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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
August 29 to September 4, 2021

Featured Investigation: 
A School Movement Targeting Minorities That Works.
But Progressives Don't Like It.

As critical race theory advances in public education, an educational movement with a 10-year track record of lifting up disadvantaged students faces pushback in America’s heated politics of school reform, Vince Bielski reports for RealClearInvestigations. 

  • P-TECH – for Pathways in Technology Early College High School – is showing that students from poor communities can master a race-neutral mainstream STEM curriculum, especially if they see a brighter future ahead in the form of a good job.
  • Governors left and right endorse it as a win-win for 1) companies short on skilled staff and 2) inner-city students in need of careers.
  • But progressive academics call P-TECH racist because it denies minorities the education that white teens get in suburbia.
  • They dismiss P-TECH’s accelerated classes as discriminatory too, and oppose its corporate partnerships as a corruption of education.
  • In New York City, where P-TECH began under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his progressive successor Bill de Blasio has backed away from a pledge to aggressively expand it.
  • Republicans have their own bone to pick with P-TECH: No tax dollars to pay for college free to students, they say.
  • P-TECH's proven success is a counterpoint to divisive critical race theory, which casts “systemic racism” and white supremacy as pervasive problems to be overcome by focusing on race and “equity.” 

Biden, Trump and the Beltway:
Afghanistan Edition

Is this what you'd call a perfect phone call between a U.S. President and a foreign leader? President Biden's press secretary isn't saying, but some saw parallels between President Trump's call with Ukraine's leader, the one that got him impeached, and the July 23 call about military aid in which Biden leaned on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to change the “perception” in the U.S. and elsewhere -- “whether it’s true or not” -- about the collapsing fight against the Taliban.  

A transcript of the call between the two leaders obtained by Reuters suggested Biden was pushing a false narrative for political reasons -- an impression not dispelled by the Washington Free Beacon's subsequent report that Biden in June waived a mandate to provide a detailed report to Congress about the risks of leaving Afghanistan. Biden argued that the Pentagon's providing this information to Congress could undermine "the national security interests of the United States." But one analyst said: "I think the fact that they used the national security waiver to refuse to answer these questions in the light of day tells me their answers could not have stood up to scrutiny."

Biden Admin Scrubbed Afghan Weapons Records
Forbes
Biden officials recently directed federal agencies to scrub their websites of official reports detailing the $82.9 billion in military equipment and training provided to the Afghan security forces since 2001. This article reports that the scrubbed audits and reports included detailed accounting of what the U.S. had provided to Afghan forces, down to the number of night-vision devices, hand grenades, Black Hawk helicopters, and armored vehicles. These included 208 aircraft and helicopters; 75,000 war vehicles – including 22 Humvees, 50,000 tactical vehicles and nearly 1,000 mine resistant vehicles; and 600,000 weapons – including 350,000 M4 and M16 rifles, 60,000 machine guns, and 25,000 grenade launchers.

Other Afghanistan Investigations

U.S. Knew of ‘Mass Casualty’ Peril Before Kabul Bomb Politico
How Turf Wars Mucked Up America’s Afghan Exit Vanity Fair
The Underground Railroad Out of Afghanistan Common Sense
Afghan Who Rescued Biden Left Behind Wall Street Journal
Most Interpreters Left Behind in Afghanistan Wall Street Journal
Texts: Army Vents on Stranded Americans Just the News
Aerial View: CIA Leaving Last Afghan Base New York Times

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

USPS Has Cheated Carriers for Years
Center for Public Integrity
The Postal Service regularly cheats mail carriers out of their pay, according to this Center for Public Integrity investigation. Private arbitration records tell part of the story. From 2010 to 2019, at least 250 managers in 60 post offices were caught changing mail carriers’ time cards to show them working fewer hours, resulting in unpaid wages. Supervisors found to be cheating were rarely disciplined – often receiving only a warning or more training. In four cities, arbitration documents show, post office managers continued to alter time cards after promising union leaders they would stop. Mail carriers say their supervisors face intense pressure to keep overtime costs down as the Postal Service struggles to pay off $188 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.

