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First, the good news…

1) National: In the Public Interest’s Executive Director Donald Cohen joined Nicole Sandler to discuss his new book. “I had planned to deal with Biden’s push for voting rights in the first half hour of the show,” Sandler writes, “but I started talking about our guest coming up at the bottom of the hour, Donald Cohen. He’s the founder and executive director of In The Public Interest, and his book titled The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back.  That set me off on a rant about Medicare Advantage and how it’s the mechanism being used to privatize Medicare. And the phone started ringing, so we never got off the subject. When Donald Cohen joined it was a continuation of the conversation already in progress.” [Video, about an hour; Donald joins the show at 36 minutes in] 

2) National: Writing in MarketWatch, ITPI’s Donald Cohen says “the pandemic proved that privatization can’t provide enough public goods—like vaccines, education, justice, and a sustainable planet. (…) Bottom line, the market failed, and then the public came to the rescue. We still needed the private sector, but it’s critical to understand the difference between the public and private roles. The private sector sells things we want and need, like food, smartphones, and gas. The more they sell, the more they earn. That’s logical, but public goals should be focused on the common good and ensuring that everyone has the essentials they need—health care, clean water, education, a sustainable planet, etc.—regardless of status or income.” 

3) NationalScholars are countering well-funded attacks on critical race theory, Sonali Kolhatkar reports in yes! Magazine. “Critical race theory is precisely the sort of nuanced educational lens that Crenshaw, Kelley, and others use in their courses and that has White supremacist forces up in arms. Attacks against CRT are taking the form of multi-pronged legislative restrictions and even bans, as well as firings of teachers accused of teaching biased histories.(…)  In contrast to the politically formidable and well-funded forces arrayed in opposition to CRT, the Marguerite Casey Foundation each year gives out unrestricted funds to prominent thinkers, like Kelley, to counter ‘the limited financial resources and research constraints frequently faced by scholars whose work supports social movements.’ The Foundation chose six scholars whom it describes as doing ‘leading research in critical fields.’ Those include abolition and Black, Latino, feminist, queer, radical, and anti-colonialist studies, which are precisely the fields that are anathema to anti-CRT forces.”

4) Illinois: Employees at the Art Institute of Chicago have successfully voted to form a union, achieving certification from the National Labor Relations Board and ushering in a new era for hundreds of nonmanagement workers at the museum. The union will be part of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 10,000 workers at 91 museums nationwide and more than 25,000 library workers at 275 public and private libraries, including the Chicago Public Library.

5) New Hampshire: Waste management will be front and center at the New Hampshire Legislature this week, with public hearings on extended producer responsibility and siting new landfills. “Jan. 18 will be a marathon of public hearings on landfills at the House Environment and Agriculture Committee. At 10:45 a.m., there will be a public hearing on HB 1420. The bill would block any new landfill permits—including for Casella’s proposed landfill in the North Country town of Dalton, N.H.—until the state updates its solid waste plan, which is almost 20 years old. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is concerned that, as written, the bill would stymie permits for all waste facilities, including transfer stations and composting processors, said Michael Wimsatt, the waste management division director at the agency.”

6) New YorkCalls for record preservation are growing as government meetings go online. “Good-government organizations in New York are backing legislation that would require government bodies to record their meetings on video and post the recordings online. The bill, backed by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and state Sen. Anna Kaplan, is generating interest as more public meetings shift back to live stream events amid the spread of the contagious omicron variant of COVID-19. ‘Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more public bodies have been live-streaming and recording meetings, increasing access for New Yorkers, particularly those with disabilities. However, some public bodies, including legislatures, still do not live stream in-person meetings or post recordings,’ said the group Reinvent Albany in a bill memo of support. ‘This bill will make sure that most open meetings are live-streamed, and that recordings are quickly posted for public viewing.’” 

7) West Virginia: There will be a West Virginia Virtual MLK Day Voting Rights Rally today, January 18. “Join Race Matters, Faithful Democracy, ACLU- West Virginia, American Friends Service Committee, Charleston Chapter of the NAACP, Black By God, West Virginia Faithful Democracy and Summers County Indivisible for a virtual event to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, and to discuss the important need to pass federal voting rights legislation now. West Virginians across the country can tune in virtually.”


