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« July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » August 2010

By John Atlas on August 30, 2010

A week after Katrina hit New Orleans, Federal Government officials and private relief organizations were still discussing how to send aid to the area. ACORN, which had been organizing low-income and working class residents in the city since the 1978, had already moved into action.

Banks were giving their middle-class, mostly white customers ninety days or more to make their payments, but borrowers who had subprime, high-interest loans (like many black homeowners in the Lower Ninth Ward) were given only one month. Three weeks after the storm devastated the city, ACORN released a report, "How the sub prime mortgage industry is sandbagging Katrina-affected homeowners," to expose the industry's double standard. After the media publicized the report, ACORN—along with labor unions and consumer groups—demanded meetings with the banks and sub prime lenders and successfully negotiated plans to prevent foreclosures for dozens of homeowners.

Read more from this post here ...

By Jenifer Daniels on August 28, 2010

It's called the Kalamazoo Promise and it is funded entirely and in perpetuity by private, anonymous donors. Their goal - to send every school-aged child attending Kalamazoo Public Schools to community college, college or a university in the state of Michigan.

Many observers called it 'groundbreaking', 'a bold new experiment', and 'a model for America'. I call it a 'no-brainier'.

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on August 28, 2010

Ahhh...finally a little down time this week. The summer program is over and we are ramping up for our After-School programs. No light task, but it does allow for a slight reprieve.

To allow me to procrastinate the planning I need to do for the Education Department training week and ensure I'll be working under a tight deadline for no reason, I decided to change offices. It's a bigger office with more windows and more wall space. I can get all of the papers off of the floor and organize a little better.

As with all moving jobs, it allowed me to sift through stuff, throwing away the pointless, old stuff and discovering treasures I had forgotten about long ago. Some of the treasures were photos I'd enlarged or printed on regular paper and stashed away until I could find frames or reasons to use them. Now is that time.

After a few days of cleaning, sifting, and moving furniture, I began to hang photos. I found some frames that had been donated... but others were hung simply with "tacky" directly on the wall. Once I completed the move and had all of the photos hung, I looked around and realized the framing definitely gave it a little "umph," but it wasn't the frames that I was going for when I printed the pictures. It's the meaning behind each one.

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on August 27, 2010

In recent weeks, there has been a controversy in New York City involving a Muslim center that is a few blocks from where the Twin Towers once were. This controversy highlights the misperceptions that many people in this country have about Muslims. Bob Hooper, a regular blogger in Everyday Citizen, wrote an informative blog about the prejudice and anger among certain groups of Christians towards mosques in various parts of the country. In a Jasper the Cat cartoon that I did last December, I wrote about the various things that I learned about Muslims in America. From what I learned, I believe that most Muslim Americans are patriotic and just as concerned about extremists as their fellow Americans. In this blog, I write of more things that I learned in these past few weeks.

Read more from this post here ...

By Weeden Nichols on August 27, 2010

Here is topic that is seldom discussed by adults, and which, in my opinion, begs discussion and clarification. A dictionary might go on for half a page, but I will submit what I believe is a very simple and quite adequate definition. Lying is knowingly representing to another, or to others, as a fact or truth, something the speaker or writer knows to be false. This is not the same thing as expressing an opinion, however mistaken that opinion might be. Now we are ready for step two.

We are taught as children by parents, teachers, pastors, and other influential adults that lying is wrong – even a sin. Distinctions are made between harmful lies and “white” lies (those that are deemed to be harmless or even beneficial in intent). Adults lie for the same reasons children lie (to avoid consequences for something they have done, to get out of corners they have gotten themselves into, to attain something they want, to make someone else feel better). Sometimes business persons lie for business advantage (to increase revenue, to conceal from the customer that they themselves have been in some way remiss, or simply because they think the customer is a fool and won’t know the difference). There are two very good reasons that rational adults avoid lying. The first is that most rational adults know that lying is wrong and that it weakens the fabric of society. The second is that, if they make practice of lying, they will become known as liars, and no one will trust them on matters large or small.

Read more from this post here ...

