SNL Weekend Update: Seth welcomes "James Carville" to weigh in on the hotly debated gun control.
TGIF! Your morning open thread begins below...
SNL Weekend Update: Seth welcomes "James Carville" to weigh in on the hotly debated gun control.
TGIF! Your morning open thread begins below...
Via Occupy Wall St.:
“This is a non-violent direct action, you are not being held in this room, you are free to exit when you please. We no longer recognize your presidency at Cooper as legitimate and in so doing we commit to re-claim this office in the interim until a suitable administrative alternative is secured."
Over 50 students have overtaken the office of Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha in response to the Administration and the Board of Trustees announcing the implementation of tuition for the incoming class of 2014- desecrating a 154 year old tradition of meritocracy and free education. "We stand together with the extended Cooper community in opposition to this decision; we reaffirm all of the previous and future actions of our fellow students and allies."
UPDATE: Cooper Union Students are calling for a Solidarity Rally Friday at 6PM outside the Foundation Building at Cooper Square Park.
The students delivered a Statement of No Confidence from the School of Art, one of the three colleges that make up Cooper Union. Similar Statements of No Confidence are currently in the process of being drafted and voted upon by the School of Architecture and the School of Engineering.
On April 23, 2013, Cooper Union’s board of trustees announced that they will begin charging tuition, ending the university’s 144-year-old mission of providing free education to all those who merited entry. The decision was met with a united uproar of dissent from nearly all sectors of the university community, including students, faculty, and alumni. While it might seem counterintuitive to get behind a relatively small struggle at one of the most exclusive universities in the country—an old-fashioned meritocracy in a world in which a young person’s “potential” is directly proportionate to their family’s economic station—Cooper Union is by far the most diverse of all elite colleges: white students are a minority here and two-thirds of the student body attended public high schools.
Institutions funded by philanthropy and real estate earnings are clearly unsustainable as foundations for a quality education, but the school’s economic problems and its board’s regressive solutions mirror the situation currently taking place at countless other universities, both public and private. From CUNY tuition hikes to the torpedoing of Medgar Evers College to NYU’s unprecedented land grab, students across the city are fighting back. As student struggles continue across the globe, Cooper Union is a flashpoint for something much larger than itself.
Peter Cooper, the school’s founder, railed against the scourge of student debt a century and a half before the streets of Montreal exploded with resistance, before New York universities faced a string of militant occupations, before students in California put their bodies on the line against tuition hikes and the commodification of higher education. The ongoing fight at Cooper Union is but one part of the broader struggle against austerity, debt, and all other symptoms of capitalism.
On May 1, a 36-page mini-zine that serves as a postscript to last year’s Why is Cooper Union Being Occupied? was produced and distributed around the city. Collecting recent articles, editorials, and primary source documents, this basic update outlines the current situation at Cooper Union, at once a eulogy and a call for new resistance.
For Live Updates, follow Free Cooper Union on Twitter
Watch the trailer for "Elemental."
Elemental tells the story of three individuals united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time.
The film follows Rajendra Singh, an Indian government official gone rogue, on a 40-day pilgrimage down India’s once pristine Ganges river, now polluted and dying. Facing community opposition and personal doubts, Singh works to shut down factories, halt construction of dams, and rouse the Indian public to treat their sacred “Mother Ganga” with respect. Across the globe in northern Canada, Eriel Deranger mounts her own “David and Goliath” struggle against the world’s largest industrial development, the Tar Sands, an oil deposit larger than the state of Florida. A young mother and native Denè, Deranger struggles with family challenges while campaigning tirelessly against the Tar Sands and its proposed 2,000-mile Keystone XL Pipeline, which are destroying Indigenous communities and threatening an entire continent.
And in Australia, inventor and entrepreneur Jay Harman searches for investors willing to risk millions on his conviction that nature’s own systems hold the key to our world’s ecological problems. Harman finds his inspiration in the natural world’s profound architecture and creates a revolutionary device that he believes can slow down global warming, but will it work?
Separated by continents yet sharing an unwavering commitment to protecting nature, the characters in this story are complex, flawed, postmodern heroes for whom stemming the tide of environmental destruction fades in and out of view – part mirage, part miracle.
