Friday, February 16, 2018

Fwd: Finally someone gets it . . .

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: John Hemington <>
Date: Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 8:29 PM
Subject: Finally someone gets it . . .
To: John Hemington <>

Halleluiah, halleluiah someone in the greater commentariat gets how sovereign money should work in a rational system (unlike, of course, the one we really have) and actually writes about it.  Thank you Kate Aronoff!  Unfortunately, Kate is writing for In These Times and not one of the major sources of neoliberal propaganda such as The Washington Post or The New York Times.  I guess we'll have to be satisfied with what little truth we can get until more people wake up to the fact that government spending into the economy actually benefits the economy and balanced budgets work to crash the economy.  But this is difficult for people who have been fed the devious myth that the federal government's budget is just like the one each of us has to live with in our daily life. 


This fact may be the single most important idea to be communicated to the citizenry in this country in order to break through the neoliberal lies that claim that austerity is the only way to save the nation.  Somehow most folks don't seem to catch on to the neoliberal scam that austerity needs only be applied to those not lounging in the privileged 1%.  I don't recall that austerity was applied to the bankers in the 2008 great financial crash, or to the military/industrial/security complex and their myriad of private contractors to sustain endless wars all around the world, or to the corporate and financial titans who can't survive without enormous tax concessions.  It just applies to the rest of us because, you see, in a neoliberal world we are all undeserving.


I have included this video before; but, if for some reason you have decided not to watch Dr. Stephanie Kelton's talk about sovereign money systems, do yourself a favor and give a listen, it's really quite good, and also listen to the Q&A at the end for her answer about explaining this reality to politicians – it is quite enlightening.


Stephanie Kelton on Money and the Economy, 2014




Why is it easier to imagine the total destruction of mankind, from nuclear war to a climate catastrophe,

than to work on changing the system of relations spawned by neoliberal capitalism?


Pepe Escobar



Mark Rauterkus
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim & Water Polo Camp Executive Coach
Varsity Boys Swim Coach, Pittsburgh Obama Academy
Recent Head Water Polo Coach, Carnegie Mellon University Women's Club Team
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team

412 298 3432 = cell

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fwd: Money & Markets

---------- Forwarded message
From: John H

This evening's missive deals with money (i.e., government deficits and debt) and markets (i.e., the financialization of the world).  The first attachment deals with one of my pet peeves, the disheartening fact that very few Americans have any real idea about how our government money works – or, perhaps more accurately, should work – if more people understood that it is no longer a commodity-backed (i.e., gold) currency.  The article deals primarily with the bi-polar attitude of Congresscritters who will one minute lament the overwhelming burden of debt on the American taxpayer and the very next vote for massive federal deficits and astronomical increases in the federal debt. 

People need to understand that there is absolutely no level of federal debt (as long as it is denominated in dollars) which the federal government cannot pay instantly without ever increasing the tax burden on the people.  Furthermore, much, if not most, of the federal debt is owed to us, the American people – think Social Security 'Trust Fund' and Treasury Bonds.  This is the very nature of a sovereign fiat currency which the United States, of course, has.  Until large segments of the American public come to understand this our neoliberal political parties (and yes, they are both equally neoliberal austerity mongers, one is just a bit nicer on the surface than the other) will continue passing off the myth that we cannot afford social safety-net programs while, at the same time, we can easily afford endless wars and bailouts of corporate and financial interests.  Folks, this is a very BIG deal and if you understand it please let your friends and neighbors know how money should be working for them and not against them.  Also included is a link below to an excellent video presentation by Dr. Stephanie Kelton (mentioned in the article) explaining money and debt in a fiat money economy.  If you have not as yet seen it, it is very good and well worth passing on.

