Monthly Archives: November 2010

aquarium gardening or can you keep discus + plants

Should landlords be allowed to discriminate against non-violent felons?

The Office of Civil Rights doesn’t seem to think so (and neither do I), and is looking for public input on whether they should push legislation that would prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants with criminal records.

I’ve got a good friend who fucked up and got busted for selling pot a few years ago. In the last month alone, he’s had about a half-dozen different landlords refuse to rent to him.

He’s a good guy, pays his taxes, stays out of trouble, etc. He made a dumb mistake in his early 20s that continues to haunt him.

Full story…

Oil spill commission’s missing document adds insight to Gulf investigation

A new document uncovered last week might help to clear up some confusion over comments made by the President’s Oil Spill Commission earlier this month when its chief counsel, Fred Bartlit Jr., said [1], “To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety.”

Bartlit’s comments made a big splash because they appeared to indicate that the commission was exonerating BP of the allegation that it cut corners on safety in favor of saving money — seeming to fly in the face of what the press [2] and other investigatory bodies had lately uncovered [3]. Even the Wall Street Journal blogged that [4] Bartlit “all but acquitted BP of the gravest charge.”

Bartlit and the commission later backtracked [5], saying the media reached “overarching conclusions” about his presentation, but that wasn’t enough to prevent a group of 60 scientists [6] from publicly challenging the statement.

A new document [7], however, shows that the commission has in fact been considering harsher conclusions. The report, obtained by Greenwire [8], highlights 11 potentially time-saving (and ultimately cost-saving) decisions made by BP, Transocean and Halliburton that increased the overall risk of the operation.

The document was mistakenly posted to the commission’s website [9] earlier this month and quickly taken down, which has led to claims [10] that the commission might be trying to stifle the cost-cutting claim within its own ranks.

But the commission says that’s not the case and that the document actually does align with the commission’s findings, which are more critical of the companies than has been reported. The only reason the document was removed was that it hadn’t yet been viewed by all seven members of the panel, commission spokesman Dave Cohen told ProPublica.

“We stand behind the document 100 percent,” he said, adding that it will likely be presented formally at the commission’s meetings this week [11]. Cohen said Bartlit felt “extremely misunderstood” after his earlier comments and that he was only trying to avoid blaming the 11 workers who died on the Deepwater Horizon.

“He was trying to be extremely respectful to the men who lost their lives and the fact that they could not speak for themselves,” Cohen said. “And in his view, everything he saw was that they were doing their jobs well, and it wasn’t their fault.”

Here’s more of Bartlit’s statement (you can view an archive video here [9]), which he made as part of a two-day presentation on Nov. 8 and 9.

“It won’t surprise you to learn that the out-of-pocket, all-in cost to somebody like BP of running one of these rigs is about $1.5 million a day, and of course if you’re taking four or five days running drill strings up and down to do work, that’s a cost. Now I’m going to say something now, I’ll say it again at the end: To date, we have not seen a single instance, where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety. I’ll talk more about that later but it’s important you keep that in your mind as we go. There’s been a lot said about it. … We have not found a situation where we could say a man had a choice between safety and dollars and put his money on dollars, we haven’t seen it. And if anybody has anything like that, we of course welcome it.”

The point was also highlighted in the panel’s preliminary findings: “No evidence at this time to suggest that there was a conscious decision to sacrifice safety concerns to save money,” reads the preliminary report [12].

The new document, though, explicitly lists decisions — such as “not waiting for more centralizers” — as risky, unnecessary and less time consuming.

Bartlit, 78, has been criticized [13] by environmental groups because his firm, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, has represented Halliburton in past litigation. He also represented George W. Bush in Florida in the 2000 election dispute versus Al Gore.

Cohen defended Bartlit, noting that even though the panel lacks subpoena power, Bartlit was able to persuade Halliburton to provide documents showing the company knew the cement used in the Macondo well had problems. Bartlit has other experience in offshore investigations; he played a major role in the investigation of the 1989 Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea, where 167 people were killed.

