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Foundations

Kate Nash:

Mercy

Duffy live:

Breaking us in two

Joe Jackson:

So it goes

Nick Lowe and Rockpile:

Philadelphia Troublemakers School

Saturday, September 17 · 9:00am – 5:00pm
Community College of Philadelphia
1700 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Let’s unite to fight against budget cuts and attacks on workers, students, and our communities! On Saturday, September 17, labor and community activists in the Philadelphia are coming together for a day of skills development, education, and strategy discussion.

‘That was my brother’

“Whose death you were cheering, you assholes.” A Daily Kos diary.

Class war

How a tiny group of very rich men captured US education policy in name of “reform.”

Depressed

Good advice from Wonkette:

According to Gawker’s John Cook, the New York Times “is preparing a story arguing that Obama no longer finds joy in the political back-and-forth, has seemed increasingly listless to associates, and is generally exhibiting the litany of signs that late-night cable commercials will tell you add up to depression.”

Hmm, well maybe he just doesn’t understand “political back-and-forth,” considering that he only moves back, against the wall, with his hands up, always.

Politicians thrive on positive attention. They don’t really care if it comes from lobbyists or peers or sociopathic self-interested voters or media jackals. So here is an easy way for Barack Obama to cure his depression:Start doing some stuff his supporters would like. You know, liberal stuff! Give it a try, anyway, for once! [Gawker]

In other words, Obama is upset that people aren’t actually accepting his policies as miracles cures — even though they’re obviously making things worse. No wonder he’s depressed!

PA power grab

Oddly enough, this isn’t one of the pieces of legislation pushed by our friendly corporate interests at ALEC – in fact, they’re on the record opposing elections by popular vote. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they dreamed up this twisted variation on what they oppose, since they do get control of redistricting:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that the state divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. The system is used by Maine — which, despite the system, has never actually split its four electoral votes — and by Nebraska, which gave one of its five votes to Barack Obama in 2008.

Pennsylvania, however, will have 20 electoral votes in the 2012 election. What’s more, the measure would give even greater meaning to the state’s redistricting for the House of Representatives, giving it a powerful effect over the presidency in addition to the House.

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, and voted for Barack Obama by 55%-44% in 2008. Indeed, over the past 50 years it has only voted Republican in presidential landslides for the GOP: 1972, 1980, 1984, and finally 1988. While the results have sometimes been narrow for the Dems, it is a state that can be expected to vote Democratic for president in the context of a close national campaign, such as its votes for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Had this proposed system been in place in 2008, when Obama won the state by a ten-point margin, he in fact would have only taken 11 out of the state’s 21 electoral votes at the time — due to a combination of past Republican-led redistricting efforts to maximize their district strength, and Obama’s votes being especially concentrated within urban areas.

As can be expected, the Post-Gazette reports that Democrats are attacking the proposal as a partisan power-grab, while Republicans are standing by it as a reform that would focus attention on districts throughout the state:

Blasting the idea as “a disturbing effort to put their self interests and party interests ahead of the people,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said the plan would dangerously link the presidential vote to redistricting. In a written statement, Mr. Costa asked: “Will we now be looking at state gerrymandering that serves a larger, national agenda?”

Mr. Pileggi and others disagreed, saying congressional districts that are more competitive would receive more attention and would not be overshadowed when the state leans one way or another politically.

Law and order, Texas political style

Texas’ Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice, Don Clemmer, later testified that his office didn’t have the resources to investigate allegations of sexual abuse at a TYC facility in Ward County because at the time the local agent was busy investigating charges of voter fraud by a 68-year-old Hispanic woman.

For six years, Gov. Rick “Law and Order” Perry dragged his feet on attacking systemic problems with child rape in the state’s Texas Youth Commission facilities. I’m sure his reluctance had nothing to do with his major donors from the GEO Group, the company to whom he’d bestowed prison privatization contracts:

Mary Jane Martinez’s son Jimmy entered the Texas criminal justice system in 2003 because he missed his school bus. He was charged with truancy and destruction of property (for throwing rocks) and sent to live in a county juvenile detention center for a sentence of six months. After five months, instead of being released, he was transferred to an academy 400 miles away, managed by the Texas Youth Commission, the agency that oversees detention and treatment centers across the state. Jimmy finally came home, four years after he was sent away, a period his mother now describes as a living hell. His best friend had been murdered, and Jimmy had been beaten and raped—both, Mrs. Martinez testifed, by TYC guards.

“It just made him worse,” Martinez says of the treatment. “My son has PTSD now. He’s schizo.” Unable to find a job after getting out, he was arrested for burglary and landed in a prison facility eight hours away from his native San Antonio.

He wasn’t the only victim. Go read the rest.

In response to the outcry, Perry appointed his former chief of staff, Jay Kimbrough, to investigate the abuses, and hired an independent ombudsman to sit on the board.

But reports continued to pile up. In late 2007, Texas shut down three TYC facilities in quick succession, the last coming in October, when it shuttered a Coke County juvenile detention center after the ombudsman reported unsanitary conditions, such as feces in the shower and blocked-off emergency exits. Two months later, seven former inmates filed suit alleging that they had been sexually abused by guards at the facility, which was operated by the Florida-based private contractor, GEO Group.
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