Tag Archives: privatization

‘Literal Colonialism’: Blackwater Founder Calls for ‘American Viceroy’ to Rule Afghanistan

Given Prince’s past connections to Trump, his recommendations could have some measure of influence

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-2-2017

Despite the fact that private contractors have a long record of abuse and deadly criminality, Prince believes that they should have a stronger presence in Afghanistan. (Photo: Melissa Golden/Redux)

Displaying what one commentator called “sheer 19th century bloodlust and thirst for empire,” Erik Prince, founder of the private mercenary firm Blackwater, argued in The Wall Street Journal this week that the United States should deploy an “East India Company approach” in Afghanistan.

The country, he wrote, should be run by “an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition efforts—including command, budget, policy, promotion, and contracting—and report directly to the president.” Continue reading

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“It’s Crap”: The Trump Administration’s Budget Is a Highway to Privatization

Former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, is leading the White House’s effort

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-24-2017

President Donald Trump wants to privatize “some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops, and other facilities” while his budget calls for cutting the Highway Trust Fund along with other programs. (Photo: Tiberiu Ana/flickr/cc)

“Private companies should fund, build, and run more of the basic infrastructure of American life.”

That’s how the Washington Post sums up a key tenet of the Trump administration’s thinking on infrastructure, in an article Wednesday that outlines the White House’s push to privatize “some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops, and other facilities.”

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, released Tuesday, calls for spending roughly $200 billion over 10 years to spur at least $800 billion in state, local, and private infrastructure investment. Continue reading

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Why every American should fear abolishing the Department of Education

Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Carol Benedict

On the same day as the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary occurred, KY Rep. Thomas Massie introduced a bill to the House of Representatives in Washington DC, which consisted of 1 sentence.

“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

No provisions for the Department’s various responsibilities to be distributed to others, nothing. Just simply GONE.

Massie attempts to offer explanations of local schools and states as being the best qualified to determine the educational requirements of America’s children. In an ideal United States, this is an entirely reasonable notion.

But reality is never ideal. Left without any federal guidelines, in the past schools have not been able to demonstrate an ability to teach students across the nation in any form of standardized curriculum. A student in Minnesota or Washington state is given completely lessons, and thus grade completion standards, than a student in Florida or Mississippi, for example.

DeVos promotes a voucher system that allows students to bypass public schools and instead attend schools selected as chatter schools, This will then siphon the student’s portion of public education funds and transfers that to the charter school.

But charter schools are not required to teach special education classes or accommodate special needs students. Nor are they required to offer any accountability for student outcomes. They are allowed free reign to spend budgets as they wish. They are not participants of the federal school lunch programs, and they often offer curriculum based on a denominational or religious point of view

While it may seem all streamlined, there are a few important details slipping through the cracks.

After DeVos’ confirmation, Facebook exploded with comments from teachers. Among them, we noticed the following sentiments:

When you take money away from public schools and give it to charter and private schools, schools will be even more segregated. Very few poor parents can drive their kids to school each day, nor can they afford to pay the cost of private education not covered by a voucher, which will leave these children stuck in a public school with even less funding than before.

In addition, all schools that take federal money should have to show they are educating children, all children. If you take federal funds, not only should you be required to take every kid (those with mental, physical, and behavioral challenges), but you should be able to show you can successfully educate them. That’s what we require of public schools. Private and charter should be no different. Betsy DeVos disagrees.

Her lack of knowledge of federal disability laws and basic educational concepts is also appalling. Her appointment sadly proves that party lines are more important than children. Every American should fear this.

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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EPA Nominee Pruitt’s Hearing Shows Him Poised to Be “Every Polluter’s Ally”

Bernie Sanders and others blasted Scott Pruitt’s anti-environment record on Wednesday, echoing scores of groups that oppose to his nomination

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. (Screenshot)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee dug into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, blasting his record of suing the very agency he’s been selected to lead, and putting his fossil fuel industry ties front and center.

As Ben Jervey and Steve Horn reported for DeSmog Blog, the morning hearing unfolded in something of a pattern, with “Republican members complimenting the [Oklahoma] attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment.” Continue reading

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This Wondrous National Park… Brought to You By McDonald’s?

Quietly approved reforms by National Park Service that would allow corporate sponsorship and advertisements called a “disgrace” by public advocacy group

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-4-2017

“Now that this policy has been finalized,” warned Kristen Strader of Public Citizen, “park visitors soon could be greeted with various forms of advertisements, like a sign reading ‘brought to you by McDonald’s’ within a new visitor’s center at Yosemite, or ‘Budweiser’ in script on a park bench at Acadia.”

A controversial set of new rules quietly given final approval over the recent holiday—allowing national parks in the United States to expand corporate sponsorships and commercial contracts with private companies—is being called a “disgrace” by those who say the move is a betrayal of what the nation’s parks should be.

