Monday, January 30, 2012

Fanciest Private High Schools Now Cost Even More Than Ivy League Colleges

Indeed, this year's tuition at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory ($38,340 for 12th grade) and Horace Mann ($37,275 for the upper school) is higher than Harvard's ($36,305). Those 41 schools (out of 61 New York City private schools in the national association) provided enough data to enable a 10-year analysis. [...] The median 12th-grade tuition for the current school year was $36,970, up from $21,100 in 2001-2, according to the national association's survey. Nationally, that figure rose to $24,240 from $14,583 a decade ago.

Reince Preibus' Obama, Cruise Ship Captain Comparison Draws Harsh Criticism #p #tcot

WASHINGTON -- The White House is criticizingcomments by the Republican National Committee chairman comparing President Barack Obama to the Italian cruise ship captain who allegedly abandoned his sinking ship.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" that Obama was "our own little Captain Schettino." Priebus accused Obama of abandoning ship in the U.S. and spending more time on his re-election campaign.

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele told MSNBC the analogy was "unfortunate."

In response, White House press secretary Jay Carney said: "If you are so desperate for attention that you make an analogy that Michael Steele deems inappropriate, you know you've probably gone too far."

Preibus later defended his remarks in an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly.

rest at

Mitt Romney company Damon Clinical Laboratories was busted in huge Medicare fraud case #p2 #tcot

According to a cited Forbes report, in 1989, Bain Capital purchased controlling interest in Damon Clinical Laboratories Corporation, a medical testing company located in Needham, Massachusetts.

In 1996, Damon admitted that from 1988 to 1993 it had shored up its earnings by submitting false claims to Medicare and other federal programs, and had agreed to pay , after being found guilty, a $35.3 million criminal fine — one of the largest corporate fines in U.S. history — and an additional $83.7 million to settle the lawsuits..

The company, then owned by Corning, ended the scheme after it had acquired Damon from Bain Capital in 1993, according to company and prosecutors' statements.

Mitt Romney claimed Bain Capital never worked with any company that worked with the government—like Medicare or Medicaid. Even when asked directly by Newt Gingrich at one debate, Romney responded, "We didn't do any work with the government. I didn't have an office on K Street. I didn't—had never worked—I've never worked in Washington."

Let's look at the facts:

In 1993, Romney claimed he was unaware of any investigation — quoted in the Boston Globe on Oct. 10, 1993.  When the Globe revisited the case during Romney's run for governor in 1992, his story was different. Romney's story changed about his knowledge of the investigation.

The Globe, disclosing that Romney had earned $473,000 from the sale, reported on Oct. 10, 2002:

"Romney said yesterday he was a proactive board member who helped to uncover the fraud. Romney said the board used its New York law firm to investigate, and as a result, the board took 'corrective action' months before Damon was sold to Corning."

But as the Globe reported, court records — including statements from prosecutors and Damon's own admissions — told a different story, and reveal that the fraudulent activity occurred right up until the time Bain and other owners sold the company to Corning. Prosecutors also gave sole credit to Corning for cleaning up the fraud after it purchased the company from Bain and other owners.

Romney later admitted that the board did not report to federal investigators any findings from the alleged internal inquiry.


When Facebook goes public, expect a massive increase in data mining to beat Google

The Great Facebook Bubble is set to expand to Rabelaisian proportions with the social media giant's IPO, which is expected to come early February. In the process, Facebook has been courted by investment banks Goldman Sachs (which invested $450 million in early 2011) and Morgan Stanley, with the latter apparently trumpeting that they now have the edge in the Facebook sweepstakes.

For those who are a little confused as to why Facebook would go public, it usually comes down to the fact that initial investors want to cash out (sell stock), the company wants to get a massive infusion of investment capital, and, once the 500 shareholders threshold has been reached, a company is forced to file papers with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). All of this is currently happening with Facebook.

The IPO will only be made available to top-flight investors, so don't think for a minute that you, in your modest ranch home in Arizona, will be able to buy stock in Facebook. A nice racket is just about to get launched, and all we can do is watch.

But there is something that we can expect to get from the Facebook IPO: a massive increase in user data mining. In other words, expect Facebook, with both new and old investors to please, to devise increasingly more innovative means of collecting user data to sell to advertisers and, a bit more ominously, to share with the government.

It's not for nothing that WikiLeaks' Julian Assange called Facebook "the most appalling spy machine that has ever been created."


