Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fwd: Defanged by Privilege

---------- Forwarded message
From: John Hemington

I have held off sending these pieces for a bit in order to rethink my own prejudices.  I held off because I believe that some of the comments contained therein will likely offend some of you reading them.  However, on reflection, I believe that they are correct and must be considered if we are to be honest with ourselves.  It particularly concerns the Women's March in Washington as a demonstration organized by and focused on privileged whites frightened by Donald Trump but not terribly concerned with those not similarly privileged.
I have to say at the outset that I was personally thrilled and impressed by the turnout of millions of people in hundreds of sister marches throughout the country and the world.  It was an impressive show of unity and strength when really needed.  But I was also concerned that it might end up being nothing more than a "feel-good" event out of which little or nothing comes.  Behind this concern lies my fear that it was really orchestrated and controlled by operatives of the elitist side of the Democratic Party – the New Democrats – in order to galvanize support for their continued domination of the Party.  Given the list of official speakers this certainly appears to be the case.  Each one I saw was a long-term Clintonista New Democrat.
If this is correct it is highly likely that most of the energy will be diverted from change into focusing on further demonizing Donald Trump and, down the road, re-electing the same old crowd of New Democrats that brought us Donald Trump in the first place by failing to fight for policies to end the economic starvation of poor, middle and working class Americans while serving up trillions for international corporatists, Wall Street financial gangs and the military-intelligence elite and their corporate suppliers ensuring that endless illegal and self-defeating wars of choice will continue without pause.
Yes, the Trump administration will be awful and millions will suffer as a result.  Things worldwide will certainly get worse, but the solution is not simply to return the Democrats who created the conditions which led to Trump's victory back to power.  If the recent marches cannot be used as a springboard to overthrow the power structure now controlling the Democratic Party – that is, if we allow those same people to control and direct the outrage – we will see Trump succeed into a second term.  Or should the Republican oligarchy tire of as they may well do, a second term of Mike Pence and company.
As one of the articles suggests, the New Democrats despise and fear the progressive left and will do just about anything to prevent them from making inroads into control of the Party.  We cannot, we must not allow this to happen by aligning with the New Democrats to shift the focus away from the failure of their neoliberal/neocon fantasies which have brought us to this terrible time in history.  We cannot allow them to divert our attention to whether Russia might have hacked the election and inciting anger at those who supported Trump instead of to those New Democrats who created the conditions which encouraged former Democrats in the "flyover" regions of the country to vote for Trump.
In short, we must do everything within our power to retake control of the Democratic Party from those who serve only the financial and corporate elite while pretending to work for all Americans by pushing "identity politics" while ignoring the very real and serious needs of most of us.  Be assured that the New Democrats and their privileged spokes people will speak words which sound as if they care – as did Barak Obama – but most will be lies and distortions.  Their policies over the past forty years are what define them and they have almost uniformly awful for most Americans who were not among the privileged.
And I speak as one who is privileged.  I do not have to worry about where my next meal will come from.  I do not worry about whether I can afford to pay the rent to keep myself housed.  I am not struggling with unpayable student debt.  I don't have to worry about being shot and killed while "driving as black."  I don't have to be particularly concerned that any illness will bankrupt me or my family.  I don't have to worry that my job will be eliminated and my family will lose everything.  I don't have to worry about living in desperation in a slum where the laws are enforced only against those who live there and not against the slum lords who fail to maintain their properties.  I do not have to worry about being deported because I lack citizenship papers.
But I am not without cares and concerns.  I care that our government has chosen to ignore the plight of those who do find themselves in these plights.  I am concerned that our government has for forty or so years continually cut back on the social safety-net programs instituted in the New Deal to protect those who, through no fault of their own, fall through the cracks of an increasingly neoliberalized market economy which glamorizes success and demonizes failure.  I am concerned that we have bought into the myth that the government doesn't have enough money to provide the necessary social and medical services which every other advanced economy provides its citizens; but always has a magic pot from which to pull dollars to bail out billionaire financial titans and fight endless costly wars as well as provide arms to the rest of the world.  And I care that we remain, as a society, as racist today as almost at any time in the past – we simply disguise it from ourselves more effectively.
Please read the attached articles and give some thought to your own privilege.  Think about what might have been had the New Democrats not commandeered the Democratic Party during the Clinton presidency; and consider how we might work to take the Party back.  Otherwise, there may not be much hope for the future.  There is a class war being waged and it is being waged against all Americans who are not among the privileged elite.  The goal of this class war is to insure that we, its victims, continue to blame one another and never look to the real source of our problems.
I'm sorry for the length of this but not for the content.