Cohen insists the panel is not trying to exonerate any of the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

“We only ask that people judge us by the final report that is due out January 11,” Cohen said. “The fact of the matter is that this commission has serious doubts about some of the decisions made by all three of the companies that were involved in the Macondo well.”

This story originally appeared at ProPublica

Cobell is insoluable no more

 

I remember the first time I learned of the Cobell case. It was several newspaper-lives ago. Over the years I collected lots of paper, listened to lawyers explanations and written a bit about the litigation.

 

The original complaint, filed in 1996, said at least 300,000 individual American Indians were victims of a gross breach of trust because of the way the Interior Department mismanaged Individual Indian Money accounts. IIM accounts hold money for individuals from land or natural resource payments as well as other transfers.

 

I remember thinking at the time about first-hand encounters with such recordkeeping. One Bureau of Indian Affairs agency superintendent told me that short-term interest from IIM accounts could even be used as a “secret slush fund” for urgent and unbudgeted expenses.

 

Elouise Cobell’s 14-year litigation was both complex and simple. The sheer volume of paper filed with the courts was extraordinary: Thousands of pages of documents, several trials, appeals, and plenty of contempt of court sanctions along the way. The case was also simple, based on this question: Can the government, acting as trustee, account for how it managed individual Indians’ money?

 

The U.S. District Court in DC answered that question this way: “No real accounting, historical or otherwise, has ever been done of the IIM Trust.” Indeed, as late as 1995 the Interior Department testified it was destroying records that could be used for reconciliation of these account.

 

Has the United States, the trustee, fixed this problem? The short answer is who knows? But possibly.

 

“My greatest optimism about this settlement, however, is the hope it holds for significant and permanent reform in the way the Departments of Interior and Treasury account for and manage Individual Indian Money accounts,” Cobell said in a statement last year.

The Interior Department is also optimistic.

 

“One of the benefits of the Cobell litigation is the accounting has proceeded over the last 10 years, literally tens of millions of dollars have been spent to straighten out the accounting and to have a solid accounting going forward,” said Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes, pictured at left, on Monday. “Part of the settlement, essentially, validates the account as it is today. We are confident we have the right numbers and a good baseline for going forward.”

 

Another part of the settlement — a process to consolidate land — could make that system work better as well. As the district court noted, “although the documents necessary to complete adequate accountings are available, the accounting process is extremely expensive, often dwarfing the dollar amounts reflected in beneficiaries’ accounts.”

Trying to keep track of small lease payments for a piece of ground owned by dozens of heirs is damn near impossible. The settlement creates a $1.9 billion fund so individual land owners can sell their share back to a tribe. The idea here is the settlement can unlock land now essentially frozen by multiple heirs who own it.

 

A few years ago the judge who was then on the case, Royce Lamberth, wrote: “It may be that the opacity of the cause renders the Indian trust problem insoluable.”

 

The Cobell case was always both legal and political. The legal case was clear because there was no defense against mismanagement of trust money. Either the government could account for its management of individual Indian accounts or it could not.

 

But the political case has always been much more iffy. No administration — until the Obama administration — was willing to pull out all the stops to reach a resolution. And, even then, Congress would still have to own up the government’s mismanagement and pay for those mistakes. What’s remarkable about this settlement — and the pending congressional resolution — is that we may be at the only point in history where the votes are there to make it so.

 

The insoluable? Perhaps no longer.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s new book, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars,” is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

The Art House Beat: Phil Spector, Tarzan of the Chinchorro Reef, and a Portuguese Nun

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector (NWFF, Dec. 3-9)

One thing Vikram Jaynanti’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector” fails to do is provide enough  information to support a verdict of either guilt or innocence of the murder charges in the case of  of Lana Clarkson. The trial footage, such as it is, is  obscured by invasive subtitles praising 20 of the songs Spector has produced. We are given a simultaneous feed of career and trial information, making it difficult to focus on anything in the movie except Jaynanti’s exclusive interview with the lauded producer and convicted killer. Although the interview would have been a stronger document had it been presented on its own, the additional material is so entertaining that I am loathe to complain about the atrocious job the director did of putting it all together.  

