Trump Administration Looking to Gut Entire Affordable Care Act in Federal Court!

Dear Commons Community,

The Trump administration yesterday decided to take an extreme position on a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Instead of asking the federal courts to throw out just one part of the law, as it had done previously, now the administration wants the courts to throw out the entire thing.  Protections for people with pre-existing conditions, tax credits for lower- and middle-class insurance buyers, expanded state Medicaid programs for the poor ― all of these things would be gone, and millions of people would lose health insurance if the administration gets its way.  As reported in the Huffington Post:

“The notion that you could gut the entire ACA and not wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people is insane,” Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor and expert on the health care law, wrote in a quick reaction article at “The Incidental Economist” website. “The Act is now part of the plumbing of the health-care system.”

It was less than two months ago that President Donald Trump, during the State of the Union address, declared that one of his priorities was “to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” It was a vow he has made repeatedly, going back to the 2016 campaign ― and yet it is one he has also broken repeatedly.

Trump spent most of 2017 trying to pass legislation that would repeal Obamacare, as the ACA is known. When that failed, his administration focused on using its regulatory authority to undermine the law.

And in the summer of 2018, the administration decided to back this latest lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. That was a highly unusual move, because by tradition the executive branch defends federal statutes in court — even those the president might oppose.

To be clear, the lawsuit still has a long ways to go before prevailing. 

Although it got a favorable ruling from a federal district judge in Texas, it is currently before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. If it gets past the 5th Circuit, it would almost certainly go before the U.S. Supreme Court, which has already turned away two major challenges to the 2010 health care law. And those cases were widely viewed as more serious than this one.

Texas v. Azar, as this latest lawsuit is known, comes from Republican officials representing 20 states. It asserts that, by eliminating the financial penalty for people without insurance as part of the 2017 tax cut, Congress removed the health care law’s constitutional underpinning.

Because Congress originally intended for the law’s interlocking pieces to work together, and because judges must respect the will of Congress, the entire statute should come off the books ― or so the lawsuit claims.

A loud, bipartisan chorus of legal experts has said this argument is absurd. Congress may have once thought the penalty was an essential part of the law, these experts note, but by 2017 Congress had obviously changed its mind, as it has the right to do.

The notion that you could gut the entire ACA and not wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people is insane. Nicholas Bagley, University of Michigan law school

“Congress told us what it wanted through its 2017 legislative actions. … It repealed the penalty while leaving the insurance reforms in place,” five legal scholars, two of whom had led previous legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, wrote in an official brief when the case first went before a U.S. district judge in Texas.

With so many experts criticizing the argument, and quite a few mocking it, the chances for success would appear to be slim. Still, the 5th Circuit is full of conservative Republican appointees ― and, at this point, nobody is willing to dismiss the threat of this lawsuit out of hand.

That is why the Justice Department created such a stir last June when it made the unusual decision not to defend the law in court.

Even then, however, the Justice Department broke with the plaintiffs by asking the courts to invalidate only one portion of the law ― specifically, the new regulations on private insurance and pre-existing conditions. A major purpose of the financial penalty for people without insurance — a provision also known as the individual mandate ― had been to make those regulations function more effectively.

Until now, the administration’s legal position was to let the rest of the Affordable Care Act stand.

On Monday, the Justice Department filed a note with the court saying that it now intends to side with the plaintiffs fully because it agrees with the district judge. In other words, the administration now believes the entire law should go.

“It’s a complete bombshell,” Abbe Gluck, professor of law at Yale, told HuffPost after learning of the filing on Monday evening. “The administration went from taking the position that only some of the insurance reforms should be struck down to now saying the entire ACA ― Medicaid expansion and all ― should go down with this ship. …  It’s a total 180, with drastic human consequences.”

As indicated above, it is not likely that this lawsuit will make it through higher level federal courts but it does give us a little more understanding of how antagonistic the Trump administration is to the ACA and probably all things associated with former President Obama.


Attorney General Barr Summarizes Mueller Investigation: No Collusion, No Exoneration for Obstruction of Justice!

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary containing his summary of the conclusions of the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  Barr’s letter is available below. 

The letter states that “The Special Investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US. presidential election.”  However, Mueller did not exonerate Trump from obstruction of justice. As Barr notes in his letter, “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'” 

What this means is that Trump and the Republicans will celebrate on the news on the collusion/conspiracy section of the letter and spin the obstruction of justice part while Democrats will jump all over the “does not exonerate” part and call for hearings in the House of Representatives.  The Democrats will also call for complete disclosure of the entire report which the American people deserve.