Fwd: Did you know today is Data Privacy Day?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mozilla" <>
Date: Jan 28, 2017 9:20 AM
Subject: Did you know today is Data Privacy Day?
To: <>

Here's something you can do
Hello Mark,
Happy Data Privacy Day!
What? You didn't know today was Data Privacy Day? Or maybe you did. The thing is, I have no way of knowing how important online privacy is to you. But I would like to.
In honor of Data Privacy Day, I'd like to ask you to tell me what online privacy means to you.
Take our 3 Minute Survey
I've tried to make it simple for you to do that. Just three minutes of your time to answer a few questions. Don't worry, they're mostly multiple choice. And there are no wrong answers.
Our goal is to provide you with ways you can have the most impact on issues that you care the most about - we can only do that with your help. Will you take a few minutes to fill out the survey?
Happy Data Privacy Day,
Jen Caltrider
Mozilla Foundation
PS - To learn more about how we're thinking about online privacy, check out our new Internet Health Report.
Connect with us
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Fwd: No effort will be spared . . .

---------- Forwarded message
From: John Hemington

It is now clear with the Trump administration and efforts in other states, particularly New York, that no effort will be spared to insure that any criticism of Israel or support for Palestinian rights will be permitted – up to and including the rights of free speech and association granted by the constitution.  It is true that Fordham University is not a public university and therefore not subject to same Constitutional requirements that would limit government actions, but certainly New York City and New York State are.  It is clear that the State of Israel has a protected status in the United States that no other nation or even U.S. citizens have.  And so it goes . . .


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Great swim video

Strong Swimmers, Confident Kids from J Saunders on Vimeo.

This is the time to plan for spring swim lessons. In summer, it is sorta too late. Let's get our kids strong, and strong in the water.

In Pittsburgh, we're blessed as we have the pools. Next, we need to keep up demand and get time in our week to use them.

See you Saturday.

Fwd: Life and Death

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

From: John Hemington

Attached are two, again eclectic, articles.  The first from Scientific American, unfortunately, was not read by a sufficient number of folks prior to the election as it is perhaps the best and most frightening description of our 45th president I have yet encountered (h/t Paula Lim).  If this doesn't make you even more nervous and chilled than you already are, you must have anti-freeze running through your veins.  

The second discusses one of America's many recent failures both from the standpoints of the neocons running the State and Defense Departments and from the rational believers in freedom and justice – the U.S.'s funding of terrorist mobsters to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria.  For all of politicians' rants about fighting terrorism in the world, there is no question, in my mind at least, that United States has incubated, funded and supplied 99% of the terrorists in the world, either directly or through proxies such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.  This will be the lasting memorial of all U.S. administrations from Regan through Obama – and almost all of it done at the behest of Israel in a successful effort to destabilize or destroy all of the independent nationalist nations in the Mideast and Africa.



Fwd: Something eclectic this evening

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Hemington

So much is happening and so little time to digest it all.  Attached are three distinctly different articles with no common theme whatsoever.  The first is a typically excellent post by Jim Kavanagh of The Polemicist discussing the situation in Syria as it relates to Russia, the U.S. and our fervent financial support of al Qaeda and al Nusra terrorists in that country – and how it has thus far backfired on us.  The second is an interesting article dealing with political parties as team sports and why, to quote the author, "It is important that we see through the charismatic character, that we analyze the practices rather than embrace the platitudes.  Americans tend to become so fixated on their particular "team" that we cannot root out the negative elements imposed by "our" political players.  This is an important point if we are to make any real progress moving forward.  The third article exposes a critical real-time right now crisis which we will all be facing before we realize it – the crisis of "clean" water availability.



