Category Archives: Education

Pseudo-Socialist Bernie Sanders Finally Opposes Charter Schools

After wavering and making confusing statements about charter schools three years ago when he was running for President, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for President again, finally came out and issued a broad education plan on May 18, 2019 which, among other things, opposes charter schools.

Part two of Sanders’ ten-part “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” is titled, “End the Unaccountable Profit-Motive of Charter Schools.’

Sanders begins this part of his education plan for the nation by repeating the incorrect and refuted narrative, stubbornly promoted by the left, democrats, and “progressives,” that charter schools had humble, positive, grass-roots origins, as opposed to being conceived, organized, and implemented by neoliberals committed to destroying the natural and social environment.

After that, Sanders properly notes that: “Charter schools are led by unaccountable, private bodies, and their growth has drained funding from the public school system.” He also provides data showing that charter schools are significantly more segregated than public schools.

Sanders rightly demands that: “The damage to communities caused by unregulated charter school growth must be stopped and reversed.”

Reversing charter schools should include making reparations to public schools because of the severe harm charter schools have inflicted on them for more than 25 years.

Sanders goes on to call for a ban on for-profit charter schools and a moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion. Any time the funneling of public funds to the rich is stopped, that is a good thing for the economy, society, and people.

The remaining points in Sanders’ education plan correctly call for greater accountability in the notoriously low-transparency scandal-ridden charter school sector.

All these statements and demands should be supported because they serve education, the economy, society, and the national interest.

Finally, while Sanders states that “Every human being has the fundamental right to a good education,” this is not the same as saying education is a basic human right. The phrase “fundamental right” means something specific under U.S. law, namely that a law is “fundamental” if it is explicitly or implicitly expressed in the constitution. This does not, however, speak to whether said right enshrined in the constitution is an inalienable human right that government must guarantee in practice.

For its part, the billionaire-backed National Alliance of Public Charter Schools is self-servingly mischaracterizing Sanders’ opposition to charter schools as an attack on “what African Americans want”—the same African Americans that have been disrespected, abandoned, and betrayed by thousands of charter schools that have closed over the years.

Unfortunately, when all is said and done, despite the many positives of his belated position on charter schools, Sanders, as he did three years ago, will again play the calculated role of betraying millions of people who do actually want a much better society. Millions want an alternative to capitalism. People are fed up with an economy that cannot provide for the needs of the people. Sanders knows he will not be President and can afford to sound bold, daring, and pro-social. As he did three years ago, he will hand-over millions of supporters and voters to the Democratic party, which has long supported charter schools and other antisocial arrangements. Of course, this “hand-over” did not go so smoothly in 2016, but it is the aim of Sanders’ 2020 campaign for President.

Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, should vigorously oppose nonprofit and for-profit charter schools. These privately-operated, test-obsessed, segregated schools that oppose unions and have high teacher turnover rates have caused immense harm to the social environment. The call of the times is to defend public education and deprive the rich of their ability to dictate affairs in education and other spheres.

Survey by Charter School Supporters Shows Broad Public Opposition to Charter Schools

A May 2019 report of a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 Presidential voters conducted late spring of last year shows that broad public opposition to charter schools persists.1 About half of all those polled are Democratic primary voters.

The survey was commissioned by Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), an astroturf group2 created by Wall Street in 2007 to privatize public schools to further enrich millionaires.

DFER wanted the survey to show that charter schools are great, popular, have no problems, and should keep multiplying. The survey did not mention anything about widespread fraud and racketeering in the test-obsessed charter school sector, or how nonprofit and for-profit charter schools increase segregation, are run by non-elected officials, often perform poorly, oppose teacher unions, selectively enroll students, and have high student, teacher, and principal turnover rates.

The survey distorts reality and results in other ways as well, including by: (1) pitting minorities and white people against each other and dividing the polity in unprincipled ways, (2) reducing matters of broad public interest to a matter of voting and “voters,” and (3) failing to understand the identity of education in a modern society while putting forward a rendering of charter schools that favors the outlook and narrow agenda of neoliberals and privatizers. For example, the DFER erroneously and repeatedly refers to privately-operated charter schools that fail and close regularly as “public charter schools.” It also uses oxymorons like “progressive charter advocates” and cynically confounds “choice” with “school choice” to create the illusion that there is broader support for charter schools than there really is. While all surveys have some limitations, the DFER survey is unsound in many other ways as well.

Notwithstanding these serious limitations, the survey is unable to hide the fact that strong opposition to charter schools persists. Many people have a negative view of charter schools despite decades of intense corporate disinformation that charter schools are positive and great.

A key finding from the survey shows that:

Among all Democratic primary voters, a slight majority held an unfavorable view of public charter schools while slightly more than one-third had a favorable view. Democratic voters were more aware than Presidential voters overall of public charter schools as only about one in 10 Democrats say they were  unfamiliar with charter schools. (2019, p. 2, emphasis added)

About one-third of Black democratic voters and one-third of Hispanic democratic voters had an unfavorable view of charter schools. As more poor, low-income, and vulnerable urban families are betrayed by hundreds of charter schools that close each year and thousands of other charter schools that “push out” kids they do not want, it is likely that these numbers will increase.

It is important to recall that about 60% of charter schools in the country are located in urban settings. Charter school promoters have long targeted urban school systems and poor, low-income, and vulnerable minority families whose own public schools were starved, demonized, and are now being privatized by the same wealthy elite behind charter schools. Vilified and beleaguered large urban school systems mandated to fail by the neoliberal state represent the biggest bang for the buck from the perspective of Wall Street and charter school promoters.

Survey results also show that only 50% of all Presidential voters have a favorable view of charter schools (which have been around for more than 25 years). Nearly one third of all Presidential voters polled had an unfavorable view of these privately-operated schools.

The fact that so many voters, even when not necessarily super-informed about charter schools, and even when taking a survey that spins charter schools in a positive light, voice some sort of opposition to charter schools, is a sign that many others in the broader public also oppose charter schools—something that has been borne out in other surveys as well.

The real number of charter school opponents nationwide is higher than DFER and their survey would have us believe. It is revealing and telling that the average person who may not know much about charter schools quickly concludes that charter schools are undesirable just after hearing a 15-minute cogent and concise presentation of some well-researched and well-documented basic facts and trends in the charter school sector. Most are shocked at what they hear and cannot believe charter schools are allowed to exist, let alone expand. They find it appalling. Consciousness free of neoliberal disinformation, corporate school reform ideology, and prejudice reaches warranted conclusions effortlessly. Support for charter schools remains tenuous.

At the end of the day, the results of this or that survey may not be that critical or decisive. The fact is that thousands of teachers, thousands of their supporters, so many parents and education advocates, and more and more experts, scholars, researchers, journalists, blogs, government reports, and think tank reports exposing charter schools spells bad news for the rich and their charter schools. In many ways, charter schools are their own worst enemy. The road ahead is likely to get more rocky for these privately-operated deregulated schools.

Supplemental Note: “Voters” And “The Public” Are Not Identical

One of the many ways the ruling elite routinely undermines the public interest and the rights of the people is by constantly reducing major matters of public concern to “voters” and “voting.” Another way is by reducing everyone to “investors” or “consumers.” Both approaches are extremely narrow and based on an anachronistic outlook of society and the polity. Neither approach opens the path of progress to society or captures the identity of the modern human personality.

“Voters” are only a subcategory of the public. “Voters” is not synonymous with the public. In many places and most elections voters are not even the majority of the people. The DFER survey does not address this.

The public is a much larger category than “voters,” and it is the public interest that matters more when it comes to the broadest concerns of the people and what is needed for the extended reproduction of society. From this perspective, the main issue is not “voter turnout” or “what voters think,” but what serves the public interest first and foremost.

The content, direction, and results of education matter to everyone, whether they vote or not. It is not just the views and opinions of voters that counts, it is the views of all and the objective needs of society that must come first.

There is no reason to believe that public rejection of charter schools will diminish in the months and years ahead. Based on what has been unfolding in the sphere of education over the past year, it looks like resistance to charter schools will continue to steadily and surely increase. Charter school supporters and promoters are rightly worried.

The nation is ready for more individual and collective actions against charter schools and in defense of public education and public right. An opening has presented itself to further expose and oppose charter schools, and to recognize the necessity for fighting for a pro-social human-centered alternative free of the burden and demands of capital.

