By Jonathan Pelto

In a stark reminder that action speaks louder than words, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has dropped a stunningly anti-union, anti-faculty, anti-Connecticut State University proposal on the table as it begins its contract negotiations with the CSU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union that represents faculty and a variety of education professionals at the four universities of CSU.

This development comes on top of the news that Malloy’s political appointees on the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees have authorized a contract with an extremely controversial, high profile, anti-union, Governor Chris Christie affiliated New Jersey law firm to lead the negotiations against the UConn Chapter of the AAUP. That contract could cost taxpayers and students as much as $500,000 or more.


By Deirdre Fulton

Offering a first glimpse of the secret 12-nation “trade” deal in its final form—and fodder for its growing ranks of opponents—WikiLeaks on Friday published the final negotiated text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)’s Intellectual Property Rights chapter, confirming that the pro-corporate pact would harm freedom of expression by bolstering monopolies and injure public health by blocking patient access to lifesaving medicines.

The document is dated October 5, the same day it was announced in Atlanta, Georgia that the member states to the treaty had reached an accord after more than five years of negotiations.


By Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen and Karen Yourish

They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.


By Jeff Bryant

Arne Duncan’s surprise announcement to leave his post as secretary of education in December is making headlines and driving lots of commentary, but an important story lost in the media clutter happened three days before he gave notice.

On that day, Duncan rattled the education policy world with news of a controversial grant of $249 million ($157 million the first year) to the charter school industry. This announcement was controversial because, as The Washington Post reports, an audit by his department’s own inspector general found “that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools.”


By Robert Hennelly

One of the key planks in Donald Trump’s tax reform plan would end the practice of U.S. multinationals stashing hundreds of billions of dollars in offshore accounts to reduce their U.S. tax liability. These companies should be familiar to him: A review of Trump’s stock portfolio, as itemized in his financial disclosure form, shows he owns millions of dollars in stock in the same companies that have been most aggressive with these legal but controversial tax strategies.

“They think it is $2.5 trillion,” Trump told reporters earlier this month, referring to the amount of cash currently “stranded” offshore. “I think it is much more than that, and boy, if it is, we have hit pay dirt.”


Russian prosecutors have charged a prominent Ukrainian politician with inciting terrorism, after he called for Islamic State to attack Russian pilots involved in the campaign against ISIS in Syria.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, shared a message from a Facebook “friend”who wants to help ISIS militants take revenge against Russian forces in Syria “in accordance with Sharia law.”

Gerashchenko said he received a message on Facebook which said that “Russian propaganda channels” and Russian army in almost every report “show off” their military personnel in Syria.


The New York Times is—rightly—horrified by ISIS’s ongoing destruction of ancient
architectural wonders:
Since seizing Palmyra from government forces in May, Islamic State fighters have destroyed some of the most beautiful and historically significant monuments in the sprawling oasis city in Syria’s central desert, one of the world’s most renowned archaeological sites.
Thus Anne Barnard reported on Oct. 5, in “ISIS Destroys Triumphal Archies in Palymra,
Syria,” the latest of her many shocking articles on that Islamist blast through northeast
Syria. Here is Barnard’s lede in “ISIS Speeds Up Destruction of Antiquities in Syria,”
which ran back on Aug. 24:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Islamic State militants have razed a fifth-century Roman Catholic monastery and blown up one of the best-preserved first-century temples in Palmyra, the ancient Syrian city that is one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, according to government officials and local activists.

And that was just this past week — in one Syrian province.

