الاثنين، 30 يوليو، 2012

Mitt Romney Comments At Fundraiser Outrage Palestinians

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JERUSALEM — Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who suggested his comments were racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. Romney's campaign later said his remarks were mischaracterized.
"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.
Romney said some economic histories have theorized that "culture makes all the difference."
"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence." He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.
Palestinian reaction was swift and pointed.
"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."
As criticism mounted while Romney traveled to Poland, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: "His comments were grossly mischaracterized." The campaign contends Romney's comparison of countries that are close to each other and have wide income disparities – the U.S. and Mexico, Chile and Ecuador – shows his comments were broader than just the comparison between Israel and Palestine.
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest said Romney's comments appeared to have left some people "scratching their heads a little bit."

"One of the challenges of being an actor on the international stage, particularly when you're traveling to such a sensitive part of the world, is that your comments are very closely scrutinized for meaning, for nuance, for motivation," he said.
Earnest sidestepped questions about whether Obama agreed with Romney's comments about culture, saying only that Obama believed economic issues are among the wide range of matters that would need to be addressed by the Israelis and Palestinians during peace talks.
While speaking to U.S. audiences, Romney often highlights culture as a key to economic success and emphasizes the power of the American entrepreneurial spirit compared to the values of other countries. But his decision to highlight cultural differences in a region where such differences have helped fuel violence for generations raises new questions about the former businessman's diplomacy skills.
As he has at home, Romney in Jerusalem cited a book titled, "Guns, Germs and Steel," that suggests the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there.
"And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here," Romney said, before citing another book, "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," by former Harvard professor David Landes.
This book, Romney said in Jerusalem, concludes that "if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it's this: Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference."
The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.
Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, told donors that he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference in economic disparity between countries is so great.
His comparison of the two economies did not take into account the stifling effect the Israeli occupation has had on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem – areas Israel captured in 1967 where the Palestinians hope to establish a state.
In the West Bank, Palestinians have only limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the territory, and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, but has invested much less heavily there than in Jewish west Jerusalem.
And although Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it continues to control access and has enforced a crippling border blockade since the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory in 2007.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have said the Palestinian economy can only grow if Israel lifts those restrictions.
"It's Israeli occupiers and Palestinians under occupation, and that's why Palestinians cannot realize their potential," Erekat said.
The breakfast with top donors – including New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and hedge fund manager Paul Singer – concluded Romney's visit to Israel, the second leg of a three-nation tour designed to bolster his foreign policy credentials.
Standing on Israeli soil for the first time as the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the Israeli capital and said the U.S. has promised never to "look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."
The status of Jerusalem is a critical issue in peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In Israel, Romney did not meet with Abbas or visit the West Bank. He met briefly with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Romney's campaign says the trip, which began in England last week, is aimed at improving the former Massachusetts governor's foreign policy experience through a series of meetings with foreign leaders. The candidate has largely avoided direct criticism of U.S. President Barack Obama while abroad.
The Jerusalem fundraiser, however, was a political event that raised more than $1 million for Romney's campaign. It marks at least the second fundraiser during the tour. The first, in London, attracted about 250 people to a $2,500-per-person fundraiser.
Both candidates have aggressively courted American donors living abroad, a legal practice that has been used for decades.
Romney's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital was in keeping with claims made by Israeli governments for decades, even though the United States, like other nations, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.
His remarks on the subject drew a standing ovation from the audience, which included Adelson, the American businessman who has promised to donate more than $100 million to help defeat Obama.
Romney flew to the Middle East from Britain, where he caused a stir by questioning whether officials there were fully prepared for the Olympic Games. A stop in Poland will complete his trip.
Four years ago, Obama visited Israel as a presidential candidate, part of a five-nation trip meant to establish his own foreign policy credentials.
Romney's stop in Israel also was designed to appeal to evangelical voters at home and cut into Obama's support among Jewish voters and donors. A Gallup survey of Jewish voters released Friday showed Obama with a 68-25 edge over Romney.
Romney and other Republicans have said Obama is insufficiently supportive of Israel.

