents the cult of the individual self-promotion of self. The self-referring radio “star”. I think that Null is a disgrace to the left, rivaled by the 911 falsers. When Null is asked a question he seems to not care about the person who asked it or have any interest in dialog. He goes on and on and on ad nauseum listening to his vitriol that often drifts to topics having nothing to do with the question asked telling people what important unique work he claims to have done. Worse, much of what he says has the feel of a snake oil salesman. (See the references at the end of this post.)

That KPFK puts Null on the air so often is testimony to the fact that the left has as many sheep amongst its ranks as the right. So Null is not going to go away. There are myriad people who want to hear his claims.

All I can do is change the channel.

In the mornings, on KPFK, there is world class reporting and news and commentary from Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Sonali Kohatkar, Margaret Prescod, Lila Garrett, and Richard Wolff. But late at night, I turn off KPFK and search, mostly in vane, for good radio. What ever happened to good radio? I end up listening to KFI so that, at least, be entertained by Phil Hendri or George Noori, where lunacy is expected and funny.

This is, of course, just my opinion. But after once again turing on my radio to KPFK last night and hearing Null’s boring voice yet again, I had to vent. And I’m not the only one who has so vented…

Gary Null’s Goons Threaten to Sue Me: My Response

Quackwatch — A Critical Look at Gary Null’s Activities and Credentials

Doug Henwood’s article on Gary Null

Tar Sands Pipeline

Tar sand and oil shale are both boondoggles. Both extract very little usable oil. Both take huge amounts of energy to get to it. And both tar sands and oil shale tear up the landscape and damage the water supply. Most important of all, both tar sands and oil shale offer the bogus hope of avoiding political entanglement with foreign oil.  The elusive pot of black gold at the end of a make believe rainbow.

Congratulations Egypt!

Today, there was something new under the sun. Mubarak is out. The people have spoken. Democracy is emerging in an Arab state.

This is going to be interesting. “This is only the beginning”, stated one of the young people leading this revolt.

Can something like a true democracy be built in Egypt? The young in Egypt will see to it. May they succeed. It will not be easy and it will not be perfect.

A beautiful thing about the movements in the Arab world as with the new governments in South America is that they are genuinely coming from the people and are not being determined by US decision makers.

Hillary Clinton opposes legalizing drugs but why?

Each day I realize more that I live in a world dominated by power and not by truth. I just heard Hillary Clinton opposes legalizing drugs “because there is too much money in it”. And I read that “Hillary Clinton applauds Mexican government’s war on drugs”.

Can someone please tell me if there is another planet nearby where I can escape to?

Too much money in it? The price of legalized drugs would be higher than the price of those same drugs kept illegal? That is prima facie stupid. I guess if the US pharmaceutical industry takes over, that actually is possible. But cocaine and marijuana are very natural substances and are inexpensive to produce. Legalizing them and permitting legal production and distribution would lower the price, not raise it. And legalized drugs would become a large source of tax revenue of money now going to drug lords. And it would put the illegal drug lords out of business.

No, something else is going on here. As with the insane, and at this point stupid, war in Afghanistan, there must be some other explanation for why the world is kept the way it is. That goes for US policy in Egypt as well. And it has to do with preserving power, holding on to it. It does not have to do with democracy or truth or helping people or doing what is right.

There are rational arguments against legalizing drugs (all of which are incorrect). Some parents here in the drug-consuming Empire think that making drugs illegal will keep drugs away from their children. Those parents should talk to their children because their children will use drugs or not use drugs for reasons having nothing to do with the legality of the drugs. And some people think that legalizing drugs will increase the use of drugs. I have noticed that this latter viewpoint is particularly prevalent among ex drug-addicts who used the hell out of drugs in spite of them being illegal and now, after becoming born again drug-free Christians take it upon themselves to tell others how to behave.

And if drug use does increase, what is worse, a few more drug users or the rampant murder being conducted in Mexico due to the puritans and policy pundits in the US maintaining the status quo? For every murder that no longer occurs, I don’t care if that means ten more drug users who use drugs. Why don’t we instead work on figuring out how to make society a place in which people want to be healthy and happy and not resort to drugs. In the meantime, legalize them all, say I.

My poor Juarez Mexico. My heart feels for you. You will have no help from the drug consuming Empire today or tomorrow or ever. They sit in their high chairs pontificating and expounding their power while your children are murdered by drug lords. While your children are murdered by drug lords.

