Amplifying progressive voices

Tag: Extremism

The Right-Wing War on Libraries

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Far-right state governments fear nothing more than allowing children to think for themselves.

Houston is a city with a diverse, progressive electorate and an African American mayor, Sylvester Turner. So it was bizarre when the new superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, Mike Miles, recently announced plans to fire librarians at dozens of schools, while converting libraries into discipline rooms for misbehaving students. The repurposed libraries will be called “Team Centers” where closely monitored students join their classes via Zoom.

Librarian positions are being initially eliminated at 28 schools as part of Miles’ New Education System (NES), which includes mandated lesson plans for teachers, classroom cameras for discipline, and testing-based performance evaluations that affect teacher pay. The libraries at those schools will stay partly open, but schools will weed out objectionable books. The district, the largest in Texas, serves 189,000 students.

How could this have happened in progressive Houston? If you made a wild guess that the state administration of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used a ploy to take over the local school system, you guessed right. The ACLU is looking into a suit.

I recently wrote a piece pointing out that the efforts by rightwing state governments to hunt down women who cross state lines to seek abortion feels increasingly like the 1850s, the era of the Fugitive Slave Act, the Underground Railroad, and eventually the Civil War.

But our uncivil wars between states and cities goes deeper than that. And like the runup to 1860, when slave states and their allies in the federal courts protected slavery by crushing democracy, this struggle will either end with the victory of democracy on all fronts or its defeat.

Kuttner on TAP: The War on Libraries

Inside Wagner, Russia’s Secret War Company

The Wall Street Journal’s latest documentary “Shadow Men: Inside Russia’s Secret War Company” goes deep inside the lethal global expansion of the Russian private military company Wagner — tracing the group’s evolution from a small, guns-for-hire operation into a sprawling network of businesses that has been active on four continents.

Through interviews with current and former Wagner fighters, government insiders, victims of attacks and war crimes investigators, the film reveals how the group is hiding the flow of riches and resources through a complex network of front companies that ultimately connect to the Kremlin.

0:00 What is Wagner and who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?
3:36 How the Wagner Group operates
6:16 Wagner’s origins
10:36 A new business model in Syria
17:24 Wagner’s expansion into Africa
19:59 Wagner’s Africa playbook: guns and gold
27:13 The war in Ukraine, Wagner steps out of the shadows
36:09 Wagner’s future

What is the Wagner Group? (Published 2022)

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