It ain’t over until …!



Jeanine Pirro’s Show Was Cancelled Again Last Night!

Dear Commons Community,

Jeanine Pirro’s weekend show on Fox News, “Justice with Judge Jeanine” was preempted again last night.  This means President Trump’s call for Fox to “bring back Judge Jeanine” is not being heeded, at least not yet.

Pirro was suspended by Fox after she read a scripted commentary questioning Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s patriotism on her March 9 broadcast. It was widely criticized as Islamophobic — even by some people inside the network.  Fox publicly condemned the host’s comments — and, according to a source familiar with the matter, privately suspended her. The suspension was always intended to last for two weeks, according to the source. This means Pirro is scheduled to return on Saturday, March 30.

The network has declined to confirm or deny on Pirro’s status. When “Justice” was pre-empted last Saturday, Fox said “we’re not commenting on internal scheduling matters.”

The next day, the president defended two of Fox’s right-wing opinion hosts — Pirro and Tucker Carlson — and criticized three of the network’s news anchors.   He used Twitter to send a long message to Fox executives, urging them to bring back Pirro and “stay true to the people that got you there.”

Fox declined to comment on that, as well.


Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer Insisting on Transparency for Mueller Report!

Dear Commons Community,

As the country awaits the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are insisting that the entire report and its underlying documentation be released to the public.

On Friday, Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr, who now has to determine what to do with the conclusions from the 22-month investigation that resulted in charges against 34 people. As a start, he is expected to send lawmakers a summary of the findings as early as today.  As reported by the Huffington Post:

“Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement. 

Pelosi also held a call with her caucus Saturday afternoon, in which she vowed to oppose any classified briefings for members, according to a person on the call. She said any briefing from the Justice Department must be unclassified so that lawmakers are free to talk publicly about the findings. 

Mueller was tasked with looking at whether there was Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. What is known about his report is that it doesn’t recommend any new indictments.

Although the lack of further indictments was a relief to President Donald Trump’s allies, the investigations will continue. Federal and state prosecutors are still pursuing about a dozen probes that largely grew out of Mueller’s work, and Congress continues to look into matters surrounding Trump.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, made the case for his continued inquiry in a statement Friday.

“Pursuant to the Special Counsel regulations, Mueller’s report is likely to focus on his prosecutorial decisions and may not shed necessary light on counterintelligence findings of profound significance to our committee and the nation — whether the President or others around him have been compromised by a foreign power,” Schiff said, adding that by law, “the evidence he has uncovered on all counterintelligence matters must now be shared with the House Intelligence Committee, whether it resulted in indictment or not.”

And there’s a chance that Mueller could find that Trump engaged in unlawful activity ― whether conspiring with Russia or obstructing an investigation into the matter ― but decided not to indict him because of the Justice Department’s view that a sitting president cannot be indicted

On Friday, the Democratic chairs of the six House committees conducting Mueller-related investigations warned Barr not to conceal any evidence of misconduct by Trump just because it didn’t result in an indictment.

“To be clear, if the Special Counsel has reason to believe that the President has engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct, then the Justice Department has an obligation not to conceal such information,” they wrote. “The President must be subject to accountability and if the Justice Department is unable to do so, then the need to provide Congress with the relevant information is paramount.”

Trump, who has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt,” has so far not commented ot tweeted on the news that the investigation is over. 

For those of you who want a little more Washington insight and commentary, I suggest you read Maureen Dowd’s column published this morning.  Especially rich is her comparison of the quiet, no leaks, no comment style of Mueller to that of Ken Starr, the special counsel in President Bill Clinton’s investigation.  Here is an excerpt:

“The scene Friday was far more occluded than the media hullabaloo on Sept. 9, 1998, when two dark vans pulled up to Capitol Hill with 36 boxes containing Ken Starr’s report on presidential chicanery.

Starr was a star leaker and showboat, and journalists and the public were quickly able to get their hands on the document on which the fate of the Republic was hanging. It was something of a shock to learn that the supposedly dignified independent counsel — who was once on a shortlist for the Supreme Court — had delivered a 445-page bodice ripper, a trite story of an office affair in all its seamy particulars, told with such sanctimony that it was redolent of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

It was clear that the sins recorded were not black enough to merit impeachment. Politicians in Washington have been having illicit sex and lying about it since George Washington slept here.