Nor (of course) is the New York Times the only Western outlet spotlighting ISIS’s pious
vandalism—a scourge likewise reported/deplored by CNN, ABC, CBS, NPR, the BBC, the Guardian, the Daily Mail (“ISIS thugs take a hammer to civilisation”) and many others.
This wave of outraged reportage recalls the story of the Taliban’s like devastation in
Afghanistan 14 years ago—as NBC News reminisced in March: “In 2001, the world
reacted in horror as, [as] part of a campaign to rid Afghanistan of idolatry, the Taliban
destroyed the World Heritage Site Buddhas of Bamiyan.”
From all those uniform laments you’d think the Western press was one gigantic lobby
for the global preservation of antiquities.
But if you thought that, you’d be wrong: While noisily deploring the sporadic cultural
atrocities by those wild Sunni agents, the Western press says nothing of the far more
systematic—and successful—devastation of Islam’s own architectural legacy,
perpetrated by the royal funders of those agents (among others).
Here’s a pertinent article by Carla Power, for Time, published last November—and
if that news touched off a larger fireball of press outrage in the West, I evidently
missed it. (And so it is with the relentless gentrification of Acre, Jaffa, and other
cities throughout Israel.)
Meanwhile, all those journalists so hot and bothered by the demolition of those
ancient structures in Afghanistan and Syria would seem to be untroubled by the
ongoing destruction of New York, San Francisco, London, Vancouver—and so
many other Western cities made increasingly unrecognizable, unlivable and
unaffordable by billionaire developers, and their pet politicians.

Saudi Arabia Bulldozes Over Its Heritage

Nov. 14, 2014

An aerial view shows the Clock Tower, the Grand Mosque, and surrounding constructions sites in the holy city of Mecca, in 2013.Fayez Nureldine—AFP/Getty ImagesAn aerial view shows the Clock Tower, the Grand Mosque, and surrounding constructions sites in the holy city of Mecca, in 2013.

Over 98% of the Kingdom’s historical and religious sites have been destroyed since 1985, according to the U.K.-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation

For centuries the Kaaba, the black cube in the center of Mecca, Saudi Arabia that is Islam’s holiest point, has been encircled by arched porticos erected some three centuries ago by the Ottomans, above dozens of carved marble columns dating back to the 8th century. But earlier this month, any vestiges of the portico and columns were reduced to rubble, cleared to make way for the Saudi government’s expansion of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.


By Mike Whitney

The reason Putin will succeed where the US failed in its war on ISIS, is because the Russian air-strikes are going to be accompanied by a formidable mop-up operation that will overpower the jihadi groups on the ground. This is already happening as we speak. The Russian Air Force has been pounding terrorist targets across the Idlib Governorate for the last few days as well as ISIS strongholds in the East at Raffa. On Sunday, according to a report filed by South Front, roughly 700 militants surrendered to members of the 147th Syrian tank brigade shortly after bombers had attacked nearly cities of Mardeij, Ma’arat Al-Nu’man, Jisr Al-Shughour, Saraqib and Sarmeen. This is the pattern we expect to see in the weeks ahead. Russian bombers will soften targets on the frontlines, ground troops will move into position, and untold numbers of jihadis will either flee, surrender or get cut down where they stand. Bottom line: Syria is not going to be a quagmire as the media has predicted. To the contrary, Putin is going to cut through these guys like crap through a goose.


By Thomas B. Edsall

Voters on both the left and the right often claim that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties, and of course that isn’t true. There’s a big difference between Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia, for one thing. But there may be more to this argument than you think.

Democrats now depend as much on affluent voters as on low-income voters. Democrats represent a majority of the richest congressional districts, and the party’s elected officials are more responsive to the policy agenda of the well-to-do than to average voters. The party and its candidates have come to rely on the elite 0.01 percent of the voting age population for a quarter of their financial backing and on large donors for another quarter.


By Klaus Marre

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is envisioning a future in which its agents would be able to use small handheld devices to collect fingerprints and photographs in the field and add them to a massive biometrics database.

If the Bureau gets its way, that future is not too far off — it has already taken major steps this year to make it a reality.

Most recently, the FBI is soliciting bids for the development of software that would enable agents to collect fingerprints and pictures of people they encounter. The prints and images could then be compared to the Bureau’s massive biometrics database.


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