Sunday, August 31, 2014

Truest statement of the week

It just shows how absolutely wrongheaded business "leaders" and school "reformers" are when they pervert the whole purpose of education--which is NOT about training workers but about teaching people to be citizens--and call children "products."

Schools are NOT businesses and can't be run on business models. 

-- Susan, "A Quote That Pisses Me Off" (On the Edge).

Truest statement of the week II

President Obama is preparing to do something horrifically dangerous in Syria and Iraq. The rise of ISIS has crippled the empire’s decade’s old strategy of deploying Islamic fundamentalist fighters to do its dirty work in the Arab and Muslim world. ISIS, the Frankenstein birthed in the cauldron of America’s quest for regime change in Syria, has turned on its U.S., Saudi, Qatari and Turkish masters to establish its own caliphate, to which thousands of other Islamist fighters are flocking. Even U.S. corporate media now acknowledge that the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels that Obama wants to shovel $500 million at, are virtually non-existent. They were always a mirage, creatures of western propaganda. The Islamists were the only force that could challenge the Syrian army on the battlefield, and now that they are rallying to ISIS, or running away, Obama does not know which way to turn. 

-- Glen Ford, "Obama Schemes to Attack Syria, Under the Guise of Fighting ISIS" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Susan gets another Truest. 
As does Glen Ford.
Does it?  Because there's no discussion going on in the US.

Ava and C.I. examine the five pilots Amazon's offering this year.
The Democratic Party always promises us so much and delivers so damn little.
John Kerry plays Dolly Levi.
I go into the reason for lists.
Cut up Barack livens up a dull meating urging a quick round of Toss Jarrett.

What we listened to.
Workers World.
Socialist Worker (UK).
Mike and the gang wrote this.

For those wanting a TESR Kitchen, there will be at least one next week.  Possibly two.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Cat got the peace movement's tongue?

Where for art thou  peace 'leaders'?

Refute Barack, deny his name.

Return to the work of peace.

The Guardian had a headline today: "Greens fail to force debate on Australian military involvement in Iraq."

Who's trying to force it in the US?

Congress goes back into session on September 8th and there are some who believe a vote could come as early as Tuesday, September 9th.

Will the US register any real objection to more war on Iraq?

TV: The pilots

Amazon wants you to help them pick their next show.

Of course they do, they didn't do too well picking last season's crop, did they?

Alpha House was supposed to set the word on fire but received only slightly average reviews and no buzz at all.

How bad does a show starring only men have to be to be ignored by the Water Cooler Set?

Pretty damn bad.

And Alpha House is.

So it doesn't take a lot to improve over last year's crop.

In fact, the main titles for Hysteria are already heads and tails above last year's effort at sci fi which promised, should the pilot get a series order from Amazon, they'd fill the special effects scenes in.  And Whit Stillman's The Cosmopolitians features Joan Osborne singing the theme song, her 2007 cover of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted."

Let's start with that show because it's unique, one-of-a-kind and what TV could really use.

It's a wry and amusing pilot which has about five rhythms going on at once -- a hallmark in Stillman's previous work.

Stillman is one of the great directors to emerge in the independent film movement before it was co-opted by the Weinsteins.  Other great film makers who emerged during that era include Allison Anders, Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez, Rose Troche, Lana and Andy Wachowskis, Kimberly Peirce, and Kevin Smith.  We don't include Quentin Tarantino on the list.  He does his Warner Brothers cartoons very well, we just don't mistake them for art.  We also note that the film makers we listed?  They've had epic battles with studios, they have suffered and fought for their art.

Quentin?  Every step has been smoothed over by the Weinsteins.  He is their product.  They repeatedly save his work by insisting he reshoot, he recast, he edit this or that.  In fact, the robotic feel to so many of his films can be explained by the fact that he basically does what the Weinstein's tell him -- he's a more of a directing program than a director.

Someone with more talent and ambition would be Steven Soderbergh, a true artist.  And like Stillman, he emerges early on in the era.  He's changed film more than he's ever been credit for -- there would be no Tarantino if Sodenberg hadn't re-invented film dialogue to begin with.  We're huge fans.

But we're puzzled by Red Oaks, the pilot Soderbergh produces.

It's not a bad pilot.

Paul Reiser plays an ass and he's perfect for and in the role.  He's funny, everyone is.  Jennifer Grey probably walks away with all the laughs.

