Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

What is School Choice?

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

School choice gives parents the freedom to choose their children’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools to better serve families’ needs.

School choice lets parents use the public funds set aside for their children’s education to choose the schools—public or private, near or far, religious or secular—that work best for them.

Types of School Choice

School choice is provided a variety of ways. Vouchers, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, and individual tax credits/deductions are the programs currently in operation in various states. To learn more about each program, where they exist, who uses them, and the historical data on participation, see the Friedman Foundation’s comprehensive guide to every private school choice program in America, “The ABCs of School Choice.”

Vouchers

Vouchers give parents the freedom to choose a private school for their children, using all or part of the public funding set aside for their children’s education. Under such a program, funds typically expended by a school district would be allocated to a participating family in the form of a voucher to pay partial or full tuition for their child’s private school, including both religious and non-religious options.

Education Savings Accounts

Education savings accounts allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, and other higher education expenses.

Tax-Credit Scholarships

Tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. Eligible taxpayers can include both individuals and businesses. In some states, scholarship-giving nonprofits also provide innovation grants to public schools and/or transportation assistance to students choosing alternative public schools.

Individual Tax Credits/Deductions

Through individual tax credits and deductions, parents can receive state income tax relief for approved educational expenses, which can include private school tuition, books, supplies, computers, tutors, and transportation.

Schooling Options

Private Schools

Private schools are educational institutions run independently of the government. A private school’s focus can be religious-based, academic-intensive, and/or specialized for specific groups of students. Private schools typically charge tuition, but not always. There are more than six million students attending nearly 34,000 private schools in the United States.

Recommended source for additional information:
Council for American Private Education, capenet.org

Charter Schools

Charter schools are independent public schools exempt from many state and local rules and regulations in exchange for increased financial and academic accountability. Charter schools are typically required to adhere to state-based standards and administer the state assessment. Today, 42 states and Washington, D.C., have charter school laws. There are 2.3 million students attending 6,000 charter schools in the United States.

Recommended sources for additional information:
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, publiccharters.org
The Center for Education Reform (CER), edreform.com

Homeschooling

Homeschooling is an alternative form of education for children outside of public or private schools, typically within their own homes. Homeschooling is regulated differently from state to state. In some states, parents are able to create their own curricula, whereas other states require standardized tests, curriculum approval, and regular professional evaluation of students. As of 2007, 1.5 million students were homeschooled.

Recommended source for additional information:
Home School Legal Defense Association, hslda.org

Online Learning

Online learning allows students to work with their curriculum and teachers over the internet—in combination with, or in place of, traditional classroom learning. In 2009-10, there were an estimated 1,816,400 enrollments in distance-education courses in school districts, almost all of which were online courses. That estimate does not include the 250,000 students enrolled in full-time online schools in 2010-11.

Recommended sources for additional information:
International Association for K–12 Online Learning, inacol.org

original article: What is School Choice?

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The Democrats embrace trickle-down economics

August 26, 2014 by Kevin D. Williamson

Approximately 99.44 percent of the time, it is a safe assumption that when you disagree with Thomas Sowell, you are wrong. But on the issue of the “trickle-down” theory of economics, Professor Sowell is in fact wrong to claim that “trickle-down” is a nonexistent theory, absent from “even the most voluminous and learned histories of economic theories.” Trickle-down is there — just not where its critics are looking for it.

Getting to the bottom of this will require a little background.

Professor Sowell is correct that trickle-down functions in our current discourse mainly as a caricature of certain conservative, supply-side, and/or free-market economic ideas, mostly pertaining to taxes: “Repeatedly, over the years,” he writes,

the arguments of the proponents and opponents of tax rate reductions have been arguments about two fundamentally different things. Proponents of tax rate cuts base their arguments on anticipated changes in behavior by investors in response to reduced income tax rates. Opponents of tax cuts attribute to the proponents a desire to see higher income taxpayers have more after-tax income, so that their prosperity will somehow “trickle down” to others, which opponents of tax cuts deny will happen. One side is talking about behavioral changes that can change the total output of the economy, while the other side is talking about changing the direction of existing after-tax income flows among people of differing income levels at existing levels of output. These have been arguments about very different things, and the two arguments have largely gone past each other untouched.

What sort of “behavioral changes” do the tax-cutters expect? In Andrew Mellon’s day, tax cuts were intended to lure wealthy investors out of tax-free government securities, which Mellon had proposed abolishing, into more-productive private-sector investments, which he believed would raise overall economic output. As Professor Sowell points out, the aggregate reported income of those earning $300,000 a year or more in 1916, back when three hundred grand meant something, was cut in half by 1918, and it probably was not because Scrooge McMoneybags actually was earning less: The consensus is that the very rich shifted their investments into tax-free securities as taxes went up and tax shelters became more attractive. Most of a century later, billionaire presidential candidate Ross Perot would be criticized for keeping his copious loot in tax-free munis. The more things change . . .