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Westboro Baptist Church Military Protest Countered By Zombie Demonstrators (VIDEO)

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A Westboro Baptist Church protest was overshadowed Friday when demonstrators dressed as zombies gathered at a DuPont, Wash. military base to counter the radical group's efforts.
After members of the controversial Kansas-based church announced plans to picket Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military base south of Seattle, 27-year-old Melissa Neace decided to organize a counter-protest, launching a Facebook group titled "Zombie'ing Westboro Baptist Church AWAY from Fort Lewis!"
"We wanted to turn something negative around, into something people could laugh at and poke fun at," Neace told the News Tribune. "It was the easiest way to divert attention from something so hateful."
About 300 counter-protesters showed up in varying degrees of zombie garb, far outnumbering the picketers from Westboro. According to KIRO in Seattle, just eight protesters from the controversial group showed up.
"I think that their message is very hateful, and Jesus was not a hateful person. He loved everybody," one of the counter-protesters told KIRO.
While it is unclear why Westboro Baptist Church targeted the DuPont military base for its latest effort, the group frequently pickets military funerals. The group believes that deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for the United States' tolerance of homosexuality. Last year, the group announced it would "quadruple" protest efforts after the Supreme Court ruled that such demonstrations are protected by the First Amendment.
However, counter-protests like the zombie effort in DuPont are becoming increasingly popular. Earlier this month, thousands of people in red shirts formed a human wallaround a fallen soldier's funeral to block the anti-gay protesters. At a similar protest atTexas A&M University, students dressed in maroon formed a circle around a funeral and seemingly discouraged Westboro protesters from ever showing up.


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Nadia Ilse, Bullied Georgia Teen, Receives Free Plastic Surgery From Little Baby Face Foundation

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Nadia Ilse is looking forward to the new school year, when she will no longer be called "Dumbo" by her peers for her "elephant ears."
To ward off school bullies who began taunting her in the first grade for her ears, Nadia begged her mother at the age of 10 for an otoplasty -- an operation to pin her ears back.
The teen, now 14, was recently granted her wish by the Little Baby Face Foundation, a charity that provides free corrective surgery to children born with facial deformities.
Nadia told CNN that the bullying turned her talkative self into a withdrawn, antisocial girl. The taunting "hurt so much," she told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
nadia isle
When the Little Baby Face Foundation was contacted by Nadia's mother, the organization brought the duo to New York City from Georgia and did more than just pin her ears back. The organization's founder, Dr. Thomas Romo, III. also performed reduction rhinoplasty, reducing the size of the nose, and mentoplasty, altering the chin.
The foundation covered the estimated $40,000 cost of surgery.


Avoiding school bullying by going under the knife is on the rise among American teens. In 2007 alone, about 90,000 youth underwent cosmetic surgery -- though not all cases were the result of teasing.
While Nadia says she knows she should have been accepted as she was before the surgery, she also knew the bullying wouldn't end and has no regrets following the procedure.
"I look beautiful, this is exactly what I wanted, I love it," she said.
Nadia must still start counseling as part of her treatment to overcome the years of psychological distress from bullying, but Little Baby Face board member Don Moriarity told MailOnline that Nadia's new outlook demonstrates the group's mission.
"We like to say that Baby Face transforms the lives of these children and gives them newfound confidence," Moriarity said.
Nadia's story emerges months after 13-year-old Nicolette Taylor was featured on ABC's Nightline for her nose surgery to overcome online harassment and name-calling at school. There was also global outcry when 7-year-old Samantha Shaw had her ears pinned back to escape name-calling and harassment last year.
So through all this, what advice would you give parents? Gupta asked Nadia.
"Give your children a lot of love and affection and tell them that they're beautiful every single day," she said.
Most states now have bullying laws that require schools to adopt bullying policies, andefforts to combat school bullying have escalated over the last decade, according to a report released in December by the U.S. Department of Education.
Between 1999 and 2010, more than 120 bills were adopted by state legislatures tointroduce or amend legislation that address bullying, harassment or similar behavior in schools. By the time of the Education Department study's conclusion, there were 46 states with enacted anti-bullying laws, 36 with regulations that work against cyberbullying and 13 that give schools the authority to monitor and address bullying behavior even when it occurs off school grounds.