Spector presents himself as an heir to such persecuted geniuses as Galileo. He sees himself as far above other 20th century artists as were DaVinci and Beethoven over their contemporaries. His bitterness toward the knighting of Elton John and George Martin is as strong as his resentment not being taken as seriously as Bob Dylan. And he states that his ability to commit himself fully to the productions of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and John Lennon’s “God” makes him better than both of those men. Much as society would like to send him to the gallows for such boastfulness, egocentricity does not necessarily a killer make. 

One of the strange things about the film is that it devotes as much time to Spector’s work with the Beatles and John Lennon as to the rest of his career. It is so insistent on the primacy of these productions that one might think, after seeing the film, that he co-wrote Lennon’s magnificent first solo album. Additionally, there is no mention at all of his disastrous work with Leonard Cohen or The Ramones.

The interview itself is quite good, with moments of self-insight shining through the “I am the genius of the geniuses” rants. Even when he is eye-poppingly mad, there is a strain of rational logic behind his tirades. He skates on the edge of coherency when attempting to describe “Good Vibrations” as an “edit song,” just as “Psycho” was an edit movie. Since everyone knows that all movies and most music is put together through edits, it seems crazy to dismiss something for their use. But Spector is, beneath his poor grasp of English, making a valid point about effects that are achieved through cutting and those obtained through layering, as he describes his own method, comparing it to the layers of paint DaVinci puts on a canvass before he is satisfied with it (and dumps all the tracks into a mono mix?).

I was both delighted and frustrated by the film. Frustrated, because it is a terrible mess, almost impossible process the material it presents. Facts and anecdotes about the music and the murder are thrown up on the screen and taken down before there is sufficient time to read them. Some of Jaynanti’s editorial decisions, such as mixing testimony on the pathetic career opportunities for a 40-year old bimbo with Lennon singing “Woman is the Nigger of the World,” are reprehensible. But there is a constant chug of pleasure as Spector talks about his art while we watch what might be the sexiest ever musical performance of 1963: Ronnie Spektor lip-synching “Be My Baby.”  It knocks Tina Turner’s show-busy live performance of “River Deep, Mountain High” right out of the courthouse.

 

 The Portuguese Nun (NWFF, Dec. 3-9)

Eugene Greene is an American ex-patriot who re-invented himself as a French film director and wants to make a Fado-version of  “Last Year at Marienbad,” knowing his ambition to be ridiculous.  In the beginning of “The Portuguese Nun,” an actress who has come to Lisbon for a couple of days to shoot a film explains it to the hotel clerk, who dismisses it is the sort of thing only intellectuals would want to see. And he is right. The age of the art film has long since passed, and films like this, in which actors stare meaningfully into the camera to recite trite aphorisms in a hypnagogic trance, are not liable to draw more than a few ancient cineastes to the box office.

It’s too bad, because “The Portuguese Nun” is the funniest exercise in pseudo-seriousity since Woody Allen’s “Interiors.” Not only that, it offers an enchanting tour of Lisbon that should, but probably will not, help the Portuguese capitol displace Venice as Europe’s most romantic tourist destination. The city shimmers with life, love and faith, as does Leonor Baldaque, an actress who glows with an unearthly glamour although her facial features are disturbingly sepulchral, not unlike those of Marienbad’s Delphine Seyrig. As Julie de Hauranne, the actress who fits a series of near-love affairs into her sparse shooting schedule, she glows like the last ember of human flesh before the holy transfiguration.