The second attachment is for those who really want to understand how financialization has impacted worldwide financial and equity markets and in the process created enormous risks for calamitous, even catastrophic, financial crises which could break out at any time.  These are mostly unregulated operations encouraged by the world's central banks which are a primary source of instability and inequality in our world today; next to, that is, the U.S. predilection engaging is apparently endless elective wars of aggression (in itself a war crime) and decades-long efforts to destabilize and overthrow governments which do not favorably respond to demands to subvert their own national interests to those of global neoliberal corporate and financial capital.

This article is somewhat long and rather technical piece which provides a good preliminary overview of how neoliberal financialization works.  I have also included the usually excellent comments for this article found at the Naked Capitalism site since they in some ways amplify the points made in the piece.  For those interested in some more depth and background, I recommend reading two books by economist Michael Hudson, Finance as Warfare (2015) and Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy.

Stephanie Kelton on Money and the Economy, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!


Why is it easier to imagine the total destruction of mankind, from nuclear war to a climate catastrophe,
than to work on changing the system of relations spawned by neoliberal capitalism?

Pepe Escobar

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Rant to PureReform @ Roosevelt Era

Around the world, cities are booming with major increases in population. The advantages of the urban lifestyle with neighborhoods, density, variety, and proximity to goods and services has an upside that most of the world's regions and cultures have discovered and are leveraging for higher quality of life. But not in Pittsburgh, sadly.

The boom in population isn't happening in the city of Pittsburgh. Nope. The circle of life isn't so round here.

The number one reason for the lagging city's growth is the struggling public school system. 

I heap a great deal of blame onto the tenure of Mark Roosevelt. He tried. He failed. He pulled many of the wrong levers. There was and still is a lot of heavy lifting to do. He didn't get enough of his skin into the game to make a positive difference. And, mostly, the King's horses and Kin's men didn't get the citizens, taxpayers, guardians and real-game-changers involved. He did flirt with some foundation types. They pissed in the wind together. He did swap spit with the teachers union brass too. The break-up came quickly, but mostly with retirements. The fall-out is yet to come with the looming teachers' strike of 2018.

The only saving grace from my judgement of Mark Roosevelt tenure is the fact that his follower was Linda Lane. She make Roosevelt look like a genius. The Linda Lane years accelerated the decline. 

Now Pittsburgh is in a pickle. The cadre of people that could have put Humpty together again are long gone and not coming home. This next generation has to scratch and crawl for crumbs. The capacity and talent -- and mindful leadership needed to educate our kids while reforming our process is not going to materialize any time soon, sadly, in this city. 

The legacy of the Roosevelt reforms linger as nothing but deforms to a once robust system with countless highs and lows. 

Suburban districts don't mind that the city is in such a funk. Most of those that can, vote with their feet and depart PPS. 

Turning the tide will be epic. May that day come soon, and with gusto, for the sake of the youngsters in our city. 

Fwd: USNA Summer Seminar and Summer STEM - Now is the Time!

Something to consider for summer for middle and high school students:

These programs at NAVY may interest some, especially if STEM-focused.  

1.  For an out-of-the-ordinary STEM summer session at the U.S. Naval Academy (5 days, students residing in the dormitory, Bancroft Hall), and it's for 8th-10th Graders (for the Fall).  The Academy Admissions Office drafted the email notice itself, and passed it out to USNA Blue & Gold Officers around the country.  "Blue & Gold Officers" (like Coach Ed) work with the Admissions Office to help spread the word about not-your-normal but hopefully stimulating programs that younger students may find challenging, particularly if they love STEM or science fields.  

2.  For a Summer Seminar about a college - a week like no other.  This is for rising Seniors who may be considering a career in the Navy or Marine Corps, and wish to see a bit of what it may be like (or more!)  Through the lens of one of the pathways to becoming an officer, at the U.S. Naval Academy.  Like the STEM Summer Session for younger students, this one is also residential, so parents drop 'em off and pick 'em up later!  

Below is the approved USNA-style email advisory:

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Good afternoon!
The applications for the United States Naval Academy's Summer Seminar and Summer STEM are OPEN!

