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Wed, 07 Jun 2023
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Privatization: A Big, Unfunny Joke

© n/a
"Charter schools also can take money away from the public system, and their teachers have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate."

The privatization of public goods and services turns basic human needs into products to buy and sell. That's more than a joke, it's an insult, it's a perversion. It generally benefits only a privileged group of businesspeople and their companies while increasing inequality and undermining the common good.

Various studies have identified the 'benefits' of privatization as profitability and productivity, efficiency, wider share ownership and good investment returns. These are business benefits. More balanced studies consider the effects on average people, who have paid into a long-established societal support system for their schools and emergency services, water and transportation systems, and eventually health care and retirement benefits. These studies have concluded that:
  • Privatization has generated large profits for new owners but these have not been shared with the general public.
  • The potential benefits of privatization are often outweighed by high contracting costs and opportunism.
  • Most privatization programs appear to have worsened the distribution of assets and income, at least in the short run.
While privatization may lead to efficiencies in producing goods, it is generally only true under conditions of competition and regulation. The New Jersey Privatization Task Force asserted that "States that have had the most success in privatization created a permanent, centralized entity to manage both privatization and related policies aimed at increasing government efficiency."

In the U.S. and around the world, privatization has simply not worked in industries that provide essential public goods and services:


Americans Are Literally Being Worked To Death

Are you constantly tired and do you feel incredibly stressed almost all the time? Well, that means that there is a really good chance that you are a typical American worker. Even though our incomes are going down, Americans are spending more time at work than ever before. In fact, U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. But it was not always this way. Back in 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it is up to 46 hours. But there are other major economies around the globe that are doing just fine without burning their workers out. For example, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker does. Sadly, for many Americans work is not even finished once they leave the office. According to one recent survey, the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours have finished. Other Americans are juggling two or three jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Americans are busier than ever and work is often pushing the other areas of our lives on to the back burner. What this also means is that "family vacations" are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. In fact, Americans spend less days on vacation than anyone else in the industrialized world. While some would applaud our "work ethic", the truth is that the fact that we are being overworked is having some very serious consequences. In fact, as you will see below, Americans are literally being worked to death.

The following is an excerpt from a comment that one reader posted on one of my recent articles. Can you identify with what this family is going through?....

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Spain police fire rubber bullets at Madrid protest

spain protest
© AFP, Dominique Faget
A protester clashes with riot policemen in Madrid during a demonstration
Spanish police have fired rubber bullets and baton-charged protesters attending a rally against austerity.

The clashes broke out as protesters tried to tear down barriers blocking access to the parliament in Madrid.

Spanish media reported that at least 20 people had been arrested and more than a dozen injured. The protesters dispersed after MPs left the building.

The "Occupy Congress" protest came as the government prepares to unveil further austerity measures on Thursday.

It is attempting to shrink its budget deficit, with the country in its second recession in three years and unemployment near 25%.

The government will unveil the draft budget for 2013 on Thursday and is expected to present new cost-saving reforms to reassure lenders about the state of the country's public finances.


One Year After Troy Davis, More Injustice on Death Row


Troy Davis
September 21 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Troy Davis. Davis was executed by the state of Georgia for a crime he probably did not commit. Davis's original trial was flawed, and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. His conviction was based solely on questionable testimony by witnesses, most of whom later recanted or contradicted their stories. Everyone from Jimmy Carter to the Pope had issued calls for clemency in his case. But the authorities killed him anyway.

Now Missouri is pursuing a very similar case, with death row inmate Reggie Clemons. As with the Davis case, there is no physical evidence linking Clemons to the crime for which he was convicted, and his conviction was based solely on witness testimony. One witness had been a former suspect in the case. In other words, here too there appears to be reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt.

This past week, Clemons was given an evidentiary hearing to review evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and police brutality in the case. One bombshell is an allegation that the star prosecution witness in the case had received a payment of $150,000 to settle a dispute with police over physical abuse. Clemons alleges that the police had abused him as well. If they can't get a confession by humane means, I guess they feel they have to beat it out of you. And that kind of "truth" is always suspect at best.

Arrow Down

Young Cancer Patient Victimized in Hoax

Valley Center, California - A 19-year old with a rare form of bone cancer is the victim of a hoax after a mysterious woman offered to pay his medical bills.

"She's a very sick person who did a very sick thing to a young man fighting for his life," said Tiffany Doty, whose son, Thomas, has osteosarcosis. Thomas has not responded to surgery or chemotherapy.

Tiffany Doty brought her son to Valley Center for a holistic approach to his care at the pH Miracle Center, but because of money troubles, the family has only enough money to pay for two weeks of treatment.

Doty said her son needs eight weeks of treatment.

The family thought Thomas' treatment was being paid for by a woman who called herself Jonnica Ellis. Ellis saw an online video featuring Captain Johnathan Hillstrand of the reality TV show The Deadliest Catch. In that video, the reality star asks people to help pay for Thomas' cancer treatments.


'Mystery Shopper' Scam Shut Down; Duped Victims into Wiring Money Overseas

No Scam
© Armed Response Team
Two websites that conned people by recruiting them as "mystery shoppers," only to trick them out of their money have been shut down by the state of New York.

The sites, Idealcorp.net and Survsonl.com, promised the chance to work from home, helping a market research company gauge customer service at Western Union.

Mystery shoppers were issued $2,000 checks, told they could cash them and keep $300 for themselves and wire the rest to someone overseas, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. They would then report on the quality of Western Union's customer service.