Available in Select Theaters and iTunes May 2013.
Ariel Castro, who is being held on $8 million bail after being charged with multiple counts of kidnapping and rape, appears to have written a chilling confession back in 2004. Reporters for Channel 19 Action News have posted excerpts from the letter, which police found while searching the house where Castro allegedly imprisoned three women for a decade. In the letter Castro admits that “I am a sexual predator” and that he needs help. He also wonders why he kidnapped a third woman when he “already had 2 in my possession.” The letter is reportedly a suicide note, with Castro saying he wanted to kill himself and give his money to his captives. He also blamed his victims, saying they “made the mistake of getting in a car with a total stranger.”
Multiple sources say that the man living there had written a suicide note years ago outlining what he did and why. Ariel Castro is sitting in the city jail, so of course, he never did take his own life.
But Gallek has learned that in the note, Castro talks about a sex addiction and needing help. It puts some blame on the victims for getting in the car with him, and it refers to family problems and a poor childhood.
Castro and his two brothers, Pedro and Olin, are being held in jail in separate cells. A source who's been in the jail says the suspects are getting a lot of verbal abuse from other inmates.
And in a tearful interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, the daughter of suspected Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro begged Gina DeJesus -- her former childhood friend -- to forgive any role she had in enabling the abduction. “I am absolutely so so sorry,” the 22-year-old cried. Arlene was one of the last people to see Gina in 2004 on the day she was kidnapped—but claims she had no idea that it was her own father who did it. “[We were] not that close,” Arlene told GMA. “Every time we would talk it would just be short conversations, just a hello.” The kidnapper’s daughter says she hopes to see Gina, and introduce her to her kids.
At least eight people were killed in Bangladesh Thursday after an 11-story garment factory went up in flames. The fire was fueled by huge piles of acrylic products used to make sweaters. By the time firefighters arrived on the scene of the Tung Hai Sweater Ltd. Factory in the capital of Dhaka, the first few floors of the building were already engulfed in flames. Speaking to reporters, the deputy director of the fire service Mamun Mahmud described the occupants' desperate attempt to flee the building. "We recovered all of them on the stairwell on the ninth floor," he said. The deadly fire comes as the death toll from an eight-story building collapse in Dhaka passed 900 this week.
The identities of the victims of Wednesday's fire showed the entanglement of the industry and top Bangladeshi officials. The dead included the factory's managing director, Mahbubur Rahman, who was also on the board of directors of the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Along with him was senior police official Z.A. Morshed and Sohel Mostafa Swapan, head of a local branch of the ruling party's youth league.
Independent TV, a local station, reported that Rahman had plans to contest next year's elections as a candidate for the ruling party and had been meeting friends to discuss his future when the fire broke out.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which began soon after the factory workers went home for the day and took three hours to bring under control. Mahmud speculated it might have originated in the factory's ironing section. Officials originally said the building also housed several floors of apartments, but later said it was just a factory.
The garment factory building collapse death toll has now climbed to 930 making the collapse of Rana Plaza the world's deadliest industrial accident since India's Bhopal disaster in 1984.
The discovery of three women in a Cleveland home who all had gone missing separately about a decade ago brings to mind cases of abductions elsewhere. Elizabeth Smart says she is elated by the women's rescue. The Salt Lake City woman was kidnapped at age 14 from her bedroom. She was freed nine months later when she was found walking with her captor on a suburban street in March 2003.
Smart also discussed this week how conservative "abstinence only" programs that emphasize sexual purity can be detrimental to victims of human trafficking and rape.
Smart advised the Ohio women to focus on moving forward and letting go of the past. And she urged people to allow the family privacy so they can heal and "find their own pathway back to some sense of well-being."
She also advised the women not to let their alleged kidnappers continue to control their lives.
"He's stolen so much from them already, they deserve to be happy. And I would tell them I hope that they realize there is so much ahead of them, that they don't need to hold on to the past," Smart said. "They don't need to relive everything that's happened, because it's proof, their rescue is proof that there are good people out there."
Speaking at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum on Wednesday, Smart answered the question many Americans who followed her story on the national news wondered, why didn't she just run away as soon as she was brought outside?
