Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Finding people of good will and common purpose . . .

I ran across this video:

And I got thinking. Am I missing something? Is this guy's rant heinous? Or are his questions valid?

As I thought about it, I came to some conclusions.

 First, some background.

I was a fan of Martin Luther King (as much as I could be a fan at my young age when he was alive and active). Despite my grandmother's comments about him "stirring up trouble" or "trying to push change too fast," I thought SOMEONE needed to bring the problems to the national spotlight. I have often IMAGINED I would have participated in the Freedom Rides of the early 60s. Honestly, however, I expect I wouldn't have. Not because of opposition, but, rather, because I would have had too many other options and opportunities open to me . . . and/or, again, honestly, I'm too much a chicken at heart.

But still.

I desire justice. Righteousness. Fairness. Much that goes down in the United States today is NOT just, righteous or fair. And we need to face the injustice, unrighteousness and unfairness. But we need to do so in a just, righteous and fair manner.

And Wayne Allyn Root, here, at least SEEMS (to me) to be asking for this. "Quit listening to any and ALL race-baiters and power-hungry 'big people.' . . ."

Or maybe not.

As I asked up top--am I missing something?

 Ah! It struck me: Yes, I probably am!

I think Root is correct: President Obama and the national media are NOT doing a great job at this time. But I'm afraid Root hasn't gotten to the root issue [excuse the unwanted pun], either.

President Obama and the media are pointing their fingers in one direction. And Root is pointing his finger in the opposite direction. But what we need--what is missing--is this.

We need to begin asking--in addition to questions of guilt and responsibility: How SHOULD the problems of race relations be addressed? How can we find people of common purpose with whom to join forces so we can pursue justice and peace in ALL of our neighborhoods (black, white, mixed) AND in our society as a WHOLE?
From Root's video:
Shouldn’t the media question why the federal government calls it a “hate crime” if a white person kills a black man . . . ? One happened to a white Bosnian immigrant driving through a black neighborhood in St. Louis only days after the Ferguson verdict.
His fiancée watched him being murdered by a gang of black criminals who had allegedly yelled out, “Kill the white people.”
Yet there is no “hate crime” designation for that murder, no civil rights investigation, no federal intervention, no national media headlines, no coast to coast protests and no press conferences by the president or Al Sharpton. Where are the media? Silent.
What about Sharpton? Shouldn’t the media be pointing out that a known racist rabble-rouser who . . . was filmed negotiating cocaine deals, who was a federal informant doing business with the mob, who tried to destroy the lives of police and prosecutors back in the ’80s based on false rape allegations (see Tawana Brawley) and who owes more than $4 million dollars in back taxes (as reported by The New York Times) is one of Obama’s BFFs (best friends forever) and has visited the White House 81 times to give the president of the United States advice on racism and race relations?
Are you kidding me? . . .
Where are the media questioning the role of a “race pimp” and con man (Sharpton) hanging out in the White House with the president? What’s the difference between Sharpton and David Duke? Both are racists and haters. Both have made money trying to cause racial division and stir up violence. The only differences I can think of are that Duke was never involved with the mob, has no background in drug dealing and doesn’t owe the IRS more than $4 million. Shouldn’t the media be asking Obama why he isn’t embarrassed and ashamed to have a man like Sharpton step foot in the people’s house?
Shouldn’t the media be asking what’s the difference between white Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Sharpton? Bundy owed a disputed $1 million in back fees to the government, so the government raided his ranch with militarized SWAT teams, airplanes, helicopters and assault weapons. But Sharpton owes more than $4 million to the same government; and there’s no raid, no threats or intimidation by government and no police surrounding his New York City headquarters.
Remarkably, that same guy (Sharpton) gets to pal around with the president of the United States. That same guy gets to give advice on race relations to the president. That same guy gets a national TV show on MSNBC. That same guy makes a living extorting corporations in the name of “racism.” . . .
There's more. Much more. And it's not merely about black-vs-white. It's also about black-vs-black. For example:
Where are the nationwide protests for the thousands of innocent black lives taken by black criminals? Is there no money or media headlines or political gain in those kind of protests?
Why don’t the media ask the president if black-on-black crime matters to him? If so, why has he never chosen to speak out about it? Why don’t they ask Obama to name one victim of black-on-black crime in Chicago this past weekend? Can he name anyone in the past year? Why are their deaths unimportant, insignificant and anonymous?
Why not ask Obama and Holder why there aren’t teams of Justice Department investigators and prosecutors assigned to black-on-black murders in Chicago (Obama’s hometown)? . . .
Again: AND MORE. . . .

