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91
Infoshop News / Where?s the Winter Palace? On the Marxist-Leninist Trend in the United States
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on May 04, 2018, 06:00:32 PM »
Where?s the Winter Palace? On the Marxist-Leninist Trend in the United States

In the United States today, there exists a political trend which describes itself as Marxist-Leninist. This trend is organized as a loose constellation, orbiting around organizations such as the Workers World Party (WWP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), and to a lesser extent the Freedom Road Socialist Organization-Fight Back (FRSO).
Source: Where?s the Winter Palace? On the Marxist-Leninist Trend in the United States
92
Infoshop News / Josiah Warren, a Most Unlikely Internationalist
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on May 04, 2018, 06:00:32 PM »
Josiah Warren, a Most Unlikely Internationalist

Josiah Warren was, famously, not a joiner. He habitually quarreled with anyone who suggested that he had followers or had founded a school. By his own account, after his early adventures with Owenite socialism, he only ever joined one organization?but what an organization!
Source: Josiah Warren, a Most Unlikely Internationalist
93
Infoshop News / Europe faces ?biodiversity oblivion? after collapse in French birds, experts warn
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on May 04, 2018, 06:00:32 PM »
Europe faces ?biodiversity oblivion? after collapse in French birds, experts warn

Authors of report on bird declines say intensive farming and pesticides could turn Europe?s farmland into a desert that ultimately imperils all humans
Source: Europe faces ?biodiversity oblivion? after collapse in French birds, experts warn
94
Retired General Explains Why the 'Extraordinary Number of Contacts' Between Trump's Campaign and Russia Needs an Explanation



 
 
 



Gen. Michael Hayden gets to the heart of why special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is so important.


 

Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, who has served under Republican and Democratic administrations as CIA director and NSA director, explained Thursday why special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation remains a vital investigation for the United States.

Many ? particularly those in right-wing media ? have insisted that Mueller's investigation has gone on too long, that there's been of evidence of collusion, and that it would be better if the special counsel's team were simply disbanded. But Hayden insists that there is good reason that Mueller's investigation should be allowed to continue. 

"The Mueller investigation has gotten pretty broad now, but it's origins are in a counterintelligence investigation. It is: What were the Russians trying to do, and did anyone over here engage in helping them?" he said to PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff. "So we do have, I think, an extraordinary number of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian security services."

He continued: "And we know for a fact what the Russians were trying to do. Now the question becomes for director Mueller: In those connections, is that born out of naivete, out of ignorance, or out of something darker?"

Watch a clip of the interview below:






 

Related Stories


Source: Retired General Explains Why the 'Extraordinary Number of Contacts' Between Trump's Campaign and Russia Needs an Explanation
95
Arizona Educators United and the Struggle for the Consciousness of the Working Class

by: Jason O'Neal, FFWP

         It has now been nearly two months since I first heard about Arizona Educators United on a local radio station in the Phoenix Metro Area.  I was returning home from a job interview during the first week of March and, because of the teachers? strike in West Virginia and recent student protests over gun violence in schools, I paid close attention.  I heard that a Facebook group had been started, so as soon as I opened my front door I dashed to my laptop and began searching for them.

The administrators and moderators of the group reviewed questionnaires given to those who wanted to join.  These surveys asked how potential members are connected to the education field.  Because I had just recently moved to Phoenix to take a job as an ?educator? for a non-profit which provides temporary housing for undocumented migrants, I was allowed to join the group.
 
Once inside the AEU Facebook page, I was able to chat and post comments on the timeline.  There were more than twenty thousand members from across the state with some from other regions of the U.S.  I quickly noticed that many of the conversations were aimed at coordinating events and hundreds of teachers were posting selfies and group photos wearing red tee-shirts.  #RedforEd was underway and, although it can be argued about how ineffective a tactic like wearing shirts in solidarity can be, it appeared to be a unifying action for this group.  Discussions were also taking place in relation to a potential walk-out by these teachers in response to stagnating wages and the legislative failures of the state government to properly fund public education.