Summer STEM is geared toward students currently in 8th, 9th and 10th grade, the Summer STEM residential program will give attendees an opportunity to engage in hands-on math and science activities with our faculty and midshipmen. 
2018 Sessions:
June 4-9 for current 8th graders (rising 9th graders)
June 11-16 for current 9th graders (rising 10th graders)
June 18-22 for current 10th graders (rising 11th graders)
Attached is a digital brochure and the website is:

Naval Academy Summer Seminar (NASS) offers an opportunity for rising high school seniors to experience the academy for one week. Participants learn about life at the Naval Academy, where academics, athletics, and professional training play equally important roles in developing our nation's future leaders at this four-year college.
2018 Sessions:
June 2-7
June 9-14
June 16-21
Attached is a digital brochure and the website is:
This past summer,
 hosted students from all 50 states, US territories, as well as students living abroad. Both attendees and parents raved about the experience, and we are counting on you to help spread the word about these fantastic opportunities. 
You can check out more on Facebook at:
Please watch and
feel free to
share our videos:

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Path crossing opportunities are welcomed in sports

VP Mike Pence is in South Korea at the Winter Olympics and reports say that he asked organizers to help PREVENT him from crossing paths with those from the North Korean delegation. WTF? That is so what the Olympics are NOT about. VP Pence should GO HOME if he can't handle an encounter with other people of sports. 

I would love to be at the Olympics, again, in a foreign setting, especially if it wasn't as cold. 

But I have my own sports encounters today to attend, and I welcome the path crossing opportunities.
Mark Rauterkus
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim & Water Polo Camp Executive Coach
Varsity Boys Swim Coach, Pittsburgh Obama Academy
Recent Head Water Polo Coach, Carnegie Mellon University Women's Club Team
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team

412 298 3432 = cell

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Fwd: [Art-All-Night] Art All Night 21 Planning committee meeting

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Art All Night <>

Greetings Art All Nighters,

Art All Night is embarking on it's 21st year of celebrating art, music, and performance in a free, non-juried, non-censored show!

It will be held at the end of April in a location to be determined. Art All Night needs one thing in order to be successful: a planning team of dedicated people to take on the responsibilities required for show preparation.

Art All Night Planning Members:
  • meet Wednesday or Thursday from now until the end of April.
  • meet Saturdays in April to prepare a warehouse.
  • take on decision-making roles for certain aspects of the show.
  • are not alone-- members support one another and each have a voice.
  • work outside of meetings to fulfill responsibilities.
Being part of the team takes work, but it is also genuinely rewarding and super fun. If you are curious about learning more, come to the kick-off meeting:

First Planning Meeting
when: 7 pm on Thursday, February 15
where: The Shiloh Building basement, 3832 Mintwood St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201.
         *** Note that this is a different location than previous years. Please enter through the door off of Mintwood Street that has a white Art All Night Sign on it.

Planning Meeting Schedule
Planning Meetings will alternate between Wednesdays and Thursdays, and will fall on these dates:

7 pm on Thursday, February 15

7 pm on Wednesday, February 21
7 pm on Thursday, March 1
7 pm on Wednesday, March 7
7 pm on Thursday, March15
7 pm on Wednesday, March 21

Any questions or comments? We would like to hear from you. Please email or visit

If the planning team is not for you, know that you are still needed! Over 250 volunteers help out during the event. Volunteer sign up information will be sent out in early April.


Art-All-Night mailing list

Monday, February 05, 2018

PPS offering Restorative Practices Training Sessions

Several restorative practices training sessions are being offered in February and March, 2018.

Introduction to Restorative Practices and Using Circles Effectively is offered once per month at no-cost to PPS staff and District partners who have not yet attended restorative practices training. Note that all sessions take place at the Greenway Professional Development center (1400 Crucible St, 15205) from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm with a one hour break for lunch. Additionally, registration is limited to 30 participants per session. District partners can register by e-mailing For additional details and contact Keiterez Bynum at 412-529-3985 with questions.

