Teacher Placed On Leave After Questioning School Walkout

Rocklin, CA— California high school history teacher Julianne Benzel is on paid suspension after engaging her students in a discussion where she shared her perspective on the politics of organized protests in anticipation of the National School Walkout, which took place on the morning of March 14.

“We had a dialogue in class about it in Thursday and Friday. And today I received the call. So I am aghast,” Benzel told CBS Sacramento.

Benzel said that she questioned her students as to the appropriateness of schools sanctioning a protest against gun violence and whether the school administration was willing to allow protests for other causes, but she noted that she never discouraged her pupils from taking part in the walkout.

“If you’re going to allow students to walk up and get out of class without penalty then you have to allow any group of students that wants to protest,” Benzel said.

“And so I just kind of used the example which I know it’s really controversial, but I know it was the best example I thought of at the time,” Benzel told CBS Sacramento. “[If] a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration?”

According to Benzel, her students understood the purpose of her discussion, but on Wednesday, she received notification that she was being placed on leave. While students were walking out of class, Benzel was informed she was being placed on paid administrative leave.

“I didn’t get any backlash from my students. All my students totally understood that there could not be a double standard,” she said.

School officials didn’t elaborate on the specific nature of the issue, but released a statement reading in part:

A Rocklin High School teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave due to several complaints from parents and students involving the teacher’s communications regarding today’s student-led civic engagement activities.

Benzel said that she hopes the national student walkout will facilitate broader discussion not focused entirely on second amendment gun rights, but also on free speech.

Student Nick Wade, who didn’t walk out, told CBS13 that he believes the politics behind the protest played a large role – and that protests related to a more “conservative” cause would likely be denied by school officials.

“I feel like if we were to go to school and say something like I want to walk out maybe for abortion rights, then you know they probably wouldn’t let us because that’s more of a conservative push. But someone wants to say let’s walk out for gun control then the school’s going to go with it because it’s more of a popular view,” said Wade.

Benzel told the news station that she acquired legal counsel and plans to meet with the school administration on Thursday.

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Reality Check: Ex CIA Director Says U.S. Meddles for a ‘Good Cause’

The Russians hacked our election. The Russians attacked our democratic process.

You have heard these claims from the media and politicians for well over a year.

Then, the recent federal indictment of Russians accused of intervening in the 2016 election. That was the final bit of proof, right?

Consider the fact that the Russian meddling indictment was just $100,000 in Facebook ads bought to swing the election. But compare it to the money spent and lives put at stake when the U.S. meddles in foreign elections or outright overthrows governments all over the world.

A former CIA director claims our meddling is different because when we do it, it is “for the good of the system.” Is that really true?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

Ex-CIA Director James Woolsey said it himself. Yes, the U.S. meddles in other countries elections. But when we do it, it’s for the right reasons.

“Only for a very good cause,” he says, because our government is ensuring foreign elections result in “democracy.”

But doesn’t democracy demand that people decide for themselves, even if they choose to have a communist government? And how well has U.S. meddling actually worked out?

According to Carnegie Mellon University researcher Dov Levin, the United States has attempted to sway elections in other countries more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000.

“One example of that was our intervention in Serbia, Yugoslavia in the 2000 election there. Slobodan Milosevic was running for re-election, and we didn’t want him to stay in power there due to his tendency, you know, to disrupts the Balkans and his human rights violations,” according to Levin. “So we intervened in various ways for the opposition candidate. And we gave funding to the opposition, and we gave them training and campaigning aide.”

But those 80+ instances of the U.S. interfering with other nations elections does not include regime change efforts.

In the 1970s in Chile, the CIA conducted a botched kidnapping of General René Schneider, the Chilean Army’s commander-in-chief, that resulted in Schneider’s death. The plot was an effort to undermine the presidency of Salvador Allende, which may have fueled the violent coup that led to Allende’s overthrow.

In 1974, Henry Kissinger was quoted in Newsweek, saying about Chile: “I don’t see why we have to let a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Levin’s tally also does not include covert coup d’etats where our government overthrows a foreign leader like the the U.S. did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954.

But remember, we only do that to spread democracy around the world and for a very good cause… right?

No, not so much. In fact, Salon magazine documents 35 nations in which the United States has overthrown legitimate governments and or supported fascists, drug lords or terrorists.

Going back to 1953 Iran, it is one of the most stark examples of the U.S. overthrowing governments. The CIA and the U.K.’s MI6 overthrew the popular, elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh.

The good and right reason? Because, according to Salon, “Iran had nationalized its oil industry by a unanimous vote of parliament, ending a BP monopoly that only paid Iran a 16% royalty on its oil.”

From Salon:

“For two years, Iran resisted a British naval blockade and international economic sanctions. After President Eisenhower took office in 1953, the CIA agreed to a British request to intervene. After the initial coup failed and the Shah and his family fled to Italy, the CIA payed millions of dollars to bribe military officers and pay gangsters to unleash violence in the streets of Tehran. Mossadegh was finally removed and the Shah returned to rule as a brutal Western puppet until the Iranian Revolution in 1979.”

Cuba: “The United States supported the Batista dictatorship as it created the repressive conditions that led to the Cuban Revolution.”