Georgia: Prison Guard Shortage Is a Death Sentence
The Intercept
While serving a life sentence, Dontavius Mintz had been working with prison reform groups to publicize alleged problems at Ware State Prison in Georgia, including a shortage of guards, food he found inedible and extreme restrictions on movement. Then Mintz turned up dead. His mother said her son had been dead in his cell for days when the smell finally attracted attention. While the cause of death has not been determined, this article reports:

What is clear is that the prison system in Georgia is broken, even by our country’s benighted standards. According to figures from Randolph, as of August 22, 19 people have been killed in a Georgia state prison this year. The cause of another 24 deaths remains undetermined, but undetermined deaths are almost always classified later as homicides. … In 2017, the Georgia Department of Corrections reported four homicides. Last year, it reported 26. Fewer guards make it harder to monitor interpersonal problems between people in prison – and more dangerous to step in. Those conditions lead to stabbings like one captured on video by people imprisoned at Ware State Prison earlier this year, in which a hooting and chanting group ganged up on an incarcerated person for a merciless beating.

Big Consultant Is $500M Cop on Facebook Beat
New York Times
Thousands of people make their living looking at hundreds of images, videos and messages every day that include suicides, beheadings and sexual acts. This article says some of these people who remove noxious material on Facebook are experiencing depression, anxiety and paranoia. To tell their stories, the Times interviewed more than 40 former employees from Facebook and the global consulting firm Accenture, which earns about $500 million a year helping Facebook weed out toxic content. They contend that many employees were ill-prepared to handle work that could be psychologically traumatic. Joshua Sklar, a moderator in Austin who quit in April, said he had reviewed 500 to 700 posts a shift, including images of dead bodies after car crashes and videos of animals being tortured. “One video that I watched was a guy who was filming himself raping a little girl,” said Sklar, who described his experience in an internal post that later became public. “It was just awful.” If workers went around Accenture’s chain of command and directly communicated with Facebook about content issues, they risked being reprimanded, he added. That made Facebook slower to learn about and react to problems, he said.

A $45 Billion Retail Organized Crime Spree
Wall Street Journal
The decision by many big cities to essentially ignore non-violent crimes including shoplifting has been a boon to organized crime, this article reports. These crime rings often steal from the stores in bulk – like the thief who stuffed more than $1,000 of allergy medicine into a trash bag at a CVS store in San Francisco, walked out and did the same at two other nearby stores, before loading them into a waiting van. Thiefs then peddle the goods online, often on Amazon.com. It is estimated that organized retail theft accounts for around $45 billion in annual losses for retailers these days, up from $30 billion a decade ago. CVS, Target Corp., Ulta Beauty Inc., TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Depot are just some of the companies that have bulked up their investigative resources in response.

Disquiet in Main Line Philly as Suburb Adopts Critical Race Theory
City Journal
Progressive parents in a West Philadelphia school district became concerned about their children’s education when they learned that fourth graders were reading a book that told white children that they’ve been permitted to “get stolen land, stolen riches, special favors” and to “mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and all fellow humans of COLOR for the purpose of profit $.” Parents were also concerned when one of them reported heard her young child in a Zoom class repeatedly saying “peach, “peach” in response to demands that kids announce to the entire class what color they were. This article does more than report on the parent backlash at Lower Merion Township. It also shows that the social justice curriculum did not start with last summer’s BLM protests; it has been percolating for almost a decade. The author, Michael Torres, writes:

A common theme emerged in my discussions with these parents. While each expressed a desire for their children to treat others with dignity, all felt that their sense of autonomy as parents had been violated, that their trust in public schools has been betrayed, and that their children are being used as pawns in a cultural revolution. Yet they feel surrounded by a web of organizations, from teachers’ unions to political parties, that are passively going along with—or actively supporting—that revolution.



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