  • Syria article in PDF

  • Team Sport and Politics article in PDF

  • Clean Water Crisis
  • Wednesday, January 25, 2017


    Jim R. Forsythe posted on Facebook's South Side Secrets page:

    Top ten Bruceisms!!

    1. We now have more Parking Enforcement Officers than pedestrians on East Carson Street.(ask the Pretzel shop).
    2. South Side hospital has closed for business.
    3. Zone 3 police station has closed for business, and soon to be up for sale.
    4. Vacancy on East Carson climbed from 5% to 35% in 7 years. 
    5. Beltzhoover and Knoxville havent seen the councilman in years, while the councilman is busy measuring sidewalk cafes on East Carson. 
    6. South Side Slopes and Hilltop infrastructure continues to crumble while Bruce eyes removing the Shriners Circus. 
    7. Residential parking plan that Bruce said cant be amended is now being amended. 
    8. While the East End and Lawernceville continue to grow and expand, Bruce opposes the 25 million dollar apartment complex on 23rd and Wharton. 
    9. Bruces staff turnover is more than hamburgers be flipped on East Carson. 
    10. Bruce shelves 300k hospitality study that he initiated because " he always knows better". 
    Stay tuned for the sequel because he just cant help himself! Can you believe we are paying Bruce Kraus with hard earned tax dollar money for his lack of council.
    Note: We will trade him for any other councilperson or a warm six pack!!

    Tuesday, January 24, 2017

    Political Songs are Fun.


    Women at a big march are holding signs saying they hoped for the day when they'd have as many rights as a gun? You mean, they wish they could be banned from schools and other public places, closely monitored by the government, and scapegoated for the problems of society?
    From Tom Woods.

    New EdD at Pitt for OUT OF SCHOOL TIME study

    New Doctoral Degree in Out-of-School Learning

    University of Pittsburgh

    Responding to the needs of professionals looking to advance their careers, the
    University of Pittsburgh offers a Doctor of Education (EdD) in out-of-school learning.
    The part-time EdD is a three-year cohort-based degree program designed around
    the needs of working professionals with very clear timelines and an on-line course
    delivery model.

    The program is intended for experienced professionals who aspire to be
    transformational leaders in out-of-school learning. Prospective applicants might
    currently work in museums, out-of-school time (OST) settings, libraries, digital
    media/technology, university outreach/extension, policy groups and think tanks, life-long
    learning programs, parks, environmental centers, arts-based organizations, community
    settings, youth development, or the many other areas where we explore learning
    environments that exist outside of classrooms. Program faculty are expert in connecting
    research and practice and have experience across a wide range of out-of-school
    settings, audiences, and learning arrangements.

    Out-of-School Learning students are part of a larger, multidisciplinary EdD cohort of
    students from eight different specializations in education, offering rich opportunities for
    collaboration and broad learning about education. The core EdD curriculum covers
    educational foundations and methods of practitioner inquiry, while the specialized outof-school
    learning curriculum focuses on informal learning theory, organizational
    processes, applied life-long learning, and evidence-based change and evaluation.

    In addition to on-line work, most students in the EdD program come to Pittsburgh for
    occasional Saturday sessions with the entire EdD cohort. Students in the out-of-school
    learning program can opt for this on-line/face-to-face model or could choose a
    predominately on-line model. Students who do not live in Pennsylvania can apply for
    merit-based scholarships to help offset the cost of out-of-state tuition.
    We will launch our first cohort in May 2017. Applications are due February 1, 2017.

    For more information:
    Kevin Crowley, crowleyk
    Tom Akiva, tomakiva
    Jennifer Russell, jrussel

    Fwd: Industrial-Strength Islamophobia . . . and more

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: John Hemington

    This article is, I believe, an excellent analysis of where the Trump administration is headed.  It's not and should not be a great surprise to most of us, but it presages a dramatically bleak period of world history.  It means that Trump's people in the administration and in Congress will work tirelessly to turn Americans against one another (more than even the neoliberals have managed to do) and then against the rest of the world.  It will be a most challenging period for anyone who believes in freedom, democracy and human rights.  It means that we will have to come together in strong communities in order to survive.  It means that we may well experience a more comprehensive period of totalitarian control of our lives than anyone may have thought possible – a totalitarianism which will make Orwell's 1984 seem positively mild by comparison. 