Some of the more conscious comments made by multiple members were targeted at the Arizona Education Association.  Joe Thomas, president of the AEA, had just appeared at a press conference where he took the opportunity to endorse a Democratic Party candidate for governor in the upcoming elections in November.  https://www.azcentral.com/videos/news/local/arizona-education/2018/03/07/arizona-education-association-endorses-david-garcia-governor/32701863/

Perhaps tired of the same political rhetoric, these class-conscious members were not happy with the AEA turning this action into an endorsement of David Garcia, a professor turned politician who unsuccessfully ran for Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016.  Aside from laying blame for the education crisis on the current governor, Doug Ducey, Garcia comes with support from the usual suspects of the liberal flavor of politics for the two-party government of big business.  With about a dozen non-profits and labor union endorsements added to a slew of state senators and legislators, as well as countless school board members, Garcia is portrayed as the Democratic savior of education in Arizona.  https://dg4az.com/supporters/

For the rest of that afternoon on into the early evening I engaged with AEU members through private messages and comments on various posts.  The group came from a wide variety of backgrounds and were concerned about many aspects of a possible teacher strike.  Hundreds of likes and hearts were clicked that day and Facebook provided a platform for questions and open discussions between teachers from all over the state and from dozens of school districts.  Most were encouraging messages professing support and asking about an upcoming march, but smaller groups were actively planning and coordinating local actions and organizing at their work sites.  At one point I was even involved in a conversation about learning from the lessons of the West Virginia strikes.  A wildcat strike, which went against the current laws in that state, resulted in a pay raise of five percent for all state employees.  The Arizona group, however, was looking at how the West Virginia legislature responded and quickly realized that government officials fought them every step of the way.  Additionally, the teachers in Arizona voiced their displeasure with how the West Virginia elected officials were going to pull the money from healthcare and other social spending programs.  This group of educators didn?t want the same thing to happen here.  Not all voices of AEU were united, however, as many retired teachers who receive pensions and are supplementing their income by substitute teaching were concerned about a strike because it would affect their pocketbooks.  One of them, a retiree living in Mesa, tried to get me removed from the group because he didn?t like my use of the term ?business agent? when describing how a movement like this can get swallowed up by the labor bureaucracy if they aren?t careful.

Feeling energized and optimistic of a potential mass action movement developing here in Phoenix, I ?friended? several teachers from the group who liked the exchange of comments I had with other members.  Over the next weeks AEU continued their calls for #RedforEd every Wednesday and not surprisingly that slogan has been picked up by more than a few of the local politicians.  When I attended the March for Our Lives in Phoenix at the end of March, I saw many people in attendance were wearing their red tee-shirts and carried signs with slogans about education funding.  This was an exciting moment because Facts For Working People has discussed on several of our conference calls the explosive potential of a united front of teachers and students marching with women, grass roots activists from Black Lives Matter, and environmentalists against the failures of capitalism in solving the problems it has helped to create.

Will the New Boss be the same as the Old Boss??

The more class-conscious members of AEU are not fooled by the political grandstanding of the AEA and its willingness to continue to support the Democratic Party.  In a state which has voted solidly conservative on national issues over the past seventy years (except in 1996 when Bill Clinton carried the Grand Canyon State), it may be easy to lay blame on the doorstep of the Republican Party.  Since they hold the lion?s share of the state bureaucracy that might be a correct assessment, however, Democratic Party lawmakers are not innocent in helping to create this crisis of the classroom.  During the governorship of Janet Napolitano, the last Democrat to hold that office, she ?signed a law that allowed some parents to receive state education money to pay tuition at private schools.?  Serving as Governor of Arizona from 2003 until 2009, before she was tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security of the Obama Administration, Napolitano was known as the ?Education Governor.?  However, before she took control of agencies which deported more immigrants than any administration in history, Napolitano left Arizona ?nearly last in the country for K-12 funding, with a high-school graduation rate of 70 percent and state universities burdened with students unprepared for college work.?  http://archive.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2008/11/24/20081124education1124.html#ixzz5CJDFa5Cx

Surprisingly, the years under Republican Governor Jan Brewer did see more money earmarked for education with nearly $600 million restored to a budget plan after she pressured the Legislature.  I would not presume to portray Brewer as an ally to working people or the poor, but the details of education funding in Arizona show a more complex story than just bottom line cash deposits.  Also, that ?restored budget plan? was during Brewer?s first year, so how did we get to where we are now?  What must be said, regardless of the political party affiliation of elected representatives in Arizona, is that education funding in this state has been eviscerated over the past decade.

Where are we now??



                Today is May Day and less than sixty days since I first heard of AEU.  Their membership on Facebook has grown to more than fifty thousand people and the teachers are now in their fourth day of a walkout which most think will continue at least through the next few days.  On the first day of the walkout tens of thousands of people marched in a sea of red on the state capital and lawmakers left the building early to avoid the crowd.  This morning?s radio interview with one of the leaders of the AEU revealed that teachers are planning to march on the state capital until legislators pass a budget to increase funding, which could take until Thursday.

