Fri
Apr 13 2007
10:35 am

That was one of the many lessons of Watergate. Now, as I'm sure you've heard, there is yet another revelation regarding the U.S. Attorney firings investigation reminiscent of the "18 minute gap":

The investigation has revealed that White House e-mails about official business — on electronic accounts intended for political matters — may be gone, in violation of a law that requires their preservation. Twenty-two White House officials, including political adviser Karl Rove, have the accounts sponsored by the Republican National Committee, administration officials say.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel on Thursday could not rule out that some of the missing e-mails involved the attorney firings.

John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has requested all of the RNC e-mails pertaining to the U.S. Attorney firings, but they have yet to comply. Conyers says "The White House position seems to be that executive privilege not only applies in the Oval Office, but to the RNC as well."

The RNC claims that prior to 2004 they had a policy to automatically purge e-mail archives on a regular basis. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is skeptical: "They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!"

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says there are more than five million missing e-mails, a violation of federal law.

It does seem odd that there are no backups. Republicans are supposed to be well-versed in Business 101 matters such as records retention and IT business continuity best practices and compliance audits and all that stuff. And weren't the personnel actions in question more recent than 2004?

But what's really puzzling about all this is that there's no real evidence that anyone has done anything illegal with regard to the U.S. Attorney firings. It's pretty well established that Bush is politicizing the Justice Department, but that's not necessarily a crime, is it?

So why the cover-up?

55
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Fri
Apr 13 2007
10:22 am
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

Back, by semi-popular request...

drum roll...for you, Socialist with a Gold Card!

School daze

54
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Fri
Apr 13 2007
09:16 am
By: cameronjbrooks  shortURL

Hello- my name is Cameron Brooks and I am an organizer with the Communications Workers of America.

I work for a union here in Knoxville called United Campus Workers. We are an organization of UT Faculty and Staff working to improve conditions for employees at the university. We are in the midst of pushing for a decent pay raise this year and have an email action alert campaign that we wanted to share with Knoxviews- here is a link to the action alert:

(link...)

UT employees have languished under less than decent pay raises over the past decade. Additionally, there is a huge problem with UT paying poverty wages. Please join with us in addressing this issue.

In Solidarity,

Cameron Brooks

56
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Fri
Apr 13 2007
09:16 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

State Sen. Tommy Kilby (D-Oakdale) reminds us of an upcoming sales tax holiday, Friday April 27th through Sunday April 29th. This is a special one-time exemption for 2007 in addition to the usual August sales tax holiday. More details at www.tntaxholiday.com.

118
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Fri
Apr 13 2007
09:10 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

WBIR has an interactive map showing the current and proposed school zones. You can enter your address and see how you will be affected. Click on the little round symbols to see the name of the school zone. The right column has settings for current and proposed zones.

136
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
10:26 pm
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

Big Trouble: Solving Education Problems Means Rethinking Super-Size Schools and Districts. Focus on Utah. link.

does this sound familiar?

Abstract: Big school districts promised to hold down costs by centralizing functions under one roof and delivering a greater selection of academic offerings and activities, thus improving education. But they have not delivered. Up to a certain size, consolidation can save costs, but above that size, districts experience "diseconomies of scale," including misallocation of funds toward bureaucracy rather than instruction. On average, large districts' standardized test scores fall in the lower end of their expected ranges, while smaller districts' scores fall in the upper end of their ranges. Large schools are concentrated in large districts, and big schools experience the same problems as big districts. Parents are not happy with big districts--their complaints over test scores, curriculum, taxes, or anything else always come back to the issue of control. In a big district, the bureaucracy makes the important decisions, and parents feel alienated. Some districts have tried to create sub-schools that share a common school building or to create sub-districts or local councils, but they fail to address the issue of control. If administrators don't deal with the problem, frustrated citizens will take their complaints to the state, which will attempt to force quality. Limiting the size of districts and schools and creating smaller districts will improve academics and efficiency and encourage public participation by bringing issues back to the local level. This will spur innovation, flexibility, and commitment by parents and teachers.

126
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
09:17 pm

This afternoon at work, a co-worker came up and said, "I'd like to introduce you to someone who's going to be doing some work for us." It was Rocketsquirrel. She said to Rocketsquirrel, pointing to me, "He also posts at KnoxViews."

Rocketsquirrel: "Oh, cool! ... Uh ... wait ... you aren't #9, are you?"

