Friday, October 10, 2014

ASU desperately wanted a black professor of history -- too bad  he is a fraud and a dunce

Blatant racism.  They surely don't think that this does any favors to blacks.  By appointing such a laggard they are proclaiming black intellectual inferiority

In the fall of 2010, the Arizona State University administration decided to push for the promotion of Associate Professor Matthew Whitaker to Full Professor of History.   Led by then Provost Betty Capaldi (who is now ASU Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Phillips), ASU’s leadership decided he was a worthy candidate for promotion despite a mediocre record of research and publication. Perhaps they thought his adroit speechmaking and guest editorials celebrating ASU as “The New American University” made him a first-rank historian.

In the period after being made associate professor in 2006, Whitaker’s public vitae showed that he had not produced a research-based monograph (the standard promotion criterion for ASU history faculty).  The vitae revealed no grants or fellowships, nor did it identify a single refereed article since he was tenured.  It must be admitted that his c.v. did claim and still claims as “refereed” an encyclopedia entry on Muhammad Ali. 

Whitaker had edited two encyclopedias, including the ABC-CLIO encyclopedia in which the Ali entry appeared--perhaps he peer-reviewed himself.  He had placed two chapters in collections of essays, drawn mainly from his previous, pre-tenure book, and had co-edited an essay collection in which he made minor collaborative contributions. Both this volume and one to which he contributed a chapter appeared in a series Whitaker edits for the University of Nebraska Press.

There was, in sum, little since his initial promotion and tenure showing a body of published, refereed work that made an original contribution to historical knowledge. Given the lack of production, the key component in the bid for promotion, though usually not accepted as a substitute for a monograph, was a textbook manuscript, “Over Jordan,” under contract with Harlan Davidson Press, which Whitaker said was “completed” and “in production,” with a release date of December 2011.  Despite this slim record, Capaldi, Vice-Provost Robert Page, and Dean of Humanities Neal Lester—none a trained historian--launched an expedited process of review, which only the administration can initiate.  Presumably, they provided Whitaker’s encyclopedia entries, book chapters, and the textbook manuscript to internal and external reviewers in order that these scholars might judge the quality of his historical work. In the face of objections from the ASU history faculty, in June of 2011 University President Michael Crow approved Whitaker’s appointment as a Full Professor. Indeed, he was to become an “ASU Foundation Professor of History,” and Crow made him Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, with an annual budget of $195,000. Before this promotion Whitaker made less than $95,000 per year. His annual salary is now $155,000.

There is evidence in the public record, redacted by ASU’s General Counsel, that the core component in the promotion file, the textbook manuscript sent to outside reviewers, had been extensively plagiarized, a considerable amount copied from the internet.  In August of 2011, a group made up of most of the Full Professors in the Department of History informed President Crow, the Provost, and Vice-Provost Page of repeated instances of plagiarism in the manuscript, often word for word across paragraphs, without citation.  Despite this advice and counsel, and citing an anonymous “pre-eminent historian who has led major universities,” Provost Capaldi rejected the charge of plagiarism. She defined plagiarism as only applying to work that was published, despite the severe sanctions applied to students’ papers and examinations in the plagiarism policy posted on her Provost web page. She described the textbook sent to outside reviewers as his own scholarly work, a manuscript which Whitaker said was ready to be published, as an “iterative” review, a “preliminary draft.”

When this broad plagiarism was ignored, a group of full professors then demonstrated that, even in the slim content of published work, material had been borrowed without citation from the original research and writing of other scholars.  Most egregiously, Whitaker had copied directly from Wikipedia and other internet sites.  In this case, by university policy, such charges required a hearing through a formally established review committee, the same that would review charges of financial irregularities in government grants to the University.  University procedures mandate that: “No member may have an actual conflict of interest or bias in the case. Committee members must be able to act impartially….”

Yet the composition of the committee was curious.  Its members had close relations with the administration. Two were from ASU: the first, Jane Maienschein played a prominent role in the School of Life Sciences, where Vice-Provost Page had been Founding Director and Dean. The second, Eduardo Pagán, then an Associate Professor at ASU West, has since been appointed by Crow as Vice Provost “for Academic Excellence and Inclusion.” The third, John Lombardi, had begun his career as a historian but had been an administrator for decades.  Though since terminated, he was at the time President of Louisiana State University.  Was he the “pre-eminent historian” and university administrator whom the Provost had relied on to clear Whitaker of the plagiarism charges for the textbook manuscript?  His appointment to the committee would seem to have come at Capaldi’s request, and his participation in its deliberations should have raised serious questions about conflicts of interest. Lombardi had been Provost Capaldi’s close colleague and collaborator for 20 years.  Indeed, as Florida newspaper coverage from 1999 demonstrates, when he was President of the University of Florida system, Lombardi had appointed Capaldi as his Provost. The generous salary and raises he provided her contributed to protests that soon led to his and her resignations.

