Elite schools are still mostly attended by wealthy people

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/08/26/elite_schools_are_still_mostly_attended_by_wealthy_people/

There has been “virtually no change” in enrollment of low-income students between 1990 and 2012


Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

There are more students from low-income schools with top grades and competitive exam scores than ever, more low-income students going to college than ever, but the number of these students attending elite colleges has stagnated over the last 20 years. As reported by Richard Pérez-Peña at the New York Times, federal surveys tracking attendance at these schools found “virtually no change” in enrollment of low-income students between 1990 and 2012.

Of the nearly 90 schools ranked as “most competitive” by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, only 14 percent of enrolled students came from low-income households, according to researchers at the University of Michigan and Georgetown University. The research was conducted in 2006, and the number of these students attending elite colleges was the same as it was in 1982.

“Higher education has become a powerful force for reinforcing advantage and passing it on through generations,” Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, told the Times.

There are different reasons for the lack of economic diversity at these schools, with school officials from elite universities arguing that many low-income students simply don’t apply to their schools. But even as some schools are doing more to remove cost barriers to attendance, critics contend that these schools aren’t doing enough to recruit talent among these students. “It’s not clear to me that universities are hungry for that,” Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who studies college diversity, told the Times. “What happens if low-income students start calling the bluff of selective universities, and do start applying in much larger numbers? Will the doors be open?”

One way to solve the lack of diversity at these colleges, according to the Times, is face-to-face recruitment. “You can make big statements about being accessible, and have need-blind admissions and really low net prices for low-income kids, but still enroll very few of those low-income kids, by doing minimal outreach,” said Vassar College president Catharine Bond Hill. “There has to be a commitment to go out and find them.”

And once these schools go out and find these students, they have to help them navigate the complex web of financial aid and reduced tuitions offered, work that can be hard to do without someone walking you through it. “If you come from a family and a neighborhood where no one has gone to a fancy college, you have no way of knowing that’s even a possibility,” Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library, and a former president of Amherst, told the Times. “And if you go on their website, the first thing you’re going to look for is the sticker price. End of conversation.”

Climate Shocker: Warming Oceans Create Great Plumes of Methane Bubbles Near Atlantic Coast

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/warming-oceans-create-bubbles-methane-gas

The bubbles could add some 90 tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Cliff Weathers
August 27, 2014

Streams of methane bubbles are percolating along the Atlantic coast between North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.

According to the journal Nature, surges of bubbles are flowing from hundreds of ocean-floor leaks. Researchers say the plumes likely contain methane and could add as much as 90 tons of methane—a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide — to the atmosphere each year. The methane bubbles may also hasten ocean acidification.

In the Geoscience newsletter published by Nature, researchers say that some two-thirds of the methane emissions come from methane-rich ices deep in the ocean that may be decomposing due to warming waters along the ocean floor. What effect these emissions will have on the atmosphere or the chemical makeup of the ocean is not immediately clear, but scientists are concerned.

The bubbles first came into view on sonar scans of the ocean floor during oceanographic expeditions between 2011 and 2013. The expeditions ranged from Cape Hatteras in North Carolina to Georges Bank off Cape Cod and covered more than 36,000 square miles, an area about the size of Indiana. The scanned area includes the margin of the continental shelf and the sloping areas seaward and to the east.

Within a distance of about 590 miles, researchers found some 570 bubble plumes, which is considered to be an extraordinary amount. Previously, researchers studying the area had only detected an incidental number of bubble plumes. While some of the plumes extended far from the ocean floor, most of the bubbles dissolved into the water before they could reach the water’s surface.