    There is no time to waste.  We must begin organizing today developing allies who will stand up to the forces of darkness likely to be unleashed by this administration.  It is not sufficient to know that oppression is happening.  Together we must develop strategies for defending ourselves and others against the coming storm; as well as programs of education for ourselves and others to learn and share from one another what is happening, why it is happening, who or what is behind it and how it can be fought.  As never before, time is of the essence.



    Kickoff for Pittsburgh Mayor Candidate, John Welsh, seeking the D-Party nomination in spring 2017

    Video camera of a Saturday event at the Homewood Library featured a new candidate to challenge for the Dem Party Nomination for Mayor, City of Pittsburgh.

    Exciting event in terms of audience and messages of the need for a new movement in Pittsburgh.

    These are three segments (not complete) from the podium.

    Family photo after the speech:

    Big welcome for a movement:

    Fwd: The Trump year

    ---------- Forwarded message
    From: John Hemington

    The first attachment poses an interesting question, how long can Trump last.  This is not the only commentator to suggest this and I believe that it is a fair one.  It is pretty clear that the Republican hierarchy doesn't much like Trump, but they do like Pence a lot.  It is also clear that the intelligence community doesn't like him at all as he is the first president since John Kennedy to threaten to reduce the size of the CIA (Kennedy threatened to eliminate it) – and we know what happened to Kennedy.  On the other side of the picture, it appears to me that Trump may well be a brilliant strategist.  If you haven't noticed he has managed to get virtually the entire media talking about nothing but the size of the crowd at the inauguration and the number of "illegals" who voted for Hillary.  There is almost nothing being said about what it is that Trump is actually doing to us and this may be an accident of hubris and narcissism or it may be fully intentional.

    The second attachment dwells on just what kind of a country do we want this to be.  This is an important question and one which I'm not certain enough of us have pondered for some time.  Perhaps now we will all be forced to.


    1. Impeached or two terms?
    2. What is a country for? 

    Friday, January 20, 2017

    New running mates

    Fwd: Attend the Summit on Digital Credentials and Badges

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: IMS Global Learning Consortium

    Summit on Digital Credentials and Badges
    View this email in your browser

    A full day of digital badges.

    IMS Global Learning Consortium is holding a Summit on Digital Credentials and Badges, Tuesday, February 28, in Orlando, Florida.

    As a participant in the Open Badges movement, we invite you to attend!

    The program features an exciting lineup of speakers and panelists representing K-20 and non-traditional issuing organizations, employers, and market leaders who are invested in accelerating the progress of digital credentialing in learning and professional development.
    Learn More
    And following the Summit, you can join IMS Global for a special Open Badges Community meeting on Wednesday, March 1. We hope to see you in Orlando!

    Registration is open to everyone. All attendees must register in advance. This event will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando. The deadline for making hotel reservations is January 27. Space is limited, so don't delay.
    Thanks to our Digital Credentialing, Badges & CBE Initiative Sponsors
    Copyright © 2017 IMS Global Learning Consortium, All rights reserved. Trademark Information

    You are receiving this email because you participated in the Open Badges community group.

    Our mailing address is:
    IMS Global Learning Consortium
    801 International Parkway, Lake Mary, FL
    5th Floor, PMB #112
    Lake Mary, FL 32746

    Thursday, January 19, 2017

    Fwd: [DW] [civicmedia-researchers] CFP: Abusive Language Online

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Steven Clift 

    Democracies Online
    Photo of Steven Clift
    [civicmedia-researchers] CFP: Abusive Language Online
    by Steven Clift
    in Newswire - Steven Clift's Democracies Online Newswire

    See CFP below ...

    A comment ... as someone monitors all sorts of political online groups on
    Facebook, the conspiratorial tone is a return of what I saw on political
    USENET newsgroups back in the 1990s. They were essentially anonymous and
    totally chaotic or totally controlled if moderate (to keep politics out of
    groups). It was terrible stuff.