Despite outcry from citizens, documented in public testimony and hundreds of thousands petition signatures, the director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis announced on December 28 that he had signed an order—officially titled Order #21 on Donations and Philanthropic Partnerships—which, among other changes, ends an outright ban on commercial advertising and lifts restrictions on naming rights in parks. Continue reading

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Trump’s Advisers Want to Privatize Native Lands for Big Energy: Reuters

Co-chairs of Native American Affairs Coalition say they want to ‘take tribal land away from public treatment’

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-5-2016

Coming just as Native American water protectors cautiously celebrate a hard-fought victory against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the proposal is another example of Trump's incendiary and divisive policies. (Photo: Revolution Messaging/flickr/cc)

Coming just as Native American water protectors cautiously celebrate a hard-fought victory against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the proposal is another example of Trump’s incendiary and divisive policies. (Photo: Revolution Messaging/flickr/cc)

President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers are aiming to privatize Native American reservations that contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, Reuters reports.

Two chairmen of Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition told the outlet that they want to put those lands into private ownership, a proposal that would upend historic policies put into place to preserve Indigenous sovereignty. The plan would deregulate drilling, which the coalition says would benefit the tribes who currently have the rights to use the land, but do not own it. In addition to holding about 20 percent of the nation’s oil and gas, the lands also include vast coal reserves—all worth an estimated $1.5 trillion. Continue reading

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Spying’s New Frontier: Private Firm Collects Data on ‘Every American Adult’

“We have data on that 21-year-old who’s living at home with mom and dad”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-5-2016

One company has pioneered the powerful new industry known as data-fusion. (Photo: Janne Hellsten/flickr/cc)

One company has pioneered the powerful new industry known as data-fusion. (Photo: Janne Hellsten/flickr/cc)

The fight for internet privacy has focused much of its attention on government surveillance, but mass data collection is done by private companies as well—and one such firm has “centralized and weaponized” all that information for its customers, Bloomberg reports on Friday.

In fact, it has already built a profile on “every American adult,” Bloomberg writes. Continue reading

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After Brexit, European Left Calls for ‘Massive Political Opposition’

‘What Europe needs more than ever to avoid a slide into a xenophobic, deflationary, 1930s-like abyss’

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-24-2016

Photo: Amnesty international via Twitter

Photo: Amnesty international via Twitter

In the tumultuous aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the European left is responding with a mix of reason, measured reassurances, and righteous defiance.

Left Unity, a populist UK political party, released a statement early Friday morning that criticized the right-wing organizers of the Leave campaign and vowed to “step up the fight against neo-liberalism here—opposing all cuts, defending the NHS [National Health Service], fighting for decent housing—and across Europe.”

“In Brexit Britain, we still face austerity, poverty and extreme inequality: the rotten policies of our government are still here,” Left Unity’s executive committee said. “We deeply regret that the working people of Britain have been deceived and manipulated into believing that Brexit will bring about relief from the grinding austerity that is destroying lives and communities.” Continue reading

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People Power Just Trumped Corporate Power: Oregon County Rejects Nestle Water-Grab

‘This is really a resounding victory for everyone who cares about protecting not only our water supply, but water supplies around the world’

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-18-2016

Oxbow Springs water would have be bottled under Nestle's Arrowhead brand. (Photo: Nathan Rupert/flickr/cc)

Oxbow Springs water would have be bottled under Nestle’s Arrowhead brand. (Photo: Nathan Rupert/flickr/cc)

Voters in one Oregon county on Tuesday approved a ban on commercial bottled water production, stopping a years-long effort by Swiss transnational Nestle to sell over 100 million gallons of water a year from the Columbia River Gorge.

“This is really a resounding victory for everyone who cares about protecting not only our water supply, but water supplies around the world,” said Aurora del Val with Local Water Alliance, which filed the ballot measure petition. Continue reading

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Landmark Look at US Charter System Reveals Waste, Fraud, ‘Ghost Schools’

‘The bottom-line is taxpayers know far too little about how much their federal tax dollars are being used to fund charters,’ says Center for Media and Democracy

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-21-2015

No one even knew how much the federal government had spent on its program designed to boost the charter sector until CMD started poking around. (Photo: GotCredit/flickr/cc)

No one even knew how much the federal government had spent on its program designed to boost the charter sector until CMD started poking around. (Photo: GotCredit/flickr/cc)

A year-long investigation by the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy has revealed a severe dearth of public information about how federal and state taxes are being spent to fuel the charter school industry in the U.S.

According to the report released Wednesday—Charter School Black Hole (pdf)—no one even knew how much the federal government had spent on its program designed to boost the charter sector until CMD started poking around. Now, after filing close to 50 open records requests and reviewing more than two decades of federal authorizations and appropriations, the national watchdog group has calculated that sum to be a whopping $3.7 billion.

Furthermore, how those billions were spent was equally difficult to discern. Continue reading

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