But that didn’t stop Republicans from impeaching Bill Clinton that December. In the end, the reputation of Starr and the hypocritical Republicans, some of whom were having their own affairs with young government aides, suffered. And the country suffered as well. Clinton came out more popular…”


How the Few Black and Hispanic Students at Stuyvesant High School Feel!

Black and Hispanic Students at Stuyvesant High School

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has a featured article today based on interviews of the few black and Hispanic students who attend New York City’s Stuyvesant High School. The story comes on the heels of the results of this year’s admission testing that yielded only seven black students being accepted.  Below is an excerpt from the article.  It is a sad situation that is getting worse not better.



Sarai Pridgen had just gotten home from debate practice on Monday evening when she opened her laptop to find her Facebook feed flooded with stories about a staggering statistic: only seven black students had been admitted into Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 spots. The number was causing a wrenching citywide discussion about race and inequality in America’s largest school system.

Sarai said she felt sickened by the statistic — yet unsurprised. A 16-year-old sophomore, she is one of just 29 black students out of about 3,300 teenagers at Stuyvesant.

“I go to this school every day, I walk through the hallways of this school, and I don’t think I see a black person usually through my day,” said Sarai, who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “It wasn’t shock that I felt, it was the same wave of disappointment I feel every time I look at the demographics of this school.”

New York is being roiled by a fight over the future of its selective schools, but at Stuyvesant, the admission statistics were especially piercing. For students, it is hard enough being a teenager, balancing grades and homework with social pressures and a barrage of Instagram Stories.

But imagine being one of the few black and Hispanic students at one of the country’s most selective public schools.

The nine black and Hispanic students who gathered for an interview after school on Wednesday said the sobering statistics had energized them to be even more vocal in the discussion regarding the city’s elite schools, and to make Stuyvesant a more welcoming place for future students like them.

Mueller Investigation Over – Vindication for the Rule of Law!

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Dear Commons Community,

After almost two years, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has finally come to an end. His report was delivered yesterday to Attorney General William Barr and now the country waits to see its conclusions.  To his credit, Mueller has upheld the rule of law while netting  199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and 5 prison sentences.  I think Mueller will go down in history as having done a fine service for the country and as someone who maintained great dignity while under a constant barrage of comments from a sociopath president.  For now , the public waits to read his report.   Below is a New York Times editorial reviewing the work of Mueller’s investigation. 




The Meaning of the Mueller Report

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

March 22, 2019

Give President Trump this much: In the face of the biggest existential threat to his presidency, the special counsel’s Russia investigation, he checked himself where it mattered most.

Yes, his near-daily campaign to mock and discredit Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” has now lasted longer than his campaign for the White House. His shameful, conspiratorial attacks on the “deep state,” and on the integrity of those who have devoted their lives to upholding the rule of law, have damaged the institutions of federal law enforcement and may have gotten him in even deeper trouble.

Still, one persistent danger — that Mr. Trump would find a way to scuttle the investigation before it could be completed — never materialized. On Friday afternoon, Mr. Mueller, nearly two years after he was appointed to look into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, delivered a full report of his findings and recommendations to the attorney general, as required by Justice Department regulations.

Mr. Trump even joined a remarkably bipartisan House of Representatives, along with a vast majority of the American public, in calling for the release of Mr. Mueller’s report. “Let people see it,” he said on Wednesday. “There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no nothing.”

On the first point, we can all agree. William Barr, the attorney general, needs to release as much of Mr. Mueller’s work as he possibly can, and soon.

We’ll reserve judgment on the second. It may prove that Mr. Trump has kept repeating his mantra of “no collusion” because it’s true. But even if Mr. Mueller has found in the end that Mr. Trump did not knowingly conspire with Russia — and it is profoundly to be hoped that the report settles that question, one way or the other — that doesn’t mean this inquiry has been a witch hunt.

Throughout the campaign and transition, Mr. Trump and many of his top officials and advisers had more than 100 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries. These contacts were apparently so unmemorable that many Trump advisers forgot all about them, even when asked under oath.

Lying to federal officials is a crime, and at least four of Mr. Trump’s top aides (so far) have copped to doing it about their Russian contacts: Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser; Rick Gates, the deputy campaign chairman; George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign; and Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer.

