Category Archives: American

Boston Truth Revealed

The Boston Marathon bombing, like 9/11 raises lots of questions which suggest that there is more here than meets the eye. Take a look at the following videos and decide for yourself whether the conspiracy theory is easily dismissed, or if there is something more at work here.

One may ask what can be done about it, true or not. The answer to that question is for you to figure out.

Boston Truth Revealed

New Vision for Schools Proposes Broad Role


Randi Weingarten, the New Yorker who is rising to become president of the American Federation of Teachers, says she wants to replace President Bush’s focus on standardized testing with a vision of public schools as community centers that help poor students succeed by offering not only solid classroom lessons but also medical and other services.

Ms. Weingarten, 50, was elected Monday to the presidency of the national teachers union at the union’s annual convention. In a speech minutes later to the delegates gathered in Chicago, Ms. Weingarten criticized the No Child Left Behind law, President Bush’s signature domestic initiative, as “too badly broken to be fixed,” and outlined “a new vision of schools for the 21st century.”

“Can you imagine a federal law that promoted community schools — schools that serve the neediest children by bringing together under one roof all the services and activities they and their families need?” Ms. Weingarten asked in the speech.

“Imagine schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities and homework assistance,” she said. “And suppose the schools included child care and dental, medical and counseling clinics.”

By laying out that expansive vision of government’s role in the public schools, Ms. Weingarten waded into a fierce debate among Democrats seeking to influence the educational program of Senator Barack Obama, their party’s presumptive presidential nominee. In an interview last week, she said the ideas in the speech amounted to “what I’d like to see in a new federal education law.”

In her 10 years of service as president of the United Federation of Teachers, which represents New York City teachers, Ms. Weingarten has defended teachers’ economic interests, raising her members’ salaries by 43 percent in the last five years. But she has also proved willing to accommodate the city’s ideas on improving schools. She has embraced charter schools, and last year — even as teachers unions elsewhere were opposing performance pay plans — negotiated an arrangement in New York that gives bonuses to teachers in schools whose poor children show broad gains in test scores.

With her move to the presidency of the national union, with 1.4 million members, Ms. Weingarten gains a broader platform from which to influence the nation’s education debates. Although the federation is smaller than the country’s other teachers union, the National Education Association, with its 3.2 million members, A.F.T. presidents have had an equal or larger political profile because presidential tenures in the bigger union are restricted by term limits.

Two previous presidents of the United Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman, also rose to lead the A.F.T.

“My sense is that Randi Weingarten is continuing Al Shanker’s tradition, clearly standing up for the interests of teachers but also trying to engage in thoughtful education reform that will be good for students,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation whose biography of Mr. Shanker, “Tough Liberal,” was published this year.

On Sunday, Mr. Obama spoke to the convention by satellite feed from California, and he mixed criticism of the No Child law with praise for teachers’ contributions and an exhortation to Americans to meet the nation’s responsibility to educate all children. He quoted a young Chicago teacher as telling him that she had been annoyed by a tendency “to explain away the shortcomings and failures of our education system by saying, ‘These kids can’t learn.’ ”

“These children are our children,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s time we understood that their education is our responsibility.

“I am running for president to guarantee that all of our children have the best possible chance in life,” he said, “and I am tired of hearing you, the teachers who work so hard, blamed for our problems.”

Convention delegates gave Mr. Obama a standing ovation.

Ms. Weingarten takes national office with robust support of the rank and file. “The last eight years of the Republican presidency have really been a threat to the middle class and to public education,” said William Gallagher, a high school social studies teacher in Philadelphia for 33 years. Ms. Weingarten, he said, would “work hard to make sure the new president, whoever he is, puts education on the forefront of issues in this country.”

In Ms. Weingarten’s speech, she praised the ideas of a group of Democrats led by Tom Payzant, the former schools superintendent in Boston, who have argued that schools alone cannot close achievement gaps rooted in larger economic inequalities, and that “broader, bolder” measures are needed, like publicly financed early childhood education and health services for the poor.

Another group, headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein of New York, issued a manifesto last month urging the nation to redouble its efforts to close the achievement gap separating poor students from affluent ones and blaming “teachers’ contracts” for keeping ineffective teachers in classrooms.

