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When North Korea Tests a Nuke, Assume It’s Iran’s as Well

North Korea briefly reclaimed the global press’ attention again by claiming to have tested a hydrogen bomb. While coverage focused on whether that was an exaggeration, the press missed a much more important question: Was this test only for Kim Jong-Un or was it also for the Iranian regime?

The North Korean and Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programs should be seen as a single entity, as should be their shared cyber warfare programs. The advance of one is an advance of the other. Differences in their activity should be seen as a common-sense division of labor. Gordon Chang, a prominent expert on Asian affairs, has written about the likelihood that this is the case.

Last May, an Iranian opposition group that has accurately identified hidden nuclear sites in the past reported that it had specific intelligence about North Korean nuclear and missile experts secretly visiting Iran. Intelligence analyst Ilana Freedman said in January 2014 that her sources said a relocation of major parts of Iran’s nuclear program to North Korea began as early as December 2012.

For Iran, it is best to let the North Koreans put the finishing touches on the most provocative nuclear and missile work. Whereas the Iranian regime does suffer from sanctions and must always keep the 2009 Green Revolution in the back of its mind, North Korea thrives off isolation and international provocation.

North Korea has nothing to lose and can only gain by such an arrangement. Kim Jong-Un’s regime has already crossed the nuclear pariah threshold, so it might as well let its Iranian allies take the lucrative deal offered by the West. It has been content to spend $1.1-$3.2 billion each year on it. Plus, the deal puts Iran in a moreadvantageous position  and its economic improvements can help it invest more in North Korea’s activity.

The good news is that this latest test—North Korea’s fourth— does not appear to be more powerful than its last one, indicating no significant advance in technology. RAND Corporation analyst Bruce Bennett says North Korea is still working on the “basics” of a nuclear fission bomb.

It is hard for some to accept that an Islamist theocracy like that in Iran would work with a cultish communist dictatorship like North Korea, but there is nothing in either one’s ideology that would prevent such cooperation. In fact, North Korea’s success in building a nuclear arsenal actually encourages Iran to see nuclear weapons as a key lesson for the Islamic Revolution.

“The entire world may well consider North Korea a failed state, but from the view point of [Iran], North Korea is a success story and a role model: A state which remains true to its revolutionary beliefs and defies the Global Arrogance,” Ali Alfoneh, an expert on the Iranian regime, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Given the spotty record of U.S. intelligence assessments (to say the least), the West must operate under the assumption that there isn’t an Iranian WMD problem and a North Korean WMD problem, but an Iranian-North Korean WMD problem.

ABOUT RYAN MAURO

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a previous nuclear Test made by North Korea. Photo: Video screenshot.

Jailed in Atlanta, Walking Around Free in Miami-Dade: Different Strokes for Different Folks

On Tuesday, three Atlanta educators were sentenced to seven years in prison, and six others given terms of 1-7 years, for their part in the massive test cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools, with more prison sentences expected.  Two educators out of ten took the State’s plea deal- so far, the terms have not been reported.

At an emotional hearing, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter called the case “the sickest thing that’s ever happened in this town.”

Unfortunately for them, they did not work at Miami Norland Senior High School and participate in Adobegate, for if they had, they would be walking around free amongst us like Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick.

Florida, like Georgia, has statutes relating to test cheating and racketeering:

  •  Florida Statute 1008.24, “Test Administration and Security,” makes it a misdemeanor to engage in standardized test cheating: “A person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”
  • Florida Statute 895.03, Section 1 states: “It is unlawful for any person who has with criminal intent received any proceeds derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt to use or invest, whether directly or indirectly, any part of such proceeds, or the proceeds derived from the investment or use thereof, in the acquisition of any title to, or any right, interest, or equity in, real property or in the establishment or operation of any enterprise.”
  • Florida Statute 775.0844, “White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act,” states in Section 2: “Due to the frequency with which victims, particularly elderly victims, are deceived and cheated by criminals who commit nonviolent frauds and swindles, frequently through the use of the Internet and other electronic technology and frequently causing the loss of substantial amounts of property, it is the intent of the Legislature to enhance the sanctions imposed for nonviolent frauds and swindles, protect the public’s property, and assist in prosecuting white collar criminals.”

Adobegate was a host of white collar crimes that took place over the Internet as the tests were given online with the answers provided to the students by cheat sheets given by their teachers- Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick.

Though Florida, like Georgia, has the legal framework to pursue charges against those involved in Adobegate, Florida officials lack the motivation and inclination unlike Georgia, Texas, and Pennsylvania officials to prosecute them and seek justice.

Mr. Trevor Colestock, the whistle-blower, is of the opinion that other schools were involved and that Adobegate is being covered up to prevent others from speaking out and from exposing a larger and costlier fraud to Florida and federal taxpayers; is it so as to protect politically connected Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials such as Superintendent Alberto Carvalho?

Could it be that state and federal officials did not pursue Mr. Colestock’s complaints so as to avoid embarrassment and protect M-DCPS officials?

How far does Adobegate go?

What other schools and M-DCPS employees were involved and to what cost?

Only a thorough investigation will answer these questions, and the general public and Mr. Colestock, who was retaliated against for exposing Adobegate, are owed that much.

RELATED ARTICLE: Former D.C. Whistleblower Principal Adell Cothorne on the Atlanta Verdict

Whistleblower Principal, Adell Cothorne, on the Atlanta Cheating Verdict

It may have happened in April Fools Day, but it was certainly no joke.

On April 1, 2015, 11 Atlanta educators were convicted of racketeering related to their roles in what has come to be widely known as “the Atlanta cheating scandal.” I first read of the verdict in the New York Times:

…A jury here (in Atlanta) on Wednesday convicted 11 educators for their roles in a standardized test cheating scandal that tarnished a major school district’s reputation and raised broader questions about the role of high-stakes testing in American schools.