More insights at this PDF.

draft of a new slide deck on issues with PPS

Slide show updated

Fwd: The Eagle

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: The Eagle <>
Date: Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 5:15 AM
Subject: The Eagle
To: <>

The Eagle

We Interviewed Dan Gliman on His New Position as the Mayor's Chief of Staff

Posted: 04 Feb 2018 02:22 PM PST

Last month, Dan Gilman left his position on City Council to become the Chief of Staff for Mayor Peduto. We talked with him about his role, his vision for Pittsburgh, and his perception of today's political atmosphere.


Sam Bisno: For anyone who is unaware, what exactly are your duties as Mayor Peduto's Chief of Staff?

Dan Gilman: Pretty much everything. It's my job to implement the Mayor's vision for Pittsburgh – a legislative agenda, a statewide and national policy agenda, and most importantly, running the city day to day. Through directors of different departments and chiefs of bureaus, the city has just over 3,000 city employees who all report up through a structure to my office to the Mayor, so that's everything from snow removals and potholes to police fire and paramedics to zoning parks and recreation and other public works functions. It's a lot that goes into running a city on a daily basis.


Daevan Mangalmurti: You've had a pretty interesting career. You began as Mayor Peduto's Chief of Staff back when he was a councilman. Then you were elected to a seat yourself, and now you're once again the Mayor's Chief of Staff. How did you end up on this path?

DG: My path through this entire career is a nontraditional one, which I think is actually kind of the more usual path for somebody. I never thought I would run for office. I never dreamed of a career in government. But what I did have was a passion for leadership, for volunteerism, for organizing, and that includes being on student council as a kid and things like that. And then when I went to college I ended up in student government, and through that I interned on Capitol Hill one summer and found I really enjoyed D.C. but couldn't stand the bureaucracy and the failures of government. I saw the opportunity of what government could do, but saw partisanship at its worst. I came back, and through kind of an accidental meeting met then-first-year City Councilman Bill Peduto, and he offered me an internship between my junior and senior year of college. I did that, and I found that local government was where innovation was occurring, local government was where the most basic government functions still worked and worked for the people. You could, as an intern in City Hall, get a pothole filled or get a stop sign put back up or a baseball field prepared for a little league game, which was more than I was seeing done in D.C. And so when I graduated from college, I had a job offer from Bill Peduto and I had a job offer from Bill Clinton, and I made the decision that I really wanted to be in Pittsburgh. I wanted to be in local government and see what would happen. And I did that with a plan to do it for a few years and to go to law school or maybe into the nonprofit world or the state department. I had any number of options, but it was never a career; it was never to run for office. But I really fell in love with City Hall. I believe strongly in Bill Peduto's vision and I believe strongly in what good, optimized government can do for the people. You kind of blink and ten years later you're still there, and now it's fourteen years, and I still love coming to work every day.


SB: You said that you consider your job to be carrying out Mayor Peduto's vision for the city. What do you consider your top priority in terms of what you hope to achieve as Mayor Peduto's Chief of Staff?

DG: It's hard to narrow it down to one, but if I try to encapsulate everything, it's making Pittsburgh a world-class city for the twenty-first century while staying true to our core beliefs, our core values, and our core identity. That means looking at everything from smart transportation to equitable development to childhood health to equitable green space, and doing it all in a way that we grow and we become the model, but we don't lose what makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh – we don't lose the identity of our neighborhoods, we don't lose our historic architecture, we don't lose our civic pride. I like that if you get dropped in Pittsburgh you know you're in Pittsburgh. It feels different than Columbus or Indianapolis or Phoenix or Orlando. I don't want to lose that, but I also want to grow. I don't want to stand still and let time pass us by.


DM: What do you see as Pittsburgh's strengths as a city right now?

