Friday, November 11, 2016

The anti-democratic Left on campus

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency sparked protests early Wednesday across California, drawing crowds to city streets and college campuses.

The demonstrations occasioned sadness, anger and bursts of rage. Crowds openly disavowed the president-elect and a few resorted to vandalism.

Shortly after Trump delivered a victory speech in New York City, up to 1,500 people gathered at UCLA. The demonstration peaked about 1 a.m., when a Trump piñata was set on fire in a trash can outside a Westwood Boulevard store.

The small blaze aside, no major incidents were reported and police said the crowd was peaceful.

N.J. Omorogieva, 19, said she was "heartbroken" by the election's result when she spotted the crowd in Westwood while walking home.

"Of course I joined in," she said. "To give hugs to people who were overcome by devastation."

In Oakland, demonstrators smashed a window at the Oakland Tribune newsroom and ignited dumpsters and tires, the East Bay Times reported. Protesters also burned Trump in effigy, KNTV reported.

At the University of California Santa Barbara, hundreds marched near the campus, with some chanting, "Not my president. Not my president."

One person carried a Mexican flag, according to video posted by the student newspaper, The Daily Nexus.

About 500 students marched through the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego, protesting Trump's win and chanting an expletive followed by Trump's full name.

At UCLA, some students lifted their arms up while demonstrating in Westwood Village. Others chanted, "Not my president," according to social media users who documented the scene on the ground.

UC Police Sgt. Miguel Bañuelos said at UCLA, the crowd mostly cleared after 1 a.m. and no injuries were reported.

Demonstrations were also reported in downtown Los Angeles, at UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine.

A throng of people marching in Oakland chanted, "Who's got the power? We got the power."

Protests in the Bay Area city centered in downtown and also saw a march along Highway 24, where a woman was struck by an SUV. She was rushed to the hospital with "major injuries," California Highway Patrol Sgt. Matt Langford told the San Franciso Chronicle.

Small fires in Oakland also prompted the closure of a Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, station.

In downtown L.A., anger simmered as a crowd gathered near City Hall. Some property was defaced, like graffiti scrawled on a fence insulting Trump.

At USC, students rallied around the statue of Tommy Trojan, located in the center of the private university's campus in South Los Angeles.

One Twitter user described it as an "open forum," with members of the USC community sharing reactions on Trump's election.


Mass. voters reject ballot question on charter schools

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly rejected a major expansion of charter schools Tuesday, brushing aside calls for greater choice amid concerns about the overall health of public education.

The vote is a major victory for teachers unions and civil rights organizations, which argued that charters are diverting too much money and attention from traditional public schools that serve the overwhelming majority of students.

“It’s really clear from the results of this election that people are interested in public education and value that,” said Barbara Madeloni, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and a leading opponent of Question 2, at an election night party at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. “There should be no conversation about expanding charters,” she added, until the Legislature moves to “fully fund our public schools.”

With 87 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, the “no” side was leading 62 percent to 38 percent.

The lopsided result is a significant setback for Governor Charlie Baker, who aggressively campaigned for the referendum, saying it would provide a vital alternative for families trapped in failing urban schools.

“I am proud to have joined with thousands of parents, teachers and education reformers in a worthwhile campaign to provide more education choices for students stuck in struggling districts, and while Question 2 was not successful, the importance of that goal is unchanged,’’ the governor said in a statement late Tuesday night.

Charter schools are controversial, in part, because they have a freer hand with budgets, curriculum, and hiring than traditional public schools and are typically not unionized.

The ballot measure would have allowed for 12 new or expanded charters per year, adding significantly to the existing stock of 78 charters statewide.

But voter rejection has stalled the charter movement, which is bumping up against state-imposed caps in Boston, Springfield, and other major urban centers.

The campaign smashed records for spending on a Massachusetts ballot measure, with the two sides pouring about $40 million into television advertisements, phone banks, and canvassing neighborhoods.

Donors to the “Yes on 2” campaign, which had spent $24.2 million by the end of October, included former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and a string of Massachusetts investors. But much of the money came from groups with such names as Strong Economy for Growth and Education Reform Now Advocacy that do not have to disclose donors, leading opponents to decry the “dark money” flowing into the race.

The “no” side, which had spent about $14.5 million at last count, was mostly funded by unions, including the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the national wing of the American Federation of Teachers.

