Thursday, February 24, 2005

No Child Left Behind? Yeah, Right.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Bush Submits $2.5 Trillion Budget to Congress

President Bush is expected to send a $2.5 trillion budget to Congress later today. Bush is seeking a $19 billion increase in defense spending while proposing cutbacks in a wide range of domestic programs. Faced with a record deficit, Bush is calling for the elimination of some 150 governmental programs. One out of every three of the targeted programs concerns education. Public housing residents, Medicaid recipients and farmers will all suffer from cutbacks. In addition Bush is proposing to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by $450 million; to cut $100 million from a Bureau of Indian Affairs program that helps build schools and to cut $200 million for home-heating aid for the poor. Meanwhile Bush is calling for the Pentagon's budget to increase by nearly 5 percent to $419 billion. However that total does not include the cost of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From Democracy Now!, today. I thought farmers were the one's W's Social Security rhetoric was making him out to save? And not only are we leaving more children behind, but making sure they don't get health care or heat in their homes this winter. The one up-side is the expanding military budget, and with our society becoming astronomically more militarist and oriented around production of weapons technology, that means job security! Whew!


Friday, February 04, 2005

Our Military Leaders

General counseled over 'fun to shoot' talk

WASHINGTON -- A Marine Corps general with battle awards is being counseled to watch his words more carefully after publicly observing that "it's fun to shoot some people."

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, a career infantry officer now in charge of developing ways to better train and equip Marines, also made fun of the manhood of Afghans during comments Tuesday while speaking at a forum in San Diego. On Thursday, Gen. Mike Hagee, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, issued a statement of regret about Mattis' remarks, saying they reflected "the unfortunate and harsh realities of war."

According to an audio recording, Mattis had said, "Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you, I like brawling."
He added, "You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."His comments evoked laughter and applause from the audience. Mattis was speaking during a panel discussion hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a spokeswoman for the general said.

Gen. Hagee's statement said, "Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks with a great deal of candor. I have counseled him concerning his remarks and he agrees he should have chosen his words more carefully."

"While I understand that some people may take issue with the comments made by him, I also know he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war," Hagee's statement added. Among Marines, Mattis is regarded as a fighting general and an expert in the art of warfare. Among his decorations are the Bronze Star with a combat distinguishing device and a combat action ribbon, awarded for close-quarters fighting.

He is currently the commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., and deputy commandant for combat development. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was up to Mattis to address his own comments, but he added, "All of us who are leaders have a responsibility in our words and our actions to provide the right example all the time for those who look to us for leadership."

Pace spoke to a Pentagon press conference. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he had not read Mattis' words and deferred to Pace. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties group, called on the Pentagon to discipline Mattis for the remarks.
"We do not need generals who treat the grim business of war as a sporting event," said the council's executive director, Nihad Awad. "These disturbing remarks are indicative of an apparent indifference to the value of human life."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

This is SO disturbing!

From the King5 Website
Student survey: First Amendment goes too far
09:20 AM PST on Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The way many high-school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.
It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high-school attitudes released yesterday.
The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high-school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
"These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous," said Hodding Carter III of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the $1 million study's sponsor. "Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future."
The students are even more restrictive in their views than their elders, the study says. When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of students did.
The results reflected indifference, with nearly three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didn't know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the Bill of Rights.
Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. It's not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't.
"Schools don't do enough to teach the First Amendment," Linda Puntney of the Journalism Education Association said in the report.
The University of Connecticut survey is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004. Meanwhile, a separate survey of college freshmen said more new college students are expecting to take on jobs, borrow at least $10,000 for their first year and receive that much from their families. UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, which has been surveying freshmen annually for 39 years, also found a record number of students defining themselves as "far right" or "far left" politically and a record low calling themselves "middle of the road." Fewer than ever believe racial discrimination is a problem.
A record 47.2 percent of the 289,000 freshmen who started college last year said there is a good chance they will get a job to help pay for college, with 53.3 percent of women and 39.6 percent of men saying they would need to find work.
The 29.5 percent expecting more than $10,000 in family support was the highest figure since the question was first asked in 2001. The percentage expecting to borrow more than $10,000 their first year rose to 8.8 percent from 7.8 percent last year and 5.6 percent in 2001. However, only 13 percent reported "major" concerns about paying for college, compared to a record high of 19.1 percent in 1995.
The survey also found more students than ever viewing themselves as at political extremes, with 3.4 percent calling themselves "far left" and 2.2 percent "far right."
The percentage of students identifying themselves as liberal (26.1 percent) or conservative (21.9 percent) also rose from last year. The category "middle of the road" remained the most common at 46.4 percent, but declined 4 percentage points from a year ago to its lowest level in 30 years.
The survey also found a record 22.7 percent of freshmen believe racial discrimination is no longer a problem in America, but the number reporting they frequently socialized with members of other racial or ethnic groups in high school fell slightly, as it has since 2001, to 67.8 percent.