The next step for the oceanographic researchers is to collect samples of the bubbles, says Carolyn Ruppel, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey at the Woods Hole, Massachusetts field center and a co-author of the study.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/warming-oceans-create-bubbles-methane-gas

The Trans vs. Radical Feminist Twitter War Is Making Me Sick

From Vice Magazine: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/paris-lees-terf-war-twitter-radical-feminists-088

By Paris Lees

Unless you’re a fucking loser, you probably haven’t been following the ongoing “war” between a few transgender activists and some so-called radical feminists. They’ve done their best to suck me into their collective madness recently, but I’m not playing ball. Let me fill you in. First up we have TERFs, short for “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”. Basically, they’re full-on internet weirdos hell-bent on telling trans women that we’re not “real” women. They want to stop us using female loos, going to shitty music festivals and, erm, accessing healthcare. I know, right? Throw a few obsessive trans folk into the mix, and a handful of privileged white feminists with nothing better to talk about and, well, you’ve got yourself the perfect pointless shitstorm.

You’re all insane. And you’re all behaving like arseholes. I’m sick of the lot of you. It’s gone past the point of who I “agree” with – though of course that’s trans people and their right to get on with their lives without hassle – but this isn’t about rational debate any more, it’s about an over-educated and time-rich bunch of narcissists on both sides who are completely and utterly addicted to a never-ending slanging match about absolutely nothing. That’s right. You are talking about nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. I can’t even tell you how disgusted I am to have waded into this “debate” just to tell you that you are talking about nothing because it means that I am also talking about nothing. I am talking about you talking about nothing.

Take the “debate” around the word “cis”. It’s Latin for “not trans”. So far, so neutral. Well, a group of bloggers known as “Mean Girl feminists” (although they’re nowhere near as cool as that name would suggest) hate the word “cis”. The Meanies desperately wanted to be the popular girls at school but everyone else thought they were saddos, so now they’re taking it out on any trans peeps that want to join their woman gang. They objected to the term cis from the start because they basically refuse to see themselves as anything other than transparently “normal” – as I’m sure some people hated being told they were “heterosexual” when the gay rights movement made clear that being “straight” was just another sexual orientation.

But well done to you, too, angry trans people. Well done for the “die cis scum” hashtag and all the rest of it that has given Meanies ample excuse to now claim that “cis” is a slur. Good work.

Meanies – if you don’t like the word “cis”, can you just fucking pick another one, please? Literally just make one up. Like “kokadillo”. Or “flumbledumpling”. I don’t know, maybe they can do a call-in for suggestions on Woman’s Hour or something. Because it really would be useful to have a word to describe people, like you, who don’t experience extreme dysphoria in relation to their body sex. Of course, maybe it’s not the word “cis” that you object to at all, but the idea. Maybe you don’t believe in the word because you don’t really buy into all this trans business either? Who knows.

The TERFs and the Meanies call themselves “gender critical” but they’re not, not really. They aren’t obsessed with David Beckham, or Katie Price, or the billions of other people who aren’t trans who perpetuate gender every day. Just trans people, who they can pick on. “Gender critical feminism” is a special form of bigotry paraded as legitimate concern, a modern twist on “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. All they want to do is talk, but they have nothing new to say. And I don’t buy into their “all discussion is important” crap either. Most people talk a load of old shite. It’s like the “discussions” about immigration that are used by bigots as an excuse to express their hatred of foreigners. It’s just ugly prejudice dressed up as fancy debate.

Behind this façade of valid discussion hides a bunch of overgrown school bullies pointing at people who are different and demanding they explain that difference. Asking someone why they are trans is no better than asking them, “Why are you so fat?” Gia Milonovich is the girl in the playground shouting “You’re not pretty like us!” but who never gets into trouble because she’s banging the head of science, Mr Cox. She’ll tell you what being trans is all about. Me, sir! Me! I know the answer! I’ve read the next chapter!

Continue reading at:  http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/paris-lees-terf-war-twitter-radical-feminists-088

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Labor Songs

Too Old to Work (The Social Security Song)

When Did it Become the Norm for Police to Crush Americans’ Rights?

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/when-did-it-become-norm-police-crush-americans-rights

Militarized weaponry is being used to trample constitutional rights.