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Parents On Facebook To Blame For Stock Price Woes, Analyst Says

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It was another poor showing for Facebooklast week as its stock price hit a new low Friday, dispiriting shareholders already frustrated by lower-than-anticpated profits.
Billions in shareholder value was erased as the market value of Mark Zuckerberg's flagship fell to nearly half of the $104 billion target set in May when the company went public, the Mercury Newsreports.
But as theories abound over what exactly ails the social networking behemoth, one analyst blames an unexpected group: parents.
"Kids are spending less time on Facebook, as their Parents are also now on the Facebook," Trip Chowdry, managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research, LLC, wrote in an email to CNN. "It is a psychological reality, that after a certain age, Kids are less inclined to hangout where their Parents are."
In April, Facebook surpassed the 900 million active-user mark. But while the number of users that engaged the site at least once a month continued to grow in the first quarter of 2011, the growth rate is noticeably slowing down.
However, Facebook isn't the the only company struggling.
Social games superstar Zynga, music streaming site Pandora and daily deal websiteGroupon are all currently trading below their public offering price. Collectively, investors have lost $39 billion since those companies -- including Facebook -- went public, CNBC reports.
So can Facebook redeem itself in the eyes of the America's youth? Probably not, according to Chowdry.
"FB may be cool again for the Younger people, if FB bans Parents from FB, but that is impossible," he wrote in the email. Instead, Chowdry predicts users will find a new place to "hangout."
In February, the Associated Press reported that many teens, fed up with friend requests from parents, uncles and grandparents, have begun to rely more heavily on Twitter for their social networking needs.
"I love twitter, it's the only thing I have to myself … cause my parents don't have one," Britteny Praznik, a 17-year-old who lives outside Milwaukee, was quoted as tweeting.
Twitter accounts are more anonymous than Facebook profiles; they are easy to use, and the 140 character limit is similar in length to the average text message, theAssociated Press notes. In addition, the more fluid set-up and ability to easily manage several accounts makes it easier to avoid people some would rather not interact with in their digital space.

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Michel Morganella, Swiss Soccer Player, Ejected From Olympic Games For Racist Tweet About South Koreans

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Michel Morganella Racist Tweet
Switzerland's Michel Morganella runs on the pitch during the 2012 Olympic mens football match between Gabon and Switzerland at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north-east England on July 26, 2012. Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella could be expelled from the Olympics for allegedly sending a racist message on Twitter. Swiss media report that Michel Morganella posted an offensive message about South Korean people after the Swiss team lost 2-1 to South Korea on July 29, 2012. PHOTO/PAUL EL
LONDON — A Swiss soccer player was expelled from the Olympics on Monday for his threatening and racist message on Twitter about South Koreans. The comments by Michel Morganella came hours after Switzerland lost to South Korea.
Morganella "discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people," Swiss Olympic team chief Gian Gilli said through a translator at a news conference. He said the player was stripped of his Olympic accreditation.
Morganella is the second athlete kicked off a London Olympics team for offensive Twitter comments, following Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou.
He posted the message after playing in the 2-1 loss against South Korea on Sunday. He said in the tweet that South Koreans "can go burn" and referred to them as a "bunch of mongoloids."
The 23-year-old player later released a contrite statement through Swiss Olympic.
"I am sincerely sorry for the people of South Korea, for the players, but equally for the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general. It's clear that I'm accepting the consequences."
"After the disappointing result and the reaction from Korea that followed, I made a huge error," Morganella added.
Officials from the South Korea team declined to comment when asked about Morganella during a news conference Monday at Wembley Stadium that had been scheduled before the uproar.
Gilli said the player had been "provoked" by comments sent to his Twitter account after the match.

Still, the Swiss team leader acknowledged that Morganella had to be sent home under the terms of the International Olympic Committee's code of conduct, which requires athletes to show mutual respect.
"In this case, we felt we have no alternative," Gilli said.
Swiss media published images of a tweet from Morganella's account (at)morgastoss. The account has since been deleted. The tweet was written in a garbled form of French, appearing to combine a kind of French slang called verlan and text-messaging style.
Swiss officials with the team in Cardiff, Wales, said players were told Morganella was already on his way home.
Gilli said he had tried to contact the head of the South Korean team in London to offer a personal explanation.
"We would like to apologize, especially to the South Korea National Olympic Committee and the South Korea Football Association for the behavior of the player," he said.
The IOC has encouraged the 10,800 athletes at the London Games to communicate with fans through social media, but it issued guidelines on the standards of behavior it expected.
Morganella played the entire game in both of Switzerland's matches. He received a yellow card against South Korea in Coventry. The Swiss drew 1-1 with Gabon in Newcastle on Thursday. Switzerland plays its final group match against Mexico on Wednesday, needing to win by two goals to have a chance of advancing.
"We have to focus on the game," coach Pierluigi Tami said. "The other stuff we don't want to think about. Maybe we shouldn't read any newspapers for the next two days."
Morganella debuted with the senior national team in May and currently plays for the Italian club Palermo.
"We hope that he will draw the necessary lessons for his still young football career," Gilli said.
Last week, Greece Olympic officials tossed Papachristou off the team after she posted a comment mocking African immigrants and supporting a far-right political party.
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States With The Highest College Completion Rates