8) National/California: What are the class politics of parental contributions to school budgets to support things such as the salaries of staffs and school officials? What happens when government funding falls short of meeting the needs of public schools? How does gentrification impact community schools when federal Title I funds to gentrifying schools go down? The LA Report’s Kyle Stokes has an interesting investigation. “Though we’ve identified 348 parent organizations raising money on 302 LAUSD campuses—some schools have more than one group—parents on the 50 highest-fundraising campuses alone generated more than $26.4 million in 2018-19. Put that another way: two-thirds of LAUSD’s parent fundraising happens on just 6% of LAUSD’s campuses — mostly in wealthy westside neighborhoods or the southwestern San Fernando Valley. (Our map illustrates exactly where.)” [Audio, about 15 minutes]

9) National/Texas: The organized assault on the teaching of America’s racial history and present has forced a charter school to knuckle under. “A planned San Antonio charter school was on the verge of winning final approval from the Texas Education Agency last August when a final set of requests arrived. Among them: The school needed to scrub its website and application of a quote by ‘How to Be an Antiracist’ author Ibram X. Kendi.” The result? “Essence Prep ultimately removed all references to antiracism from its website and application. The school was granted a charter in October and plans to open its doors in August 2022.” 

The assault has also reached traditional Texas public schools. “But he still can’t quite believe that he’s essentially been kicked out of school for an email. ‘For the better part of the past two decades, all I’ve known is get up, go to school,’ he says. When I asked him if he could ever imagine a day where critical race theory is taught in schools, perhaps under a less-polarizing name, he took a long beat. ‘These far-right groups have brought to light a topic that we have long needed to wrestle with,’ Whitfield says. ‘About how a true and accurate history is taught and whose narrative is being centered. It’s almost like a blessing in disguise,’ he says.”

10) National: Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education has an updated report in the Washington Post on the damage for-profit charter schools are doing to our public school systems. “At the end of the school’s audit, an addendum said that the management of Buckeye Prep was transferred from Cambridge to another for-profit, ACCEL Schools of Ohio, LLC. On the surface, that transfer might appear to be a lifeline for the students who attended Buckeye Prep. But the small charter school at 1414 Gault St. in Columbus was—and would continue to be—a big moneymaker for for-profit operators and their partners.” Burris also recommends another story. “The second story is told by Frances Scarlen Martinez, who felt morally compelled to speak out against the oppressive practices of one of the largest charter chains in the country, KIPP. You can read her chilling account here on Public Voices for Public Schools.”

11) NationalA former Obama administration education adviser has pleaded guilty in a charter school theft case. Seth Andrew pleaded guilty “to wire fraud after being charged with stealing $218,000 from a charter school network he founded to get a lower interest rate on a multi-million-dollar Manhattan apartment.” [See the Justice Department press release]

12) National/Arizona: Federal officials are threatening to claw back billions in coronavirus aid from Arizona, accusing the state of promoting Covid education programs that undermine efforts to stop the spread and penalize districts that require masks or shut down in-person schooling.

13) California: A bill that would make any charter school employee or executive director of a charter school ineligible to be a member of the county board of education in the county where their employing school is located has been introduced into the California legislature by Riverside Assembly member Jose Medina (D).

14) Colorado: Despite concerns, Denver’s first school board to be entirely backed by the teachers union has approved 16 charter schools. “Board President Xóchitl ‘Sochi’ Gaytán was the only one of seven board members to vote ‘no’ on renewing the charter contracts, though board Vice President Tay Anderson characterized his ‘yes’ vote as a reluctant one. Board member Scott Baldermann voted for the renewals but said the board should undertake ‘a full review’ of its charter renewal policy. This was among the board’s first major decisions since three new members, including Gaytán, were elected in November. All seven members are now united in their criticism of education reform, a set of strategies favored by past school boards that included closing struggling district-run schools and expanding high-performing charter school networks. The teachers union has also been critical of charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently run.” 

