Monday, September 26, 2016

Presidential Debates Commission Secret History  (Dark Money Explosion Cries for Clean Money Campaign)  Deutsche Bank in Free Fall/CoCo Bonds Plunge  (Wells Fargo Employees File $2.6B Class Action)  Top Bank Fraud Expert: ALL of the Big Banks’ Profits Come from FRAUD - Bill Black's in the House!  (Adjunct Profs Treatment Heralds End of Higher Education in USA Usa usa)

The Secret History of the Commission on Presidential Debates

With the two major party nominees - and no one else - about to square off once again before a nationwide audience, it's time to revisit the thrilling misadventures that guaranteed voters would never learn about alternative candidates or ideas in presidential debates. Return with us now to...

Lee Camp is our current expert (no, not MSM expert) on what dark money has done to our political process and how to start the clean-money wagon (fire wagon?) for the campaigns to come.

Hope they don't have to put off the "debate" for this little event:

Deutsche Bank in Free Fall. Shares, CoCo Bonds Plunge. Merkel Gives Cold Shoulder on Bailout. Bank Denies Everything

These infamous “CoCos” are designed to be “bailed in” before taxpayers get to foot the bill. Thus, they’re a measure of investor fears about getting bailed in.

Speaking of chickens coming home to roost . . .

(Reuters) - Two former Wells Fargo & Co employees have filed a class action in California seeking $2.6 billion or more for workers who tried to meet aggressive sales quotas without engaging in fraud and were later demoted, forced to resign or fired.

The lawsuit on behalf of people who worked for Wells Fargo in California over the past 10 years, including current employees, focuses on those who followed the rules and were penalized for not meeting sales quotas.

"Wells Fargo fired or demoted employees who failed to meet unrealistic quotas while at the same time providing promotions to employees who met these quotas by opening fraudulent accounts," the lawsuit filed on Thursday in California Superior Court in Los Angeles County said.

Wells Fargo has fired some 5,300 employees for opening as many as 2 million accounts in customers' names without their authorization. On Sept. 8, a federal regulator and Los Angeles prosecutor announced a $190 million settlement with Wells.

The revelations are a severe hit to Wells Fargo's reputation. During the financial crisis, the bank trumpeted being a conservative bank in contrast with its rivals.

A Wells Fargo spokesman on Saturday declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses Wells Fargo of wrongful termination, unlawful business practices and failure to pay wages, overtime, and penalties under California law.

Yeah. You know it.

I still just adore this guy.

What a mensche!

Why isn't he in charge of the Justice Department?


We know why he isn't.

Top Bank Fraud Expert:  ALL of the Big Banks’ Profits Come from FRAUD

September 23, 2016 | Washington's Blog

The country’s top white collar crime expert, William Black – who put over 1,000 top S&L executives in jail for fraud, and is a professor of law and economics at the University of Missouri – confirmed recently what the alternative media has been saying for years:  the business plan of Wall Street is fraud. That’s their key profit center.
Black also says that a British parliamentary investigation Tories found that all of the retail profits of the largest banks in the UK came from fraud.

Indeed, the big banks manipulate every single market … and routinely engage in criminal acts.
Who cares?
Well, experts say that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t EVER really recover and stabilize.
But the government is doing the exact opposite. Indeed, the Justice Department has announced it will go easy on big banks, and always settles prosecutions for pennies on the dollar (a form of stealth bailout. It is also arguably one of the main causes of the double dip in housing.)
Indeed, the government doesn’t even force the banks to admit any criminal guilt as part of their settlements. In fact:

“The banks have been allowed to investigate themselves,” one source familiar with the investigation told Reuters. “The investigated decide what they want to investigate, what they admit to, and how much they will pay.

And as far as my life as an unpopular (after 9/11) but fairly knowledgeable adjunct professor goes:

“The point of tenure was to allow new ideas and new technologies to develop,” Aberle says, “but do that as a contingent staff member and you risk your job. Teaching staff are expected to do nothing but teach, and are expendable if they challenge the prevailing ideology. If a tenured member is let go, that becomes a news item, but if I have one bad semester, I’m done; one controversial thing and I’m done.”
Robert Ovetz may know this better than most. Over 20 years ago, Ovetz, now an adjunct in California, wrote his PhD dissertation about privatization at the University of Texas at Austin. This led him to conclude that the budgetary crisis at universities was caused by channeling student fees into biotech and military research in the hopes of producing, licensing and commercializing lucrative patents. “In 1980, Congress changed the law to allow federal funding to be used for private profit,” he explains, “but it cost the public more to fund these projects than it brought in.”
Ovetz says that he is not in a position to assess the impact his research may have had on his career, although he concedes that “what you write about can have an impact. If someone googles you, they’ll find out about any controversial writing or other activities.” While he worried about this at first, he no longer lets it get to him:  “I’m nearly 50. I can’t live my life in fear.”
Nonetheless, he acknowledges that the chilling effect the entire complex has on academia is deep. He recalls that when he defended his dissertation, a faculty member refused to sit on the committee, telling him that he should not write about such topics until he was tenured. In hindsight, Ovetz realized, “he was telling me you need to self-censor until you’re safe.”
Since building a case for tenure can now take a very long time, even decades, I wonder what is lost in the long quest not to rock the boat until one is “safe.”
Danny Ledonne a former film adjunct puts it bluntly, “By the time you get tenure,” he says, “you don’t want to leave the cage. You need to get into administration or become a department chair to make money, so there’s always a reason to suck up to people.”
Uniquely among those I speak to, Ledonne eventually took a more confrontational stand with his institution. A film major, he started working as an adjunct at Adams State University in Colorado in 2011. He says he was given to understand that he was working on an emerging program and that if he developed it and enrollment increased, there would be a full-time position available in the future.
Ledonne, who described himself as lucky to be starting out with no student loans, scratched together a living teaching two to three courses a semester, summer school and making promotional videos for the university. When a position opened up for full-time faculty in 2014, he thought his hard work was finally paying off. But when he applied for the post, Ledonne was not invited to interview for the position. The role remained empty and he applied again in 2015. This time he didn’t even make the cut for semi-finalist, despite an additional year of experience and a good track record. Ledonne raised a petition on campus to support his application, a move that he still sees as a pivotal in his relationship with the institution’s authorities. “It upset people that I wasn’t just going to pack up and leave. In their eyes, there is no greater sin than self-advocacy.”
A short time later he was told that he could no longer teach at the university or make the promotional videos that he had used to subsidize his career.

Deeply disappointed, Ledonne found himself watching the Batman Dark Knight Trilogy, a choice that was to prove fateful. “I slowly realized that Bruce Wayne comes back to Gotham, this city that he loves, and realizes how corrupt it is. And as Bruce Wayne he can do nothing about it, which is why he invents the persona of Batman. Bruce Wayne is powerless but Batman isn’t.”

Like Bruce Wayne, Ledonne struck out into an alternate persona as the founder of Watching Adams, a website primarily aimed at drawing attention to the poor working conditions many contingent faculty face. Within days of publishing articles on payment delays and lack of transparency on the website, Ledonne was banned from Adams’ campus. When he tried to follow up he was told that his actions were “threatening” and that “someone said they felt harassed.”

“You start to half-guess yourself,” Ledonne says, “Did I threaten someone? What could I have done?”
With the help of the ACLU, Ledonne eventually took a case against Adams, which was settled out of court when the university agreed to pay compensation.

Nonetheless, his experiences and those of others show how vulnerable contingent faculty are to being ‘disciplined’ for raising legitimate concerns about hiring processes or engaging with controversial subject matter. That is concerning when one considers that academia as a whole is supposed to work as a force of scientific inquiry, challenging conventional wisdom and independently assessing the truth of various claims and studies. If many qualified academics are no longer in a position to carry out this vital societal task, either through lack of finances and time or through more aggressive retaliation, the question is raised as to who will do so? What will be the consequences if the students of today are not exposed to conscientious role models who are not afraid to shine a light into every dark corner?

Students:  Suckers for education

Considering the difficulties contingent faculty face, the concern that they show for their students often seems almost pathetically touching. Every person I speak to agrees that low pay and job precarity impact on the level of service they are able to provide for their students; they repeatedly express concern that students are unaware that the education they are “purchasing” may not be the ticket out of poverty that they had hoped for.

Arvis Averette knows more than most on this topic. He graduated high school in 1957 and marched on Washington in 1963 as part of the civil rights movement. Thanks, in part, to a college education, Averette became a successful economist who never depended on his adjunct position for income.

“I lived in a steel town. About 90% of students were white and 10% were black, but 50% of college graduates were black,” he tells me, referring to the traditional method of overachieving one’s way out of adversity. While Averette remains upbeat, he admits that things are different today:  “One per cent of the population used to work for General Motors. Now one per cent of the population works for Walmart. I don’t need to say anything more. People who are from minorities or lower socio-economic backgrounds don’t even have a chance.”

Almost every lecturer I interview tells me about students who excelled in their classes and now work as waiters, movers, even strippers.

“There are a lot of good people who have something to give who are lost to the system. People who were good enough to write a dissertation, a book, articles,” Ruth Wangerin says. “It’s such a waste. Wasted education and wasted effort.”

Worse, many students go into debt to finance their education – a good often provided by people who are themselves in debt. “I expect that I will die before I pay off my grad school debt,” says Loraine Hutchins, who went back for a PhD in her 50s before beginning to teach. “We are misleading students to think that education is a way out of poverty, meanwhile the teacher isn’t making anything.”

But if anything, students have often become unwittingly complicit in their own undoing, unknowingly contributing to poor education standards and the insecurity of staff trying to aid them.