    Crafting another way led to E-Democracy's real name accountability based
    forums with strong civility and active human facilitation. We did this in
    1994 a decade before Facebook brought to the masses.

    Again and again, folks hope for the magic bullet of cheap technology to
    police the abuse at a low cost. Look at news online commenting. It doesn't
    work or only can only help boost the essential role of active facilitators
    that are supported by good rules and a culture of respect for their
    leadership. Facilitators need to be real named people and not the mystery
    man behind the curtain.

    While real names work well on Facebook and encourage accountability and
    self-control/censorship among "friends" and on public posts, the
    introduction of less visible (to your friends and relatives) posts to
    closed and secret groups have unleashed the beast inside of many of us.
    Further with hundreds of millions of people online in the US for example,
    you only need a small small percentage of people who feel they have nothing
    to lose by being nasty as can be or worse when they comment on the White
    House Facebook Page or a local news story about Somali immigrants in
    Minnesota for example.

    On top of this, with Twitter and Facebook profiles, the masses now have
    public calling cards on the Internet which makes it 100x easier for anyone
    to be privately contacted or publicly shamed. Previously only a small
    percentage of individual people had websites or blogs.

    So back to crafting another way ... that is what I am seeing on the best
    Facebook Groups. Active facilitators, participants respecting those
    leaders, and removing the abusers, spammers, or those unwilling or unable
    (can be tied to severe antisocial behavioral medical conditions) to follow
    the rules or get along with others. So to those looking to connect
    non-friends online be bold and build another way. To those orgs who sponsor
    online exchange, start investing in what really works - people as active
    leaders and facilitators.

    Steven Clift
    P.S. For orgs looking for great professional online facilitators who can
    handle politics, I can hook you up.

    From: "Andrew Whitacre" <>
    Date: Jan 19, 2017 8:52 AM
    Subject: [civicmedia-researchers] CFP: Abusive Language Online
    To: <>, "civicmedia-researchers" <>

    Part of the annual meeting of the Association of Computational Linguistics
    2017 (Vancouver), August 3rd (or) 4th, 2017​/opportunities​/cfp​-1st​-workshop​-abusive​-language​-



    The last few years have seen a surge in abusive online behavior, with
    governments, social media platforms, and individuals struggling to cope
    with the consequences. Online forums, comment sections, and social media
    interaction in general have become a playground of bullying, scapegoating,
    and hate speech. These forms of online aggression not only poison the
    social climate of the communities that experience it, but also lower the
    inhibition for direct physical violence, and increasingly even result in it.

    As a field that directly works with computing over language, Natural
    Language Processing researchers are in a unique position to develop
    automated methods to analyse, detect, and filter abusive language.
    Additionally, we recognize that addressing abusive language is not solely
    the purview of NLP approaches but is a truly multi-disciplinary problem and
    thus requires knowledge from other fields, including but not limited to:
    psychology, sociology, law, gender studies, digital communication, and
    critical race theory.

    In this one day workshop, we aim to provide a space for researchers of
    various disciplines to meet and discuss approaches to abusive language. The
    workshop will include invited speakers and panelists from fields outside of
    NLP, as well as solicit papers from researchers across all areas. In
    addition, the workshop will host an "unshared task".

    Paper Topics

    We invite long and short papers on any of the following general topics:


    NLP models and methods for abusive language detection

    Application of NLP tools to analyze social media content and other large
    data sets

    NLP models for cross-lingual abusive language detection

    The social and personal consequences of being the target of abusive
    language and targeting others with abusive language

    Assessment of current non-NLP methods of addressing abusive language

    Legal ramifications of measures taken against abusive language use


    Best practices for using NLP techniques in watchdog settings

    Development of corpora and annotation guidelines

    Panel Discussion Topics

    Potential panel discussion topics reflect the relevance for industry and


    Responsibility of companies and governments in monitoring speech

    Privacy and ethical implications of abusive language detection (false

    Follow-up: what to do when a community experiences abusive language

    Personal experiences from individuals who have been threatened online

    Best methods for cross-pollination of ideas between fields

    Andrew Whitacre
    Communications Director
    Comparative Media Studies/Writing
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (snips) |