15) Colorado: Should a private, for-profit management company be dictating to a public school whether or not it should have in-school learning during the pandemic?  “Adams County 14 school officials tell CBS4 that contrary to the latest health guidance and school administration wishes, the school district will return to in-person learning following Martin Luther King Jr. Day, following a directive late Thursday by the district’s state-mandated private management company, MGT Consulting, LLC.” Robert Lundin, executive director of communications and special projects for Adams 14, said “this is just one more example of patterns of activity that go beyond being unprofessional and that crosses the line into vengefulness. (…) The relationship between Adams 14 and its state-mandated manager reached a new degree of enmity this week after it was revealed the school board is suing the company for allegedly violating state public record laws, voted to end its contract with the firm, and sent a notice to MGT Consulting stating that its manager for the district, Andre Wright, can no longer contact the district or employees.” 

16) GuamA government-funded charter school’s ability to function is in doubt, The Guam Daily Post reports. “The report also pointed out some of the intertwined relationships between the people who run the charter school and the officials of its biggest vendor/landlord. Eagle’s involvement in SiFA goes beyond the contract, as Eagle’s senior vice president of operations, according to the audit report, was SiFA’s interim chief operating officer at one point. In fiscal 2021, Eagle’s president of operations is a sibling of SiFA’s chairwoman who holds voting rights.”

17) North Carolina: The State Board of Education has unanimously rejected a request to expedite the application for the Elaine Riddick Charter School in Perquimans County. “Both the Perquimans County Board of Education and Perquimans County Schools superintendent sent letters to the N.C. Office of Charter Schools stating the opening of the Elaine Riddick Charter School would have a negative financial impact on the school district. Superintendent Tanya Turner said the Perquimans County Schools would lose an estimated $591,120 during the Riddick school’s first year of operation, and $1,064,016 by its fifth year. Turner’s and the school board’s letters also defended the school district’s own record of academic achievement against claims made in the Riddick school’s charter application.”

18) South CarolinaMillions of public dollars could flow to private schools if a voucher bill succeeds this year, The State’s Zak Koeske reports. “The controversial proposal, which would take money earmarked for K-12 public schools and transfer it into education scholarship accounts that parents of low-income and special needs students could access to pay for private educational costs, was the focus of a Senate Education panel last week and is scheduled for another hearing Wednesday.”

The bill has gotten backlash from parents and educators. “Colleen O’Connell, a former middle school teacher who now works for the South Carolina Education Association, testified that funding the private education of some students through scholarship accounts would harm the majority of students who continue to attend public schools. ‘Education scholarship account vouchers are untested, unaccountable and unaffordable,’ she said. ‘They’re dangerous for our public school system here.’”

19) South CarolinaA charter school in Salem will be closing at the end of the school year. “NEXT School Eagle Ridge is set to close at the end of this school year after its board of directors said enrollment and revenues dropped significantly. The NEXT School Board of Directors approved a resolution on Monday that said the Salem campus faced a $500,000 budget shortfall, while also moving to close its Greenville campus.” 

20) WisconsinEmployees at the Carmen Schools of Science and Technology charter school have filed a union election petition with the National Labor Relations Board. “A current Carmen Northwest teacher, Alexis Garcia, has similar concerns about being overworked and underpaid. She has been active in the union drive. ‘It gives us an actual seat at the table, not a fictitious one that we’ve been given for so long,’ Garcia said. ‘It allows us to advocate for ourselves instead of being told ‘This is what you need or this is what you should do.’ And I hope the union is successful because these kids deserve so much more, and they’re being given the short end of the stick year after year because of this high teacher turnover.’”


21) National: The Idaho Capital Sun reports that the federal government will begin releasing more than $5 billion for distressed bridges in the first year of funding under the recent infrastructure law, President Joe Biden said in a video message. “He specifically mentioned the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky, the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington and the Blatnik Bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The law would provide money over the next five years to address bridges in need of repair and waive the requirement that states and local governments provide matching funds, Biden said.

The figure represents the largest spending on bridges since the Interstate Highway System was created, Biden said. More than 45,000 bridges across the country are in poor condition, according to the Transportation Department.”