President Woodrow Wilson and others argued at the time that the combination of high taxes on income and zero taxes on certain government securities created a situation that discouraged private investment and encouraged profligate government spending, while lowering the tax burden on the wealthy and thus necessarily increasing the burden on everybody else. Presidents Calvin Coolidge and John Kennedy would make similar arguments.

The cartoon version of conservative economic thinking — that we should subsidize gazillionaires in order to create work opportunities for yacht painters, monocle polishers, and truffle graters — is fundamentally at odds with the facts. The supply-siders may have wrong economic ideas, but they do not have those wrong economic ideas. President Ronald Reagan, for example, loved to boast of the number of poor and modestly-off Americans his policies had removed from the federal tax rolls entirely. George W. Bush promised that he’d take the poorest fifth of taxpaying U.S. households off the federal tax rolls; Heritage estimates that he succeeded in doing so for about 10 million low-income households.

One of the perverse consequences of conservatives’ success in lowering the federal income-tax burdens of those on the left half of the earnings bell curve is that we have finally arrived at the point where our critics are partly correct: Most conservative plans for tax cuts at this point in history do disproportionately favor the wealthy and the high-income, for the mathematically unavoidable reason that they pay a steeply disproportionate share of federal income taxes, making it very difficult to design a tax-cut plan that does not disproportionately benefit them. It’s hard to cut taxes without cutting them for the taxpayers.

I myself am mostly neutral on the question of tax cuts, on the grounds that cutting taxes while the government is running significant deficits is not inadvisable but impossible — in that situation, taxes are not cut but merely deferred. All accounts must in the end be settled, so the real rate of taxation is the rate of spending.

The point of rehearsing this history is not to determine whether traditional supply-side thinking on economic policy is true or false, but rather to show that it is something fundamentallydifferent from the trickle-down caricature offered by the progressives and others generally hostile to the idea of a smaller federal financial footprint. But that is not to say that “trickle-down” is an idea without adherents, a banner without partisans marching under it. Perversely, those advancing trickle-down ideas are mostly the same ideologues who denounce “trickle-down.” But they do not call it trickle-down — they call it “stimulus.”

There are three main ways in which the federal government goes about trying to stimulate the economy. Traditionally, the most popular and most bipartisan method has been tax cuts. The popular if intellectually dodgy Keynesian analysis holds that during periods of economic weakness, there is a glut of underutilized productive capacity — capital and labor both — and that government can help clear it by increasing “aggregate demand,” i.e., stimulating consumption. As President Obama put it, “For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets.” If you want Republicans on board, then the easiest way to put money in consumers’ pockets is with tax cuts, but you can achieve much the same thing with various kinds of welfare spending, the second form of stimulus, as seen with the bump in food-stamp and unemployment spending under President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You can also sometimes forcibly deputize others to do some spending for you — in the speech above, President Obama was talking about raising the minimum wage.

The president and congressional Democrats treat tax cuts and spending as though they were the same thing, and from a federal accounting point of view, they are not entirely wrong: Cutting a $50,000-a-year household’s taxes by $1,000 a year is functionally identical to cutting them a check for $1,000 every year. Cutting an unemployed worker’s taxes by $1,000 a year is functionally the same thing as giving him an extra $1,000 in unemployment benefits. On the question of economic stimulus through tax cuts vs. through targeted social-welfare spending, the real dispute is about the method of targeting those distributions — and that’s about nothing but politics. Democrats do not want to do too much to establish the precedent that tax cuts might be good for the economy in some circumstances, lest it come back to bite them, and Republicans do not want to establish the precedent that some welfare spending might be good for the economy.

For what it’s worth, I’m not convinced that either approach does much more than provide a short-term sugar rush at the expense of the economy’s long-term health, and the Congressional Budget Office shares that suspicion, estimating that in the long run the Recovery Act will decrease economic output for reasons that would have been familiar to Andrew Mellon back in his day:

To the extent that people hold their wealth in government securities rather than in a form that can be used to finance private investment, the increased debt tends to reduce the stock of productive private capital. In the long run, each dollar of additional debt crowds out about a third of a dollar’s worth of private domestic capital, CBO estimates.