Ms. Weingarten said the nation needs a new vision for schools “that truly commits America to closing the achievement gap once and for all.”

“Imagine if schools had the educational resources we have long advocated, like quality pre-K, smaller classes, up-to-date materials and technology and a nurturing atmosphere, so no child feels anonymous,” she said.

Ms. Weingarten, whose mother was a teacher in Nyack, N.Y., is a lawyer who was union counsel during the 1980s and 1990s. In the last decade, Ms. Weingarten taught high school history for six years in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

In the interview, she said: “We all have to work tenaciously to eliminate the achievement gap and to turn around low-performing schools. But the folks who believe that this can all be done on teachers’ shoulders, which is what No Child tries to do, are doing a huge disservice to America.”

Press hails Obama the ‘giant slayer’

(CNN) — History in the making was how many international newspapers viewed Barack Obama’s emergence as Democratic presidential candidate, with the focus on his status as the first ever African-American to win the ticket.

Newspapers described Obama as a “political giant slayer.”

Even before Hillary Clinton admitted defeat in the hard-fought contest, some publications were already dissecting her failed campaign, analyzing where it went wrong and what the future has in store for her political dynasty.

Tuesday’s win “confirms Obama’s reputation as a political giant-slayer, who after less than four years in the U.S. Senate brought down the couple credited with creating the Democrats’ most powerful political machine,” the Guardian newspaper wrote.

The Chinese Xinhua news agency marveled at how “one year ago, it was very hard to imagine that Obama, a young politician without a strong political base and little known to the public can defeat Hillary Clinton, the heir-apparent of the Democratic Party.”

The Times of London saw Obama’s victory as evidence that “the United States remains a land of opportunity.”

“This moment’s significance is its resounding proof of the truism about America as a land of opportunity: Mr Obama’s opportunity to graduate from Harvard and take Washington by storm,” it wrote.

It said his victory also demonstrates “the opportunity that the world’s most responsive democratic system gives its voters to be inspired by an unknown; the opportunity that outsiders now have to reassess the superpower that too many of them love to hate.

“Win or lose in November, he will have gone farther than anyone in history to bury the toxic enmity that fueled America’s civil war and has haunted it ever since.”
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The Financial Times opened a post-mortem on Clinton’s campaign, indicating that her defeat was not about her shortcomings but about Obama’s political potency.

“Analysts will spend years poring over the reasons for Mrs Clinton’s failed bid and probably never reach consensus,” it wrote.

“But almost everyone, including some members of her own staff, would agree that the former first lady’s campaign looked old-fashioned next to that of Barack Obama.”

The Independent newspaper, however, placed the blame on “loyal husband” Bill Clinton who “more than anyone sabotaged his wife’s chances by airing too many outspoken opinions on the way.”

But the paper hinted the Clintons may still have another shot at the White House — although it could be a few years away.

“Hillary has been beaten. Bill has dishonored himself. And Chelsea? Chelsea need have no regrets. She may be the candidate that brings the family back to the campaign trail again. But that drama is for another decade.”

The French newspaper Le Monde also examined Bill Clinton’s role in Hillary’s failure. The former president was both her greatest asset and her worst, the paper said, delivering a blunt assessment of her campaign with an emphatic: “C’est fini.”

Obama Claims Nomination; First Black Candidate to Lead a Major Party Ticket


Senator Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night, prevailing through an epic battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters from every corner of America to demand change in Washington.

A last-minute rush of Democratic superdelegates, as well as split results from the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota, pushed Mr. Obama over the threshold of 2,118 delegates needed to be nominated at the party’s convention in Denver in August. The victory for Mr. Obama, the son of a black Kenyan father and white Kansan mother, broke racial barriers and represented a remarkable rise for a man who just four years ago served in the Illinois State Senate.

“You chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears, but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations,” Mr. Obama told supporters at a rally in St. Paul. “Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you, tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.”

Mrs. Clinton paid tribute to Mr. Obama, but she did not leave the race. “This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight,” Mrs. Clinton told supporters in New York. She said she would be speaking with party officials about her next move.