On their eighth day of deliberations, the jurors convicted 11 of the 12 defendants of racketeering, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison. Many of the defendants — a mixture of Atlanta public school teachers, testing coordinators and administrators — were also convicted of other charges, such as making false statements, that could add years to their sentences.

The New York Times article linked above also refers to the Atlanta cheating scandal as, “what has been described as the largest cheating scandal in the nation’s history.”

I’m not so sure about that.

I think the under-investigated, test score “erasure” situation during former DC chancellor Michelle Rhee could top the Atlanta cheating scandal– if the situation is ever properly investigated.

In my book, A Chronicle of Echoes, I offer a detailed discussion of the events surrounding Rhee’s questionable test score gains, including the shallow “investigation” into erasures and the test score plummet that occurred once Rhee was no longer DC chancellor.

I also discuss the involvement of former DC principal, Adell Cothorne, who refused to keep silent when she encountered DC teachers altering student test documents and who demanded heightened security for her school’s tests.

On April 2, 2015, I asked Cothorne if she would weigh in on the Atlanta verdict.

She agreed.

The remainder of this post is Cothorne’s initial reaction to the Atlanta verdict. I have invited her to expand upon her initial reaction once she has had some more time to ponder the situation, so stay tuned.

Adell Cothorne

Adell Cothorne

On April 1, 2015, 11 Atlanta educators were indicted in a cheating scandal that has captured public attention for the last three years. One of the defendants called the judge’s decision to have the educators immediately sent to jail “unnecessary and vindictive”. Many argue – via social media – that the judge was too harsh and only handed down such a stern decision because the defendants were African-American.

There will be many people who weigh in during the next few days, weeks, and even years about what this verdict means. Some pundits will have had zero experience in education but feel they can wax poetic about the virtues of merit pay, testing, and the “plight” of educating urban children.

Let me take a moment to deliver a brief synopsis of mycredentials:

  • I have been an educator for over 20 years and spent the bulk of my ACTUAL classroom and administrative experience in elementary (Kindergarten – 5th grade) and Kindergarten – 8th grade (K – 8) settings
  • My Masters in Administration and Supervision was earned at Johns Hopkins University and I am currently in the process of completing my doctorate
  • Recently, I worked for a Harvard project based in Baltimore City supporting various schools and school stakeholders
  • Most importantly, I am the FORMER District of Columbia (DC) principal who uncovered a cheating scandal and made the decision to file a whistleblower’s lawsuit against DC Public schools.

So when I tell you I have the experience and expertise to respond to the Atlanta verdict, it is not by happenstance.

I agree with Judge Jerry Baxter – these people are convicted felons and should be treated as such.

Do I condone what they did in reference to manipulating students’ tests? No I do not – in any way, shape, or form.

Do I understand why they participated in these egregious acts? I do!

Society as a whole has turned a blind eye to the incessant destruction of public education. Pretty much the way we ignored union bustingand the corporate takeover of teaching hospitals– we have ignored the dismantling of public school systems. All too often, the collective “we” trust that those with the “expertise” make the most logical decision based on the “good of the group.” Education reform (and everything that comes along with it) has illustrated that there is only one thing considered when a society-altering decision is made – money!

A large component of education reform is merit pay. Many feel that merit pay is a fair way to reward teachers. Merit-pay isn’t really about rewarding teachers who teach effectively and increase student achievement. Merit pay is holistically about creating a mechanism to prove teachers aren’t teaching effectively. Why, you ask? A teacher who is proven ineffective can be terminated and not receive a pension. Not allowing as many people to receive pensions is a real money saver for those persons in powerful (and financially wealthy) positions. I won’t go on too much about merit pay here. I’ve written about how merit pay is calculated in one school district in another piece.

I believe many were coerced into changing student test answers. I have firsthand knowledge and experience of being bullied, harassed and professionally threatened. It is not an easy situation. Yet, at the end of the day I could not become complicit in acts that robbed hundreds of children of opportunity. The test scores did not match the student ability I observed. I had eighth-grade students in my building who could not compose a paragraph. Some of these eighth-grade students were 15 years old!

In my time as a DC principal, I had staff members who not only could not deliver effective instruction but were actuallyphysically and emotionally abusive to students. Yet these staff members did not fear retribution because they felt protected by certain DCPS executive staff members. My reprimands and written admonishments fell on deaf ears.

My frustration in trying to do right by my students in DC brings me to the issue of the former Atlanta school superintendent Beverly Hall denying she had any knowledge of cheating. I can say with complete confidence – that was a lie! Anyone in education knows that the current state of affairs in education, with its “data-driven reform,” calls for all school stakeholders (specifically teachers, administrators and central office staff) to look at student data on a regular basis (at least monthly). This data many times is all-inclusive and ranges from attendance to achievement to how many students receive free and reduced meals.

As a former administrator, I was taught (as many of my counterparts were) to question any huge gains in data. A huge gain is usually equivalent to a score increase of 7 percent or more. So even though Ms. Hall may not have given a directmandate for schools to improve scores by any means, she was complicit in her silence.

Please do not think doing the right thing comes without a price. As I sit here typing this response, I am unemployed. I have interviewed for a few positions (with public school systems and in the private sector). Many times I get called back for a second or third interview only to be sent an email basically saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Both my gut and some brave souls willing to commend my action tell me that– because of my decision to advocate for thousands of students and be a voice– I have to take some hits.

I’m okay with that.

This is part of my journey.

And I won’t stop talking!

–Adell Cothorne

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of former Atlanta Public Schools School Research Team Director Tamara Cotman, center, is led to a holding cell after a jury found her guilty in the test-cheating trial on April 1 in Atlanta. Source: Kent D. Johnson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP.