Later On

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Archive for May 3rd, 2013

Principal Fires Guards, Expands Arts—and Sees Test Scores Soar

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Very interesting article by Steven Hsieh in Alternet:

In defiance of societal trends, a K-8 principal fired all his public school’s security guards and reinvested in the arts, drastically improving grades and test scores in a school that once “had a prison feel,” NBC News reports [3].

Orchard Gardens, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was founded in 2003, but quickly fell to the bottom of public schools in the state. Of 800 students, “more than 90% qualify for free or reduced lunch, 25% are learning to speak English, and 25% require Individual Education Plans to meet special needs,”according to the pilot school’s website [4].

As NBC’s Katy Tur reported, rampant violence and an oppressive learning environment hampered student growth at Orchard Gardens. Students were prohibited from wearing backpacks, for fear of concealed weapons. More than half of teachers didn’t return after a year on the job.

Then came Andrew Bott in 2010, Orchard Gardens’ sixth principal in seven years, and everything changed.

“A lot of my colleagues really questioned the decision,” Bott told NBC.  “A lot of people actually would say to me, ‘You realize that Orchard Gardens is a career killer? You know, you don’t want to go to Orchard Gardens.’”

Bott completely cut the school’s security infrastructure and revitalized its art programs. Musical instruments were pulled out of locked storage and returned to classrooms. Faculty reopened dance and art studios that had been out of commission for years.

Within a year, the school already saw “significant increases in the numbers of students reading at grade level and the percent of students proficient on grade level math assessments.” And within three, Orchard Gardens completely transformed. Not only have test scores and grades improved—students are also better behaved.

“We have our occasional, typical adolescent … problems,” Bott told NBC. “But nothing that is out of the normal for any school.”

Orchard Gardens’ refocus is emblematic of studies [5] linking arts education with academic achievement. A 2012 study by the National Endowments for the Arts found that “At-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement.” Chris Plunkett, a visual arts teacher at Orchard Gardens is starting to see that play out.

“They need something more than test prep and more than learning that there’s only one answer to every problem,” said Chris Plunkett. “Even though they don’t realize how much they’re learning and how much they’re strengthening, it’s happening, and I think that transcends into other areas.”

Eighth grader Keyvaughn Little is also noticing the positive effects of less guards and more arts education. Since Principal Bott switched things up, Little’s grades have improved and he’s even been accepted into the prestigious Boston Arts Academy for high school.

“Now that the teachers actually help me and push me on the right track, I can actually see a future for myself,” Little said. “I’ve been more open, and I’ve expressed myself more than I would have before the arts have came.”

Principal Bott and his administration are rightfully proud of their school’s renewal. A statement on the Orchard Gardens website suggests other public schools take a hint:

“Our team believes that the exciting transformation of one of Boston’s lowest performing public schools will serve as a national model for school turnaround.”

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 2:33 pm

Posted in Education

Time again for Kierkegaard?

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Among the seminar readings/discussions in the small college I attended, a handful of sessions were devoted to Søren Kierkegaard. I was fascinated by the ideas, and I think they had a much more profound impact on me than I thought at the time (we were reading a lot of the books). I think I probably should have another go.

All brought to mind by reading Jeffrey Franks’s op-ed in the NY Times. It’s well  worth reading, and it begins:

For years, visitors to the Copenhagen City Museum wandered into a modest room that contains a few artifacts from the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s life: portraits, meerschaum pipes, first editions and, best of all, the desk where he stood and produced with preternatural speed a series of original and difficult works, many of them written pseudonymously and published in editions that numbered in the hundreds — among them “Either-Or,” “Fear and Trembling,” “The Concept of Dread” and “Repetition.” The exhibit has been refreshed to mark Kierkegaard’s 200th birthday on May 5th. His belongings — a large library, furniture, paintings, and knickknacks —were pretty well dispersed after his death in 1855, but the expanded version will add an “outer circle” of relevant material. Manuscripts and papers from the Kierkegaard archives will be on display at the Royal Library.

ilosopher’s grave is fairly close by, in Assistens Kirkegaard—his forbidding name is a variation of the Danish word for cemetery — in the Norrebro district, which is also the burial ground of many other notable figures, including Hans Christian Andersen, Niels Bohr and the American tenor saxophonist Ben Webster.
Though in death he rests in this distinguished company, Kierkegaard was markedly less revered in life. His contemporaries saw him as a troublesome, quarrelsome figure. He was a familiar sight, strolling about the Old City, where he created the illusion that he was merely an underemployed gentleman. The satirical weekly Corsair published nasty caricatures of him and mocked his writing and pseudonymous disguises. He was gossiped about when he broke his engagement to the 18-year-old Regine Olsen, and was feared by his targets, among them, Hans Christian Andersen, whose early novels Kierkegaard eviscerated in his 1838 debut, “From the Papers of One Still Living.” Shortly before he died at age 42, he began a bitter ground war with the state Lutheran church. For his biographers and interpreters, his private life remains a nest of secrets.

