Two Stories of a Philadelphia School’s Transformation

from Jeff Deeney. First, in July 2013: Last year when American Paradigm Schools took over Philadelphia's infamous, failing John Paul Jones Middle School, they did something a lot of people would find inconceivable. The school was known as "Jones Jail" for its reputation of violence and disorder, and because the building physically resembled a youth correctional facility. Situated in the Kensington section of the city, it drew students from the heart of a desperately poor hub of injection drug … [Read more...]

“The Man Who Ate Liberty Valance”: I’m at AmCon

on Ravenous, a cannibal Western with a Looney Tunes win-by-losing climax--yes, I loved it: 1999′s Ravenous turns up on a lot of lists of underrated horror movies. It’s hard to get people to take you seriously when your plot is, “Guy Pearce eats people in the Old West.” But now that I’ve finally taken advantage of “Ravenous”‘s availability through Netflix streaming, I can tell you: This movie is criminally underrated. It’s not just a creepy, haunting cannibal Western from the producer of “Donnie … [Read more...]

Organizing Anguish: DC’s #NMOS14

Last night DC residents gathered at Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill Park) for a vigil to honor the memory of those killed by police. My own strongest impression was how raw everything was. This was an outpouring of pain.Various people had various proposed solutions--the Socialist Workers were there, doing what they do best, i.e. holding up well-designed signs ("END MASS INCARCERATION, THE NEW JIM CROW"), and there were some other groups at various points along the spectrum of plausibility. But … [Read more...]

I’ll Be at DC’s Moment of Silence to End Police Brutality TONIGHT

7 pm, Malcolm X Park, people will be wearing red armbands apparently. Hope to see many of you there. Here's the Facebook page with info for DC. Here's a roundup of events nationwide.Some links btw: Surrender as protest."[N]o one can--or should have to be--'respectable' all of the time." See also Timothy P. Carney, "None of us scrupulously obeys the law. Technically speaking, we're all criminals." (If you're the wrong color or the wrong class, that "technically" gets a lot less … [Read more...]

Pelagius of Montreal

1989's does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Jesus of Montreal is two hours long, and for the first hour and a half I loathed the movie and everyone in it. By the end, though, I was totally compelled and moved, and I think the movie has real insight into the Procrustean drive to recreate God in our own image.The basic story is that a fairly faithless priest gathers a bunch of non-Christian actors to revamp his annual passion play. They get super intense about it, of course, led by the guy who plays … [Read more...]

“When and Why Civil Resistance Works Against Authoritarian Regimes”: Foreign Affairs

article: Between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance against authoritarian regimes were twice as likely to succeed as violent movements. Nonviolent resistance also increased the chances that the overthrow of a dictatorship would lead to peace and democratic rule. This was true even in highly authoritarian and repressive countries, where one might expect nonviolent resistance to fail. Contrary to conventional wisdom, no social, economic, or political structures have systematically … [Read more...]

“Heeding Cries for Help from Discarded, Disconnected Young Men”: LA Times

feature--and do read to the end: ...Fifteen years ago, Ruett and Rhonda Foster were grieving parents in a courtroom. Their 7-year-old son Evan had been shot and killed by a gang member at Inglewood's Darby Park.Evan was clutching his soccer trophy in the back seat of the family car when bullets aimed at someone else tore through the windshield and struck him in the head.Three young men were convicted and sent to prison. And the Fosters began performing their own sort of penance, making … [Read more...]


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