Thursday, January 4, 2007


Beginning 01/08/06 this will be a weekly Sunday Morning News from Flint MI USA

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Comments of Terry Bankert [ -trb]

You Tube Review of today

Date:01/05/07 posted
The killing of Saddam Hussein is nothing but a smokescreen - a diversion in a series of diversions that will do nothing to address the price of the occupation of Iraq.
If the Bush administration truly wanted to curb the cycle of bloodshed, it would come clean and share with the US public, the Iraqi people, and the international community the real goals of this disastrous neoconservative adventure.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was an act of US economic self interest, marketed as a war of liberation.

Iraq was chosen ahead of Iran or Syria because it had been weakened by 13 years of sanctions.

It provided the opportunity to station US bases in the Middle East, and a vantage point to monitor Iran. Control of the massive oil reserves was not to be sniffed at, either. It was assumed that Iraqis' distaste for Saddam would somehow make occupation acceptable.,,1979067,00.html
Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark previously denounced the Iraqi Special Tribunal's death sentences against Saddam Hussein and two co-defendants in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Clark served on Hussein’s defense team during the trial.

"The consequences of execution will be greater violence." Clark warned, "I don't think you can rationally expect anything else." ....

The implications of execution are dire. Clark noted that "The Pentagon [had] announced that violence in Iraq was at an all time high."
Clark also commented on the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. He observed that long many knew that the U.S. government’s war of aggression against Vietnam was doomed to failure, the war dragged on with massive casualties mounting.
"We had three children and we wanted one more. I was about to go off pills when I read an article about American Indian children and I thought, why not?" That, as Housewife Judy Meredith of Boston explains it, is how she and her husband—both white—came to adopt a 13-month-old Indian called Tommy and a two-week-old black baby named Jackie.

The Merediths' decision is part of a growing phenomenon known in sociologist's jargon as transracial adoption.

Last year 2,200 black babies were adopted by white U.S. families, compared with only 700 in 1968. Today there are more than 10,000 "T.R.A. families" in all 50 states and in the ten Canadian provinces.

Today's Child. The trend is due partly to changing racial attitudes, but even more to an acute shortage of white babies brought about by the pill, easier abortion laws, and an increasing number of unwed mothers who keep their offspring. Because of the shortage, adoption agencies have changed their tactics.


America has never come close to electing a black president.
The entertainment world, however, is bewitched by this possibility. Up until now, the idea of a black president has most often been portrayed at the safe ironic distance of comedy, as in the case of 'Head of State,' or, less frequently, in the science fiction genre (how telling is that?), with Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, or Zeus "Tiny" Lister, Jr. in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element serving as prime examples. In genres of fiction the idea of a black president is widely portrayed, it is in reality, alas, that the issue eludes us.

There is, of course, the Colin Powell factor.

Everyone says that they would love Colin Powell to run for the Presidency ("Run Colin, Run"), but in reality would he actually stand a chance? Possibly, but as he has never been elected to office, the question is a toss up. Could Colin Powell go in and sweep the Southern primaries on Super Tuesday as a Republican candidate needs to? Can you imagine the Secretary of State, hand held high, at the state capitol of South Carolina, where there is still furor in the air over the Confederate flag issue? No, me neither.

In the history of the United States there has never been anything but a constant succession of white male presidents.

...Last week Latinos were officially recognized as the largest minority, extrapolated from recent census figures. Asians and Blacks have precisely one Governor in American history each. And there are currently no Blacks or Asians in the Unites States Senate.

But when will we actually have an authentic black President?

I would like to say here that we will have a black president within the century, The only optimistic message I can give out is that it will be before the first black Pope, which, in my reasoning, appears to be several centuries away.

Then again, The Church has only recently accepted Galileo’s interpretation of reality, so the question of centuries may be overly optimistic.


(CBS) As has been the case for a number of years, nearly all Americans say they would vote for a woman for president from their own political party if she were qualified, a CBS News/New York Times poll has found. And while a significantly smaller majority thinks America is actually ready to elect a woman president, that number is still the highest ever found by a CBS News poll

Ninety-two percent of adults now say they would vote for a woman for president from their political party if she were qualified for the job. This support has increased steadily over the past 50 years. In a Gallup poll conducted in 1955, 52 percent said they would support a woman for president. That number rose to 73 percent in 1975 and to 82 percent in 1987.

Today, 55 percent of those polled think America is ready for a woman president. This is up 7 points from December 1999 and the highest number since CBS News starting asking the question in 1996.


WASHINGTON -- The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are:
considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks --
including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.

Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country.

Other analysts voice concern that a large contingent of noncitizens under arms could jeopardize national security or reflect badly on Americans' willingness to serve in uniform.

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon, while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that enter the United States legally each year.