If you think that last phrase was funny, you will love “The Portuguese Nun.” Greene has succeeded in his folly of transforming the art of the Fado into a cinematic catechism. The origins of the music are obscure, but one of the theories is that it was brought to Lisbon in the early 19th century by Portuguese sailors returning home from Brazil, where they had been enchanted by the music of  African slaves. The songs are melancholic expressions of loss and the belief in an unyielding destiny, delivered in a state of  sorrow that overwhelms the rational mind. When such mournful airs are translated into a screenplay, the result is a bit like a Johnny Mercer rewrite of Dostoyevsky’s “White Nights.”

 

Alamar (SIFF Cinema, Dec. 3-9)

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_PXDVmV224K4/TLHwCKpzxEI/AAAAAAAABxc/6fiauk404iY/s1600/alamar-film-still.jpg

It is too bad that the release of “Alamar” coincides with the controversy over Sarah Palin’s bashing fish to death on her television show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”  In “Alamar,” when  Jorge teaches his five-year old son Natan how to smack the barracuda in their heads after pulling them into the boat without a net, it is simply a step in bringing the fish to market.  When Palin clubs the halibut, it is an expression of repressed bloodlust craved by a civilized but still feral human being. This backwater politician, who recently demonstrated her ignorance regarding what half of Korea is a US ally, does not depend upon the slaughter of halibut for her livelihood, yet  proves quite demonstrative in her enthusiasm for imitating the actions of those who still live in a relationship with the natural world that requires such brute actions.  The reason I mention this is because “Alamar” is the story of a boy torn between the primitive world of his father, a Mexican fisherman, and his Italian mother living in the easy splendor of  Rome.  Most of the film takes place during the time he spends with his dad, learning the to live with the sea.  They are a little like Tarzan and Boy, with Jane having absconded back to civilization, which is where Boy’s heart is, although he gets used to the hard life and becomes fond of doing things that once filled him with terror. An ever-present crocodile to whom are occasionally thrown scraps of fish innards represents their co-existence with predators.  Watch out for the crocodile,” he warns his son.  “He is getting too close and will eat you.”  In the civilized world, predators are killed off to ensure the safety of domesticated humanity.  In the wild, there are actions, such as clubbing a slippery, gasping, flopping, and dangerous fish, that strike the city dweller as rash, but I’ll take that to the way  Greenlake’s goose population is kept under control by local authorities.  There are moments of passing beauty in “Alamar; the Natan and Jorge walking along the slope of a fallen tree, the father spearing fish and crustaceans while swimming through the lustrous coral of the Chinchorro reef, and the tender way he has of catching a fly between his fingers to feed it to an African egret with whom he is bonding.  But after all the pretty images pass us by, we are left pondering miserable state of urbanized man, cut off from the natural world, living in a reality construct of his own device, knowing we ourselves have become too meticulously sensitive to the barbarous way of nature to enter again into an ecological dynamic with our natural environment and thrive as a creature of the Earth.

PostGlobe relies on your donations. Please support this writer’s work by going to our donate page and let us know where you’d like your donation to go.

 Click here to go to the Fans of Seatle PostGlobe Film Reviews where Facebook people     receive immediate updates to the posting of a new review

STG TO OPERATE HISTORIC NEPTUNE THEATRE IN UNIVERSITY DISTRICT

SEATTLE, Tuesday, November 30, 2010 – Seattle Theatre Group (STG), the non-profit operators of the historic Paramount and Moore Theatres, announced today the signing of a long-term year lease to operate the historic Neptune Theatre, located in Seattle’s University District. STG will operate The Neptune Theatre utilizing the stage and programming live performance with the goal to help fortify the University Business District and provide diverse performing arts to a community outside the downtown core. The venue will close for maintenance and is expected to re-open Spring 2011.

“The core of STG’s mission is to make diverse dance, music, film, theatre, and arts education an integral part of our rich cultural identity; by expanding The Neptune’s capacity for increased artistic diversity, STG will not only preserve the historic theatre but also increase options for the community to engage with the arts,” said Josh LaBelle, STG’s Executive Director.

