This post first appeared on Daily Kos.
A gay student teacher was dismissed from a suburban Portland, Oregon, school after discussing gay marriage with a fourth-grader. Seth Stambaugh is enrolled in the Master of Education program at Portland's Lewis and Clark College, the practicum of which had him student teaching at the Beaverton School District's Sexton Mountain elementary school. As reported by KGWNews:
He was leading a writing lesson when a fourth-grader asked him if he was married. Stambaugh said no. The student then asked why. Stambaugh replied that it would be illegal for him to get married because he would be choosing to marry another man. The student then asked if Stambaugh hanged out with guys and he said yes.
Stambaugh was told that his comments were inappropriate, and Lewis and Clark was told that Stambaugh would not be allowed to return.
Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler said that the district honors diversity, including sexual orientation. Wheeler said she could not talk specifically about the conversation, but noted it took place with "a fourth-grader, and that's a nine-year-old." "We do not discriminate," she said. The district has gay and lesbian employees and high school clubs that promote diversity, including sexual orientation, she said.
Sure. The district doesn't discriminate, it just seems to think that young children need to be protected from knowing about something against which it doesn't discriminate. Perhaps someone should ask Wheeler why the child's age seemed relevant. According to The Oregonian:
It was based on "concerns about a conversation he had with a fourth-grade student," Wheeler said. "Our concerns were about the professional judgment and age appropriateness."
Perhaps someone should ask Wheeler if a male student teacher would be dismissed for discussing his interest in marrying a woman. Or would that also be considered lacking in professional judgment and age appropriateness? KGW refers to a spokeswoman from Stambaugh's program at Lewis and Clark, who says it's not uncommon for a new student teacher not to fit a school district, but there are academic protocols for dealing with such circumstances.
What also happens before such a move is a discussion between the district, college officials and the student teacher, and that never happened in the Stambaugh case, she said.
Not that the Beaverton district was discriminating or anything, but rather than follow the usual procedure, it made a unilateral decision and only informed Lewis and Clark after Stambaugh had been removed. Stambaugh's attorney says no lawsuit is planned, although his client's career was put at risk. The district's spokeswoman says their gay and lesbian employees have been wondering what will happen to them. KGW:
Wheeler said they were told that specifics of the Stambaugh case could not be discussed, and that they the are loved and welcomed. "We respect and value you as employees," was the message, Wheeler said.
Which sounds very reassuring. They're respected and valued just so they're kept closeted and segregated from nine year-olds.
This post first appeared on Daily Kos. Anyone so deluded as to think that sitting out this election will punish the Democrats and push them to the left, where they will prevail in the next round of elections, needs only read this:
Republicans are within reach of gaining control of eight or more chambers in statehouses around the country this fall, according to interviews with Republicans, Democrats and independent political analysts. That would give Republicans the power to draw more Congressional districts in their favor, since the expected gains come just as many legislatures will play a major role in the once-a-decade process of redrawing the boundaries of those districts. Redistricting, it has often been said, turns the traditional definition of democracy on its head: rather than allowing voters to choose their leaders, it allows leaders to choose their voters. The new districts are supposed to reflect the population shifts measured by the census. In practice, though, officials in both parties often try to gerrymander districts to help themselves and their parties win more elections.
The negative consequences of a Republican Congress are countless, but don't think that such a result quickly would be reversed. Newly gerrymandered districts could keep many Republicans safe for a decade or more.
This post originally appeared on Daily Kos. Congratulations to the Senate, for demonstrating the link between responsibly addressing climate change and building the economy. As reported by Reuters:
Alternative energy investment prospects have shriveled in the United States after the U.S. Senate was unable to break a deadlock over tackling global warming, a Deutsche Bank official said. "You just throw your hands up and say ... we're going to take our money elsewhere," said Kevin Parker in an interview with Reuters. Parker, who is global head of the Frankfurt-based bank's Deutsche Asset Management Division, oversees nearly $700 billion in funds that devote $6 billion to $7 billion to climate change products.
Thanks to the brilliance of the Senate, Parker will be looking to invest in China and Europe, where policymakers are looking to the future, which the U.S. isn't. As Jed Lewison noted, the new Congressional state aid package is being funded, in part, by slashing $1.5 billion from renewable energy programs, which is like buying a hungry man some fish by selling a fishing rod. Meanwhile, someone is setting an example of how to transition an economy to clean energy. Sometimes doing what is right at home is the way to demonstrate international leadership. This comes from the New York Times, on Tuesday:
Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago. Land-based wind power — this year deemed "potentially competitive" with fossil fuels by the International Energy Agency in Paris — has expanded sevenfold in that time. And Portugal expects in 2011 to become the first country to inaugurate a national network of charging stations for electric cars. "I’ve seen all the smiles — you know: It’s a good dream. It can’t compete. It’s too expensive," said Prime Minister José Sócrates, recalling the way Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, mockingly offered to build him an electric Ferrari. Mr. Sócrates added, "The experience of Portugal shows that it is possible to make these changes in a very short time."