This was the committee that exonerated Whitaker.  They admitted the “clear taking of the words of others,” and they judged these practices “unworthy of the standards of his profession,” but argued that the plagiarism in it was not “systematic.”  “Accepting Dr. Whitaker’s explanation,” as they stated, the committee members decided his copying was not intentional.  Although the university’s student policy does not allow lack of intent as a defense, they determined that Whitaker, a professor, had not really meant to deceive. At almost the same moment, the ASU administration listed as one of the chief justifications for dismissal of another professor was that she “had plagiarized the work of other authors” in her unpublished course syllabi.

Ironically, Whitaker himself admitted to plagiarism in his use of Wikipedia and other web sources, a practice perhaps most flagrant in the “Muhammad Ali” entry he still claims as a refereed essay.  (An analysis of this piece can be found at Cabinet of Plagiarism.) These “regrettable errors,” he explained, came about because he had hired a “freelance editor” to do his research and writing.  That paid worker had taken “verbatim sections from Wikipedia” without sufficiently “rewording them.” Somehow, Whitaker himself “did not carefully review” the entries before publishing them.  The committee accepted this explanation without further inquiry.  There is no indication from the committee’s report that members interviewed the editors Whitaker says he paid to do his work for him and whom he accused of plagiarism.

In assessing work that had not been digitized, the committee had Whitaker carry out scans to digitize text for plagiarism checking software; they asked him to run and present his own plagiarism checks, rather than conducting all these analyses themselves; indeed, they did not require that he scan the entirety of his work, nor the entirety of the texts from which plagiarism charges derived. From the public documents, it is not clear that the committee understood its own process well enough to realize that internet software searches would not suffice for analysis, nor that they were examining Whitaker’s checks.  Those said to have been done by ASU officials do not appear to be in the files, though perhaps they looked at these as well.

In their remarks on one major charge of use of another historian’s work, committee members asserted that Whitaker did at times cite primary sources, without noting that these were precisely those cited in the earlier work he depended on, extracted in the same way and in the same order. This method of using previous scholarship was noted independently by Dennis Preisler, who wrote a master’s thesis at ASU that treated a historical event common to both accounts. Preisler finds that Whitaker made the same reading and errors as the original work, repeating these “almost word for word.” (See comments by “DGP” in Inside Higher Ed, 13 May 2014.)

The committee did, however, work efficiently.  On 25 January 2012, the chair of the committee complained that she had not seen any of the evidence brought forth in the complaints, including the specific text comparisons and annotated plagiarized passages, although they had first been submitted by the complainants four months before (examples can be examined here and here). According to the public record, two days later, on 27 January, the committee met for the only time. On 2 February 2012, one week after its chair said she had not seen the vital documents, the committee issued its decision exonerating Whitaker.


British food dictatorship

The parents of a four-year-old girl who is allergic to school dinners say she is being forced to eat her packed lunch in an 'isolation room'.

The head teacher of Salusbury Primary School in Harlesden, north west London, allegedly told Lisa-Mbali McFarlane's parents it was 'anti-social' to eat her allergen-free meal around other pupils.

Free hot meals are compulsory for younger years, and Lisa's parents are now embroiled in a row with the school over the bizarre situation - which they have branded ridiculous.

Her mother Gina Wolhunter, a 36-year-old dance instructor, said: 'I couldn’t believe my ears. Why on Earth is it anti-social for my daughter to eat different food?

'We have a legitimate reason to not want her to eat school dinners. Her intolerances and allergies are still unclear, but we know which foods to keep her away from.

'I don’t think there’s anything wrong with school dinners there as a whole, but they are wrong for my daughter.'

Ms Wolhunter and Lisa's father Axel McFarlane, a plumber, say they are still going through the process of full allergy-testing for their daughter, whose problems began aged one.

That means they do not know the full extent of her allergies or what could be causing them.

However, they say she reacts the worst to sugar, dairy and artificial additives such as monosodium glutamate.

