SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Protesters showed up by the thousands in Brazil’s largest cities on Monday night in a remarkable display of strength for an agitation that had begun with small protests against bus-fare increases, then evolved into a broader movement by groups and individuals irate over a range of issues including the country’s high cost of living and lavish new stadium projects.
The growing protests rank among the largest and most resonant since the nation’s military dictatorship ended in 1985, with demonstrators numbering into the tens of thousands gathered here in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, and other large protests unfolding in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Curitiba, Belém and Brasília, the capital, where marchers made their way to the roof of Congress.
Sharing a parallel with the antigovernment protests in Turkey, the demonstrations in Brazil intensified after a harsh police crackdown last week stunned many citizens. In images shared widely on social media, the police here were seen beating unarmed protesters with batons and dispersing crowds by firing rubber bullets and tear gas into their midst.
“The violence has come from the government,” said Mariana Toledo, 27, a graduate student at the University of São Paulo who was among the protesters on Monday. “Such violent acts by the police instill fear, and at the same time the need to keep protesting.”
Barack Obama addressed what he described as the public “ruckus” over the leaked National Security Agency surveillance documents on Monday, indicating that the US authorities would pursue extradition from Hong Kong of the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In his first public comments in 10 days about the NSA disclosures, Obama also said he had set an oversight board made up of independent citizens and the ordered the declassification of documents relating to surveillance to allow the public to see the broader context.
The president, who is attending the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, was speaking on PBS’s Charlie Rose programme. Asked about Snowden, who remains free in Hong Kong and who took part in an online Guardian Q&A on Monday, the president said: “The case has been referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation … and possible extradition. I will leave it up to them to answer those questions.”
A trio of University of Toronto scholars, led by psychologist Maja Djikic, report that people who have just read a short story have less need for what psychologists call “cognitive closure.” Compared with peers who have just read an essay, they expressed more comfort with disorder and uncertainty—attitudes that allow for both sophisticated thinking and greater creativity.
“Exposure to literature,” the researchers write in the Creativity Research Journal, “may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.”
Djikic and her colleagues describe an experiment featuring 100 University of Toronto students. After arriving at the lab and providing some personal information, the students read either one of eight short stories or one of eight essays. The fictional stories were by authors including Wallace Stegner, Jean Stafford, and Paul Bowles; the non-fiction essays were by equally illustrious writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Stephen Jay Gould.
Afterwards, each participant filled out a survey measuring their emotional need for certainty and stability. They expressed their agreement or disagreement with such statements as “I don’t like situations that are uncertain” and “I dislike questions that can be answered in many different ways.”
Those who read a short story had significantly lower scores on that test than those who read an essay. Specifically, they expressed less need for order and more comfort with ambiguity. This effect was particularly pronounced among those who reported being frequent readers of either fiction or non-fiction. Continue Reading »
Rebecca Strauss checks in at The New York Times and immediately tries to make Michelle Rhee cry.
The truth is that there are two very different education stories in America. The children of the wealthiest 10 percent or so do receive some of the best education in the world, and the quality keeps getting better. For most everyone else, this is not the case. America’s average standing in global education rankings has tumbled not because everyone is falling, but because of the country’s deep, still-widening achievement gap between socioeconomic groups. And while America does spend plenty on education, it funnels a disproportionate share into educating wealthier students, worsening that gap. The majority of other advanced countries do things differently, at least at the K-12 level, tilting resources in favor of poorer students.
I thought it was about teachers unions, and standardized testing, and Trigger Mechanisms, and not leaving any children behind in the race to the top, or some other gimmick thought up by a zillionnaire who’s no more ever set foot in a classroom than he has on the surface of Mars. You mean, it might be about...poverty? Do continue.
The problem is that the United States is not spending its education dollars effectively. At every point along the education track, from preschool to college, resources are skewed to wealthier students.