                What has transpired in the past two months?  Some Republican lawmakers have taken to social media and launched attacks akin to red-baiting communists in the 1950s.  This is occurring at the same time that members of the state senate are profiting from charter school vouchers.  http://azdailysun.com/flaglive/full_frontal/letters_to_ducey/the-problem-with-power-steve-yarbrough-schools-and-the-law/article_85f68414-db43-5328-9c85-1d8b2b4ae7a1.html

                There have also been ideas floated out in the capital about $150 in credits for educators who have to buy school supplies for their students.  Laughable at best, but merely a drop in the bucket on addressing the needs of an education system on life support.
 
Conservative lawmakers and their fundraisers disguised as political ?think tanks? are now crying foul by stating the teachers are in violation of their employment contracts and that this walkout is ?illegal.?  Imagine how those allegations would have been met in West Virginia where teachers ?illegally? walked out against the ?better advice? of their labor leadership.  Many of those educators in Appalachia were direct descendants of miners who took up arms against the state and coal companies to fight for better wages and working conditions when it was ?illegal? to strike there decades ago.  I am not advocating armed resistance by teachers, however, it must be shown that the power of workers to organize and mobilize has constantly been undermined by the labor union officialdom who parrot the bosses about the legality of work stoppages.  When you consider the current legislative proposals in Colorado to criminalize walkouts, we must ask ourselves?why?  Why are elected representatives trying to cut off future teacher mobilizations?

What are national teacher unions doing about it?  Randi Weingarten was in Phoenix yesterday touting support from the American Federation of Teachers (the parent organization of the AEA).  Where have these unions been for the past decades of education debacles in the United States?  How would Weingarten be addressing this issue if she were the Secretary of Education in a Hillary Clinton administration, like many political insiders were predicting back in 2016?  Arizona educators should beware of the smiling faces from labor union leaders, especially when one considers the role they have played in propping up the American Empire?s political agenda.  http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=6751

Democratic Party lawmakers and their supporters are not very inspiring other than blaming the current governor and the Republican legislature.  Ducey is even facing a possible GOP challenger in the upcoming election based on his latest attempts to ?work with? the teachers.  In a politically astute move, perhaps to foment division within the ranks of teachers or weaken public support, Ducey proposed a twenty percent pay increase for teachers to be rolled out in steps over the next few years.  But, given his past promises and failures, the governor is not gaining much traction in breaking this movement.  

What are they fighting for??

A history of what #RedforEd is up against:

According to AEU, seventy-four percent of registered voters in Arizona believe public K-12 schools are underfunded.  Tracing this back over the past two decades, in 2000, voters approved Proposition 301 to increase state sales taxes by 0.6 percent and direct those funds to public education.  However, in 2008, the state began funneling that money to other areas of the budget.  Arizona schools successfully sued the state in 2010 for ?misappropriating? that sales tax money, but the state refused to pay.  Instead, under then state treasurer Doug Ducey, the state offered Proposition 123 to take money from the state land trust and settle for seventy percent of what was due from the lawsuit.  A U.S. District Court judge later determined that Prop. 123 was unconstitutional and Arizona public education never received its back payments.  It is also important to note that before he began his political career Ducey was the CEO of Cold Stone Creamery and had ties to Teach for America and the Arizona State Charter School Board.

The lasting effects of this underfunding has resulted in Arizona schools having more than $1.1 billion less than 2008 funding levels.  The state is now ranked 49th in the U.S. for teacher pay with no significant raises in the last ten years.  Teachers have fled the state creating more than two thousand vacancies and leaving more than sixty thousand students in some 3,400 classrooms without a permanent ?certified? teacher.  Arizona also spends less on administrative costs, $780 per student, versus the national average of $1,173.  Per pupil classroom funding is ranked 48th in the nation at less than $3,300 per child.  In the sixth largest city in the United States, and a region that accounts for three quarters of the state population, public schools receive nearly fifteen percent less funding than they did ten years ago.  Money is no longer available for facility repairs, building maintenance, and construction.  Some public schools have ceiling tiles falling, leaking pipes, roach and rat infestations, and malfunctioning plumbing as a result of the $2 billion cut from ?capital funding? since 2009.

Teachers are asking for these issues to be addressed and funded properly before they return to classrooms.  The members of AEU voted nearly 3 to 1 to walkout and make the following demands:

         Restore Education Funding to 2008 levels
         No new tax cuts until Arizona pupil funding moves to the national average of $11,392
         Twenty percent salary increases
         Competitive pay for ALL EDUCATION SUPPORT STAFF, this includes cooks, custodians, librarians, bus drivers, and paraprofessionals
         Permanent salary including annual raises