22) National: The Biden administration is facing pushback from environmentalists over its clean grid expansion initiative. “The Cardinal Hickory Creek power line is supposed to deliver electricity 102 miles from wind farms in Iowa to the fast-growing city of Madison, Wis., the leading edge of President Joe Biden’s effort to expand the power grid to move renewable energy generated in rural areas to cities. But the project hit a wall late last year when a federal judge ordered the developer, a conglomerate that includes Wisconsin’s largest power utility, to cease development on sections of the transmission line running through a picturesque section of the Mississippi River valley after a local conservation group argued it would irreparably harm the wilderness. (…) The case is part of a wave of legal actions by conservation groups blocking transmission projects from Maine to California and thwarting a decade-long effort to expand and modernize the US grid. Even as environmentalists push for renewable energy to fight climate change, they often oppose the construction of transmission lines in wilderness areas, which inevitably overshadow long-distance projects.” [Read the White House Fact Sheet]

23) District of Columbia: The District of Columbia Department of Transportation and the Office of Public-Private Partnerships have announced that they have selected Plenary Infrastructure DC as the preferred bidder for the DC Smart Street Lighting project. “Using the P3 model, PIDC will provide financing for the project, complete the installation work within two years, and manage all service operations over the contract’s 15-year term. The District will pay PIDC over the life of the contract, minus any performance-based deductions.”

24) Maryland: State officials have reported that the troubled Purple Line light rail so-called public-private partnership will exceed its original estimated cost by an eye-popping $1.4 billion and won’t open until fall 2026. The state Board of Public Works will meet on Jan. 26 to consider the proposed contract.

25) New Jersey: New Jersey American Water is filing for a rate increase. “If the company’s proposed rates are approved as requested, the monthly water bill for the average residential customer using 5,520 gallons per month, would increase $6.78 per month, or $0.23 cents per day. The average monthly residential sewer bill would increase between $0.26 and $16.69, depending on the service area.” 

27) Pennsylvania: This evening at 6:30 pm eastern there will be a meeting which the public is invited to attend where township commissioners and the Butler city council will discuss the terms of a confidentiality agreement with Pennsylvania American Water, which is trying to privatize the Butler Sewer Authority. Will the terms see the light of day before a privatization decision is made, or only after it is too late to do anything about it? “If approved by both Township Commissioners and Butler City Council, the agreement will then go back to the authority for a 60 day review.”

28) International: The Financial Times has a softball profile of the new chief of Veolia, which has gobbled up its global competitor. “Veolia pounced on Suez in mid-2020, first snapping up a 29.9 per cent stake in the group. That preceded six months of bitter wrangling as Suez managers tried to fend off a takeover. A deal worth nearly €13bn was finally reached last April, which will involve spinning out some Suez assets into a separate entity, largely its French water business that would have posed competition problems and employs 50,000 people in the country.” [Sub required] 

Criminal Justice and Immigration

29) National: A majority of voters (68%) want the Biden administration to stop pursuing new private immigration detention contracts, new polling finds. “‘Americans have become more aware of the inhumane conditions and twisted business model of the private prison industry, and want President Biden to follow through on his promise to “end for-profit detention centers,”’ the ACLU’s Brian Tashman writes. Despite a campaign pledge that he would “make clear that the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants,” Tashman notes President Biden’s administration has sought new agreements with greedy, abusive private prison companies. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already started contracting with one private facility in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania and may soon enter contracts with for-profit, private prisons in Leavenworth, Kansas and Mason, Tennessee,” he writes. ‘There are even signals that ICE may expand a private immigrant detention center run by the for-profit GEO Group in Georgia, the very state where the president promised voters that he planned to close all private detention centers.’”

30) National/Georgia: Activists are pressuring the Biden administration over the planned expansion of Folkston ICE Processing Center in Georgia. “GEO is engaged in preparations to increase the facility’s capacity by 1,800 beds. Added to over 1,100 beds already in use, such an expansion would make the FIPC the largest ICE detention facility in the country. ‘Instead of abiding by their promises of ending the use of private prisons, the administration is doubling down and expanding their use. This must stop,’ wrote Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director of Project South, on Twitter. On Dec. 17, 2021, 21 advocacy groups, including Georgia Detention Watch, Project South, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration, called on the Biden administration to cease all negotiations and plans to expand the South Georgia center.”

31) NationalCOVID-19 outbreaks have again hit immigration detention facilities, “where hundreds of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees are currently in isolation. “At the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, which is operated by the Tennessee-based CoreCivic, it’s 79 detainees in isolation. ‘It’s horrible that there should be anyone detained, especially during a pandemic where there is no way to maintain social distancing,’ said Pedro Rios, of the American Friends Service Committee. ‘What we’re seeing is that ICE and the private companies they hire to detain people do not provide them with the adequate equipment in order to avoid falling ill to this horrendous disease.’ (…) ‘It’s not realistic that CoreCivic should be expected to take care of anyone and so to consider during the pandemic they would be able to take care of anyone, it’s just not reasonable,’ Rios said.” 