One of the problems with the traditional Keynesian view of stimulus is that it assumes that the increased aggregate demand in the economy will be matched by a mirror image of underutilized productive capacity. But we know from experience that this is not always the case. For example, we spent years around the turn of the century stimulating the economy with lower interest rates, tax cuts, and welfare spending, and the result wasn’t general prosperity — it was a housing bubble. These things tend to be unpredictable, and it is as likely that such efforts will deepen the misalignment between production and consumption as it is that they will mitigate it.

The third way that government attempts to stimulate the economy is through project spending, i.e. the so-called infrastructure investments that politicians always are nattering on about. From the politicians’ point of view, infrastructure spending has one important advantage over tax cuts or welfare outlays: They get to control what the money is spent on and where. Cut somebody’s taxes, and he might put the money toward his children’s college tuition — or he might put it toward a few lines of cocaine. Additional welfare dollars might find their way to the grocery store — or a casino. But if you spend a billion dollars on a bridge, you can be pretty sure that you’re going to get a bridge out of the deal, and a bridge right where you wanted one.

Needless to say, that’s not the same as building a bridge where a bridge is needed — but if we buy the traditional model of stimulus, that shouldn’t matter. Through the magic of the multiplier effect, $1 spent on a bridge works its way through the economy, creating $1.25, or $2, or $22 in value, depending on whom you ask. (All of which assumes that the multiplier generally is greater than 1, rather than less than 1, which has not been established, but never you mind. And if this looks to you like nothing other than the contemporary supply-siders’ self-financing tax cut in drag, then you’re on the right track.)

The important point here is this: The argument that the government should spend on infrastructure because a certain piece of infrastructure is needed is one kind of argument; the argument that government should spend on infrastructure because doing so is good for the economy is a different kind of argument — specifically, it is a trickle-down argument.

If you doubt that, ask yourself: What kind of firms get federal contracts? Do you think any of those unhappy people in Ferguson, Mo., own firms that are in line for Department of Defense or Department of Energy contracts? Do you think impoverished Appalachian pillbillies are in the running for upgrading Treasury’s computer networks? If so, I have a bridge I’d like to build you at a very reasonable price.

Federal contracting is dominated, as one would expect, by large firms, often the dreaded multinational corporations of angsty soy-latte-liberal legend. Call the roll: In first place, we have Lockheed Martin, followed by those poor, Dickensian waifs at Boeing, who would be bereft without the support of the Export-Import Bank. Then we have the plucky upstarts at Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Raytheon. And, lest Wall Street feel left out, Cerberus Capital Management comes in at No. 11. Deloitte, Rolls-Royce, and our friends at the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation all make the list — because federal spending is all about Main Street, albeit Main Street in Abu Dhabi, where the national oil company does nearly $2 billion a year in business as a federal contractor.

That’s a non-issue if your argument is that Uncle Stupid needs to build a spur on I-35 because it is having trouble getting trucks to Fort Sam Houston, or if you believe that it should buy its oil from whoever has the best price. Jim Bob’s Mom-and-Pop Interstate Highways, Aircraft Carriers, and Bait Shop (“No Job Too Small!”) is not a thing that exists.

But that is a big, hairy Gordian knot of an issue if your argument is that infrastructure spending, and other federal project outlays, are a desirable form of economic stimulus in and of themselves. If the latter is your argument, then you have to believe something far stronger than even the cartoon trickle-down version of supply-side tax cuts: You have to believe that having the federal government literally write enormous checks to gigantic international conglomerates and the rich guys who own and operate them will create prosperity by, forgive me for noticing, trickling down through the economy to the guys who spread asphalt and the guys who sell those guys work boots and burritos and bass boats. “Deep voodoo,” as Paul Krugman would put it in another context.

Inevitably, there are federal rules setting aside a portion of contracts and subcontracts — 23 percent, in fact — for small businesses. This works about as well as you’d expect: Large firms simply organize subsidiaries or make other arrangements to meet small-business ruleswhich are pretty flexible to begin with — or they fraudulently misrepresent themselves. And so “small business” awards to go firms with 150 employees and $400 million a year in revenue — or, in some cases, a hell of a lot more. By the American Small Business League’s count, 16 of the top 100 small-business contractors in 2013 were actually small businesses. It finds that many small-business contracts are in effect awarded to Apple, Bank of America, PepsiCo, General Electric, and all the usual suspects, through arrangements that made small businesses the names on the contracts while the majority of the revenues went to Fortune 500 companies.

But still, might this stimulate the economy, create jobs, raise wages? There is reason to be skeptical about that proposition. Under the Recovery Act, stimulus spending went to doomed firms such as Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, and SpectraWatt, all of which took the money and ran into bankruptcy. The Export-Import Bank’s defenders make a very conventional case that its subsidies stimulate the economy, but there is no evidence that they do. Even hard infrastructure projects are not always obviously good ideas: roads to nowhere, bridges to nowhere. Such projects likely are net losses for the economy once everything is accounted for: the opportunity cost of the labor and capital that went into them, their effect on the debt and interest expenses, long-term maintenance costs, etc.

