Bridgegate Redux: Christie announces that he will investigate himself over pay to play claims

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

chris-christieThis afternoon brought the latest twist in the New Jersey pay to play scandal first uncovered by Pando.

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has released the details of its investigation into the $10,000 donation from General Catalyst’s Charlie Baker to the New Jersey Republican State Committee. The donation came just months before Christie officials gave General Catalyst a state pension contract, raising questions about possible violations of state and federal pay to play rules.

Here’s the kicker: Rather than appointing an independent counsel, the Christie administration says it will be investigating itself.

This seems to be part of a pattern. Just recently, Christie had a Christie-appointed lawyer (from a firm that is a donor to the Christie-run Republican Governors Association) issue a report absolving Christie of any wrongdoing in Christie’s Bridgegate scandal.

Additionally, it appears that Christie officials are attempting to limit the scope of the pay to play investigation only to…

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Confessions of an e-cig salesman

Originally posted on Youth Media for Building Healthy Communities:

Many youth are taking up e-cigarettes saying they want to quit tobacco or keep smoking minus the health effects, but the reality is the substitution won’t help them accomplish much beyond smoking in public places where tobacco has been banned.  One youth who took a job as a “brand salesman” for an e-cigarette company divulges what is known about the reality of e-cigarettes, and what remains unknown.  “[T]he first thing I learned in my job training was that these devices are neither proven cessation tools nor healthier than regular cigarettes. In fact, the chief rule was to avoid making such claims.” Read more confessions of an e-cig salesman, on Voicewaves.


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Russ Walsh: “Reformers” Don’t Know What Motivates Teachers

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Russ Walsh writes that corporate reformers have no idea what motivates teachers so they impose their own flawed ideas. Few have ever taught. They listen to economists, most of whom see education as an economic activity, not a humanistic activity.

First, they decided that the teacher is the most important determinant of student test scores (not true, the best predictor of student scores is family income and education). Then they decide that the best way to motivate teachers to work harder is to devise a system of rewards and punishments. Scores will rise, they reason, if teachers are threatened with loss of their careers.

But this is all wrong. Teachers are not motivated by carrots and sticks.

What motivates teachers?

Teachers are motivated by students.

“Nothing can motivate a teacher to be well-prepared and perform at peak ability more than the simple fact their will be 25 or so faces…

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2014 legislation affecting Hoosier seniors

Originally posted on Indiana Senate Democrats: The Briefing Room:

Each year, legislation is drafted to address issues concerning Indiana’s aging community. During the 2014 legislative session, a number of proposals gained final approval and will become law.

Many circumstances arise when an incapacitated individual is no longer able to make decisions on their own. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 59 allows a guardian, including a volunteer advocates for senior program or a volunteer advocates for incapacitated adults program, to request permission to file a petition for divorce, legal separation, or annulment of marriage on behalf of an incapacitated person. Under this law, the court may grant these requests on behalf of an incapacitated person only if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that petitioning for a divorce, a legal separation, or an annulment is in the best interests of the incapacitated person. The act lays out several guidelines regarding who may request permission to file a petition and who…

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The FCC’s Tom Wheeler now has his loaded gun. Will he use it to defend the free Internet?

Originally posted on PandoDaily:


The Federal Communications Commission has just granted itself the ability to either protect or condemn the free Internet, depending on how you read the net neutrality rules the agency will consider making law in the coming months. Its top commissioners voted on the proposal today, and despite the dissent of two-fifths of the group and criticism for the speed with which the proposal was rushed down their throats from four of the members, they will move forward.

The rules are meant to protect consumers from an Internet where network providers can improve the performance of certain websites and services, as long as these sites pay the troll living under the cable modem. But the rules have been criticized for failing to address the peering and interconnection deals which offer companies better access to a network if they pay these tolls, like Netflix is doing with Comcast and Verizon. That could divide the Internet…

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The FCC can barely handle text messages, but we’re supposed to trust it with the Internet?

Originally posted on PandoDaily:

fcc-text-message-emergency When the Federal Communications Commission isn’t busy trying to kill the free Internet , it’s trying to make sure that consumers don’t encounter obscenities in daytime television or can communicate with each other in new and interesting ways. The agency has always been better at the former than the latter, but it announced today the partial success of its efforts to make sure that people can message emergency dispatchers instead of having to rely on phone calls.

The only problem, as others have pointed out, is that the feature isn’t available in all states or counties. Unless you’re willing to send a text message that might never reach the people who send sirens and blinking lights to your doorstep, you’re probably going to be calling them for the foreseeable future. This should have been a victory for the FCC — instead, it’s another example of the agency’s inability to make…

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End fossil fuel burning, save $71 trillion — and preserve civilization as we know it

Originally posted on Grist:

High gas prices got you down? Your problems are a tiny fraction of those faced by our whole fossil fueladdicted global society.

A new report from the International Energy Agency considers the cost of remaining hooked on antiquated, polluting, and climate-changing energy sources.

First, here’s what might seem to be bad news from the new report: It would cost the world $44 trillion to end our fossil fuel addiction by 2050 and switch to clean energy. Worse, this figure is $8 trillion higher than the IEA’s last estimate, published two years ago. Expected costs have risen because we’ve delayed the process of switching over to climate-friendly energy sources.

And now the good news: We can save $115 trillion in fuel costs by 2050 if we move away from dirty energy, making for net savings of $71 trillion.

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