But what's the point?

Does Amazon -- does anyone -- really need a sitcom set in the eighties about a White teen in college working at a country club?

It's well done but it's nothing we haven't seen before many times and probably was best done by Gary Marshall with The Flamingo Kid.

And does anyone need Really?

No offense to Sarah Chalke or Selma Blair but weren't they bothered by the dated premise?

Fat man, skinny wife?

Really goes all out on the formula by having two fat men (one of whom has bigger boobs than his wife, as his young daughter points out) and two skinny women.

Even worse than the tired genre is the tone.

We've broken old habits of unhealthy vice,
We now eat fresh seaweed and short-grained brown rice;
We've cleared out our cupboards, threw out those stale rolls,
By planting a garden, we've cleaned up our souls
"Organic," written by Patty Hall

Patty Hall's song gently skewers 'we.'  But there's nothing gentle or informed about Really where the four leads all play smug characters who really believed they've cleaned up their souls.

"I voted for Romney," a young outsider says to the group and they look like they want to die.

The smugness and superiority grows tired real damn quick.

Worse than a bunch of overweight Peter Pans would be Hand of God which appears to exist solely to ask the question if there's anything Dana Delany won't stoop too?

She seemed like such a talented actress on China Beach but would a talented actress have been repeatedly upstaged by a supporting character.  Yes, the supporting character, KC, was played by Marg Helgenberger who is an acting miracle.  But Dana had the focus of each episode and the best written scenes.  Still Marg walked away with the show.

Dana followed up China Beach with the film Exit to Eden in which she played a character who spanked Paul Mercurio but whose heart really wasn't in it.

America did not feel her pain and the film flopped.

Which is the story of all of Dana's films except for Housesitter, the Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin comedy.

Most of her post-China Beach work has been bad TV.  Body of Proof offered her a change of pace and a bit of quality for two seasons -- sadly, the show ran for three.

Delany destroyed the show.

Having a hit show wasn't enough for Delany who didn't enjoy certain things about the show.  She didn't, for example, like that audiences loved Nicholas Bishop so she got behind firing him after the second season.  She wanted more than Bishop fired, she wanted Jeri Ryan fired as well. The producers were ready to go along with that -- ABC was not willing to fire Ryan.

So the producers just sidelined Jeri's character for all but one episode, the sixth one, "Fallen Angel."  Also known as the highest rated episode of season three.

When Delany was filming China Beach, Ron Perlman was making CBS' Beauty and the Beast with Linda Hamilton.  He and Delany team up to make Deathwish with a religious twist.

There is no reason for this show to exist and you'd have to be ethically corrupt or unable to be hired for any other role to join the cast of this trash.

Which brings us back to Hysteria.

This is the one that succeeds.

Series lead Mena Suvari, is paired with an interesting concept and a script that hints as opposed to babbles.

In the pilot, Dr. Logan Harlan leaves Houston for Austin  as a result of a possible outbreak which she believes is spread by empathy.  While Hand Of God has the dated look of an LA Law episode, Hysteria has a unique visual that results in arresting and haunting images.  Otto Bathurst directed the pilot and we really feel his work earned a mention.  (TV is a producer's medium.)

Laura San Giacomo, James McDaniel, Josh Stuart, TR Knight, Asjha Cooper are part of an amazing and interesting cast of a series that could actually involve viewers.  Which is why we're sure Amazon will pass on Hysteria and instead go with the tired and offensive Hand of God.

There's rarely ever any change

It's time for song . . .

Oh, hear the loudly rolling drum
Democrats, good Democrats!
The time to right our wrongs has come,
Democrats, good Democrats!
Too long have "rings" and fraud held sway
The sword of justice hid away
'Till now for "change" the people pray
Democrats, good Democrats.

Yes, people wanted change.

And then some.

Remember in 2008, when Barack marketed hope and change?

Barry & Bully

[Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barry & Bully."]

 After eight years of Bully Boy Bush, so many were willing to accept anything.

Our country calls on us tonight,
Democrats, good Democrats!
To battle bravely for the right,
Democrats, good Democrats!
Eight years ago we won the prize,
And then were robbed by tricks and lies,
Of Freedom's foes in friends' disguise,
Democrats, good Democrats!

Eight years ago we won the prize?  Damn right.  In 2008, it was 8 years ago that the Supreme Court stole the election and installed Bully Boy Bush despite Al Gore winning.

