January 18, 2017 Last Updated 9:26 am

DeVos hearing on the future of public education trivialized by NYT editors; Report says ePub eBooks coming to Windows 10

Morning Brief: President-elect dreams that ‘military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue’ or ‘flying over New York City’ in Russian-styled military parades

The confirmation hearings for the president-elect’s cabinet have been a rushed affair, designed to speed up the process so as to avoid embarrassing, lengthy hearings. Nonetheless, they have shows where the next government wants to take the country. One of those places is privatized education.

The hearing for Betsy DeVos has probably been the worst. DeVos was born Elisabeth Prince, her brother is Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater USA, the controversial private military company. DeVos has never worked as a teacher or school administrator, has no advanced degree in education, but is a staunch supporter of charter schools, and a big contributor to the Republican Party. She is married to Dick DeVos, who is worth over $5 billion thanks to the family business, the multi-level marketing company Amway.

If you spent any time wondering why Trump spent so much time in Western Michigan during the campaign, it is because this part of the state is a stronghold for the Republicans, and the center of the private-is-good and government-is-bad part of the country. There is nothing that shouldn’t be privatized, and made a profit center. Public education is simply another institution that could be improved by making it for-profit – think Phoenix University or DeVry.

The NYT’s story on the hearings for DeVos is fine, but its headline is typical Times, boiling down the whole thing to he said, she said. Despite all the talk by Dean Baquet, the paper is not really changing its base instincts when it comes to how it presents the news – there are no facts or fictions, only political differences.

The New York Times, Kate Zernike and Yamiche Alcindor:

Betsy DeVos’s Education Hearing Erupts Into Partisan Debate

Ms. DeVos, a billionaire with a complex web of investments, including in companies that stand to win or lose from federal education policy, was the first nominee of President-elect Donald J. Trump to have a Senate hearing without completing an ethics review on how she planned to avoid conflicts of interest…

…With time limited, Democrats confronted Ms. DeVos with rapid-fire questions, demanding that she explain her family’s contributions to groups that support so-called conversion therapy for gay people; her donations to Republicans and their causes, which she agreed totaled about $200 million over the years; her past statements that government “sucks” and that public schools are a “dead end”; and the poor performance of charter schools in Detroit, where she resisted legislation that would have blocked chronically failing charter schools from expanding.

Under questioning, Ms. DeVos said it would be “premature” to say whether she would continue the Obama administration’s policy requiring uniform reporting standards for sexual assaults on college campuses. She told Mr. Murphy, whose constituents include families whose children were killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, that it should be “left to locales” to decide whether guns are allowed in schools, and that she supported Mr. Trump’s call to ban gun-free zones around schools. She also denied that she had personally supported conversion therapy.

Mr. (Lamar) Alexander, himself a former education secretary, argued that Ms. DeVos’s support of charter schools and vouchers put her in the “mainstream” of public opinion, and that her critics were outside it. He noted that charter schools, which are publicly funded but typically run independently of local school districts and teachers’ unions, have been supported by Republican and Democratic presidents going back to Bill Clinton.

Buried deep down in a WaPo story on how Donald Trump came up with the slogan “Make America Great Again” is something that many readers have found disturbing. The president-elect wants Russian-styled military parades to take place across America as a way of displaying military might.

I guess the next question is whether he would like to be buried in some mausoleum, embalmed inside a glass case like Lenin so in the future people could come visit the dead president?

As for the story, itself… well, as CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski points out, Trump told Politico in 2012 that if he were to run for president he would create the “Make America Great Again Party” – kind of undermining the whole premise of the Post’s story.

Sadly, both the Post and NYT really blew it today.

The Washington Post, Karen Tumulty:

How Donald Trump came up with ‘Make America Great Again’

All of which raises the questions: How can greatness be measured and sensed? What does it even mean?

“Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,” Trump said. “And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military.

“That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military,” he added.

I’ve been a Mac user for a number of years, but used to work on PCs when forced to by publishing companies who would give you a company PC to work on. But I never thought reading eBooks on my computer a very important option.

When Apple bought iBooks to the Mac, and updated iBooks Author so one could preview those books there, the added feature was nice if only for the convenience factor. That Windows didn’t incorporate eBooks never seemed to me a big deal, but then again I didn’t work on a PC.

Now, it seems, eBooks are coming to Windows 10. That’s a good thing, I guess.

MSPowerUser.com, Mehedi Hassan:

First look at Windows 10’s upcoming store for e-books

Microsoft is working on a new a store for e-books in Windows 10. The software giant actually started building in features related to the Books store late last year with the release of EPUB (a popular file type for e-books) support on Microsoft Edge…

…Once purchased, you can start reading the book on Microsoft Edge which is also getting a dedicated section for Books in Windows 10. This is where you will be able to find all the books you have purchased from the Windows Store which is pretty neat. Thanks to Microsoft Edge’s strong EPUB support, you will be able to add bookmarks into any book you are reading or easily view the table of contents. You can also customize the EPUB Viewer’s theme, change the font size and even the font family to fit your needs.

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