Monday, May 31, 2010

Truthout 5/31

Corporatizing and Militarizing Memorial Day for "Fun" and Profit
Camillo "Mac" Bica, Truthout: "Since the beginning of the 20th century, some 650,000 Americans have died fighting this country's many wars. Regardless of political affiliation and ideology, every American ought reverence such selfless sacrifice and understand and share the grief that this tragic loss of life entails. Though those of us who have known war hear the cries of the dying forever in our mind and suffer the pain and loss each day of our lives and need no holiday to remind us, Memorial Day is the occasion our nation sets aside to remember, to grieve and to honor those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of 'freedom.'"
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Israeli Commandoes Kill Gaza Aid Volunteers
Max Ajl, Truthout: "Israeli commandoes rappelled onto the deck of the Mervi Manara, the big red-and-white Turkish aid ship sailing to Gaza...As I write, Israeli television, citing the Israeli military, reports up to 19 killed and 26 injured. The footage from the live-feed on the Mervi Manara is the only audio-visual material currently available. It's tragic: Men in orange life-vests quietly suffering. Orange canvas stretchers with a blaze of blood. 'They're all taken,' read correspondence from the Free Gaza Movement (FGM). All six of the boats taken by the Israeli navy are on their way to Ashdod and the Israeli processing camp set up there, its white tents a quiet little obscenity. Fragments of news percolate through the electronic blockade Israel has erected around the ships, and through the military censor that Israel uses to attempt to contain information."
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Gulf Oil Spill: "This Disaster Just Got Enormously Worse"
Renee Schoof and Chris Adams, McClatchy Newspapers: "If the growing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico isn't contained soon--and the latest efforts suggest that's unlikely--then the damage to the fragile region will intensify over the coming summer months as changing currents and the potential for hurricanes complicate the containment and cleanup efforts."
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Corporations Profit From Permanent War: Memorial Day 2010
Bill Quigley, Truthout: "US law officially proclaims Memorial Day 'as a day of prayer for permanent peace.' However, the US is much closer to permanent war than permanent peace. Corporations are profiting from wars and lobbying politicians for more. The US and the rest of the world cannot afford the rising personal and financial costs of permanent war...This coming year, the US will spend 708 billion dollars on war, and another $125 billion for Veterans Affairs - over $830 billion."
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Why You Should Care About the Psychology of Disgust
Joe Brewer, Truthout: "Are you someone who struggles to understand why people behave the way they do in politics? Perhaps you've been confused by all the fervor against gay marriage. Or maybe you're taken aback by the strong emotions waged against government-sponsored health care. To understand political behaviors like these, you'll need to become familiar with the psychology of disgust."
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This Memorial Day, a Modest Plea for More Honest Military Recruiting Ads
William J. Astore, Truthout: "Visiting my local cemetery, I walk quietly through the serried ranks of identical military gravestones, all adorned with American flags, a few adorned with flowers or religious figures or other mementos left by friends or family. For me it's a moving reminder of the debt we owe to America's veterans, especially those who gave their lives in the defense of this country. Contrast this somber sight to the upbeat Army recruiting ads I'm bombarded with as I cruise the MLB and ESPN websites."
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A Veteran Speaks Out about Being "Un-American" on Memorial Day
Michael Gass, Truthout: "Memorial Day is more than simply a day for honoring our fallen soldiers; it is also about remembering the ideals for which they gave their lives. Right-wing pundits and politicians have tossed out the term 'un-American' for decades, but in case you think they have cornered the market on the term 'un-American,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Hoyer recently used it when they wrote about the health care reform protests. They wrote, 'Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.'"
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The Split: A Self and Nation Divided
Mary Sojourner, Psychology Today: "The woman told me about surviving eight months of chemo and how laughter had been her best medicine. I told her of a friend who'd survived the same illness, whose friendship with a wounded eagle had sustained him through chemotherapy. I promised to send her a book. As she hugged me good-bye, I saw over her shoulder a bumper sticker that said: You f---in liberals can't have my country - or my gun. When I unlocked the trunk of my car to put my pack away, I saw the old sticker I'd put there in 2006: My cats hate Bush."
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Why the Gaza boat deaths are a huge deal

Blake Hounshell 

While we don't yet know all the facts, the apparent killing of at least 10 people aboard a ship bound for Gaza with humanitarian aid already has all the hallmarks of a massive public-relations disaster.