Friday, January 27, 2012

The @GOP ’s Racial Politics #p2 #tcot

The Progress Report Banner

The GOP's Racial Politics

Jan 27, 2012 | By ThinkProgress War Room

Our guest author is former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), president of Center for American Progress Action Fund.

From the subtle to the sickening, this Republican primary season has seen a normalizing of racist and racially-coded language. It was not so long ago that the chairman of the Republican National Committee apologized for his party's history of "trying to benefit politically from racial polarization," and told the NAACP, "I am here today as the Republican Chairman to tell you we were wrong." Such leadership cannot be found now.

Newt Gingrich may be the new master of race politics with his efforts to label Barack Obama the "food-stamp president" and his generous offer to lecture African-Americans at the NAACP on why they should demand paychecks instead of food stamps. We know that Mr. Gingrich's claims of being a "historian" for Freddie and Fannie are a strain, but would it be that hard for him to check the history of NAACP's leadership on developing and demanding groundbreaking job creation policies? (Or to note that more food stamp recipients are white than any other race or ethnicity?) But why would a historian let facts get in the way of historical racial prejudice?

ThinkProgress' Jeff Spross has compiled a recent history of the GOP's dehumanizing and divisive language that threatens to plague the primary process for weeks to come. Watch it:

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

According to an assessment by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, the health costs of the state's dependence on burning coal came in at more than $62 million in 2007 — for asthma alone.

Commodity crop and specialty crop farmers — instead of being inexorably opposed — can learn from and help each other with "poly-farming."

Scientists have established the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund to support climate scientists who have come under attack by right-wing global warming deniers.

As private prisons enrich lawmakers, the Florida legislature pushes a massive prison privatization plan.

Opponents protest the signing of ACTA without adequate debate.

Here's What Republicare Will Look Like

Jeb Bush warns that Hispanics are "turned off" by the Republican party's rightward shift on state-based immigration legislation.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly apologized for appearing in Third Jihad, an inflammatory anti-Muslim film, but Human Rights Watch is calling on New York City officials to investigate the repeated showing of the film in counter-terror training sessions.

Violence in Syria has sharply escalated in the past two days, pushing the U.N. Security Council to hold a meeting today to discuss a possible resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's government.

THINKPROGRESS | Center for American Progress Action Fund
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor | Washington, DC 20005

A kinder, gentler @Apple ? Don't bet on it - the dark side of producing Apple's products in China

It's not the first time the Times and other publications have written about the "punishing" work conditions at Foxconn, the contract manufacturing behemoth that also makes products for loads of other companies, not just Apple.

Foxconn--headquarted in Taiwan, but (according to Reuters) the largest private employer in mainland China--has been frequently in the news for fires and explosions at its factories along with a spate of worker suicides. But coming on the heels of Apple's jaw-dropping earnings and news that it had $98 billion squirreled away in cash, the article seems to have really touched a nerve, the "Occupy Apple" kind.

I don't think anybody's faulting Apple for wanting to make a good profit on its products or trying to keep up with demand. But what seems to be the big friction point is how much profit Apple is making and how it continues to squeeze its suppliers and manufacturing partners to the Nth degree.

The Times article depicts Apple as creating a vicious circle where suppliers and manufacturers desperately long for Apple's business ("Getting a contract from Apple can lift a company's value by millions because of the implied endorsement of manufacturing quality," the article states). But then it puts the big squeeze on everybody, making it exceedingly difficult for anybody but Apple to turn a profit.

You don't make $46.3 billion in a
quarter by being terribly nice.

The reporters, Charles Duhigg and David Barboza, serve up several damaging quotes but here are a few that seem to really hit home for a lot of readers:

"The only way you make money working for Apple is figuring out how to do things more efficiently or cheaper. And then they'll come back the next year, and force a 10 percent price cut."

Read more:

Dignity Memorial Buries 1,000th Homeless Veteran

Vietnam War veteran Stevenson L. Roy died broke and homeless, but Wednesday he received a funeral with full military honors in Portland, Ore., for his years of service to the country.

Naval Petty Officer 2nd Class Roy, buried in Willamette National Cemetery, was the 1,000th homeless veteran to be buried by Dignity Memorial. Operating in 35 cities, the organization partners with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, local medical examiners and funeral homes to ensure that veterans without friends or family are treated to the proper funeral service that they earned.

"It doesn't really matter what happened during their life," organization spokeswoman Lisa Marshall told The Huffington Post. "At some point, they were willing to give their life."

The organization, established in 2000, serves a role at a time an estimated 67,500 homeless veterans are at great risk for dying on the streets.