By Alex Kane
August 22, 2014

The militarized police force unleashed in Ferguson, Missouri over the past two weeks has crushed the civil liberties of black residents angry over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. That law enforcement has shown utter disregard for the rights of protesters and the press is no surprise to many, especially black people, who have had to contend with pervasive surveillance and harassment in varied forms for much of American history. Yet what makes the situation in Ferguson look especially scary and dystopic are the militarized weapons being used to crush constitutional rights.

The first civil liberty to be trampled on by cops was the right to protest, or as the Constitution puts it, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Protests have occurred almost daily since August 9, the day Brown was killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. When demonstrations broke out over the shooting, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used vehicles that produce piercing sounds to disperse the crowd.

In the wake of these scenes, groups like Human Rights Watch have charged that the methods law enforcement used have intimidated peaceful demonstrators. “Ferguson police are compounding problems with threats and the use of unnecessary force against people peacefully protesting the police killing of Michael Brown,” Human Rights Watch’s U.S. researcher Alba Morales said in a statement. “They should be upholding basic rights to peaceful assembly and free speech, not undermining them.”

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, and Daria Roithmayr, a law professor, argue that excessive tear gas and rubber bullets also violate the constitutional right to due process. “The due process clause bans the police from using excessive force even when they are within their rights to control a crowd or arrest a suspect,” they write.

Despite this criticism, the police in Ferguson have not changed their tactics.

When citizens with camera phones and journalists have tried to document police tactics, officers have sought to prevent them from doing so. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of a journalist who was told by police to stop recording with his camera. On August 15, the police and the ACLU reached an agreement that would allow the videotaping of police officers as long as officers are able to do their jobs.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/when-did-it-become-norm-police-crush-americans-rights

Ferguson brings the libertarians: Why a new coalition has everyone confused

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/19/ferguson_brings_the_libertarians_why_a_new_coalition_has_everyone_confused/

After Mike Brown’s shooting, an alliance of left and right emerged to demilitarize police. But here’s what it’s not

Heather Digby Parton
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

One of the most misunderstood elements of American politics has to be the fact that legislative coalitions are very different from voting coalitions. The most obvious case in point is the erroneous assumption that the coalition that often forms around civil liberties, featuring elements of the most ideologically committed members of the left and the right, means that these groups are in agreement as to the goals they wish to obtain. It’s not essential that everyone who signs on to a bill is doing so for the same reason, but it’s vitally important that people not misinterpret the joint action as a sign that we are entering a moment of bipartisan kumbaya that will heal the nation’s wounds and bring us together once and for all.

In the wake of Michael Brown’s death and all that’s followed, we are seeing this play out in what Jim Newell accurately described as a potential coalition of right and left on the demilitarization of the police. In this case it’s the hardcore wingnuts at the Gun Owners of America joining in with the ACLU to demand an end to the Pentagon program that encourages police departments to buy surplus military equipment at bargain basement prices, both of whom have endorsed a bill by Democratic congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia to do just that. But it’s important that we distinguish that the liberty concerns driving this particular joint endorsement are not coming from the same place or seeking the same end.

Gun Owners of America president Larry Pratt is not concerned about the police harassing and shooting young African-American men or using military tactics and equipment against peaceful protesters exercising their rights under the Constitution.  He has never before expressed any concern for these issues in the past. What he is worried about is something else entirely.  Just a few weeks ago he appeared on Alex Jones’ conspiracy show and articulated exactly what it is he fears the most. Right Wing Watch captured the moment:

Jones asked Pratt about a Washington Times report about a 2010 Pentagon directive — an update to a series of similar directives crafted under previous administrations — outlining how and when the military can use force to quell domestic unrest “in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible.”

Jones, of course, read this to mean that it is “official and has been confirmed” that the military is “training with tanks, armored vehicles, drones” to “take on the American people, mainly the Tea Party.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/08/19/ferguson_brings_the_libertarians_why_a_new_coalition_has_everyone_confused/

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