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What If North Korea Makes an Offer Trump Can’t Refuse?

May 19, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

North Korea has just reminded the United States that it is
intent on negotiating with the United States, not accepting an
administration diktat, especially one explicitly modeled after the
Libya deal, which ultimately ended in the gruesome death of Muammar
el-Qaddafi, who agreed to its terms.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited Pyongyang again
and made Kim Jong-un an offer he hoped the North Korean supreme
leader could not reject: abandon nuclear weapons and the North can
“have all the opportunities your people so richly
deserve.” But the Trump administration should be careful what
it asks for. What if Kim said, “Yes, here are my nukes. Now
where are my benefits?”

North Korea has just reminded the United States that it is
intent on negotiating with the United States, not accepting an
administration diktat, especially one explicitly modeled after the
Libya deal, which ultimately ended in the gruesome death of Muammar
el-Qaddafi, who agreed to its terms.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited Pyongyang again
and made Kim Jong-un an offer he hoped the North Korean supreme
leader could not reject: abandon nuclear weapons and the North can
“have all the opportunities your people so richly
deserve.” But the Trump administration should be careful what
it asks for. What if Kim said, “Yes, here are my nukes. Now
where are my benefits?”

The United States should
expect the unexpected.

The so-called Children’s Palace is a venue for a variety
of kid’s activities, and a must-stop spot for foreign
visitors. I was taken there on both of my trips to North Korea,
most recently last June. Dominating the building’s large open
area is a model missile. At least, I assumed it was a model. The
North might be hiding its weapons in plain view. How better to fool
the Americans?

After the summit’s usual opening pleasantries have been
exchanged, imagine Kim announcing that he sees no reason why two
decisive men of action cannot quickly reach an agreement. To
demonstrate his commitment to good relations with America he
already released three U.S. citizens even though they had violated
North Korean law. To further prove his good faith, he explains, at
that very moment four North Korean nukes are on trucks just north
of Panmunjom, ready for America to take if a deal is reached.

He then promises to deliver his nation’s remaining
baker’s dozen weapons—sadly, he explains, Pyongyang was
unable to develop as many nukes as the imperialistic foreigners
imagined—in a similar fashion as the United States fulfills
Secretary Pompeo’s promises and a bit more. Kim then makes a
few simple requests: diplomatic recognition, peace treaty,
sanctions end, economic aid, entry …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Public Schooling Is Not a Public Good

May 19, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

Teachers are walking out of public schools around the
country. Texas teachers aren’t yet walking out, perhaps because
Texas spends $60 billion — over half of its entire
budget
— on education alone. Some observers claim such
large expenditures are justified because the taxpayers are simply
investing in a critical public good. But public schooling is
unquestionably not a public good. Here’s why.

In his famous 1955 essay, free-market economist Milton
Friedman claimed that government may have a role in funding
schooling because of the social benefits of education. Friedman’s
claim sounded great in theory over 60 years ago. But now we have
plenty of evidence showing that government schools in Texas do not
produce highly educated residents in practice. And the subpar
results come at a high price.

We all need to stop
calling public schooling a public good. It simply isn’t true,
especially when the government often runs schools like they run the
DMV.

For example, taxpayers in San Antonio spend over $12,000 per
child each year — or over $156,000 for each student’s K-12
education. And what do the citizens get in return? Well, if we look
at the state level, the most recent National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that 2 out of 3 eighth-graders in Texas were not
proficient in reading or math.

And then there’s the question of what constitutes a public
good-if you go by the strict definition, schooling is
not a public good
. This is simply because public goods are
those that cannot avoid the economic free-rider problem, in which
it’s impossible to exclude those who have not paid for a service.
Schools can do this, if they choose, and that’s precisely why
private schools already function effectively today without
government operation or funding.

In a forthcoming study, I make the first attempt to calculate
the net effects of government schools on U.S. society overall. I
calculate these effects by comparing the results produced by
government schools to those produced by a feasible policy
alternative: private schools. In order to make apples-to-apples
comparisons, I use the most rigorous private school choice evidence
available on academic outcomes, criminal activity, and taxpayer costs.

Unfortunately, I find that government schooling has huge
negative effects on society overall. The preponderance of evidence
suggests that government schooling — relative to private
schools- reduces student learning and increases crime rates at a
higher cost to the taxpayer. The most conservative model finds that
government schooling produces a net negative effect on society of
over $1.3 trillion.

But why? Because …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Betsy Devos Neglects to Visit NYC Public Schools — But Finds Time to Blast Bans on Taxpayer Funds for Religious Education

May 19, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

1.1 million students in New York City get their education in 1800 public schools – the largest school system in America. DeVos did not step foot in any of them.


Betsy DeVos has concluded her two-day visit to New York City, during which she refused to visit a single public school, although she did attend two private, Orthodox Jewish religious schools. The Education Secretary also delivered remarks at a Catholic organization's breakfast meeting, and blasted bans on the use of taxpayer funds for private religious schools.

1.1 million students in New York City get their education in 1800 public schools – the largest school system in America. DeVos did not step foot in any of them.

The schools she did visit are reportedly part of a larger system that has been under investigation for three years, The New York Times reports, amid charges the focus on religious education is so severe students who graduate are unable to function anywhere outside their religious community. One of the two schools reportedly discourages graduates from attending college.