Argentina: “U.S. documents declassified in 2003 detail conversations between U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentinian Foreign Minister Admiral Guzzetti in October 1976, soon after the military seized power in Argentina. Kissinger explicitly approved of the ‘dirty war,’ in which 30,000 people were killed, most of them young people, and 400 children were stolen from the families of their murdered parents.”

Guatemala: In 1954, the U.S. decided “to remove the elected liberal government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala”… “The CIA recruited and trained a small army of mercenaries under Guatemalan exile Castillo Armas to invade Guatemala, with 30 unmarked U.S. planes providing air support.”

“U.S. Ambassador Peurifoy prepared a list of Guatemalans to be executed, and Armas was installed as president. The reign of terror that followed led to 40 years in which at least 200,000 were killed, most of them indigenous people.”

What you need to know is everything I am sharing with you is public record. But this is where our media fails.

Because it is our media who wants so badly to point the finger at the Russians who “hacked our election” by trying to influence our democracy. But that same media absolutely refuses to hold our own nation responsible, not for creating Facebook ads to sway an election but toppling governments and leaving millions of people around the world living in horrific conditions.

Look back at history and you will find that U.S. intervention is rarely about democracy. And instead, it is often about profit, business, natural resources and political control.

It is about what is “good” for the U.S. and not about what is good for the people of those nations, who should have every right to choose their own government and their own systems for themselves.

That’s Reality Check let’s talk about it right now on Facebook and Twitter.

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Binance to Launch Decentralized Cryptocurrency Exchange

Leading cryptocurrency exchange company Binance released a statement on March 13th announcing the company is officially developing a public blockchain for a decentralized exchange.

“On the decentralized exchange we’ll have less control. More likely anybody can list any coin. That’s the philosophy of the decentralized exchange, it’s freedom of choice, freedom of investments,” Binance founder and Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao told Bloomberg in an interview.

Regulations and security issues have provided cause for concern regarding centralized cryptocurrency trading platforms. The SEC recently released a statement warning about “potentially unlawful” trading on some cryptocurrency platforms. In addition, there is a history of centralized exchanges succumbing to hacks with Mt.Gox and Bitfinex as examples. As Bloomberg noted, “Since the start of this year, hackers have stolen tokens worth about $700 million from venues in Japan and Italy” and that these “robberies have added pressure on both exchanges and regulators to do more to protect investors.”

Binance appears to be making a move to address these concerns.

Binance announced in their statement that the intentions of this move are to transition from “a company to a community.” Binance further explained in their statement:

After extensively researching decentralized exchange frameworks and analyzing existing implementations, we believe significant improvements can be made in providing Biance users with a level of trading experience to which they are already accustomed. Centralized and Decentralized exchanges will co-exist in the near future, complementing each other, while also having interdependence. We stand here today because we believe that Blockchain technology will change the world. In the face of adversity, we have always elected to tackle issues head-on, instead of retreating. As such, we have decided to officially launch the development of the Binance Chain.

With a centralized crypto exchange, as Binance currently operates, traders are obligated to entrust their crypto assets with a third party platform in order to trade. Cryptocurrencies themselves are typically decentralized; however, when traders store them with centralized third parties, they’re sometimes vulnerable to security breaches. Notably, Binance recently experienced a failed hack attempt.

A decentralized exchange helps to counter the need for third-party trust by functioning as a trading platform while allowing users to trade directly with each other via a peer to peer mechanism. Binance Chain looks to provide a reliable decentralized alternative by focusing on this peer to peer mechanism.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Is Crypto Backed by “Radical Transparency”?]

Decentralized exchanges are not new, as such trading platforms already exist including BitShares and EtherDelta. Even though decentralized exchanges are more difficult to hack, some exchanges lack crucial features and functionality found in centralized exchanges.

One issue faced by further integration of decentralized exchanges is blockchain interoperability, where cross-chain peer to peer transactions is currently an obstacle as differing types of blockchain technologies make it difficult to trade various coins without having a third party to moderate the exchange.

Binance briefly highlighted synchronicity between centralized and decentralized exchanges by stating that the two “will co-exist in the near future, complementing each other, while also having interdependence.”

It appears they plan to use an upgraded Binance Coin. They continued in the statement by saying:

As a public blockchain, Binance Chain will mainly focus on the transfer and trading of blockchain assets, as well as provide new possibilities for the future flow of blockchain assets. Binance Chain will focus on performance, ease-of-use, and liquidity. Binance Coin (BNB) will be upgraded to exist on its own blockchain mainnet, becoming a native coin. At the same time, Binance will transition from being a company to a community.

Zhao noted on Twitter that additional information will be available soon.

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Mars 2020: The Red Planet’s Next Rover

NASA’s next Mars rover won’t just explore the Red Planet; it will, the space agency hopes, make it so a little bit of Mars might make it to Earth.

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This Book Contains an Invisible 1,400-Year-Old Text We Can Only Read With X-Rays

The new imaging effort, which takes 10 hours to analyse each of the 26 pages selected from the volume, has already revealed sections of the text not seen by anybody in a thousand years, including a previously unreadable preface.

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