If the federal government needs a nuclear submarine or an upgraded computer system, so be it. (Although maybe not the kind of information technology that the stimulus bill bought for the Veterans Administration.) But if you think that dumping another billion dollars into the pockets of General Electric or Raytheon is going to produce trickle-down prosperity for the general public, you’re subscribing to an economic theory that makes Arthur Laffer look like Chairman Mao.

original article: Blue Voodoo

bias, budget, bureaucracy, cronyism, Democrats, economics, economy, funding, government, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, philosophy, politics, poverty, propaganda, public policy, reaganomics, socialism, spending, taxes, wealthy, welfare

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When a law is revised eight times, it’s worth asking whether or not it should ever have been enacted in the first place

August 22, 2014 by BARRETT DUKE AND ANDREW T. WALKER

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new ruleregarding its requirement for certain faith-based non-profit organizations and closely held for-profits to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices to their employees through their health plans. This is the eighth revision to the Health and Human Services Mandate. And regrettably, the government still falls short of understanding the concerns surrounding religious liberty. We are pleased that HHS recognizes that they cannot force some of our nation’s faith community to violate their consciences on a matter as significant as life, but we are deeply disappointed that they still believe they should be the arbiters of the line between what constitutes protected religious activity and what does not.

This new regulation was drawn up partly in response to the Supreme Court’s decision protecting Hobby Lobby and other faith-based businesses from the HHS mandate to provide these items to their employees. The Administration also felt the new regulation was necessary because many faith-based organizations complained that they were being treated differently from other faith-based organizations in the application of the original regulation. These groups rightly complained that the administration had taken on itself the task of determining which faith-based groups qualified for exemption from the mandate, mostly “houses of worship.” All others were required to submit a form justifying their claim for exemption and authorizing the government to contact their insurer to arrange for the provision of these drugs and devices.

The new rule does little to change that dichotomy. All it does is move the line. Non-exempt faith-based organizations, i.e., just about everyone except “houses of worship,” will still be required to submit paperwork to the government declaring their religious claim of exemption. The government has resorted to shuffling paperwork, not ceasing its conscience-paving ways. The new rule no longer puts these organizations in the position of authorizing the government to contact their insurer to require the provision of these abortion and contraceptive items. But the result is the same. Upon notification by the organization, the government will take it on itself to notify the organization’s insurer and require provision of these items. In other words, if you do not meet the government’s classification as an “exempt” organization, your insurer will still be providing abortion and contraceptive services to your employees, regardless of your objection.

Essentially, the administration has set itself up as the grand inquisitor, determining who is religious enough to merit the government’s benevolence and who is not. The religious liberty violations that led to countless court cases, remains. Some of the non-favored organizations still affected by this rule have been providing faith-based ministry for more than 100 years. Their claims of faith-informed conscience objections are well established and deserve unqualified, unquestioned accommodation in the same way “houses of worship” receive them. If “houses of worship” and similar groups are exempted from having these items provided to their employees, these other groups should receive the same exemption. A second proposed rule stipulates the regulations for defining what constitutes a closely-held for-profit company, a move in response to the government’s loss in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., case earlier this summer.

The Administration’s new rule for the HHS Mandate has not alleviated our concerns about its disregard for religious freedom. The rule reveals the administration remains committed to advancing sexual liberty over First Amendment protected religious liberty. The rule still runs afoul of faith and conscience in the following ways:

● It empowers the government to decide whose faith-driven activity is religious enough to merit its exemption.

● It requires taxpayers to cover the cost of abortion-causing drugs and devices.

● It violates the administration’s commitment in the original passage of the ACA not to include abortion in its approved plans.

● It forces some faith-based organizations with clear conscience objections to choose between violating their consciences regarding abortion or contraception and government prosecution.

As Christians, we can respond in the following ways:

● Remember that God is aware. He has not abandoned His people.

● Pray that God will give understanding to those continuing to try to force people of faith to violate their consciences.

● Pray that God will help Congress respond in a way that will assure conscience protections.

● Call your congressman and senators and ask them to act on behalf of people of faith. You can get their contact information here.

● Write a letter to the editor of your local paper explaining why you oppose the new regulation.

● Contact the White House and express your opposition in a courteous but firm manner.

●Contact any ministries or businesses that you know are affected by the mandate and let them know you are praying for them.