She explained that some victims don't run away after being raped because they feel worthless, especially if they have been raised in conservative religious cultures that push abstinence-only education and emphasize sexual purity:
Smart said she “felt so dirty and so filthy” after she was raped by her captor, and she understands why someone wouldn’t run “because of that alone.”
Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, saying she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.”
Since her rescue, Smart created the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to bring awareness to predatory child crimes and speaks about her own experience.
Smart says children should be educated that "you will always have value and nothing can change that."
The House Republican bill H.R. 1406 is the latest in a string of GOP attacks on workers' rights. The bill would force an unnecessary choice between overtime pay that workers rely on and time off that they may never be able to take advantage of. H.R. 1406 -- the "Working Families Flexibility Act" -- would give employers the ability to offer compensatory time off in exchange for any overtime wages the worker has earned.
The Republican-led House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday that they say gives workers more time off - rejecting criticism from the White House, unions, women's groups and others that the measure is a sham that would force more work for less pay.
Backed by business (There's a shocker.), the bill is part of an effort by budget-slashing Republicans to project a "kinder and gentler image," particularly with women and working families.
On a nearly party-line vote of 223-204, the House approved the measure and sent it to the Senate where President Barack Obama's majority Democrats appear certain to kill it.
The bill would permit workers in the private sector, like those now in the public sector, to swap overtime pay for compensatory time off. They would get 1-1/2 hours time off for each hour of overtime, based on a standard 40-hour work week.
Senator Warren Introduces the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, her first piece of stand-alone legislation, on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. The bill would enable students who are eligible for federally subsidized Stafford loans to borrow at the same rate the big banks get through the Federal Reserve discount window.
From her floor speech:
“Some people say that we can’t afford to help our kids through school by keeping student loan interest rates low,” said Senator Warren. “But right now, as I speak, the federal government offers far lower interest rates on loans, every single day–they just don’t do it for everyone. Right now, a big bank can get a loan through the Federal Reserve discount window at a rate of about 0.75%. But this summer a student who is trying to get a loan to go to college will pay almost 7%. In other words, the federal government is going to charge students interest rates that are nine times higher than the rates for the biggest banks–the same banks that destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke this economy. That isn’t right. And that is why I’m introducing legislation today to give students the same deal that we give to the big banks.”
“Big banks get a great deal when they borrow money from the Fed,” Senator Warren continued. “In effect, the American taxpayer is investing in those banks. We should make the same kind of investment in our young people who are trying to get an education. Lend them the money and make them to pay it back, but give our kids a break on the interest they pay. Let’s Bank on Students… Unlike the big banks, students don’t have armies of lobbyists and lawyers. They have only their voices. And they call on us to do what is right.”
You can view the full text of Senator Warren's speech here.
Via Occupy Wall St.:
One of the points Occupy Wall Street made, by choosing to occupy space in Manhattan and not in DC, was that it's really Wall Street who runs things, not the government.
Today the Committee considered a slew of bills that tear down many of the Wall Street reforms passed in 2010. These reforms were already imperfect, as Wall Street sent the full force of its lobbying to the Hill in 2010 to compromise these reforms as much as possible.
Wall Street, having succeeded in 2010 in watering down the reforms meant to regulate them two years after they ruined the economy, did not rest. They have been lobbying nonstop since then to do everything they could to gut these reforms even more.
Today, nine deregulatory bills were considered, and nine were passed. The most egregious, HR 992, which we wrote about on Monday, passed 53-6. This bill is named "Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act", but it should be called, "If Banks Get Bailed Out, We'll Get Sold Out. Again." This is the bill that makes the cost of doing business for Wall Street lower by exploiting the implicit backing of the Federal Government. It allows banks to hold risky derivatives in the insured depository--that part of the bank that is insured by the FDIC. As we wrote yesterday, this is dangerous because derivatives are senior in bankruptcy--derivatives counterparties get paid out first.
"LOCKDOWN," is a ten minute documentary by Mutual Aid Media on the Tar Sands Blockade -- a group of activists and landowners in Texas who have built a campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. This short documentary follows activists as they plan an action camp, lead workshops, and execute a lockdown.