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According to new U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of 25-to 34-year-olds who have college degrees around the nation has gradually increased from 2009 to 2011.
The current college attainment rate for the nation is 39.3 percent. However, this would have to increase by 50 percent to fulfill President Obama's goal for America to become first in the world in the percentage of population who have graduated from college by 2020. The U.S. currently places 16th.
According to a state-by-state breakdown by the Census Bureau, here are the top 15 states with the best college completion rates as of 2010. All of them have at least 43 percent of its young residents holding a college degree, but only two states have over 50 percent. D.C., which was included in the study, beat out all of the states with an impressive 68.8 percent.
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Karen Klein, Bullied New York School Bus Monitor, Retiring: 'Time To Move On'

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GREECE, N.Y. -- A school bus monitor who was shown in a video being relentlessly bullied by a group of boys said Friday she will retire.
Karen Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother, told The Associated Press that the decision to leave the job she held for three years was tough but wasn't based on her now infamous encounter with the mean-spirited seventh-graders, who tormented her with profanity, insults and threats during a bus run as the school year wound down in June.
A 10-minute video of the episode went viral and spurred an outpouring of more than $700,000 in donations for Klein from all over the world.
"I'm not quitting because of what happened. That's not it," Klein said from her home in the Rochester suburb of Greece. "I enjoyed working with the kids. But I guess it's my time to leave. That's what I've decided."
Although her mind is made up, she said she has yet to submit the paperwork that would make her retirement official.
Before becoming a bus aide, Klein drove a school bus for 20 years.
She said she'll keep busy in her retirement, perhaps volunteering with organizations that help people touched by bullying or suicide.
Klein's oldest son killed himself 10 years ago, making all the more appalling one of the students' taunts: "You don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they don't want to be near you."
The cellphone video, posted online, shows Klein trying her best to ignore the abuse.
The Greece school district has suspended the four students for a year.
A Toronto man, Max Sidorov, was so moved by Klein's story that he started an online campaign with the goal of raising $5,000 to send her on a vacation. The fundraising site Indiegogo listed the total amount raised at $703,833. A spokeswoman for the site said more than 30,000 people contributed, with donations coming in from at least 84 countries and all 50 U.S. states.
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For-Profit Colleges Pay Executives Based On Profit, Not Student Success, Report Finds