  1. Barone, C., Laurens, D., & Munyan-Penney, N. (2019, May). A democratic guide to public charter schools: Public opinion.
  2. Astroturf  groups are fake grass-roots organizations whose main aim is to trick the public into supporting ideas, policies, and arrangements that are harmful to their interests. See Sharyl Attkisson’s TEDx Talk on astroturf groups, propaganda, and disinformation here

Florida Charter Schools

Under the veil of high ideals, nonprofit and for-profit charter schools across the nation have long been violating the public interest in a variety of ways.

One of the most destructive ways is the non-stop siphoning of unthinkable sums of public funds from public schools—schools that are often chronically-underfunded, over-tested, constantly-shamed, and increasingly militarized and surveilled.

This legalized theft usually takes the form of a large or full portion of state and federal per-pupil funds “following” a student to a deregulated charter school governed by non-elected individuals with many business connections. Incidentally, these “per-pupil” funds, contrary to what charter school supporters dogmatically repeat, do not actually “belong” to this or that student. This is a distorted and self-serving way to render a complex social issue like public school funding. It trivializes the deep social significance and nature of societal investments in social programs like education.

Oftentimes, however, additional fleecing of public schools and the public purse takes the form of private charter school operators also seizing different types of local funds approved and raised democratically by local residents for local public purposes. Not only do these residents usually have nothing to do with charter schools, they voluntarily and independently raise such funds for the specific purpose of improving locally-governed public schools they highly value. This public money is not raised to fund private entities like charter schools. The public is not interested in that. It is important to note here that the inability of charter schools to levy taxes is, in fact, one of the many ways that charter schools differ fundamentally from public schools.

Recently, Florida’s legislature passed an antisocial bill that would permit privately-operated charter schools to seize a significant portion of voter-approved local tax dollars designated specifically for improving public schools governed by locally-elected public officials. This means that when a community engages in a democratic and public vote to raise their own local taxes to pay for their own public schools, private interests can come in and legally seize a large portion of this public money that they have no valid claim to. To put it another way, residents can publicly and democratically raise funds over which they have no say or control, also known as taxation without representation. In Florida, this means that 20 public school districts that recently passed a tax increase to fund public schools—including Miami-Dade County—will be forced to share that money with privately-operated charter schools. This parasitism, which is spreading in all sectors, has intensified in the neoliberal period which began in the late 1970s.

Charter school supporters and promoters in Florida and elsewhere want people to believe that as long as something is “legal,” it is automatically valid, ethical, acceptable, and just. They also self-servingly insist that “charter schools are public schools” so that they can “justify” the hostile seizure of funds that do not belong to them. Charter schools are always “public” when they want public funds “shared” with them, but they are private when it comes to their own budgets, administrative practices, meetings, governance arrangements, lobbying efforts, enrollment practices, and more.

Charter schools in Florida were authorized by the legislature in 1996. Currently, there are more than 600 charter schools in the state. Like most nonprofit and for-profit charter schools across the country, Florida’s charter schools are low on accountability and rife with fraud, corruption, waste, and racketeering. Over the years, many affiliated with charter schools in Florida have been arrested.

In addition, even with their ability to cherry-pick students, more than twenty percent of charter schools in Florida received a failing grade in the 2015-16 academic year.1

Further, according to Integrity Florida (2018):

Since 1998, the Florida Department of Education reports that at least 373 charter schools in Florida have closed their doors. More than 160 failed in the 2012-17 period. Some have failed because they faced financial pressure due to overestimated enrollment, others because of financial mismanagement and others for academic reasons. Thirty-five Florida charters closed in 2015-16, the highest number of any state, [emphasis added].2

By now, Florida has likely closed far more charter schools, leaving thousands of families out in the cold and disillusioned with charter schools.

People do not want public funds casually handed over to wealthy private interests obsessed with maximizing profits as fast as possible under the pretext of “saving the kids” and “offering parents choices.”

There is no such thing as a public charter school. There never has been. Court rulings and other legal rulings in many different jurisdictions across the country have repeatedly confirmed that these deregulated, deunionized, segregated, non-transparent, test-obsessed charter schools are not public schools precisely because they lack many of the long-standing features and characteristics of public schools and the public sphere. Nonprofit and for-profit charter schools do not walk, talk, and act like public schools. They are not officially government entities. Legally and philosophically charter schools differ from public schools. In theory and practice, they are mainly pay-the-rich schemes.

Charter schools have no valid claim to public funds. The claim of charter schools to public money is not legitimate. Something does not become acceptable and appropriate just because political representatives of the rich usurp public right and pass a law ensuring that public funds that belong to the public can be easily seized by privately-operated charter schools.

If parents wish to enroll their child in a nonprofit or for-profit charter school governed privately and operated by a large corporate chain, then let parents pay for the charter school, the same way parents pay to send their child to a regular private school. The public has no obligation to charter schools.

Fortunately, anti-consciousness about charter schools keeps dissolving. Charter school disinformation is slowly losing traction. More people are seeing right through the charter school hoax and joining others to expose and oppose these pay-the-rich schemes masquerading as socially responsible “innovations.”

  1. The Center for Popular Democracy, The League of Women Voters of Florida, and The League of Latin American Citizens, Florida charter schools fall short on state assessments, January, 2017.
  2. Florida Integrity. The hidden costs of charter school choice: Privatizing public education in Florida, September 2018, p. 22.

Florida Charter Schools

Under the veil of high ideals, nonprofit and for-profit charter schools across the nation have long been violating the public interest in a variety of ways.

One of the most destructive ways is the non-stop siphoning of unthinkable sums of public funds from public schools—schools that are often chronically-underfunded, over-tested, constantly-shamed, and increasingly militarized and surveilled.

This legalized theft usually takes the form of a large or full portion of state and federal per-pupil funds “following” a student to a deregulated charter school governed by non-elected individuals with many business connections. Incidentally, these “per-pupil” funds, contrary to what charter school supporters dogmatically repeat, do not actually “belong” to this or that student. This is a distorted and self-serving way to render a complex social issue like public school funding. It trivializes the deep social significance and nature of societal investments in social programs like education.

Oftentimes, however, additional fleecing of public schools and the public purse takes the form of private charter school operators also seizing different types of local funds approved and raised democratically by local residents for local public purposes. Not only do these residents usually have nothing to do with charter schools, they voluntarily and independently raise such funds for the specific purpose of improving locally-governed public schools they highly value. This public money is not raised to fund private entities like charter schools. The public is not interested in that. It is important to note here that the inability of charter schools to levy taxes is, in fact, one of the many ways that charter schools differ fundamentally from public schools.

Recently, Florida’s legislature passed an antisocial bill that would permit privately-operated charter schools to seize a significant portion of voter-approved local tax dollars designated specifically for improving public schools governed by locally-elected public officials. This means that when a community engages in a democratic and public vote to raise their own local taxes to pay for their own public schools, private interests can come in and legally seize a large portion of this public money that they have no valid claim to. To put it another way, residents can publicly and democratically raise funds over which they have no say or control, also known as taxation without representation. In Florida, this means that 20 public school districts that recently passed a tax increase to fund public schools—including Miami-Dade County—will be forced to share that money with privately-operated charter schools. This parasitism, which is spreading in all sectors, has intensified in the neoliberal period which began in the late 1970s.

Charter school supporters and promoters in Florida and elsewhere want people to believe that as long as something is “legal,” it is automatically valid, ethical, acceptable, and just. They also self-servingly insist that “charter schools are public schools” so that they can “justify” the hostile seizure of funds that do not belong to them. Charter schools are always “public” when they want public funds “shared” with them, but they are private when it comes to their own budgets, administrative practices, meetings, governance arrangements, lobbying efforts, enrollment practices, and more.

Charter schools in Florida were authorized by the legislature in 1996. Currently, there are more than 600 charter schools in the state. Like most nonprofit and for-profit charter schools across the country, Florida’s charter schools are low on accountability and rife with fraud, corruption, waste, and racketeering. Over the years, many affiliated with charter schools in Florida have been arrested.

In addition, even with their ability to cherry-pick students, more than twenty percent of charter schools in Florida received a failing grade in the 2015-16 academic year.1

Further, according to Integrity Florida (2018):

Since 1998, the Florida Department of Education reports that at least 373 charter schools in Florida have closed their doors. More than 160 failed in the 2012-17 period. Some have failed because they faced financial pressure due to overestimated enrollment, others because of financial mismanagement and others for academic reasons. Thirty-five Florida charters closed in 2015-16, the highest number of any state, [emphasis added].2

By now, Florida has likely closed far more charter schools, leaving thousands of families out in the cold and disillusioned with charter schools.

People do not want public funds casually handed over to wealthy private interests obsessed with maximizing profits as fast as possible under the pretext of “saving the kids” and “offering parents choices.”