The nonprofit Community Solutions, which launched the 100,000 Homes Campaign, found that 27.3 percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, physical illness, and substance abuse at the same time. They are also more than 11 percentage points more likely to develop life-threatening diseases than homeless people who are not veterans, according to the report released in November.

rest at

By the Numbers: Life and Death at Foxconn

An investigative series by the New York Times and a performance piece by Mike Daisey featured on This American Life have put the spotlight on Foxconn, the Taiwanese company whose massive Chinese factories manufacture some of the world's most popular consumer electronics.

As well as working with companies like Dell, Motorola, Nokia and Hewlett-Packard, Foxconn assembles popular Apple products like the iPhone and iPad.

Here's a quick look at what we know about Foxconn. (The company disputes workers' accounts of abusive conditions. In a 2010 company report, Foxconn said it promotes "employee respect, an atmosphere of trust, and personal dignity.")

Working for Foxconn

1.2 million: number of workers employed by Foxconn in China, according to the New York Times.

40: Estimated percent of the world's consumer electronics manufactured by Foxconn.

7: seconds it takes Foxconn's workers to complete a single step of their work, according to a survey cited by the New York Times.

12: Hours in a typical work shift, according to interviews with Foxconn employees.

83.2: Average hours of overtime worked each month, according to a 2010 survey of Foxconn employee.

13: age of a Foxconn employee Mike Daisey interviewed outside the gates of a Foxconn plant in Shenzen.

91: cases of underage labor found by Apple's audits of its suppliers in 2010, the year Daisey visited China.

rest at 

Newt Gingrich is Telling the Truth #p2 #tcot

The Progress Report Banner

Newt Gingrich is Telling the Truth

Jan 26, 2012 | By ThinkProgress War Room

Newt Attacks Romney for Profiting Off Florida Foreclosures

This morning, Newt launched a new broadside against Mitt Romney, attacking him for personally profiting, via a Goldman Sachs investment, off mortgage lenders responsible for thousands of foreclosures in Florida.

Watch it:

The charges Newt is leveling against Romney stem from an exclusive item ThinkProgress broke yesterday. ThinkProgress' Josh Israel explains:

A ThinkProgress examination of Mitt Romney's presidential personal financial disclosures from May 2011 reveal that the former Massachusetts governor and his wife own or owned millions of dollars worth of a Goldman Sachs investment fund invested heavily in mortgage-backed obligations. And the current owners of those mortgage debts began foreclosure proceedings against thousands of Floridians.

Along with his investments in Bain Capital funds linked to offshore tax havens, the Romneys have large investments in the Goldman Sachs Strategic Income Fund (institutional class). The firm's March 2011 annual report for the fund notes that about 8 percent of the fund is invested in banks and 24.5 percent is invested in mortgage-backed obligations. Romney's form says he has invested between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 in the fund and his wife Ann has invested an additional $1 million-plus. Since the 2008 economic meltdown and the enactment of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, this fund has done quite well, growing 7.88 percent between April 2010 and March 2011.

The mortgage-backed securities in the fund include adjustable rate mortgages from Bear Stearns, Countrywide, IndyMac, and Washington Mutual. A 2009 Center for Public Integrity report identified all four of those companies as among the top-25 subprime lenders in the lead-up to the market's collapse. Countrywide ranked first in that report and Washington Mutual ranked second. While the remnants of those companies have been purchased by major financial institutions, an array of mortgage loan service companies bought up the individual mortgages.

An examination of civil cases filed in Miami-Dade county alone, by just the current owners of the mortgage obligations for now-defunct Washington Mutual and Countrywide, suggests more than 5,000 foreclosure cases were filed in 2010.

And Miami-Dade makes up only about 13 percent of the Florida population, suggesting that these and the other owners mortgage-backed securities included in this fund likely have attempted to foreclose on tens of thousands of Floridians.

A review of Romney's August 2007 financial disclosure for his 2008 campaign reveals no mention of the Goldman Sachs Strategic Income Fund, suggesting the investment was made at some point between the two campaigns.

The funds are identified on the disclosure form as technically being in a "blind trust," but now that he has publicly disclosed these assets, the trust is no longer functionally "blind." The trustee for the trust, R. Bradlford Malt, said this week that he dropped some other Romney investments that conflicted with the Republican Party's values.

In October, Romney suggested that the solution to the foreclosure crisis was "don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom." While that process is bad for Florida homeowners, these investments show it may have been good for the Romneys.