Because student evaluations can play a substantial role in whether contingent faculty are rehired, teachers are often reluctant to provoke their students by bringing up controversial subjects in the classroom, pushing students out of their comfort zone or grading them vigorously. This means that while students now rarely fail a class, they often fail to reach their full potential as intellectuals and to develop the ability to self-examine and revise their own conclusions.

“Student evaluations determine who is rehired and that changes how you teach to a certain extent,” Aberle claims, “That makes it risky to stake out any controversial positions. No administrator wants to deal with controversy. It’s easier to just get rid of an adjunct who generates controversy.”

“I am scared most of the time of making a slip that could end my career like that, and has for others I know,” a community college lecturer in California, who wished to remain anonymous agreed. “A student who gets pissed off for any reason, and wants to slam a teacher, for any reason, can make an accusation, which, even if it has no substance, is very dangerous for that teacher.”

It is something Beth Rosdatter knows all too well. Rosdatter began teaching as an adjunct alongside her own post-graduate studies in the 1990s. A committed anti-war activist, Rosdatter has previously served time for trespassing onto nuclear weapons sites. When we talk, she is expecting another court appearance. While committed to publicly opposing what she views as illegal wars, Rosdatter says she always refrained from proselytizing in class. “The important thing,” she said, echoing so many others I speak to, “is just to get people thinking.”

In 2005, however, a former student took a deep exception to Rosdatter’s personal activism, claiming on the website Free Republic that he had been “oppressed” in her class. “The funny thing,” Rosdatter says, “is that he got an A in that class. He was a really good student.”

Things didn’t stop there, Rosdatter tells me. The former student also posted her phone number and address online, along with photos of her children. Other commenters on the site threatened to shoot Rosdatter, and most horrifyingly of all, to rape her daughter (the website later removed the content).

“I thought he just didn’t understand what he was doing,” Rosdatter tells me. “It was his first year in college.”

Passing the student in the hallway one day, she asked him to remove the photos of her children. The student’s mother soon phoned the college’s administration to complain. Rosdatter was called in to meet with officials and told that in order to placate the student’s mother a reprimand would be placed in her file for having created “a hostile learning environment.”

Rosdatter never saw her file and doesn’t believe that the reprimand affected her employability, but she was thrown off balance by the administration’s reaction and eventually stopped teaching.

Rosdatter’s views on foreign policy may not be universally shared, but it is hard to see how being exposed to the fact that some people oppose certain aspects of American military action could engender serious harm in the learning mind or why lecturers should refrain from participating in social activities outside the classroom. Indeed, much of the mission of higher education has historically been concerned with exposing students to different narratives and encouraging them to devise their own methods of testing each contention for plausibility. It is the cultivation of this capability, and not any particular
content, which will one day make the student independent of the teacher—the ultimate goal of education.

Much like parents, teachers traditionally hope to be thanked later in life when children and students come to realize the benefits of being forced to clean their rooms or complete a daunting assignment. Students should undoubtedly be involved in their own education and protected from bullying, but when they are handed the whip-hand over the very people charged with pushing them to achieve their full potential, one has to wonder whether education is truly doing them any favours or if students have merely become walking dollar signs to administrators anxious to keep them placated and paying for the degrees that now so rarely result in upward mobility.

Beggaring our intellect

The growth of insecure faculty in American higher education has consequences that reach far outside of the classroom and far beyond the lives of poorly paid teachers. Universities and colleges have fulfilled an important mission in our societies, not only in imparting skills to students, but in testing research, pushing back the boundaries of knowledge, and providing a forum in which ideas can be independently scrutinized. When these bodies are starved of the time and resources needed to fulfill these tasks, how will the spirit of scientific inquiry that has contributed so much to our wealth and progress as a civilization proceed? Who will serve as role models for future generations to question “what everybody knows”? Most importantly who will freely share their knowledge with other researchers as universities and colleges have done for centuries, providing a powerful engine for the cross-fertilization of ideas?

Thus far the brunt of this change has been borne by adjuncts and contingent faculty like Robert Ovetz and Beth Rosdatter, and by people like Renee Fraser who was once given a heads-up that she was “teaching communism” after mentioning Karl Marx in a history of Europe. “If I had tenure,” she tells me “I would teach more challenging materials, and have more debate-style discussions. I would have an office and office hours and enough time to meet with students when they need help. I am the first person in my family to get a college degree,” she continues, “I have been teaching a full load of classes ‘part-time’ for 20 years. I have been rated ‘excellent’ by all three of my evaluators for the past nine years. Students love me. I volunteer for committee work and campus events. And my chest tightens for a month before each semester as I check the enrollment figures in my classes, and in all of the classes of the full-time faculty who can bump me, until the semester begins.”

Traditional higher education is being unraveled, and the public goods that the relatively secure tenure-system provided cannot be adequately replaced by a dependent, impoverished workforce. Sooner or later, the implications of holding education and educators in such low-esteem will come home to roost.

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