There is no such thing as a public charter school. There never has been. Court rulings and other legal rulings in many different jurisdictions across the country have repeatedly confirmed that these deregulated, deunionized, segregated, non-transparent, test-obsessed charter schools are not public schools precisely because they lack many of the long-standing features and characteristics of public schools and the public sphere. Nonprofit and for-profit charter schools do not walk, talk, and act like public schools. They are not officially government entities. Legally and philosophically charter schools differ from public schools. In theory and practice, they are mainly pay-the-rich schemes.

Charter schools have no valid claim to public funds. The claim of charter schools to public money is not legitimate. Something does not become acceptable and appropriate just because political representatives of the rich usurp public right and pass a law ensuring that public funds that belong to the public can be easily seized by privately-operated charter schools.

If parents wish to enroll their child in a nonprofit or for-profit charter school governed privately and operated by a large corporate chain, then let parents pay for the charter school, the same way parents pay to send their child to a regular private school. The public has no obligation to charter schools.

Fortunately, anti-consciousness about charter schools keeps dissolving. Charter school disinformation is slowly losing traction. More people are seeing right through the charter school hoax and joining others to expose and oppose these pay-the-rich schemes masquerading as socially responsible “innovations.”

  1. The Center for Popular Democracy, The League of Women Voters of Florida, and The League of Latin American Citizens, Florida charter schools fall short on state assessments, January, 2017.
  2. Florida Integrity. The hidden costs of charter school choice: Privatizing public education in Florida, September 2018, p. 22.

Lowering Standards: Australian Universities, English Requirements and Student Cash Cows

There are no protests on the streets and no effigies of university officials being burned by protesting students today.  There are no protests outside the offices of the over-remunerated Vice Chancellors and their various hench persons.  It is business and malpractice as usual after revelations by Australia’s national broadcaster that Australian universities have been adjusting admission requirements to boost student numbers.  Standards have been cooked, if not waived altogether, on the issue of English proficiency.  Student bodies are the university equivalent of lebensraum: the expansive steppes of the Asian student market, to be exploited and leeched.

Since Australian universities first started entering the foreign market of education in 1986, a dependency on international students has taken a clenching, and corrupting hold.  Such students mean one thing: revenue.  Between 1988 and 2014, the number of international students at Australian universities climbed 13-fold.

Issues such as fudging results on language proficiency, false documents and online sites plump with ready-made material for submission, have proliferated.  But these instances enabled universities to play dumb: they were the ones facing unscrupulous students desperate to get an Australian minted education.  Universities could still claim that they, somehow or rather, were maintaining appropriate standards of admission, whatever those sly applicants might be up to.  A few might get through, but they would be found out and weeded into oblivion.

This façade has been comprehensively holed in recent years, and the brackish water is making its way through the system.  Universities, hungry and operating like famine stricken urchins, have been seeking more students than ever.  In 2015, the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) raked through the university system in that state, finding what it modestly called “corruption risks”.  To “intertwine compliance and profit rather than separating them, and to reward profit over compliance, can be conducive to questionable and corrupt behaviour.”  ICAC is almost sympathetic to the insidious behaviour of university apparatchiks: “Students may be struggling to pass, but universities cannot afford to fail them.” Wither standards!

The recommendations by ICAC were hardly upending in nature, going to, amongst other things, limiting the number of overseas agents with which universities are engaged; divorcing the issue of compliance from the issue of development “where feasible, which may include moving the admission functions out of international student offices that are responsible for marketing and recruitment”; and “considering the full costs associated with international students of different capabilities when making marketing decisions”.

As with other overgrown and self-serving bureaucracies, the modern university resists with a fanatic’s zeal, always happy to doff the cap to such suggestions while happy to expand, and in some cases refine, the abuse.  Which brings us to the Four Corner’s Report.

The picture painted is bleak for those believing in academic standards.  Since 2016, the Federal Government made a cardinal error: granting universities greater scope in determining the credibility of applications from students from certain countries, notably in such areas as English proficiency.  This was the equivalent of giving a bellicose military full scope and decision in making war, removing any civilian controls.

Education departments were cut out of the picture; universities were granted full dispensation to waive standards deemed unnecessary or onerous for the applicant.  Given the value of the education industry – $34 billion per annum – and a reduction in federal funding – this was a license to manipulate and omit.  Approvals from universities, submitted in visa applications, have ensured a smooth, and rapid approval process.  Andrew Durston, former employee of the Immigration Department, was adamant that the practice was yielding unsatisfactory, and spoiled fruit.  “I think there’s evidence to show that there are students who are being granted visas who haven’t actually undertaken an English language test.”

The practice of accepting “medium of instruction” (MOI) letters for postgraduate students from India and Nepal, for instance, stating that students have previously studied in English, has also caught the eye of the Home Affairs Department.  Such a letter would “not meet the legislative requirements” as evidence for a visa application.

This is an act of mutual harm. It denies the student a worthy assessment while also prostituting the application and any requisite standards of offered courses.  What matters is the issue of cash funnelled into corporations that, for the most part, have ceased achieving their public purpose.  They have become ungainly, mismanaged amalgams run by individuals who refrain from performing those dirty tasks of researching and teaching, preferring the cocktail circuit, spreadsheets and boardrooms.

University commissars have come out to deny the existence of any problem.  The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency sees “little evidence to suggest there is a systemic failure regarding compliance with English language requirements.”  Professor Margaret Gardner, Chair of Universities Australia, has access to “overall statistics” revealing that, “international students… pass successfully at about the same rate as domestic students.”  It has been years since the good professor taught a class let alone graded a paper; ignorance is such merry bliss.

There was one exception, if only a minor one.  The University of Tasmania was sufficiently alarmed by Monday’s program to consider a review, despite its Vice Chancellor Rufus Black suggesting how much the institution “intrinsically” cared about “international students”.  (Abusers always feign a degree of necessary caring.)  UTAS had featured in the investigation in a rather damning fashion: a staff member had sent an email outlining the money lust of a recruitment drive.  “As a part of our last-mile efforts to encourage acceptances for July 2018, the university will be waiving the English condition in order to assist the students who have yet to meet their English conditions.”  The true spirit of a standard-free recruitment drive.

When universities speak of an independent external review, both words tend to be suspect.  Pick your investigator, pick your result.  Importantly, pick a person of like mind and background to eliminate room for error and space for disruption.  In this case, the individual selected by the task of examining admission practices in UTAS is Hilary Winchester, director and principal of a company bearing her name, an expert, we are told in “higher education quality assurance”.

Combing through the exploits of Winchester reveals a pedigree that is bound to resist revolt and revolution; brooms and mops will be kept at home.  She is, after all, one of them, greasing the ranks and attaining the appropriate position in the managerial strata of higher education: formerly Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) at Flinders University and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Research) at Central Queensland University.  As universities have been seized by such very types, Vice Chancellor Black and his PVC guards should have little to concern themselves about.  Assurances, if lacking in quality, are guaranteed.

Gray Whales Are Dying: Starving to Death Because of Climate Changele Carcass Ready for Articulation

Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare’s? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel’s great telescope; and his ears capacious as the porches of cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or sharper of hearing? Not at all. Why then do you try to ‘enlarge’ your mind? Subtilize it.

–Hermann Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 74 – “The Sperm Whale’s Head”

Note: A very short piece coming from me today? WTF?

Yah! I write about this fellow because he has been a part of curriculum development and delivering education — hands on — for many many years. We’re talking about 40 years, almost.

Bill Hanshumaker, a senior instructor at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and chief scientist for Oregon Sea Grant.

So, even four years back, Bill was working on jellyfish explosions in these parts — Central Oregon Coast. Explosions of jelly fish, hmm, not good:

Striking blue sea creatures, Velella velella, have washed up by the thousands on Oregon beaches including at Seaside, Manzanita, Astoria and Rockaway Beach in recent days, tourism officials report.

The small jellyfish-like animals normally live out at sea, floating on its surface. But every spring, thousands get blown by strong westerly winds onto the sands of Oregon, California and Washington and die. OREGONIAN.

When strong westerly winds blow over the Pacific coastline, Velella velella are swept by the thousands onto beaches including those at Seaside and Manzanita. They are often called By-the-wind Sailors, because they have their own small sails and move with the wind.

I write A LOT about education, how broken it is at the PK12 level (come on, that’s the lifeblood of development, not college and universities). Colleges are cesspools of idiocy, too, but where oh where does it all start?

Poverty, injustice, and reading comprehension issues go hand in hand.

― D. WatkinsThe Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America Here. DN.

