Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Some Not-so-Random Information, Set #6: Nixon and Thompson, Drugs, Manning, Chavez, Hedges, Transparency, Privacy, Schools, Education, Syria

Further information at: Not-so-Random Information: Introduction and Table of Contents
  1. Richard Nixon and Hunter Thompson

  2. War on Drugs

  3. Bradley Manning

  4. Chavez

  5. Chris Hedges

  6. Transparency

  7. Privacy

  8. Schools

  9. Corporate Education

  10. Rethinking Education

  11. Syria

I. Richard Nixon and Hunter Thompson

The Lyndon Johnson tapes: Richard Nixon's 'treason' (2013) - “Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations - he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks... but said nothing.”

“He Was a Crook” by Hunter Thompson (1994) - “Richard Nixon is gone now, and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing -- a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that ‘I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.’”

II. War on Drugs

15 Benefits of the War on Drugs - “With American drug use levels essentially the same as — and levels of drug-related violence either the same as or lower than — those in countries like the Netherlands with liberal drug laws, public support for the War on Drugs appears to be faltering. This was most recently evidenced in the victory of major drug decriminalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. Some misguided commentators go so far as to say the Drug War is ‘a failure.’… The Drug War would indeed be a failure if its real function was to reduce drug consumption or drug-related violence. But the success or failure of state policies is rightly judged by the extent to which they promote the interests served by the state. The Drug War is a failure only if the state exists to serve you.”

III. Bradley Manning

Freedom of the Press Foundation Publishes Leaked Audio of Bradley Manning’s Statement - “Today, Freedom of the Press Foundation is publishing the full, previously unreleased audio recording of Private First Class Bradley Manning’s speech to the military court in Ft. Meade about his motivations for leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks. In addition, we have published highlights from Manning’s statement to the court. While unofficial transcripts of this statement are available, this marks the first time the American public has heard the actual voice of Manning.”

IV. Chavez

What the Statistics Tell Us about Venezuela in the Chavez Era - “In the lead up to Venezuela’s presidential election earlier this year, the picture painted in most private media was that of a country falling apart—a corrupt regime drunk on oil money that was attempting to hold onto power after more than a decade of gross mismanagement of the country’s economy and public institutions. The young, energetic opposition candidate was riding a wave of enthusiasm among the tired masses that desired a change from the past and were looking for new leadership to move their country forward….But a brief look at the statistics offers a very different story about Venezuela. While there are certain elements of truth to the media campaign—indeed there have been persistent blackouts, some food shortages, and rising crime—understanding the context of the changes that the country has experienced under the Chavez government over the last decade tells a very distinct story. It is a story that helps explain why the majority of the Venezuelan people keep re-electing a government that, according to the private media, is driving the country into the ground. ”

V. Chris Hedges

EPL Presents Chris Hedges - “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt: EPL presented Chris Hedges to launch Freedom to Read Week 2013 in Edmonton. Chris spoke about injustice and corporate greed in America...and argued Canada is travelling the same path.”

VI. Transparency

New Funding Group Calls for 100 More WikiLeaks to Offset Unprecedented Gov’t Secrecy - “WikiLeaks is set to receive major new financial support this week from a new group that funds independent journalism organizations dedicated to transparency and accountability in government. This comes as MasterCard, Visa and PayPal continue to refuse to process payments for WikiLeaks, making it difficult to send donations. ‘We don’t need just one WikiLeaks; we need 10 WikiLeaks or a hundred. We have a situation in this country where government secrecy is at an all-time high,’ says Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder and executive director Trevor Timm. We are also joined by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who is a member of the foundation’s board.”

VII. Privacy

K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents - “An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares. But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school. In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion.”

VIII. Schools

What to do about Baltimore Schools - “Lester Spence and Marc Steiner discuss possible fixes to the crisis facing Baltimore public schools”

IX. Corporate Education

Joel Klein of New York to become an Executive for News Corp: Full spectrum dominance of education the goal - “Joel Klein announced Nov. 9 that at year’s end he will resign as York City’s Schools chancellor to become executive vice president at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Yesterday, the company announced that it was buying a technology company with big financial ties to the New York City school system. How nice. The neo-liberal corporate state has provided Klein the training ground to put forth neo-liberal market reforms that are proving to do the job of dismantling public education in the interest of the new corporate EduCare that is being built by private corporate interests to take over the educational means of production. Klein has done his job well, both with his support of the onerous Race to the Top and his corporate bootlicking and policy and personnel changes that promise the private sector a lock on public education.”

X. Rethinking Education

Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud - “Onstage at TED2013, Sugata Mitra makes his bold TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other -- using resources and mentoring from the cloud. Hear his inspiring vision for Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), and learn more at”

XI. Syria

Israeli bombing of Syria and moral relativism - “On Sunday, Israel dropped massive bombs near Damascus, ones which the New York Times, quoting residents, originally reported (then evidently deleted) resulted in explosions ‘more massive than anything the residents of the city. . . have witnessed during more than two years of war.’ The Jerusalem Post this morning quoted ‘a senior Syrian military source’ as claiming that ‘Israel used depleted uranium shells’, though that is not confirmed. The NYT cited a ‘high-ranking Syrian military official’ who said the bombs ‘struck several critical military facilities in some of the country's most tightly secured and strategic areas’ and killed ‘dozens of elite troops stationed near the presidential palace’, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that ‘at least 42 soldiers were killed in the strikes, and another 100 who would usually be at the targeted sites remain unaccounted for.’”

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