DG: Pittsburgh really has two key strengths. One is the quality of life. While we, of course, have challenges that we are all aware of in tackling, we remain an incredibly affordable city to live in compared to other major American cities. We have and bikeable neighborhoods. We have strong business districts. We have an amazing park system, and arts and culture. We have three professional sports teams. It is a city that people want to live in, and you combine that with the talent – what's being graduated from our universities on an annual basis – and that's the magic combination for success.


DM: What do you see as Pittsburgh's weaknesses as a major city?

DG: We still remain incredibly segregated. Pittsburgh is a city where our neighborhoods are in some ways our greatest strength and our greatest weakness, and we've had incredible racial segregation in this city. It is a huge weakness and a huge challenge we have to overcome. We also remain a city that is very much split economically. While we are continually ranked as most liveable and one of the best cities to move to, I still have one out of every four residents who are struggling to pay rent or struggling to put food on the table for their families, struggling to make a mortgage payment on their home. We don't want to be a city of the "haves" and the "have-nots". That's a core challenge to our identity and where we go. And then the last is structural. The Pennsylvania structure of government for cities is failed. Our tax policy from Harrisburg is failed; our representation from gerrymandering in Harrisburg is failed; our rights as a local government to govern our citizens is failed. We must structurally change that to succeed.


SB: You touched on this just a moment ago, but more specifically, as I'm sure you're aware, a few months ago Anthony Bourdain taped an episode of his show, Parts Unknown, here, and he talked a lot about how Pittsburgh is focusing too much on developing high-paying careers for young middle-class professionals in the industries of technology and entertainment, and at the same time Pittsburgh is squeezing out working-class, often times black residents. Some are calling it the "Googleization" of Pittsburgh. Do you agree with this assessment? If so, is it something that needs to be stopped, or is it just being misdirected?

DG: I don't agree with his assessment, but I agree that there is a serious core problem that needs to be addressed. I don't think he highlighted challenges that aren't real or stories that aren't real, but I think he missed some of the core reasons why, and I think he failed to highlight a lot of the efforts to address it. When you look at what we've done on the Learn and Earn Summer to give thousands of young people summer jobs, our free childhood bank accounts for any child, free summer lunch programs, free dinners in our senior and rec centers, free access to swimming pools, our partnership with public schools to teach all second and third graders how to swim, our Rec2Tech program where we're turning our recreation centers into tech training centers for kids, our My Brothers Keeper initiative, our finding homes for over 500 homeless veterans, there's a lot being done to address these issues, and in fact it takes a lot more of our time, a lot more of our attention, a lot more of our finances than the development. That may be happening through the private sector, but the notion that it's getting the attention and the focus and the others not I think is inaccurate. That being said, only time will tell if we succeed, and I think that is the question- can Pittsburgh through all of the programs that we are implementing do enough to overcome the challenges this country faces as we've squeezed out the middle class and we've disinvested from urban communities and we've disinvested from public transit and we've disinvested from infrastructure? Can we address it? And in Pittsburgh, we're looking to overcome decades of failed urban policy, decades of a lack of investment. When you look at Councilman Reverend Burgess's district, which Obama is in – and he represents neighborhoods like Homewood, East Liberty, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington, East Hills, Garfield – he lost almost 25% of his population between the year 200 and 2010. That predates any technology boom. That predates Google and Uber. That was the African American community moving from the city, whether it be the suburbs or other cities, because of a complete failure of city government to invest in those neighborhoods and invest in the people in those neighborhoods. So our real displacement happened from a lack of investment, a lack of concern, and institutionalized racism for years more than it is from the activity today.


DM: Going off of attracting more investment to the city, there's definitely been some attention to Amazon possibly choosing Pittsburgh as the locale for its new headquarters. Do you think that this could actually become a reality?

