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How the Religious Right Is Helping De-Educate America's Youth

February 22, 2013 in Blogs

By K.C. Boyd, AlterNet



 

One can trace the development of today’s right wing Christian think takes to the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Religiously conservative people, motivated by their perceived degradation of society, quietly perfected their skills, all the while grooming their own young adherents, played an effective long-game that continues to win (and corrupt) the hearts and minds of a significant segment of our youth. Indeed, there is no better way to affect the future than by propagandizing the young. In this current post election season, the Biblically driven, often racist, members of society are once again regrouping to fight another day.

With the money of wealth funders like Richard and Betsy DeVos (sister of Blackwater scion Eric Prince and daughter of Elsa and Edgar Prince of the Amway fortune) and the Walton, Koch and Scaife Foundations, simpatico politicians are hard at work bringing Dominionist ideals quietly into the forefront of American education policy. While much of the country argues about budgets, deficits, and guns, a cleverly camouflaged package of School Choice and ”Bible-driven curricula“ make their way up the ladder.

On the surface, School Choice is purportedly about increasing opportunities for inner city and rural youth. The all-important subtext, however, is that School Choice is really about freeing up dollars for Christian-based education. An important arrow that energizes today’s religious quiver is the intentional misuse of language in changing the debate by referring to public schools as “government schools” and public education as a “government school monopoly,” thus instantly and directly speaking to Tea Partiers and Libertarians.

To still relatively scant notice, the call for “School Choice” or Vouchers continues to play out in state capitols across the nation in an effort to increase Biblically based education through a redirection of tax dollars from public to private religious schools. In order to accomplish the end goal of Christianizing all students, stealth remains largely the rule of the day. In 2002, Dick DeVos told The Heritage Foundation,

“We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities. Many of the activities and the political work that needs to go on will go on at the grass roots. It will go on quietly and it …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Did a Gay Blackmail Scandal Bring Down Pope Benedict?

February 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon.com



 

You know what the sudden, surprising, once-every-700-years story of the pope’s resignation needed? What every dramatic story line does: a gay blackmail twist. And so the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica this week reports on a very tangled web that claims to have brought down a pope, under the irresistible headline “Sex and career, blackmail in the Vatican: Behind the resignation of Benedict XVI.” It’s like “Pretty Little Liars” for octogenarians.

The paper says that Benedict made his decision to step down on Dec. 17, just one day after he received a revealing 300-page dossier from a trio of elderly cardinals. He’d assigned them to investigate last year’s scandal involving a slew of leaked confidential Vatican documents and letters that purported to show corruption and internal conflict within the Holy See.  The “Vatileaks” mess was just another of the embarrassments the church has faced during Benedict’s reign — including a money laundering investigation and record-breaking settlements in sex abuse lawsuits. But the leaks were a particularly personal humiliation to the pontiff — the documents in question had allegedly been stolen by his own butler Paolo Gabriele. Gabriele later told investigators he released the documents “for the good of the Church.” “I was sure that a shock, perhaps by using the media, could be a healthy thing to bring the Church back on the right track,” he explained in his earnest pretrial testimony.

Now, La Repubblica says that the trio of cardinals, who’ve been looking into the matter since last year, revealed to the pope a faction within the Vatican “united by sexual orientation” that had been subject to “external influence” of a “worldly nature.” (The paper helpfully explains this is Vatican-speak for blackmail.) A source it says is close to the cardinals who prepared the report told La Repubblica, with equal poetic obscurity, “Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments.”

The Vatican has neither confirmed nor denied the newspaper story, though skeptics in the more pro-Benedict camp have been quick to question it. Writing in the Irish Independent, Gerard O’Connell said the conspiracy accusations made “Dan Brown look like an amateur” – even while acknowledging …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Just What Do Hedge Fund Honchos Do For a Million Bucks an Hour?

February 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Joshua Holland, Les Leopold, AlterNet



It's a common belief that people are compensated more or less in proportion to the value they produce. Sure, it's an imperfect measure – why should teachers make a fraction of what personal injury lawyers take in? – but if someone's making billions of dollars per year, they must be doing something positive for society.

But what do those at the pinnacle of the economic pile – hedge fund managers whose compensation dwarfs that of the best paid corporate CEO – actually do? “A straight answer is hard to come by,” writes Les Leopold in his new book, How to Make a Million Dollars An Hour (Wiley). “Mostly these guys (and yes, they are nearly all guys) keep their efforts hidden from view. Trade secrets and mystical lore shroud their every move. Neither regulators nor the public have any idea how so much money is minted.”

AlterNet caught up with Leopold to discuss the new book.

Joshua Holland: Les, congrats on the new book. We hear a lot about CEO pay, but really, it seems that these hedge fund guys are just putting most corporate CEOs to shame. Can you put the kind of spoils these guys are getting into perspective for us?

Les Leopold: Josh, you know this is America, and we are very accustomed to hearing about the rich and famous. To start the book I thought it would be good to take a look at the 10 richest musicians, athletes, movie stars, CEOs, lawyers, doctors, authors and other celebrities, and then compare them with these hedge fund managers. I couldn't believe what I found. Hedge fund managers make up to 100 times more.

For example, while the top movie stars averaged about $21,000 per hour, (which is nothing to sneeze at), the top hedge fund guys averaged a whopping $843,000 per hour. It was a revelation.

JH: So, what's the thesis of your book, in a nutshell?