Paul Manafort is also accused of lying repeatedly to investigators, but that’s the least of his problems. Mr. Manafort, who served as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for three months, is now serving seven-plus years in prison for money laundering and other crimes related to his years of lucrative work for political clients in Ukraine.

And don’t forget Roger Stone, whose adventure through the justice system has only just begun. Mr. Stone, a longtime Trump adviser and political dirty trickster with roots going back to the Nixon administration, was arrested in January in an early-morning raid at his home and charged with multiple counts of false statements, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

Quite a team Mr. Trump surrounded himself with! And we haven’t even gotten to his son Donald Trump Jr., who needed no arm-twisting to accept a Russian offer of assistance during the campaign (“If it’s what you say I love it, especially later in the summer”), and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who seemed to have his hands in everything.

At the heart of it all is Mr. Trump’s own behavior — his unexplained affection for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his knack for knowing just the right time to encourage election interference. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump, in a reference to Hillary Clinton’s emails, said on July 27, 2016 — the same day, as it happened, that the Russians began doing just that. (Last year, Mr. Mueller gained the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their role in hacking computer servers of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.)

Then there are the times Mr. Trump interfered in the investigation himself — first urging then-F.B.I. director James Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation into Mr. Flynn, then firing Mr. Comey when he refused. Two days later, Mr. Trump said on national television that he’d fired Mr. Comey at least in part because of “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia.”

This doesn’t count roughly a dozen other investigations into the president, several of which could ultimately expose him to even greater legal or political peril than Mr. Mueller’s. Most serious is the investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, which has already resulted in a three-year prison sentence for Mr. Cohen for his role in committing federal campaign-finance crimes to cover up hush-money payments to women claiming they had affairs with Mr. Trump — a cover-up that prosecutors say Mr. Trump aided after becoming president.

Last month, Mr. Cohen spent some of his last moments as a free man testifying before Congress that Mr. Trump also lied during the campaign about negotiations to build a long-planned skyscraper in Moscow, which were continuing through much of 2016. Didn’t he worry that the lies could come back to hurt him? “He never expected to win the election,” Mr. Cohen said.

Whether or not a sitting president can be indicted is a long-running debate among lawyers, but either way, Mr. Trump is sure to be under investigation for the rest of his term in office, and probably in court for the rest of his life.

If he were less self-involved or paranoid, Mr. Trump would be grateful that his investigator was a man whose name is synonymous with integrity and fairness — and not, as the journalist Garrett Graff wrote, “the Democratic version of Ken Starr.”

Whatever Mr. Trump’s reasons for doing the right thing and letting Mr. Mueller complete his work — bluffing, self-interest or resignation — they matter less than the fact that he did it. It may be a low bar, but given Mr. Trump’s demonstrated contempt for ideals of justice, it’s still something. No matter what Mr. Mueller’s efforts have turned up, the fact that he is now presenting his findings free of presidential interference is a bit of good news for the rule of law in America.

Now all Americans deserve the chance to review those findings and reach their own conclusions.


America Deserves a Leader as Good as New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern!

Image result for jacinda ardern

Jacinda Ardern Dons Hijab and Hugs a Muslim Woman after Killings in a Mosque

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has an editorial today praising the way New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has handled the tragic killing of 50 Muslim worshipers last week.  Entitled, America Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern, it is a plea that here in the United States we should have such a sensitive, empathetic and balanced president.  Here is the entire editorial.

“The murder of 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand, allegedly by a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, will be long scrutinized for the way violent hatreds are spawned and staged on social media and the internet. But now the world should learn from the way Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, has responded to the horror.

Almost immediately after last Friday’s killings, Ms. Ardern listened to her constituents’ outrage and declared that within days her government would introduce new controls on the military-style weapons that the Christchurch shooter and many of the mass killers in the United States have used on their rampages. And she delivered.

On Thursday, Ms. Ardern announced a ban on all military-style semiautomatic and automatic weapons, parts that can be used to turn other rifles into such weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. “It’s about all of us,” she said, “it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”

Earlier in the week, she told Parliament that social media sites must address the ease with which the internet can be used to spew hate and images of violence. “We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” she said. “It cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

Ms. Ardern didn’t propose immediate measures to limit the reach of Facebook, Twitter and other internet publishers, and it’s not obvious what could be done without trampling freedom of speech. But she made clear that she believed that those social media platforms, like gun manufacturers and dealers, bore some responsibility for the carnage visited on Christchurch and so many communities in recent years.