By Bob Hooper on August 26, 2010

The Cordoba House could have been and still could be a powerful healing force for good, an educational tool, and a wonderful symbol of tolerance and inclusion of true American values. It won't happen. If it goes forward, the Cordoba House will become a target of hate-mongers instead of a symbol of peace. It will be defaced and vandalized, and the media will rush to cover the incidents while asking, "Was this a good idea?" Should they move somewhere less offensive, say, Tennessee or Kentucky or California? -- John Cory, Reader Supported News. Aug. 21, 2010   
Most surely know by now that it's not a mosque with minarets, nor at ground zero, and that it will include a restaurant, a swimming pool, and a memorial to the innocent victims of September 11, 2001--citizens of different declared faiths (or none) from perhaps 60 countries Muslims were among them. But sadly...

Read more from this post here ...

By James Bordonaro on August 25, 2010

Former Republican U.S. Senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, is a co-chair of President Obama's recently formed bipartisan commission tasked with producing ideas to reduce the government's long term deficit. The other day he responded to a critic by asserting that the American people overuse Social Security claiming that the program is a milk cow with 310 million tits.

While I disagree with Simpson's "analysis" I believe it would be counterproductive to force him to resign. Surprisingly, some Republican leaders (while not having the courage to actually vote for a congressional commission with the same focus even after having signed on as co-sponsors) have declined to prejudge the outcome of the process.

There is still a long road to be traveled in actually getting deficit cutting legislation before the Congress but those liberals (such as Keith Olbermann, whom I admire) who want him to resign are wrong to suggest that future Social Security obligations don't impact the long-term deficit. Social Security "reform" should be one of the topics that the Commission make a part of its recommendation.

Read more from this post here ...

By Jennifer Schwaller on August 20, 2010

Dr. Laura Schlesinger quit her radio show this week to regain her First Amendment rights. After repeatedly using an extremely offensive, racist word on the air, Dr. Laura wants to be able to say what she wants, where she wants, how she wants, why she wants and more.

To paraphrase another (former) public figure, we won’t be able to kick Dr. Laura around anymore. She is taking her ball, and going home. Instead of telling her mommy to tell our mommy; however, Dr. Laura told Larry King.

Read more from this post here ...

By Mikyung Lim on August 20, 2010

I am glad to hear that President is taking recess time of his own, away from the interruptions of usual family affairs and politics. I wish him to recharge himself with passion, vigor and energy during this vacation to emerge with the clear view of priorities of political and 2010/2012 election issues and what is most important for this country and him.

I sincerely wish to see him succeed in his mission. As an extremely meager christian who barely follows the basic christian rules but trust myself as a right-minded human being and my pure intention for him and this country, I sincerely believe that there is a reason why God appointed him as a Head of this country at this point of time. I wish him to achieve, accomplish the purposes of his existence, his mission that God assigned to him.

And I applaud his handling of following: “….but shortly after the president arrived, he announced a series of recess appointments. He filled four diplomatic and agency jobs under a temporary authority he gains while Congress is on recess, and he blamed Republicans for forcing him to bypass the normal confirmation process.”

Read more from this post here ...

By Angelo Lopez on August 20, 2010

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By Janet Morrison on August 19, 2010

Those of us who take jobs as teachers, educators, and social workers know what we're getting into when we sign up for the degree and the job. We sign on to higher salaries than people without an education, but lower than most degreed people make. But, for the most part, making the big bucks is not our intent.

In fact, the longer I'm in education, the more my job becomes a day-by-day battle to ensure children are receiving the best education possible with the resources we are given and the systems we are working against.

Read more from this post here ...

By Weeden Nichols on August 15, 2010

Recently on these pages, I reviewed Tunes of Glory, 1960, directed by Ronald Neame, the fictional screenplay by James Kennaway based loosely on the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. A few weeks ago, a fellow member of Clan MacLeod, who had read my review of Tunes of Glory, called my attention to another film involving the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. I obtained To End All Wars from Netflix, watched it, mulled it over, checked a few things, and decided that it was worthy of a review.

Throughout, I was in a "compare and contrast” mode regarding this film and David Lean's 1957 epic, "Bridge on the River Kwai" (inspired by the same Japanese military railroad construction project through Thailand, utilizing Allied prisoners-of-war). My impression, despite Lean's film being both an epic and a classic, was that this film, To End All Wars, was most likely more historically accurate, and that it certainly contained more depth, more realistic ambiguity, and more complexity (appropriately reflecting a very complex social and cultural situation).

Read more from this post here ...