DG: I do. I'll never say that it's likely, but I think we have as good of a shot as any city. I think there's probably seven or eight cities that could say the same thing, but I think we're right there with any other city in the running. I don't have any insight. They don't communicate much with us, so I have no idea where that will go, but I do think that it is a real possibility, and really for the reasons that I listed before. When you look at the talent, when you look at the quality of life, when you look at the smart urban planning and progressive policies on equality, on transportation, on green space, those are the core values that Amazon and companies like Amazon are looking for. 


SB: Recently – in the past few years, but really in the past few months – the "Me Too" movement has revealed a very concerning trend, and countless male elected officials have been forced to resign after women have come forward revealing their pasts of sexual harassment and assault. As a male public official yourself, what's your take on this?

DG: Shame on all of us for not speaking out sooner and not being more aware in taking this strong movement to take action. It is remarkable to hear the stories of so many strong women who have been leaders, whether it's in Pittsburgh or around the country, in Hollywood or on Wall Street, and what's been happening. We've known secretly that it's been happening and haven't had the guts to stand up and talk about it, and by "we" I mean men in the community, not women when I talk about having guts. And shame on us. Kudos to the women who have stood up and led this effort, and I can only hope that it's something we take to heart and implement real change out of. At the city level, we're looking at changing our sexual harassment training, our sexual harassment policy, and making sure that there's ongoing training, not just some basic training on your first day at orientation. It shouldn't have taken this movement to do that, but I'm glad that we're responding.


DM: Obama is the only inner-city school in Pennsylvania that participates in the YMCA's Youth and Government program, and each Spring we take over the State Capitol building for the weekend and hold a model legislature. As someone with considerable political experience, do you have any advice for us politically minded youth?

DG: First of all, that's an interesting fact. That's great. I knew Obama did the program; I did not know that they were the only school that did. I have a couple pieces of advice. Number one, if you're looking for a career let me give you this advice, and that is: just get in the door and be a part of the effort. My first experience with anything to do with politics was in 1999 working for the Al Gore for President campaign, and my job was basically to run around and deliver and pick up mail. But it was a great experience and it led to more. There's no task too small, and you're always an important piece of the larger puzzle. I would also say that you've got to be able to focus on crawling and running the marathon at the same time. You look at my day today, and I am dealing hands-on with complaints about snow removal while also having conversations about multi-million dollar projects and workforce development initiatives. You've got to be able to do both. You can't focus on one thing at a time. And then lastly I would say to never lose the identity of who you are and why you got into it. As I've said a couple of times in the interview, government can work, and it can work for the people in a good way as long as you stay true to who you are and why you wanted to do this. Whatever those reasons are, whatever the issues are that you're passionate about, don't let that get taken away by frustration, by bureaucracy, by a lack of partisanship or civic dialogue. Stay true.


SB: You mentioned your process. You got interested in politics in high school and then on into college you had an internship. What do you think that the single most important thing that you did in high school was that you feel has really stuck with you up until today?

DG: I actually would say that the most important thing I did, looking back on it, was to be taught how to be critically problem solve and think. You don't always get trained for the situation you're in. There's not a college class or a high school class you can take that teaches you everything you are going to do. If you can critically problem solve and think through a problem strategically, you can figure most things out. That's probably the most important thing I've taken. In terms of like an actual experience or action, I actually think it was my work sophomore of junior year of high school – I can't keep them straight anymore – working in a bagel shop behind the counter. That customer service experience – getting up early in the morning, putting in eight hard hours of service work – really strengthened who I was and strengthened my character. 


SB: Well, that's all we have. Thank you so much for taking the time.

DM: Thank you.

DG: Thanks, guys. If I can ever do anything, just let me know.

SB: Absolutely. Thank you.

DG: Alright. Talk to you soon.


We'd like to express our gratitude to Mr. Gilman for taking the time out of his busy schedule to give us a call. We look forward to seeing the changes he brings to our city during his tenure as the Mayor's Chief of Staff.

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Mark Rauterkus
Swimming and Water Polo Coach, Schenley High School, Pittsburgh, PA
412 298 3432 = cell