In Freedom's cause we come again,
Democrats, good Democrats!
Our foes shall find their tricks in vain,
Democrats, good Democrats!
Our country's good we will maintain
Our stolen rights we will regain
And honest laws we will sustain,
Democrats, good Democrats!

We really thought that in 2008, didn't we?

That a Democratic president would restore our rights and the rule of law?

Didn't happen, did it?

It so rarely does.

And the song?

It's actually referencing 1876 (Hayes and Tilden) not 2008.

In other words, Democrats have long promised to restore rights and seldom delivered.

Well Hello Johnny

Secretary of Match Making John Kerry attempts to pair up Robert S. Beecroft and Brett McGurk as those around the three chant, "Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!"

Jim's World


As promised, I'm doing a Jim's World this edition.

Last week, our output was:

"The Disco Ten" and "The essential dance tracks" were list pieces.  We'll be doing more of those.

Not because they're brief but because (a) readers enjoy them and (b) these type of lists determine who gets included in the canon and who doesn't.  So we want to do our part to enlarge who gets considered

Our playlists each week is just a list of ten albums we listened to while working on the edition.

But Elaine -- who kept begging for this feature to be brought back -- pairs it at her site with CounterPunch and she's begun noticing how CounterPunch will include 30 albums and one or two may be from female artists.  Or may not be.

You'll never find a list here that women aren't on -- not a music list.

But in CounterPunch's world, women aren't artists and they certainly aren't equal to men.

You'll find ravings over the Ramones at CounterPunch -- the Ramones who are to the Sex Pistols what the Monkees were to the Beatles.

We are going to continue to do list pieces.

They serve a purpose.

We'd ask that when you see a list -- at any site -- you see if the list expands what is accepted or is just a conservative knee jerk reaction list like the ones offered by CounterPunch each week.

Barack loves his fun

"Throw Valerie Jarrett to me. I'll catch her," insists Barack in a lighter moment.

This edition's playlist


1)  Pretenders' The Isle Of View.

2) The Mamas & The Papas' The Papas and the Mamas.

3) Janis Joplin's Pearl.

4) Stevie Wonder's In Square Circle.

5) Carly Simon's Coming Around Again.

6) Roberta Flack's Oasis.

7) Sade's Lovers Rock

8) Neil Young's Harvest 

9) Tori Amos's Unrepentant Geraldines.

10) Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun.

Young workers are key to fighting poverty wages' (Workers World)

From Workers World:

‘Young workers are key to fighting poverty wages’

By on August 27, 2014
Cavanaugh is a low-wage worker in Rockford, Ill., and a national leader of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST, He delivered this talk at the Food Is a Right People’s Assembly in Chicago on Aug. 16.

Tommy CavanaghThe life of a fast food worker is one of constant uncertainty, unrewarding work and sacrifices, poverty wages and bombardment by the bosses and corporate media telling us that we should be grateful for the crumbs they pass down to us. We clock in the earliest hours of the morning or work through the entire night, allowing these stores to make profits 24/7 and never close. We create enormous amounts of wealth through our labor, generating billions of dollars in profit while the bosses pay us wages so low they recommend that we apply for food stamps and second or even third jobs.

For young workers it’s the same story — only with the extra baggage of age discrimination, trying to receive an education, and the common view that for some reason we do not need or deserve equitable compensation for our labor. Our unemployment rate runs over double the national average, and the poverty rate of youth is over 20 percent. This trend is unlikely to change course as this system, based solely on acquiring more profits, sheds skilled and living-wage jobs, inclining toward automation and part-time workers.

The youth, those just entering the labor force and those who have been supporting themselves for years, are a huge section of the swollen ranks of the unemployed, which collectively leaves us with few options for getting by. We turn to things like selling our blood plasma, medical testing and activities deemed criminal, landing a tragic amount of young people incarcerated because this system no longer has a place for them.

As we struggle even to find a job, let alone a job that can support us, we face the austerity of food stamp cuts. Almost half of all food stamp benefits go to people under 18, that being roughly 20 million youth who already struggle with access to food and hunger.