● Pray that God will raise up the leaders our nation needs to restore legal protections for the unborn at any stage of life.

original article: New HHS Rules Still Problematic for Religious Liberty

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Report: Iranian Jewish woman cut in half, media silent

November 30, 2012 by Joe Newby

On Thursday, Israel Radio reported that a Jewish woman in Isfahan, Iran, was murdered and cut in half by Muslim extremists who wanted to take over her home.

Israel Radio said that according to relatives, the woman lived next to a newly built mosque, and worshippers “had demanded that she and her family leave their home so the mosque could be expanded.”

The woman complained to authorities, and in response, a group of thugs came to her house, murdered her and allegedly cut her in two.

“The event left the Jewish community in Iran, estimated to be around 25,000 people, worried and fearing escalating violence against it,” Israel Radio said.

Daniel Greenfield reminded readers at Frontpagemag.com that Jews and Christians in the Muslim world are “protected”.

“They pay protection money in the form of Jizya. And they’re not persecuted too much, unless they don’t make way for a mosque or unless Islamists take over,” he wrote.

“This is your life. This is your life under Islam,” he added.

While the report has been picked up by a number of blogs, the so-called “mainstream media” has remained silent.

original article: Report: Iranian Jewish woman cut in half, media silent

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A Closer Look at the Botched Common Core Results

August 23, 2014 by Cortney O’Brien

Misleading title aside, the Buffalo News report was not good. “Students in Buffalo statewide make modest gains in math,” declared an article in the New York newspaper detailing the results from the second year of Common Core implementation. Well yes, math scores did overall improve. But, the rest of the report was not quite so rosy:

Despite another full year of preparation by schools after the rollout of state Common Core tests in 2013, there were no dramatic, across-the-board gains in English this year. Large-city districts saw slight year-to-year improvement, but wealthier suburban districts statewide actually saw overall declines on the English exam.

The detailed grade proficiency results in New York from 2012 through 2014 are downright embarrassing. Even the most successful schools weren’t spared from Common Core. Take Ledgeview Elementary School, for example. This school boasted a 91.2 percent proficiency in 2012 for third grade math. The next year, those scores slid down to 76.3 percent. It ticked back up slightly in 2014 to 82 percent, but that was small consolation.

City Honors School, a top rated school in the state, had an impressive 90.2 percent proficiency in eighth grade ELA in 2012. That shot down to 80.4 percent in 2013.

Orchard Park Middle School experienced a swift decline as well. Eighth grade ELA in 2012: 77 percent proficiency, 2013: 58.1 percent, 2014: 52 percent.

Most tragically, the schools already struggling were hit hardest by the new program. The Harriet Ross Tubman Academy, which had a 25.7 percent in third grade math, is now down to two percent.

While Buffalo had minor gains overall, the main issue is worth repeating:

The minor gains in Buffalo were carried by a relatively small number of schools, with the vast majority showing little to no improvement.

Many suburban schools saw significant declines in their eighth-grade scores this year. In Clarence, 52 percent of eighth-graders were proficient in English this year, compared with 64 percent the previous year. The decline was more dramatic in math – 30 percent were proficient this year, compared to 59 percent last year.

Despite these undeniably poor results, State Education Commissioner John King said this year’s statewide scores are “encouraging.”

I guess these students have to bring home ‘F’s to their parents before King dares to criticize the new program.

Unlike King, many parents and teachers are now rejecting the new Common Core standards. In a new poll released by PDK International and Gallup, 60 percent of those surveyed said they oppose the educational standards. What’s more, an education journal named Education Next found that 76 percent of teachers supported Common Core last year, but in 2014, that number has droppedto 46 percent.

In addition to hurting test scores, Common Core is threatening children’s educational foundations with its misleading lessons. Take, for instance, the program’s take on American history. Rebecca wrote about Common Core’s new standards for the AP US History exam, which leaves out inspiring details about our Founding Fathers and portrays America in a negative light.

Every state should take Governor Bobby Jindal’s (R-LA) lead. The Louisiana governor is fighting to delay Common Core implementation in his state. Although a judge recently ruled  against his efforts, Jindal is taking the right steps to try and defend these educators’ freedom to teach as they wish, without worrying about these government standards.

Common Core is not in the best interests of students or teachers. How many more bad grades do children have to receive before the program is scrapped?

original article: A Closer Look at the Botched Common Core Results

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Report: ISIS terrorists split woman in two with cars, bury Yazidis alive

August 19, 2014

Stories of atrocities being committed by ISIS terrorists have been coming out of Iraq and Syria for some time, with each report somewhat worse than the one preceding it. On Monday, Reuterssaid a Yazidi man told of people being buried alive and a woman literally split in two.