Unfortunately, the youngest person to listen to Bill Saturday (April 20) was 40, maybe? Most were past retirement, a few in their fifties, me, 62, but still working, teaching PK12 students in many many schools here on the Oregon Coast. The rest way into their 60s and 70s. This fellow has enthusiasm that is catching and how dare we as a society that we have these silos, man, and we have no will to get many generations together.

Here’s my piece, hoping it ends up in the Newport Times News, like this one: Experts paint sobering potential for sea change

Also here, Op Ed News. But here, the piece:

Lurking in Yaquina Bay: Blue Whale Carcass Ready for Articulation

The quietude of the Central Oregon Coast – sans the tourists/visitors – is an illusion when it comes to marine sciences and the remarkable gravitas OSU Hatfield Marine Sciences Center and Oregon Coast Aquarium have on researching the oceans and our discussions around the good, bad and ugly tied to them.

It’s not difficult to get 26 cetacean (whales, dolphins) and pinniped (seals, sea lions) adherents in a room at the Newport Library on a Saturday morning (April 20) to listen to one of OSU’s best talk about marine mammals and acoustic research,  Dermestids (or flesh-eating beetles) and the state of species in ever-changing meteorological and ecological conditions tied to our oceans.

The Oregon chapter of the American Cetacean Society invited Dr. Bill Hanshumaker to present his talk titled,  “How do we know what we think we know about marine mammals?” He brought skulls of whales, dolphins and sea lions; vertebrae of a blue whale; baleen from whales and teeth from orca and other toothed whales species; and decades of experience as a scientist.

The 67-year-old Hanshumaker is the CSI guy at the Hatfield; he’s given more than 50 public presentations, some of which included “cool stuff” like dissecting sharks at public gatherings and articulating skeletons of huge – the largest species in the world – blue whales.

Image result for whale bone articulations

“Science is a dynamic process, not stagnant,” Bill Hanshumaker said. “Most people look at science as a collection of facts or a belief system. It’s much more than that.” Of course, coming up with a hypothesis – sometimes referred to as WAG (wild-assed guess) – allows for testing it, looking for patterns and demonstrating a willingness to change course.

Part of changing course, according to the scientist, includes using new tools, or old ones, to go at a problem in a new way. Observation of whales performing actions and reacting to their environment is one good step toward making a WAG and then testing it. However, we need multiple tools and systems to conduct good science.

Hanshumaker, who was with OMSI for 17 years, highlighted that he is responsible for all those “articulated” skeletons throughout the Portland museum. His current work is on the way out, as he retires in a few months, but he brought to us work by Bob Dziak whose research with hydrophones determines many aspects of whale behavior tied to their own acoustic calls and language.

Killer whales in particular vocalize more when hunting salmon, tuna or sharks, because their prey aren’t hearing the sounds and the killer whales are probably communicating signals for the pod members to act in concert in getting at the food. When approaching marine mammals, stealth is more important, so that ecotype of killer whale will not vocalize when on the hunt.

It’s the mother who teaches killer whale offspring to go for salmon or go for seals.

Image result for orca whales in the wild
Image result for orca whales in the wild

He’s looking at all the noise – called ambient and background noise – in the ocean to determine what is natural and what can be adaptable. Toothed whales like orca and sperm whales have high frequency calls, whereas baleen whales like humpbacks and grays have lower pitched (frequency) calls.

Calls from blue whales may signal mating language rituals; however, the ship traffic in the oceans disturbs communication abilities, he stated, which includes breeding habits. When September 11, 2001 occurred, all ship traffic was halted, and previously placed hydrophones picked up more communication calls from blue whales, leading to the hypothesis they were using calls for mating.

The whale enthusiasts listened and watched the scientist explain sound propagation, cavitation noise (propeller sounds), and which methods of noise reduction will help whales and dolphins live in a less chaotic world of hundreds of thousands of ships crisscrossing their habitats daily.

Interestingly, OSU got the job of designing three new research vessels – with green technology incorporated, including noise reduction propellers that are more fuel efficient, Hanshumaker stated. The design also includes optimized hull form, waste heat recovery, LED lighting, and variable speed power generation.

The National Science Foundation selected Oregon State largely because of the university’s deep research history, active science programs and leadership through the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center. The current research vessel OSU uses, Oceanus, is almost 45 years old and has outlived its scientific capabilities.

Part of the research tied to acoustics is only possible through fully funding marine sciences programs to include these research vessels as floating laboratories and living classrooms. For instance, studying acoustic recordings in the wild can tell scientists how different ecotypes of one species have much different “dialects” versus other ecotypes. Humpback whales, like other species, have different dialects so when groups congregate, differentiation lowers chances of inbreeding: which is the bane of all species collapsing.

Our Central Oregon Coast is mostly visited upon (90 percent of whales) by the iconic gray whale, which is a marine animal success story, compared to the Atlantic coast where the grays were hunted to extinction. One reason for Pacific grays’ success is that the Mexican government designated three significant breeding and calving bays along the Baja Peninsula as protected gray whale reserves.

One example (of many) illustrating “genetic bottlenecks” is the elephant seal along the California coast. “In 1910 they thought it was extinct, so a scientist shot what he thought were the last surviving eight,” Hanshumaker said. The reality was there were still elephant seals living in secluded habitats, but unfortunately, the diversity pool is now so limited that all offspring are identical twins.

Interesting topics he brought up included stripping marine mammal carcasses of muscle and meat, while still preserving connective tissue and even the smallest bones with those beetles. Hanshumaker says a new, quicker way has been developed:  horse manure compost pits are dug and the carcass covered so all bugs, bacteria and larvae can work in concert to do the job beetles and fly maggots do.

For Hanshumaker – like most holistic-thinking scientists I’ve interviewed over the course of almost four and a half decades – he posits all things connect in nature. I use this John Muir quote to illustrate that for students I teach:

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

When we see an otter around here, we have to be reminded it’s a river otter, since marine otters no longer inhabit Washington and Oregon waters. In fact, in the Aleutian Islands, sea otters were wiped out by a pod of killer whales. No sea otter in a habitat means sea urchin populations explode. Which in turn destroy bull kelp forests since urchins eat kelp and otters each urchins. Those kelp habitats are like sea nurseries for hundreds of fish species. Fewer places for juvenile fish to grow protected means less fish in nets and on hooks.

“Fishermen do not want sea otters returned because they see them as competitors, eating fish. Kelp beds will help increase the numbers of fish,” Hanshumaker stated, Science and data and field evidence are not enough to stop “fishermen believing what they want to believe.”

The irony is kelp needs rocky areas to anchor and root into. Trying to reintroduce kelp and marine otters would be fruitless since those rocky bottom “holds” are now covered up with sand years after the kelp forests’ disappearance.

Back to the whale lurking in a net in Yaquina Bay: It was struck by a ship, it’s 80 feet long, and it’s been at the bottom of the bay with a net around it going on three years. Hanshumaker says there is still flesh on the carcass. Plans for this scientist to get the bones stripped of all flesh and then articulated as one skeleton are on hold because the marine sciences classroom that is being built at Hatfield has new architectural plans that will not accommodate the blue whale to hang anywhere.

Image result for whale bone articulations Hatfield Oregon

The Siletz casino in Lincoln City doesn’t want the skeleton, he stated. The scientist thinks the Lincoln County fairgrounds building will be the skeleton’s final resting place.

Image result for hanging skeleton articulation Hatfield Marine Sciences
Bruce Mate of Oregon State University is seen with a Minke Whale skeleton on campus. Blue Whale in Central Oregon he’s working on.

Who knows where this CSI scientist will end up since he is retiring from OSU this year. There’s no doubt about it, though, Bill will be right there if another big animal washes ashore. The amount of institutional (science) memory he will take with him is a whole other article about where the sciences are heading as Baby Boomers retire.

**end of article**

Back to the title — The scientists and the government shills will all be writing white paper after white paper to try and rationalize that science can’t make Wild Assed Guesses and Completely Appropriate Predictions —  WAG’s and CAPs — until every last animal is dead.

The whales —  and they are not a stable and forever here species on planet earth —  are experiencing less food because the human impeded ocean dynamics and the acidification and the microplastics and the pollutants, both chemical and noise, and who knows about Fukashima, shit, and what about their world now just a piss pot and sloppy human created shit hole just might be creating depression, uh, in a smarter species than Homo Consumopithecus? Climate Change Fatigue the pasty people of the Western World get, but cetaceans, they are somehow immune from depression as their vast world is minute by minute fouled by the engines of killer capitalism? Who wouldn’t try to end it all watching the calves die before they hit maturity?