Maintenance projects include:

· Restroom remodel

· Building sprinkler system

· Remove 50% of main floor seating

· Restore historical cosmetic detail

“Obtaining the historic Neptune Theatre provides an opportunity for STG’s unique programming vision of combining high quality diverse performing arts with community arts,” says Adam Zacks, Senior Programming Director.

Programming at The Neptune Theatre will include:

· Concerts representing a broad spectrum of musical genres

· Film

· Comedy and Speakers

· Fine arts performance

· Community performances and events

· Educational events and workshops

· Free public events

Staying true to the Neptune’s tradition of screening cutting-edge and avant-garde film, STG will continue screening film, and will do so by expanding its existing community partnerships with organizations such as Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). The future of the University District includes the expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail system.

“We worked closely with STG during the Central Link construction near The Paramount Theatre and will continue to work with STG and the University District neighborhood as we move forward expanding the region’s light rail system,” said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. “Sound Transit is excited about The Neptune Theatre’s future as a cultural destination on the light rail system.” “Teri White and all the folks at Landmark Theatres have been great tenants for many years, but The Neptune could have been another casualty in the declining single-screen theater industry if it weren’t for our partnership with Seattle Theatre Group,” says Craig Thompson. “My family’s theater has been a fixture in the University District since 1921 and expanding the artistic programming beyond film will help keep it a vital part of this community.”

The corner of 45th and Brooklyn has been family owned since 1919, with The Neptune building built in 1921. “If not for this partnership, we’d be considering numerous non-arts related property uses.” The historic Neptune Theatre opened in 1921 and became the first movie house in the University District. The building survives as one of Seattle’s oldest theatres and is currently configured exclusively for the presentation of cinema. About STG STG is the 501 (c)(3) non-profit arts organization that operates the historic Paramount and Moore Theatres in Seattle, Washington. Our mission is to make diverse performing arts and education an integral part of our region’s cultural identity while keeping these two landmark venues alive and vibrant. STG presents a range of performances from Broadway, off-Broadway, dance and jazz to comedy, concerts of all genres, speakers and family shows – at both historic theatres in Seattle and venues throughout the Puget Sound and Portland, Oregon. Based off Pollstar 2010 Mid-Year Worldwide Ticket Sales, STG was ranked #43 of the Top 100 promoters and The Paramount (ranked #12) and The Moore (ranked #44) were placed very well among the Top 100 Theatre Venues.

With federal benefits set to expire, unemployed workers face shrinking safety net

Unless Congress acts to extend programs for those who have exhausted regular state unemployment benefits, millions of jobless workers may soon be phased out of emergency unemployment benefits [1].

Unemployment benefits from states typically last for 26 weeks, but since 2008, Congress has on four occasions [2] passed emergency provisions that use federal funds to extend benefits for jobless workers by up to 73 weeks [3], depending on the state’s laws and unemployment rate. These benefits are set to expire tomorrow unless lawmakers intervene.

According to The Hill, a yearlong extension of federal unemployment benefits, which the White House supports [4], would cost an estimated $65 billion [5]. (A New York Times editorial over the weekend noted that this would be a far smaller blow to the deficit than extending George W. Bush’s tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 annually. Not extending federal unemployment insurance, it noted, would cause 2 million unemployed workers to be cut off from federal unemployment benefits [6] by the end of the year.)

But as we’ve reported in our examination of the unemployment insurance system, federal funds are going to the states regardless [7]. We updated the data Monday, and by our calculation, 31 states have together borrowed more than $41 billion from the federal government due to shortfalls in their unemployment trust funds.

According to a congressional report released last week, more than 40 percent of jobless workers [8] have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks—longer than the 26 weeks’ worth of benefits that some states are still borrowing to cover. Failure to extend the federal benefits, according to the bipartisan Joint Economic Committee, would result in spending more on other programs, such as disability insurance, assistance to needy families and food stamps.

