In a unanimous vote last month, the Regents of the University of California created a corporate entity that, if spread to all UC campuses as some regents envision, promises to further privatize scientific research produced by taxpayer-funded laboratories, reports the EastBayExpress.
“The entity, named Newco for the time being, also would block a substantial amount of UC research from being accessible to the public, and could reap big profits for corporations and investors that have ties to the well-connected businesspeople who will manage it.
“Despite the sweeping changes the program portends for UC, the regents’ vote received virtually no press coverage. UC plans to first implement Newco at UCLA and its medical centers, but some regents, along with influential business leaders across the state, want similar entities installed at Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz, and other campuses. UC Regents Chairwoman Sherry Lansing called Newco at UCLA a “pilot program” for the entire UC system.
“The purpose of Newco is to completely revamp how scientific discoveries made in UC laboratories — from new treatments for cancer to apps for smartphones — come to be used by the public. Traditionally, UC campuses have used their own technology transfer offices to make these decisions. But under Newco, decisions about the fate of academic research will be taken away from university employees and faculty, and put in the hands of a powerful board of businesspeople who will be separate from the university. This nonprofit board will decide which UC inventions to patent and how to structure licensing deals with private industry. It also will have control over how to spend public funds on these activities. Continue reading “Privatizing the public university”
The ACLU reports that “On Wednesday, news broke that Idaho is dumping the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and searching for a new company to run the state’s biggest prison. The prison is so violent that prisoners call it the “Gladiator School,” and it has been the subject of both an ACLU lawsuit and an Idaho State Police investigation. And earlier this year, CCA admitted that its employees had falsified nearly 4,800 hours of staffing records at the prison over a seven-month period, billing the state for security posts that they actually left unfilled.
“Idaho’s decision to end the Gladiator School contract with CCA will make it the fourth termination of a CCA prison contract that the company has announced this month.
“The week before the Gladiator School announcement, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced that it would be closing down two CCA prisons for budgetary reasons. (One of the two prisons, the Dawson State Jail, was the site of multiple high-profile prisoner deaths, including a baby girl who was allegedly born into a prison toilet after staff ignored her mother’s requests for medical assistance.) The same week, CCA announced that the Mississippi Department of Corrections decided not to renew CCA’s contract to run the state’s Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. Earlier this year, a prisoner was stabbed to death during a prison riot at Wilkinson – which was the second riot in twelve months at Wilkinson and the third uprising at a CCA prison in Mississippi during the same time period. Continue reading “Private prison “gladiator school””
At first glance, it is one of the nation’s hottest new education-reform movements, a seemingly populist crusade to empower poor parents and fix failing public schools. But a closer examination reveals that the “parent-trigger” movement is being heavily financed by the conservative Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation’s largest and most strident anti-union organizations, a Frying Pan News investigation has shown. As TruthOut explains:
“Since 2009, the foundation has poured more than $6.3 million into Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles advocacy group that is in the forefront of the parent-trigger campaign in California and the nation. Its heavy reliance on Walton money, critics say, raises questions about the independence of Parent Revolution and the intentions of the Walton Family Foundation.
“While Parent Revolution identifies the Walton Family Foundation as one of several donors on its Web site, the full extent of contributions from the Walton foundation and other donors hasn’t been publicly known until now. Information supplied to Frying Pan News by Parent Revolution and publicly available tax records show that a total of 18 separate foundations have given more than $14.8 million to the group since its founding in 2009. Continue reading “Public school and private interests”