Monday, December 01, 2014

You get what you pay for

Gallup: Peak Number Of Americans Delaying Medical Care Over Costs | The Daily Caller: It’s a remarkable shift: after Obamacare’s redistribution of wealth, the middle class is actually delaying medical care due to high costs at a higher rate than the poorest section of the country, which is highly subsidized by taxpayers.From the linked article: "[W]hile it’s named the Affordable Care Act, its purpose was to increase the number of Americans with health insurance, not to make it more affordable for everyone."
Look at the numbers:


Americans with an annual household income of between $30,000 and $75,000 began delaying medical care over costs more in 2014, up to 38 percent in 2014 from 33 percent last year; among households that earn above $75,000, 28 percent delayed care this year, compared to just 17 percent last year.

The lowest-income section, some of whom can take part in Medicaid and who are more likely to qualify for significant premium and cost-sharing subsidies on an Obamacare exchange, are less likely to delay care this year. Now, 35 percent of those who earn under $30,000 a year are putting off seeking medical care, down from 43 percent last year.

******END QUOTE******

As the old 60s song asked, "When will we ever learn?" (From "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?")

You get what you pay for. And your elected representatives appear happy to buy your votes . . . and move you toward dependency.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sexual abuse of children by persons in trusted positions of authority

I heard an NPR report yesterday about the ongoing scandal of Catholic priests' sexual exploitation of children and the Church's stalwart protection of those priests . . . and failure to protect the children.

A devastating story. As the story ended, I thought, "Supposing these power players in the Church actually believe anything they teach about the spiritual realm, how can they imagine this kind of behavior wouldn't wreak spiritual havoc in the lives of these children's--not to mention the children's parents'--eternal souls?"

Strange "coincidence" (???): I also received a gentle question about my modification of a story I reported on a month ago . . . about sexual abuse in public schools.

I had modified a blog post by Matt Walsh with the following annotations:
[T]here was a 2004 study titled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, commissioned by the Department of Education. It received no attention from anyone, but the findings were terrifying: nearly 10 percent of all public schooled students had been raped, abused, or sexually harassed by teachers someone at school. Over two percent by teachers. [NOTE: . . . I . . . replaced the link in [Walsh's] article [with a link] to the actual study by Charol Shakeshaft. If you go to the original study, see pp. 16ff (PDF pages 24ff) and pay particular attention to the paragraph that straddles pp. 17 and 18 (25 and 26). There you will read, "This analysis (Shakeshaft, 2003) indicates that 9.6 percent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report contact and/or noncontact educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted." Many reports--like Walsh's--have run with that number alone. They have not gone on to note (what appears three sentences later, in the same paragraph) that "Of students who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct in schools, 21 percent were targets of educators, while the remaining 79 percent were targets of other students" (emphases added; JAH). Multiply 9.6% by 21 percent and you wind up with 2.016%. So--adding in one more caveat made by Shakeshaft (p. 17 (25)), that her "findings can be generalized to all public school students in 8th to 11th grades at a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points"--we can conclude that approximately 2 percent of all students may, indeed, be sexually abused or harassed by adult educators at school using "civil and criminal definitions of sexual abuse and harassment." --I find that figure more believable. But every bit as much disturbing!--JAH]


That makes the sex scandal in public schools many, many, many times more prevalent than the abuse epidemic in the Catholic Church. . . .

My correspondent, Melinda, wrote,
John, I think you made a mistake. . . . [T]he quote you give says 9.6% report EDUCATOR sexual misconduct. The second quote says that of those who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct, 21% were the targets of educators. I would read those 2 statistics as 9.6% experienced educator misconduct, and far, far more experienced sexual misconduct from other sources. If I'm right, there would be just under 10% who experienced educator sexual misconduct, and that number is only 1/5 of the total number who experienced sexual misconduct. . . . The total number of students in grades 8-11 who experienced some type of sexual misconduct by somebody would be closer to 50%!

Well, I re-looked at the underlying document. I recalled that Melinda's interpretation had been my own at first. But, then, the suggestion that almost 50 percent of all students are sexually abused seemed completely unbelievable. And when you read Shakeshaft's article, she goes to great lengths describing the abuse by all manner of people (and, most especially, students) in the public schools.

On the other hand, Shakeshaft consistently refers to educator abuse. And I would never classify students as educators!

Still, I was uncomfortable. Because when Shakeshaft puts "students" in a list of possible abusers, she never includes "educators" as a separate class of potential abusers; instead, she always refers to "teachers," "school employees," "coaches" and so forth. The word "educators" always comes up separately. Then again, how else might one refer to teachers, coaches, administrators, and so forth in one word? Educator seems appropriate.

I kept digging. Finally, I came across another document that Shakeshaft referenced--a document that she herself wrote.