Here, from the so tragically so hip, Seattle The Stranger:

“Many of the whales that have been necropsied have been unusually thin,” Michael Milstein, Public Affairs Officer with NOAA Fisheries wrote in an email to The Stranger. “Surveys in the lagoons in Mexico where gray whales winter found that up to half of the individual whales were skinny and malnourished.”

According to Milstein, gray whales feed in the Arctic in the summer, and that food mainly lasts them all year.

“It appears that for some reason some of these whales did not put on as much weight last summer and are now giving out on their way back north,” Milstein said. NOAA Fisheries scientists are continuing to study this.

Thirty-one dead gray whales have been spotted along the West Coast since January, the most for this time of year since 2000. In this file photo from 2016, NOAA biologists take samples from a dead 43-foot gray whale at San Onofre State Park in California. (Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Or, more bad news about science that was or seems so miscalculated, so tripped up on shifting baseline disorder: Seattle Times,

One of the great success stories of the ocean, the return of the Pacific gray whale, may have been based on a miscalculation, scientists reported Monday in a study based on whale genetics.

What was assumed to be a thriving whale population actually is at times starving because of a dwindling food supply, said study co-author Stephen Palumbi, a Stanford University marine-sciences professor. And global warming is a chief suspect.

Scientists may have underestimated the historical number of gray whales from Mexico to Alaska, according to the study published Monday [September 18, 2007] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And that may have led to a misdiagnosis of what is behind surprising die-offs over the past few years and the appearance of many so-called “skinny” whales.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently reported that at least 10 percent of gray whales returning to one of their four main calving and breeding lagoons off Baja California showed signs of being underfed. Some of the whales even had bony shoulder blades.

“This is a hint of a problem,” Palumbi said. “Our antennas should be up. Our antennas should be asking if the ocean is capable of supporting life the way it used to.”

The study concludes that the original Pacific gray whale population hundreds of years ago may have been far higher than currently thought — closer to 100,000 whales than conventional estimates of 20,000 to 30,000.

Gray Whales Are Dying: Starving to Death Because of Climate Changele Carcass Ready for Articulation

Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare’s? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel’s great telescope; and his ears capacious as the porches of cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or sharper of hearing? Not at all. Why then do you try to ‘enlarge’ your mind? Subtilize it.

–Hermann Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 74 – “The Sperm Whale’s Head”

Note: A very short piece coming from me today? WTF?

Yah! I write about this fellow because he has been a part of curriculum development and delivering education — hands on — for many many years. We’re talking about 40 years, almost.

Bill Hanshumaker, a senior instructor at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and chief scientist for Oregon Sea Grant.

So, even four years back, Bill was working on jellyfish explosions in these parts — Central Oregon Coast. Explosions of jelly fish, hmm, not good:

Striking blue sea creatures, Velella velella, have washed up by the thousands on Oregon beaches including at Seaside, Manzanita, Astoria and Rockaway Beach in recent days, tourism officials report.

The small jellyfish-like animals normally live out at sea, floating on its surface. But every spring, thousands get blown by strong westerly winds onto the sands of Oregon, California and Washington and die. OREGONIAN.

When strong westerly winds blow over the Pacific coastline, Velella velella are swept by the thousands onto beaches including those at Seaside and Manzanita. They are often called By-the-wind Sailors, because they have their own small sails and move with the wind.

I write A LOT about education, how broken it is at the PK12 level (come on, that’s the lifeblood of development, not college and universities). Colleges are cesspools of idiocy, too, but where oh where does it all start?

Poverty, injustice, and reading comprehension issues go hand in hand.

― D. WatkinsThe Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America Here. DN.

Unfortunately, the youngest person to listen to Bill Saturday (April 20) was 40, maybe? Most were past retirement, a few in their fifties, me, 62, but still working, teaching PK12 students in many many schools here on the Oregon Coast. The rest way into their 60s and 70s. This fellow has enthusiasm that is catching and how dare we as a society that we have these silos, man, and we have no will to get many generations together.

Here’s my piece, hoping it ends up in the Newport Times News, like this one: Experts paint sobering potential for sea change

Also here, Op Ed News. But here, the piece:

Lurking in Yaquina Bay: Blue Whale Carcass Ready for Articulation

The quietude of the Central Oregon Coast – sans the tourists/visitors – is an illusion when it comes to marine sciences and the remarkable gravitas OSU Hatfield Marine Sciences Center and Oregon Coast Aquarium have on researching the oceans and our discussions around the good, bad and ugly tied to them.

It’s not difficult to get 26 cetacean (whales, dolphins) and pinniped (seals, sea lions) adherents in a room at the Newport Library on a Saturday morning (April 20) to listen to one of OSU’s best talk about marine mammals and acoustic research,  Dermestids (or flesh-eating beetles) and the state of species in ever-changing meteorological and ecological conditions tied to our oceans.

The Oregon chapter of the American Cetacean Society invited Dr. Bill Hanshumaker to present his talk titled,  “How do we know what we think we know about marine mammals?” He brought skulls of whales, dolphins and sea lions; vertebrae of a blue whale; baleen from whales and teeth from orca and other toothed whales species; and decades of experience as a scientist.

The 67-year-old Hanshumaker is the CSI guy at the Hatfield; he’s given more than 50 public presentations, some of which included “cool stuff” like dissecting sharks at public gatherings and articulating skeletons of huge – the largest species in the world – blue whales.

Image result for whale bone articulations

“Science is a dynamic process, not stagnant,” Bill Hanshumaker said. “Most people look at science as a collection of facts or a belief system. It’s much more than that.” Of course, coming up with a hypothesis – sometimes referred to as WAG (wild-assed guess) – allows for testing it, looking for patterns and demonstrating a willingness to change course.

Part of changing course, according to the scientist, includes using new tools, or old ones, to go at a problem in a new way. Observation of whales performing actions and reacting to their environment is one good step toward making a WAG and then testing it. However, we need multiple tools and systems to conduct good science.

Hanshumaker, who was with OMSI for 17 years, highlighted that he is responsible for all those “articulated” skeletons throughout the Portland museum. His current work is on the way out, as he retires in a few months, but he brought to us work by Bob Dziak whose research with hydrophones determines many aspects of whale behavior tied to their own acoustic calls and language.

Killer whales in particular vocalize more when hunting salmon, tuna or sharks, because their prey aren’t hearing the sounds and the killer whales are probably communicating signals for the pod members to act in concert in getting at the food. When approaching marine mammals, stealth is more important, so that ecotype of killer whale will not vocalize when on the hunt.

It’s the mother who teaches killer whale offspring to go for salmon or go for seals.

Image result for orca whales in the wild
Image result for orca whales in the wild

He’s looking at all the noise – called ambient and background noise – in the ocean to determine what is natural and what can be adaptable. Toothed whales like orca and sperm whales have high frequency calls, whereas baleen whales like humpbacks and grays have lower pitched (frequency) calls.

Calls from blue whales may signal mating language rituals; however, the ship traffic in the oceans disturbs communication abilities, he stated, which includes breeding habits. When September 11, 2001 occurred, all ship traffic was halted, and previously placed hydrophones picked up more communication calls from blue whales, leading to the hypothesis they were using calls for mating.

The whale enthusiasts listened and watched the scientist explain sound propagation, cavitation noise (propeller sounds), and which methods of noise reduction will help whales and dolphins live in a less chaotic world of hundreds of thousands of ships crisscrossing their habitats daily.

Interestingly, OSU got the job of designing three new research vessels – with green technology incorporated, including noise reduction propellers that are more fuel efficient, Hanshumaker stated. The design also includes optimized hull form, waste heat recovery, LED lighting, and variable speed power generation.

The National Science Foundation selected Oregon State largely because of the university’s deep research history, active science programs and leadership through the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center. The current research vessel OSU uses, Oceanus, is almost 45 years old and has outlived its scientific capabilities.

Part of the research tied to acoustics is only possible through fully funding marine sciences programs to include these research vessels as floating laboratories and living classrooms. For instance, studying acoustic recordings in the wild can tell scientists how different ecotypes of one species have much different “dialects” versus other ecotypes. Humpback whales, like other species, have different dialects so when groups congregate, differentiation lowers chances of inbreeding: which is the bane of all species collapsing.

Our Central Oregon Coast is mostly visited upon (90 percent of whales) by the iconic gray whale, which is a marine animal success story, compared to the Atlantic coast where the grays were hunted to extinction. One reason for Pacific grays’ success is that the Mexican government designated three significant breeding and calving bays along the Baja Peninsula as protected gray whale reserves.