'It’s not the composition of the meals we have a problem with - it’s the mandatory nature of the school’s policy.

'If Lisa eats something that disagrees with her, she ends up with a horrific, hacking cough for as long as a week.  'The cough sounds very painful too - why ever would we want to put our daughter through that?

'Now they’re effectively giving her a lunchtime detention, punishment for eating something different. It’s not on.'

The couple say head teacher Linda Kiernan spoke to them on the first day of term last month and insisted Lisa would have to eat school meals because it was 'anti-social' to have different food.

After weeks of rowing, the family say they came to a tentative agreement where Lisa eats in a separate room accompanied by one other pupil and the school nurse.

Mr McFarlane: 'We allowed her to have just one ice-cream from the van this summer, because she said she wanted to be like all her friends.

'For a week afterwards she was up all night coughing, and her eczema flared up.'

The school provides free lunches to all children in the first three years as part of a flagship scheme by Nick Clegg, who said it would help improve concentration and raise learning standards.

Pupils in other years have the option of either eating school dinners or bringing in their own packed lunch, as long as it conforms to school health guidelines.

Ms Wolhunter added: 'Our son chooses whether he wants dinner or a packed lunch, and every time we make it for him, we have to conform to a series of very sensible nutritional guidelines.

'The school has banned chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks, for example, which I think is absolutely fair enough.'

Salusbury Primary School's head teacher declined to comment on the parents' claims earlier today.

Mr McFarlane said: 'We are not food hippy parents, forcing our kids to only eat a vegan, whole food diet. We want to choose what our food-intolerant daughter eats, because she’s too young to control it herself.

'We have a legitimate reason - we’re not just being contrary for the sake of it.'


Counter-terror police raid Islamic academy in London with links to extremists that offers lessons to home-schooled Muslim children

An Islamic tuition centre in East London was raided by police as part of a counter-terrorism investigation after it was linked to a convicted extremist.

Mizanur Rahman, who was jailed for six years in 2007 after calling for British soldiers to be brought back from Iraq in bodybags, manages the Siddeeq Academy in Tower Hamlets.

The 'Islamic education and tuition centre' was among a number of residential and business adresses raided in an operation targeting leadership of the proscribed group once known as Al-Muhajiroun.

Police moved against the organisation, banned under anti-terror laws, on the eve of the first British airstrikes against Islamic State militants waging war in Iraq and Syria.

Rahman was arrested alongside prominent radical Islamists including Anjem Choudary, Trevor Brooks - who goes by the Arabic name Abu Izzadeen - and Abdul Muhid.

Brooks was charged with two counts of breaching his notification requirement and the rest were released on police bail.

The private Siddeeq academy, one of around 18 premises searched, provides courses in Arabic, the Koran and Islamic law, as well as national curriculum subjects including English, maths and science.

Its website promises 'an Islamic environment for your child', boasting: 'With quality, professional tutors, resources, equipment and small sizes, you can include us in your child`s education programme with confidence.'

Rahman took to Twitter to complain about his treatment by police after he was released on bail. 'The entire arrest was only an excuse to distrupt our lives, steal £10,000s property & restrict us from speaking against their foreign policy,' he tweeted.

He also claimed police snatched a LeapPad child's tablet computer today from his four-year-old daughter, joking bitterly: 'Dangerous terrorist equipment apparently.'

The Sunday Times claims that the children of at least two convicted terrorists attend classes at the academy. MailOnline has tried to contact Rahman for comment but received no reply by the time of publication.

Earlier this year, Rahman was investigated by police after a video showed him praising the Boko Haram militants who kidnapped more than 300 Nigerian schoolgirls.

He said in the video: ‘People want to make it out as though history began on the day these girls were taken from - sorry I should say these women - were taken from this high school in Nigeria.

‘They didn’t do to these girls what the Nigerian government had been doing to the Muslims all these years. ‘They didn’t rape anybody. They didn’t torture. They didn’t murder any of these girls.’

He told a crowd of around 300 near the Danish Embassy in central London in February last year that British and American troops should return in body bags.  The Old Bailey saw film of Rahman in which he said: 'We want to see them coming home in body bags. 'We want to see their blood running in the streets of Baghdad.'

He added: 'We want to see the Mujahideen shoot down their planes the way we shoot down birds, we want to see their tanks burn in the way we burn their flags.'

Rahman also had placards calling for the annihilation and beheading of those who insulted Islam.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said: 'He incited or encouraged others to murder in the name of religion.'


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