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Elijah Cummings
Rep. Cummings
Top executives at major for-profit colleges take in millions of dollars in annual compensation -- primarily from taxpayer subsidies -– yet most of their pay is unrelated to student achievement, according to preliminary findings from a congressional investigation.
The report from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, found that publicly traded college corporations calculate executive compensation "predominantly on the profitability of their companies rather than the success of their students."
"This is especially troubling given the billions of taxpayer dollars flowing into these institutions and the serious financial risks to students who go through these programs," the report concluded.
For-profit colleges receive much of their revenues from federal financial aid: student loans, Pell grants and military educational benefits. Yet students often fare poorly, dropping out in large numbers and defaulting on federal loans at double the rate of their counterparts at public institutions.
Cummings sent letters in December to 13 for-profit college corporations, seeking information on how the quality of education and student performance are tied to what he termed "lavish" executive pay at the schools. Chief executive officers at several for-profit education companies take in much more than presidents at some of the most prestigious U.S. private universities.
Todd S. Nelson, the former chief executive and now chairman of Education Management Corp., the nation's second-largest operator of for-profit colleges, took in more than $13.1 million last year. The highest-paid Ivy League president, Richard C. Levin of Yale University, received $1.6 million in compensation, according to tax filings.
In a preliminary report sent to Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee on Friday, congressional staff found that "the single most significant measure for determining executive compensation at these schools is corporate profitability, including factors such as operating income, earnings, profits, operating margins, earnings per share, net cash flow, and revenue."
The report found that 10 of the 13 companies considered profitability for at least 70 percent of executive pay. The other three companies did not provide enough information to determine how student success factored into executive pay, according to the report.
For-profit colleges have increased revenues over the years by rapidly expanding their enrollments. From 1999 to 2009, the number of students attending for-profit colleges more than tripled, far outpacing the growth of traditional higher education, which grew by a fifth, according to an analysis of federal data from the Education Trust, a student advocacy group.
Although about 12 percent of college students nationwide attend for-profit schools, the sector is responsible for more than 45 percent of federal loan defaults.
In many cases, companies had executive compensation documents that made only "vague references" to student performance and "failed to indicate the specific extent to which these measures affect executive compensation," the report said.
At Career Education Corp., which owns the Le Cordon Bleu chain of culinary schools, 75 percent of executives' bonus pay was based on meeting profit goals, according to the report. The remaining 25 percent of executive compensation was based on "individual executive performance factors."
There were several optional criteria to determine an executive's performance at the company, including student graduation rates and career placement rates. But the company provided no details on whether those student performance goals were actually considered, according to the congressional report.
Nonetheless, all executives at the company reached 100 percent of their individual goals in 2010, the report found. Last year, the chief executive of Career Education Corp., Gary McCullough, resigned after an internal investigation found that the employees were artificially inflating job placement rates at some health and arts programs to remain in good standing with college accreditors -– and continue to be eligible for federal aid dollars.
A spokesman for Career Education Corp., Mark Spencer, acknowledged that the company used such a compensation plan for senior executives in the past. The company updated its compensation plan this year, he said -- a plan that now ties 66 percent of senior executives' potential compensation to student-focused goals unrelated to "any financial performance objective." The plan has not been released publicly.
A spokeswoman for DeVry Inc., Jennifer Dooley, wrote in an e-mail that "our first obligation is to our students, and our shareholders understand this." She continued: "They know that only by focusing on serving our students, and on delivering value over the long term, will we ensure our economic viability."
Representatives from 11 other companies mentioned in the report did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
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Randi Weingarten, AFT President, and Roy Roberts, DPS EM, Meet Over Detroit Teachers' Right To Negotiate

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Randi Weingarten Aft President Roy Roberts
AFT President Randi Weingarten addresses a rowdy crowd of about 500 before meeting with DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts. Her speech to the gathering was interrupted by several people who called for a strike (David Sands, The Huffington Post).
Against a backdrop of noisy protest, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten met with Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy RobertsFriday afternoon to discuss his recent decision to bypass collective bargaining and impose a contract on Detroit teachers. A controversial Michigan law called Public Act 4 allows Roberts to sidestep union negotiations.
Despite a raucous rally of about 500 teachers, school employees and their supporters chanting "Negotiate Now" outside of Roberts office in Detroit's New Center district, the outcome of the conversation was ambiguous.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Roberts has agreed to review a union proposal calling for a negotiation process. Weingarten had hoped he would agree to negotiations and a timeline.
“We had a very candid meeting. It was contentious, at times. It was solutions-driven, at times,” she told the Free Press after the meeting. Roberts characterization of the exchange was more upbeat.
"The meeting was spirited and productive, and we share a commitment to finding a better future for all of us. From my perspective, because of this visit, she has a stronger understanding of the challenges we face," he said in a release.
Members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, the local branch of the AFT, are upset about the recent imposition of the contract and other recent decisions by DPS, such asDPS' decision to hand pink slips to all its teachers during summer break for the second year in a row in order to rightsize its employee pool. The DFT has threatened a "monumental" lawsuit against the school district over the layoffs as well as teacher interviews and evaluations it alleges do not follow a previously negotiated collective bargaining agreement or state teacher tenure law. DPS disputes the allegations.

