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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
President Obama walks with 2016 teacher of the year Shanna Peeples.
President Obama with 2015 teacher of the year Shanna Peeples.
Every year, each state chooses its teacher of the year. This year, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic surveyed those outstanding teachers about their jobs, and it's worth paying attention to what they have to say about the barriers their students face and where they'd direct education funding.

Asked what barriers to learning their students face that affect academic success the most, 76 percent of the teachers said family stress, 63 percent said poverty, and 52 percent said learning and psychological problems.

“Those three factors in many ways are the white elephant in the living room for us in education,” said Jennifer Dorman, Maine’s 2015 Teacher of the Year who teaches special-education classes for seventh- and eighth-graders. “As teachers, we know those factors present huge barriers to our students’ success. Helping students cope with those three factors is probably the most important part of my job. But on a national level, those problems are not being recognized as the primary obstacles.”
In line with the 63 percent who said poverty was a top barrier to student success, anti-poverty initiatives were the top answer the teachers gave when asked to choose three areas where they'd focus school funding to have the greatest impact on student learning—48 percent chose anti-poverty initiatives, while 37 percent chose early learning and 35 percent chose reducing barriers to learning (which would include poverty, obviously).

Nearly all of the teachers said that higher standards would have a positive effect on student learning. But "accountability/assessments"—the buzzwords for standardized testing—ranked dead last on the list of ways teachers would focus school funding.


Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Amtrak train
House Speaker John Boehner may think it's "stupid" to suggest that the recent fatal Amtrak crash had anything to do with lack of funding, but the evidence keeps piling up that Boehner's the stupid one here. The United States spends far less than its peers on rail, and:
As a consequence, industry experts say, despite having some of the least-extensive passenger rail networks in the developed world, the United States today has among the worst safety records. Fatality rates are almost twice as high as in the European Union and countries like South Korea, and roughly triple the rate in Australia.

Analysts say the impressive safety record in Europe and Asia is the result of steady government spending of billions of dollars on development and maintenance of railroad infrastructure — including sophisticated electronic monitoring and automated braking systems developed over the past 20 years.

As a percentage of gross domestic product, the American investment in rail networks is just a quarter of that in Britain and one-sixth that in France and Australia, while Japan spends nearly three times as much per person as the U.S. does.
Over the past decade, even developing countries including India, Russia and Turkey have consistently invested far greater shares of their G.D.P. on rail.
Not exactly grounds for a "We're number one" chant, there.

We're looking at a consequence of Republican refusal to invest in American infrastructure. It's played out not just in less safe trains but in slower trains and fewer trains. If Republicans hadn't stood in the way all these years, we could have had a speedy, energy-efficient, safe rail network and thousands of jobs creating and maintaining it. Instead, we have a desperately underfunded, inadequate rail system and John Boehner saying it's stupid to see the facts for what they are.


Mon May 25, 2015 at 08:59 AM PDT

Memorial Day, in pictures

by kos

(This post first appeared for Memorial Day in 2014.)

A member of U.S. Army honor guard stretches out a flag before placing it at the headstone of a grave at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, May 26, 2011. The United States will commemorate Memorial Day this weekend. REUTERS/Jason Reed
A member of U.S. Army honor guard stretches out a flag before placing it at the headstone of a grave at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington.
A group of high school students from Hawaii prepare to float lanterns during a ceremony marking remembrance and reflection, held by the Shinnyo-en Buddhist organization, honoring victims of war, famine, and natural disasters on Memorial Day at Ala Moana beach park in Honolulu, Hawaii May 27, 2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry
A group of high school students prepare to float lanterns during a ceremony marking remembrance and reflection, held by the Shinnyo-en Buddhist organization, honoring victims of war, famine, and natural disasters on Memorial Day at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
More below the fold ...
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A relative of a buried serviceman places flowers at his headstone in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, May 26, 2011. The United States will commemorate Memorial Day this weekend.    REUTERS/Jason Reed
This short story was previously published on Monday, May 28, 2012, as "Memorial Day (a Short Story)."