32) Arizona: As CoreCivic is awarded a new contract by Arizona, Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic says private prison operators are raking it in while catastrophe awaits Arizona’s schools. “Not only will the state pay CoreCivic $85.12 per inmate per day over the next five years—an increase from the average $78.18 to house an inmate in a state-run prison, according to the Department of Corrections—it’ll also guarantee the company’s private prison in Eloy will have a minimum 90% occupancy rate, according to the contract.” And meanwhile, “Arizona’s public schools remain some of the most underfunded in the nation. And now, they’re now facing the prospect of catastrophic cuts by April 1 unless the Legislature lifts a 40-year-old spending limit so they can spend the money they do have. A spending limit they are loathe to lift because doing so would allow a voter-approved income tax on the rich to take effect. This, to better fund schools. If only our kids could pool their allowance to wine and dine our esteemed leaders.”

33) Florida: From Creative Loafing, a new report highlights how campaign money donated from a private security firm to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri harmed incarcerated people. “The recently published ‘Paid Jailer’ report examines Gualtieri’s connection to private security company G4S Security Solutions, a firm that provides private security services to law enforcement agencies. ‘In Pinellas County, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has contracted with G4S to transport incarcerated people, even as they made fatal mistakes,’ the report reads.

The report says that in 2013, G4S employee Andrey Israilov—who had a checkered past as a sheriff’s deputy in neighboring Pasco County before retiring—failed to intervene as a person in his custody was killed.”

34) Florida: Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book is raking in campaign contributions from a “billionaire’s trust” and from the private, for-profit prison and immigration detention company GEO Group, Florida Politics reports.

35) Nevada: Nevada Current reports that “Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is calling on Homeland Security to conduct a review of a Pahrump detention center used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying the facility is potentially obstructing detainees’ legal rights and their pathways for release.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Homeland Security Under Secretary Robert Silvers, Rosen states her office has become aware of reports that detainees at the Nevada Southern Detention Center “lack sufficient access to counsel” and that the facility is not properly notifying attorneys when their clients are transferred to other facilities, including ones in other states. The senator says the issues are “deeply concerning” and is calling on Homeland Security to conduct a “full review” of Nevada’s ICE detention facilities.”

36) New Mexico: The Metropolitan Detention Center in Bernalillo County does not have sufficient medical staff for the 1,200 incarcerated people inside, according to attorneys representing inmates, KUNM reports. Last fall, Corizon took over medical care, but “there has not been a medical director or an onsite physician at the jail and more and more nurses are resigning.”

37) Texas: “Something alarming is happening,” writes Alec Karakatsanis, founder and executive director of @CivRightsCorps. “I’ve been tracking this around the country, and I have never seen a judge in modern U.S. history responsible for more people in jail. Judge Ramona Franklin just hit 500 people in jail at the same time solely because they can’t pay cash.” 

38) International: The carceral trade press is reporting that the “offender monitoring market” is seeing rapid growth. “A number of private companies are involved in supplying and installing equipment, providing monitoring as well as undertaking enforcement. Leading providers of [electronic monitoring] equipment and services include US-based BI (GEO Group), Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Securus Technologies, Track Group, Sentinel Offender Services and Sierra Wireless; UK-based Buddi and G4S (Allied Universal); Israel-based Attenti and SuperCom; and Brazil-based Spacecom and Synergye.” Martin Backman, a senior analyst at Berg Insight, says “smartphone-based and smartwatch-like EM solutions for low-risk offenders are gaining traction, along with a continued rising demand for traditional EM solutions.” But see Olivia Soon of Oakland’s piece, “‘Digital shackles’: the unexpected cruelty of ankle monitors.”