In a combative speech, she again presented her case that she was the stronger candidate and argued that she had won the popular vote, a notion disputed by the Obama campaign.

“I want the 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected,” she said in New York to loud cheers.

But she paid homage to Mr. Obama’s accomplishments, saying, “It has been an honor to contest the primaries with him, just as it has been an honor to call him my friend.”

Mr. Obama’s victory moved the presidential campaign to a new phase as he tangled with Senator John McCain of Arizona in televised addresses Tuesday night over Mr. Obama’s assertion that Mr. McCain would continue President Bush’s policies. Mr. McCain vigorously rebuffed that criticism in a speech in Kenner, La., in which he distanced himself from the outgoing president while contrasting his own breadth of experience with Mr. Obama’s record.

“The American people didn’t get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama,” Mr. McCain told supporters. Mr. Obama’s victory capped a marathon nominating contest that broke records on several fronts: the number of voters who participated, the amount of money raised and spent, and the sheer length of a grueling battle. The campaign, infused by tensions over race and sex, provided unexpected twists to the bitter end as Mr. Obama ultimately prevailed over Mrs. Clinton, who just a year ago appeared headed toward becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major party. The last two contests reflected the party’s continuing divisions, as Mrs. Clinton won the South Dakota primary and Mr. Obama won Montana.

The race drew to its final hours with a burst of announcements — delegate-by-delegate — of Democrats stepping forward to declare their support for Mr. Obama. The Democratic establishment, from former President Jimmy Carter to rank-and-file local officials who make up the ranks of the party’s superdelegates, rallied behind Mr. Obama as the day wore on.

When the day began, Mr. Obama needed 41 delegates to effectively claim the nomination. Just as the polls began to close in Montana and South Dakota, Mr. Obama secured the delegates he needed to end his duel with Mrs. Clinton, which wound through every state and territory in an unprecedented 57 contests over five months.

Every time a new endorsement was announced at the Obama headquarters in Chicago, campaign workers interrupted with a booming round of applause. They are members of Mr. Obama’s team — a political start up — that is responsible for defeating one of the most tried and tested operations in Democratic politics.

While the Democratic race may have ended, a new chapter began in the complicated tensions that have defined the relationship with Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

On a conference call with members of the New York Congressional delegation on Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton was asked whether she would be open to joining a ticket with Mr. Obama. She replied that she would do whatever she could — including a vice presidential bid — to help Democrats win the White House.

In his speech on Tuesday evening, Mr. Obama paid respect to his rival.

“Our party and our country are better off because of her,” Mr. Obama said, “and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Before she arrived at her rally on Tuesday in New York City, Mrs. Clinton and a few close advisers huddled at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., to discuss the timing of her departure from the race. In the afternoon conference call she conducted with fellow New York lawmakers, she asked their patience as she decides upon her next move.

Representative Nydia M. Velásquez, Democrat of New York, asked Mrs. Clinton whether she would consider teaming up with Mr. Obama. “She said that if it’s offered, she would take it,” Ms. Velásquez said.

Mrs. Clinton said she would do “anything to make sure a Democrat would win,” according to several participants on the call. While her advisers played down the remark’s significance, the Democrats on the call said that by not demurring or saying she would simply think about it, they said they were left with the impression that it was an offer that she wanted to at least consider.

“If Senator Obama asked her to be the V.P., she certainly would accept that,” said Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York. “She has obviously given some thought to this.”

Neither Mr. Obama nor his associates commented on the speculation, and he made no reference to it in his speech on Tuesday evening in Minnesota, which was delivered at the same arena in which Mr. McCain is expected to accept the Republican nomination at the party’s convention in September.

“You can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory,” Mr. Obama said. “When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen.”

The competition between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama has been sharpening for weeks, but the close of the Democratic primary formally raised the curtain to a five-month general election contest. The race, as their respective speeches foreshadowed on Tuesday evening, will unfold against a backdrop of an electorate that is restless about soaring gas prices, mortgage foreclosures and the Iraq war.

It is also a generational battle of personalities and contrasting styles. Mr. McCain staged an evening event in Louisiana, so he would be included in the evening’s television narrative that otherwise belonged to Democrats.