The grizzled old man arrived at his destination, his back hunched over and using a cane. He surveyed the scene before him with what combat veterans describe as the thousand-yard stare, a gaze that looks right through you, a look that says he has seen the horrors of war and that he cannot forget them some sixty years later. A vast sea of white lay before him. It was as if someone had planted the seeds for the garden of stone that was before him, ready for harvest.

“How many?” He asked himself, knowing that while there was no finite answer, the true answer was too many.

He trudged his way across the field of marble, stopping at each headstone to take a flag out of his bag and placing one in front of each marker. He read every name and calculated every age. He was tempted to say that a few were too young to be here; however, he realized that all the men and women that were here were all too young to be here, every soul here was cut down in its prime.

“What a waste,” he exclaimed while shaking his head.

Silent and respectful of the sacrifices of those just below his feet he soldiered on, he was determined to complete his mission before nightfall. Across the field he could hear a lone bugler play "Taps," the mournful sound echoed across the landscape.

The forlorn notes of "Taps" brought back memories of long ago when he was a much younger man. He could still hear their voices, still see their faces as if they were standing next to him. The thoughts of the war came rushing back to him. He remembered each death, he was one of a handful that had survived the entire war.

They were so young then, so full of life and ready to take on the world. Few of them had that chance, many of them were chewed up on foreign soil, never to see home again. They gave their lives for a cause they may not have understood or believed in, but, they knew that their country needed them, so they answered the call. He could see himself as a young man trying to comprehend the savagery around him. Trying to understand why he lived and others died.

Head below the fold for more of this story.

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Mon May 25, 2015 at 07:00 AM PDT

Cartoon: The bad intelligence

by Tom Tomorrow

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill

Support independent cartooning: join Sparky's List—and be sure to visit TT's Emporium of Shopping Fun!

United States Army Private First Class William K. Nakamura, Medal of Honor recipient
United States Army Private First Class William K. Nakamura, U.S. Medal of Honor recipient, awarded posthumously.
In "The Memorial Day history forgot: The Martyrs of the Race Course," I wrote last year about the not very well known African-American roots of Memorial Day. In recent years, some media attention has been paid to the long history of Black military service—from the Revolutionary War, including Haitians who fought for us, through the civil war, in films like Glory, and the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II—no matter the racism we faced, and still face in this country.  

We hear less about other soldiers of color—Asian, Native American and Latino who died for us, who also faced, and still face discrimination within our shores.

Pictured above is William Kenzo Nakamura (January 21, 1922-July 4, 1944).

He was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Nakamura was born in Seattle to Japanese immigrant parents. He is a Nisei, which means that he is a second generation Japanese-American. His family was interned in Minidoka in Idaho during World War II. Nakamura volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This army unit was mostly made up of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.

On July 4, 1944, Nakamura was serving as a private first class in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. On that day, near Castellina, Italy, he single-handedly destroyed an enemy machine gun emplacement and later volunteered to cover his unit's withdrawal. He was then killed while attacking another machine gun nest which was firing on his platoon

Follow me below the fold for more of this memorial history.
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What does that mean?

It means that the trusty MacBook that has powered the show for three years is on the blink, and might have to go live on the Apple Farm, if you know what I'm saying.

But, keep your fingers crossed, because it happened with ONE day left on the Apple Care coverage, so it may not be a total loss! Usually these things happen the day after your coverage expires, right?

The downside is, there's no telling just yet exactly how long it will take to get the issues resolved. (It sounds like it's a dying video card, but it's disrupting and freezing everything when it fritzes out unpredictably.)

I'll keep you up to date on things, and hopefully we'll be back up and running soon! And since I still owe you a Rosalyn MacGregor Michigan politics update, I've passed it on to Justice Putnam in the hopes of finding some time for it on Netroots Radio's The After Show (11 AM - noon ET) some time this week.

We'll be bringing you a rerun of the May 27, 2014 show today:

Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss the #YesAllWomen global phenomenon, open carry blowback in Texas, the VA issue narrative versus reality, and how Sen. Burr stepped in it. Even as the tide turns on marriage equality, we're reminded that some think they can turn it on a dime, because "tradition." And the oldest Member of the House ever looks to win his primary. Dark money at work in Arkansas. Twitter was buzzing about corporate social media. What was the Boston "fusion center" tracking while missing the marathon bombing? Occupy. Boing Boing notes new NYT chief Baquet spiked the biggest pre-Snowden NSA story. Speaking of the NSA, the prescience of Justice Brandeis.