“They tied the hands of one woman to the back of a car and her legs to another car and they split her into two,” said a 22-year-old student named Hassan. “Have you seen anything like this? This is all because she is not Muslim and did not want to be converted. We barely made it.”

Dawud Hassan, a 26-year-old auto repairman, told of women and children being buried alive in what appears to be a mass grave. This is not the first time ISIS has reportedly buried their victims alive.

“They put women and children under the ground,” he said. “They were alive. I still hear their screams. They were trying to keep their heads up to keep breathing.”

“Iraq is finished for me,” he added. “We had houses, shops, they all burnt our things. We have nothing. We want to cross to Turkey but the peshmerga is not letting us. We will not stay there, we want to go to Europe.”

A 46-year-old former grocery shop owner identified only as Ali, told a very similar story. Ali and his fellow villagers, Reuters added, found themselves surrounded by ISIS terrorists with machine guns about ten days ago. According to the account, the men began to dig ditches.

“We did not understand,” Ali said. “Then they started to put people in those holes, those people were alive.”

“After a while we heard gunfire. I can’t forget that scene,” he added. “Women, children, crying for help. We had to run for our lives, there was nothing to be done for them.”

Reuters said the account could not be independently verified. It’s not the first such report, however. Earlier in August, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that ISIS terrorists cut a five-year-old boy in two. About the same time, reports emerged that ISIS buried women and children alive in mass graves. Another report claimed that ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi gave his followers permission to eat babies, but that report could not be corroborated. According to other reports, ISIS is systematically beheading Christian children in Mosul.

Meanwhile, Reuters said that many Yazidis are giving up on Iraq. ISIS, or the Islamic State, as it now calls itself, is determined to eliminate anything and anyone that does not subscribe to its version of Islam.

original article: Report: ISIS terrorists split woman in two with cars, bury Yazidis alive

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See Who’s Been Spotted in Ferguson Trying to ‘Incite’ Riots and Mingling Among Group Armed With Molotov Cocktails

August 19, 2014 by Jason Howerton

As the outraged community in Ferguson, Missouri, continues to protest the officer-involved shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, radical communist revolutionaries from places like Chicago and New York City are seemingly infiltrating the local demonstrations and allegedly attempting to “incite” riots.

A video uploaded on YouTube Tuesday shows Gregory Lee Johnson, a veteran member of theRevolutionary Communist Party, riling up a crowd and seemingly discouraging them from listening to police’s advice to calm things down. Watch that video in the full article.

full article: See Who’s Been Spotted in Ferguson Trying to ‘Incite’ Riots and Mingling Among Group Armed With Molotov Cocktails

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Self-styled jihadist admits to killing 4 people, calls it ‘vengeance’ for U.S. actions in Mideast

August 20, 2012

SEATTLE — A man accused of shooting to death two men in Seattle on June 1 and a man in New Jersey later that month was charged Wednesday with gunning down a 30-year-old in the Skyway area in April — all, he allegedly told police, as “vengeance” for U.S. actions in the Mideast.

Ali Muhammad Brown, 40, is quoted in charging documents as saying that he they were “just kills” and that he was “just doing my small part” as a self-styled jihadist.

He was charged Wednesday with aggravated first-degree murder by the King County Prosecutor’s Office  for the slaying of Leroy Henderson, 30 in the unincorporated King County area of Skyway on the night of April 27.

Henderson had been shot 10 times in the back as he was walking home.

Brown had earlier been charged with aggravated first-degree murder for the slayings of Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young in Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood on June 1.  He is also accused of killing a man, Brendan Tevlin, in the Newark, N.J., area on June 25, after he had fled Seattle.

All four were killed with a 9mm handgun.

In court documents, King  County sheriff’s detectives said surveillance video in Skyway showing an SUV that Brown was using at the time and 9mm cartridge casings found at Henderson’s slaying led them to Brown.

Police said that the SUV with lights on was seen on video passing Henderson as he walked down the street. It then turned around and, with lights off, slowly approached behind him.  Moments later, Henderson was shot 10 times in the back. The men did not know each other, police said.

In court documents, police said Brown confessed to all four murders.

“The one in King County on the 28th, the two in Seattle on June 1st, and the one in West Orange (N.J.) on June 25th?” a detective asked.

“All of it,” Brown allegedly replied.

“Those 4 murders that we’re talking about were all done for vengeance for the actions of the United States in the Middle East?” the detective asked.

“Yes,” Brown allegedly replied.

“Are you taking responsibility for that?” the detective asked.

“Just doing my small part,” Brown allegedly replied.

In a post-Miranda statement to detectives in Essex County, N.J., for Tevlin’s slaying there, Brown allegedly described Tevlin as a “just kill,” describing a “just kill” as a target that was an adult male, not a woman, child or elderly person.

