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Under water

Journalism in New Orleans.

For what it’s worth

Buffalo Springfield:

I’m still in love with you

Steve Earle and Iris DeMent:

Philly represent

Now if only they did this to Obama for pushing the same destructive education policies. But they won’t.

PHILADELPHIA – When Mitt Romney came to an inner-city charter school here Thursday to promote his new education agenda, he received something of a history lecture about the persecution of blacks in America and the struggles of African American children to meet the academic achievements of their white counterparts.


Seeking to broaden his appeal heading into the general election, Romney was venturing for his first time in this campaign into an impoverished black neighborhood to hear the concerns of local educators and community leaders. But here in the streets of West Philadelphia, the emotion surrounding his contest with the nation’s first black president was raw, as dozens of neighborhood residents shouted, “Get out, Romney, get out!”


Romney arrived at Universal Bluford Charter School aboard his logo-emblazoned campaign bus and began his morning visit by meeting school and civic leaders at a formal roundtable session. “I come to learn, obviously, from people who are having experiences that are unique and instructive,” he said.


Kenny Gamble, who founded the West Philadelphia school last year, told Romney that his school’s top priority is improving the education of African Americans and closing the achievement gap between blacks and whites. Gamble, a legendary songwriter and founder of Philadelphia International Records, created and runs Universal Companies, a not-for-profit community development organization involved in education, real estate and social services.

“Where there was a time when it was against the law of the country for people of African-American descent to even read or write, it is even more important today that we discuss education for the African-American community,” Gamble told Romney.

Romney highlighted his record of education as governor of Massachusetts, when the state’s schools were among the best in the nation in some areas. But Gamble interjected, “Governor, you’ve got to go back and remember how the whole concept of education has failed. You go back a few years, even in Boston, when they were trying to integrate schools and they had young black children going to white neighborhoods and they were throwing eggs at the little black children, spitting on them, calling them all kinds of names.”

Outside, meanwhile, some brick row houses across from the school were boarded up. Police had cordoned off a full city block to protect Romney and his entourage. Residents, some of them organized by Obama’s campaign, stood on their porches and gathered at a sidewalk corner to shout angrily at Romney. Some held signs saying, “We are the 99%.” One man’s placard trumpeted an often-referenced Romney gaffe: “I am not concerned about the very poor.”
Madaline G. Dunn, 78, who said she has lived here for 50 years and volunteers at the school, said she is “personally offended” that Romney would visit her neighborhood.

“It’s not appreciated here,” she said. “It is absolutely denigrating for him to come in here and speak his garbage.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) addressed protesters and the media, quipping that Romney “suddenly somehow found West Philadelphia.”
“It’s nice that he decided this late in his [campaign] to see what a city like Philadelphia is about,” Nutter said. But, he added, “I don’t know that a one-day experience in the heart of West Philadelphia is enough to get you ready to run the United States of America.”

“You want to have an urban experience?” Nutter added. “You want to have a West Philly experience? Then come out here and talk to somebody in West Philly.”
Philadelphia’s district attorney, Seth Williams, said Romney does not understand the plight of urban America and was hiding from “real Americans.”

“Instead of just talking at the school and getting back on his huge bus, he should come out, he should walk 60th Street, he should talk to folks who are out here that are mad so maybe he could understand how real Americans, those that live here in urban America, the issues that are important to us,” Williams said.

Etan Patz

Everyone who remembers this story was frightened at least a little bit about how easily someone could take your kid. If this turns out to be true, how weird that the killer was living ten minutes from my house.

Virtually Speaking tonight

Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd | 6pm pacific | 9pm eastern | Thurs May 24, 2012

Tonight, Alex Lawson, Exec Director of Social Security Works, a DC organization dedicated to the preservation of the Social Security system. Alex and Jay talk about SSW’s Strengthen Social Security campaign and material from ‘The Battle for Social Security’ by Nancy J Altman.

Listen here to Alex’s excellent framing of Social Security benefits for C-Span. Listen live and later on BTR.

This is how to respond to bad laws

Canadians gone wild!

“The single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.”


That’s how yesterday’s Montreal protest is being described today. Hundreds of thousands red-shirted demonstrators defied Quebec’s new “anti-protest” law and marched through the streets of downtown Montreal filling the city with “rivers of red.”