Listen at 9:00 ET, here: Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

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Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

The Josh Duggar shocker takes up a considerable amount of time today. The Boy Scouts of America are finally coming around to reality, it seems. Irish abroad are heading home to vote in today's historic referendum on marriage equality. Greg Dworkin agrees to come in (and fight through technical difficulties) on his birthday to round up stories on ACA's increasing popularity and entrenchment, Chris Christie's attempt at recovery that hometown papers aren't buying, handicapping who gets into the Gop debates, Obama's (un) lame duck status, a peek inside the American Board of Internal Medicine's finances, and Bill O'Reilly's in hot water (and in denial) again. NYT reporter goes way out on a limb on Hillary. Armando joins in to discuss the Duggar & O'Reilly news. Kansas, whose governor blows a lot, takes punishing the poor to a new level. Journos begin admitting they were wrong about the "Fight for $15." Self-driving cars might not necessarily kill us all.

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

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E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes The right’s political correctness:

Accommodating right-wing primary voters poses real risks to the party in next year’s elections. Its candidates’ messages on immigration and gay marriage could hurt the GOP with, respectively, Latinos and the young.

But the greater loss is that none of the leading Republicans is willing to offer a more fundamental challenge to the party’s rightward lurch over the past decade. L. Brent Bozell III, a prominent activist on the right, could thus legitimately claim to The Post: “The conservative agenda is what is winning the field.” [...]

With occasional exceptions, they have been far more interested in proving their faithfulness to today’s hard-line right than in declaring, as conservatives in so many other democracies have been willing to do, that sprawling market economies need a rather large dose of government.

Trevor Timm at The Guardian writes McConnell can't save the NSA's surveillance program:
Senators were forced to work overtime well into Memorial Day weekend thanks to a manufactured controversy by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has known for years that the parts of the Patriot Act that allow the NSA to collect the phone records of millions of innocent people (known as Section 215) are set to expire on 1 June 2015, but decided to gin up an “emergency” and wait until the very last moment to try to extend them. He managed in the process to block the USA Freedom Act, a modest surveillance reform bill targeting the NSA that has overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, but he also failed by a large number of votes to extend the Patriot Act’s surveillance provisions for even one day.

So while Republicans managed to kill a bill that is supposed to stop the NSA’s bulk collection program, their ineptitude put the law underpinning it one step closer to extinction.

There are more pundit excerpts below the fold.
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U.S. Army Sgt. William Reese watches flames rise into the night sky after setting canal vegetation ablaze in Tahwilla, Iraq, July 30, 2008. Extremists have been using the canal's thick vegetation to plant bombs under the cover of darkness. The soldiers are assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment.U.S. Army photo by Spc. David J. Marshall.
Most wars are started or joined because of lies. The Mexican-American War of 1848, the Spanish-American-Cuban War of 1898 and the Vietnam War are all good examples. Lately, thanks to Judith Miller's whiny piece seeking to whitewash her own role in conveying the lies that got us into Iraq War, Jeb Bush's flubbing and flipping what should have been a simple answer about whether he would have done as his brother did in Iraq, Hillary Clinton's Senate vote in 2002 on the authorization to use military force against Iraq and the current situation with ISIL, discussion of the entry into that aggression has gotten some new life.

Therefore, for Memorial Day, it's appropriate to reprise a 7-year-old Daily Kos post about the compilation of 935 Iraq War lies that was produced by the Center for Public Integrity. Here's what the study of the lies concluded:

"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

"Some journalists—indeed, even some entire news organizations—have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.

Here's the post—Lies, Damned Lies, a Searchable Database of Lies originally published here on January 22, 2008:
 For the past six years, activists, progressive bloggers and a handful of traditional media pundits have accused Mister Bush, Richard Bruce Cheney and others in the cronyfest running the executive branch of lying us into Iraq. The relentless response - everybody from Condoleeza Rice to Bill Kristol to the least-read right-wing pundithug - has been to say we're the liars, and traitors as well, for daring suggest such a thing at a time when the nation faces the most dire threat since Adolf Hitler gave the go-ahead to heavy-water experiments, blah, blah, blah.