One example (of many) illustrating “genetic bottlenecks” is the elephant seal along the California coast. “In 1910 they thought it was extinct, so a scientist shot what he thought were the last surviving eight,” Hanshumaker said. The reality was there were still elephant seals living in secluded habitats, but unfortunately, the diversity pool is now so limited that all offspring are identical twins.

Interesting topics he brought up included stripping marine mammal carcasses of muscle and meat, while still preserving connective tissue and even the smallest bones with those beetles. Hanshumaker says a new, quicker way has been developed:  horse manure compost pits are dug and the carcass covered so all bugs, bacteria and larvae can work in concert to do the job beetles and fly maggots do.

For Hanshumaker – like most holistic-thinking scientists I’ve interviewed over the course of almost four and a half decades – he posits all things connect in nature. I use this John Muir quote to illustrate that for students I teach:

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

When we see an otter around here, we have to be reminded it’s a river otter, since marine otters no longer inhabit Washington and Oregon waters. In fact, in the Aleutian Islands, sea otters were wiped out by a pod of killer whales. No sea otter in a habitat means sea urchin populations explode. Which in turn destroy bull kelp forests since urchins eat kelp and otters each urchins. Those kelp habitats are like sea nurseries for hundreds of fish species. Fewer places for juvenile fish to grow protected means less fish in nets and on hooks.

“Fishermen do not want sea otters returned because they see them as competitors, eating fish. Kelp beds will help increase the numbers of fish,” Hanshumaker stated, Science and data and field evidence are not enough to stop “fishermen believing what they want to believe.”

The irony is kelp needs rocky areas to anchor and root into. Trying to reintroduce kelp and marine otters would be fruitless since those rocky bottom “holds” are now covered up with sand years after the kelp forests’ disappearance.

Back to the whale lurking in a net in Yaquina Bay: It was struck by a ship, it’s 80 feet long, and it’s been at the bottom of the bay with a net around it going on three years. Hanshumaker says there is still flesh on the carcass. Plans for this scientist to get the bones stripped of all flesh and then articulated as one skeleton are on hold because the marine sciences classroom that is being built at Hatfield has new architectural plans that will not accommodate the blue whale to hang anywhere.

Image result for whale bone articulations Hatfield Oregon

The Siletz casino in Lincoln City doesn’t want the skeleton, he stated. The scientist thinks the Lincoln County fairgrounds building will be the skeleton’s final resting place.

Image result for hanging skeleton articulation Hatfield Marine Sciences
Bruce Mate of Oregon State University is seen with a Minke Whale skeleton on campus. Blue Whale in Central Oregon he’s working on.

Who knows where this CSI scientist will end up since he is retiring from OSU this year. There’s no doubt about it, though, Bill will be right there if another big animal washes ashore. The amount of institutional (science) memory he will take with him is a whole other article about where the sciences are heading as Baby Boomers retire.

**end of article**

Back to the title — The scientists and the government shills will all be writing white paper after white paper to try and rationalize that science can’t make Wild Assed Guesses and Completely Appropriate Predictions —  WAG’s and CAPs — until every last animal is dead.

The whales —  and they are not a stable and forever here species on planet earth —  are experiencing less food because the human impeded ocean dynamics and the acidification and the microplastics and the pollutants, both chemical and noise, and who knows about Fukashima, shit, and what about their world now just a piss pot and sloppy human created shit hole just might be creating depression, uh, in a smarter species than Homo Consumopithecus? Climate Change Fatigue the pasty people of the Western World get, but cetaceans, they are somehow immune from depression as their vast world is minute by minute fouled by the engines of killer capitalism? Who wouldn’t try to end it all watching the calves die before they hit maturity?

Here, from the so tragically so hip, Seattle The Stranger:

“Many of the whales that have been necropsied have been unusually thin,” Michael Milstein, Public Affairs Officer with NOAA Fisheries wrote in an email to The Stranger. “Surveys in the lagoons in Mexico where gray whales winter found that up to half of the individual whales were skinny and malnourished.”

According to Milstein, gray whales feed in the Arctic in the summer, and that food mainly lasts them all year.

“It appears that for some reason some of these whales did not put on as much weight last summer and are now giving out on their way back north,” Milstein said. NOAA Fisheries scientists are continuing to study this.

Thirty-one dead gray whales have been spotted along the West Coast since January, the most for this time of year since 2000. In this file photo from 2016, NOAA biologists take samples from a dead 43-foot gray whale at San Onofre State Park in California. (Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Or, more bad news about science that was or seems so miscalculated, so tripped up on shifting baseline disorder: Seattle Times,

One of the great success stories of the ocean, the return of the Pacific gray whale, may have been based on a miscalculation, scientists reported Monday in a study based on whale genetics.

What was assumed to be a thriving whale population actually is at times starving because of a dwindling food supply, said study co-author Stephen Palumbi, a Stanford University marine-sciences professor. And global warming is a chief suspect.

Scientists may have underestimated the historical number of gray whales from Mexico to Alaska, according to the study published Monday [September 18, 2007] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And that may have led to a misdiagnosis of what is behind surprising die-offs over the past few years and the appearance of many so-called “skinny” whales.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently reported that at least 10 percent of gray whales returning to one of their four main calving and breeding lagoons off Baja California showed signs of being underfed. Some of the whales even had bony shoulder blades.

“This is a hint of a problem,” Palumbi said. “Our antennas should be up. Our antennas should be asking if the ocean is capable of supporting life the way it used to.”

The study concludes that the original Pacific gray whale population hundreds of years ago may have been far higher than currently thought — closer to 100,000 whales than conventional estimates of 20,000 to 30,000.

Water, Water, Water: War Against Humanity

Capitalism is broken. It is like a gun pointed at the heart of the planet. And it’s got these characteristics which mean that it will essentially, necessarily destroy our life support systems. Among those characteristics are the drive for perpetual economic growth on a finite planet. You just can’t support that ecologically. Things fall apart. It also says, well, anyone has got a right to buy as much natural wealth as their money allows, which means that people are just grabbing far more natural wealth than either the population as a whole or the planet itself can support.

— George Monbiot

Below a short piece I wrote for the Newport (OR) News Times. Sort of like shadow boxing, writing traditional news pieces to at least prop up some of the deep deep issues tied to broken Capitalism.

Note that capitalism would never be allowed in the article, let alone the reality of how broken capitalism is. Imagine, the pigs in politics, the war mongers, the Venezuela wannabe killers, all those elites running their mouths and groins in their spasms of narcissism.

Imagine how many communities in the USA are failing, near failing, about to fail, because the billionaires and the war mongers and the Industrial Complex of felons — pharma, ed, legal, finance, IT, AI, insurance, banking, energy, chemicals, prisons, ag — are hell bent on abandoning any humanity in their insanity and their sick elitism and their bizarre anti-people and community logic.

Thousands of dams about to fail in the USA. Water systems that shoot out lead and a thousand other chemicals that kill brains and DNA. Imagine the conservative society of civil engineers giving the USA a D- for infrastructure. Imagine the failing education system. Imagine the mass murdering media following all the dog nose in rear end stories.

This story, of course, is about $70 million a city is supposed to get for a failing duo of earthen dams. Newport on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where an earthquake will set off many other earthquakes and tsunamis.

The whole lovely Oregon Coastline will turn into a McCormac “The Road” dystopia.

The UN recently sounded the alarm that urgent action is needed if Arab states are to avoid a water emergency. Water scarcity and desertification are afflicting the Middle East and North Africa more than any other region on Earth, hence the need for countries there to improve water management. However, the per capita share of fresh water availability there is already just 10 percent of the global average, with agriculture consuming 85 percent of it.

Another recent study has linked shrinking Arctic sea ice to less rain in Central America, adding to the water woes in that region as well.

There you have it — the stupidity of this country flailing about the world with empire on steroid and smart phones, and every community in the USA is facing sea ice inundation problems because those communities near the oceans have a heck of a lot of influence on the rest of the middle of America. Money money money — and the spigots go right to the pockets of the Fortune 1000 and the Aspen Institute fellows and the Davos crowd.

So, on a community level, Newport faces big issues because the dams will fail and the cascading disasters of no water for months will cause disease and depopulation.

Ironies beyond ironies. We will NOT stop pumping emissions into the air. Read Jamail’s piece above, “The Last Time There Was This Much CO2, Trees Grew at the South Pole.”  Science. Reality.

