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2009 June 15 — Why Now?
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Magna Carta

King John

John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou in the meadow which is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June, 1215, signed the Great Charter in the presence of assorted heavily armed peers of the realm, who assured him it was the right thing to do.

The British Library has pictures of the Magna Carta available, and Wikipedia has a nice discussion of the document.

The Magna Carta of 1297 is permanently residing in the US National Archives.

The Avalon Project’s translation of the 1215 version with an index and definitions.

John abided by the charter for several months, before he returned to business as normal, but the principle was established – no one is above the law.

June 15, 2009   Comments Off on Magna Carta

Time For Something Completely Different

funny pictures of cats with captions

June 15, 2009   6 Comments

More Privatization Reality

The Orlando Sentinel reports on the latest failure of privatizing public services: Florida’s charter school students perform “significantly worse” than peers in traditional schools, new report says

Students in Florida’s charter schools, on average, maker fewer academic gains than kids in traditional public schools, according to a new study by Stanford University researchers released today.

The study found that Florida is one of six states where “on average the student in a charter school learns statistically and significantly less than they would have in a traditional public school,” said Margaret Raymond, the study’s lead author.

The study used eight years worth of math and reading test data and compared charter school students to their “virtual twins” in regular schools — that is students with similar demographics and starting test scores.

Charter schools — public schools run by private groups and freed from some public school bureaucracy — need more “quality control” so that the good ones can be replicated and the bad ones weeded out, Raymond added.

So, you give public money to private groups who have no accountability and you are surprised when they provide less than the public employees they “replaced”. This is not unusual, this is the norm. This is how the privatization scam always works.

Greed has never produced quality. That is why privatization doesn’t work. The incentive is to maximize profit, not provide a better product or service. We don’t live in a world dominated by self-serve gas stations and Wal-Mart because business is trying to please its customers. Does anyone honestly believe that customer call centers in Asia was a response to people desperately wanting to talk to someone they can’t understand?

June 15, 2009   2 Comments

CNN Discovers Iran

It is now the lead story with a double-wide graphic and explains some of the media silence:

Iranian media mostly ignored the protests and international journalists were prevented from covering the demonstrations.

Iranian authorities closed Al-Arabiya’s Tehran bureau for a week without explanation, the Arabic network said on Sunday. Two reporters were attacked outside Moussavi’s headquarters on Friday, according to Reporters Without Borders, the France-based media rights group.

The group said it had confirmed the arrest of four reporters by Iranian authorities, including one who won the organization’s press freedom prize in 2001.

Reporters for an Italian station, RAI, and for Reuters were beaten by police in the capital, Tehran, the group said, and a CNN producer was hit with a police baton.

The Web sites of pro-opposition supporters were inaccessible, and the government also had periodically shut down access to social-networking sites, making it difficult for information to reach the outside world.

“An election won by means of censorship and arrests of journalists is not democratic,” the reporters group said.

Nice start, but you have the best reporter on Iranian affairs in the western media, someone who knows all the players: where’s Christiane Amanpour, CBE? She probably wouldn’t be allowed in by the authorities, but she certainly could explain what she thinks is occurring in her parents’ birthplace.

Update: Finally, Christiane appears and she was in Iran for the election. Apparently there is a problem getting anything out as she was using Getty images in her video report.

June 15, 2009   4 Comments

Time To Punt

The CBC is reporting that Iran orders election probe

Iran’s supreme leader ordered Monday an investigation into allegations of fraud in the presidential election, and urged calm as tens of thousands defied a government-banned rally in Tehran and gathered downtown.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying on state television Monday that Iran’s Guardian Council will examine the allegations.

Mousavi wrote an appeal Sunday to the Guardian Council, a powerful 12-member body that’s a pillar of Iran’s theocracy. Mousavi also met Sunday with Khamenei.

“Issues must be pursued through a legal channel,” said Khamenei, insisting “that the Guardian Council carefully probe this letter.”

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June 15, 2009   7 Comments