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Tag Archive: New America Foundation


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Baton Rouge’s Rich Want New Town to Keep Poor Pupils Out: Taxes

February 6, 2014 12:00 AM ET

By Margaret Newkirk

Saying they want local control, they’re trying to leave the 42,000-pupil public-education system. They envision their own district funded by property taxes from their higher-value homes, which would take money from schools in poorer parts of state-capital Baton Rouge, home of Louisiana State University. They even want their own city.

Similar efforts have surfaced in the past two years in Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Tennessee, some of them succeeding as the end of court-ordered desegregation removed legal barriers. The result may be a concentration of poverty and low achievement. A 2012 report by ACT, the Iowa-based testing organization, found only 10 percent of low-income students met college benchmarks in all subjects, less than half the average.

“It’s going to devastate us,” said Tania Nyman, 45, who has two elementary-age children in the Baton Rouge system. “They’re not only going to take the richer white kids out of the district, they are going to take their money out of it.”

U.S. educational funding varies by state, often relying heavily on local taxes. The South, once notorious for segregated schools, by 2011 had the nation’s second-narrowest funding disparity among districts, according to a study by the Federal Education Budget Project, a Washington-based research organization that is an offshoot of the nonpartisan New America Foundation.

Dropping Further

Louisiana, however, scored worst in the nation, according to the study. A December report by three LSU economics professors found that breaking up the East Baton Rouge Parish school system would depress total per-pupil spending to $8,870 from $9,635. It would rise to $11,686 in the breakaway district.

Eighty percent of the current district’s students are black, and 82 percent poor enough to qualify for free or reduced school meals. Nyman and other district boosters say a split would set a dire precedent.

“Every affluent community in the state will want to create their own little school system,” said Carnell Washington, president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers.“They are taking money away that would help the entire school system and the entire city.”

Opting Out

Backers of the split, whose website is called Local Schools for Local Children, say the district has been failing for at least a dozen years, with some schools performing so poorly that the state took them over. In the 2011-2012 school year, six of 10 students attended a school ranked failing or almost failing by the state and the drop-out rate was 20 percent, according to Baton Rouge Area Chamber, a business group.

“Baton Rouge is one of the best job markets around, and the middle class is moving out,” said Republican state Senator Mack “Bodi” White. “Those who stay have their kids in private schools.”

About 30 percent of children within district lines were in private schools in 2009, according to Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives.

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An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.

A new study has concluded that the massive collection of phone data by the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency “has had no discernible impact” on preventing terrorism.

A Washington research group, the New America Foundation, said Monday it studied the investigations of 225 people linked in some way to terrorism in the United States since the deadly September 11th attacks and concluded NSA phone surveillance only played a key role in one instance.

The report said the only piece of NSA phone data that had a clear role in initiating an investigation involved a cab driver in San Diego, California, who was convicted of sending $8,500 to al-Qaida’s Somali affiliate in 2007 and 2008.

The New America Foundation said NSA surveillance may have played a role in other investigations, but about 60 percent of the probes stemmed from traditional investigative methods, such as tips from from a family member or informant, or a report of suspicious activity.

The report’s conclusion mirrors that of a White House-appointed review that concluded in December that the NSA’s collection of millions of records of calls made by Americans “was not essential to preventing attacks.”

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Mass surveillance of the National Security Agency (NSA) on people and world leaders have been making headlines for half a year throughout the globe, yet these security programs did little in battle against terrorism, concludes the study by the New America Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit group.

The study of 225 terrorism cases inside the US after 9/11, which is to be released Monday, corroborates the findings of a White House-appointed review group, which said last month that the NSA counterterrorism program “was not essential to preventing attacks” and that much of the evidence it did turn up “could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders.”

NSA saves the record of numbers dialed and length of the call of every American. As the intelligence agency suggests, no calls’ content is collected. Then NSA analysts conclude whether the numbers were suspicious or not and it’s linked to a terrorist organization.

As the Washington Post reports, the researchers at the New America Foundation found that the program provided evidence to initiate only one case, involving a San Diego cabdriver, Basaaly ­Moalin, who was convicted of sending money to a terrorist group in Somalia. Three co-conspirators were also convicted. The cases involved no threat of attack against the United States.

“The overall problem for US counterterrorism officials is not that they need vaster amounts of information from the bulk surveillance programs, but that they don’t sufficiently understand or widely share the information they already possess that was derived from conventional law enforcement and intelligence techniques,” said the report, whose principal author is Peter Bergen, director of the foundation’s National Security Program and an expert on terrorism.

In most of the cases proved themselves much more effective. Traditional surveillance warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were used to obtain evidence through intercepts of phone calls and e-mails, said the researchers, whose results are in an online database.

According to the publication, more than half of the cases were initiated as a result of traditional investigative tools. The most common was a community or family tip to the authorities. Other methods included the use of informants, a suspicious-activity report filed by a business or community member to the FBI, or information turned up in investigations of non-terrorism cases.

Yet, the New America Foundation suggests, it took more than two month after NSA transmitted the allegations to FBI, before the terrorism case was initiated.

Voice of Russia, the Washington Post

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– Lauren McCauley, staff writer

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander defended the sweeping spy program before Congress Wednesday. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/ AP)As the Obama administration and the National Security Administration continue to defend their massive spy and data collection program by asserting that the information has been essential in preventing “dozens of terrorist attacks,” new analysis reveals that these assertions are false, amounting to little more than “wide-ranging fishing expeditions with little to show for them.”

Top intelligence officials, including NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, speaking before Congress Wednesday said that the NSA secret spy program has helped thwart over 50 “potential terrorist events,” including 10 within the United States.

A new examination of all incidents of “homegrown jihadist and non-jihadist terrorism” in the US since 9/11 by the nonprofit think-tank the New America Foundation along with Syracuse’s Maxwell School found that “NSA surveillance yielded little of major value to prevent numerous attacks in the United States.”

“This suggests that the NSA surveillance programs are wide-ranging fishing expeditions with little to show for them,” writes Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst and director at the New America Foundation.

Bergen continues:

Homegrown jihadist extremists have mounted 42 plots to conduct attacks within the United States since 2001. Of those plots, nine involved an actual terrorist act that was not prevented by any type of government action, such as the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad to blow up a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, 2010.

Of the remaining 33 plots, the public record shows that at least 29 were uncovered by traditional law enforcement methods, such as the use of informants, reliance on community tips about suspicious activity and other standard policing practices.

“[W]e are…concerned that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Section 702 collection program […] and the bulk phone records collection program operating under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT ACT are being conflated in a way that exaggerates the value and usefulness of the bulk phone records collection program,” said Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in a statement released Wednesday.

“Based on the evidence that we have seen,” continue the senators, “it appears that the bulk phone records collection program under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act played little or no role in most of these disruptions. Saying that ‘these programs’ have disrupted ‘dozens of potential terrorist plots’ is misleading if the bulk phone records collection program is actually providing little or no unique value.”

The two Senators have consistently criticized their program, even prior to its leak to the public. As Udall told the Denver Post earlier this month, he knew that the NSA’s actions were wrong. He added, “[I] did everything short of leaking classified information” to stop it.

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