DeVos used her time in the Big Apple to further her private charter school advocacy, and made no attempt to hide her extremist views, which have repeatedly been characterized as unconstitutional. “I know very well there are powerful interests that want to deprive families their God-given freedom,” DeVos told Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, during a breakfast meeting hosted by the Alfred E. Smith Foundation.

“I know that those sycophants of 'the system' have kept legislators here from enacting a common-sense program that would open options to thousands of kids in need,” she said, referring to bans on the use of taxpayer funds for private, religious schools. “Catholic education aims to serve the whole community — especially 'the least of these.' It …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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First Lady Melania Trump's Extended Hospital Stay is Perplexing Outside Medical Experts: Report

May 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Dominique Jackson, Raw Story

Earlier this week Trump was admitted into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and what was originally reported as a “two or three days” recovery time has passed.


The details surrounding First Lady Melania Trump's “benign kidney condition” are scarce.

Earlier this week Trump was admitted into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and what was originally reported as a “two or three days” recovery time has passed.

The New York Times reported that the White House has been hushed silent about Trump's whereabouts and medical condition.

Dr. Kelvin Hong, the director of the Johns Hopkins Interventional Radiology Center, said that Trump's procedure usually calls for a one-night stay. Experts say it's unclear why she would stay for nearly a week for her condition.

Mrs. Trump's close aides were also seen wearing blue scrubs. Hong said it was unclear why they were wearing scrubs since they are “unnecessary” for someone who underwent an “embolization procedure.”

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director would not answer questions.

“When I have something to tell you …I will,” Grisham wrote in an email.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's the #1 Factor Experts Say Accounts for High Number of Mass Shootings in the US

May 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Patricia Pearson, AlterNet

Click here for reuse options!


Welcome to the world of environmental criminology.


Canadians are reputed to be polite. But that isn’t a very compelling argument for why the lone wolves there are less inclined to engage in the kind of mass shooting that occurred in Orlando. All three pathologies that appeared to be in play at the horrific Pulse nightclub massacre—homophobia, psychological instability and adherence to a cult-like “Ism” that could act as a justifying frame in the killer’s mind—exist for some of Canada’s citizens as well. Two of those factors resulted in rifle bullets whizzing around the halls of the Canadian Parliament in October 2014.

This story first appeared at AlterNet in June, 2016. 

The shooter, Michael-Zahef Bibeau, had an illegally acquired Winchester Model 94, a deer-hunting rifle that enabled him to fire off all of seven rounds before he had to halt in his tracks and fumble to reload. He was handily tackled at that point by security. Just hold that thought.

Canadians have had their fair share of “mass stabbings,” which virtually by definition don’t turn out to be particularly massive. Knives don’t kill people, people kill people, but people kill people on a markedly diminished scale with knives, and that’s hard not to notice for those of us who live outside the U.S.

To acquire and carry a gun in Canada, you need to go through a mind-boggling number of tests and procedures, the results of which are then vetted by police. Each one of these steps surely acts as a cool-down procedure on a mentally unstable mind. 

Explosively enraged at the world? First attend your “gun safety class” on a Saturday, next available slot in two months, in the town 20 miles from your house. Then study for, write and pass the safety test that enables you to apply—to the police—for …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Food Network Host Claims ‘Straight White Male’ is ‘this Century’s N-Word’ and Unironically Compares Himself to Martin Luther King

May 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Martin Cizmar, Raw Story

Josh Denny says the neutral description of his race, gender and sexuality has become the modern equivalent of a word associated with slavery, lynching and other crimes against humanity.


Straight white man Josh Denny does not like to be described as such.

The comedian and host of the Food Network's Ginormous Food posted a tweet on Friday saying the neutral description of his race, gender and sexuality has become the modern equivalent of a word associated with slavery, lynching and other crimes against humanity.

“It’s used to offend and diminish the recipient based on assumption and bias. No difference in the usage,” said Denny.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Steve Bannon Tried to Suppress Black Vote: Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower

May 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Rachel Leah, Salon

Christopher Wylie told Congress that the firm engaged in “voter disengagement” tactics and targeted black Americans


Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower and a former employee of the firm, told Congress Wednesday that the company ran voter suppression campaigns, which targeted black Americans and other liberal demographic groups. He said that those orders came from Steve Bannon, former chief executive of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and later Chief Strategist in the Trump White House.

“Mr. Bannon sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics. It was for this reason Mr. Bannon engaged SCL (Cambridge Analytica's parent company), a foreign military contractor, to build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population,” Wylie told CNN after the hearing, adding that “voter disengagement tactics” were used to ”discourage or demobilize certain types of people from voting” — specifically, African-Americans.

Political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was partly funded by right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer; Bannon was the firm's vice president until he joined the Donald Trump campaign, which then hired the firm to help win the 2016 election. In March, Wylie came forward and claimed that Cambridge Analytica improperly harvested personal information from some 50 million Facebook users to try to manipulate voters.

“We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles,” Wylie told the Observer. “And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

The scandal provoked intense outrage across the technology and political landscapes and put a glaring spotlight on the privacy and surveillance practices and responsibilities of Facebook and other social media giants. Wylie's testimony to Congress marks the first time he's presented evidence on the wide-reaching and allegedly exploitative data breach since his public disclosure.

When Wylie spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.,) asked if one of Bannon's “goals was to suppress voting or discourage certain individuals in the U.S. from voting.”

Wylie said, “That was my understanding, yes.” He added that discussions about “voter disengagement” and the the targeting of African-Americans, prompted his departure from the …read more

Source: ALTERNET