Me: "God, no."

Topics:
48
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
06:44 pm

via WBIR

I'm very surprised that more attention hasn't been given to a possible failure of the Wolf Creek Dam. This could be catastrophic on a NO Katrina scale. Check out Davidson County. I hope any of you guys living in the inundation zones have flood insurance and a "get the hell out of Dodge" plan. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers the estimated damage in case of a failure is over $3 billion in damages...not to mention the possible loss of lives.

Link to view all maps here

130
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
05:16 pm

CBS to permanently cease broadcast of Imus in the Morning, effective immediately.

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The Tennessee Alliance for Progress is having it's fourth annual conference this weekend:

The Compass IV Conference will be held April 13-14, 2007 at the Cohn Adult Learning Center in West Nashville. This two-day gathering of progressives from around the state will feature networking, workshops, skill trainings, films, live music, the TAP Long Haul Awards and Silent Auction plus other events. This is THE statewide progressive gathering of the year in Tennessee. You don't want to miss it!

David Sirota, author of Hostile Takeover, and Paul Waldman, author of Being Right is Not Enough, will be keynote speakers.

We wanted to go this year, but real life and work related program activities intervened. If you're in the area, or up for a short drive to Nashville, it would be well worth your while to attend. Follow the links above for program and registration info.

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50
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
12:36 pm

Unfortunately, many parents and students will look at the KCS rezoning plan from a neighborhood, or personal, point of view.

What is at stake here is larger. It is about quality of education for all of our students enrolled in public school.

Large megaschools are not as effective as smaller schools. So says the research, including the ground-breaking book, "High Schools on a Human Scale: How Small Schools Can Transform American Education."

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have a foundation that has committed more than $400 million in the past three years to making American high schools smaller, according to the Washington Post.

But unfortunately, Knox County only approaches these issues from an infrastructure and growth planning issue, not from the perspective of valid educational benefit to the students.

We have one high school in Knoxville sitting empty (Rule) while a new one is being built (Hardin Valley). We have growth throughout the county. Rule sits on only 7 acres of land, thus excluding it from consideration under the megaschool paradigm that is reflected in the leadership within the Knox County School System.

Using simple reasoning, if we have growth throughout the county, one megaschool built every 10 or 15 years will result in catastrophic rezoning every 10 or 15 years.

Do we want to shift 20% of our student population every 10 years, or do we want to bring the resources to their communities? That is the fundamental question.

The alternative: Build more, smaller, cheaper schools throughout the ever-growing Knox County, better personalizing the educational experience.

According to the author, several studies show "that high schools are more likely to be successful when they are small and personalized -- when they have four to five hundred students and stress long-term relationships between students and teachers, individualized attention, extra help for struggling students, and an adult advocate for every student. Smaller schools encourage stronger bonds between students and teachers and generate a level of genuine caring and mutual obligation between them that's found far less frequently in comprehensive high schools."

"Students and teachers, as a result, tend to work harder on each other's behalf. Student and teacher attendance and student involvement in extracurricular activities are higher in smaller high schools. Teacher turnover and disciplinary problems are lower. So are dropout rates. There's less tracking in smaller schools. And a wide range of studies reveal that average student achievement is as high as and often higher than that in large schools, particularly among students from impoverished backgrounds."

164
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
10:54 am

Sad Day for Sevier County
By James J. Wilson

The Cove Mtn. project (High Bridge PUD) was approved by the Sevier County Planning Commission (PC) last night by a 7 to 4 vote.

There were many questions about the legality of the documents the developer (Kenneth Whaley, also a county commissioner) submitted.

Specifically, the developer presented a 1971 deed that just turned up yesterday that, they say gives them the 50 foot Right of Way (ROW) necessary to access their project.

You may recall that the PC voted to deny this same permit last month because of just that ROW question.

There was an overflow crowd waving signs and being very vocal, as you might imagine. Both commissioners from the district that this PUD is forced upon were pleading with their fellow commissioners to defer the vote until such time that the legality of the documentation could be verified.

Remember that this same commissioner, Kenneth Whaley and his partners at Southern Design are the same ones whose last PUD went belly up and has left scars across Webb Mountain that is causing severe erosion of a pristine waterway even today.

The commissioners had a motion (and second) on the table with a recommendation for approval from the County Planer, Jeff Owenby, before they accepted any public comments.

Five people spoke against the project and raised many questions.