Tuesday marked the 100th day of the growing student protests against austerity measures and tuition increases. In response to the spreading protests, the conservative Charest government passed a new “emergency” law last Friday – Bill 78.


Since Bill 78 passed, people in Montreal neighborhoods have appeared on their balconies and in front of their houses to defiantly bang pots and pans in a clanging protest every night at 8 p.m.


Bill 78 mandates:


Fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution or who participate in an illegal demonstration.


Penalties climb to between $7,000 and $35,000 for protest leaders and to between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations.


All fines DOUBLE for repeat offenders


Public demonstrations involving more than 50 people have to be flagged to authorities eight hours in advance, include itinerary, duration and time at which they are being held. The police may alter any of these elements and non-compliance would render the protest illegal.


Offering encouragement for someone to protest at a school, either tacitly or otherwise, is subject to punishment. The Minister of Education has said that this would include things like ‘tweeting’, ‘facebooking’, and has she has implied that wearing the student protest insignia (a red flag-pin) could also be subject to punishment.


No demonstration can be held within 50 meters of any school campus


Bill 78 not only “enraged civil libertarians and legal experts but also seems to have galvanized ordinary Quebecers.” Since the law passed Friday, people in Montreal neighborhoods have appeared on their balconies and in front of their houses to defiantly bang pots and pans in a clanging protest every night at 8 p.m.

Happy birthday, Bob

He’s 71 today!

Nice to see the young folks carrying it on. Here’s Miley Cyrus doing “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”:

Flogging Molly:

Brain fog

I was so out of it when the alarm went off this morning, I started pulling office clothes out of the closet. It took me a few minutes to realize I wasn’t going to a job interview, but to a doctor’s appointment.

Finally, I met with the endocrinologist. Nice older gent, very sharp and a good communicator. He asked how I found him. I told him he was the senior specialist listed on the hospital website. “I thought you might have found me on Google,” he said. “I wrote a paper on subclinical hypothyroidism, that’s how a lot of people end up here.”

Nope, I told him. For once, I simply lucked out.

I told him I thought I’d been hypothyroid for a long time, but the tests didn’t confirm it. (I’d actually had a couple of tests that did indicate it, but when they were redone, I was normal.) Why did you think you were? he wanted to know. Brain fog, dry skin, low body temperature, I said.

“That’s just a variation,” he said. “Lots of people have a lower temperature.”

“Yeah, but when I get sick, mine goes even lower.”

“How low?” he asked.

“When I was sick in February, it was 93.3.” (I remember because it was the same as WMMR-FM, the classic rock station.)

He looked at me, but didn’t say anything.

So he ordered a more extensive set of blood tests but because of the holiday, I probably won’t get the results until next week. He told me it was unlikely that the new test would show much of a difference, but he’d have a better idea of possible causes. I asked (because I’m curious that way) if this had anything to do with why I have such strong reactions to such small doses of medication. He said yes, because I’d metabolize things much more slowly and they would have that effect – interesting, I thought.

Anyway, so we’ll see what happens. He told me to make a followup appointment in six weeks; the next available one was the end of August. Good thing we don’t have socialized medicine, huh?

UPDATE: By the way, blood pressure’s still good – 132/72. Glad I didn’t let the primary doc put me on statins!

Occupy Frankfurt

German police officers escort an anti-capitalism protest march with some 20,000 people in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, May 19, 2012. Protesters peacefully filled the city center of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub in their protest against the dominance of banks and what they perceive to be untamed capitalism, Frankfurt police spokesman Ruediger Regis said. The protest group calling itself Blockupy has called for blocking the access to the European Central Bank, which is located in Frankfurt’s business district. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Over 20,000 Occupiers marched in Frankfurt, Germany last Saturday, and even the cops joined them:

BERLIN — At least 20,000 people held a major rally of the local Occupy movement in Frankfurt on Saturday to decry austerity measures affecting much of Europe, the dominance of banks, and what they call untamed capitalism.

The protesters peacefully filled the city center of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub on a warm and pleasant afternoon, said Frankfurt police spokesman Ruediger Regis. He said 20,000 people were there, while organizers put the number at 25,000.

Organizer spokesman Roland Seuss the protest is “against the Europe-wide austerity dictate by the (creditor) troika of ECB, the EU Commission and the International Monetary Fund.”
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