The schizophrenia of the rich and deplorables backing trump or pelosi or biden or any of the two manure pile candidates yet every community faces kissing bugs invading, housing crisis after rental crisis, wage theft, huge thefts of human futures. Billions of people on earth stolen. So the rich and the sick people on FOX and CNN get off on the chaos they set forth.

From River to TapNewport’s Water System is an Engineering Miracle Delivering a Fragile, Vulnerable Resource to us All

Newport’s state of the art water treatment plant along Big Creek impressed the mayor and some of the council-members as we toured the facility after a presentation on the very real future water crisis that could befall not just Newport, but all the towns serviced by the water facility.

The message was clear from Newport’s Public Works Director: a new dam has to be built for the public’s health, safety and economic welfare. The public works director emphasized that 10,000 residents of Newport use water, but also another 40,000 additional temporary residents also suck up the water during tourist season. Add to that 50,000 number the huge seasonal water demands of the fishing industry and year-round clean water needs of the Rogue Nation brewery.

“In the event of an earthquake, the dams most likely could fail,” Tim Gross said. “We are looking at two to six months after a major Cascadia event (fault line earthquake) to rebuild a dam and replace the infrastructure that supplies water.”

He likened a dam failure here to what happened after Hurricane Katrina – people left the city, and millions upon millions of dollars in GDP were lost. “If the dams fail, it would be hard for this community to recover.”

There are projected population growths of 30 percent or more for Newport by 2030, and a new brewery in the works, so in reality, water demand will possibly double. Much of what Gross presented to the 20 or so people attending April 29th’s Town Hall at the Water Plant was pretty “technical” in a geo-engineering way, but the overarching message was clear.

Each year delayed on construction adds a few million dollars more added in inflationary costs. “I’ve been working on this for eight years,” he said. “This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

Council-member David Allen emphasized that Senate Bill 894, sponsored by Sen. Roblan and Rep. Gomberg, was just referred to the Ways and Means Committee. It’s a $44 million general fund grant to be put forward for this project.

The reality is four years of geotechnical work already invested to study the two dams’ subsurface conditions point to the same thing – “the soils under both dams fail in a 3.5 earthquake.” This is spongy soil holding back millions of gallons of water;  that is, it’s “silty sand, clayey silt, and silty clay alluvium overlying Nye Mudstone.”

The failure probability for these two dams giving out 60-feet down and then causing overspills is high in a rather low intensity 3.5 (on the Richter scale) quake.

We all know about the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and the hundreds of faults that spiderweb throughout the coast, from sub-sea land masses to the coastal and beyond terrestrial areas. Our communities have various disaster preparedness plans tied to earthquakes and resulting tsunamis.

No amount of food and water will suffice, however, if the toilets can’t be flushed and water won’t be piped into sinks for months on end. It’s the resulting disasters that truly affect a community after the initial impact of a natural calamity such as a quake and tsunami.

Ironically, Gross stated that a three-day study workshop in October 2018 “was a career highlight for me . . . working with these people . . . the smartest people I have ever met.”  The experts looked at studies, projections and cost estimates for a new dam coming in at $70 million. For Gross (and others), there are basic questions surrounding a $70 million project to build an RCC (roller compacted concrete) dam between both the existing earth dams on Big Creek:

  1. What will work?
  2. How much will it cost to maintain?
  3. Will it be resilient?

We’re talking about two earthen dams built in 1951 and 1955 and dozens of geophysical tests on site and in the laboratory, with some pretty high-power members of the international community who study dams, seismic events on infrastructure, and others who have dam remediation and building in their portfolios.

Other options like rebuilding or rehabilitating the two dams or constructing a desalinization plant or even building a new dam miles away at Rocky Creek are off the table. The only thing really in play is Alternative Six: No Action, which is still an option the City has to weigh against the possible risk of losing the only drinking water source for Newport in case of a seismic event.

Ironically, a new embankment dam (not a great choice) would require 10,000 truck trips to bring in materials; 30,000 truck trips for a new earthen dam, all of which would ruin a community the size of Newport. This RCC dam proposal, however, requires less construction materials and would be utilizing some old logging roads. The project is outlined in many phases, including building a road around Big Creek, building a water pipeline to allow for water to be continuously supplied to users during construction, then building the dam, and doing stream restoration.

In the end, the plant manager, Steve Stewart, who has worked for the Public Works Department 30 years, makes a plain selling point – “I love my job because I like providing a clean product to the community. I drink it out of the tap every day and am proud of what we do here.”

Gross emphasized that many Oregon communities are facing similar challenges with aging dams needing replacing. The biggest and least expensive push for Gross is getting the community behind conservation, and, more importantly, gaining an appreciation that water is always available and can’t be taken for granted.  Newport is part of the Mid-Coast Water Planning Partnership which is a group of 70 entities and stakeholders representing diverse water interests in the region from Cascade Head to Cape Perpetua. The group’s goal is to not only understand water resources and create an integrated plan, but to carry forth on better water management in the region over the next 50 years.

So, yes, milquetoast in some ways, the piece above, but how else can this stuff get through . . . and this is the reality of mainstream America and even small town news — never ever question the business community, the timber industry, the fish industry, even the oh-so hip beer and ale community. You see, we have to work on bio-regionalism and stopping the unchecked growth in communities that can’t weather the current storm of neoliberalism and assault capitalism, let alone the future implosions of climate change and in our case, earthquakes!

Worse yet, though, and no matter how much George Monbiot or Dahr Jamail or Bill McKibbeon or any one that is part of the Extinction Rebellion or even ecosocialists like myself to realize it’s game over. Simple stuff, stopping more liquefied natural gas trains, pipelines, ports and ships crossing the seas to move that fossil fuel to the engines of consumption.

Coos Bay, Oregon, and this project, Jordan Cove LNG, is emblematic of the broken systems of capitalism and the broke pipes of compliant democracy. Here:

Headline — “Coos Bay Braces for Jordan Cove Impacts.” Imagine that, we are still attempting to stop those mafia style energy companies, trying to get our own state to stop this project, but it’s all theater, and the provokers purveyors of this sickness — multiple corporations, transnational banking, etc. — don’t give a shit about the environmental and economic breakdown of all these ships criss-crossing. We are addicted to fossil fuel and oil, to the point as a species we will give up water and food — pink shrimp, Dungeness crab, halibut and salmon, for the turn of a shekel:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to issue a final decision on the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and pipeline project early next year.

The Coos Bay Channel widening project is not as far along in the regulatory process. Earlier this month, the port hit the “90% design” milestone in completing their permit application. An Army Corps of Engineers spokesman said they don’t expect to have the Draft Environmental Impact Statement completed until March 2020.

Port CEO John Burns says the channel-widening project is the next big step for the port, which hopes to attract larger vessels and more shipping traffic overall.

“We look at the global Maritime Fleet, the size of ships. If we were going to be an international player we’ve got to be able to at least bring in ships of that size,” Burns said. “Otherwise, we will not be competitive with other ports on the West Coast.”

The project would significantly widen and deepen a little more than 8 miles of the Coos Bay shipping channel. Currently the channel is 350 feet wide and 37 feet deep. The new plan would widen the channel to 450 feet and 45 feet deep. The spoils would be dumped at a site offshore.

Regardless, the physical characteristics of Coos Bay would change significantly if the projects go through. The port’s proposed channel widening project would remove enough earth to fill a football field-sized skyscraper the height of Mount Bachelor. Add the fill Jordan Cove needs to remove for its project, and that shaft of earth rises higher than Mount Hood.

Federal environmental reports for Jordan Cove and a previous Coos Bay dredging project characterize the ecological, water quality and hydrologic impacts as temporary and within reasonable limits.

Thus, we are cooked, because we have trained PR spinners and bloodless engineers and financial creeps and legal felons in our elite schools and other schools to live in a world with no ethics other than getting the most our of earth as quickly as possible. They end up as government shills and they end up as these pigs running Jordan Cove.

Project after project like this is unfolding now and for the future. Not just the USA, but Russia and China and Europe and Canada and Australia and Japan. It’s not about retrenchment, but energy for more fabrication of a false humanity, for more pies in the sky — hell ships to Mars, the Moon, to asteroids, while a majority on earth can’t even collect clean water daily. Imagine that, we have allowed the schools, colleges, media, military, government, punishment sectors of our so-called advanced Western world, and those in the Far East, to sink ecosystems, which in turn, sinks communities Big Time.

Polluted minds with hubris dripping out of their veins and orifices is what the new normal is for so-called CEOs, public servants (disservants) and public “intellectuals” like Gates (sic).