“My mission is vengeance. For the lives, millions of lives are lost every day,” he reportedly said. “Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, all these places where innocent lives are being taken every single day … All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life.”

Late Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued a statement that read, in part:

“Ali Muhammad Brown took the lives of three members of our community, and, with these charges, he will face justice.

“The charging documents reveal disturbing details about Brown’s motive for committing these murders, which appears to have based on anti-American sentiment and an extreme interpretation of the Muslim faith. While Brown invoked his faith, we must be clear that Brown’s views and his actions do not reflect the values of Muslims.

“In this moment of grief, we, as one community, across all faiths and religions races and ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations, can and must renew our resolve to stand firm against violence and hatred of all kinds.”

original article: Self-styled jihadist admits to killing 4 people, calls it ‘vengeance’ for U.S. actions in Mideast

abuse, bigotry, criminal, extremism, hate crime, islam, religion, terrorism

Filed under: abuse, bigotry, criminal, extremism, hate crime, islam, religion, terrorism

Remember when rewriting history was a bad thing?

Many of you probably know of David Barton, a well known American historian often accused of rewriting history. With accusations of diminishing important historical events or minimizing historical characters, David Barton is widely considered a dangerous man. But then, much of this controversy is a matter of interpretation or perspective.

Whether David Barton really is rewriting history largely depends on who you ask. Many people would say American history has already been rewritten with an anti-religious bias, and that Barton is merely attempting to put the record straight. But what ever you believe about Barton’s work, it is highly likely that you object to manipulating the history taught in schools.

Which brings us to another avenue of the battle for the truth. The Common Core initiative is also being accused of attempting to rewrite history, but from a perspective very different from Barton’s.

How do you rewrite history? Like this

Common Core: where critical thinking doesn’t mean thinking for yourself

What is the general reaction to these accusations against Common Core? Why, protecting it of course! Apparently there’s no need to look into the details. Any questions about the controversy should be lead away from actually investigating the claims, and directed instead toward defending efforts supposedly to “reform” public education. The very things David Barton has been accused of doing (minimizing certain people or events from history, and portraying history with a view favorable to his preferences) are precisely the intellectual sins being committed by Common Core.

Thinking for ourselves is supposed to mean not blindly accepting a narrative that we may be inclined to agree with. If independent thought requires us to question David Barton (and by question, I mean blindly reject) it should require us to also question Common Core (and by question, I mean critics are gathering massive evidence and support against it). Unfortunately, honest debate on this is not likely to happen in the current politically charged environment. While critics of Common Core have done their homework, its defenders often blindly reject such criticism and use hyperbole and straw man arguments in its defense. In the same partisan fashion, defenders of Common Core typically blindly accept criticism of David Barton, without bothering to investigate any claims on their own.

It’s pretty difficult to “know” Common Core is reliable and David Barton is not when so few people take the time to look into either situation themselves and protect their beliefs by avoiding anything that might conflict with them. But we live in a time when “thinking for yourself” means blindly following the progressive narrative of any and everything.

Many people pretend Fox News is not real news, and somehow manage to “know” this without ever actually watching Fox News. The closest they get to that is watching “news” on MTV or Comedy Central attacking Fox News (all while believing they are getting unbiased and in depth information). Likewise, these same people pretend Rush Limbaugh is a liar and a fraud, and somehow they “know” this without ever actually listing to his radio program, but only exposing themselves to his critics.

Are you noticing a pattern here? Confirmation bias rules the day in each case. Whether on the perspective of Fox News, Limbaugh, Barton, or education reform, or health care reform, the war on terrorism, climate change, immigration, abortion, etc., the left leaning narrative must govern the perspective of the American people. No one must actually look into the details of anything or do any research on their own. Informing yourself is tantamount to treason or something. Doing your own research is down right un-American, I guess.

The rewriting of history is happening, as a matter of fact. America’s past and America’s present are being rewritten every day, year after year. A progressive narrative is pushed on the American people and anyone who has any differing view must be destroyed. We are supposed to blindly believe everything the Democrat party wants to accomplish is good, and blindly believe everything the Republican party wants to accomplish is evil. Because that’s how “thinking for yourself” works today.

If you are starting to wonder if progressive is actually regressive you’d be right, but you’d also be in danger of becoming a right wing extremist.

american, anti-religion, bias, corruption, culture, education, environment, extremism, history, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, propaganda

Filed under: american, anti-religion, bias, corruption, culture, education, environment, extremism, history, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, propaganda, Uncategorized

Melbourne Academic and writer, Shakira Hussein explains why euthanasia threatens people living with disability

August 18, 2014 by Paul Russell
This article is taken from the website of The Saturday Paper and was first published under the title of ‘Living with Dignity’. Dr Shakira Hussein is a post doctoral research fellow at the University of Melbourne.