About two hours later, Mr. Obama responded in a speech before a thousands of supporters.

“There are many words to describe John McCain’s attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush’s policies as bipartisan and new,” Mr. Obama said. “But change is not one of them.”

Michael M. Grynbaum contributed reporting.

National Teacher of the Year Michael Geisen honored at White House

The Prineville science teacher takes the opportunity to push — gently and politely — for creativity over testing


WASHINGTON — Moments after getting a slap on the back from President Bush, Oregon teacher Michael Geisen tactfully suggested that the president rethink his landmark No Child Left Behind Act.

With a disarming mix of confidence and humor that comes from facing a roomful of seventh graders every weekday, the 2008 national Teacher of the Year used the White House photo opportunity to make a case for classroom creativity over a testing regimen.

“So often in public education, though, we squander this creativity, we squander the entrepreneurial spirit of children because we place such a high value on being right all the time,” Geisen said during the event.

“They’re not conglomerations of hormones, they’re not animals to be trained, they’re not just numbers to be measured or future commodities to produce. They are our equals. They’re the here and the now.”

Geisen is concerned that No Child Left Behind can censor innovative teachers like himself because of its heavy reliance on tests to track achievement, rate schools and punish poor performers.

Bush apparently wasn’t offended. The president’s staff didn’t change Geisen’s remarks, which he had to submit in advance. And Bush was in a happy mood, joking with Geisen and hugging him afterward.

“He was a gracious host and a terrific guy. I think he liked me. He hugged me after my speech. It was a man hug,” Geisen said.

Bush was clearly at ease with Geisen as well, so much so that the two traded quips. In introducing Geisen, Bush mentioned that the teacher had casually remarked that he liked what the president had done with the Rose Garden, the highly manicured area just outside the Oval Office.

“All I did was mow the lawn,” Bush joked.

The Rose Garden event was the pinnacle of a whirlwind day for Geisen, a 35-year-old former forester who began teaching seven years ago. After the White House, he mixed with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and finished with a formal dinner in his honor.

Reading First Doesn’t Help Pupils ‘Get it’

Other factors skewing results of study, federal officials posit
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

The $1 billion-a-year Reading First program has had no measurable effect on students’ reading comprehension, on average, although participating schools are spending significantly more time teaching the basic skills that researchers say children need to become proficient readers, a major
federal report finds.

The long-awaited interim report from the Reading First Impact Study Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, released last week by the Institute of Education Sciences, says that students in schools receiving grants from the federal program have not fared any better than their counterparts in comparison schools in gaining meaning from print.

That central finding in the first national study of Reading First’s effect on student reading achievement, however, does not necessarily signal that the program, or the evidence-based instructional model it is based on, isn’t working, federal officials said.

Read more.

Education Week
Copyright: Editorial Projects in Education
Reading First Doesn’t Help Pupils ‘Get it’
Other factors skewing results of study, federal officials posit.
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Pioneers show Americans how to live “off-grid”

from Reuters

By Tim Gaynor

BISBEE, Ariz (Reuters) – With energy prices going through the roof, an alternative lifestyle powered by solar panels and wind turbines has suddenly become more appealing to some. For architect Todd Bogatay, it has been reality for years.

When he bought this breezy patch of scrub-covered mountaintop with views to Mexico more than two decades ago, he was one of only a few Americans with an interest in wind- and solar-powered homes.

Now, Bogatay is surrounded by 15 neighbors who, like him, live off the electricity grid, with power from solar panels and wind turbines that he either built or helped to install.

“People used to be attracted to living off-grid for largely environmental reasons, although that is now changing as energy prices rise,” he said, standing in blazing sunshine with a wind turbine thrashing the air like a weed whacker overhead.

Spry and energetic, Bogatay makes few sacrifices for his chosen lifestyle. He has a small, energy saving refrigerator, but otherwise his house is like any other, with satellite television and a computer with Internet service.

“Electric and gas are going to skyrocket very soon. There are going to be more reasons for doing it, economic reasons,” he said.

Bogatay and his neighbors at the 120-acre development are among a very small but fast-growing group of Americans opting to meet their own energy needs as power prices surge and home repossessions grow.

Once the domain of a few hardy pioneers, the dispersed movement is now attracting not just a few individuals and families, but institutions and developers building subdivisions that meet their own energy needs.

“It has its roots in 1970s hippy culture and survivalism, but it has now superseded that completely,” said Nick Rosen, a trend analyst and author of the book “How to Live Off-Grid.”

“Because of technology advancing … and because of high house and energy prices … there are a lot more people moving off grid.”

read more here..

America’s fear of China

from ecrivain01 and The Manchurian Letter

Do you care about America and the future of the world?

If you do, wake up. Start paying attention to the fact that there’s a real world out there, and that strange things are happening in it. While the U.S. military is being battered to the point of nearly breaking in Iraq (where we are bogged down now over a war for oil that we can do well enough without — McCain just admitted this week end that we are there for the oil), CHINA IS PREPARING FOR A NUCLEAR WAR. Wake up and smell the coffee you people.

New Chinese SSBN Deploys to Hainan Island

China views us as an obstacle to world domination, as do the Islamic fundamentalists. (Too bad they can’t fight it out between them, but that would only happen once we were toast.) While we are fighting in the deserts of Iraq and our army is being stretched to the breaking point, China is arming for war.

McCain gave a speech recently in which he stated that China and Russia should be excluded from the G8 and isolated from the rest of the world. All that does is prove once again how isolated and insular the Republican Party is and how little they know about the world they want to play bully in. While the U.S. and Europe are preoccupied with oil in Iraq that we will never control anyway, China has been assembling a navy to rival any navy on Earth, and now has many nuclear subs which are completely untrackable by any technology the West has as of the present time. Time to wake up, people.

Armchair Sleuths Uncover Strange Military Sites in China

I would like to hear from people with a working brain who can see what is happening. I think we should be writing about this and contacting our Senators and Congressmen. Do you care enough about America and your own futures to read the articles I’ve listed here and respond?

Your own futures could well depend on the actions of China and Russia but particularly China. READ THE NEW FROM ASIA. This will undoubtedly be the Pacific Century but it would be nice if we were still here as a thriving country, not heaps of slag and decomposing bodies.

The response:

To presume as truth that which is speculative in nature is, to be frank, irresponsible. The links you posted to support your “theory stated as fact” rely heavily on interpretation and paranoia. What does China owe to the rest of the world – especially to the United States, in terms of transparency, when the U.S. Administration feels free to do what they please when they please. As leaders of the free world, isn’t this the example we set?

You incorrectly stated that nuclear war would effectively destroy anything “beautiful” anywhere. Japan was nuked twice. Nukes have been tested since then around the globe. Wouldn’t a superior strategy effect the same end as in WWII? While millions suffered the hell of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Americans still went to baseball games, picnics, and movies. Apple pies still found themselves in kitchen windows to cool off, and daydreamers still sat in lush fields chewing on a stem of wheat while basking in the sun. Beauty (which is in the eye of the beholder) was abundant in some areas of the globe, even while Jews were being incinerated in Germany, the Japanese massacred Chinese in Nanking, or millions starved in Russia under Stalin.

You may be correct in guessing that China is planning a nuclear war, or you could be 100% deluded. Time will tell. Whatever the case may be – war, the symptom of a deeper root, is not the answer. Shall America repeat its policy of pre-emptive engagement the way we did in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now pushing for Iran – under false pretenses?

If you really want to deter the threat of nuclear war, stop talking it up, don’t get a gun, get some understanding, take some lessons in conversation, and pick up the phone.

The Chinese have economic interests in the United States which far surpass any justification for nuclear engagement. Knowing the U.S. to have acted as international bullies (if not terrorists) I would suppose that China is merely getting its side of the board together in case the U.S. Administration decides to do anything foolish. History has discovered many non-violent ways to accomplishing national, political, and economic interests. I am sure China hasn’t missed those lessons.

Here are some links for you to read at your convenience:
Chinese City Partners with New York School
British to help China build ‘eco-cities’
China’s Military: A Second Opinion
Heeding Sun or Mao? Assessing China’s Military Thinking
Chinese firms bargain hunting in U.S