Author Archive | aaroncynic

Education Is No Cakewalk: The Picket Line Against The 1%

Photo by Ryan Williams (used with permission)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Chicago teachers have been on strike for a week, and two other suburban areas have since followed suit. Predictably, the argument coming from critics of the CTU centers around teachers making too much money, putting children at risk while “whining” about pay, and teachers being some sort of self entitled class uninterested in hard work (re: lazy).

Given that the majority of Americans attended school at some point and more than likely, had at least a few good teachers who helped their education and changed their lives in some positive way, it’s already hard to imagine the cognitive dissonance it takes to make sweeping generalizations about a group of 30,000 people. But, critics of the CTU seem readily able to forget what the classroom looked like in their day with themselves on the other side of the podium, more than likely not always sitting still and paying attention.

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Seeing Red: Why The Chicago Teachers Strike Is The Best Lesson The CTU Could Have Planned

Picture: Basil D. Soufi (CC)

“When the powers that be are shutting you out of your life, you must take a stand. And it’s a lesson that teachers themselves learned from the communities they serve.”

Via The Occupied Chicago Tribune:

When a teachers’ strike started to look like a realistic possibility earlier this spring, CPS Chief Communications Officer Becky Carroll warned the readers of Catalyst, “Any talk of a strike is the wrong message to send our schools, students and taxpayers.” For her, and the rest of the privatization evangelists at CPS, the “right” message is simple—shut up and do what you’re told.

Of course, Carroll, who makes $165,000 per year, isn’t paid that kind of money to tell the truth. Luckily for us, neither Chicago teachers nor the larger education community are giving much credence to CPS talking points.

The corporate education “reformers” have been experimenting on Chicago’s most underserved students and schools for more than two decades, trying any quick-fix makeovers so long as such schemes keep the public out of the discussion on how best to educate our city’s children.

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Undercover Agents Threaten and Attempt To Intimidate Journalists At DNC

Picture: Anna Bal (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina detained and threatened two journalists covering a march outside the Democratic National Convention over the weekend. Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake and Steve Horn, a contributor to Truthout covering the DNC for WORT-FM in Madison, Wisconsin, noticed four men taking photos of a contingent of undocumented immigrants during a march called “No Papers, No Fear.” Gosztola and Horn noticed the men, who were later revealed as undercover officers, trying to blend in with demonstrators and began taking photos.

Both Horn and Gosztola were concerned the men could be shooting photos of the undocumented immigrants for targeted deportation. After following one of the men in question, the two journalists were confronted by him, who claimed he was a protester and did not like his photo taken. During the conversation, the man threatened to punch Gosztola in the teeth, then grabbed Horn and pulled him to a street corner.

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Occupy Obama: A Communiqué from Occupy Chicago

Natalie Solidarity writes at Diatribe Media

Every four years we are asked to step into the ballot box and select a fellow citizen to represent the United States of America at home and abroad. Again and again we are presented with two options whose solutions for the world fail to address even our most basic of needs. The situation is so dire that we are often told to select “the lesser of two evils” without even the slightest hint of humor, and this election cycle is no different. We have been presented with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, whose plans for the United States fail to address the gravity of the global failure of capitalism. In response, this year we must refuse to put our future in the hands of any evil, be it Democrat or Republican.

With the upcoming presidential election we are going to be given two sides of the same corporate coin.

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The Rise of Ad-Hoc Journalist Support Networks

Picture: Nicolás García (CC)

As the mainstream corporate media has consistently failed to meet the needs of the people, we’ve seen a shift towards a larger, more robust independent press with thousands of DIY/Citizen journalists writing, photographing, videotaping, tweeting and streaming in order to get stories to the public that are either ignored or reported on poorly. Those of us who engage in journalistic activities independent from a corporate entity though, don’t have the same support system as a newsroom. But as our numbers grow and people increasingly follow our stories, we can create better networks.

Josh Stearns writes at PBS Mediashift:

Journalistic collaboration isn’t just something that happens between newsrooms. Increasingly, journalists working outside of traditional news organizations are coming together to support each other in a range of ways, from offering safety advice when covering protests to sharing news tips, local resource recommendations and more.

“When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse,” Clay Shirky wrote in a post on his blog, “their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to.” In the news industry, an ecosystem is emerging that’s fueled by independent and citizen reporters, along with a new generation of small non-profit news sites.

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A Visit To The NATO Five

Outside a court hearing for the NATO 5

Rachel Allshiny writes at Occupied Stories:

Chicago, IL–For someone who’s never been arrested, I sure spend a lot of time at Cook County Jail lately.

As part of Occupy Chicago’s ongoing jail solidarity effort for the NATO 5, who are facing terrorism charges, I have been attending as many court dates as my schedule allows.  Most of these court dates are just for updates, or to set new court dates, but being there is an important show of support.  At the first few I attended we pushed our luck a bit by standing and raising fists in solidarity, so much so that the judge has taken to reading a decorum order before calling any of their cases.  He claims it’s not really aimed at us, just meant as a point of information for “people who only know about court from TV,” but since it uses words like “conduct of solidarity” and “protest,” I tend to take it personally.… Read the rest

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DARPA To Develop Technology To Analyze Social Media

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

A contract proposal from the Defense Department’s research arm DARPA revealed the Pentagon is looking to develop computer algorithms which would mine data from social media websites and use it to track and analyze the behavior of various criminal and terrorist groups (h/t Mashable). In order to understand group dynamics and “forecast trends”, the DOD hopes to understand how a group evolves, interacts, recruits, influences other groups and affect the opinions of individuals and communities.

In phase 1, DARPA wants a system developed which would first track groups and their state changes and research “key indicators” of interactions. In phase 2, the system developed would learn the “dynamics of group behavior and inter- and intra-group interactions in an unsupervised manner,” then achieve a 90% accuracy rate in detecting state changes in 1,000 groups with a combined total of more than a million members with 100,000 postings a day.… Read the rest

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House Panel Seeks To Silence Journalists


Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Recently, House of Representatives panel discussed potentially amending the Espionage Act to prosecute journalists who report leaked information. In response to several instances where reporters have used information leaked to them by confidential sources to write stories, the panel suggested amending the law, which was enacted in 1917 to prosecute spies and others who divulge information considered sensitive, to punish journalists who do not reveal their sources. According to the LA Times, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R – SC) said “Put them in front of the grand jury. You either answer the question or you’re going to be held in contempt and go to jail, which is what I thought all reporters aspire to do anyway.”

No journalist has been prosecuted under the Espionage Act before, and the idea is more than chilling towards those who believe that one of the major functions of media should be to hold government accountable for its actions.… Read the rest

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Jail Solidarity, Part Three

ryan griffis (CC)

“As his face faded from the television screen, the light in my eyes dimmed.”

Natalie Solidarity writes at Diatribe Media:

My gentle friend was returned to state custody even as I willed otherwise. Three days later, my Occupy Chicago brothers and I sat on cold stone benches, watching families visit their fathers for the hallmark holiday. We drove together to visit our comrade together because that’s what families do. It was a hot Sunday, and I had finally entered the waiting area after being reminded my tank top was not welcome and I had to cover my body in a tee-shirt. At our comrade’s cellblock division, the guards did not perform the vigorous pat-down we found in other sections, even though they’re all part of the same Cook County system. In this division, number 6, my brothers and I simply dumped our nearly-empty pockets into bins and walked through metal detectors.… Read the rest

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