After reading this second document, I have come to the conclusion that Melinda is correct. I was wrong. Matt Walsh was right. Which--sadly--means Walsh's (and others') comments about the comparison between the Catholic Church's scandal and sexual abuse in the public schools totally appropriate.

In this new document I read, Dr. Shakeshaft writes (see the last page of the linked PDF):
[W]hen alleged abuse is reported [in the public schools], the majority of complaints are ignored or disbelieved. Other students note this lack of response and reason that it is futile to try to stop a teacher from harassing since the school has not done anything about it in the past.

Until recently, teacher unions have been active in keeping fingerprinting legislation or statutes that prohibit educator sexual abuse from being passed. And, as in the case of fingerprinting, current teachers are exempt from the regulations.

Even when students allege abuse and the district responds, few students, families or school districts report this sexual abuse to the police or other law enforcement officials. As a result, most cases are not logged into the criminal justice system. Instead, abusers are dealt with using internal channels. In one of my early studies of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York, none of the abusers were reported to authorities, and only 1 percent lost the license to teach.

In the aforementioned study, all of the accused had admitted to physical sexual abuse of a student, but only 35 percent suffered a negative consequence of these actions: 15 percent were terminated or, if not tenured, were not
rehired; and 20 percent received a formal reprimand or suspension. Another 25 percent received no consequence or were spoken with informally. Nearly 39 percent chose to leave the district, most with retirement packages or positive
recommendations intact.

Of the 54 percent who were terminated or retired, superintendents reported that 16 percent were teaching in other schools and that they did not know what had happened to the other 84 percent. A recent report on sexual abuse in New
York City indicates that 60 percent of employees who were accused of sexual abuse were transferred to desk jobs at offices inside schools, and 40 percent of these teachers were repeat offenders.
The Church (rightly) is being hung out to dry for the offenses of its priests. These preachers of virtue, one would hope, would be virtuous themselves.

But even acknowledging that the public schools long ago disavowed any responsibility to teach morals or ethics, where is the outrage against the schools for their unseemly cover-ups?

Why is there so little public knowledge of the dangers in the public schools? (Note the comment by one person on the NPR site: "Public schools have never engaged in widespread abuse of children and subsequent cover-up." --Really?!?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Magical photos. Absolutely gorgeous. . . . From Russia. For Fun

There's something about the lighting, the focus, the colors. GORGEOUS composition.

A mother's love for her two sons expressed in photographs over the course of a year as the boys interact with their natural environment.


Sunday, January 05, 2014

Brilliant and SIMPLE car safety precaution for parents of toddlers

Place a sticker on your child's car seat that includes child's name, DOB, parents' names, phone, emergency contact info, child's doctor, and information about any medical issues and medications.

Full story here.

Amazing story . . . from a map

Check out this Google maps location.

View Larger Map

Then zoom in one notch at a time.

Obviously, we are talking about a place “in the middle of absolutely nowhere.”

So what’s there? Keep zooming.

When the scale gets to 1 mi, you will see a more-or-less black dot.

At the 2000 ft scale, you will see a verbal marker that tells you what it is.

At 1000 ft, you will actually begin to see what it is, but I'm sure you won't believe your eyes. . . .

Feel free to zoom in further.

For the back story of this object, to see how it was constructed, and to verify that what you see really is real.

The author of the article suggests this memorial will "live on forever." I'm astonished it still shows up over six years after it was constructed. I would think the desert sands will soon cover it up. In the meantime, however, I'm impressed!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Cue the Black Swan

One of those events that ought to cause us to take notice:
On 31 December 2013, only hours after the Panamanian Government gazetted a new law, shock waves went through Panama's business community. The outcry generated demands that the law be amended or repealed immediately.
The primary subject of Law No. 120 of 2013 had nothing to do with income taxes, but two articles had been inserted into it to amend the tax code. Of greatest concern was that,
"Every natural or juridical, domestic or foreign, who receives any taxable income within or outside Panamanian territory, must pay taxes."
The meaning was clear: Those who pay taxes in Panama must in the future, pay based on their worldwide income instead of just their Panamanian-sourced income.
What do those of us here in the United States care about Panama and its tax law?

I urge you to read the rest of the article.

Take note of how the law was passed. And why it was passed. And why it was passed in the way it was passed. . . . And then pay attention to parallels here in the United States.

And while you're there, I encourage you to read the first three responses to or comments on the article. Mike Robinson adds another exemplary story of what we are observing . . . and/or are about to observe.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Homeschooling anti-social?

Hot button issues like Senator Cafaro's proposed legislation in Ohio often brings out passionate commentary. And, sadly, too often, over-the-top, mean-spirited, little-better-than-name-calling vitriol.