For all his well-known existential explorations — his fascination with life’s dreadful uncertainties and his belief, set forth in “The Sickness Unto Death,” that despair is central to the human condition — Kierkegaard will forever be associated with the “leap,” an exertion of faith that helped him accept the absurd idea that Jesus was simultaneously divine and yet much like other young men of his time; the question obsessed and perplexed him. As he put it in his major 1846 book “Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophic Fragments,” “The Absurd is that the eternal truth has come to exist, that God has come to exist, is born, has grown up and so on, and has become just like a person, impossible to tell apart from another person.” Kierkegaard called this “the Absolute Paradox.”

These were awkward questions for discussion in a public forum — particularly in a small 19th-century monarchy with a dominant church. . .

Continue reading. Continue reading: his solution was ingenious.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Religion

Good analysis by Kevin Drum of the nature of the WOT as it relates to Gitmo

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It’s a brief post, and well worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 11:47 am

Big energy and big pollution

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From TomDispatch, an interesting post by Ellen Canterow:

Gary Judson had just been removed from his shackles when they slapped the handcuffs on him.  The 72-year-old Methodist minister had chained himself to the fence surrounding a compressor station — part of the critical infrastructure associated with hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking — a stone’s throw from Seneca Lake in upstate New York.  The sheriff and his deputies freed him only to arrest him for trespassing.

“They don’t have the right to do this — to put the lake in jeopardy. We’ll all end up paying for their mess,” Judson told a small group of supporters on hand to witness his act of civil disobedience.  The “this” he was protesting, Sandra Steingraber recounts in a recent issue of Orion magazine, was the plan of Missouri-based Inergy Midstream to turn abandoned salt caverns beneath the lake’s shores into storage areas for millions of barrels of natural gas piped in from Pennsylvania’s fracking fields.  “Inergy has been in violation of the Clean Water Act at this facility every single quarter for the past three years,” Judson said. “Since 1972, there have been fourteen catastrophic failures at gas storage facilities. Each one of them has been at a salt cavern.”  A “failure” at Seneca Lake could be particularly catastrophic because, Steingraber writes, it provides the drinking water for 100,000 people. (Last month, Steingraber was jailed for 15 days for her own act of civil disobedience against Inergy.)

In Pennsylvania, where gas is currently being forced out of the shale rock in which it’s resided for millions of years, “failures” are already an everyday affair, as TomDispatch regular Ellen Cantarow reports in the latest in her series of articles from fracking’s front lines.  Once upon a time, coal miners, tunnel workers, and “radium girls” faced the horrors of their dangerous trades in seclusion, deep below ground, inside mountains, or hidden behind factory walls.  They worked and died unseen and unheard.

Today, industrial safety issues have come home — literally.  Toxic chemicals aren’t just reserved for Superfund sites; they are increasingly in our houses, our water, and our food.  When something goes wrong at a fertilizer plant, it doesn’t just mean workers are in danger any more, but also — as in the case of the town of West, Texas — a nursing home, a school, an apartment complex, and five blocks of residences in a small town.  As Cantarow writes, Pennsylvania farming communities are being turned into huge, open-air laboratories by energy companies eager to make North America a twenty-first-century Saudi Arabia, with ordinary people serving as its guinea pigs.  And those people are paying a heavy price: mystery illnesses, dead animals, polluted water, land made worthless, and the loss of a way of life.  In the midst of this new hell, however, there’s also hope. Like Gary Judson in New York, Pennsylvanians are speaking up, organizing, and doing what they can in the face of long odds and tough times. Nick Turse

The Downwinders 
Fracking Ourselves to Death in Pennsylvania 
By Ellen Cantarow

More than 70 years ago, a chemical attack was launched against Washington State and Nevada. It poisoned people, animals, everything that grew, breathed air, and drank water. The Marshall Islands were also struck. This formerly pristine Pacific atoll was branded “the most contaminated place in the world.” As their cancers developed, the victims of atomic testing and nuclear weapons development got a name: downwinders. What marked their tragedy was the darkness in which they were kept about what was being done to them. Proof of harm fell to them, not to the U.S. government agencies responsible.