Last week, House lawmakers voted on a measure to extend federal unemployment insurance by three months, but it did not pass [9]. Benefits will begin to lapse if an extension still doesn’t pass before the deadline today, though if lawmakers succeed in passing one later [10], they may grant the benefits retroactively.

For more on the state of the nation’s unemployment insurance system, check out our Unemployment Insurance Tracker [11] to see if your state has already been borrowing to cover its share of benefits for unemployed workers.

This article originally appeared at ProPublica

4 reasons why Seattle gets walloped by any “snowpocalypse”

Seattleskyline1croppedJarrett Walker writes often about Seattle’s and other cities’ transit issues at Human Transit and is an international consultant in public transit network design and policy. We’re posting this story with permission.

As Seattle moves into the recriminations phase on last week’s snowstorm, locally known as the “snowpocalypse,” let’s put some things in perspective:

Seattle has a particular vulnerability to snow and ice that is unique in North America.  The uniqueness is in the intersection of four factors:

  • Rarity.  Like its rainbelt colleagues Portland and Vancouver, Seattle doesn’t get snow and ice often enough to justify a huge investment in infrastructure to deal with it. Obviously, cities with regular winter snow have the necessary equipment and staff, and also a public who are largely experienced with how winter weather affects transportation. So life goes on in those places, and if you live on Ottawa or Minneapolis you may not be able to resist gloating over how Seattle collapses in weather that looks to you like a normal November day. Rarity also explains why Seattle absorbs these occasional unpredictable shutdowns without serious harm to the economy. On the bottom line, trying to function normally in snow just isn’t worth the investment.

    (Having been raised in the Northwest rainbelt, I have a similar reaction whenever I happen to be in Los Angeles for the first big power-washing rainstorm of autumn, when all the drains are clogged with fallen leaves. Again, it seems like nobody knows how to drive in partly flooded streets.  You might as well close the schools, stay home and focus on defending your basement.)

  • Temperature.  As in Portland and Vancouver, Seattle blizzard days are relatively warm as blizzards go. In particular, it’s common for the temperature to go above the freezing mark during the day but below it at night. This causes snow to melt and refreeze as ice, which is generally the greater hazard.
  • Rail transit. Seattle doesn’t have much, but the one line it has did well. Seattle commentators are crowing about how well the Link light rail line fared in its first snowstorm. In Vancouver, the new Canada Line didn’t do so well; its bridge over the Fraser River closed due to ice on the rails.  In general, though, rail systems do well in snow and ice, even on high viaducts where they’re especially exposed to winter. As I’ve argued at length, many of rail’s advantages over buses are matters of cultural history rather than intrinisic features of the technologies. But rail does seem to have an advantage on this point, though I welcome input from snowbelt readers who have more experience with rail-bus comparisons in other cities.
  • Topography+density. Portland and Vancouver share Seattle’s basic climate, but both are both relatively flat if you think in population-adjusted terms. Portland has steep hills, but apart from the Marquam Hill medical center they are mostly low-density, affecting only a small share of the population. Vancouver has the scourge of major universities on remote promontories and hilltops, and the idea of a gondola to the hilltop fortress of Simon Fraser University may get a boost from the storm, but most of the city is on manageable grades.

    On the other hand, if you laid out a city with the specific goal of maximizing the amount of hillclimbing required for daily life, you couldn’t do much worse than Seattle. The city is full of steep hills with lots of important stuff up on top of them: dense housing and commercial as well as all the major medical centers. (Seattle’s founders knew in their bones that the medical arts simply cannot be practiced at sea level.) 

    This feature of Seattle, of course, is part of what makes it one of the most spectacular cities on earth, at least when the sun comes out. In an article on cycling in Seattle, I suggested that the city needs to be understood as an archipelago: islands of pedestrian-friendly, bike-friendly, transit-friendly communities with big physical obstacles between them. The same goes for mobility options in snow. If you lived, say, on the flat part of Broadway in the center of Capitol Hill, you could probably slide around in your own neighborhood pretty safety, but to go anywhere else on the planet, you’d be looking at very steep hills.

