Political News Datacide 17

Endless War

Chelsea Manning, US army intelligence officer and whistleblower, received a commutation by President Barack Obama in January 2017 of her prison sentence after she served seven of the 35 years for convictions of espionage and related offenses. Manning leaked 750,000 classified military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks, known as the Reykjavik 13, the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary, the Baghdad airstrike collateral murder video, Cablegate, the Guantanamo Bay files, the Grainai airstrike, and others. In May 2017, Manning, a trans-woman, who suffered torture and a myriad of other abuses while in US prison custody, was released, and she presently lives in New York City. She is involved with various protests and social justice actions, and maintains a presence in the media by writing columns in newspapers, as well as personal Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. On September 13, 2017, Harvard University Kennedy School Institute of Politics named Manning a visiting fellow, however, in protest, former CIA deputy director Michael J. Morell resigned from his position as Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School. Harvard’s close ties to the CIA became even more apparent when CIA director Mike Pompeo cancelled his speaking visit to Harvard also in protest, leading the Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf on September 15 to cancel Manning’s appointment as visiting fellow (although she is invited to campus for a day to talk to students). Harvard’s actions can be seen within the larger context of fights over ‘free speech’ at American university campuses, and institutional support for CIA war criminals and tortures. Manning tweeted “honored to be the 1st disinvited trans woman visiting @harvard fellow. they chill marginalized voices under @cia pressure #WeGotThis”. On September 25, Manning took to Twitter, detailing that she had been barred from entry into Canada on September 22. Manning was unauthorized to enter Canada because of her felony conviction in the US. The Canadian immigration document states that “if committed in Canada, this offence would equate to an indictable offence, namely Treason…for which a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment may be imposed.” Manning stated she will formally challenge Canada’s refusal, and The Guardian reports that Manning was detailed by Canadian officials overnight before being sent back into the US. [Read more →]

Education in England – An Update

[This piece is an update to the article The Marketisation of Mass Education in England published in datacide fifteen.]

“When it comes to K through 12 education (4 – 18 years old), we see a $500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be trans-formed by big break-throughs that extend the reach of great teaching.”

Rupert Murdoch, Press Release
November 2010

The opening up of the education market to private providers has reached something of a stand-still or a stand-off in England over the last year. A government White Paper in April 2016 proposed that all schools become academies by 2022. A few weeks later the government abandoned this because of enormous resistance to the idea amongst teachers, parents and local councils. However, there is still plenty of momentum to the ongoing outsourcing and diversifying of state social services e.g. Richard Branson’s ‘Virgin Care’ has been given a seven year £700 million contract for adult social care in Bath and Somerset by the National Health Service; this is the first time a council’s core adult social work services will be directly delivered by a for-profit private firm.
The great majority of secondary schools are now overseen by private organisations of one sort or another and not the local council. The next phase of this re-structuring of provision should be aimed at primary schools (only 13% academies in March 2016) but a number of factors have slowed down the rapid pace of reform.

Firstly, there has been a constant stream of lurid stories in the press about the mismanagement of academies and academy chains. In 2015 seven ‘financial notices to improve’ were handed out to academy trusts; in 2016 this number has risen to twenty five. The Times Educational Supplement had a feature recently (TES 14.10.16) about five academy head teachers who have all fallen from grace: [Read more →]