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Revolution in the air

Students, as always, are on the cutting edge:

Any real revolution in Paris has to include the storming of the Bastille. Which explains why 200 young demonstrators are sitting in the shade of the trees at Place de la Bastille on this Thursday evening, wondering how to go about staging such a revolution.

Their numbers had already swelled to more than 2,000 by the Sunday before, when they had occupied the entrance to the Bastille Opera and half the square. But then the police arrived with teargas and, since then, have kept strict watch over this symbolic site.

The protestors are trying to create a movement to rival the protests in Madrid and Lisbon. They want tens of thousands of young people to march in the streets of Paris, calling for “démocratie réelle,” or real democracy. They believe that there is also potential for such large-scale protest in France, with youth unemployment at more than 20 percent, precarious working conditions and what feels like a constant state of crisis.

“Until now, our problems were always seen as individual problems,” says Julien, a 22-year-old physics student who has joined a group called Actions. “You were told that if you couldn’t find a job, it was your own fault. Perhaps we are now experiencing a change taking place, and that we are joining forces to form a pan-European movement against this system.”

If only more people here understood this.

Oops

It’s not only possible, it seems likely — considering that the radiation released from the site is increasing, not decreasing:

Molten nuclear fuel in three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is likely to have burned through pressure vessels, not just the cores, Japan has said in a report in which it also acknowledges it was unprepared for an accident of the severity of Fukushima.

It is the first time Japanese authorities have admitted the possibility that the fuel suffered “melt-through” – a more serious scenario than a core meltdown.

The report, which is to be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said fuel rods in reactors No 1, 2 and 3 had probably not only melted, but also breached their inner containment vessels and accumulated in the outer steel containment vessels.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), says it believes the molten fuel is being cooled by water that has built up in the bottom of the three reactor buildings.

The report includes an apology to the international community for the nuclear crisis – the world’s worst since Chernobyl in 1986 – and expresses “remorse that this accident has raised concerns around the world about the safety of nuclear power generation”.

Pay your loans or go to jail

Sending a SWAT team over a student loan? Overkill much?

STOCKTON, CA – Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers,” Wright said.

Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as a S.W.A.T team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

“He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there,” Wright said.
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Class

Via Historiann, who says this really chaps her ass. I have to agree:

Check out this pickup from Flavia last week featuring some public boo-hoo-hooing by one of suburban Philadelphia’s tragically overlooked and underprivileged, those who didn’t get into their top choice college:

The following letter appeared on today’s NYT letters page in response to a recent Times article about the lack of economic diversity at elite colleges and universities:

To the Editor:

David Leonhardt forgot about me. I grew up in suburban Pennsylvania and attended private school before Bryn Mawr College, the University of Pennsylvania and now the University of Oxford. And yes, my parents paid for it all.

I realize that not needing to work at 7-Eleven afforded me more time to study, read and learn. But I used it. Acceptance letters don’t come because my parents foot the bill; kids like me get in because we are responsible, passionate and talented.

In theory, hard-working, low-income kids deserve help; in practice, their 1,250 SAT scores’ counting for more than my 1,300 doesn’t reflect meritocracy.

College admissions are a zero-sum game. Universities putting their “thumb on the scale” for a South Bronx applicant’s 1,250 lessens the weight of my achievements. His 1,250′s win is my loss.

J***** A**** K****
Philadelphia, May 27, 2011
.       .       .       .       .
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Dock Ellis

Nice little story from 2005 about the man who pitched a no-hitter on acid, quit drugs and baseball and became a mensch.

Heat wave

I wonder why it’s so hot all the time!

Heat will spread from the Midwest to the New York and East Coast today, boosting demand for electricity to run air conditioners and increasing health risks.

Advisories and warnings extend from New York to northern Virginia, including Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, where temperatures are forecast to reach 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius), according to the National Weather Service.

The high in Manhattan’s Central Park may reach 95, which would tie a daily record set in 1933, according to the weather service. The weather service expected yesterday that the record might be broken today, though it has since revised its forecast.

Big surprise

The banksters win!

New job

Here’s where Bob Herbert landed after leaving the Times:

New York-based think tank, Demos, has announced that former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert will join the organization as their newest distinguished senior fellow.

At the think tank’s annual gala this evening, Herbert was simultaneously awarded the Transforming America Award and named a distinguished senior fellow. According to Demos, Herbert will “continue his work on behalf of low- and middle-income Americans, providing expertise and writing on economic, social and policy issues.”

“Bob Herbert’s sharp, clear voice has long played an extraordinary role in public debate. He elevates the stark challenges and historical injustices that face too many Americans, while promoting the ideals that should drive our policies,” said Miles Rapoport, President of Demos and The American Prospect magazine, in a released statement.

The Chris Christie Annual 100-Yard Walk

David McKenna’s come up with a great solution to New Jersey’s funding problems, after first getting in some digs at the man Philadelphians love to hate, Michael Smerconish:

Smerconish doesn’t slam the governor for believing fiscal austerity is good for the peons but not for the millionaires. He doesn’t mention that Christie’s personal behavior contradicts his Ralph Kramden-esque rants against members of N.J.’s largest teachers union, whom he has described as “bullies and thugs.”

Instead, the issue that concerns the columnist is the possible harm Christie’s helicopter usage might do to the psyche of his son, the baseball player. He urges the governor to drive — i.e., to be driven — to the kid’s next game.

Smerconish informs us that he drives an F-150 pickup and an $80,000 Jaguar “provided” by one of the sponsors of his radio show. He confesses to embarrassing his sons twice, by picking them up from school in his “spectacular” Jag and, on another day, in the F-150, which prompted one of the boys to ask, “Dad, how many pickup trucks do you see other than ours?”

Oh, the emotional trauma of kids raised in upper middle-class privilege, and of harried upper middle-class fathers like Smerconish and Christie! My heart goes out.

But Smerconish could help undermine the public perception that he and his soul brother are lazy, wasteful elitists. He could create and promote the first annual Chris Christie 100-Yard Walk, the proceeds of which could be used to help pay for teachers and school supplies. The event might boost both men’s public image and the oft-heard right-wing claim that charity should take the place of government programs that help the poor.

The fee to participate in the walk would be twenty dollars. Each walker would be sponsored by an N.J. millionaire who would kick in an additional $10,000 and have his name engraved in the 100-yard walkway (at Drumthwacket?).

Christie could take part, if only to inspire the grossly obese who are trying to get in shape. Smerconish might join him to prove that he, Mr. Jag, is still capable of walking 100 yards. But only after a thorough physical exam from his doctor, of course.

Sissy boy

Such a sad, sad story. Poor kid.

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