Now, one may ask where this funding will come from and many of the members of AEU are divided on this very issue.  It's where the details get tricky.  Local radio stations are running interviews with pundits and some members of AEU where they are discussing the possibility of legislating a sales tax increase through a November ballot measure.  Some say it could be as high as one percent, but most are settling on a half a percent hike in taxes.  This may sound appealing at first, however, why should citizens of this state settle for voting on a ballot issue to raise their taxes to fund schools when tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations is what got us here to begin with?  That sounds pretty regressive, even for those Democrats who are claiming to be ?progressive.?  What?s next?  Another school bond where future tax revenues are given away to pay for loans with interest to Wall Street banks and private investors?  Just look at what happened in Puerto Rico and their current financial mess dealing with municipal bonds to figure out where things can get worse for public education in the Grand Canyon State.  https://www.npr.org/about-npr/606033768/frontline-and-npr-investigate-the-recovery-from-hurricane-maria-in-puerto-rico

The bottom line is there is no quick fix for the mess that public education in the U.S. has found itself in.  Yes, it?s good to see so much teacher resistance to President Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, but performance pay tied to teacher growth, standardized testing, unequal education based on property values and income, and cuts to public education funding have been around for decades.  In the case of Arizona, cuts made to state budgets during the Great Recession because of decreased tax revenues were compounded by additional tax breaks for the wealthy.  Once the economy ?recovered? (if anyone who works for a living can even consider their circumstances to be better) the taxes were never restored and the top tenth of one percent of the wealthiest Americans kept their money while the overwhelming majority are worse off than they were in 2008.  Some states, like Arizona and Oklahoma (whose own teachers walked out last month) continued to lower taxes with no concerns about funding education. 

Speaking of Oklahoma educators, mistakes made by their leadership in ending their walkout after nine days must be addressed.  With a pay increase of $1,250 per teacher passed off as a victory, the Oklahoma Education Association stated it will turn its focus on supporting Democrats in the upcoming elections.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/us/oklahoma-teachers-strike.html

Is this not how the labor bureaucracy always suppresses movements from the rank and file?  And aren?t Democrats just as much to blame as Republicans?    Just look at what former President Obama?s first chief of staff, Rohm Emanuel, has done to teacher unions in Chicago if you need to be reminded of what to expect from the two political cartels of power and money.  Will teachers in Arizona fall for the same divide and rule tactics?  Only time will tell, but what remains to be seen is what will Democrats offer teachers in exchange for their concessions to the bosses? 

I will leave you with a lesson I have learned about politics in the United States.  I came to Phoenix from California, where I lived for more than twenty years in San Diego and the Bay Area.  Over the past decade I have become more politically active, first through my former union and then by unwittingly supporting liberal candidates for elected office.  I grew up in a conservative community in South Texas, but I have moved further left and passed the liberal capitalists because of the things I have learned from the events of my own life and the changing of my class consciousness.  It has been a fast-paced and educating experience, but an invaluable one which has taught me to look both ways before crossing the street.  In this case, watch out for those who you know are against you as well as the actions, or inaction, of those who claim to be your allies. 

Teachers in Arizona have accomplished many things in a short period of time and their success must be recognized.  However, it is the responsibility of workers everywhere, whether organized or not, to help them see the possible errors made by previous direct actions and how to avoid them as this movement continues to grow stronger.  Employers and workers have nothing in common and our interests are contradictory to one another.  The sooner we all realize this the better.


Source: Arizona Educators United and the Struggle for the Consciousness of the Working Class
96
Two Rural Oregon Elementary Schools Are Pulling Out of Statewide Reading Program for Appalling Reason


The allegedly-offending book features a trans character.


Two elementary school districts in rural Oregon are pulling out of a statewide reading program because of a book about a transgender girl.

Last week, a school in Hermiston, Oregon, pulled out of the statewide Battle of the Books competition. Now, a school south of the Oregon capital of Salem is also pulling out.

According to the Eastern Oregonian newspaper, principals in the Hermiston district said ?one of the books on the elementary school reading list is incompatible with the district?s curriculum.? The issue was a book called George by Alex Gino. The book is about a child named George at birth, who identifies as female and wants to be called Melissa.

Elementary librarian Kristi Smalley claimed that the issue was not about the ?hot-button issues.?

?The misalignment with the curriculum really needs to be the focus,? she said of the book. ?There are a lot of hot-button issues that could misconstrue this, but we need to focus that this is a reading program.?

Now, another Oregonian newspaper reports that the Cascade School District is also pulling out.

?What they said was it?s not so much about the transgender issue,? Drill told the Oregonian. ?There are a couple of scenes in the book that they felt aren?t appropriate for third- graders.?

That district made the decision without talking to parents, the paper reports, and there are now dueling petitions to restore the program or keep it banned.

The author has now issued a statement about the matter.

?My book will not make anyone transgender,? Gino wrote, ?but it can help make people trans aware, and bring connection to those who already are trans, and I believe that those are good things. I don?t believe that there?s any age before which it is appropriate to learn compassion.?