The new gun proposal will require considerable fine-tuning and defining before it becomes law. New Zealand’s existing laws are relatively lenient, and a large percentage of the estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million firearms owned by about 250,000 people are not registered. It is not known how many of these will become illegal under the new laws.

But the display of what one deranged man can do with weapons designed for combat seemed to persuade a majority of New Zealanders, and a strong majority in Parliament, of the need to ban rapid-firing weapons.

That attitude stood in stark contrast to the way the National Rifle Association and its political allies in the United States have resisted any restrictions on weapons like the AR-15, the semiautomatic rifle used in several mass killings.

In New Zealand, it took one mass shooting to awaken the government. In the United States, even a string of mass killings — 26 dead in a school in Newtown, Conn.; 49 in a nightclub in Orlando; 58 at a concert in Las Vegas; 17 in a school in Parkland, Fla. — has not been enough. Nor has the fact that 73 percent of Americans say that more needs to be done to curb gun violence, according to recent polling.

The ban on terrorists’ weapon of choice was only one of the areas in which Ms. Ardern showed what leadership looks like in time of crisis. In lieu of trite messages, she donned a black head scarf and led a group of politicians to visit victims’ families; speaking without a script to a school some of the victims attended, she urged the pupils to “let New Zealand be a place where there is no tolerance for racism. Ever.” She told grieving families, “We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage.”

And in a striking gesture, she refused to utter the name of the suspected killer. “He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing,” she said. “Not even his name.”

After this and any such atrocity, the world’s leaders should unite in clearly condemning racism, sharing in the grief of the victims and stripping the haters of their weapons. Ms. Ardern has shown the way.”

She has every quality a nation would want in a leader.  Our president has none of them.


Marine Corps General Robert Neller Slams Orders to Deploy Troops to Southern Border and to Transfer Funds to Build a Wall!

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Robert Neller

Dear Commons Community,

The head of the Marine Corps,  Gen. Robert Neller, ripped President Donald Trump’s order to deploy troops to guard the southern border, “emergency” funding transfers from the military to build his wall, and additional costs as an “unacceptable risk” to Marine “combat readiness.”

The “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment, as well as funding shifts for border security, has helped lead to the cancellation of military training in at least five countries, said Gen, Neller in two memos he wrote to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.  Trump plans to move about $6.1 billion from Pentagon coffers toward building the wall.  As reported in the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

“Neller’s memos, dated Feb. 19 and March 18, said money and manpower was being drained by base and housing repair costs caused by hurricanes Florence and Michael, new housing allowances and civilian pay raises.

Neller called the demands “fiscal challenges without precedent.” He said “border funding transfers” have eliminated money that would have otherwise been used to address other shortfalls.

Because of the shortfalls, Neller has canceled training exercises in Scotland, Mongolia and Indonesia, and reduced participation in joint exercises with Australia and South Korea, the four-star general wrote.

Trump has claimed the American military and a multibillion-dollar wall is needed at the southern border to stop an “invasion” of immigrants. But apprehensions of people illegally crossing the border peaked at 1.6 million 19 years ago, and have generally fallen since to 400,000 last year.

Trump has ordered the deployment of some 6,000 troops from the National Guard, the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force at the border until September 2019. 

Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said Trump has “ignored the facts, ignored the experts, and ignored a big bipartisan vote against his views on border security. I hope he doesn’t try to ignore this memo. Decorated senior military leaders are raising clear warning flags and trying to prevent our military from being damaged,” he added.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), vice chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said Thursday that Neller’s memos expose the danger of Trump’s unilateral decision to divert Pentagon money to build his border wall. 

“When will the president wake up and put the U.S. military over his campaign promises?” he asked in a statement. “If the president won’t listen to the American people or Congress, then listen to the commandant of the Marine Corps.”

Neller’s complaints come as the Pentagon is set to review more demands from the Department of Homeland Security.

There was no response from the White House about Neller’s memos.”

We thank Neller for his honesty and we hope he keeps his job!


ASU to Create a For-Profit Spinoff to Court Students in the Work Force!