The proposal to induct more noncitizens, which is still largely on the drawing board, has to clear a number of hurdles. So far, the Pentagon has been quiet about specifics -- including who would be eligible to join, where the recruiting stations would be, and what the minimum standards might involve, including English proficiency. In the meantime, the Pentagon and immigration authorities have expanded a program that accelerates citizenship for legal residents who volunteer for the military.
WASHINGTON – More than 5.6 million Americans are in prison or have served time there, according to a new report by the Justice Department released Sunday. That's 1 in 37 adults living in the United States, the highest incarceration level in the world.

It's the first time the US government has released estimates of the extent of imprisonment, and the report's statistics have broad implications for everything from state fiscal crises to how other nations view the American experience.

If current trends continue, it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17.

The numbers come after many years of get-tough policies - and years when violent-crime rates have generally fallen. But to some observers, they point to broader failures in US society, particularly in regard to racial minorities and others who are economically disadvantaged.
"These new numbers are shocking enough, but what we don't see are the ripple effects of what they mean: For the generation of black children today, there's almost an inevitable aspect of going to prison," says Marc Mauer, assistant director of The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington. "We have the wealthiest society in human history, and we maintain the highest level of imprisonment. It's striking what that says about our approach to social problems and inequality."

Numbering in the millions

Justice Department analysts say that experts in criminal justice have long known of the stark disparities in prison experience, but they have never been as fully documented. By the end of year 2001, some 1,319,000 adults were confined in state or federal prisons. An estimated 4,299,000 former prisoners are still alive, the new report concludes.
"What we are seeing is a substantial involvement of the public in the criminal-justice system. It raises a lot of questions in the national dialogue on everything from voting and sentencing to priorities related to state's expenditures," says Allen Beck, chief of correction statistics at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, who directed the report.
Nor does the impact of incarceration end with the sentence. Former inmates can be excluded from receiving public assistance, living in public housing, or receiving financial aid for college. Ex-felons are prohibited from voting in many states. And with the increased use of background checks - especially since 9/11 - they may be permanently locked out of jobs in many professions, including education, child care, driving a bus, or working in a nursing home.
Enfranchisement for ex-felons

More than 4 million prisoners or former prisoners are denied a right to vote; in 12 states, that ban is for life.

"That's why racial profiling has become such a priority issue for African-Americans, because it is the gateway to just such a statistic," says Yvonne Scruggs- Leftwich, chief operating officer of the Black Leadership Forum, in Washington. "It means that large numbers in the African-American community are disenfranchised, sometimes permanently."
Some states are already scaling back prohibitions or limits on voting affecting former inmates, including Maryland, Delaware, New Mexico, and Texas.

In addition, critics say that efforts to purge voting rolls of former felons could lead to abuses, and effectively disenfranchise many minority voters.

"On the day of the 2000 [presidential] election, there were an estimated 600,000 former felons who had completed their sentence yet because of Florida's restrictive laws were unable to vote," says Mr. Mauer of the Sentencing Project.

The new report also informs - but does not settle - one of the toughest debates in American politics: whether high rates of imprisonment are related to a drop in crime rates over the past decade.

The prison population has quadrupled since 1980. Much of that surge is the result of public policy, such as the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing. Nearly 1 in 4 of the inmates in federal and state prisons are there because of drug-related offenses, most of them nonviolent.

Narcotic-related arrests

New drug policies have especially affected incarceration rates for women, which have increased at nearly double the rate for men since 1980. Nearly 1 in 3 women in prison today are serving sentences for drug-related crimes.

"A lot of people think that the reason crime rates have been dropping over the past several years is, in part, because we're incarcerating the people most likely to commit crimes," says Stephan Thernstrom, a historian at Harvard University.

Others say the drop has more to do with factors such as a generally healthy economy in the 1990s, more opportunity for urban youth, or better community policing.

But no one disagrees that prison experience will be a part of the lives of more and more Americans. By 2010, the number of American residents in prison or with prison experience is expected to jump to 7.7 million, or 3.4 percent of all adults, according to the new report.



If you take it for more than a political slogan, President Bush's motto for education reform--"no child left behind"--is a wildly ambitious goal. It is every bit as audacious as Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty or John F. Kennedy's race to the moon.

NOT SO GLOOMY. Low-income and minority students fare the worst. Only 29% of all fourth-graders read proficiently at their grade level, but among low-income kids, the figure is 13%. By the end of high school, black and Hispanic children perform only at the level whites do in eighth grade. "This achievement gap is the most important issue of social justice in our society," says Tom Vander Ark, executive director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which doles out $100 million a year for education reform. The problem is an economic issue, too, since white kids will fill fewer than half of U.S. school seats by 2040, down from 65% today and 85% in 1950.Still, the prospects are not quite so hopeless as the gloomy report card suggests. Many schools in prosperous, upper-middle-class suburbs have always done a good job, as have certain schools in solid middle-class districts. The real challenge lies with the continuing mediocrity that plagues too many of America's schools--and the disastrous state of education for kids at the bottom. The good news: The past two decades have seen an explosion of local reform efforts aimed at even the most intransigent problems. "We now have abundant evidence that there are strategies that can make a significant difference," says the Urban League's Price.