 

Related Stories


Source: Two Rural Oregon Elementary Schools Are Pulling Out of Statewide Reading Program for Appalling Reason
97
AlterNet / Lou Dobbs Says McConnell and Ryan Are Part of 'Conspiracy' to Destroy Trump
« Last post by AlterNet on May 03, 2018, 06:00:20 PM »
Lou Dobbs Says McConnell and Ryan Are Part of 'Conspiracy' to Destroy Trump


The conservative host is twisting reality to protect the president.


 

From the May 2 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:

LOU DOBBS (HOST): It's an obvious, overt attempt on the part of the special counsel to subvert the president of the United States. This is --

ED ROLLINS: But again --

DOBBS: it's that simple. By the way, let me add to that. It is also clear that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are part of the conspiracy and the coordinated attack on this presidency because they say nothing. They stand silent in the face of a supra constitutional authority that is usurping the powers of the presidency.

[...]

DOBBS: He's been president for just about a year and a half. He has achieved more than any president since FDR in office. He has done unprecedented things in terms of the economy, in terms of simultaneously meeting geopolitical challenges, whether it's China, Russia.

This man is accomplishing more than anyone ever expected, and what is the result? He is being attacked by an establishment that means to destroy him and his presidency.

 

Related Stories


Source: Lou Dobbs Says McConnell and Ryan Are Part of 'Conspiracy' to Destroy Trump
98
Arizona Educators United and the Struggle for the Consciousness of the Working Class

by: Jason O'Neal, FFWP

         It has now been nearly two months since I first heard about Arizona Educator?s United on a local radio station in the Phoenix Metro Area.  I was returning home from a job interview during the first week of March and, because of the teachers? strike in West Virginia and recent student protests over gun violence in schools, I paid close attention.  I heard that a Facebook group had been started, so as soon as I opened my front door I dashed to my laptop and began searching for them.

The administrators and moderators of the group reviewed questionnaires given to those who wanted to join.  These surveys asked how potential members are connected to the education field.  Because I had just recently moved to Phoenix to take a job as an ?educator? for a non-profit which provides temporary housing for undocumented migrants, I was allowed to join the group.
 
Once inside the AEU Facebook page, I was able to chat and post comments on the timeline.  There were more than twenty thousand members from across the state with some from other regions of the U.S.  I quickly noticed that many of the conversations were aimed at coordinating events and hundreds of teachers were posting selfies and group photos wearing red tee-shirts.  #RedforEd was underway and, although it can be argued about how ineffective a tactic like wearing shirts in solidarity can be, it appeared to be a unifying action for this group.  Discussions were also taking place in relation to a potential walk-out by these teachers in response to stagnating wages and the legislative failures of the state government to properly fund public education.

Some of the more conscious comments made by multiple members were targeted at the Arizona Education Association.  Joe Thomas, president of the AEA, had just appeared at a press conference where he took the opportunity to endorse a Democratic Party candidate for governor in the upcoming elections in November.  https://www.azcentral.com/videos/news/local/arizona-education/2018/03/07/arizona-education-association-endorses-david-garcia-governor/32701863/

Perhaps tired of the same political rhetoric, these class-conscious members were not happy with the AEA turning this action into an endorsement of David Garcia, a professor turned politician who unsuccessfully ran for Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016.  Aside from laying blame for the education crisis on the current governor, Doug Ducey, Garcia comes with support from the usual suspects of the liberal flavor of politics for the two-party government of big business.  With about a dozen non-profits and labor union endorsements added to a slew of state senators and legislators, as well as countless school board members, Garcia is portrayed as the Democratic savior of education in Arizona.  https://dg4az.com/supporters/

For the rest of that afternoon on into the early evening I engaged with AEU members through private messages and comments on various posts.  The group came from a wide variety of backgrounds and were concerned about many aspects of a possible teacher strike.  Hundreds of likes and hearts were clicked that day and Facebook provided a platform for questions and open discussions between teachers from all over the state and from dozens of school districts.  Most were encouraging messages professing support and asking about an upcoming march, but smaller groups were actively planning and coordinating local actions and organizing at their work sites.  At one point I was even involved in a conversation about learning from the lessons of the West Virginia strikes.  A wildcat strike, which went against the current laws in that state, resulted in a pay raise of five percent for all state employees.  The Arizona group, however, was looking at how the West Virginia legislature responded and quickly realized that government officials fought them every step of the way.  Additionally, the teachers in Arizona voiced their displeasure with how the West Virginia elected officials were going to pull the money from healthcare and other social spending programs.  This group of educators didn?t want the same thing to happen here.  Not all voices on of the AEU were united, however, as many retired teachers who receive pensions and are supplementing their income by substitute teaching were concerned about a strike because it would affect their pocketbooks.  One of them, a retiree living in Mesa, tried to get me removed from the group because he didn?t like my use of the term ?business agent? when describing how a movement like this can get swallowed up by the labor bureaucracy if they aren?t careful.

