ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 18

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs hotly-contested education bill (Orlando Sentinel)

The major bill

tackles everything from recess to teacher bonuses to testing. Backers called it “landmark” and “transformational” legislation, while critics said it will harm public schools and their most vulnerable students. . . . .

The measure includes the “schools of hope” provision [House Speaker Richard] Corcoran championed, which will use state money to lure high-performing charter schools to neighborhoods where students in traditional schools have struggled academically.

“These are kids who are being robbed of dignity and hope,” Corcoran said. “We want every single child to have an opportunity to get a world-class education.”

The bill’s provisions related to charter schools — privately run public institutions — have prompted some of the biggest outcry, with many educators and school advocates urging Scott to veto the bill because they think it will reduce funding for traditional public schools.

Comment: The bill was strongly opposed by teachers’ unions and other supporters of traditional public schools, strongly supported by proponents of charters and private schools.

 Carol Felsenthal has a thoughtful, succinct opinion piece at ZipDialog: Will Trump Ax Mueller?

She thinks there is an excellent chance he will and that the political consequences will be very serious.

 Illinois state comptroller says she cannot pay the bills. State finances are in a “crisis mode” (Associate Press)

[Comptroller Susana] Mendoza says a recent court order regarding money owed for Medicaid bills means mandated payments will eat up 100 percent of Illinois’ monthly revenue.

There would be no money left for so-called “discretionary” spending – a category that in Illinois includes school buses, domestic violence shelters and some ambulance services. –Associated Press

Comment: For years, the state spent lavishly on pensions for unionized state employees, who were so beloved by legislators that they actually wrote into the state constitution that pensions can never be reduced.

On those rare occasions when the Democrats and Republicans agreed on budget cuts, they were struck down by the courts because they reduced future pension benefits, which violates the constitution.

For years, the state has been deep blue, with House Majority Leader Mike Madigan (of Chicago) as the most powerful figure. Several years ago, a tough-minded Republican (Bruce Rauner) won the governorship, but he and Madigan have not been able to strike a deal. 

Unlike Puerto Rico, Illinois and other US states cannot seek bankruptcy protection. But lots of city and state agencies can, and there is a real prospect that some will have to do so if the state cannot pay its share of their budget.

You can easily imagine what the D’s and R’s say. “The other side is intransigent, and what we need to do is (a) raise taxes or (b) cut services.” You can guess who says A and who says B. (The one quirk is that not all Republicans favor being hard on unionized state employees. In some downstate districts, they are vote in large numbers, often for Republicans.)

 “Put down you make-up kit, m’am, and come out of the beauty shop with your hands up.”

Idaho governor vetoed legislation to make it easier to work in cosmetology  (FEE, Foundation for Economic Education) Then, his wife called and asked her usual, unlicensed make-up artist to come and do some work. The make-up artist, Sherry Japhet, told her no.   

Here’s what Ms. Japhet said on Facebook:

Got a call to do [First Lady] Lori Otter’s makeup for a commercial on location and I said…

“I would be more than happy to do it but her husband [Gov. Butch Otter, R] vetoed a bill to make it legal for me or any other makeup artist and stylist to do so. She will have to go to a salon or do it all herself.”

She added in the Facebook post: “That felt so damn good.” –FEE

Comment: Too many people need costly, time-consuming, irrelevant licenses.

Bureaucracies love imposing them. That’s what they live to do. Professionals already in the field often favor them to prevent competition.

So, who loses? Consumers lose, unless the licenses protect health and safety.

Licenses for commercial truck drivers and food handlers are obviously necessary. But many others are unnecessary or are saddled with lots of unnecessary classroom hours. They raise costs and force people to go to unlicensed or blackmarket providers–or do without.

 The answer, my friend, is blowing in the . . . Spark Notes???  (Slate)

Slate asks, “Did the singer-songwriter take portions of his Nobel lecture from SparkNotes?”

Sounds like their lawyer went over that headline, doesn’t it? Anyway, they note the following:

Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages (such as “Ahab’s lust for vengeance” in the above lines) do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all. –Slate

 Bodies of missing US sailors found in ship’s flooded compartment  (New York Times)

The collision occurred in a  crowded shipping lane and the cause of the accident has not yet been determined.



Remembering guitarist, Bruce Langhorne, who inspired Mr. Tambourine Man

Langhorne, who died at 78, performed the great guitar lines that accompany–and form a counterpoint to–Bob Dylan’s vocals many of his great early songs. It’s his guitar solo on “Maggie’s Farm,” for instance, and on “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

Premier Guitar magazine calls him a “forgotten hero” of the folk music revival.

In his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles,” Mr. Dylan said of Mr. Langhorne, “If you had Bruce playing with you, that’s all you would need to do just about anything.” New York Times obituary for Bruce Langhorne

It’s Langhorne’s great guitar on one of my favorite early-Dylan songs, Subterranean Homesick Blues. You don’t see Langhorne, but you certainly hear him.

Btw, that’s Allen Ginsberg in the background, wearing a scarf and looking like a rabbi.

Listen, watch, and enjoy!


ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Friday, October 14

Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Trump’s campaign advisers wanted to prepare the candidate by doing “self-opposition” research on Mr. Trump. That’s standard practice. But the candidate blocked them. (Bloomberg) Comment: How’d that work out?

Donald Trump’s lawyers tried to get the New York Times to retract its articles about Trump “inappropriately touching” women. The NYT wasn’t having a bit of it. Their assistant general counsel wrote a blistering response. (NYT)

◆ Clinton answers written questions about emails under penalty of perjury (Politico)

Hillary Clinton submitted formal answers under penalty of perjury on Thursday about her use of a private email server, saying 20 times that she did not recall the requested information or related discussions, while also asserting that no one ever warned her that the practice could run afoul of laws on preserving federal records. –Josh Gerstein for Politico

◆ Good News: price-competitive solar energy spreading to low-income countries. (Reuters)

solar-200px-no-marginsAccording to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), home solar systems in Africa can now provide electricity for many households for as little as $56 a year – a cost lower than getting energy from diesel or kerosene.

Of the estimated 600 million people living off-grid in Africa, about 10 percent of them are now using off-grid clean energy to light their homes, according to IRENA statistics. –Maina Waruru for Reuters

◆ America’s next great metropolis: San Antonio, Austin, and the rapidly-growing 74 mile corridor between them. Joel Kotkin has high hopes for the area. (Forbes)

◆ UN’s Sec. General Ban Ki-Moon in eclipse. Portugal’s former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres takes over in January. He headed the UN’s Refugee Agency for 10 years. (BBC)

◆ Chicago removes honorary “Donald Trump” sign outside his hotel and tower. (DNAInfo) City’s problems now solved. No more shootings, crumbling infrastructure, lousy schools, or unsustainable public pensions, and you can now sunbathe in February.

◆ Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate for Literature! You coulda knocked me over with a feather. I listened to his acoustic music all through high school and saw his first tour with an electric band (“The Band”) in 1966. Always loved his music and remember a college discussion with Robert Lowell about it. He alternated between serious and funny, but was always original and insightful–and always changing. There are so many great ones, but my favorite song is probably this one. Nobody, but nobody, could have done this but Dylan.



zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Tom Elia
 for the article on the Austin-San Antonio metropolis
◆ Jack Ross for the NYT lawyer’s letter to Trump