Weingarten is visiting Detroit this weekend to participate in the AFT's annual convention. She headed out to her meeting with Roberts following an address to union members in downtown Detroit this morning. Supporters from the convention were bussed to the rally outside of Roberts office.
Rochel Rusan, 57, a former DPS social worker, said she was glad Weingarten had decided to meet with the emergency manager.
"I'm grateful for all the support we can get," she said. "All the union wants is for Roy Rogers to sit down and engage in collective bargaining. He doesn't have to, but his contract allows him to and that what we want him to engage in."
O.E. Kimbrough, Jr., 57, who teaches French and Spanish, has been with the district since 1991. He said he was worried that DPS would eliminate teacher tenure.
"They want to get rid of veteran teachers. It's bad for the kids, bad for the city. They want to bring in teachers that are inexpensive, that they can pay dirt cheap," he said. "We've given away so much and they want to take more. It's like they want to destroy us."
Morton Rosenfeld is a teacher from Plainview, NY, who traveled to Detroit to participate in the convention. Rosenfeld was one of a number of out-of-town AFT delegates participating in the rally.
"It's much worse here than what we have at home," he said. "It's none too good at home either, but cities like Detroit have it much worse and that's why we're here to lend our support to them."
During the rally outside Roberts' offices prior to the meeting, militants pushing for a strike interrupted Weingarten's address to the crowd.
"I understand why they're so frustrated," she said. "They're frustrated by how they've been treated and some people have as a result said, 'Let's go on strike.' At this point a strike is premature. What we're talking about is negotiating now."

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sort of done

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Ok, the new update is up (but not entirely finished). With Thailand jail and the length of time this took, it's actually been a long while since my last update to the game. Sorry about that.

The update is a new tool that you can use to trigger events during gameplay. The player rides through a trigger area, and various things are activated. Right now you can either activate an object or play a sound.

In most cases, activating an object is waking it up if it's in a sleeping state. Certain special items have more useful activations. Mines will explode and boosts and fans will turn on. You currently cannot decide what the activation will be; you are given a default action. I will change that with a future update... I ran out of time and only thought of it halfway through developing. It'd be cool if rather than just waking up a shape, you could make it appear, disappear, set it to a fixed or non-fixed state, give it a certain velocity, fade in/out, blah blah blah.

If you choose to play a sound effect instead, you don't attach the trigger to any other objects. You just select the sound, and set the volume and panning. With proper use of delay, you can probably make some horrible songs from various screams. Now you can hear "oh my leg!" until it's unbearable (if it's not already).

I do plan on adding ambient sounds but ran out of time today. I will work on that first thing next week. Going through various sound libraries and setting up loops is longer and more tedious
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الجمعة، 13 يوليو، 2012

Mozilla Firefox 13.0.1

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    The new Mozilla Firefox 13.0.1 is here and available in over 70 languages
    Can a browser really make the Web better? Yes ! Download the new Firefox
    Firefox the award winning web browser is absolutely free and easy to use. Join the over 500 million people worldwide enjoying a better and faster web browsing.
    It's so easy to import your favorites and settings from your old browser and get started.
    Download Firefox now and get a faster and safer web.

    Firefox 14 the latest version of Mozilla’s popular mobile browser is now available for download in the Google Play store for Android devices.
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الأحد، 8 يوليو، 2012

South Carolina Students May Receive Credit For Religious 'Released Time' Courses, Court Rules

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Bible
In a "tremendous victory for religious education," a South Carolina court has ruled that students may receive credit for taking religious courses that meet secular standards, USA Today reports.
A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has approved a 2006 South Carolina law permitting schools to give credit for "Release Time" courses, ending years of courtroom battle between Spartanburg Dictrict 7 and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
In 2009, the FFRF filed the suit against Spartanburg Distict 7 on behalf of Spartanburg High School student Melissa Moss and her parents, Robert Moss and Ellen Tillett.
"It's almost outrageous that someone could get academic credit for religious indoctrination during Released Time instruction," said Anne Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of FFRF, in USA Today . "I don't think that most people in South Carolina would think that makes sense."
The court ruled that students may receive credit for Released Time courses -- which allow students to receive religious instruction even if they are enrolled in public schools -- just as students may receive credit for courses previously taken at other schools.
Spartanburg High School did not actively encourage students to take Bible courses, according to court documents.
The FFRF will appeal the decision, according to a release.
Around the country, similar tensions are brewing over the proper place of religion in schools.
In a recent settlement, Narrows Public High School in Virginia decided to take down a framed display of the Ten Commandments from its hallways and replace it with a textbook page depicting the Commandments under the heading "Roots of Democracy."
The settlement ended years of courtroom drama that started after theACLU filed a lawsuit against the school, arguing that displaying the Ten Commandments in a public school violated the separation of church and state.
The school board voted to replace the display with the less explicit textbook page. The page references other sources of democratic inspiration, such as the Magna Carta and ancient Athens.
In late May, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant advocated for nondenominational school prayer, provoking criticism that he was blurring the lines between church and state.
"I don't think it hurt us at all," the Republican Methodist governor told about 300 high school students at the American Legion Boys State last Tuesday. "I think it built our character, and I think it is what we should continue to do."
Bryant assured listeners that he would not pursue legal action to instate prayer in schools, but expressed hope that one day school prayer would be common, according to the Associated Press.
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Step Up to Our Teachable Moments