Now, a new generation of downwinders is getting sick as an emerging  industry pushes the next wonder technology — in this case, high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Whether they live in Texas, Colorado, or Pennsylvania, their symptoms are the same: rashes, nosebleeds, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, joint pain, intestinal illnesses, memory loss, and more. “In my opinion,” says Yuri Gorby of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “what we see unfolding is a serious health crisis, one that is just beginning.”

The process of “fracking” starts by drilling a mile or more vertically, then outward laterally into 500-million-year-old shale formations, the remains of oceans that once flowed over parts of North America. Millions of gallons of chemical and sand-laced water are then propelled into the ground at high pressures, fracturing the shale and forcing the methane it contains out. With the release of that gas come thousands of gallons of contaminated water. This “flowback” fluid contains the original fracking chemicals, plus heavy metals and radioactive material that also lay safely buried in the shale.

The industry that uses this technology calls its product “natural gas,” but there’s nothing natural about up-ending half a billion years of safe storage of methane and everything that surrounds it. It is, in fact, an act of ecological violence around which alien infrastructures — compressor stations that compact the gas for pipeline transport, ponds of contaminated flowback, flare stacks that burn off gas impurities, diesel trucks in quantity, thousands of miles of pipelines, and more — have metastasized across rural America, pumping carcinogens and toxins into water, air, and soil.

Sixty percent of Pennsylvania lies over a huge shale sprawl called the Marcellus, and that has been in the fracking industry’s sights since 2008.  The corporations that are exploiting the shale come to the state with lavish federal entitlements: exemptions from the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean Drinking Water Acts, as well as the Superfund Act, which requires cleanup of hazardous substances. The industry doesn’t have to call its trillions of gallons of annual waste “hazardous.” Instead, it uses euphemisms like “residual waste.” In addition, fracking companies are allowed to keep secret many of the chemicals they use.

Pennsylvania, in turn, adds its own privileges. A revolving door shuttles former legislators, governors, and officials from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) into gas industry positions. The DEP itself is now the object of a lawsuit that charges the agency with producing deceptive lab reports, and then using them to dismiss homeowners’ complaints that shale gas corporations have contaminated their water, making them sick. The people I interviewed have their own nickname for the DEP: “Don’t Expect Protection.”

The Downwinders

Randy Moyer is a pleasant-faced, bearded 49-year-old whose drawl reminds you that Portage, his hardscrabble hometown in southwestern Pennsylvania, is part of Appalachia. He worked 18 years — until gasoline prices got too steep — driving his own rigs to haul waste in New York and New Jersey. Then what looked like a great opportunity presented itself: $25 an hour working for a hydraulic-fracturing subcontractor in northeastern Pennsylvania.

In addition to hauling fracking liquid, water, and waste, Randy also did what’s called, with no irony, “environmental.” He climbed into large vats to squeegee out the remains of fracking fluid. He also cleaned the huge mats laid down around the wells to even the ground out for truck traffic. Those mats get saturated with “drilling mud,” a viscous, chemical-laden fluid that eases the passage of the drills into the shale. What his employer never told him was that the drilling mud, as well as the wastewater from fracking, is not only highly toxic, but radioactive.

In the wee hours of a very cold day in November 2011, he stood in a huge basin at a well site, washing 1,000 mats with high-pressure hoses, taking breaks every so often to warm his feet in his truck. “I took off my shoes and my feet were as red as a tomato,” he told me. When the air from the heater hit them, he “nearly went through the roof.”

Once at home, he scrubbed his feet, but the excruciating pain didn’t abate. A “rash” that covered his feet soon spread up to his torso. A year and a half later, the skin inflammation still recurs. His upper lip repeatedly swells. A couple of times his tongue swelled so large that he had press it down with a spoon to be able to breathe. “I’ve been fried for over 13 months with this stuff,” he told me in late January. “I can just imagine what hell is like. It feels like I’m absolutely on fire.”

Family and friends have taken Moyer to emergency rooms at least four times. He has consulted more than 40 doctors. No one can say what caused the rashes, or his headaches, migraines, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat, or the shooting pains down his back and legs, his blurred vision, vertigo, memory loss, the constant white noise in his ears, and the breathing troubles that require him to stash inhalers throughout his small apartment.