Portugal, a country that is suffering some of the worst impacts of Europe's economic crisis. And despite a short-term increase in electricity costs. President Obama's goal is to have 20 to 25 percent of U.S. electricity produced from renewable sources by 2025, which may be optimistic, given the ease with which renewable energy programs are being eviscerated. By comparison, IHS Emerging Energy Research says Ireland, Denmark and Britain will be getting at least 40 percent of their energy from renewable sources by that same year. At the same time, federal agencies in the U.S. have been studying how to expand the use of the illusory "clean" coal. The Washington Independent has this exciting news:
The report calls on the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior and the Treasury Department to provide recommendations on the issue by late 2011. In the meantime, the report gives a number of potential solutions to the liability dilemma. They include limiting future liability claims, creating an fund into which companies would pay to cover potential claims and the transfer of liability to the federal government.
Limiting corporate liability, while transferring it to the government. Sound familiar?
This post originally appeared on Daily Kos. The Los Angeles Times has this unsurprising news:
Federal investigators painted a picture Thursday that suggested BP and oil-rig owner Transocean cut corners aboard the doomed Deepwater Horizon, which exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Investigators have suggested that crew members were under pressure to finish their work aboard the floating mobile oil rig, which was trying to finish off an exploratory well, plug it so a production rig could be put into place and move on to a new site. The oil rig was weeks behind schedule.
Meanwhile, even as federal officials prevent independent reporters and scientists from having access to the spill sites, BP is taking a different tack. As the Mobile Press-Register's Ben Raines reported on Monday:
For the last few weeks, BP has been offering signing bonuses and lucrative pay to prominent scientists from public universities around the Gulf Coast to aid its defense against spill litigation.
Great news, right? They're actually enlisting scientists to help! Or not.
The Press-Register obtained a copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP. It prohibits the scientists from publishing their research, sharing it with other scientists or speaking about the data that they collect for at least the next three years.
In fact, BP tried to hire one Alabama university's entire marine sciences department. Very much to its credit, the university turned BP down, precisely because of the confidentiality restrictions. But scientists from Louisiana State University, University of Southern Mississippi and Texas A&M apparently had no such qualms, and signed on. And just in case you were wondering:
The contract makes it clear that BP is seeking to add scientists to the legal team that will fight the Natural Resources Damage Assessment lawsuit that the federal government will bring as a result of the Gulf oil spill.
BP cuts corners, when it comes to protecting workers and the environment. When it comes to protecting themselves from accountability, wallets are opened wide.
This post originally appeared on Daily Kos. Greg Sargent catches this, buried in a Politico article about Darrel Issa, who will chair the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, should the Republicans retake the House, this November (emphasis Sargent):
At a recent speech to Pennsylvania Republicans here, he boasted about what would happen if the GOP wins 39 seats, and he gets the power to subpoena. "That will make all the difference in the world," he told 400 applauding party members during a dinner at the chocolate-themed Hershey Lodge. "I won't use it to have corporate America live in fear that we're going to subpoena everything. I will use it to get the very information that today the White House is either shredding or not producing."
As previously noted, Issa and other Republicans already are excited over the prospect of being able to impeach President Obama, despite there being not even a whiff of a hint of an allegation of anything even in the realm of a valid impeachable offense. But Republicans prove, time and again, that they don't care much for the Constitution. They do, however, care very much for their corporatist owners. Sargent, on the Politico article:
While that quote stops short of a full-fledged promise to never probe anything corporate America does, it's nonetheless an extraordinary statement: It sounds like a pledge to go easier on big corporations. Dems plan to aggressively highlight this in the days ahead as an additional data-point in making the broader case against Republicans. "Instead of focusing on holding big corporations like British Petroleum accountable, if Issa and Republicans have their way, as Chairman Issa would use subpoenas and an eighty person staff to launch tax payer funded witch hunts against the President," DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer emails.
That's the Republican agenda: Protect the corporate nobility, waste time and money on purely partisan witch hunts against Democrats, and ignore the needs of people.