Category Archives: Education

‘We Reject Politics of Fear’: Groups Urge Congress to Build Schools, Not Wall

Teacher in Milwaukee said six-year-old student “crawled into her lap crying [and] told her, ‘I am so scared that somebody is going to take my daddy away'”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-27-2017

“Instead of funding President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, we are seeking additional funding for our nation’s public schools.” (Photo: doug turetsky/flickr/cc)

More than 150 advocacy groups sent a letter (pdf) to Congress on Thursday urging lawmakers to reject President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall and spend the money on education instead.

Trump’s “targeting of Muslims, refugees, and undocumented immigrants…are eroding the trust built by educators, parents, law enforcement, and communities over decades,” the letter states.

Its signatories include the Center for Popular Democracy, SEIU, and the National Immigration Law Center, among other community groups and labor unions. Continue reading

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In Photos: Scientists Worldwide Fight Back Against Anti-Science Trump Agenda

From Washington, D.C., to Brisbane, Australia, over 600 marches around the world showcased the global resistance to President Donald Trump’s war on science

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-22-2017

An estimated 10,000 people took part in the March for Science in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday. (Photo: Stand With CEU/Twitter)

Tens of thousands are celebrating Earth Day by marching Saturday against President Donald Trump’s ongoing attacks on science, in an unprecedented global uprising of scientists against the anti-science Trump administration.

With demonstrations on six continents, there was even a (small) march on the North Pole: Continue reading

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How to get elected dictator of Turkey: A ten-step guide

Turkish ‘democracy’ has become two Grey Wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

By Dr. Thoreau Redcrow, Published 4-18-2017 by Kurdish Question

It appears that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gotten himself elected dictator of Turkey through 2029, by a conveniently slim margin of 51-49%. So for other autocratic world leaders out there hoping to replicate his feat—who are tired of pesky Constitutions and Executive limitations—here are a few helpful steps he took that you can follow:

(1) Stage a military coup against your authoritarian regime and blame the so-called conspiracy on an America-living cleric (Fethullah Gulen), who you can then accuse of being a shadowy foreign puppet. And don’t worry if you’re actually a member of NATO and host U.S. military bases on your territory, most of your paranoid lumpen supporters will barely notice the disconnect between your words and reality. Continue reading

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And you thought Trump was bad

European leaders have found their nemesis in Viktor Orbán, whose legislation closing down the Central European University constitutes an ethno-nationalist and authoritarian challenge to Europe’s liberal order.

By Michael Stewart. Published 4-6-2017 by openDemocracy

Viktor Orbán. Photo: Andrucha

If guests questioned the significance of a university to its founder, the former President and Rector of Central European University, John Shattuck, liked to remind them that unlike most human institutions, universities can boast longevity. Which significant institutions live on, he would ask, from the years of renaissance glory in Florence, Venice or Padua? Their universities. Or, to put the matter in more familiar terms, what other British corporation founded in 1421 survives and thrives 600 years on, as does King’s College Cambridge?

But after yesterday’s news from Budapest, it may be that the distinguished diplomat and former head of Harvard Library, spoke too soon. Continue reading

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Borrowers ‘Chilled to the Bone’ as DOE Reneges on Student Loan Forgiveness

Young people who took low-paying, public-sector jobs with promise of loan forgiveness now ‘hosed’

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-31-2017

As first wave of qualified workers prepare to apply for loan forgiveness, they may have an unpleasant surprise waiting for them. (Photo: thisisbossi/flickr/cc)

In a troubling development for the countless people saddled with student debt, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) may be reneging on a promise made to over 550,000 such borrowers who were led to believe that their loans would be forgiven after ten years of work in the public service.

Responding to an ongoing lawsuit from four borrowers, the DOE has given no explanation but says that approval letters sent to individuals who signed up for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program are not in fact “binding,” the New York Times reported Thursday. Continue reading

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You are the new gatekeeper of the news

Aly Colón, Washington and Lee University

News consumers today face a flood of fake news and information. Distinguishing between fact and fiction has become increasingly challenging.

In the past, news organizations sifted through information to try to determine its validity and veracity. Being trusted for what they reported became an important part of journalists’ reputations.

But that was then.

You are part of the problem

Journalists like Walter Cronkite used to be gatekeepers of the news. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cronkitejfkdeath.gif#filelinks

Now the gatekeeping role that the legacy media newspapers and network television news once played falls to all of us. Today, everyone assumes the position of publisher. Technology has democratized the process of making, or making up, news.