So I would suggest folks go easy on the Seattle Department of Transportation, which is responsible for snow clearing, salting, etc. (Full disclosure: SDOT is a former client of mine, and I do have friends there, but I haven’t spoken with them since the storm.) First of all, not even Minneapolis can deliver an incident-free evening rush hour when a winter storm hits at 4:00 PM, as it did in Seattle this year. But more important, Seattle needs to relax into the futility of even attempting normal daily life in such a situation. Adam Parast argues, intriguingly, that rare snow days may be an opportunity for Seattle to rehearse life in a more resource-constrained future. And as commenter Rob Fellows put it:

It seems that most people believe it’s the city’s responsibility to ensure that life goes on exactly as usual in a snow emergency. Metro has improved their snow response dramatically this year compared to two years ago, but is skewered in the press because an eighth of their fleet is sidelined and they don’t have real-time arrival tools that work on snow routes.

What I take away from it all isn’t that it’s futile to get around in snow in Seattle; it’s that people here have no perspective! There are forces bigger than us on earth! There are more important things in life than our daily routine! For goodness sake, what a wonderful thing snow is – particularly because it makes us pause and take a moment to admire the wonder of nature at work.

 

You might also like:

IQ may not measure academic potential of high-functioning autism students

An interesting report came out this week that found discrepancies between IQ test scores of children with high-functioning autism and their academic achievement, a finding that raises broader questions about how intelligence is measured.

Essentially, researchers found that children with high-functioning autism were often more capable in school than their IQ tests suggested, while some were less capable, according to Disability Scoop.

 

Full story…

Ex-admissions officer at for-profit college testifies about school’s tactics

In a recent court filing, a former admissions officer at a for-profit college in Utah testified that the school instructed recruiters to make prospective students “feel hopeless [1]” and gave the recruiters financial incentives for meeting enrollment goals, according to the Deseret News.

The document, filed in federal court in Salt Lake City, is part of a lawsuit by three students accusing recruiters at Everest College of lying to them about program costs and whether their credits from other schools would transfer. The Deseret News highlighted details from the affidavit by former school employee Shayler White:

In the declaration, Shayler White said he worked for Everest College from December 2009 until September 2010, when he was laid off for failing to meet enrollment quotas. He said admissions workers could receive a $5,000 salary bump for enrolling 36 students in six months. They were instructed to use “power words” like “career,” “professional” and “successful” to sway potential recruits, White said.

“The tactics also included questions designed at putting down the prospective student, making them feel hopeless, bad about their current situation and stuck at a dead end, in order to make enrolling in school look like the best solution to the problem,” he wrote.

An Everest College spokesman told the Deseret News that many of the statements in the affidavit were “factually wrong or false,” and admissions representatives are instructed to “avoid negative appeals.”

Over the weekend, the Florida attorney general’s office announced it was investigating recruiting practices at three additional for-profit colleges [2]. The announcement brings Florida’s probe of the industry to a total of eight schools, including Everest. As of November 15, Everest had the most student complaints filed with the Florida attorney general’s office.

The school has said in the past that though high default rates on student loans are “an issue for a number of our campuses,” default rates have more to do with a school’s demographics [3] than the schools themselves, and campuses with more low-income students generally have higher default rates.

That’s also the argument used by the industry at large [4], which has warned that the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulation to crack down on for-profit schools would particularly hurt minority and low-income students [5]. (According to a report released last week, the schools “saddle the most vulnerable students with heavy debt [6],” according to non-profit research and advocacy group Education Trust.)

We’ve noted that students at other for-profit colleges have also accused school recruiters [7] of misleading them. In August, government investigators went undercover at 15 for-profit colleges and found that all of the schools made “deceptive or questionable statements [8]” to the investigators who were posing as applicants.

This article originally appeared at ProPublica