The Romney campaign responded with a single word: "Wow," and then leveled their now familiar (and tired) charge that this is an attack on the "free enterprise system." Tellingly, the Romney campaign did not deny the substance of the allegations — that Romney personally profited, via a Goldman Sachs investment, in mortgage lenders responsible for thousands of foreclosures in Florida.

As we've said before: we're not attacking the free enterprise system. We're not attacking capitalism. We are attacking a broken economy where the game is rigged in favor of a privileged few at the expense of everyone else.

Instead of an economy where someone can amass a quarter-billion dollar fortune — on which they pay a lower tax rate than middle class workers — by laying off workers, bankrupting companies, and foreclosing on homes, we need an economy that works for everyone.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

Bill Gates isn't afraid to try new things in his education philanthropy.

Undocumented students protest a Mitt Romney event over his pledge to veto the DREAM Act.

And Mitt Romney is burnishing his culture warrior credentials, accusing Obama of "an assault on religion."

Two-thirds of American investors support closing one of Mitt Romney's most egregious tax loopholes. In other Romney tax news, his campaign dismissed as "trivial" his failure to disclose his Swiss bank account and other investments on his legally-required Personal Financial Disclosure form.

Bank of America's offer to homeowners: We'll modify loans if you'll erase all the mean things said about us on Twitter.

Will electronic voting make the Oscars relevant?

President Obama heaps mockery on Romney's "envy" charge: "I promise you. Bill gates does not envy the rich."

Despite campaigning for Latino votes in Florida, most GOP candidates want English to be the official language.

An Islamophobic officer plans to speak at West Point, but some veterans want him out. West Point is defending the invitation, saying cadets deserve to hear a "wide range of views."

THINKPROGRESS | Center for American Progress Action Fund
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor | Washington, DC 20005

Thursday, January 26, 2012

@gop New Hampshire Republicans Propose Bills That Prevent Police From Protecting Domestic Abuse Victims #p2 #tcot

Since the 1970s, New Hampshire police have operated under a progressive policy for handling domestic violence cases that has saved countless lives. Under current law the presumption is that an arrest will be made when police observe evidence of abuse. They have a large degree of discretion and don't need to witness the assault firsthand or obtain a legal warrant before they can separate the alleged attacker from his victim.

All that will change if Republicans get their way. The state's GOP legislators are pushing two bills that will reverse a half century of progress, the Concord Monitor reports:

Domestic violence is no longer taken lightly legally or by society. That's the way it should be, but two bills under consideration by this most unusual of legislatures, would undo that progress and put lives in danger. Both deserve a speedy defeat.

House Bill 1581 would turn the clock back 40 years to an age when a police officer could not make an arrest in a domestic violence case without first getting a warrant unless he or she actually witnessed the crime. That's an exceedingly dangerous change. Consider the following scenario, one outlined for lawmakers by retired Henniker police chief Tim Russell:

An officer is called to a home where she sees clear evidence that an assault has occurred. The furniture is overturned, the children are sobbing, and the face of the woman of the house is bruised and bleeding. It's obvious who the assailant was, but the officer arrived after the assault occurred. It's a small department, and no one else on the force is available to keep the peace until the officer finds a judge or justice of the peace to issue a warrant. The officer leaves, and the abuser renews his attack with even more ferocity, punishing his victim for having called for help. [...]

It's impossible to say how many lives the policy, in place since the 1970s, has saved or how many injuries it's prevented. If they adopt House Bill 1581, lawmakers might find out, but the price paid could be extraordinarily high.

Homeless Female Veterans Double In Population, Call For Employment Assistance

The fact that many homeless female veterans are middle-aged, divorced, unemployed and single mothers is more than just research on paper for Jennifer John. It's the reality the 42-year-old homeless veteran has struggled with for six years.

John lives in a U.S. Vets-funded women's long-term living center in Long Beach, Calif., where she pays rent that's partially subsidized. She lives with her teenage daughter and has been homeless since 2006.

During that very window of time, the homeless female veteran population has more than doubled, a new study says.

Using "limited VA data," the Government Accountability Office report suggests that the number of homeless veteran women has risen from 1,380 in 2006 to 3,328 in 2010.

The study acknowledges the fact that the number of women veterans has doubled from 4 percent of all veterans in 1990 to 8 percent today.

The report states that the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has committed to ending homelessness among all veterans by 2015 and funds several programs to house homeless veterans, needs to take specific actions to improve housing.