Journalists no longer decide what goes public. Information flows unimpeded and unchecked through the internet, filling a multitude of websites, blogs and tweets.

All of it flows through social media streams and into our laptops, tablets and smartphones. Everyone who posts, or reshares, a news story on Facebook or retweets a link takes on a role once held by only a powerful few media executives. The problem that emerges today stems from the fact that most social media “publishers” fail to consider the responsibility for what they post.

It’s not that fake news is new. Thomas Jefferson complained in 1807, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.” Jefferson’s comment represents just one of many views regarding news not only in the U.S. but in Europe. Fake news can be traced back Italy in 1475 when a priest made a false claim about a child’s disappearance. Even the political battle between Marc Antony and Octavian to succeed the murdered Julius Caesar engaged the use of fake news. Octavian’s use of fake news enabled him to succeed Caesar.

And it’s not that the old gatekeepers were infallible or consistently apolitical. But in today’s technological world, we’re in the midst of an informational perfect storm. The equation I might offer would be: Velocity + Volume = Volatility. All the news on the internet moves so fast, and assaults us with so much, that the outcome becomes unpredictably dangerous.

Some people who use social media check what they publish. Others repost or retweet information without reading it carefully, much less doing any due diligence for accuracy. That plays into what those who produce fake news hope to accomplish. While some believe they hope to deceive people, press critic Tom Rosenstiel asserts, “The goal of fake news is not to make people believe the lie. It is to make them doubt all news.”

Some may think that young people, with their social media savvy, might be better able to assess the information they consume.

A Stanford University study found it shocking that many of them couldn’t “evaluate the credibility of that information.” The study noted that more than 80 percent of middle schoolers saw “sponsored content” as actual news. High school students didn’t verify photos. Most college students failed to suspect potential bias in an activist group’s tweet.

Step up your game

So what are news consumers to do? How can they act as their own gatekeepers, intent on vigilance and verification like the best journalists and publishers of old?

Here’s how to begin.

#1. Check out the source. This may seem basic, but it’s easy to read headlines without paying attention to who wrote it. Writers and websites operate with their own perspective. Some want to offer a balanced view. Some advocate a point of view. Others hope to deceive you.

Know the “who” or the “what” of the source. Is the source, website, Twitter handle or blog familiar to you? Have you read them before? Read other work they have done. See if writers you trust link to them.

Read the “About” section of the writer/website. Use search engines to track the name. Sometimes such sites as Linkedin or Facebook turn up basic background information. The key is to know where they are coming from.

#2. Check out the information. Do other sources corroborate what you’re reading, viewing or hearing? Have you used verification sites such as Snopes, Politifact and FactCheck.org?

Snopes, for example, reported that some of the “2017 inauguration photos” tweeted out of Trump’s inauguration were taken weeks or years earlier. One was a photo of the Kansas Royals baseball team rally. Politifact pointed out President Donald Trump’s press secretary’s assertion the inauguration had the largest audience – period – was disputed by other measurements. And FactCheck.org noted that former President Barack Obama “falsely claimed that a treaty he signed with Russia in 2011 ‘has substantially reduced our nuclear stockpiles, both Russia and the United States.‘”

Dick Grefe, a senior reference librarian at Washington and Lee University, alerted me that two professors at the University of Washington have proposed teaching a course “Calling Bullshit: In the Age of Big Data.” The course would “focus on bullshit that comes clad in the trappings of scholarly discourse.” What’s fake isn’t limited to news.

#3. Be aware of your biases. Remember that we tend to read, listen to and watch news with our own built-in prejudices. We evaluate information based on whether it supports what we already believe. It can be easy to discount that which upsets or challenges our worldview. Reports about “confirmation bias” abound. As studies and writers have noted, we basically believe what we want to believe.

The concern journalists feel about how misleading and confusing the news can be has prompted a number of them to offer their own guides to approaching biases and fake news. Journalist and media expert Alicia Shepard offers her suggestions on how to avoid being duped. Alan Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who founded the News Literacy Project, grapples with confirmation bias head on. Steve Inskeep at NPR provides a guide to facts.

Battle your own confirmation bias by expanding the sources of information you seek. Be open to thinking about different points of view. Read widely. Read counterpoints. Watch for innovations from the media. For example, one recent study published on MarketWatch placed different news sources on the “truthiness” scale. Another, older piece on businessinsider.com could help you identify the ideology underlining your favorite source of news.