LL: My thesis really flows from one basic question: How is it possible for a small firm like a hedge fund, with maybe 50 to 100 employees, to make as much money as a firm like Apple with more than a half-million employees and contractors worldwide?

In …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul Introduces Sequester Alternative Plan: The Sequester Without Layoffs

February 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul today unveiled the following plan to offset the anticipated layoffs of employees following the automatic spending cuts set to take place next month as a result of the sequester agreement. Below is a detailed look at cost-saving initiatives that, if implemented, would offset the impending sequester cuts, with a total savings of $85.75 billion annually.
The Sequester Without Layoffs

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Sen. Rand Paul on Fox's Happening Now w/ Jenna Lee discussing the Brennan nomination – 2/22/13

February 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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AlterNet Comics: Tom Tomorrow on Gun Nuts

February 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Tom Tomorrow, AlterNet




Fri, 02/22/2013 – 09:27

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Source: ALTERNET

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Cover Ups, Corruption and Death: What Private Prison Co. Doesn't Want You to Know about Its Stadium Sponsorship

February 22, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet



This week, Florida Atlantic University announced a deal to rename its football stadium after GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the world. The deal came with a $6 million dollar price tag, the “largest one-time gift in the history of FAU athletics.”

But GEO Group has a history of human rights abuses that it would rather keep secret, especially once 30,000 screaming football fans begin seeing the company's corporate sponsorship. So, in all the excitement surrounding the announcement, GEO took to quietly covering up parts of its shady past–by scrubbing its Wikipedia page.

As Brave New Foundation’s Jesse Lava reported, a GEO Group employee deleted the entire “controversies” section of the company’s Wikipedia page and replaced it with some glowing propaganda. Before GEO’s lackey doctored the article, it outlined a slew of horrific abuses in the company’s prisons, including reports of squalid conditions and the deaths of dozens of prisoners.

Wikipedia editors quickly noticed the changes and restored it to its original form Wednesday evening. The highly educational, yet alarming article is available for your perusal—controversies and all—here. And just before they changed it back, Wikipedia took a jab at the company that tried to game its netizen-dependent editing process, posting this delightful disclaimer on the top of the page:

“The article appears to be written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by rewriting promotional content from a neutral point of view and removing any inappropriate external links.”

But the Wikipedia cover-up is just the beginning of this story's deceit. Details are emerging on how the GEO’s stadium buyout is only part of a university-prison circle jerk of unprecedented proportions. As the New York Times notes, GEO Chairman George Zoley, and several other employees in the ranks, are all alumni of Florida Atlantic University. And GEO Group’s headquarters sits only four miles away from campus. GEO and university officials laughably claim that the deal is strictly philanthropic, and in no way, shape or form a corporate sponsorship, or, worse, a way to recruit new employees and desensitize people to the horrible private of for-profit prisons.

But marketing professionals have …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul appears on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren- 2/21/13

February 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Classing Up The General Theory

February 22, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

Keynes's General Theory

Here is an image of the back cover of the Romanian edition of Keynes’s General Theory published in 2009. If you look close enough you will see that the blurbs feature quotations from Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and Paul Krugman, in that order starting from the top. Rothbard’s and Mises’s statements do not refer directly to Keynes or the General Theory, and it is hard to understand why they would be there except to add cachet to the book. It’s just another example of the ever-expanding and world-embracing influence of the two greatest economists of the twentieth century.

HT to Carmen Dorobat.

…read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Intellectual-Property Pirates of the Caribbean

February 22, 2013 in Economics

By Simon Lester

Simon Lester

Antigua recently made headlines by threatening to set up a web site offering pirated U.S. products. But this is not some modern-day, government-run file-sharing service like Napster. Antigua is attempting to enforce a successful legal complaint brought against the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO), related to a U.S. ban on foreign online-gambling websites.

The case arose out of a U.S. commitment to open its market to cross-border trade in gambling. Antigua claimed that banning foreign gambling sites, while allowing some domestic online gambling, violated WTO rules. The United States contested that it had made such a commitment, but the WTO courts found that it did, and also that Antiguan gambling sites (think online poker) were being discriminated against.

While the legal victory at the WTO was nice, Antigua still had to enforce the verdict. Normally enforcement takes place through the complainant getting authorization to impose its own protectionism in an effort to induce compliance by the offending country. But Antigua took a different approach. Instead of imposing higher tariffs on U.S. goods, Antigua has proposed violating the WTO’s intellectual property rules by offering copyrighted (or patented) U.S. goods.

Antigua is attempting to enforce a successful legal complaint brought against the United States at the WTO, related to a U.S. ban on foreign online-gambling websites.”

Antigua is not the first to propose this, but its efforts have received the most attention. At this point, Antigua has offered only limited details of its plan. But essentially it is proposing to make available U.S. copyrighted or patented works at low prices or for free. For example, it could set up a website offering free downloads of American music and movies.

Antigua’s approach may seem odd, but it is within the bounds of WTO rules. Normally, if a country is found to have violated international trade rules (say, by imposing tariffs at a higher level than it promised), other countries affected by the higher tariffs can file a complaint. If the high tariffs are found in violation, the complainant can then seek the WTO’s authorization to retaliate, for example by imposing its own higher tariffs.

Although the ultimate goal is to have the violating country remove its protectionism, the short-term result may be more protectionism, as the complaining country adds its own tariffs to the equation. This approach may seem antithetical to the cause of open markets. How can …read more
Source: OP-EDS