In an earlier era, workers’ illnesses fell into the realm of “industrial medicine.” But these days, when it comes to the U.S. fracking industry, the canaries aren’t restricted to the coalmines. People like Randy seem to be the harbingers of what happens when a toxic environment is no longer buried miles beneath the earth. . .

Continue reading. There is a lot more, and it’s staggering: will the US public simply accept this?

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 10:47 am

What is the difference between the Boston bombings and a drone missile strike in a village?

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Noam Chomsky writes at AlterNet:

April is usually a cheerful month in New England, with the first signs of spring, and the harsh winter at last receding. Not this year.

There are few in Boston who were not touched in some way by the marathon bombings on April 15 and the tense week that followed. Several friends of mine were at the finish line when the bombs went off. Others live close to where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect, was captured. The young police officer Sean Collier was murdered right outside my office building.

It’s rare for privileged Westerners to see, graphically, what many others experience daily – for example, in a remote village in Yemen, the same week as the marathon bombings.

On April 23, Yemeni activist and journalist Farea Al-Muslimi, who had studied at an American high school, testified before a US Senate committee that right after the marathon bombings, a drone strike in his home village in Yemen killed its target.

The strike terrorized the villagers, turning them into enemies of the United States – something that years of jihadi propaganda had failed to accomplish.

His neighbors had admired the US, Al-Muslimi told the committee, but “Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads. What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.”

Rack up another triumph for President Obama’s global assassination program, which creates hatred of the United States and threats to its citizens more rapidly than it kills people who are suspected of posing a possible danger to us someday.

The target of the Yemeni village assassination, which was carried out to induce maximum terror in the population, was well-known and could easily have been apprehended, Al-Muslimi said. This is another familiar feature of the global terror operations.

There was no direct way to prevent the Boston murders. There are some easy ways to prevent likely future ones: by not inciting them. That’s also true of another case of a suspect murdered, his body disposed of without autopsy, when he could easily have been apprehended and brought to trial: Osama bin Laden.

This murder too had consequences. To locate bin Laden, the CIA launched a fraudulent vaccination campaign in a poor neighborhood, then switched it, uncompleted, to a richer area where the suspect was thought to be.

The CIA operation violated fundamental principles as old as the Hippocratic oath. It also endangered health workers associated with a polio vaccination program in Pakistan, several of whom were abducted and killed, prompting the UN to withdraw its anti-polio team.

The CIA ruse also will lead to the deaths of unknown numbers of Pakistanis who have been deprived of protection from polio because they fear that foreign killers may still be exploiting vaccination programs.

Columbia University health scientist Leslie Roberts estimated that 100,000 cases of polio may follow this incident; he told Scientific American that “people would say this disease, this crippled child is because the US was so crazy to get Osama bin Laden.”

And they may choose to react, as aggrieved people sometimes do, in ways that will cause their tormentors consternation and outrage.

Even more severe consequences were narrowly averted. The US Navy SEALs were under orders to fight their way out if necessary. Pakistan has a well-trained army, committed to defending the state. Had the invaders been confronted, Washington would not have left them to their fate. Rather, the full force of the US killing machine might have been used to extricate them, quite possibly leading to nuclear war.

There is a long and highly instructive history showing the willingness of state authorities to risk the fate of their populations, sometimes severely, for the sake of their policy objectives, not least the most powerful state in the world. We ignore it at our peril.

There is no need to ignore it right now. A remedy is investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill’s just-published Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battleground.

In chilling detail, Scahill describes the effects on the ground of US military operations, terror strikes from the air (drones), and the exploits of the secret army of the executive branch, the Joint Special Operations Command, which rapidly expanded under President George W. Bush, then became a weapon of choice for President Obama.

We should bear in mind an astute observation by the author and activist Fred Branfman, who almost single-handedly exposed the true horrors of the US “secret wars” in Laos in the 1960s, and their extensions beyond.

Considering today’s JSOC-CIA-drones/killing machines, Branfman reminds us about the Senate testimony in 1969 of Monteagle Stearns, US deputy chief of mission in Laos from 1969 to 1972.

Asked why the US rapidly escalated its bombing after President Johnson had ordered a halt over North Vietnam in November 1968, Stearns said, “Well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn’t just let them stay there with nothing to do.” So we can use them to drive poor peasants in remote villages of northern Laos into caves to survive, even penetrating within the caves with our advanced technology. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 10:41 am

5-minute video on climate change

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Except for the opening background music (which, mercifully, is quickly over), a good video:

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 10:29 am

Posted in Global warming, Video

Kurtz and Collins

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Here’s a more detailed description of Howard Kurtz’s sloppy … well, I hesitate to call it “journalism”. At any rate, Alex Pareene in Salon:

Update, 1:00 pm ET: The Daily Beast announced it is retracting Kurtz’s column.

Original post: 
Howard Kurtz had a bad day yesterday. He wrote this whole column calling out Jason Collins, the NBA player who this week came out as gay, breaking a major American sports barrier and quickly becoming a widely celebrated and admired figure, for not telling readers of his Sports Illustrated piece that he once had a (female) fiancée. Except, one little problem with the entire concept of the piece: Collins explicitly wrote that he’d once been engaged in his Sports Illustrated piece. It took a few minutes for the Internet to point out this titanic error. Then, the the column was altered, without a correction, to say that Collins “downplayed one detail” instead of “left one little part out.” Finally, a proper correction was appended.

But Kurtz was defiant! Despite the central detail underlying the argument of his column being incorrect, Kurtz’s point stands, says Kurtz!

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 10.20.45 AM

We should all be so grateful to have legendary media critic Howard Kurtz around to police coming-out narratives.

The “Daily Download” video of Kurtz joking about Collins is probably more embarrassing than the Daily Beast column — the phrase “playing both sides of the court” is used — which is likely why it was taken down. You can see it at BuzzFeed orGawker still.

This is, easily, Kurtz’s worst error since the time he accidentally invented a conversation with a member of Congress. But while that one seemed like a truly weird circumstance, involving a massive misunderstanding, this one seems like the natural result of a lazy hack thoughtlessly weighing in on the news without actually thinking (or reading the article he was weighing in on). (Also does the Daily Beast not have editors anymore? They still have Photoshoppers!)

Speaking of people not telling the whole story, Kurtz has a slightly mysterious relationship with the Daily Download, which is apparently a real website and not the name of a fictional blog invented for a “Law & Order” episode. Kurtz is on the “Board of Advisers” for that site and writes (and appears in videos) for them constantly. As Michael Calderone reports, Kurtz plugs the site like crazy, tweeting links to the Daily Download six times more often than he tweets links to the site he actually works for, the Daily Beast. Kurtz says the board position is unpaid, so who knows what’s even going on there. But he is in a lot of bad, dumb videos that no one watches, except when the videos become controversial because Kurtz said stupid things.

Howard Kurtz is a media reporter, though he is often mistakenly referred to — and hired to act as — a media critic. As a media reporter, he is well-sourced. He is also an experiment in how many potential conflicts of interest one highly successful journalism professional can walk around with without ever having to change a single thing. For years he was supposed to cover the media — including, say, CNN — for the Washington Post, while also hosting a show on CNN. (He was also covering the media — including, say, the Washington Post — for CNN.) His wife is a professional flack who once worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kurtz has interviewed his wife’s clients on his show. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 10:24 am

Posted in Media, Washington Post

Things to be thankful for: Howard Kurtz has been sacked

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Howard Kurtz—“Howie” to his friends, if any—is the worst of hacks, and regularly lies, misreports, slants, and deceives: the epitome of the person without principle. Robert Parry has a profile in farewell—though of course Kurtz will bounce back up: corporations always need shills.

For nearly a quarter century, Howard Kurtz has served as hall monitor for Washington’s conventional wisdom, handing out demerits to independent-minded journalists who don’t abide by the mainstream rules. So, there is some understandable pleasure seeing Kurtz face some accountability in his ouster as bureau chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

However, the more salient point is that Kurtz, who continues to host CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show, should never have achieved the level of influence in journalism that he did. Throughout his career, he has consistently – and unfairly – punished journalists who had the courage to ask tough questions and pursue truly important stories.

When one looks at the mess that is modern journalism in the United States, a chief culprit has been Howard Kurtz. Yet, his downfall did not come because of his smearing of fellow journalists – like Gary Webb and Helen Thomas – but rather from a blog post that unfairly criticized basketball player Jason Collins after he revealed that he was gay.Kurtz faulted Collins for supposedly not revealing that he had once been engaged to a woman, but Collins had mentioned those marriage plans. Twitter exploded with comments about Kurtz’s sloppy error. On Thursday, The Daily Beast retracted the post, and the Web site’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown announced that Kurtz would be departing.