Public Services

39) California/WashingtonPrivatized sanitation workers are on strike against Republic Services in California and Washington State in a major coordinated job action against substandard working conditions. The strike is a month old. “The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents the sanitation workers, announced this week the picket line would extend to four areas in Washington. More than 300 workers in the state have pledged not to cross the line, the union said. ‘Our members felt they had no choice but to take their strike line elsewhere to communicate to the company that it needs to listen to its front-line workers,’ said Jaime Vasquez, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 542 in San Diego. ‘Our members are public service workers who want desperately to be able to get back into their trucks and clean up their communities,’ Vasquez continued. ‘All we ask is that Republic Services recognizes the value of its essential workers who have kept this community safe, clean and protected for nearly two years of this pandemic.’”

Chula Vista city leaders have declared a public health emergency. “‘Our City is starting to look like trash, and this is unacceptable,’ Chula Vista city Councilmember Jill Galvez said. ‘You can go throughout the city and smell dirty diapers and accumulated trash and this is really a public health emergency and it’s unfortunate and it needs to be ended immediately.’ The council said Saturday that the City of Chula Vista will start billing Republic Services if they do not follow through with their regular services.”

The Seattle Times reports that “Republic Services provides residential garbage, recycling, and yard and food waste pickup in dozens of Washington cities, including Kent. A few days into the strike, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said the impact is already noticeable with overflowing trash cans and bags curbside.” The Snohomish Tribune reports that “in the San Diego area, sanitation collectors for Teamsters Local 542 have been on strike against Republic Services since Dec. 17. On Jan. 12, the San Diego Teamsters union extended the picket lines to Republic Services’ hubs in Western Washington state. ‘Local 117 members have a contractual right to honor their picket lines in solidarity with the striking workers. Since the pickets were established on Wednesday (Jan. 12), one hundred percent of our members have chosen to honor those lines,’ Local 117 communications director Paul Zilly said by email.

“Asked why people affected locally should care about the San Diego strike, Teamsters Local 117’s Zilly replied pointing out the company earned $1.2 billion in revenue during 2020 and that the San Diego contract dispute with Republic could have been resolved long ago. (…) ‘It’s unfortunate that Republic Services is more concerned with lining the pockets of corporate millionaires than prioritizing essential, frontline workers and the communities they serve,’ Zilly wrote by email.” 

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the city is threatening Republic Services with legal action if it fails to resolve the problem.  “The situation as it stands is unacceptable and a public health and safety threat,” Todd Gloria said in a statement. “I have supported and encouraged compromise. My next steps are fining the company, pursuing their performance bond and asking the City Council for authorization to seek an injunction to force compliance with terms of the agreement, which include weekly pickup and recycling of green and solid waste.” The WSWS reports that “despite claims by Republic Services management that its ‘Blue Crews’ of strikebreakers were bringing trash collection back to normal in Chula Vista, since the strike began, refuse cans and bins have not been picked up consistently, particularly for businesses and apartment buildings.”

40) International: Vaughan Today reports that “the Trudeau government is ending contracts with Supermax Healthcare Canada to supply nitrile gloves because its Malaysian supplier is suspected of using forced labor to manufacture personal protective equipment.” Canada has not accepted or paid for any further shipments after November 2021. “Given the seriousness of the allegations and the expected time frame before the final results of the audit will be available, the Government of Canada has decided, and Supermax Healthcare Canada has agreed, to terminate the existing two contracts for the supply of nitrile gloves by mutual consent.”

Everything Else

41) NationalCapitalism and the profit-motive didn’t create the James Webb space telescope, writes Dave Lindorff. “That telescope, which has had to go through over 300 automated or remotely controlled steps — in order — to open up from its fetal position crammed inside the oversized faring of a European-built Ariane rocket — was designed and built by scientists and engineers working on salary and launched by a rocket designed and built by a government agency. That is to say, nobody involved was a capitalist. Okay, the prime contractor for the satellite telescope is Northrop Grumman but that company is a Pentagon arms contractor, and as such, is actually as much a state-capitalist enterprise as any state enterprise in China or Russia. Payments are all sole sources by the government — in this case, NASA — and pricing is what the government says it will be. The whole process has gone flawlessly, aside from the usual delays in such mega projects, right before our eyes, even though nobody except the top execs of Northrop Grumman is getting rich from any of it.” 

42) International: Canadian federal government spending on outsourcing contracts “has increased by more than 40 per cent since the Liberals took power, a trend at odds with the party’s 2015 campaign promise to cut back on the use of consultants.”

Photo by Anthony Doudt.