February 9, 2008 archive

The Weapon of Young Gods #6: Last Train Leaving The Abyss

I wake up with a stiff neck and sore shoulders as the train pulls into Stockton. The stale air inside the car is shot through with the sweaty reek of many grubby travelers, including myself. For a second I consider stepping outside for a refresher, but then I remember that I’m marooned for the moment in one of California’s many wretched armpit-cities and instead shift my weight and try to ignore the uncomfortable olfactory overload.

Previous Episode

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Suicide blast at Pakistan rally kills 20

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 5 minutes ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suicide bomber struck an election rally in volatile northwest Pakistan Saturday, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 45, officials said.

In southern Pakistan, the campaign for Feb. 18 parliamentary elections moved back onto the streets with Benazir Bhutto’s widowed husband urging about 100,000 supporters to help him “save” the country. It was the first major campaign rally by the opposition leader’s party since her December assassination.

In the capital Islamabad, riot police used water cannons and tear gas against hundreds of lawyers protesting the detention of the deposed chief justice.

Ignorance and Education in America

Originally posted on ePluribus Media as Education For The Common Good: We’re All Out Of Our Minds.

People in the United States of America have been “asleep at the wheel” while their airwaves, traditional media, education and political discourse have been perpetually “dumbed down” to the point where the average citizen is often unaware and indifferent of major people, places and events of the world and from history.

If you don’t think education matters, and that news like the latest pop-glam scandal are more important than knowing what goes into our food, our environment, our foreign and domestic policies and what’s happening around the world, then you’ll probably fail to grasp the significance of the following video:

Note: suspected spoof video

I Am A Vindictive Son Of A Bitch

Let’s start here…

Main Entry:

   vin┬Ědic┬Ětive

1 a: disposed to seek revenge : vengeful b: intended for or involving revenge

And then go here…

To Republicans: Conservatism Has Failed. Deal With It, by bonddad

And then I will try to explain what kind of revenge I want, and what I mean by “destroying Republicans” And why I think that that is a necessary part of the new world that Obama wants in one way, with post-partisanship….and that and Pfiore8 wants in another way with post-Democratship.

The Long Month

Here we are, in the midst of what I have always considered to be the worst part of a Spring semester.  January and the start up has gone by the wayside and Spring Break doesn’t arrive until March.  In between we have the long hard slog towards midterm exams.

It is also the time in which that “extra” stuff gets emphasized.  “Oh, by the way…” starts piling up work for next semester.  “If you are not too busy…” add to it.

I get to be the center attraction in a Women’s Studies class discussion on gender in the next couple of weeks.  Once more into the cage, Dr. LabRat.  Maybe we can have a fruitful discussion about the meaning of the phrases “real women” and “real men.”  But I’m only the specimen, so that’s probably unlikely.

More beyond…

Originally posted as part of Teacher’s Lounge at Daily Kos

Waterboarding: Those Who Cannot Remember The Past

cross posted at The Dream Antilles

Waterboarding (read: torture) is nothing new.  It’s been around since the 15th century, and has a long, well documented history.  That history was briefly summed up by Ted Kennedy for Democracy Now:

It’s an ancient technique of tyrants. In the fifteenth and sixteenth century, it was used by interrogators in the Spanish Inquisition. In the nineteenth century, it was used against slaves in this country. In World War II, it was used against us by Japan. In the 1970s, it was used against political opponents by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the military dictatorships of Chile and Argentina. Today, it’s being used against pro-democracy activists by the rulers of Burma. When we fail to reject waterboarding, this is the company that we keep. /snip

   Make no mistake about it: waterboarding is already illegal under United States law. It’s illegal under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit outrages upon personal dignity, including cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment. It’s illegal under the Torture Act, which prohibits acts specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. It’s illegal under the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. And it violates the Constitution. The nation’s top military lawyers and legal experts across the political spectrum have condemned waterboarding as torture. And after World War II, the United States prosecuted- prosecuted- Japanese officers for engaging in waterboarding. What more does this nominee need to enforce existing laws?

This essay isn’t about rehashing the many legal arguments about how waterboarding is torture and in violation of US and international law.  Instead, this essay recalls two recent, prominent instances in which the US itself prosecuted the use of waterboarding as a crime, as torture.  It raises this simple question: how can anyone who acknowledges this relatively recent history argue that waterboarding isn’t a crime and isn’t torture.  And how is it that our learned congresspersons haven’t forcefully confronted Bushco’s minions with this history?

Please join me below.

Yeah, and….

Something I would be shot for if I posted on Dkoes….

I don’t like Obama, I admit it. Why? Because he has become everything to just about everybody which often means he really stands for nothing. Call me a cynic, call me jaded, call me bitter but his ability to sway people by saying basically nothing in his speeches is what concerns me.

I don’t go to rallies because I want to stay objective and I hate being in rooms with people who are so swept up by their emotions that they can be easily twisted for any goal. Is it nice to see that someone on our side has this ability? Sure. Does it mean that I expect him to actually fix anything major, no.