The pain when it strikes at full force is so shatteringly powerful that it’s hard to believe the blast is contained within my own body. There ought to be a flash of blazing light as it explodes, debris scattered around its perimeter. Yet not even my face shows a visible sign of damage beyond, I assume, a grimace.

Eventually, an MRI scan will reveal a lesion in the relevant area of my brain, but for the moment it’s up to me to report my symptoms to the triage staff at the hospital with whatever similes I can find. It’s like being burned. Flayed. Slashed. The slightest breeze against my skin is torment.

I’m told that this particular form of pain is called trigeminal neuralgia. Dr Google tells me that it’s also known as “the suicide disease” because of the high number of patients who take their lives to escape the anguish it inflicts. My real-world doctor tells me it’s the worst pain that there is. In my case, it’s a symptom of remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis, a disease that ebbs and flows but never entirely disappears from my life. During relapses it has blurred my vision, detached limbs from my central nervous system, tumbled the world upside-down into vomit-ridden vertigo.

During remission, life is more than tolerable, if hard work. My balance and physical strength have been eroded and something always hurts if I pause to take an audit. All the same, I remain in paid employment and I share my life with a funny and resilient teenage daughter. I try not to think too much about the future and all the unpleasant possibilities it may hold.

I understand why some patients with multiple sclerosis say they want euthanasia, rather than enduring protracted physical pain, decline and dependence, to be an option. I have no trouble visualising scenarios in which I ask my health professionals to assist my suicide – in fact, I have to battle to keep such visions at bay.

But if and when I reach that point, I want those who I may ask to be legally obliged to refuse me.

I do not believe it is appropriate for the state to determine that the desire to end one’s life is in some circumstances a symptom of depression to be combated and controlled and in other cases a rational decision. Advocates for the legalisation of euthanasia stress that they have no intention of making it compulsory. Since they do not plan to impose their beliefs on me [they argue], I am not entitled to impose my beliefs on them.

However, I do not believe that legalised, state-endorsed euthanasia would be an autonomous decision, either in terms of the circumstances in which it is made or in terms of its consequences for others. The social stigma attached to diseased and disabled bodies would both shape euthanasia decisions and be reinforced by them. Even those who would not themselves choose to make use of access to euthanasia would have their lives devalued by its availability to them.

How “voluntary” would voluntary euthanasia be in a society that stigmatises physical impairment and dependence, and which regards ageing as decline rather than accumulation? Does a society that tells patients there is a months-long waiting list for an appointment with a pain management clinic – as I was told during my most harrowing struggle with the suicide disease – have any business legalising euthanasia under the banner of autonomous choice?

Euthanasia advocates point to opinion polls indicating very high levels of public support for their case. However, based on my own admittedly unscientific but nonetheless extensive straw-polling, I think this reflects an instinctive recoil from the horrors of drawn-out death rather than an informed and considered position. There is a widespread assumption that those opposing euthanasia do so because of their adherence to conservative religious values. The disability rights perspective is not well known. Once it [their opposition] is expressed, support for euthanasia becomes far less adamant. …

Advocates of euthanasia should not assume that euthanasia would be legalised if put to a ballot. In 2012, a proposal to legalise doctor-assisted suicide in Massachusetts was narrowly defeated after a well-organised disability rights campaign under the slogan “Second Thoughts”. As disability activist Ben Mattlin wrote in The New York Times: “I can’t help wondering why we’re in such a hurry to ensure the right to die before we’ve done all we can to ensure that those of us with severe, untreatable, life-threatening conditions are given the same open-hearted welcome, the same open-minded respect and the same open-ended opportunities due everyone else.”

There is certainly ample room for reform on the issues of disability and end-of-life care. More widespread use of and respect for advance-care directives would provide patients with the higher degree of control that some currently believe would only be possible through the legalisation of euthanasia. With all this in mind, I ask Australian supporters of the legalisation of euthanasia – in particular the Greens, for whom this is party policy – to follow the lead of the voters of Massachusetts and have second thoughts.

original article: Melbourne Academic and writer, Shakira Hussein explains why euthanasia threatens people living with disability

culture, ethics, eugenics, government, ideology, legislation, nanny state, philosophy, political correctness, public policy, relativism, unintended consequences, victimization

Filed under: culture, ethics, eugenics, government, ideology, legislation, nanny state, philosophy, political correctness, public policy, relativism, unintended consequences, victimization

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