However, Kurtz has committed far more serious offenses during his years destroying the careers of journalists who dared make life a bit uncomfortable for Official Washington’s powerful elites. For instance, Kurtz played a key role in the destruction of investigative reporter Gary Webb, who had the courage to revive the long-suppressed Contra-cocaine story in the mid-1990s.

Working at the San Jose Mercury-News, Webb produced a multi-part series in 1996 revealing how cocaine that was smuggled into the United States by operatives connected to the Nicaraguan Contra war of the 1980s had contributed to the “crack cocaine” epidemic that ravaged U.S. cities. Webb’s articles put the major U.S. news media on the spot because most mainstream outlets had dismissed the Contra-cocaine allegations when they first surfaced in the mid-1980s.

My Associated Press colleague Brian Barger and I wrote the first story about the Contra-cocaine scandal in 1985 and our work was met with a mix of condescension and contempt from the New York Times and the Washington Post, where Kurtz worked for many years. Even after an investigation by Sen. John Kerry confirmed – and expanded upon – our work, the big newspapers continued to dismiss and downplay the stories.

It didn’t matter how much evidence was developed on the Contra-cocaine smuggling or on the Reagan administration’s role covering up the crimes; the conventional wisdom was that the scandal must be a “conspiracy theory.” Journalists or government investigators who did their job, looking at the problem objectively, risked losing their job.

Career Consequences

Journalistic up-and-comers, such as Michael Isikoff (then at the Washington Post), advanced their careers by focusing on minor flaws in Kerry’s investigation rather than on major disclosures of high-level government complicity with drug trafficking. Newsweek’s “conventional wisdom watch” mocked Kerry as “a randy conspiracy buff.”

So, when Gary Webb revived the Contra-cocaine scandal in 1996 by pointing out its real-world impact on the emergence of crack cocaine that ravaged inner cities across the United States in the 1980s, his stories were most unwelcome.

At first, the mainstream news media tried to ignore Webb’s work, but African-American lawmakers demanded investigations into the scandal. That prompted a backlash from the major news organizations. Webb’s articles were dissected looking for tiny flaws that could be exploited to again discredit the whole issue.

On Oct. 4, 1996, the Washington Post published a front-page article knocking down Webb’s series, although acknowledging that some Contra operatives indeed did help the cocaine cartels.

The Post’s approach was twofold: first, the Post presented the Contra-cocaine allegations as old news — “even CIA personnel testified to Congress they knew that those covert operations involved drug traffickers,” the Post sniffed — and second, the Post minimized the importance of the one Contra smuggling channel that Webb had highlighted in his series, saying that it had not “played a major role in the emergence of crack.” A Post sidebar dismissed African-Americans as prone to “conspiracy fears.”

Next, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times weighed in . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 10:18 am

Posted in Media, Washington Post

Rapid shave

with 2 comments

SOTD 3 May 2013

I was sitting in my pyjamas when the telephone guy called to say that he would be over to check our phone lines. (Turns out to most likely be a modem problem.) He said he would arrive in 20 minutes. So it was a somewhat brisk shave. No nicks, but quick.

I really like that little Omega boar brush: a champ. The Holy Black shaving soap was (for me) meh. I like the color, I don’t like the tissue-paper wrapper, and the lather was only s0-s0. I never did detect much fragrance. Certainly there are some fans—I picked it up after seeing praise for the product at Wicked Edge—but it didn’t do much for me.

The Futur with a Personna Lab Blue blade did 3 quick passes. I find the blade okay but not stellar, but I’ll try again. It’s sort of odd: the Personna Lab Blues in this package were excellent—those I really liked. This morning’s is from this package, and the plates carry different printing and, as I say, on first acquaintance did not seem so keen. I’ll do more comparisons. Certainly they’re not twice as good (for me) as Astra Superior Platinums, though they cost twice as much.

A good splash of Captain’s Choice, jump into clothes, cook breakfast cereal, and sitting calmly in my chair eating when the phone guy knocks. He was a nice guy, and I have some spare Sodial razors. He was clean shaven, and I asked, “Out of curiosity, do you like to shave?” and got the standard response, “I hate it!” but he added that he really liked being clean shaven, he just didn’t like what it took to get the result. So I gave him a Sodial and a copy of the book: getting the word out.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2013 at 9:09 am

Posted in Shaving

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