"While the VA is taking steps--such as launching an outreach campaign--to end homelessness among all veterans, it does not have sufficient data about the population and needs of women veterans to plan effectively for increases in their numbers as servicemembers return from Iraq and Afghanistan," the report states.

The GAO suggests the VA collect more detailed data on homeless female veterans, improve transitional housing while they await government homes and tailor safety and security standards for homeless female veterans.

Officials from the VA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development "generally agreed" with the recommendations from the GAO, according to the report.

Veteran homeless counts, however, have never been an exact science. The Army Times points outthat the data aren't representative because "no government agencies consistently track homelessness among female veterans, which raises questions about the VA's ability to help those women."

John, who is now pursuing a degree in social work, explains that some of the female vet-specific issues that create complications in readjusting back to life include having to leave children upon deploying, dealing with family trauma upon returning and recovering from military sexual abuse.

John says that in her opinion, the top way to fight homelessness among female vets is to provide help in finding a job. She hopes for a tailored program and suggested an increase in recruiters who can help her find long-term employment that best fits her skills.

"Focus on us not as a group but as an individual," John said. "Place us according to what we know -- not just at any old job. And whatever I'm lacking, help me get the training."

Caterpillar Sees Record Profits As It Works To Slash Salaries

The union representing workers locked out of a Caterpillar locomotive plant in London, Ont., is taking the fight to Caterpillar's customers on the day the company posted record profits and revenue.

The Canadian Auto Workers announced Thursday morning they will be picketing in front of a dozen Caterpillar dealerships and service centres in an effort to raise awareness about the nearly month-long lockout of workers at the Electro-Motive plant in London.

Caterpillar reported a 36 per cent increase in after-tax profit for both the fourth quarter of 2011 and the full year 2011. Revenues for the year increased four per cent to $2.65 billion.

Despite the record profits, the company is pressuring its employees at the London locomotive plant to accept a pay cut from $32 per hour to $16.50. Caterpillar locked out the workers on Jan. 1 after union members rejected the pay cut.

"This is all about greed," says Bob Scott, union plant chair at Electro-Motive. "How are workers supposed to go back to earning wages last paid nearly 25 years ago, while the company is richer than ever?"

The CAW notes that the latest compensation package for Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman was worth $10.5 million, "twice what he received the year before."

The conflict in London is beginning to gain attention, with many observers growing increasingly alarmed about what massive pay cuts at highly profitable companies could mean for the future of the economy.

RapidShare Attorney: If We're Shut Down Like Megaupload, Then YouTube, Dropbox, Apple's iCloud Are Next

There's been near nuclear fallout from federal prosecutors shuttering of Megaupload, the file-sharing service accused of costing the entertainment industry $500 million in lost revenues. It's estimated that shutting down Megaupload's family of websites, which are accused of hosting massive amounts of copyrighted files, affected 1% of all Internet traffic. The feds are seeking the forfeiture of $175 million from Megaupload's flamboyant founder, Kim Dotcom; sympathetic hacker coalition Anonymous has since launched online attacks against the RIAA, MPAA, and Justice Department; and file-sharing and cloud services from FileSonic to Dropbox are wondering what this could mean for the industry.

On Tuesday, we caught up with RapidShare attorney and spokesman Daniel Raimer. RapidShare is one of the world's most popular file-hosting sites, and many have wondered whether the site could be next on the feds' list of targets. In part one of our two-part interview, Raimer explains why if RapidShare is shut down like Megaupload, then Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's SkyDrive, Google's YouTube, and Dropbox deserve the same fate too.

FAST COMPANY: Do you think Megaupload was fairly or unfairly targeted?

DANIEL RAIMER: I guess that's up to a jury to decide. I'm not a judge, and I don't want to make any verdict. I've seen doing Megaupload doing things that we wouldn't do, and that we strongly discourage, such as their heavy rewards program. But I don't want to say that they're guilty. It's not up to us to decide that.

Do you think federal prosecutors will target RapidShare next?

I don't think so.

Why not?

Let me put it like this. The technology behind Megaupload and RapidShare may be similar, but this is also true for the technology of Microsoft's SkyDrive or Apple's iCloud, which is not too different from what RapidShare is. It's uploading a file, and accessing it over the Internet, or even sharing at certain times with friends. The business from an ethical standpoint is really similar. The main difference is, what exactly is your business model? Are you aiding piracy? Is your intent to make money by attracting pirates and getting attention from copyright pirates? Or do you want to have serious customers and long-time relationships with satisfied people from all over the world, who trust you? That's exactly what we do.