But the $2,000 check turned out to be counterfeit, and once the bank where the con victims deposited it learned it was worthless, the victim had already sent off the $1,700 balance - using his or her own funds. The banks held the victims accountable to pay back the money.


County Faith Healer Rapped Over Advert

Danny Gallagher
© Danny Gallagher.com
A county Londonderry faith healer has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) for claiming he could treat "serious or prolonged ailments or conditions requiring the attention of a registered medical or other qualified practitioner."

Danny Gallagher, a self-styled 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' faith healer from Maghera, regularly visits healing centres in Letterkenny and throughout the island offering to heal people using "strange powers."

Such are his alleged powers that back in 2002 when Deportivo La Coruna defender Aldo Duscher broke David Beckham's foot, Mr Gallagher offered to help heal the former Manchester United winger.

Dr MJ Stone, the club's doctor at the time, wrote and thanked Mr Gallagher, vowing to keep his details on file and if "we need to get in touch, contact will be made with you."

Then in the aftermath of the Iraq war, Mr Gallagher visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington, the largest field hospital in the US, and tended to soldiers who had been horrifically injured in gun and bomb attacks.

But now the Irish advertising watchdog has upheld a complaint against an advertisement of Mr Gallagher's which one individual "considered to be unfounded and false."

According to the ASAI the complainant said that "Danny Gallagher had no medical qualifications and while no form of medical treatment was on offer, the advertiser nevertheless appeared to be making healing claims for serious illnesses."


Ex-professor gets life in prison for meeting rampage

Amy Bishop
© The Associated Press /The Huntsville Times / Eric Schultz
Amy Bishop
Huntsville, Alabama - A Harvard-educated biologist was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday after being convicted of going on a shooting rampage during a faculty meeting at an Alabama university, killing three colleagues and wounding three others in 2010.

The jury deliberated for about 20 minutes before convicting Amy Bishop. The former professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville showed no reaction as the verdict was read. She did not speak in court, but her attorney said she has often expressed great remorse for the victims and their families.

"She is shattered beyond belief," attorney Roy Miller said.

Bishop avoided a death sentence by pleading guilty earlier this month to the shootings on Feb. 12, 2010. Before the guilty plea - which she signed with a barely legible scrawl - her attorneys had said they planned to use an insanity defense.

However, she was still required to have a brief trial because she admitted to a capital murder charge.

And she still could face a trial in Massachusetts, where she is charged in the 1986 killing of her 18-year-old brother. Seth Bishop's death had been ruled an accident after Amy Bishop told investigators she shot him in the family's Braintree home as she tried to unload her father's gun. But the Alabama shootings prompted a new investigation and charges. David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey in Massachusetts, said Monday evening that Morrissey expects to make an announcement by the end of the week.

Bishop killed her boss, biology department chairman Gopi Padila, plus professors Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson. Associate professor Joseph Leahy, staff aide Stephanie Monticciolo and assistant professor Luis Cruz-Vera were shot and wounded.

Evil Rays

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Unveils Plan for Wi-Fi in Parks, Gigabit Network for Businesses

Rahm Emanuel
© Aude Guerrucci/POOL/EPA
Former White House chief of staff and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Way back in 2006, even before the iPad, then-Mayor Richard Daley proposed blanketing Chicago with Wi-Fi. That ambitious plan for wireless Internet access for computers never came to fruition.

Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who speaks often of making Chicago into a high-tech hub, is pushing a new broadband initiative that includes installing Wi-Fi in many city parks and outfitting 15 commercial corridors with a superhigh-speed "gigabit" network for business users. The plan also contemplates expanding Internet access in underserved areas.

The city believes the availability of broadband networks will give commercial users a much-needed technological boost and attract business while burnishing Chicago's tech image.

"The technological landscape has changed to the point where it's not a nice-to-have," said John Tolva, the city's chief technology officer, who recalled at least three previous attempts since 1998 to bring a next-generation network to Chicago. "This is as vital as clean drinking water, at least to the economic life of a city."

But apparently it will be up to private-sector players, universities and other groups to do the work and foot much of the bill.

The Chicago Broadband Challenge, announced Monday, is big on ideas but short on details. The city, which issued a Request for Information -- in effect, an invitation to partners -- didn't provide figures on what kind of total investment would be needed to carry out Emanuel's vision or how much it plans to spend. Officials were also mum on whether the city envisions collecting revenue from the project, but it painted a general picture of a public-private partnership, with the city providing infrastructure.

At a Monday news conference, when asked what kind of financial arrangements the city might make with private companies for freeing up municipal assets, Emanuel said he wanted to first study the responses from the RFI.

Comment: Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to turn Chicago into a "high-tech hub". But at what cost?

Radiation From Cell Phones and WiFi Are Making People Sick -- Are We All at Risk?
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Electromagnetic radiation and its effect on the brain: an insider speaks out
European Leaders Call for Ban of Cell Phones and WiFi in Schools


Texas Schoolgirl Gets Spanked By Male Vice Principal For Cheating

Taylor Santos
A Texas schoolgirl is nursing a bruised and 'blistered' behind after she was spanked by her male vice principal.

Springtown High School sophomore Taylor Santos was walloped by the teacher after allegedly letting another student copy her work.

But her mother, Anna Jorgensen, has complained to the school, furious that they allowed her daughter to be brutally paddled by a man.

Taylor was given two days in-school suspension for cheating, though she claims she didn't know the student copied her assignment, according to WFAA.

After day one Taylor, a top student, opted to get a paddling rather than miss a second day's classes, but the decision left her in searing pain.