By Bob Hooper on August 12, 2010

In the last two columns, I have risked irritating any I may have missed, by tangling with American perceptions and practices of Christianity. One internet reader said I had missed the point:

"This nation was and is founded on fundmental chrisian [sic] beliefs and ideals. The facts [Mr. Hooper] lays out that what is seen in behavior is different than the ideal......well that is the nature of the world. We all, including the writer, voice and truely [sic] believe in ideals, but our nature is to fall vicitim [sic] to our base drives and narcissistic deceptions."
Yes, the species "homo religious" commonly have ideals they fail to honor. Then again, some part of that same species routinely claim ideals they neither have nor intend to acquire--since merely claiming them improves their political prospects, fattens their wallets, or both. But the other assertion, that this is a Christian nation, is especially popular today with Christian dominionists. And it is wrong.

Our founding document is the Constitution. It is designedly and intentionally secular. It is godless -- not in the sense that it is anti-Christian, or anti-religion, but that it is wisely neutral.

We Americans are free to be as religious or agnostic or atheist as our individual consciences dictate. None of our varied positions on the supernatural is to be favored by government. At least, that's how it stands today. The Christian right wants it changed. That debate is both contemporary and historical. It is perpetual and it is important. Thus far, thank God, theocrats have lost.

Read more from this post here ...

By Bob Hooper on August 11, 2010

"He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine, 1737-1809

On July 29, I listened to Brown University biology professor and textbook author Kenneth Miller speak on evolution and religion. The forum was sponsored by Fort Hays State University's Science Cafe.

A self-described devout Roman Catholic, Miller accepts Darwinian evolution as fact, including what fundamentalists call macro-evolution -- the process by which different species originate. Miller sees no conflict with religion, and wonders aloud why any reasonable person would.

After the lecture, Miller invited questions and comments. Pressed to explain how he reconciles religion with science, Miller said he envisions reality as two concentric spheres -- an inner one where rational science prevails, and an outer one from which the inner originates. Miller believes God created the inner sphere, which exists at God's pleasure. That sounds like Deism to me. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and other Enlightenment rationalists among our founders would nod approvingly.

Read more from this post here ...

By Diane Wahto on August 8, 2010

I’m not one of those people who goes around saying, “I never watch TV,” because I do watch TV, I seldom watch anything serious, and I enjoy what I watch. I don’t watch during the day and during the commercials I usually mute the sound and read a book or take care of some task that can be completed in a short period of time. This means, of course, that I miss a lot of the obnoxious ad matter that comes across the small screen. Over the years, though, I have paid attention to a few of the clever ads, such as the old Volkswagen ad that featured a young Dustin Hoffman showing the charisma that would develop fully in The Graduate. I loved that commercial. We had driven VWs long before Dustin Hoffman came along, and we drove them until the kids got too big to fit in the small back seat. So it wasn’t because of the ad that we bought VWs. We watched the ads because we liked VWs and we liked Dustin Hoffman.

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on August 3, 2010

For the last year, we have partnered with The Gleaning Network of Texas to create an After-School Academy Learning Garden.

We started the garden after receiving approval from the Dallas Housing Authority to use a fenced in plot of land behind the After-School Academy. We were given approval in June of last year.

If you know anything about Texas soil, you know June is not the smartest month to start a garden. But, with the perseverance of Susie Marshall, Executive Director of The Gleaning Network, the garden was under way.

It has taken some time for the kids to get used to the garden. But they have taken ownership of the garden and often beg to go water, dig, look at the worms, or "cook" the compost.

Read more from this post here ...

By Tatiana McKinney on August 2, 2010

When most people hear the name "Hugh Hefner" nobody really associates him with Women's rights, let alone civil rights. But, According to Celebrity Cafe, "Brigitte Berman’s new documentary, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, explores a part of Hefner’s life most people are not familiar with, according to Fox News."

As a child, Hugh Hefner was raised in a "strict" Methodist household, where he was a democrat in a conservative republican home.

Hefner said Playboy was part of the sexual revolution that benefited women. He said the revolution gave both sexes more freedom in the bedroom and everywhere else. It helped change the situation of women being beholden to men.

Hugh Hefner, not everyone's favorite person, but a women's rights advocate none the less, created a organization that made sure women had the right to choose, but many people do not know of his foundations efforts.

Read more from this post here ...

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