HEFTY OUTLAYS. At the same time, however, the U.S. must also pony up more money for serious reform. Bush wants a $2 billion, or 10%, boost in federal K-12 spending. But that's pennies out of the $360 billion total the U.S. shells out annually on public education. No one has tried to figure out what it would take to provide every child with an adequate education. Wyoming took a shot at it and came up with $7,400 per student a year, or 18% more than what it had been spending. The cost would certainly be higher in many states with big cities and many poor families.

PAY TEACHERS FOR PERFORMANCEFew factors affect students' performances more than the quality of their teachers. A Tennessee study in 1996--to cite just one of many making the same point--found that fifth-graders who had three years of effective teaching improved their math scores by 83%, vs. a 29% gain for students with ineffective teachers. Yet many teachers are unqualified. One-third of secondary school math teachers and roughly half of physical science teachers didn't major or minor in the subjects they teach. Often, "the most senior teachers opt for the nicest schools, while we put our weakest teachers in the hardest locations," says Robert T. Jones, president of the National Alliance of Business (NAB), which backs training and education initiatives.The appalling shortage of quality teachers stems in part from chronically low pay.

UP THE LADDER. The payoff has been great. It has avoided the teacher shortages of other states. "We turn away three [applicants] for every one we let into our teaching program, and the grade-point average of those accepted is 3.4," brags Richard L. Schwab, dean of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Teacher attrition is down, and Connecticut has made huge gains in student achievement, especially in reading, where it ranks first in the nation.....More pay and training cost big bucks. Still, warns the January report by the NAB and the three other business groups, "without high-quality teachers, our efforts to improve student achievement are destined to fail." It's a question of paying now or paying later.

MAKE SCHOOLS SMALLERTwo years ago, Yrcania Castillo was kicked out of Hunter College High School in New York. Although the school is highly regarded, Yrcania found it too competitive and impersonal. "My attendance and grades were terrible," she admits. Then she discovered Humanities Prep, a small school in Manhattan that specializes in giving kids a second chance. Yrcania blossomed in the intimate environment of the 175-student school, where she's now a senior. "At Hunter, they didn't care, but here they're really concerned," says Yrcania, 17, who has applied to college. Without Humanities, "I would likely have ended up on welfare," she says.For decades, U.S. education has operated under the assumption that bigger is better, especially in high schools. After former Harvard President James B. Conant advocated eliminating smaller schools in favor of large, comprehensive ones in the 1950s, most urban high school students began attending factory-like schools with 1,000 students or more. Today, many have become cauldrons of violence, pitiful achievement, and high dropout rates.It's time for a 180-degree turn. New construction should favor "small neighborhood schools, with 200 to 500 students," says Jack Clegg, CEO of Nobel Learning Communities Inc.

REBORN. The movement is proving that the intimacy long offered by elite prep schools can work minor miracles in disadvantaged districts. Student attendance climbs, and dropout rates fall, according to a new study of Chicago's small schools by the Bank Street College of Education in New York. The schools in the study are located in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. "It's like a village, where all of the teachers know the students," says Alice Perry, whose daughter, Mary, is a student at Best Practice High, a new Chicago small school.The school-within-a-school concept makes smallness work even in cavernous buildings.

HOLD EDUCATORS ACCOUNTABLELucy McVey took over as principal of Blanton Elementary in Austin, Tex., in 1996 with one mission: to remove it from the state's list of low-performing schools. Blanton earned the stigma after its mostly Hispanic immigrant students scored poorly on the TAAS. To shake things up, McVey required teachers to attend staff development sessions that ran till 8 p.m. She enticed 600 working-class parents to attend a baked-potato social, where she exhorted them to get more involved. "It was a tremendous struggle," McVey says. Some teachers even quit. But after just one year, math scores jumped by 33%, reading scores by 25%--and Blanton got off the list. Further improvements have landed it on the state's list of blue-ribbon schools.

HORNET'S NEST. Critics warn that annual testing would create test mania and divert kids from broader learning.