Dear Commons Community,

Arizona State University is creating a for-profit venture to promote its online programs to big employers. The venture will be majority-owned by the TPG Rise Fund, a $2.1-billion private-equity fund.  The announcement had some controversy in that TPG until recently was headed by one of the financiers arrested last week by the Department of Justice in its wide-ranging admissions-bribery dragnet/

As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Although the financier, Bill McGlashan, is no longer head of the fund — he said he resigned last week; TPG said he was fired “for cause” — he may still stand to profit from the new ASU venture, if it takes off.  McGlashan, a self-styled voice of ethical investing in Silicon Valley, was accused of paying $50,000 to a fixer to help gain admission to the University of Southern California for his son by falsifying his test scores, and an additional $250,000 to create the false impression that he was a potential recruit for the football team, complete with a faked picture showing him as a kicker.

Arizona State’s new venture, which the university calls a “learning-services company,” will focus on developing partnerships with employers to attract more students to the ASU’s online programs, in the vein of its partnerships with Starbucks and Uber. The university is also looking for other research universities to join the venture.

ASU has not formally announced the creation of the as-yet-unnamed company. But after a Chronicle reporter learned of the deal, the university’s president, Michael M. Crow, described elements of it in an interview on Tuesday. The university had been planning an elaborate rollout of the venture in early April in San Diego at the ASU+GSV Summit, a glitzy gathering of thousands of investors, education-company officials, policy makers, and education leaders.

In creating the venture, ASU seeks an even bigger slice of the market for students whose tuition is paid in whole or in part by their employers, and better connections to that pool of students.

The potential to reach students via their employers is tantalizing to many colleges, given that some 36 million adults in the work force have some college experience but no degree, and millions more have no higher-education experience at all.

Colleges are attracted to the employer-paid market in part because it reduces their cost of recruiting students. Employers are being hotly courted on a national scale by institutions like Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Western Governors University, and the University of Maryland University College, which just announced plans to change its name to the University of Maryland Global Campus and spend $500 million over the next six years to to build its visibility with a less-confusing brand name.

A private company, Guild Education, has also been a prominent player in the market, having signed deals with Chipotle, Disney, Walmart, and others. It provides coaching to students and helps them enroll in a select set of colleges approved by the employer, in return for a share of tuition.”

We wish ASU good luck and to be careful about the company it keeps.


Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin Exposed His Children to Chickenpox Rather than Vaccinate Them!

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Dear Commons Community,

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) intentionally exposed his nine children to chickenpox instead of vaccinating them against the disease, he said in a radio interview earlier this week.  As reported by various media:

“Every single one of my kids had the chickenpox,” Bevin told WKCT, a Bowling Green talk radio station, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal. “They got the chickenpox on purpose because we found a neighbor that had it and I went and made sure every one of my kids was exposed to it, and they got it. They had it as children. They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly warns against exposing children to chickenpox as a way of immunizing them.

The CDC states on its website:

“Chickenpox can be serious and can lead to severe complications and death, even in healthy children. There is no way to tell in advance how severe your child’s symptoms will be. So it is not worth taking the chance of exposing your child to someone with the disease. The best way to protect infants and children against chickenpox is to get them vaccinated.”

Bevin said Tuesday he doesn’t think vaccines should be mandated by the government because “this is America.”

“If you are worried about your child getting chickenpox or whatever else, vaccinate your child,” the governor said. “But for some people, and for some parents, for some reason, they choose otherwise. This is America. The federal government should not be forcing this upon people. They just shouldn’t.”

Children in Kentucky are required to be vaccinated for chickenpox before entering kindergarten. Parents may seek religious exemptions, though, or provide medical documentation that their child has already had the disease.

The vaccine for chickenpox became widely available in 1995, prompting a sharp decline in the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths caused by the disease in the United States. 

Bevin’s remarks come on the heels of a chickenpox outbreak reported this week at a Kentucky Catholic school where some parents had opted not to immunize their children.

The anti-vaccine movement includes parents who are reluctant to protect their children against highly infectious diseases for religious or moral reasons, as well as those who refuse immunization based on false or outdated information.

Some Catholics, for instance, object to the chickenpox vaccine based on the belief that it is derived from cells taken from aborted fetuses. (In the 1960s, strains of some vaccines were created using cells from two selectively aborted fetuses. No further sources of fetal cells have been used to produce these vaccines.)

Some parents have also abstained from immunizing their children against measles based on the conspiracy theory that the MMR vaccine has been linked to autism. (That theory stems from a debunked 1998 study based on just 12 patients and conducted by a doctor later found to have falsified data. It has exhaustively been proven false.)

Governor Bevin could use a health education class!