Feeling energized and optimistic of a potential mass action movement developing here in Phoenix, I ?friended? several teachers from the group who liked the exchange of comments I had with other members.  Over the next weeks AEU continued their calls for #RedforEd every Wednesday and not surprisingly that slogan has been picked up by more than a few of the local politicians.  When I attended the March for Our Lives in Phoenix at the end of March, I saw many people in attendance were wearing their red tee-shirts and carried signs with slogans about education funding.  This was an exciting moment because Facts For Working People has discussed on several of our conference calls the explosive potential of a united front of teachers and students marching with women, grass roots activists from Black Lives Matter, and environmentalists against the failures of capitalism in solving the problems it has helped to create.

Will the New Boss be the same as the Old Boss??

The more class-conscious members of AEU are not fooled by the political grandstanding of the AEA and its willingness to continue to support the Democratic Party.  In a state which has voted solidly conservative on national issues over the past seventy years (except in 1996 when Bill Clinton carried the Grand Canyon State), it may be easy to lay blame on the doorstep of the Republican Party.  Since they hold the lion?s share of the state bureaucracy that might be a correct assessment, however, Democratic Party lawmakers are not innocent in helping to create this crisis of the classroom.  During the governorship of Janet Napolitano, the last Democrat to hold that office, she ?signed a law that allowed some parents to receive state education money to pay tuition at private schools.?  Serving as Governor of Arizona from 2003 until 2009, before she was tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security of the Obama Administration, Napolitano was known as the ?Education Governor.?  However, before she took control of agencies which deported more immigrants than any administration in history, Napolitano left Arizona ?nearly last in the country for K-12 funding, with a high-school graduation rate of 70 percent and state universities burdened with students unprepared for college work.?  http://archive.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2008/11/24/20081124education1124.html#ixzz5CJDFa5Cx

Surprisingly, the years under Republican Governor Jan Brewer did see more money earmarked for education with nearly $600 million restored to a budget plan after she pressured the Legislature.  I would not presume to portray Brewer as an ally to working people or the poor, but the details of education funding in Arizona show a more complex story than just bottom line cash deposits.  Also, that ?restored budget plan? was during Brewer?s first year, so how did we get to where we are now?  What must be said, regardless of the political party affiliation of elected representatives in Arizona, is that education funding in this state has been eviscerated over the past decade.

Where are we now??



                Today is May Day and less than sixty days since I first heard of AEU.  Their membership on Facebook has grown to more than fifty thousand people and the teachers are now in their fourth day of a walkout which most think will continue at least through the next few days.  On the first day of the walkout tens of thousands of people marched in a sea of red on the state capital and lawmakers left the building early to avoid the crowd.  This morning?s radio interview with one of the leaders of the AEU revealed that teachers are planning to march on the state capital until legislators pass a budget to increase funding, which could take until Thursday.

                What has transpired in the past two months?  Some Republican lawmakers have taken to social media and launched attacks akin to red-baiting communists in the 1950s.  This is occurring at the same time that members of the state senate are profiting from charter school vouchers.  http://azdailysun.com/flaglive/full_frontal/letters_to_ducey/the-problem-with-power-steve-yarbrough-schools-and-the-law/article_85f68414-db43-5328-9c85-1d8b2b4ae7a1.html

                There have also been ideas floated out in the capital about $150 in credits for educators who have to buy school supplies for their students.  Laughable at best, but merely a drop in the bucket on addressing the needs of an education system on life support.
 
Conservative lawmakers and their fundraisers disguised as political ?think tanks? are now crying foul by stating the teachers are in violation of their employment contracts and that this walkout is ?illegal.?  Imagine how those allegations would have been met in West Virginia where teachers ?illegally? walked out against the ?better advice? of their labor leadership.  Many of those educators in Appalachia were direct descendants of miners who took up arms against the state and coal companies to fight for better wages and working conditions when it was ?illegal? to strike there decades ago.  I am not advocating armed resistance by teachers, however, it must be shown that the power of workers to organize and mobilize has constantly been undermined by the labor union officialdom who parrot the bosses about the legality of work stoppages.  When you consider the current legislative proposals in Colorado to criminalize walkouts, we must ask ourselves?why?  Why are elected representatives trying to cut off future teacher mobilizations?