There’s no need to close the gate, but be sure you know what’s flowing in. It matters.

The Conversation

Aly Colón, Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics, Washington and Lee University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Press Freedom Accountability Survey

 

By Carol Benedict

On Saturday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) voiced concern over President Donald Trump lashing out at press reporters, agencies and bureaus that reported news not to his liking,  “at one point declaring it “the enemy of the American People!”, According to a report. McCain further stated on NBC News in an interview set to air Sunday, that was “how dictators get started.”

After witnessing 8 years of press coverage claiming that 2nd Amendment rights were being threatened under the Obama Administration, we saw gun and ammo sales skyrocket across the nation. After passing the first sensible gun law in decades following the horrific tragedy of Sandy Hook, the Trump Administration has already stripped that back, allowing those gains to be lost after the majority of Americans approved of those particular regulations.

We wonder where those same people are now, to defend the 1st Amendment rights that have not only been decried by a President who has sworn to uphold the Constitution to which those Rights are part and parcel.

All of which leads to the subject of this post. On Thursday, the Trump campaign put up something called the “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey,”  with questions that looked as if they were left over from the runup to the election. Evidently, they didn’t like the results of that one, for they put up a new one on Friday, appearing on both the Donald Trump and main RNC websites.  The spin given by the Trump organization was that “liberals had skewed the responses.”

The original survey’s source code didn’t have any collection mechanism for the survey’s answers, according to some IT pros we know. Instead, it worked as an email collection/fundraising gimmick; after you completed the survey, you had to enter your email. Once you did this, you were redirected to a donation page. The email collecting and donation page sections did have the appropriate source code needed to populate a database with that info; the survey itself didn’t. And, the fundraising’s legal; Trump filed paperwork for his 2020 run five hours after his inauguration. Hence, this comes under campaign financing laws; in other words, superPACs and unlimited anonymous donating to said entities.

In response to his second survey, we have created this survey to compare question-for-question, asking the American people from every walk of life their views on the 1st Amendment and a free press in America. We are guessing you will easily recognize which survey is which.

This survey is not collecting responses. It is intended for educational purposes.

Press Accountability polls

Do you believe that the press has reported fairly on the new Trump Administration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust the free press to report fairly on the Trump Adminitration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust MSNBC to report fairly on Trump's presidency?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust the Trump Administration to report accurately on its own actions?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust CNN to report fairly on Trump's presidency?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe the free press is part of the accountability necessary in a democracy?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust Fox News to report fairly on Trump's presidency?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe the 1st Amendment's wording that "abridging" the freedom of the press means that the press must not be associated with any political party, hold bias, or report unverified information?
Yes
No
No opinion
On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans? (Select as many that apply.)
Immigration
Economics
Pro-life values
Religion
Individual liberty
Conservatism
Foreign policy
Second Amendment rights
What source do you primarily get your news from?
Television/Cable news
Print or online news publications
Online journals/blogs
Other (please specify):
Which television source do you primarily get your news from?
Fox News
CNN
MSNBC
Local news
How do you know if the source you use is credible?Do you use a source not listed above?


Do you trust the press to report accurately on the activities of the Congress?
Yes
No
No opinion
Which online source do you use the most?


Do you trust the press to report accurately on the activities of the Courts?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust the mainstream media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, and Kellyanne Conway, do due diligence fact checking before discussing stories the free press can not verify as actually having happened?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