The opposition could not match the “Yes on 2” campaign on television advertisement spending. But the “no” camp had the support of prominent Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. And it mobilized a sprawling field operation, with hundreds of teachers and liberal activists reaching an estimated 1.5 million voters statewide over the course of the campaign.

“We have done an amazing job of building a coalition, building a true grass-roots movement,” said Madeloni, of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, campaigning outside a polling station at the main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square Tuesday morning.

When students leave traditional public schools for charters, they take thousands of dollars in state aid with them. And opponents focused heavily on this financial strain, raising the specter of cuts to arts education, transportation, and other services at the schools that serve the vast majority of students.

But the shift in aid — an estimated $451 million statewide this year — does not necessarily mean that school districts end up with less money. A report by the Boston Municipal Research Bureau showed that the city has diverted money from other departments to the Boston Public Schools to make up for the loss in education funding.

The “yes” side aired a series of television ads designed to blunt the financial argument. And a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll from late October suggested the effort had some success. Just 37 percent of voters said they believe “charter schools drain money from traditional public schools,” while 41 percent said they have “no significant impact on the budgets of traditional public schools” and 20 percent were undecided.

But the survey, like other polls this fall, showed that the “no” side had made substantial gains nonetheless — winning over more Democrats, independents, and women than they had in the spring.


'Zionism is a racist fascist cult': Israeli Embassy's fury after anti-Semitic hate speaker gives talk at a top London university

The Israeli Embassy has reacted with fury after a 'hate speaker' delivered an hour-long rant on Jews and Zionism to students at a top London university.

Thomas Suarez described the creation of Israel as a 'racist', 'fascist' endeavour, and linked the 'cult' of Zionism to the Nazis.

Yiftah Curiel, spokesman for Israel's diplomatic mission, accused SOAS of letting 'racist conspiracy theories' go unchallenged during the talk at the Palestine Society.

He told MailOnline: 'We are surprised and disappointed that SOAS would give a platform to a hate speaker.

'He equates Zionism - the Jewish people's right to national self determination - with Nazism and Fascism.

'It is regrettable that instead of promoting coexistence and dialogue, SOAS would hold an event at which outlandish, racist conspiracy theories regarding Zionism and the Jewish people, were presented as fact.'

The university responded by saying the event was organised independently by the Students' Union and it wanted to maintain a 'neutral platform' for different opinions.

Mr Curiel tweeted a section of footage, filmed by blogger David Collier, in which Mr Suarez discussed the Balfour Declaration, which created the modern state of Israel.

He told the students: 'Only when Zionism's exposed as the racial fascist movement that it is will Britain be forced to distance itself from the Balfour Declaration.'

Mr Suarez - a professional violinist who has written a book on Israel - also described Zionism as 'parallel to Nazism' and accused Jews of exploiting the Holocaust.

Mr Collier described the speech, which took place on the SOAS campus, as 'sickening' to watch.

'He was there in front of students, just feeding them these conspiracy theories,' he told MailOnline.

'I expected there to be dodgy stuff, because I knew what his credentials are. The guy is a violinist, not a historian.'

Mr Curiel's comments have led to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism filing a formal complaint with the university.

A section of the letter read: 'SOAS is sometimes referred to in the Jewish community as the 'School of Anti-Semitism.

'We hope that by your actions you will demonstrate that this reputation is no longer deserved.'

'Almost to the day of the 99th anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917, the SOAS Palestine Society, in collaboration with Olive, invites everybody to a talk by Tom Suarez on British colonialism and Zionist settler-colonialism in Palestine... British officials and Zionist leaders colluded to lie about the scheme of expropriation and ethnic cleansing in Palestine from the very beginning.'

A SOAS spokeswoman told MailOnline: 'SOAS is committed to maintaining a neutral platform and ensuring that all members of our diverse community are free to express their opinions in a mutually respectful and collegial environment.

'The event referred to was not a SOAS organised or run event. The talk was not part of any SOAS teaching programme, nor of any lecture or seminar series run by the School.

'It was an an event organised by a student society, which operate under auspices of the Students' Union - which is a separately constituted body from the School itself.

'A wide range of opinions and views are expressed at events held at SOAS and it does not mean that the school endorses or supports the views.'


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