The Arab world is changing, how will the US oligarchy handle it?

Democratic movements are trying to change the power structure and the shape of government in the Arab world.

Will the US do the right thing and support these movements for change or, instead, will the US continue to back the dictatorships as it has in past and continues to do in the present? As in 1953 in Guatemala when the US opposed Arbenz and Iran when the US opposed Mossadeq and supported the Shah’s dictatorship, as in Chile in 1973 when the US opposed Allende and supported the dictator Pinochet, as in Vietnam, as in the 1980s when the US supported the brutal regime in Salvador, as in the past when the US supportedf Suharto in Indonesia against the popular revolution in East Timor and the US support of Marcos or the US support of the Somoza family in Nicaragua?

As illustrated in Oliver Stone’s new film, South of the Border, democratic change is occurring in South America in spite of past US support for dictators. Hugo Chavez, Eban Morales, and many other new leaders are doing the bidding of the people, not of the corporate oligarchy. It’s called socialism or a variant of socialism. And that is a dirty word in the US were democracy equals Capitalism even though Capitalism has nothing to do with democracy per se and, in fact, modern corporations are like little dictatorial fifedoms now backed by the Supreme Court as being citizens where it is one dollar one vote instead of one person one vote.

The tumult in the Arab world is a good thing. The call for change is being made by the educated middle classes not under control of fundamentalists. It will be interesting to watch how the US reacts especially since many calls for change will be by people who are not afraid to be called socialists. Will the US react, as in the past, by supporting the status quo and the dictators in order to protect “our oil” and the interests of our wealthy plutocrats?

How to remember how to spell therefore vs therefor

If you’re like me, you forget if therefore has the letter e at the end.

Yes, it does. But the word therefor without the e also exists. Therefor is an ancient word that simply means “for” or “for that purpose”. Its current use is mostly in legal documents.

So it’s easy to remember that when it means for, it ends in for.

Therefore, when you mean therefore, end it in fore.

Society ignores the mentally ill. Everyone suffers.

As the shooting of Gabriell Giffords in Tuscon shows, a mentally disturbed person who is left to fall between the cracks can end up going totally insane and in some cases harm other people. Futhermore, the afflicted person also suffers from the mental illness since their thinking becomes tortured by obsessions, fears, and delusions. They are left untreated. They suffer. And sometimes society suffers.

In the case of Jared Loughner, his mental illness was evident to many yet that mental illness was given the right to rule his mind and degenerate. An article in the Washington Post, January 9, 2011, by David A. Fahrenthold, Sari Horwitz and Amy Gardner illustrates this point. According to that article, Loughner was attending classes at Tucson’s Pima Community College. School administrators ignored warnings of his fellow students and his teachers that his behavior was threatening. According the article, the administrators were reported to have said, “He hasn’t taken any action to hurt anyone. He hasn’t provoked anybody. He hasn’t brought any weapons to class…. We’ll just wait until he takes that next step.”.

But what can a school do? Should school administrators reject a student just because he manifests quirky behavior or some fellow student makes a complaint? To answer that question, we needto realize the the issue is much larger than what happens in schools. Consider the case of the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007 . Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people, had been diagnosed with mental illness long before enrolling at Virginia Tech. Yet, due to federal privacy laws, Virginia Tech was not informed of Seung-Hui Cho’s diagnosis at the time he enrolled!

On a daily basis, in Los Angeles, police officers do not detain or transport mentally ill people to a hosptial even when they have been reported to be making threats unless they are deemed “a danger to themselves or others or severely disabled”. The bar for arresting disturbed people or for placing them in treatment is very high. Often, after being reported to police, a mentally ill person who was harassing someone will simply be taken to some other part of town and dropped off. Or taken to an emergency room where they will be given some pills then turned loose.

It goes from bad to absurd. Some scientologists have been known to try to convince mentally ill people to not take antipsychotic medicine.

In my opinion, when a mentally ill person has gotten to the the point they are delusional and making threats, there needs to be a fair judicial process, with due process, that requires the afflicted person to take medication, involuntarily if necessary. That may sound harsh. But, in fact, it is more humane than letting the mental illness dominate the life of the afflicted person and people the afflicted person comes in contact with on a daily basis.