However, there can often be thoughtful discussion woven through the midst of all the garbage.

I was impressed by the following interchange on Matt Walsh's blog as a result of his post Wednesday on Senator Cafaro's proposed legislation.

imsargarepa wrote:
I think there is an ideology associated with some brands of homeschooling (and I sense this from you) that is a dangerous current in American society. Here’s why: how lovely that you are financially and intellectually able to educate your children in your home. Good for you. There are MANY, MANY, a MAJORITY of families who can’t. When families like yours continue to pull out of the public sector, you take with you valuable resources, energy, and parental support that could benefit the community as a whole. While there are some valid and good reasons to homeschool, I consider the practice, in general, to be incredibly selfish, shortsighted and individualistic. Way to teach your children to be a part of something greater than themselves and their own ideals.

What I fear more than the dystopia of which you speak is a generation of children who have never heard any other perspectives than those of their extremist parents.
And LYM replied:
Do you put your children in failing inner city schools? Or do you use schools with the highest academic standards whose participating homes you can afford? If you don’t put your kids in the worst schools, you are pulling out of their tax base and taking with you the valuable resources, energy, and parental support that could benefit that community as a whole. While there are some valid and good reasons to go to non-horrible schools, [should I quote back to you what you just wrote?] "I consider the practice, in general, to be incredibly selfish, shortsighted and individualistic. Way to teach your children to be a part of something greater than themselves and their own ideals."

Truly, unless you have had personal contact with schools like this (I have), you have NO IDEA how much they could benefit from a family like yours participating in it. How selfish that you go to a school where students can afford their own lunches, buses get the kids to school in time for the first bell, and teachers aren’t sworn at by, or swearing at, children every hour!
imsargarepa responded:
Yep. My husband [and I] do, in fact, live purposely in the inner city and send our children to the local school, which is not by anyone’s standard a stand out institution. Our school is 80% free and reduced lunch; however there is no swearing at or by teachers at our school. My children are thriving there despite many problems we encounter there. It’s a very real world situation. We try to pour ourselves and our resources in to making a difference where we can, with what we have.
And, once more, LYM replied:
If it is not a charter school, and truly is an inner city school, kudos to you for putting your money where your mouth is. With my honest admiration in mind, though, I have two points for you.

The schools I am talking about are 100% free (not even reduced) breakfast and lunch. Yes, the students swear at and hit the teachers. Daily. Yes, one of the school buses arrives half an hour late for school, every day. Yes, the 6 year old is bullied and beaten regularly (no one does anything), but is somehow expected to know what a declarative sentence is (developmentally inappropriate expectation). No, the middle schooler does not know who the first president of the US was. No, the high schooler making A’s in history does not know who George Washington was. Yes, the school calls CPS on parents because a child regularly loses her glasses and doesn’t tell the parents she lost them again, resulting in yet another pointless months-long investigation. Yes, the principals and teachers have been indicted for cheating scandals. Yes, 50% of the students are pregnant before graduation, if they graduate.

Now, with that in mind, would you put your children in *that* school? If not, why not?

My point is that there is a scale of what any individual is called to do on a given issue. And that brings me to my second point. I cloth diaper, make my own cleaners of baking soda & vinegar, compost, recycle, buy organic food from local farmers only, refuse to buy synthetic fabrics or new clothes made by sweat shops, and as a result of all my efforts, put out only one bag of trash per week for 7 people. Is it right for me to go around saying that any of my friends who do less are incredibly selfish and short-sighted? NO. We all have causes that tug at our hearts, and we throw ourselves into the things about which we’re most passionate, even while recognizing that there are other causes deserving of attention. We can’t all do everything, and we shouldn’t go around verbally assaulting those being called to work on something else, or work on the same issue in a different way.

I homeschool my children not because I’m selfish or individualistic (actually, I find that homeschooling them has created much more community-minded children than the dog-eat-dog public school peer-herd mentality in which I was educated), but because I feel that is the best way for me to produce well-rounded, compassionate, generous, extremely well-educated human beings for the next generation. I help inner city families who wish to get out of the atrocious schools I mentioned to homeschool. You help them by putting your children into the pit with their children, and I trust that your judgment is correct that the net effect is positive both for them and for your children. I help them by helping them to get out of the pit. Who am I and who are you to say that the other has made the wrong, selfish, short-sighted choice?

Peace be with you.
As with so many things in life--whether haircuts and hair color, clothing, cars, sporting events, other forms of entertainment, exercise, health, food, drink, vacations . . . and just about anything else on which we might spend our time or money, some of us are willing to invest more . . . and some of us are willing to invest very much less.

So the question becomes: must everyone else toe my party line? Or . . . ????