Up with Chris Hayes: What We Now Know
Up host Chris Hayes (@chrishayes) discuses what we have learned since last week with panel guests Jamilah King (@jamilahking), news editor for colorlines.com; Mike Pesca (@pescami), sports correspondent for National Public Radio; Joe Weisenthal (@thestalwart), deputy business editor at BusinessInsider.com; and Bill Fletcher, Jr., co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal and author of “They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 Other Myths about Unions.”
School reform’s propaganda flick
by Alexander Zaitchik
The guys behind “Won’t Back Down” stand to profit from education privatization. No wonder the movie hates on teachers unions
The first thing to know about Friday’s opening of the school-choice drama “Won’t Back Down” is that the film’s production company specializes in children’s fantasy fare such as the “Tooth Fairy” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series. The second thing is that this company, Walden Media, is linked at the highest levels to the real-world adult alliance of corporate and far-right ideological interest groups that constitutes the so-called education reform movement, more accurately described as the education privatization movement. The third thing, and the one most likely to be passed over in the debate surrounding “Won’t Back Down” (reviewed here, and not kindly, by Salon’s own Andrew O’Hehir), is that Walden Media is itself an educational content company with a commercial interest in expanding private-sector access to American K-12 education, or what Rupert Murdoch, Walden’s distribution partner on “Won’t Back Down,” lip-lickingly calls “a $50 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”
‘Won’t Back Down’ Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal
by May Bottari and Sara Jerving
Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film Won’t Back Down — set for release September 28 — portrays so-called “parent trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film’s distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting parent trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.
While parent trigger was first promoted by a small charter school operator in California, it was taken up and launched into hyperdrive by two controversial right-wing organizations: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.
Romney ‘I Dig It’ Trust Gives Heirs Triple Benefit
by Jesse Drucker
In January 1999, a trust set up by Mitt Romney for his children and grandchildren reaped a 1,000 percent return on the sale of shares in Internet advertising firm DoubleClick Inc.
If Romney had given the cash directly, he could have owed a gift tax at a rate as high as 55 percent. He avoided gift and estate taxes by using a type of generation-skipping trust known to tax planners by the nickname: “I Dig It.” […]
While Romney’s tax avoidance is both legal and common among high-net-worth individuals, it has become increasingly awkward for his candidacy since the disclosure of his remarks at a May fundraiser. He said that the nearly one-half of Americans who pay no income taxes are “dependent upon government” and “believe that they are victims.” […]
The Obama administration estimates that closing the loophole Romney used would bring the federal government almost $1 billion in the coming decade. [..]
That’s a “laughable” under-estimate, said Stephen Breitstone, co-head of the taxation and wealth preservation group at law firm Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone LLP. A single billionaire could pay $500 million more in estate taxes if these trusts are shut down by the Obama administration, Breitstone said. [..]
Military’s Own Report Card Gives Afghan Surge an F
by Spencer Ackerman
The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan ended last week. Conditions in Afghanistan are mostly worse than before it began.
That conclusion doesn’t come from anti-war advocates. It relies on data recently released by the NATO command in Afghanistan, known as ISAF, and acquired by Danger Room (pdf). According to most of the yardsticks chosen by the military – but not all – the surge in Afghanistan fell short of its stated goal: stopping the Taliban’s momentum.
What have you learned this week?