Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Smoking ban proves that secondhand smoke causes real harm

Smoking ban leads to major drop in heart attacks
Medical Writer
Dec 31,2008

A smoking ban in one Colorado city led to a dramatic drop in heart attack hospitalizations within three years, a sign of just how serious a health threat secondhand smoke is, government researchers said Wednesday. The study, the longest-running of its kind, showed the rate of hospitalized cases dropped 41 percent in the three years after the ban of workplace smoking in Pueblo, Colo., took effect. There was no such drop in two neighboring areas, and researchers believe it's a clear sign the ban was responsible.

The study suggests that secondhand smoke may be a terrible and under-recognized cause of heart attack deaths in this country, said one of its authors, Terry Pechacek of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least eight earlier studies have linked smoking bans to decreased heart attacks, but none ran as long as three years. The new study looked at heart attack hospitalizations for three years following the July 1, 2003 enactment of Pueblo's ban, and found declines as great or greater than those in earlier research...

Capital of the Khazars discovered in Russia

Image: Khazar warrior with captive

September 22, 2008
Ancient lost capital of the Jewish Khazar kingdom found
By The Associated Press

Russian archaeologists said Wednesday they had found the long-lost capital of the Khazar kingdom in southern Russia, a breakthrough for research on the ancient Jewish state.

"This is a hugely important discovery," expedition organiser Dmitry Vasilyev told AFP by telephone from Astrakhan State University after returning from excavations near the village of Samosdelka, just north of the Caspian Sea.

"We can now shed light on one of the most intriguing mysteries of that period -- how the Khazars actually lived. We know very little about the Khazars -- about their traditions, their funerary rites, their culture," he said.

The city was the capital of the Khazars, a semi-nomadic Turkic peoples who adopted Judaism as a state religion, from between the 8th and the 10th centuries, when it was captured and sacked by the rulers of ancient Russia.

At its height, the Khazar state and its tributaries controlled much of what is now southern Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan and large parts of Russia's North Caucasus region...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sarah Palin reads newspapers--all of them

Fake Palin Saying Is Top Quote of the Year
AP Associated Press
Dec. 14, 2008

Sarah Palin lost the election, but she's a winner to a connoisseur of quotations. The Republican vice presidential candidate and her comedic doppelganger, Tina Fey, took the top two spots in this year's list of most memorable quotes compiled by Fred R. Shapiro.

First place was "I can see Russia from my house!" spoken in satire of Palin's foreign policy credentials by Fey on "Saturday Night Live."

Palin actual quote was: "They're our next-door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."

Palin also made the third annual list for her inability to name newspapers she reads. When questioned by CBS anchor Katie Couric, Palin said she reads "all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years."...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We encourage gangs and violence by giving them positive reinforcement in the form of publicity

Christopher Yanov points out that we've been giving positive reinforcment to gangs and violence by talking about them every chance we get. Didn't psychologists discover about a hundred years ago that the way to extinguish unwanted behavior is to ignore it? I don't mean that the police should ignore crimes; I mean that the rest of us should shift our focus to the good things kids do.

Focus on Achievement
Voice of San Diego
December 12, 2008

...[W]hy should youths from disadvantaged backgrounds have to be arrested first in order to have national service programs solicit their help? It would keep them out of trouble in the first place if such programs promoting positive behaviors became more entrenched in youth cultures.

...[P]revention programs that are "anti-anything" just further entrench the legitimacy of the targeted negative behavior. In a related example, politicians at all levels are encouraged to never mention their opponents' names during a campaign and prevention programs would be wise to take a page out of this play book. Gang prevention programs should shift their energies to focusing on the achievement of positive goals and not continue to (unintentionally) give credence to negative behaviors.

Case in point: For the five years before starting Reality Changers that I worked with youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, all we ever talked about was gangs and drugs. And guess what all of them did? Gangs and drugs, gangs and drugs ... spiraling towards more and more violent behaviors. However, for the past seven years at the Reality Changers program, all we ever talk is becoming the first person in each's family to go to college. And guess what all of them do? Go to college! These students from the same streets (and in many cases from the same families) have been able to transcend the code of the streets because they have entrenched themselves in a positive, goal-oriented culture.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nobel prize winner Steven Chu says the planet needs rewiring

Concern for Climate Change Defines Energy Nominee
By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 12, 2008

The next secretary of energy, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, recently compared the danger of climate change to a problem with electrical wiring in a house.

Suppose, he said, you had a small electrical fire at home and a structural engineer told you there was a 50 percent chance your house would burn down in the next few years unless you spent $20,000 to fix faulty wiring.

"You can either continue to shop for additional evaluations until you find the one engineer in 1,000 who is willing to give you the answer you want -- 'your family is not in danger' -- or you can change the wiring," Chu said in a presentation in September.

Because of the danger of climate change, he said, the United States and other countries also need to make some urgent repairs. He said governments need to "act quickly" to implement fiscal and regulatory policies to stimulate the deployment of technologies that boost energy efficiency and "minimize" carbon emissions...

He said that people who said they were uncertain whether climate change is being caused by humans were "reminiscent of the dialogue in the 1950s and '60s on tobacco." (At that time, many argued that there was insufficient evidence linking smoking to cancer.)

He put aside the atomic and molecular biophysics research he had been doing as a Stanford University professor to become head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2004 and steer it toward projects aimed at slashing the country's emissions of greenhouse gases that hasten climate change. He created the Helios Project, a center that seeks to use solar energy to generate chemical fuel at a low cost.

The laboratory's scientists, including 11 Nobel laureates, have altered yeast and bacteria into organisms that produce gasoline and diesel, improved techniques for converting switchgrass into the sugars needed to produce transportation fuel, and used nanotechnology to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells used in solar panels, among other projects...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Justice in a genocide case

The human race seems to have developed a bad habit of regularly committing genocide. This has to stop. How? Evil has to be nipped in the bud, before it becomes out of control.

Rwandan Musician Sentenced to 15 Years for Role in Genocide
New York Times
December 2, 2008

A well-known Rwandan musician, Simon Bikindi, has been convicted of incitement to genocide and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the hate campaign against Tutsi that led to the 1994 genocide.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Mr. Bikindi guilty of using a public-address system along roads in Rwanda in June 1994 to call on Hutu to rise up and exterminate the Tutsi.

He was acquitted of five other related charges.

The panel of judges said some of Mr. Bikindi’s songs had played a role in a propaganda campaign to promote contempt for the Tutsi population, and to incite Hutu to attack and kill Tutsi. But they said prosecutors had not proved that Mr. Bikindi’s music could be linked directly to any specific attacks or killings.

Mr. Bikindi, 54, is the first entertainer to be found guilty of a genocide-related charge.

Nearly 30 other people have been found guilty by the Tanzania-based United Nations tribunal of leading, organizing, inciting or financing the ethnic killing in Rwanda. The guilty include politicians, military officers, clergymen, businessmen and journalists.

The atrocities in Rwanda began in April 1994, and in less than four months, the Hutu majority killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Many were hacked to death, often with government-issued machetes.

In 1994, Mr. Bikindi was the country’s most famous musician. He sang, played several instruments, wrote intense lyrics and led a dance troupe. He also acted as a cheerleader at Hutu government rallies and was a strong presence at an influential government radio station.

Mr. Bikindi has argued that neither he nor his songs ever killed anyone.

Prosecutors had singled out three of Mr. Bikindi’s popular rap lyrics promoting ethnic hatred, which they said had been widely broadcast and were sung by mobs as they killed their victims.

Atheists object to Kentucky homeland security training about God

Image: Michelangelo's concept of God in
"Creation of the Sun and Moon"
from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Atheists Sue Over Homeland Security Law
Associated Press
December 3, 2008

A group of atheists filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to remove part of a state anti-terrorism law that requires Kentucky's Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge it can't keep the state safe without God's help...

Of particular concern is a 2006 clause requiring the Office of Homeland Security to post a plaque that says the safety and security of the state "cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon almighty God" and to stress that fact through training and educational materials.

The plaque, posted at the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, includes the Bible verse: "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

"It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," said Edwin F. Kagin, national legal director of Parsippany, N.J.-based American Atheists Inc. The group claims the law violates both the state and U.S. constitutions...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

College-age kids at risk for mental problems

"All good students have a touch of "obsessional" personality that helps them work hard to achieve. But that's different from an obsessional disorder that makes people inflexible and controlling and interferes with their lives..."

1 in 5 young adults has personality disorder
December 1, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) — Almost one in five young American adults has a personality disorder that interferes with everyday life, and even more abuse alcohol or drugs, researchers reported Monday in the most extensive study of its kind.

The disorders include problems such as obsessive or compulsive tendencies and anti-social behavior that can sometimes lead to violence. The study also found that fewer than 25 percent of college-aged Americans with mental problems get treatment.

...Experts praised the study's scope — face-to-face interviews about numerous disorders with more than 5,000 young people ages 19 to 25 — and said it spotlights a problem college administrators need to address.

Study co-author Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute called the widespread lack of treatment particularly worrisome. He said it should alert not only "students and parents, but also deans and people who run college mental health services about the need to extend access to treatment."

Counting substance abuse, the study found that nearly half of young people surveyed have some sort of psychiatric condition, including students and non-students...

"For many, young adulthood is characterized by the pursuit of greater educational opportunities and employment prospects, development of personal relationships, and for some, parenthood," the authors said. These circumstances, they said, can result in stress that triggers the start or recurrence of psychiatric problems.

The study was released Monday in Archives of General Psychiatry...

Personality disorders showed up in similar numbers among both students and non-students, including the most common one, obsessive compulsive personality disorder. About 8 percent of young adults in both groups had this illness, which can include an extreme preoccupation with details, rules, orderliness and perfectionism...

All good students have a touch of "obsessional" personality that helps them work hard to achieve. But that's different from an obsessional disorder that makes people inflexible and controlling and interferes with their lives, he explained.

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder differs from the better known OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, which features repetitive actions such as hand-washing to avoid germs.

OCD is thought to affect about 2 percent of the general population. The study didn't examine OCD separately but grouped it with all anxiety disorders, seen in about 12 percent of college-aged people in the survey...

Substance abuse, including drug addiction, alcoholism and other drinking that interferes with school or work, affected nearly one-third of those in both groups.

Slightly more college students than non-students were problem drinkers — 20 percent versus 17 percent. And slightly more non-students had drug problems — nearly 7 percent versus 5 percent.

In both groups, about 8 percent had phobias and 7 percent had depression.

Bipolar disorder was slightly more common in non-students, affecting almost 5 percent versus about 3 percent of students.

Too much TV leads to child obesity, smoking, alcohol, pregnancy and poor school performance

Lots of TV and Web harms kids' health
Dec 2, 2008

Spending a lot of time watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Web makes children more prone to a range of health problems including obesity and smoking, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

U.S. National Institutes of Health, Yale University and the California Pacific Medical Center experts analyzed 173 studies done since 1980 in one of the most comprehensive assessments to date on how exposure to media sources impacts the physical health of children and adolescents...

The studies offered strong evidence that children who get more media exposure are more likely to become obese, start smoking and begin earlier sexual activity than those who spend less time in front of a screen, the researchers said.

Studies also indicated more media exposure also was linked to drug and alcohol use and poorer school performance, while the evidence was less clear about an association with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, they added.

"I think we were pretty surprised by how overwhelming the number of studies was that showed this negative health impact," NIH bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the researchers in the report released by the advocacy group Common Sense Media, said in a telephone interview.

...One study cited in the report found that children who spent more than eight hours watching TV per week at age 3 were more likely to be obese at 7. And research shows that many U.S. children, even toddlers, watch far more.

Dr. Cary Gross of Yale University.. said TV and other media content can have a profound impact on children's attitudes and beliefs, most notably among teens.

He cited a U.S. study by the RAND research organization published in November that showed that adolescents who watched more programing with sexual themes had a higher risk of becoming pregnant or causing a pregnancy.

Thirteen of 14 studies that evaluated sexual behavior found an association between media exposure and earlier initiation of sexual behavior, the researchers said.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Mayans didn't look forward to the afterlife

Scholar Finds Mayans' Path Through Hell
Nov. 9, 2008

Legend says the afterlife for ancient Mayas was a terrifying obstacle course in which the dead had to traverse rivers of blood, and chambers full of sharp knives, bats and jaguars.

Now a Mexican archaeologist using long-forgotten testimony from the Spanish Inquisition says a series of caves he has explored may be the place where the Maya actually tried to depict this highway through hell.

'The Place of Fear'Dario Lopez-Mills, AP5 photos Using long-forgotten testimony from the Spanish conquistadors, a Mexican archaeologist has discovered a series of caves where people from the Mayan civilization tried to depict the journey into the afterlife. Here, the scholar, Guillermo de Anda, examines the underground lake located in Tzibichen on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in October.

The network of underground chambers, roads and temples beneath farmland and jungle on the Yucatan peninsula suggests the Maya fashioned them to mimic the journey to the underworld, or Xibalba, described in ancient mythological texts such as the Popol Vuh.

"It was the place of fear, the place of cold, the place of danger, of the abyss," said University of Yucatan archaeologist Guillermo de Anda.

Searching for the names of sacred sites mentioned by Indian heretics who were put on trial by Inquisition courts, De Anda discovered what appear to be stages of the legendary journey, recreated in a half-dozen caves south of the Yucatan state capital of Merida.

Archaeologists have long known that the Maya regarded caves as sacred and built structures in some.

But De Anda's team introduced "an extremely important ingredient" by using historical records to locate and connect a series of sacred caves, and link them with the concept of the Mayan road to the afterworld, said archaeologist Bruce Dahlin of Shepherd University, who has studied other Maya sites in the Yucatan.

The Associated Press followed de Anda and his team into the caves, squeezing through tiny, overgrown entrances and rappelling down narrow shafts and slippery tree roots.

There, in the stygian darkness, a scene unfolded that was eerily reminiscent of an "Indiana Jones" movie — tottering ancient temple platforms, slippery staircases and tortuous paths that skirted underground lakes littered with Mayan pottery and ancient skulls.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is your mother nicer than Prince Charles' mother?

I'm not a fan of the English monarchy, but I sympathize with Prince Charles just as I do with any child of a cold mother.

Prince Charles Turns 60
Nov. 13, 2008

...By the time he turns 60 Friday, Prince Charles will have spent a lifetime in line to become king. That's put him in quite a bind. The longest-waiting heir in British history only ascends to the throne when his beloved mother dies or decides to step down...

The queen has indicated informally that she plans to keep the job for life and some people think the 82-year-old monarch intends to live forever, or at least as long as her mother, who died at 101...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holocaust survivor recounts Kristallnacht , 70 years later

Boston Globe
By Emily A. Canal
November 10, 2008

Dr. Margot Segall-Blank stood yesterday in front of a photo of smoke billowing from a synagogue and spoke about what she saw in Berlin on Nov. 9, 1938, the first day of Kristallnacht, a two-day, anti-Semitic rampage in Nazi Germany in which approximately 91 people were killed and about 267 synagogues destroyed.

"I couldn't believe my eyes," said Segall-Blank, an endocrinologist who lives in Brookline, as she recalled being a child and seeing her synagogue burn. "I didn't understand that the fire was not an accident."

Segall-Blank spoke at Hebrew College in Brookline yesterday as part of the program, "Remembering Kristallnacht: Standing Together 70 Years Later," which featured the opening of an art exhibit, "Standing Again: A New Generation Responds to the Holocaust."

Segall-Blank recalled that distant day when she was in second grade, walking two younger children to synagogue before her religious classes.

"We got to be about half a mile away and saw smoke and smelled smoke," Segall-Blank said. "I saw the Nazi boys in their brown shirts waving swastika flags and singing, 'Death to the Jews.' "

Julie Hock, New England's regional director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, introduced Segall-Blank and explained that the name Kristallnacht means "the night of broken glass," and is named for all the windows broken during the violence.

Segall-Blank escaped Nazi Germany in 1941 and emigrated with her family to Australia. She studied medicine there, and in 1955 went to Israel for three years to work in an Army hospital. She also treated children in Israel, which inspired to her to focus on pediatrics.

She moved to Brookline in 1973.

"I don't consider myself a German," Segall-Blank said. "I consider myself an Australian because that was the country that saved my family and my life. Our story ended happily unlike the other several millions."

Segall-Blank remembered being frustrated as a child in Berlin with the passive reaction of Jewish elders to the persecution they faced.

"I wanted to defend myself and wanted to take action, but the elders just stood by and watched," Segall-Blank said. "The mistake was not to realize that something really terrible was lurking."

People who attended yesterday's event were invited to browse a new exhibit of art inspired by Kristallnacht and the Holocaust. The hallways of the Hebrew College were decorated with the photography of Emily Carbato, paintings of Stepheny Kotzen Riemer, and a sculpture by Carol Cohen.

A bent glass sculpture that encased a dead bird and was partially painted orange to suggest fire drew the most attention, according to Evelyn Herwitz, the college's director of marketing and communications.

"It looks like an explosion and a house on fire," Herwitz said. "The glass looks like the wings of a bird and reminds me of a phoenix rising from the ashes."

Herwitz said the show, which will remain open until Jan. 31, is designed to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

Michael Laufer of Canton, who attended the event with his wife, said his father was a Holocaust survivor and had lost relatives and friends in concentration camps. He said those who suffered should never be forgotten.

"We need to see more of this taught in public schools," he said.

Mormons meet with Jews over baptizing Holocaust victims

Source: Helen Radkey

Ghengis Khan--Pagan
Joan of Arc--Catholic
Adolf Hitler--What? Mormons want this guy to have his own planet?????
Josef Stalin--ditto
Anne Frank--Jewish

November 11, 2008
Holocaust survivors to Mormons: Stop baptisms of dead Jews

Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are making changes to their massive genealogical database that will make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.

But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. At a news conference in New York City on Monday, he said the church also must "implement a mechanism to undo what you have done."

"Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable," said Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz. He spoke on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.

"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."

Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, have ended. He said his group will not sue, and that "the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion."

In 1995, Mormons and Jews inked an agreement to limit the circumstances that allow for the proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims. Ending the practice outright was not part of the agreement and would essentially be asking Mormons to alter their beliefs, church Elder Lance B. Wickman said Monday in an interview with reporters in Salt Lake City...

Obama's Candidacy Angers, Excites Hate Groups

by Dina Temple-Raston
All Things Considered
National Public Radio NPR
October 28, 2008

The charges Monday against two neo-Nazi skinheads accused of plotting to kill Barack Obama drew attention to law enforcement's simmering concerns over how white supremacists are reacting to the possibility of a black president.

The alleged plan that Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman, of West Helena, Ark., were hatching was fantastic in its scope. Federal agents said Cowart and Schlesselman planned to rob a gun store, target students at a largely black high school and then try to kill Obama.

The two men did not expect to be successful, but they wanted to die trying, investigators said. They said the two planned to drive as fast as they could toward Obama and shoot at him from the windows of their car. They allegedly had discussed wearing white tuxedos and top hats for the occasion. The suspects are being held without bond on charges of possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms and threatening a presidential candidate.

This is the second white supremacist plot against Obama that authorities have revealed. In August, just days before Obama accepted the Democratic nomination in Denver, police arrested three men with white supremacist ties for possibly threatening him.

While law enforcement officials say Obama was never in any danger in either situation, they are also quick to say that they cannot afford to take these cases lightly. And they have been expecting new challenges from white supremacist groups.

"There is a probable hypothesis that in the event that Obama becomes president that you could have a galvanization of these white supremacist groups," said John Karl, the officer in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department's criminal conspiracy unit. "Obviously, law enforcement needs to be prepared, and how do you prepare? You need to become as resourceful and comprehensively understand the groups and individuals involved."

Karl says the First Amendment ties law enforcement's hands. Officers cannot move in until and unless these groups actually commit a crime.

"If no crime has been committed, no activity has come up on the radar screen, we can't arbitrarily start rounding people up," he said. "There is a little problem with the Constitution and things like that."

Supremacist Groups In California

Travel out of metropolitan Los Angeles — to Southern California cities farther inland where supremacists have traditionally congregated — and it is clear that law enforcement is in a state of alert.

Chris Keeling is part of the FBI's hate crimes task force in Santa Clarita. As he sees it, Obama's effect on the hate movement is no longer theoretical; it has already happened.

"There is more on the Internet. There are more flyers, leafletting going out, because now they have a target," he said. "Take Obama out of the situation, you're still going to have leafletting. But having Obama in there and being a stone's throw from being the president, has it increased the Internet activity? Absolutely, absolutely."

These days, Keeling works about six hate crime calls a week. Some of them are serious. A couple of months ago, skinheads beat up a customer at a restaurant because he was black. Others are crimes of opportunity. Obama posters, for example, have become an easy target for vandals to deface.

The FBI set up a task force in Santa Clarita partly because racist skinhead gangs have long been a fixture there. For years, the Antelope Valley had been a white enclave — a refuge from Los Angeles. When immigrants began moving in, hate groups saw their membership ranks grow as whites in the neighborhoods banded together. Keeling said Obama's candidacy is adding fear and uncertainty to an already volatile mix.

"This is different. This is new. This has never happened before," Keeling said of Obama's candidacy. "We're not doing anything extra, but we're kind of being more cognizant of things."

Candidacy Fits Into Ideology

Part of the problem is that Obama is playing into the neo-Nazi and white supremacist narrative, said Brian Levin, who studies hate and extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

What the groups were saying — "Jews and blacks coming out of the urban areas are going to take over this white nation of ours" — has occurred, he said.

You only have to look to the Internet to see how white supremacist leaders such as David Duke are using Obama to rally their troops. Duke has called Obama a "visual aid for hate groups."

He says an Obama presidency would provide indisputable proof that whites have lost control of America.

"This is a cultural and racial battlefront," said Levin. "Barack Obama is symbol No. 1 of the worst the future has to offer."

While Obama may be an easy focus of discussion for haters, he hasn't unified them. In fact, in many ways, he has managed to divide the movement.

Catalyst For A Race War

Tim Zaal, a former white supremacist from Los Angeles, says the split Obama has created is almost generational — between old-school Ku Klux Klan types who are viscerally against a black man running for president and a new wave of haters.

"You have the more — kind-of strange to say it — progressive white attitude: The worse it gets, the better," said Zaal.

Zaal says the new generation is particularly focused on what they see as the coming race war. They have been trying to spark one for years. Some think, even hope, that an Obama presidency will do just that.

Zaal says some will actually vote for Obama to send the country into a tailspin. "The faster this country falls, the sooner white revolution will arise," he said.

That mindset is all over the neo-Nazi Web sites. On one, a man with the pen name "LastOfMyKind" wrote, "Could it be that the nomination of Obama finally sparks a sense of unity in white voters? I would propose that this threat of black rule may very well be the thing that finally scares some sense back into complacent whites."

This is what worries the police and the FBI.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

How Arnold Schwarzenegger treats disabled people

Where should budget cuts be applied? Arnold changed California regulations to deny services to disabled people where otherwise they qualify for services. People were qualified before 2003 with fewer disabilities than individuals applying after 2003. While more severely disabled people are given nothing, those with fewer disabilities will continue to get services under the new regulations.

This link is self explanatory:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Barack Obama's grandmother dies in Hawaii

Just hours before Election Day, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama announced that his 86-year-old grandmother died Monday after a battle with cancer. The news comes a week after he visited Madelyn Payne Dunham in Hawaii after she fell seriously ill following a hip fracture. His grandfather Stanley Dunham died in 1992.

Barack Obama's Grandmother Dies
Nov. 3, 2008
Barack Obama's grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election.

Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86. Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died peacefully late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.

They said: "She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances."

Obama learned of her death Monday morning while he was campaigning in Jacksonville, Fla. He planned to go ahead with campaign appearances.

The family said a private ceremony would be held later.

Last month, Obama took a break from campaigning and flew to Hawaii to be with Dunham as her health declined.

Obama said the decision to go to Hawaii was easy to make, telling CBS that he "got there too late" when his mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995 at 53, and wanted to make sure "that I don't make the same mistake twice."

The Kansas-born Dunham and her husband, Stanley, raised their grandson for several years so he could attend school in Honolulu while their daughter and her second husband lived overseas. Her influence on Obama's manner and the way he viewed the world was substantial, the candidate himself told millions watching him accept his party's nomination in Denver in August.

"She's the one who taught me about hard work," he said. "She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me."

Obama's nickname for his grandmother was "Toot," a version of the Hawaiian word for grandmother, tutu. Many of his speeches describe her working on a bomber assembly line during World War II.

Madelyn and Stanley Dunham married in 1940, a few weeks before she graduated from high school. Their daughter, Stanley Ann, was born in 1942. After several moves to and from California, Texas, Washington and Kansas, Stanley Dunham's job landed the family in Hawaii.

It was there that Stanley Ann later met and fell in love with Obama's father, a Kenyan named Barack Hussein Obama Sr. They had met in Russian class at the University of Hawaii. Their son was born in August 1961, but the marriage didn't last long. She later married an Indonesian, Lolo Soetoro, another university student she met in Hawaii.

Obama moved to Indonesia with his mother and stepfather at age 6. But in 1971, her mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with her parents. He stayed with the Dunhams until he graduated from high school in 1979.

In his autobiography, Obama wrote fondly of playing basketball on a court below his grandparents' 10th-floor Honolulu apartment, and looking up to see his grandmother watching...

Republican dirty tricks against Obama

Some Republicans are using race as a weapon against Barack Obama:

Voters Across Nation Hit by Dirty Tricks
Nov. 3, 2008

...Complaints have surfaced in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia where fliers have circulated, warning voters they could be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets or if they had criminal convictions.

Over the weekend in Virginia, bogus fliers with an authentic-looking commonwealth seal said fears of high voter turnout had prompted election officials to hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.
In New Mexico, two Hispanic women filed a lawsuit last week claiming they were harassed by a private investigator working for a Republican lawyer who came to their homes and threatened to call immigration authorities, even though they are U.S. citizens.

"He was questioning her status, saying that he needed to see her papers and documents to show that she was a U.S. citizen and was a legitimate voter," said Guadalupe Bojorquez, speaking on behalf of her mother, Dora Escobedo, a 67-year-old Albuquerque resident who speaks only Spanish. "He totally, totally scared the heck out of her."

In Pennsylvania, e-mails appeared linking Democrat Barack Obama to the Holocaust. "Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4," said the electronic message, paid for by an entity calling itself the Republican Federal Committee. "Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake."...

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Republican recently accused her challenger of "taking Godless money." Isn't all money Godless?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Terrific Nova special about fractals

Photo at left is the original Mandelbrot set.

Click here to see four up close details of the image at left.

What do movie special effects, the stock market, heart attacks, and the rings of Saturn have in common?

They're all connected by a revolutionary new branch of math called fractals, which changed the way we see the world and opened up a vast new territory to scientific analysis and understanding.

NOVA tells the dramatic story of a group of pioneering mathematicians who developed fractals from a curiosity that few took seriously to an approach that is touching nearly every branch of understanding - including what happened after the Big Bang and the ultimate fate of our universe.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whose idea was this? Did George Bush really want all this power?

In a May 2007 White House directive, the Bush administration gave itself control over all public institutions, even at the state and local level, as well as tribal areas and some private institutions in the event of an emergency.

Did any of the people who worked on this directive study American history? Do they understand the true source of our country's power? It's our democracy, our institutions. You can't throw out checks and balances, and two out of three branches of the federal government, and still call ourselves a democracy. We would have a monarchy.


Australia premieres "open phone tests"

Phone a friend in exams
August 20, 2008

A Sydney girls' school is redefining the concept of cheating by allowing students to "phone a friend" and use the internet and i-Pods during exams. The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"Presbyterian Ladies' College at Croydon is giving the assessment method a trial run with year 9 English students and plans to expand it to all subjects by the end of the year.

... An English teacher, Dierdre Coleman said her students were being encouraged to access information from the internet, their mobile phones and podcasts played on mp3s as part of a series of 40-minute tasks. But to discourage plagiarism, they are required to cite all sources they use.

"In terms of preparing them for the world, we need to redefine our attitudes towards traditional ideas of 'cheating'," Ms Coleman said. "Unless the students have a conceptual understanding of the topic or what they are working on, they can't access bits and pieces of information to support them in a task effectively.

"In their working lives they will never need to carry enormous amounts of information around in their heads. What they will need to do is access information from all their sources quickly and they will need to check the reliability of their information."

... International education consultant, Marc Prensky threw out the following challenge to educators in a British Educational Communications and Technology Agency publication: "What if we allowed the use of mobile phones and instant messaging to collect information during exams, redefining such activity from 'cheating' to 'using our tools and including the world in our knowledge base'?

"Our kids already see this on television. 'You can use a lifeline to win $1 million,' said one. 'Why not to pass a stupid test?' I have begun advocating the use of open phone tests ... Being able to find and apply the right information becomes more important than having it all in your head."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fear of HIV in St. Louis high school

School Tests Students Amid HIV Scare
Oct. 23, 2008

NORMANDY, Mo. Students at a suburban St. Louis high school headed to the gymnasium for HIV testing this week after an infected person told health officials as many as 50 teenagers might have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS.

Officials refused to give details on who the person was or how the students at Normandy High School might have been exposed, but the district is consulting with national AIDS organizations as it tries to minimize the fallout and prevent the infection — and misinformation — from spreading.

"There's potential for stigma for all students regardless of whether they're positive or negative," Normandy School District spokesman Doug Hochstedler said Thursday. "The board wants to be sure all children are fully educated."
A teacher in a neighboring district singled out a girl who dates someone at Normandy High and instructed her to get tested, Hochstedler said. A competing school's football team initially balked at playing Normandy's 8-0 team.

Jasmine Lane, a 16-year-old sophomore, said her boyfriend from a neighboring high school broke up with her on learning of the news — after she bought them tickets to homecoming.

"I cried so hard," she said.

Hochstedler said that as far as he knows, no other district has had to handle a similar situation. Students at the school of 1,300 are being tested voluntarily, and the district is getting advice on the best ways to support kids in crisis.
Sophomore Tevin Baldwin said that many of his classmates in this working-class city of about 5,000 residents want to transfer out of the district, which encompasses other towns.

"Nobody knows what's going on," he said. The district declined to respond to his assertion...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some ACORN workers did what lots of low-paid registration workers do:

Registration workers for all political parties often get paid a set amount for every person they register. A few of them create phony registrations to get a few more bucks. This does not mean that anyone will show up on voting day and claim to be fictional person whose name is on the registration. The goal is, and has been for as long as I can remember, to get a few extra bucks to live on.

It's wrong of Ohio Republicans to claim that ACORN itself has done anything wrong, much less that it is trying to steal an election.

It is possible that Republicans simply want an excuse to show up at the polls themselves, and challenge legitimate voters in order to get them to leave without voting.

Friday, October 17, 2008


10/15/08 - During the debate today, Obama declared that solving our education problem is a major solution to our financial crisis. The answer to how to fix our schools will be presented this Saturday. Neither presidential candidate appears to know the answer. Do not miss this event.

Contact: Josh Fertel, River City Marketing at 703-218-1750 or, or Myra Sawyers, EPIC, at 571-233-6735 or,, or Karen Horwitz, NAPTA, at 312-397-1940 or (cell during March - 312 498-9074)

Thousands of Teachers Expected to March on Nation's Capitol Oct. 18 to Bring Attention to Teacher Abuse; Some Wearing Bags on Heads to Hide Identities; Presidential Campaigns Alerted

Thousands of teachers and their supporters, some wearing paper bags on their heads to hide their identities, are expected to converge on the nation’s Capitol Oct. 18 to send a strong message that abuse of teachers must stop because teachers are the anchors of the education system. The organizers have alerted both presidential campaigns about this momentous event.

Education leaders organizing the rally say that the country's educational system is about to implode as have our financial institutions and for the very same reasons - a lack of regulations and greed. In addition to marching on the National Mall, there will be an array of speakers whose message is to convey just why schools are so dysfunctional and what must be done for education reform to work.

This march will be an historic presentation of teachers as individuals, rather than as extensions of the teachers' unions, sponsored by Educators for Progressive Instructional Change (EPIC), a non-profit organization focused on empowering teachers to dramatically impact the process of education reform. These teachers will talk about how administrations operating with too much power and hollow regulations have held schools hostage from the public.

Karen Horwitz, M.Ed., Chicago area native and author of the book, White Chalk Crime: The REAL Reason Schools Fail (2008), will speak about how teachers have been silent about what has been really going on in our schools due to their fear of teacher abuse. ( offers more information about her book as well as an opportunity to blog about education concerns.) In 2002, she cofounded the National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse (NAPTA) to unify what she calls a disenfranchised group of teachers and an intentionally divided group of parents and teachers.

This group, whose website is, now exceeds 1,000 members, all of whom are eager to attest to the depravity of teacher abuse and its negative effects on students, but up until now have had no voice because it is simply too unbelievable that a first class nation could be treating its teachers this way, Horwitz said. Teachers from her group will be present at the rally later this month to explain why legislators must bail out teachers from the powerless state in which they find themselves despite their unions, she said.

However, due to the imbalanced playing field in education, few teachers can afford to expose what Horwitz called in her book the "EducRAT$" with their unlimited access to propaganda that blames teachers, parents and children and that instead protects those who are cannibalizing American schools. Thus, EPIC is providing bags to hide the faces of currently employed teachers who fear retribution from school authorities or their unions.

“We need to send a strong message to draw attention to the need for educational reform in this country. Teachers need to Speak Up and Speak Out for their profession and their students, and teachers need to be given the power to do so,” explained Myra Sawyers, M.Ed., President and Founder of EPIC. “This is an advocacy movement FOR teachers. It’s about giving teachers the support, power and respect they deserve.”

“We are holding the March in Washington D.C. because that is where we can create the biggest visual message for all government leaders and the public,” Sawyers said. “Teachers must have a greater role in influencing standards and policies. Amazingly, teachers – those who actually know what education needs – are not consulted. So EPIC is here to give teachers a voice. We want to empower teachers to change the educational world."

From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 18, related events will be held on the Mall in preparation for the March, including presentations by nationally-recognized education reformers who will engage the public in lively discussions about the challenges of modern educational practices. From 1-4 p.m., the rally and Teachers' March will take place at the foot of the Capitol as what organizers are calling a solid show of unified concern. Registration tables, vendors and supporters will be visible along the mall.

"This will be a day of answers, solutions, and enlightenment for all who care about education," Horwitz said. Topics from teacher shortages to avoiding more Columbine shootings will be covered. Participation is free and advance registration is encouraged. Register at

About EPIC
Educators for Progressive Instructional Change (EPIC) is a non-profit organization focused on empowering teachers to dramatically impact the process of education reform. It was created by teachers and teacher advocates with the belief that today's educators have the power to transform the teaching profession and must play an essential role in developing education policy. It is not a Political Action Committee (PAC) but a non-partisan organization with no political mandate. EPIC does not lobby for any particular issue. Rather, it inspires teachers to become their own self-advocates. To achieve this objective, EPIC offers members a speaker series, annual conferences, policy forums, activism workshops, participation in political activities, one-on-one support and guidance, an annual newsletter, and other events and activities. Visit for additional details about EPIC.

National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse (NAPTA) is a non-profit, non partisan organization founded to educate the public about teacher abuse and its role in obstructing school reform. In addition to helping teachers, educators, parents and citizens navigate within an education system that is increasingly hostile toward them, it is uniting disenfranchised teachers and giving them a voice. Its 1000 plus members post their stories of teacher abuse and thus student abuse at its website: Membership is free and all who care about children, teachers, and this nation's future are welcome to join.

For more information, please contact Josh Fertel, River City Marketing at 703-218-1750 or, or Myra Sawyers, EPIC, at 571-233-6735 or,, or Karen Horwitz, NAPTA, at 312-397-1940 or (cell during March - 312 498-9074)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Anti-gay marriage: Conservative Christians are forced to violate the duty to love, and not to judge

Is gay marriage good or bad?

It seems to me that two people committing to love and support each other is a good thing. After all, sex with more than one partner can be dangerous since there are vicious viruses and bacteria that have chosen this avenue to infect human beings.

But let's say, for argument's sake, that we want to consider the possibility that some Christians are correct and that the Old Testament proves that God is against gay sex.

While we consider this, we must keep in mind that Jesus made it abundantly clear that love and kindness are the guiding principles of the New Testament, and that the Old Testament also says, "Judgment is mine, sayeth the Lord."

What we are left with are competing moral principles.

Some people don't know how to weigh competing moral principles. They just choose
one and ignore the others.

Conservative Christians today must weigh the options; they must violate one or more of their principles. If they choose to maintain hostility toward gays, they must violate the directives to be kind and loving, and not to judge.

School board considers endorsement of Prop. 8
October 14, 2008

VISTA: The school board is to decide whether to formally endorse Proposition 8, the state ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage in California, at its meeting Thursday night.

Vista board president Jim Gibson said he asked that a resolution in support of Proposition 8 be added to the agenda. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose building at Temple Heights Elementary School, 1550 Temple Heights Drive in Oceanside.

The ballot measure arose in May after the state Supreme Court struck down Proposition 22, an initiative that voters passed in 2000 to ban same-sex marriages. Proposition 8 seeks to amend the state Constitution to recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Yesterday, Gibson said he's urging the board of the Vista Unified School District to support Proposition 8 in part because the California Teachers Association opposes it.

“These types of agendas filter into education, so if this decision by the judges stands as is that means the school will eventually have to teach that it's acceptable for two dads, two moms type-of-thing,” Gibson said.

[Blogger's note: Two dads and two moms is a fact. Why teach children to condemn? I don't believe people have a choice whether to be gay or not. Heterosexuals can't choose to be gay, and vis versa. Why not just accept that this is how human beings (and other species) happen to be, and that there's nothing we can do about it?]

In July, trustees of the Grossmont Union High School District voted 4-0, with one abstention, to endorse Proposition 8. Trustee Richard Hoy, who abstained, said at the time that the measure didn't directly affect the public schools. –B.L.

Friday, October 10, 2008

When is an elementary school like an anti-Obama rally?

McCain booed after trying to calm anti-Obama crowd
October 10, 2008

The anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is acting to tamp it down. McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from raising questions about Barack Obama's character, he described the Democrat as a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

[This situation is similar to what happened at Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista, California when the school district supported teachers who claimed that a fellow teacher might kill them and possibly "everyone else" at the school. In fact, the district forced those teachers to repeat their false accusations under oath. Lowell Billings, the current superintendent, has been dealing with the fallout from the actions that he and the school board approved. The teachers who initiated the problem committed only misdemeanors, but the district's actions included felonies. The California Teachers Association was concerned because two of the local affiliate's past presidents (and Peg Myers, the current CVE president) were involved in the original wrongdoing, and so CTA lawyers also suborned perjury.]

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat.

Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

McCain changed his tone Friday when supporters at a town hall pressed him to be rougher on Obama. A voter said, "The people here in Minnesota want to see a real fight." Another said Obama would lead the U.S. into socialism. Another said he did not want his unborn child raised in a country led by Obama.

"If you want a fight, we will fight," McCain said. "But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments." When people booed, he cut them off.
"I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity," he said. "I just mean to say you have to be respectful."

Presidential candidates are accustomed to raucous rallies this close to Election Day and welcome the enthusiasm. But they are also traditionally monitors of sorts from the stage. Part of their job is to leaven proceedings if tempers run ragged and to rein in an out-of-bounds comment from the crowd.

Not so much this week, at GOP rallies in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and other states.

When a visibly angry McCain supporter in Waukesha, Wis., on Thursday told the candidate "I'm really mad" because of "socialists taking over the country," McCain stoked the sentiment. "I think I got the message," he said. "The gentleman is right." He went on to talk about Democrats in control of Congress.
On Friday, McCain rejected the bait.

"I don't trust Obama," a woman said. "I have read about him. He's an Arab."
McCain shook his head in disagreement, and said:

"No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with (him) on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

He had drawn boos with his comment: "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."
The anti-Obama taunts and jeers are noticeably louder when McCain appears with Palin, a big draw for GOP social conservatives. She accused Obama this week of "palling around with terrorists" because of his past, loose association with a 1960s radical. If less directly, McCain, too, has sought to exploit Obama's Chicago neighborhood ties to William Ayers, while trying simultaneously to steer voters' attention to his plans for the financial crisis.

The Alaska governor did not campaign with McCain on Friday, and his rally in La Crosse, Wis., earlier Friday was much more subdued than those when the two campaigned together. Still, one woman shouted "traitor" when McCain told voters Obama would raise their taxes.

Volunteers worked up chants from the crowd of "U.S.A." and "John McCain, John McCain," in an apparent attempt to drown out boos and other displays of negative energy.

The Secret Service confirmed Friday that it had investigated an episode reported in The Washington Post in which someone in Palin's crowd in Clearwater, Fla., shouted "kill him," on Monday, meaning Obama. There was "no indication that there was anything directed at Obama," Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told AP. "We looked into it because we always operate in an atmosphere of an abundance of caution."

Palin, at a fundraiser in Ohio on Friday, told supporters "it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited" to scrutinize Obama's iffy associations.

But Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania an author of 15 books on politics, says the vitriol has been encouraged by inflammatory words from the stage.

"Red-meat rhetoric elicits emotional responses in those already disposed by ads using words such as 'dangerous' 'dishonorable' and 'risky' to believe that the country would be endangered by election of the opposing candidate," she said.

Doctors Without Borders

Charity watchdogs at the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charity Navigator give Doctors Without Borders the highest ratings. Worth Magazine says, "They focus tightly on their missions and don't venture into areas in which they lack expertise. And they involve local leaders in program design and implementation, which helps ensure lasting results after they move on."

Doctors Without Borders won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sarah Palin tried to fire librarian who refused to censor books

Sarah Palin seems to have Jimmy Carter's big negative (he was a micromanager) without his positives.

Sarah has apparently been quite the busybody, going to the Wasilla library before she was sworn in as mayor to ask the librarian if she would censor books. The folks at the Library of Congress might want to keep an eye peeled for a tough-talking brunette who's going to be really upset to know that they keep just about EVERYTHING that's printed.

Palin pressured Wasilla librarian
Anchorage Daily News
September 4th, 2008

WASILLA -- Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring library books should she be asked to do so.

According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn't fully support her and had to go.

Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

When evangelical Christians were liberals

I was surprised to find out that William Wilberforce (1759–1833) was an evangelical Christian. He is the hero of the recent movie Amazing Grace.

In the United States over the past few decades, evangelicals have leaned to the far right, more interested in preventing what they see as misbehavior in other people's bedrooms than in making sure that all human beings are treated with respect and decency.

But the old days, when an evangelical forced the abolition of the slave trade in England, may be coming back.

Are evangelical Christians returning to social activism? It seems that they are. More evangelicals are fighting for justice for all, and preservation of the environment.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Should we toughen the weak by taunting them?

Police aren't the only ones who believe in showing contempt for the weak. It's a strategy also used by teachers, school administrators and others who "care for" young people.

Family Calls for New Police Policy for Suicide Threats
CW San Diego Channel 6

The family of a 20-year-old Oceanside man who barricaded himself inside his home, then committed suicide is calling for change. They say their son's death didn't have to happen, and a police negotiator may have pushed him over the edge.

His parents, Bill and Julie Hillestad, are now calling for a policy change because of the way an Oceanside Police Department negotiator handled their son's case. Sattaur had locked himself inside his home with a gun, threatening suicide after a break-up with his long-time girlfriend.

This is part of his exchange with an Oceanside police negotiator.

Police Negotiator: "Grant shut up and listen to me. Will you do that, keep your mouth shut. You need to come out of the house so other people can go home."

Police Negotiator: "Are you going to be a coward to stay in the house or are you going to be a man and come outside and take care of your problems?"

Sattaur: "I don't know"

Police Negotiator: "So you're a coward?"

Sattaur: "Yes"

The ACLU of San Diego has joined Sattaur's parents to bring attention to the case. "The Oceanside Police Department's whole system for responding to depressed people contemplating suicide is broken, " says ACLU Executive Director Kevin Keenan... "It's policies treat suicidal patients the same as barricaded homicidal individuals and hostage takers," says Keenan.

An Oceanside Police spokesman says Sattaur's death is tragic, but their negotiator did nothing wrong. They have no plans to change their policies...



Canine commemoration: K-9 units pay tribute to Stryker, fallen Oceanside police dog
North County Times
January 15, 2008
A funeral service for Stryker, the Oceanside police dog who died after falling from the Coronado Bay Bridge on New Year's Eve, drew about 100 police dogs and their handlers to North County from throughout Southern California on Monday.

Oceanside Police Officer Kedrick Sadler, speaking publicly for the first time since the dog was killed, thanked his canine partner for his loyalty, discipline and bravery on the bridge that night.

"The only thing I regret is that I was not there to comfort you in your final moments and tell you that you did a good job," Sadler said..

Oceanside remembers Stryker
By Lance Cpl. Shannon E. Mcmillan
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

... OPD canine Officer Stryker [a dog] sacrifice[d] his life in the line of duty.

People and dogs from all over California mourned the loss of Officer Stryker at a memorial here Jan. 14.

...The suspect struggled to his feet and hurled himself from the bridge, carrying with him one of Oceanside’s bravest peace keepers.

“You died doing what you do best, getting the bad guys,” said Sadler, Stryker’s handler and police officer of Oceanside K-9 unit. “With a selfless act to get the bad guy, you lost your life.”

Stryker touched the heart of many police officers’ in the K-9 unit.

...said Manual Villa Nueva..."Stryker was dedicated to the job. He never showed weakness and gave 110 percent..."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

American Jews and Sarah Palin

Poor Sarah Palin. Belonging to a judgmental religion can backfire. I think it's arrogant to claim that God intentionally caused harm to one's enemies. Was it God's doing when some crazed person attacked one of their churches? Of course not.

Jewish voters may be wary of Palin

Barack Obama has struggled for 18 months to lock down the support of a traditionally Democratic group, Jewish voters.

In the past week, John McCain may have helped Obama with his Jewish problem by choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate...

An illustration of that gap came just two weeks ago, when Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to a figure viewed with deep hostility by many Jewish organizations: David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus.

Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.

“He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.

Brickner then explained that Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jewish.

“The Jewish community, in particular, has a difficult time understanding this reality,” he said...

Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."

Palin was in church that day, Kroon said, though he cautioned against attributing Brickner’s views to her...

VP choice Sarah Palin and Britney Spears' mom: what's the difference?

The basic difference between Sarah Palin and Britney Spears' mom (both have been in the news recently as a result of their underage daughters becoming pregnant) seems to be political. Spears accepted silently all the discussion of the problem of pregnant unmarried teenagers.

Sarah Palin is suddenly trying to stop the discussion of family values.

It's quite clear that abstinence-only sex education doesn't work for many teenagers. Sarah Palin needs to discuss that subject.

Then there's the subject of communication with teenagers. I simply don't believe that Palin informed John McCain of her daughter's pregnancy. I don't think Palin covered it up, either. I think she didn't know.

How could she not know her daughter is 5 months pregnant? I suspect that the pregnancy is not that far advanced.

I think Bristol Palin was afraid to tell her mother because her mother is unable to deal with reality. Not surprisingly, Palin wants to silence discussion of the matter, not open up to the American people about any realization that she might have been wrong when she opposed sex education that teaches about birth control and cut food and shelter programs for pregnant teens in Alaska.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Good teacher, bad teacher: Women sabotaging women in the workplace

Do women in the workplace sabotage each other? Some of us have noticed this. Below is an essay by a woman born in 1982.

Washington Post
by Hannah Seligson
Aug. 30, 2000

"...Inspired by my own rocky entrance into the work world, I decided to interview other young women and discovered that many of them, like me, were facing a steep workplace learning curve. What was it, I wondered, that was making our first career steps so wobbly when we had been so accomplished and self-assured in school?

Every workplace is different, but certain patterns began to emerge. I experienced and heard of instances when some women, instead of helping a new female colleague, tried to undermine her. Rather than giving “the new girl” the tools to succeed, they might try to sabotage her advancement.

... Women, I have found, can let perfectionism stop them from speaking up or taking risks...

Sarah Palin's fuzzy thinking about pregnant teenagers

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote in her line-item veto (note the initials "SP" in the above document) in this copy of a 2008 spending bill obtained by The Washington Post.

People who make harsh judgments of others are vulnerable when their own shortcomings are exposed. Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is now one of those people.

Palin cut back on help for other people's pregnant teenage daughters, apparently because she found those girls undeserving of society's support. She also opposed teaching teenagers about contraception. I imagine she's more surprised than I am that her seventeen-year-old daughter is pregnant.

Washington Post
By Paul Kane
Sept. 2, 2008
...Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million.

...According to Passage House's web site, its purpose is to provide "young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

Palin's own daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant and has plans to wed...

Earlier today the Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, opposed funding to prevent teen pregnancies, a position that Palin also took as governor. "The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support," she wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates.

Reporters asked McCain in November 2007 whether he supported grants for sex education in the United States, whether such programs should include directions for using contraceptives and whether he supports President Bush's policy of promoting abstinence.

"Ahhh, I think I support the president's policy," McCain said.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Did the founding fathers say the pledge of allegiance?

From Daily Kos
by J L Finch
Aug 31, 2008

Here is [VP candidate Sarah] Palin's response to a candidate questionnaire for the Alaska 2006 gubernatorial race:

Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
SP: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance

First, the Pledge of Allegiance was not written by the Founding Fathers. It was written much later. Secondly, the words "under God" were not originally part of the Pledge. "Under God" was added even later.

Wikipedia on the Pledge of Allegiance:

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855-1931), a Baptist minister, a Christian Socialist, and the cousin of Socialist Utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850-1898).

Bellamy's original "Pledge of Allegiance" was published in the September 8th issue of the popular children's magazine The Youth's Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America, conceived by James B. Upham.

Bellamy's original Pledge read, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

...In New York City on April 22, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend their recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words "under God" after the words "one nation..."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Maylasia shuts down political blog

San Diego school boards and government entities are becoming more and more secretive, much like repressive governments around the world.

Secrecy in government is the enemy of democracy, and Americans must work to keep the democracy we have.

Malaysia censors blog after poor poll results
By John Burton in Singapore
August 29 2008

Malaysia's leading political blog was being blocked yesterday in what was seen as a crackdown on internet websites credited with contributing to government losses in this year's general election.

The move came as former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was being sworn in as the new opposition leader following a by-election victory this week that returned him to parliament for the first time in a decade.

Mr Anwar vowed to mount a no-confidence vote against the government by midSeptember.

The Malaysia Today website was blocked by state-owned Telekom Malaysia, the country's leading internet service provider, on the orders of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which said comments posted on it were "insensitive, bordering on incitement".

The MCMC action represents an apparent reversal of government promises not to censor the internet, except for pornographic websites. The policy was introduced in the 1990s to encourage foreign investment in the showcase Multimedia Super Corridor, near Kuala Lumpur...

[Blogger's note: Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz, public entity lawyers in San Diego, are trying to shut down this blogger. See Citizen Media Law Project.]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Covering up is hard to do: China lied about a gymnast's age

Hacker uncovers 'proof' that Chinese gymnast is underage
From (London) Times Online
August 21, 2008
Jane Macartney in Beijing

A determined computer expert has delved into cached pages on the Internet to unearth Chinese official documents showing a gymnast who took gold, edging Britain’s Beth Tweddle into fourth place, may indeed be underage.

Controversy over whether He Kexin, gold medallist in the uneven bars, is under the minimum age of 16 has surrounded her participation in the Beijing Olympics. The latest challenge over the age of the tiny Olympian comes from the discovery through a cyberspace maze of Chinese official documents listing her date of birth.

She certainly does not look as if she has reached the minimum competing age of 16. However China says her passport, issued in February, gives her birthday on January 1, 1992, and the International Olympic Committee has said proof from her passport is good enough...

The latest unofficial investigation was carried out by 'Stryde', a computer security expert for the New York-based Intrepidus Group, whose site Stryde Hax revealed a detailed forensic search for Ms He’s age.

The blogger first simply tried Google, only to find that an official listing by the Chinese sports administration that had given her age could no longer be accessed. Next he tried the Google cache, only to find that Ms He’s name had been removed.

So then he tried the cache of Chinese search engine Baidu. There, he found that Baidu lists two spreadsheets in Ms He's name, both giving her date of birth as January 1, 1994 – making her 14 years and 220 days old and too young to compete at these Olympics.

The lists were compiled by the General Administration of Sport of China...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

God made gorillas a lot like us

Mourning Gorilla Holds On to Baby's Body
August 20, 2008

A gorilla at a zoo in the German city of Muenster is refusing to let go of her dead baby's body several days after it died of unknown causes.

Mama Gorilla Grieves for BabyFrank Augstein, APA gorilla at a German zoo is having trouble accepting the death of her baby. Officials at the Allwetter Zoo in Muenster said Wednesday that 11-year-old Gana has been carrying her baby's body around for several days...the 3-month-old male baby died on Saturday but its 11-year-old mother continues to carry its body around. Zuehlke says such behavior is not uncommon to gorillas.

Zuehlke says the mother "is mourning and must say goodbye." The mother gorilla is named Gana.

Who gets spanked the most in school?

Study Finds Minority Kids Paddled More
Aug. 20, 2008

Paddlings, swats, licks. A quarter of a million schoolchildren got them last year -- and blacks, American Indians and kids with disabilities got a disproportionate share of the punishment, according to a study by a human rights group.

Even little kids can be paddled. Heather Porter, who lives in Crockett, Texas, was startled to hear her little boy, then 3, say he'd been spanked at school. Porter was never told, despite a policy at the public preschool that parents be notified.

"We were pretty ticked off, to say the least. The reason he got paddled was because he was untying his shoes and playing with the air conditioner thermostat," Porter said. "He was being a 3-year-old."

For the study, which was being released Wednesday, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union used Education Department data to show that, while paddling has been declining, racial disparity persists. Researchers also interviewed students, parents and school personnel in Texas and Mississippi, states that account for 40 percent of the 223,190 kids who were paddled at least once in the 2006-2007 school year.

Porter could have filled out a form telling the school not to paddle her son, if only she had realized he might be paddled.

Yet many parents find that such forms are ignored, the study said.

Widespread paddling can make it unlikely that forms will be checked. A teacher interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Tiffany Bartlett, said that when she taught in the Mississippi Delta, the policy was to lock the classroom doors when the bell rang, leaving stragglers to be paddled by an administrator patrolling the hallways. Bartlett now is a school teacher in Austin, Texas.

And even if schools make a mistake, they are unlikely to face lawsuits. In places where corporal punishment is allowed, teachers and principals generally have legal immunity from assault laws, the study said.

"One of the things we've seen over and over again is that parents have difficulty getting redress, if a child is paddled and severely injured, or paddled in violation of parents' wishes," said Alice Farmer, the study's author...

African American students are more than twice as likely to be paddled. The disparity persists even in places with large black populations, the study found. Similarly, Native Americans were more than twice as likely to be paddled, the study found.

The study also found:

-- In states where paddling is most common, black girls were paddled more than twice as often as white girls.
-- Boys are three times as likely to be paddled as girls.
-- Special education kids were more likely to be paddled...

Is USD afraid students might agree with Rosemary Radford Ruether? Sorry, students, that's not allowed.

USD revokes invitation to feminist theologian
By Sherry Saavedra
August 20, 2008

A University of San Diego decision rescinding a prestigious position to a Catholic feminist theologian has thrust it smack in the middle of a national debate over academic freedom versus adherence to church teachings.

Two national women's religious groups have sponsored a petition with more than 2,000 signatures demanding that she be allowed to assume the post.

USD is standing by its decision.

“Her public position and the symbol of this chair are in direct conflict,” said USD spokeswoman Pamela Gray Payton. “This chair is a powerful, visible symbol of Roman Catholic theology, and in Roman Catholic theology abortion is disallowed.”

The flap underscores a long-standing issue for American Catholic colleges: the debate over academic freedom versus fealty to Catholic doctrine...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Yang Peiyi's teeth weren't straight enough for the 2008 China Olympics opening ceremonies

The Communist leaders of China are a rigid, unimaginative bunch--but we knew that, right?

Recently a politburo member ordered Yang Peiyi, above, to be replaced at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics by a girl who had a "more perfect" appearance. The other girl lip-synched to Peiyi's voice on tape.

Strict conformity is apparently required in China, and that applies to teeth as well as to behavior.

Now that they've become capitalists, the Communist leaders of China have no excuse for forbidding democracy. They don't have an ideological leg to stand on. Still, something tells me that democracy won't come to China for a very long time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

McCain's energy policy: stay away when there's a vote on solar and wind energy

Eight Strikes and You’re Out
Published: August 12, 2008

"John McCain recently ...[told] a motorcycle convention that Congress needed to come back from vacation immediately and do something about America’s energy crisis. “Tell them to come back and get to work!” McCain bellowed.

"Sorry, but I can’t let that one go by. McCain knows why.

"It was only five days earlier, on July 30, that the Senate was voting for the eighth time in the past year on a broad, vitally important bill — S. 3335 — that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems.

"Both the wind and solar industries depend on these credits — which expire in December — to scale their businesses and become competitive with coal, oil and natural gas. Unlike offshore drilling, these credits could have an immediate impact on America’s energy profile.

Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has... missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote..."

Evolution is happening in your local forest and fishpond

From the New York Times:

"Evolution should be taught — indeed, it should be central to beginning biology classes — for at least three reasons.

"First, it provides a powerful framework for investigating the world we live in. Without evolution, biology is merely a collection of disconnected facts, a set of descriptions. The astonishing variety of nature, from the tree shrew that guzzles vast quantities of alcohol every night to the lichens that grow in the Antarctic wastes, cannot be probed and understood...

The second reason for teaching evolution is that the subject is immediately relevant here and now. The impact we are having on the planet is causing other organisms to evolve — and fast. And I’m not talking just about the obvious examples: widespread resistance to pesticides among insects; the evolution of drug resistance in the agents of disease, from malaria to tuberculosis; the possibility that, say, the virus that causes bird flu will evolve into a form that spreads easily from person to person. The impact we are having is much broader.

For instance, we are causing animals to evolve just by hunting them. The North Atlantic cod fishery has caused the evolution of cod that mature smaller and younger than they did 40 years ago. Fishing for grayling in Norwegian lakes has caused a similar pattern in these fish. Human trophy hunting for bighorn rams has caused the population to evolve into one of smaller-horn rams. (All of which, incidentally, is in line with evolutionary predictions.)

Conversely, hunting animals to extinction may cause evolution in their former prey species. Experiments on guppies have shown that, without predators, these fish evolve more brightly colored scales, mature later, bunch together in shoals less and lose their ability to suddenly swim away from something. Such changes can happen in fewer than five generations. If you then reintroduce some predators, the population typically goes extinct...

The third reason to teach evolution ... concerns the development of an attitude toward evidence. In his book, “The Republican War on Science,” the journalist Chris Mooney argues persuasively that a contempt for scientific evidence — or indeed, evidence of any kind — has permeated the Bush administration’s policies, from climate change to sex education, from drilling for oil to the war in Iraq. A dismissal of evolution is an integral part of this general attitude.

Moreover, since the science classroom is where a contempt for evidence is often first encountered, it is also arguably where it first begins to be cultivated...

Maybe we really aren't as decent as our parents were

Here's a story to make us ashamed: "The Descent of Man."

The New York Times offers a comparison by Maurice Isserman of the recent tragedy on K2 in Pakistan in which 11 climbers died with an earlier expedition on K2 fifty-five years ago.

The August 9, 2008 story says, "...Describing the chaotic events that ensued when a pinnacle of ice collapsed and swept away fixed ropes that climbers from several expeditions high on the mountain had counted on to aid their descent from the summit, Mr. van Rooijen lamented: "Everybody was fighting for himself, and I still do not understand why everybody were leaving each other."..."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

100 years since Springfield, Illinois erupted

A white mob rioted for days in Springfield, the town where Lincoln was born.

On anniversary of race riot, Lincoln's hometown acknowledges events it ignored for generations
08-09-2008 1:02 PM
Associated Press

Two days of terror. Black men tortured and hanged. A baby dead of exposure. Four white rioters shot by black defenders.

It wasn't America's first riot, and certainly not the last.

But this one was in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln, the president who helped end slavery.

Today, Lincoln's city _ where Barack Obama launched his campaign to become the first black president _ is finally commemorating the events that erupted 100 years ago this month.

At the time, even respectable citizens came out to gawk at the smoldering rubble and a body hanging from a tree.

"His feet dangling and within reach ... the men and boys played with the corpse by swinging it back and forth against the building to hear the dull thud," a local newspaper reported.

Outraged activists helped form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in response to this "race war in the north."...

The riots led to 107 indictments and 85 arrests.

But witnesses, either sympathetic to the rioters or intimidated by them, were hard to find.

One mob leader killed herself rather than stand trial.

One man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for stealing a sword from a black veteran, and a teenager was sent to a reformatory for a few months.

The city power structure quickly played down the riot.

"This was not a race war at all," one newspaper claimed. In decades to come, the obituaries for key participants _ including the sheriff whose protection of his prisoners helped trigger the violence _ would contain no mention of the riot.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Broader, Bolder Approach to Education

In a recent blog, Eduwonkette writes about the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education described by Sunny Ladd, Pedro Noguera, and Tom Payzant, and introduces Dr. Suet-Ling Pong's reasearch regarding the effect of family situations and social programs on student learning:

"...In the U.S., children growing up in single-parent families are comparatively worse off in their math and science achievement, relative to similar children in two-parent families, than is true in other countries, and some European countries have much smaller achievement gaps between single-parent and two-parent families than do others.

"A country’s family policy environment is what makes the difference. Family policy takes many forms, including maternity and parental leave, child-care programming and subsidies, public after-school programs, and housing subsidies, to name a few. Countries which Pong and her colleagues describe as having strong family and welfare policies have smaller achievement gaps in math and science between children in single-parent and two-parent families than are found in other countries..."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

UCSD designs robots to teach students

Voice of San DiegoJuly 29, 2008

"...A third year computer science graduate student, Whitehill and his colleagues are working to make a new generation of robots that would be effective and responsive teachers. They believe the key is to train them to recognize and respond to facial expressions, the way humans do naturally. Whitehill described the demonstration, part of his research at the University of California, San Diego's Machine Perception Laboratory, as "almost like having a remote control built into your face."...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Better safe than sorry: cell phones and brain cancer

Preliminary results from a study of people who use cell phones over a period of ten years has some doctors worried, including Ronald Haberman of the University of Pittsburg Cancer Institute.

But most doctors want to wait until the final results are in before they warn against cell phone use.

Cancer researcher warns staff to limit cell phone use
By Jennifer C. Yates and Seth Borenstein
published in San Diego Union Tribune
July 24, 2008

Herberman...said it takes too long to get answers from science and that he believes people should take action now – especially when it comes to children.

“Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later,” Herberman said...

In the memo he sent to 3,000 faculty and staff members yesterday, he said children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing.

Adults should keep the phone away from the head and use a speaker or a wireless headset, he said...

A 2008 University of Utah analysis looked at nine studies – including some Herberman cites – with thousands of brain-tumor patients and concludes that “...The potential elevated risk of brain tumors after long-term cellular phone use awaits confirmation by future studies.”

...A driving force behind the memo was Devra Lee Davis, director of the university's center for environmental oncology.

“The question is, do you want to play Russian roulette with your brain?” she said. “I don't know that cell phones are dangerous. But I don't know that they are safe.”