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We are all teachers, whether we want to be or not. You are a teacher when you help your child take their first step. You are a teacher as a grandparent when you teach the grand kids how to make cookies. You are a teacher at work when you take a younger co-worker under your wing and mentor them to make sure they do the task correctly. So if we are all inner teachers, why do we not show more respect for the teachers who make teaching our children their career?
According to the Institute of Educational Sciences, close to four million Americans make their living teaching our kids. Our children, who are enrolled in schools starting at kindergarten and going through high school, are 16.3 percent of the total population. America has 13,600 public school districts made up of 98,800 public schools. Public schools will spend $525 billion, with an average expenditure per student of $10,591. This year 3.2 million students graduated from high school. The percentage of high school drop outs declined over the last 10 years from 11.8 percent to 8.1 percent indicating that our teachers are truly getting better at engaging our kids.
Our education system is making progress in bringing the teachers closer to the students. In 1955the number of pupils per teacher was 27.4; in 1960 it was 26.4; in 1965 it was 25.1: then in dropped to 17.9 in 1970 and today it is 15.6. So with this progress, you would think we would have the best elementary through high schools in the world. But we do not.
According to USA Today, 15-year-old students in the U.S. perform about average in reading and science and below average in math against the rest of the world. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. is ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. The top performing countries were Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong, Shanghai in China, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia. Canada, which like the USA has a decentralized education system, has their 15-year-olds perform more than one school year ahead in math than in the United States and more than a half year ahead in reading and science. The U.S. spends more per student, on average, than any other country except Luxembourg.
Stanford University translated these scores into economic terms, and the impact of improving math, reading and science scores in the United States would be far-reaching. By increasing the average score by 25 points over the next 20 years, there would be a gain of $41 trillion in the US economy over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010. Better yet, bringing the United States up to the average performance of Finland, the best performing educational system, would result in gains of $103 trillion. We as a society can argue all day long about class size, number of teachers and quality of teachers, but if we step back and think about the radical impact smarter and better trained kids today has on our future tomorrow, why are we even arguing about the money we spend on education. For our society, obviously it is the best investment we can make. Unfortunately we are always asking our government what it can do for me today, rather than taking the longer term view knowing that an investment in our kid's future today will pay off for us in the next generation.
If we could fix our education system from kindergarten through high school, think what that would do to our improvement in college scores. The U.S. slipped over the last decade from 2nd in college graduation to 13th. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. has also slipped from 12th to 16th place in the share of adults (ages 25-34) holding college degrees. Thirty seven million Americans have gone to college but never graduated. The shame in all of this is the best U.S. universities are still the best in the world. U.S. colleges claimed four of the top five spots on the Higher Education World University Rankings, and 14 of the top 25. So it looks like we have the university systems in place to train this next generation... if we could just get them out of high school a little better prepared.
Every teacher I know is hard working and passionate about their job. They seem to have a higher calling than the average American. According to The Journalpublic school teachers in the United States spent more than $1.33 billion out of their own pocket on school supplies and instructional materials. This averaged out to $356 for each teacher spending their own money to help our kids. Ninety two percent of teachers spent their own money. Whether we have kids in school or not, it is our generational obligation to help our teachers raise the bar with these children. One person acting along with our fellow Americans chipping in can help lift this next generation. We can start by helping these teachers pay for the supplies that make a difference.
Go to Adopt a Classroom to help out your favorite classroom. Go to Reading is Fundamental to help supply more books to teachers. Or go to the DollarDays July promotion on Facebook that is now taking nominations for 18 teachers to share in $5,000 of merchandise to help their classrooms.
We all have memories of one or more teachers that made a difference in our lives. I am sure we all have memories of teachable moments shared with the younger generations as well as our peers. Working together to educate our children is not a new idea. Back in the 1990s we learned from Hillary Clinton's bestselling book It Takes a Village that all of us need to work together with our teachers to mold the younger 16.3 percent of the population. We teach so the next generation is better than us. That has been the evolution of man since the beginning of time. Our teachers need your help, especially when this economy is so uncertain. No teacher should have to spend their own money to help our kids. They should spend their time focused on how to get our students up to what our northern neighbors in Canada are doing; and then set their sights on Finland. Trillions of dollars are at stake.
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Will Teachers Become Obsolete?