Eventually—without apologies, of course—there were a few admissions delivered in the passive-aggressive tense popularized decades ago by Richard Nixon: "mistakes were made."

Now, thanks to the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, everybody can check out those lies for themselves at The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War.

Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith at CPI write:

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war.

It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. ...

In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.

Those 935 lies, by the way, do not include "indirect false statements" such as that Iraq had possession of "dangerous weapons."

No single lie is going to surprise anybody who has been following the fabrications of the Cheney-Bush administration. But CPI has done a real service to place nearly 1000 of these in one easy-to-access location.

Mister Bush told the most lies: 259. Colin Powell clocked in second with 244 lies.

As for the administration response, the Boston Globe reports:

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.

"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.

Uh-huh. Time to start a new database.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006A Choice Predicament:

Via The Carpetbagger Report:

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the House easily passed bi-partisan legislation that would remove restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. The companion measure in the Senate had a filibuster-proof majority, Bill Frist endorsed the bill and vowed to bring it to the floor, and polls showed overwhelming support from the public. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter wrote at the time, "Unless there's another war, stem cells will become one of the defining issues of the 2006 campaign." It seemed we were finally on the brink of a breakthrough for science, medical research, and public health. And then ... nothing.
I guess there's two ways Republicans can play this: They can go ahead and get the bill to the White House, putting the President in one hell of a bind and creating at least the appearance of independence. Or they can kick it down the road to appease their fundamentalist masters and take a chance on being tarred and feathered with the issue come November.

It's often said the Democrats don't stand for anything. But here the GOP has a choice of life versus ideology, loyalty to Mr. 29% Vs We the People. We'll see exactly who and what the Republicans stand for on this issue alone.

Tweet of the Day
Shell exec says 'prize' in Arctic is huge cache of oil--that no climate scientist thinks we can safely burn. Hideous

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio."

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In the last few days America witnessed something many have been stating for decades. The media coverage and interpretation of events is demonstrably race based.

I walked into my home from after blogging for five hours at Starbucks. My daughter was in the couch with her face pasted on her Twitter feed on her phone.

"Dad, what is going on at Twin Peaks?” She asked.

"I don't know?" I replied.

"Nine people got killed in Waco," she said. "There are rival biker gangs shooting and stabbing each other and shooting at police."

"Really?" I replied. "Turn on CNN."

We turned on CNN and they were doing regular programming. We turned to Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC. They were all doing regular programming on a slow news day.

Everyone knows that especially on a slow news day the most mundane gets covered as breaking news. So what happened here? Nine human beings were killed, murdered in a gang fight. Gangs were reportedly shooting at the police. It was mayhem. It was extremely violent behavior.

The riots in Ferguson had many casualities. The riots in Baltimore had many casualties. There was incessant coverage as breaking news. But it was the display of those inner city people acting violently that made the news, a disparity I discuss more below the fold.

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Sun May 24, 2015 at 04:00 PM PDT

The promise of NewSpace

by DarkSyde

Ceres as revealed by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 4, 2015, from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers). The bright spots may be water ice.
We throw a lot of terms around here on Daily Kos, mostly in politics, sometimes in science. One of the latter is NewSpace, which can mean different things to different people:
NewSpace—formerly; also "new space", and entrepreneurial space—are umbrella terms for a movement and philosophy often affiliated with, but not synonymous with, an emergent private spaceflight industry. Specifically, the terms are used to refer to a community of relatively new aerospace companies working to develop low-cost access to space or spaceflight technologies and advocates of low-cost spaceflight technology and policy.
But NewSapce means more than just space exploration, it also means using resources in space back here on Earth, where we are likely to run low on key elements and other substances in the forseeable future.

It's interesting that one of the people who first glimpsed that looming shortfall half a century ago had nothing to do with space exploration or aerospace technology in general. His bailiwick was the oil business. Follow us below and we'll briefly review the frightening immediate future.

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