What do you believe the executive order regarding people from Muslim countries was targeted to do?
Prevent Muslims from entering the US
Prevent terrorists from entering the US
Punish businesses that associate with or hire Muslims
Punish students and families of American Muslims
Other (please specify):
Do you believe that the media unfairly reported on President Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting people entering our country from nations compromised by radical Islamic terrorism?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the Court was justified in taking action and temporarily banning the order from being enforced?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Were you aware that a poll was released revealing that a majority of Americans actually supported President Trump's temporary restriction executive order?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that radical terrorists acting in this country are primarily not from the seven countries named in the executive order?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Do you believe that political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that President Trump has substantial powers that can not be questioned?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Do you believe that contrary to what the media says, raising taxes does not create jobs?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that people of non-Christian faiths have been unfairly characterized by the Trump Adminstration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:
Do you believe that people of faith have been unfairly characterized by the media?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that the 1st Amendment is as equally fundamental and important as the 2nd Amendment?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Do you believe that the media wrongly attributes gun violence to Second Amendment rights?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you support this Administration's and Congress's decisions to abolish the Endangered Species Act, The Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency and other Departments?
Yes
No
Other (Please specify):
Do you believe that the media has been far too quick to spread false stories about our movement?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the press should pursue reports of Russian interference in US politics before, during and since the 2016 election?
Yes
No
Other (please specify):
Do you believe that the media uses slurs rather than facts to attack conservative stances on issues like border control, religious liberties, and ObamaCare?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the US Intelligence community has a responsibility to the American people to investigate and vett officials within the Administration?
Yes
No
Other (Please specify):
Do you believe that the media purposely tries to divide Republicans against each other in order to help elect Democrats?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the President was elected by the people, and therefore is accountable to them, or that the President can act without accountability after taking office?
Operate with accountability to the people
Operate without accountability to the people
Other (Explain):
Do you believe that the media creates false feuds within our Party in order to make us seem divided?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Are you concerned about the international community and the potential for nuclear war more of less since President Trump took office?
More concerned
Less concerned
Was never concerned
Concern did not change
Do you believe that the mainstream media has been too eager to jump to conclusions about rumored stories?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you support the Administration's intention to build a wall across the border with Mexico and continue escalation of deportations of illegal immigrants without further review of the executive orders?
Yes
No
Review is needed similar to a review of the travel ban
Other (Please specify):
Do you believe that if Republicans were obstructing Obama like Democrats are doing to President Trump, the mainstream media would attack Republicans?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you support the Administration being quietly run by top advisor Steve Bannon and family members of President Trump?
Yes
No
Other (Please specify):
Do you agree with the President’s decision to break with tradition by giving lesser known reporters and bloggers the chance to ask the White House Press Secretary questions?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe President Trump should have launched his 2020 Presidential Campaign with only 3 weeks in office?
Yes
No, it is too soon
No, he won't last 1 term
No opinion
Do you agree with President Trump’s media strategy to cut through the media’s noise and deliver our message straight to the people?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the American taxpayer should be footing the bill for the First Lady's separate lodging in New York, the White House weekends in Mar-a-Lago Club and the business trips of Ivanka Trump?
Yes
No
Other (please explain):
Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?
Yes
No
No opinion

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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Lawmakers Feel the Heat as Resistance Shows Up in Droves to Town Halls

Overflow crowds and tough questions marked Saturday’s Congressional recess events around the country

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-18-2017

“This is what the resistance looks like,” Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan wrote Saturday on Twitter. (Photo: Rep. Mark Pocan/Twitter)

Energized crowds in New York, South Carolina, and Wisconsin on Saturday morning gave lawmakers a hint of what awaits them in their home districts during the upcoming Congressional recess.

The Buffalo News reported that “[h]uge crowds of raucous progressives and quieter conservatives overwhelmed [Republican] Rep. Tom Reed’s town hall meetings in Ashville and Cherry Creek Saturday morning, with the progressives repeatedly interrupting and shouting down the congressman’s comments as he tried to defend Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.”

In Ashville, N.Y., so many people showed up that the meeting had to be moved outside to a parking lot.  Continue reading

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Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting The Trump Agenda

Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.

Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017. Photo: VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

NOTE FROM THE INDIVISIBLE TEAM

Since this guide went live as a Google Doc, we’ve received an overwhelming flood of messages from people all over the country working to resist the Trump agenda. We’re thrilled and humbled by the energy and passion of this growing movement. We’ll be updating the guide based on your feedback and making it interactive ASAP. You can sign up for updates at www.IndivisibleGuide.com.

Every single person who worked on this guide and website is a volunteer. We’re doing this in our free time without coordination or support from our employers. Our only goal is to help the real leaders on the ground who are resisting Trump’s agenda on their home turf. We hope you will take this document and use it however you see fit. Continue reading

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8 Things Congress Has Done While Everyone was Distracted by Trump

By . Published 2-14-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

While we were distracted by the onslaught of executive orders President Trump pushed through during his first two weeks in office, legislators in Congress were busy quietly introducing legislation to bolster his top-down moves.

Here’s what you missed:

1. A House Panel Voted to Terminate the Election Assistance Commission

The House Administration Committee voted 6-3 in favor Republican Congressman Gregg Harper’s bill to terminate the Election Assistance Commission. The EAC, which was created in response to the contentious 2000 Florida election results as part of the Help America Vote Act, is a bipartisan commission that certifies voting machines and is responsible for making sure they cannot be hacked. Continue reading

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