What are national teacher unions doing about it?  Randi Weingarten was in Phoenix yesterday touting support from the American Federation of Teachers (the parent organization of the AEA).  Where have these unions been for the past decades of education debacles in the United States?  How would Weingarten be addressing this issue if she were the Secretary of Education in a Hillary Clinton administration, like many political insiders were predicting back in 2016?  Arizona educators should beware of the smiling faces from labor union leaders, especially when one considers the role they have played in propping up the American Empire?s political agenda.  http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=6751

Democratic Party lawmakers and their supporters are not very inspiring other than blaming the current governor and the Republican legislature.  Ducey is even facing a possible GOP challenger in the upcoming election based on his latest attempts to ?work with? the teachers.  In a politically astute move, perhaps to foment division within the ranks of teachers or weaken public support, Ducey proposed a twenty percent pay increase for teachers to be rolled out in steps over the next few years.  But, given his past promises and failures, the governor is not gaining much traction in breaking this movement.  

What are they fighting for??

A history of what #RedforEd is up against:

According to AEU, seventy-four percent of registered voters in Arizona believe public K-12 schools are underfunded.  Tracing this back over the past two decades, in 2000, voters approved Proposition 301 to increase state sales taxes by 0.6 percent and direct those funds to public education.  However, in 2008, the state began funneling that money to other areas of the budget.  Arizona schools successfully sued the state in 2010 for ?misappropriating? that sales tax money, but the state refused to pay.  Instead, under then state treasurer Doug Ducey, the state offered Proposition 123 to take money from the state land trust and settle for seventy percent of what was due from the lawsuit.  A U.S. District Court judge later determined that Prop. 123 was unconstitutional and Arizona public education never received its back payments.  It is also important to note that before he began his political career Ducey was the CEO of Cold Stone Creamery and had ties to Teach for America and the Arizona State Charter School Board.

The lasting effects of this underfunding has resulted in Arizona schools having more than $1.1 billion less than 2008 funding levels.  The state is now ranked 49th in the U.S. for teacher pay with no significant raises in the last ten years.  Teachers have fled the state creating more than two thousand vacancies and leaving more than sixty thousand students in some 3,400 classrooms without a permanent ?certified? teacher.  Arizona also spends less on administrative costs, $780 per student, versus the national average of $1,173.  Per pupil classroom funding is ranked 48th in the nation at less than $3,300 per child.  In the sixth largest city in the United States, and a region that accounts for three quarters of the state population, public schools receive nearly fifteen percent less funding than they did ten years ago.  Money is no longer available for facility repairs, building maintenance, and construction.  Some public schools have ceiling tiles falling, leaking pipes, roach and rat infestations, and malfunctioning plumbing as a result of the $2 billion cut from ?capital funding? since 2009.

Teachers are asking for these issues to be addressed and funded properly before they return to classrooms.  The members of AEU voted nearly 3 to 1 to walkout and make the following demands:

         Restore Education Funding to 2008 levels
         No new tax cuts until Arizona pupil funding moves to the national average of $11,392
         Twenty percent salary increases
         Competitive pay for ALL EDUCATION SUPPORT STAFF, this includes cooks, custodians, librarians, bus drivers, and paraprofessionals
         Permanent salary including annual raises

Now, one may ask where this funding will come from and many of the members of AEU are divided on this very issue.  It's where the details get tricky.  Local radio stations are running interviews with pundits and some members of AEU where they are discussing the possibility of legislating a sales tax increase through a November ballot measure.  Some say it could be as high as one percent, but most are settling on a half a percent hike in taxes.  This may sound appealing at first, however, why should citizens of this state settle for voting on a ballot issue to raise their taxes to fund schools when tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations is what got us here to begin with?  That sounds pretty regressive, even for those Democrats who are claiming to be ?progressive.?  What?s next?  Another school bond where future tax revenues are given away to pay for loans with interest to Wall Street banks and private investors?  Just look at what happened in Puerto Rico and their current financial mess dealing with municipal bonds to figure out where things can get worse for public education in the Grand Canyon State.  https://www.npr.org/about-npr/606033768/frontline-and-npr-investigate-the-recovery-from-hurricane-maria-in-puerto-rico

The bottom line is there is no quick fix for the mess that public education in the U.S. has found itself in.  Yes, it?s good to see so much teacher resistance to President Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, but performance pay tied to teacher growth, standardized testing, unequal education based on property values and income, and cuts to public education funding have been around for decades.  In the case of Arizona, cuts made to state budgets during the Great Recession because of decreased tax revenues were compounded by additional tax breaks for the wealthy.  Once the economy ?recovered? (if anyone who works for a living can even consider their circumstances to be better) the taxes were never restored and the top tenth of one percent of the wealthiest Americans kept their money while the overwhelming majority are worse off than they were in 2008.  Some states, like Arizona and Oklahoma (whose own teachers walked out last month) continued to lower taxes with no concerns about funding education. 