Citizens against LNG or Jordan Cove are small in numbers because of the deplorable thinking processes people have garnered from deplorable media and deplorable parenting and deplorable jobs and deplorable politicians and deplorable Americanism — hence, there are a shit-load of deplorables out there ready to sacrifice food and water for a job!

Hundreds protest Veresens Jordan Cove LNG Open House Events

You won’t see Naomi Klein or the stars of the New Green Deal tackle the very real battles going on now in community after community, which is how capitalism has always worked — divide and conquer, propaganda on steroids, military and police strong arming, legal entrenchment, political pimping and prostituting: by the corporations the polluters, the murderers.

Schizophrenia — Democracy Now

On Wednesday, the House of Commons became the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency. This is Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now. This is no longer about a distant future. We’re talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of the environment within our lifetimes of members of this house.”

It is highly significant, because it provides leverage for people like myself, for people like Extinction Rebellion, the youth climate strikers, to actually say, “Well, now you MPs, you members of Parliament, have declared a climate emergency; you have to act on it.” And, of course, it’s not clear that they’ve completely thought through the implications of this. I mean, on the same day, yesterday, that this climate emergency was declared, there was a legal ruling saying a third runway at Heathrow Airport can go ahead. Well, look, this is an emergency. And that means we need to start retiring fossil fuel-based infrastructure rather than building more of it.

The major banks, the oil companies, the politicians in the pockets of banks and oil companies, the military industrial-services-delivery-marketing complex, the Trumps and the Bidens, the entire mess that is American bullshit bifurcation of brain cells —  I will fight for the good of my rich kids and family to be free of pollution, to be well cared for, well educated (sic), blessed (sic) with opportunities to make money and live in safe neighborhoods and see the world and dodge taxes . . .  but the pain, suffering, slavery, pollution, despair, displacement, well, that’s all good for my corporation’s marks:  those  tired, your poor,  huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, the homeless, tempest-tost.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

immigrants seeing the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper

Charter School Fatigue

Charter schools have always attracted criticism due to the serious problems inherent to them, but it is no secret that in recent months charter schools have been taking it on the chin a little more than usual.

This is not unexpected.

More detailed reports, articles, and investigations are exposing with greater regularity the multi-faceted corruption and endless Jerry Springer-style scandals long plaguing nonprofit and for-profit charter schools, especially so-called “no-excuses” charter schools, virtual charter schools, and “miracle” charter schools.

Bizarre student enrollment management practices, coupled with poor transparency, shady real estate deals, inflated administrator pay, inaccurate waiting lists, high teacher turnover rates, almost no teacher unions, frequent arrests, numerous investigations, sloppy charter school applications, the siphoning of billions of dollars from public schools, the colonizing of physical facilities that rightfully belong to public schools, a severe obsession with unsound tests, and a refusal to analyze real conditions in education and society, all feel like a bit much.

People do not want any more deregulated, segregated, non-transparent “schools” that cherry-pick students, close regularly, and drain public money from over-tested, under-funded, and constantly-shamed public schools that accept all students all the time.

Just as “innovation” fatigue has started to settle in, so too has charter school fatigue. It is perhaps not ironic that charter schools have long been heralded as an “innovation.” But wherever it was applied, “innovation” ended up solving no problems; it just created new ones, namely embroiling people in more neoliberal schemes, policies, strategies, and initiatives that destroy the natural and social environment. “Innovation,” like so many other neoliberal buzzwords, proved to not serve the public interest. “Innovation” was always anti-evidence and an ideological device to block people from seeing what the rich are getting away with in the context of a continually failing economy and discredited political system.

The visible intensification in the desperation and irrationality of charter school supporters and promoters is the product of predictable steadily-growing opposition to charter schools. Just as social consciousness of the ills of high-stakes standardized testing was bound to grow over time, so too was social consciousness of the problems plaguing charter schools. People are growing increasingly fed up with these pay-the-rich schemes that have nothing to do with improving schools.

In this fractured and troubled context, charter school supporters and promoters are becoming more hidebound in their attempts to defend the indefensible. They still believe they can prettify charter schools and deprive people of a human-centered outlook and the ability to think. But they may just be digging a deeper hole for themselves as they become increasingly dogmatic and out of touch in the context of growing awareness of problems with charter schools. To date, none of the serious charter school problems highlighted by both charter school critics and charter school supporters have been overcome. The same problems persist. In fact, they are getting worse.

A point of no return may have been reached though. The unsurprising decision by charter school advocates to keep wrecking public education and multiplying charter schools in the midst of growing social consciousness of their ills is unlikely to take major owners of capital to their desired destination. The public is applying greater pressure on the brakes.

There is no question that having millions of dollars on your side and many politicians, nonprofit organizations, and astro-turf groups in your pocket will carry an agenda, no matter how destructive, quite far. But it is also the case that social consciousness and the human factor often trump big money, irrationality, arrogance, and tyranny over time. The powers that be are not invincible. They have been dealt many setbacks and defeats over the years. The rich and their conscious and anti-conscious representatives have never had logic, reason, analysis, and principle on their side, just worn-out platitudes, grandstanding, corporate discourse, instrumentalist logic, and Skinnerian ideology.

For the foreseeable future the carnage caused by the charter school sector will continue, no matter the cost to education, society, the economy, and the national interest. Pay-the-rich schemes have effectively enriched too many charter school owners-operators to be relinquished just yet. Major owners of capital are not going to give up their pound of flesh without a bitter fight to keep assaulting public education. Fortunately, defenders of public education are even more determined to usher in a human-centered and pro-social education system and society—one that is governed by the people and free of the influence of the rich and their retinue.

Ending Public Funds For Privately-Operated Charter Schools Verses Improving Persistently Deplorable Charter School Transparency and Accountability

One of the ways that even those who skillfully expose and critique endless charter school problems still miss the mark and (un)wittingly support the destruction of public education through more school privatization schemes is by obsessing over how to improve disturbingly low levels of transparency and accountability in the charter school sector, instead of demanding that no public funds or assets be funneled to charter schools in the first place. This shows that the world outlook guiding such writers and investigators is not free of the grip of capital-centered thinking and categories, which is hindering progress.

The notion that thousands of charter schools engaged in all sorts of fraud, corruption, waste, and other serious problems can be fixed by implementing “smarter” policies, laws, or regulations that somehow “rein them in” ignores the fact that charter schools are deregulated and have loopholes by conscious design. The “Wild West” feature of charter schools is deliberate, inherent, and directly related to their “free market” underpinnings. This is not some aberration, oversight, or the result of poor thinking and planning. Far more importantly though, such a notion ignores the fact that charter schools have no legitimate claim to public funds or assets because they are not public entities in any way, shape, or form. Charter schools are not public schools; they never have been. Public funds belong only to public schools, no one else. To funnel public wealth to private competing interests under the banner of high ideals is irrational, destructive, and unethical.

A school cannot be public in the proper sense of the word if its structures, functions, aims, practices, policies, owners, and results differ significantly from public schools that have been around for generations. Furthermore, something does not become public just because it is blindly called public over and over again, or because it is supposedly “tuition-free,” or because it receives public funds.

Charter schools fail and close for a variety of reasons all the time, namely financial malfeasance and poor academic performance. Thousands of charter schools have closed in under 25 years, leaving many families abandoned and betrayed. “Here-one-day-gone-the-next” is not unusual or shocking in the unstable charter school sector, which is heavily dominated by wealthy private interests. Of course, churn, volatility, instability, and upheaval are the opposite of what a modern education system in a society based on industrial mass production needs. Modern society does not need any more chaos, anarchy, and violence.

A long-term moratorium on all charter schools with the aim of eventually phasing them all out and prioritizing public schools instead is necessary and doable. It is not a distant dream or a far-fetched goal. Charter schools, which did not even exist 27 years ago, have caused far more harm than anyone bargained for, and people from all walks of life are becoming more fed up with these privatized, segregated, deunionized, poorly-supervised “schools” that are landing in the news every day because of some scandal that out-does the scandal from the previous day. Charter school fatigue is growing. To be sure, charter schools did not become corrupt and incompetent overnight; there have been more than “a few” “bad actors” out there for a long time.

While it would not have come close to fully funding America’s 100,000 public schools, the billions that could have gone to public schools instead of being fleeced by privately-run deregulated charter schools for more than 25 years would have had a huge positive impact on public education, the economy, society, and the national interest.

Government is not serving the best interest of the people when, with or without oversight, it annually funnels billions of public dollars to privatized, marketized, corporatized charter schools. Public funds belong to the public, not private competing owners of capital. Charter schools, whether they are transparent or not, have no valid claim to public funds, wealth, and property.