The County Planner did not choose to amend his recommendation and it was hastily passed.

(more after the break)

Continued...

53
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
10:29 am

I posted this to Reality Me but it should have been posted here to reach the masses. As a reminder, if you do not have children, this decision by the school board could impact your property value. If you have young children, they will be in high school sooner than you think, and this rezoning will likely be a model for the middle school and elementary rezoning which will follow soon.

On Aug 3 2006, Sam Anderson ran unopposed for the School Board 1st District, Dan Murphy ran unopposed for the School Board 4th District, Thomas A Deakins beat H Lee Martin by 372 votes for the School Board 6th District, Rex Stooksbury ran unopposed for the School Board 7th District, and Robert Bratton ran unopposed for the School Board 9th District. I am not sure about the other districts.

According to two commenters on No Silence Here, at least one school board member's neighborhood seemed to escape rezoning. (can anyone verify this? are there others?)

Isn't it amazing that Karen Carson's neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods are no longer in the rezoning area????????? Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Gee, what a coincidence. [Source]

I noticed that Chairwoman Karen Carson's neighborhood did not get rezoned to either Bearden or Hardin Valley even though the area is sandwiched between those being rezoned. Just curious if any school board members' neighborhoods are being rezoned? [Source]

Are we, the people, being properly represented by our elected officials or have these elected officials found an easy way to serve their own best interests? Seems to me that if I had the foresight to want to greatly influence this rezoning that I should have simply run for the School Board. If the majority of the people do not want this rezoning approved and it happens anyway, then the democratic process is failing and we, the people, need to remove the elected officials from their duties and replace them with officials that will better represent the people's wishes.

Now we beg the question, what does the majority want?

132
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
10:11 am

A bomb exploded in the Iraqi parliament's cafeteria in a stunning assault in the heart of the heavily fortified, U.S.-protected Green Zone Thursday, killing at least two lawmakers and wounding 10 other people.

GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has not commented on this latest example of how safe it is in Baghdad.

Topics:
53
like
Thu
Apr 12 2007
09:20 am

That's what this otherwise well-written and well-researched editorial in the student run Tennessee Journalist says regarding victims of computer virus attacks. The comments are uh, interesting, too.

53
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
08:33 am

A Tennessee blogger is being threatened with a lawsuit by a job placement outfit over a post she made about her and her husband's experience with them. Nashville is Talking has the background and a roundup. Newscoma has an extensive catalog of links.

Free speech does not mean freedom to libel, but...

Continued...

172
like
Thu
Apr 12 2007
07:39 am

Breaking news out of Alabama about an amazing new technological discovery:

Some of Alabama’s nastiest coal-fired power plants may be cleaning up their act with some new technology called a "scrubber" that was unveiled by Alabama Power Company executives Wednesday.

The mechanism, expected to be operational in 2008, is designed to strip some of the worst pollution out of power plant emissions.

Dangerous sulfur dioxide, called SO2, is stripped from the plant's emissions through a scrubbing process that works like a shower. Pollution is mixed with limestone powder and water, which strips gases out of the plant's emissions before they're released into the air.

Wow, I wonder if TVA has heard about this new "scrubber" technology?

Wait a second. This sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, now I remember:

Most modern power plants — and all plants built after 1978 — are required to have special devices installed that clean the sulfur from the coal's combustion gases before the gases go up the smokestack. The technical name for these devices is "flue gas desulfurization units," but most people just call them "scrubbers" — because they "scrub" the sulfur out of the smoke released by coal-burning boilers. [..]

In most scrubbers, limestone (or another similar material called lime) is mixed with water and sprayed into the coal combustion gases (called "flue gases"). The limestone captures the sulfur and "pulls" it out of the gases.

Maybe the mule train hauling the mail got waylaid by bandits and the news about this technology has just now reached Alabama.

But seriously, it's hard to say which is worse -- Alabama Power Company executives trying to suggest this is "new technology" when in fact they should have installed it 30 years ago, or a "senior TV news reporter" who just transcribes what they say without bothering to check it out.

44
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
06:47 am

Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died Wednesday. He was 84.
...
"We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard... and too damn cheap," he once suggested carving into a wall on the Grand Canyon, as a message for flying-saucer creatures.
...
"My father, like Hemingway, was a gun nut and was very unhappy late in life. But he was proud of not committing suicide. And I'll do the same, so as not to set a bad example for my children."

What a great writer. Books that make you think.

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116
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