Speaking of Oklahoma educators, mistakes made by their leadership in ending their walkout after nine days must be addressed.  With a pay increase of $1,250 per teacher passed off as a victory, the Oklahoma Education Association stated it will turn its focus on supporting Democrats in the upcoming elections.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/us/oklahoma-teachers-strike.html

Is this not how the labor bureaucracy always suppresses movements from the rank and file?  And aren?t Democrats just as much to blame as Republicans?    Just look at what former President Obama?s first chief of staff, Rohm Emanuel, has done to teacher unions in Chicago if you need to be reminded of what to expect from the two political cartels of power and money.  Will teachers in Arizona fall for the same divide and rule tactics?  Only time will tell, but what remains to be seen is what will Democrats offer teachers in exchange for their concessions to the bosses? 

I will leave you with a lesson I have learned about politics in the United States.  I came to Phoenix from California, where I lived for more than twenty years in San Diego and the Bay Area.  Over the past decade I have become more politically active, first through my former union and then by unwittingly supporting liberal candidates for elected office.  I grew up in a conservative community in South Texas, but I have moved further left and passed the liberal capitalists because of the things I have learned from the events of my own life and the changing of my class consciousness.  It has been a fast-paced and educating experience, but an invaluable one which has taught me to look both ways before crossing the street.  In this case, watch out for those who you know are against you as well as the actions, or inaction, of those who claim to be your allies. 

Teachers in Arizona have accomplished many things in a short period of time and their success must be recognized.  However, it is the responsibility of workers everywhere, whether organized or not, to help them see the possible errors made by previous direct actions and how to avoid them as this movement continues to grow stronger.  Employers and workers have nothing in common and our interests are contradictory to one another.  The sooner we all realize this the better.


Source: Arizona Educators United and the Struggle for the Consciousness of the Working Class
99
AlterNet / Here's Why Mueller's Questions Are Bad News for Jared Kushner
« Last post by AlterNet on May 03, 2018, 06:00:11 AM »
Here's Why Mueller's Questions Are Bad News for Jared Kushner



 
 
 



One of Mueller's questions in a recent report singles out the president's son-in-law.


 

Jared Kushner has nearly disappeared from the public eye in recent weeks, and one of the most likely explanations as to why is that he is in serious legal jeopardy as a result of the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. 

Joyce Vance, a law professor at the University of Alabama, said Tuesday that, based on the New York Times' recent report about the questions Mueller has for President Donald Trump, his son in law may be in real trouble. 

"Kushner said what he had to say what he had to say when he was up on the hill," Vance said to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace of Kushner's congressional testimony. "But as the information that's publicly available ? and Nicolle, you're always good to point out that what we know is just the tip of the iceberg ? but just that tip of the iceberg points heavily in a direction that's not good for Kushner."

She continued: "Now we have these questions... and they indicate an assumption that Kushner was involved in setting up a backchannel, that Kushner was in some way a part of this collision package that the special counsel's office is looking at, almost as if it's a foregone conclusion that Kushner is guilty. And then we marry that knowledge with the that Kushner has not been recalled except for his brief one-hour testimony with the special counsel, it really looks like things are on a bad track for him."

Watch the clip below:







 

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Source: Here's Why Mueller's Questions Are Bad News for Jared Kushner
100
Bornstein Admits to CNN That He Didn't Write Glowing 2015 Letter About Trump's Health?It Was Dictated by Trump



 
 
 



The doctor finally acknowledges what was already widely speculated.


President Donald Trump's former longtime personal physician Dr. Harold Bornstein now admits that the bizarre 2015 letter about the then-candidate's health was actually written by Trump.

"He dictated that whole letter. I didn't write that letter," Bornstein told CNN on Tuesday. "I just made it up as I went along."

"His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary," the letter raved before making an absurd conclusion. "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

"That's black humor, that letter. That's my sense of humor," Bornstein said to the network. "It's like the movie 'Fargo': It takes the truth and moves it in a different direction."

Trump reportedly dictated the letter as Bornstein was taking a car with his wife through Central Park in New York City.

"(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn't put in there," Bornstein explained. "They came to pick up their letter at 4 o'clock or something." The physician also spoke to NBC News to claim his office was raided by Trump associates who withdrew Trump's medical records last year after Bornstein revealed publicly that the president used a medication for hair growth.




 

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Source: Bornstein Admits to CNN That He Didn't Write Glowing 2015 Letter About Trump's Health?It Was Dictated by Trump
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