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In the early 1980s, I was having breakfast with some of my new in-laws. One of them, Uncle Joe DaSilva, was a watch-maker. He had a little shop in a strip mall in Hempstead and he was contemplating his future. At one point he held up a $5 Casio watch and said, "Why would anyone bother to get a watch fixed?" He estimated there were maybe a few hundred such people left on Long Island -- those with an appreciation for finely crafted time pieces -- maybe a few thousand. A few weeks later he started stocking his little shop with inexpensive watches for sale so that he could stay in business.

At around the same time, my father was at the height of his career as a motion picture music editor and supervisor, recording and dubbing and cutting the music for large-scale musical films such asHairThe Blues Brothers, and Amadeus. He was a master of the moviola, precise with his splice, but by the early 1990s those skills became, suddenly, useless as film went digital and he was suddenly having to learn anew how to do his job from people half his age. Soon he was relegated to laying temp tracks for TV movies.
I remember thinking I was immune from that kind of obsolescence because I'm a teacher and children will always need teaching and a machine cannot do most of what we do. I still believe that, though I wonder now if I'm not living in a false sense of security. I wonder if there aren't more ways than I am calculating in which we might all be made obsolete.
When I walk past a classroom full of bored students, and see some of those students seeking an escape on personal electronics, I wonder if at least some of these children would be learning more in front of a properly programmed machine.
When I see teachers not making an effort to understand very much about their students, especially the reluctant learners, I cannot help thinking that they are squandering the very thing that might, for good reason, make a living human teacher irreplaceable.
When I see teachers resisting change, refusing to recognize the changes around us, including our students, when I see teachers refusing to believe there is a place for technology in education and refusing to figure out how better to integrate it, then I fear we are asking to become obsolete.
When I was a community college student in the mid-1980s I had an English teacher who marked one of my papers down because I put only one typed space after each period. He insisted that two spaces were required. Aside from his pettiness, he was wrong. I was, by then, a published writer and informed him that editors and publishers no longer followed that rule, that one space was now the accepted practice. The teacher would not concede and seemed, after that, to vindictively and arbitrarily find fault with everything I turned in. I have never forgotten this man. He taught me more about teaching than almost anyone else.
It is my responsibility to stay current in my subject area and to always find new ways of mixing the rhetoric and literature of the moment with the vast expanse of the past. It is my responsibility to understand the newest technology and how it might be applied to teaching children.
Some children, at various times in their lives, may actually learn better from a well-programmed computer than from a person. We ought to recognize that and use whatever resources are available to help every child we can. On the other hand, we all -- teachers and anyone else who cares about children -- vehemently oppose the false idea that all children can learn better from computers and other technology. Those devices are tools for educators; they do not replace human teachers and I sure as hell hope they never do.
Even if the virtual classroom (which, at the moment, is still a pretty false idea) were to become the virtual reality classroom -- in which students, all wired up in their living rooms, meet in some manufactured reality on a computer server somewhere and each student has an ideal educational experience tailored specifically to his or her needs and completely interactive and with a dynamic and caring and attentive virtual teacher... what a horrifying possibility. Students might learn more content and skills, they might avoid the boredom and bullying and peer pressures of school, but would it be worth the alienation, the lack of true human experience?
Perhaps we are heading in that direction -- and if we are then it might be up to teacher, hamstrung as we are by shameful working conditions, to hold these Orwellian alternatives at bay by showing that we can do what machines can never do: care about children, empathize with them, and always find new ways (ways that those virtual reality programmers would never conceive of) to reach them and inspire them.
Maybe it's up to us to face the digital age and make sure humanity itself doesn't become obsolete.
 
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