In this light, we can see that these cuts are an attack not only on the poor and oppressed but specifically on youth, who feel the damaging effects of these cuts. This fact shouldn’t be lost in the course of our organizing and agitation. The youth have a key role to play in the movement. We should be in the forefront of this struggle, displaying all the courage and creativity we have to offer, like we did during the Wisconsin Capitol Occupation and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The re-emergence of youth taking a guiding role in the struggle, like they did in the liberation and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 70s, is a desperately needed and positive advancement. That, along with our heavy concentration in low-wage jobs — the new majority of the U.S. working class — puts youth in a position where we can help steer the labor movement in a more militant direction, geared at organizing sections of workers that the unions have previously been unable to organize.

Even though the corporate media would probably call it my “youthful sense of over-entitlement” or “idealism,” I say with no apologies that it is every person’s human right to have healthy food, that every worker deserves $15 an hour, along with the right to a union, and that these goals are achievable through struggle.

The bosses will come from every angle to delegitimize, disorient and pacify us and our message. They will lie, cheat and steal to get their way, but that doesn’t mean they will win.

They can’t make profits if we shut them down. They can’t pit workers against each other if we educate and organize among the workers. They can’t claim we don’t represent mass sentiment when there are thousands of us in the street.

We’ve started to see the $15-an-hour-and-a-union movement gaining traction, not only here in the U.S. but also internationally. Fast food workers held the first international strike on May 15 around that issue in over 200 cities. Not far from here, the McDonald’s headquarters was marched on, causing a shutdown of the campus. These events have been a big step forward, along with some local victories around the country to raise the minimum wage.

These have been only first steps, though. The struggle ahead will be long and difficult, but I have no doubt that we will ultimately succeed. A living wage and access to food stamps are a life-or-death struggle for millions of youth across the country, and no court ruling, smear campaign or right-wing politicians can ultimately withstand our strength if we organize ourselves and stand with all those who are exploited and oppressed.

Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

State clamps down on the poor as Ebola crisis spreads to Liberia (SW)

This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

State clamps down on the poor as Ebola crisis spreads to Liberia

Thousands blockaded in slums as west African government can’t cope with epidemic, writes Dave Sewell

Red Cross workers in Liberia, where poverty makes the Ebola virus more deadly
Red Cross workers in Liberia, where poverty makes the Ebola virus more deadly (Pic: EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser/flickr)

The spreading outbreak of Ebola in west Africa has triggered a crisis in the impoverished and war-torn state of Liberia.

The number of cases in the country had passed 1,000 by Friday of last week. Across the region there are more than 2,400 cases leading to 1,300 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

The real toll may be much higher, as many patients are beyond the reach of what little healthcare exists.

The Liberian government declared a state of emergency and a national curfew. And between 50,000 and 100,000 people have been penned in by barbed wire blockades to quarantine West Point, the country’s biggest slum.

Troops patrol the streets, stopping residents from getting out to work or to buy food and other people from getting in to West Point market.

Soldiers fired at crowds protesting against the occupation of West Point on Thursday of last week, killing at least one.

The informal settlement has no public toilets, with only the beach and makeshift wooden toilets on the riverside.

And Liberia’s capital Monrovia does not have a single public hospital for its population of 1.3 million. This leaves the response to the Ebola outbreak almost wholly reliant on international aid.

Aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has 125 patients crammed into a centre designed for 60 people in Lofa county, the epicentre of the outbreak. It hopes to upgrade its largest facility, in Monrovia, from 125 patients to 700.


MSF says the response from Western governments such as Britain has been “non-existent”.

Media coverage in Britain has largely focused on the relatively small numbers of Westerners caught up in it.

There have even been calls for tough border controls against tourists, migrant workers and international students from west Africa.

But while Ebola is deadly and incurable, it can only be transmitted through bodily fluids. It can be kept from spreading with basic hygiene and healthcare.

It takes poverty to turn it into an epidemic. But decades of Western domination have left poverty as the norm for large parts of Africa.

In Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo the West’s attempts to maintain control over rich resources have fuelled brutal wars. They have left a legacy of even deeper deprivation.

Years of repression have fuelled such fear and suspicion that some Liberians believe Ebola is a hoax and are helping patients to hide from doctors.

Now even in countries such as Guinea, where some progress had been made in containing Ebola, treatment centres are reopening as the outbreak spreads from Liberia.

The Ebola disaster could claim thousands more lives.

Stopping it will take urgent and substantial aid. Preventing it happening again will take a real challenge to the poverty and oppression that blights millions of lives across the region.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Iraq: The cafeteria's serving left overs -- again" -- most requested highlight of the week.

"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Golfing" -- Isaiah takes on golfing.

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