I read his speeches, I really do not like listening to him because as my mom says “It seems like he is beating me over the head and yelling at me.” To me, he sounds like a preacher, which I really don’t like. At any rate, I read his speeches and I am left with “Ok, and??” He takes 1000s of words to wind down to saying something specific, which is still couched and vague so he really commits to nothing. His speeches sound great, but his plans are nothing spectacular. For instance: Obama’ Education plan.

The Problem

No Child Left Behind Left the Money Behind: The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support. As a result, the law has failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to adequately support and pay those teachers.

Students Left Behind: Six million middle and high school students read significantly below their grade level. A full third of high school graduates do not immediately go on to college. American 15 year olds rank 28th out of 40 countries in mathematics and 19th out of 40 countries in science. Almost 30 percent of students in their first year of college are forced to take remedial science and math classes because they are not prepared.

High Dropout Rate: America has one of the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world. Only 70 percent of U.S. high school students graduate with a diploma. African American and Latino students are significantly less likely to graduate than white students.

Teacher Retention is a Problem: Thirty percent of new teachers leave within their first five years in the profession.

Soaring College Costs: College costs have grown nearly 40 percent in the past five years. The average graduate leaves college with over $19,000 in debt. And between 2001 and 2010, 2 million academically qualified students will not go to college because they cannot afford it. Finally, our complicated maze of tax credits and applications leaves too many students unaware of financial aid available to them.

Barack Obama’s Plan

Early Childhood Education

   * Zero to Five Plan: Obama’s comprehensive “Zero to Five” plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, Obama’s plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state “zero to five” efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.

   * Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.

   * Affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.

     K-12

         o Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB’s accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

         o Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.

         o Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school – strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.

         o Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.

         o Expand Summer Learning Opportunities: Obama’s “STEP UP” plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.

         o Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.

         o Support English Language Learners: Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

     Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America’s Teachers

         o Recruit Teachers: Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.

         o Prepare Teachers: Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited. He will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.

         o Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, Obama’s plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. He will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.

         o Reward Teachers: Obama will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as a mentor to new teachers with a salary increase. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

     Higher Education

         o Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

         o Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Drum Soldier Killed by Police 2-09-08 {UpDated – Statement}

Could this be another case of PTSD or TBI, it hasn’t been reported, as yet, on wether this soldier was an Iraq or Afgan, or both, Veteran.

Solider shot and killed on Fort Drum

Two officers arrived at the home, but when they made contact with the soldier he pulled out a gun and threatened them.

Pony Party: History Bites

When I was a young calico I went to Ferndale public school grades K-8 and we sang Oh Canada, God Save the Queen, and muttered the Lord’s Prayer. I always though of the Queen as this nice lady who came to visit once in a while, so of like a distant aunt.

Later in high school I learned that Canada won the 1812 War. This is how it was taught to us: Britain/Canada won the 1812 War because Canada did not become America. In the context of how the average Canadian thinks, it makes sense. Winning doesn’t always men you get something extra like a new territory, sometimes winning is getting to keep what you have.

But I got to thinking what if Americans don’t know about the 1812 War and how it turned out? What if they think they won that one to?

So as a public service…. I offer this description of the 1812 War….

Song by Three dead Trolls in a Baggie.

Here is a bonus alternative version of God Save the Queen….

Catchy one hit wonder for the young and young at heart….

Thanks for stopping by. Hang out and chit chat but please don’t rec pony party, go read some of the excellent offerings on the rec’d and recent list.

Interlopers

There is an icy wind coming, but it is not here yet.  Instead, the air is still, 19 degrees.  Everything is grayish-white, surrounded what the weather.gov site calls a “freezing fog*.”  It suits my mood, so I slip outside for a morning’s walk.

I live in an uncertain neighborhood.  

McCain Instrumental in Removing Dineh-Navajo Tribe

How does history repeat itself? Let’s count some of the ways.

One.

Source

The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy. During the fall and winter of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokees were forcibly moved west by the United States government. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died on this forced march, which became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

In 1974 the U.S. Government legally endorsed genocide when Congress passed Public Law 93-531, which enabled Peabody Coal Company to strip mine Black Mesa by ripping the traditional Navajo and Hopi peoples from the land.

Two.

A dose of fun and humor (minimum daily requirement)

Cross posted from Sancho Press.

Trivia question of the day. (answer below the fold) — Who was the only 20th century tennis player to win the Grand Slam in both singles and doubles?  

Word of the day. (definition below the fold) — Syncline.

Quote of the day. — “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

Harry S. Truman

Common misconception. — At the moment of his death, Caesar said, “Et tu, Brute” — The greek historian, Plutarch had Caesar dying whitout speaking, although Suetinius had him saying “and thou, my son.” It may have been Shakespeare who created the famous phrase “Et tu, Brute” in his play, Julius Caesar, wtitten in about 1599.

Useless information. — Almost 30,000 tourists visited Antarctica in 2005, and that number is expected to increase to 80,000 by 2010. Antarctica has only one ATM.

Bad President/Bushisms. — To a divorced mother of three in Omaha, 2/4/05….. “You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that.”

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