But there's ample evidence that performance can rise with well-designed accountability systems that use tests in addition to other measures. In North Carolina's ABC program, each school gets a target for how much they should improve on the state's test each year. Schools that meet the standard receive a bonus of up to $1,500 per teacher.4. OFFER MORE VARIETYMost people associate school choice with vouchers, which allow parents to use public funds for private schools. But while vouchers remain stymied in a political and legal quagmire, there has been an explosion of choice in public school systems. Charter schools have multiplied from 100 in 1994 to 2,000 today. They serve a half-million of America's 53 million K-12 students, estimates Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform in Washington. Another 1 million or so kids have a choice of schools within the traditional public-school system, she estimates. By contrast, only about 20,000 students in a handful of cities attend private schools using publicly funded vouchers. Indeed, giving students a choice of public schools, where 90% of kids go, is a more realistic alternative than vouchers. It's also a far easier political sell, since the teachers unions support charters.

NEW MODELS. To ensure that students have access to educational approaches that best fit their needs, school boards should be overhauled and given the primary responsibility for creating choice in their districts. In effect, boards should help every school become a charter school, with the ability to set its own approach within broad guidelines. Boards would set the guidelines and oversee the results to ensure that schools meet performance standards.5.

PROVIDE ADEQUATE FUNDINGIn January, a New York court issued a stinging indictment of the state's funding of New York City's 1.1 million-student school system. A staggering 31% of the city's teachers flunked the basic exam required of new educators on their first try, vs. 4.7% of those in the rest of the state. Hundreds of city school buildings have structural deficiencies. Overall, the state's poorest districts, mostly in the city, spend $2,800 per child less than the richest, mostly located in suburbs and upstate. That works out to some $60,000 less per class.6.

INCREASE TIME IN SCHOOLThe amount of time kids spend in class has remained largely unchanged since the 19th century, when schools adopted the six-hour day and the nine-month calendar to accommodate farm life. The summer break is especially harmful to minority and poor kids. They enter the first grade half a year behind upper-income children but fall 2.5 years behind by the end of fifth grade, according to a Baltimore study by Johns Hopkins University sociologists Doris R. Entwisle and Karl Alexander. "Almost all of this gap can be traced to the summer vacations, when lower-income kids were treading water and upper-income kids were forging ahead," says Alexander. The reason, he concluded, is that upper-income families do so much better at keeping their kids stimulated during the summer."

NO SHORTCUTS." The solution--requiring more time in school for kids who need it--is simple to say but difficult to achieve. "Schools have to be in session year-round," argues Chicago's Vallas. One problem, of course, is cost. There's also resistance from teachers, parents, and students, who all like the summer break. In addition, more time isn't as necessary for many affluent kids, giving the concept a penalize-the-poor tinge.

USE TECHNOLOGY EFFECTIVELYSchools have embraced new technology with fervor in recent years. Some 95% of public schools are wired to the Internet, up from less than 35% in 1994. There has also been an explosion in the digital resources available to schools, from virtual courses and field trips to access to some of the world's great libraries.Yet so far, technology has done little to improve the national report card. The problem: Most educators don't know how to use it to improve student learning, teacher cooperation, or even school administration. That needs to change, since no other tool offers more potential to transform our schools.

GONE FISHING. Similarly, Washington State has created a statewide fiber-optic intranet called K-20 that links every college and school district in thestate. Now "we're offering all kinds of virtual courses," says state superintendent Terry Bergeson. Seven districts, from Forks, a fishing town on the Olympic Peninsula, to North Franklin on the Columbia River, have teamed up on a project to help protect salmon. Kids monitor water quality, discuss their findings with each other through teleconferences, and report to their local communities.

No, she gave notice, asked for directoin did it very public the coujncil and city attorney shoukld apologize to her...

To One United Michigan members and friends: We write today to thank you for joining with us to fight Proposal 2. Like you, we are deeply disappointed that voters supported an amendment that eliminates affirmative action as a tool to provide equal opportunity and diversity in our state. We created an incredible and diverse coalition, building relationships many thought could never happen. Unfortunately, our best efforts were not enough. Issues well beyond our control influenced the outcome of this referendum.

The combination of our opponents' fraud and deception, our racially segregated state and present economic and social fears in a changing world truly made this an uphill fight. You can't change a culture with a political campaign. But it was and is a fight worth fighting. That's why we are considering continuing our efforts to ensure equal opportunity is provided to all here in Michigan . In the coming weeks, we will provide information to our coalition partners and interested parties regarding the impact of Proposal 2 and share recommended best practices on how to create and promote diversity from around the country. Early next year we will be reaching out to ask you to consider how this very powerful coalition's work to achieve the goals of inclusion and diversity can be pursued on a state-wide basis.As a state, we must embrace diversity as an asset and advantage for all of us, or we will be hindered in the efforts to achieve our goals for Michigan 's future. We know that diversity makes us stronger, and is too critical to our future to simply abandon.We thank you again for your many contributions to our fight and we look to leaders like you in our business, labor, education, interfaith and other various communities to continue to make equal opportunity a priority.We hope you will continue as a partner in the coalition effort


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