It does sound like there might have been some kind of violent response from the activists on the boat, and the Israeli military is claiming its forces encountered “live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs."

But the international response has been swift. Turkey has recalled its ambassador and warned of "consequences," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an investigation, European governments have expressed shock, and I imagine thousands of outside observers like me are wondering just what possessed the Israeli government to risk such an outcome when it sent naval commandoes to board the vessel.

As Haaretz's Amos Harel puts it, "The damage that Israel has caused itself internationally can hardly be exaggerated." Harel warns that the rumored presence of an Israeli Arab activist among the victims could lead to riots and perhaps even "a third intifada."

Another liberal Haaretz commentator, Bradley Burston, comments, "We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege. The siege itself is becoming Israel's Vietnam."

Israeli officials appear to be circling the wagons; the question now becomes what the White House will say and do. So far the Obama administration has said little, but with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu currently in Canada and scheduled to visit Washington Tuesday, it can't stay silent for long. There is talk in Israel that Netanyahu will cancel his trip, which would probably be the smart thing to do. There will be heavy international pressure on Obama to condemn the incident, and he will probably make some kind of mild statement. But a White House visit would quickly make the United States the focal point of world attention in a way that is, as White House officials like to put it, "not helpful."

It already has the makings of a huge international fracas that will make the Goldstone Report look like small potatoes by comparison. But to what end? Israelis on the right end of the political spectrum -- and that is most of them these days -- are convinced there is a "propaganda war" against their country, that most if not all of the criticism is unfair, and that the real issue is the radicalism of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which openly call for Israel's destruction. That's certainly the perspective of hard-line government officials like Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, who has already called the ships an "armada of hate and violence" and accused the activists of links to al Qaeda.

In other words, there's a huge unwillingness on the Israeli right to face reality -- that Israel is fast losing friends and allies in the world, and that this government in Jerusalem has only accelerated the shift. It's not hard to imagine boycott campaigns gaining momentum, damaging the Israeli economy and isolating the country diplomatically, especially in Europe.

The one thing that might extrictate Israel from this mess is a violent response from the Palestinian side -- which never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Stay tuned.

McClatchy Washington report 5/31 

  • "The failure of the top kill really magnified this disaster exponentially," said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska marine scientist. "I think there's a realistic probability that this enormous amount of oil will keep coming out for a couple months."

  • Roger Duke is a Vietnam veteran, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Since 2006, he's spent at least one weekend a month embedded with a California National Guard unit. He's a trusted face whom the soldiers confide in before and after their deployments.

  • "Hurricanes pass through," the Rev. Mike Tran told parishioners Sunday. "We don't know when this will ever be over. It's a way of life that's under assault, and people don't when their next paycheck is going to be."

  • A litany of half-truths, withholding crucial video, blocking media access to the site and a failure to share timely and complete information about efforts to contain the largest oil spill in U.S. history have created the widespread impression that BP is withholding information about the April 20 oilrig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, if not misleading the public and the government.

  • Jerry Brown's bigger-than-life dad, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Sr. - who had preceded his son as governor from 1959 to 1967 - became a large presence when his son assumed the top job in 1975. As Brown seeks a third term as California governor, the files from his past administrations reveal a complex existence among the young governor, his legendary late father and his ambitious chief of staff.

  • Aside from 10 men at a Navy weather station, the island was uninhabited when the Japanese Army took possession on June 6, 1942. Allied forces reclaimed the island 14 months later, built their own base, but soon abandoned it. The relics remain, however, making Kiska probably the most intact battleground from World War II.

  • In poll after poll, California voters from both major parties have made it clear they see the recession, the state's budget mess and taxes as their top priorities this election year. On the airwaves, however, the Republican candidates for governor are talking about anything but that trio of issues.

  • Former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos achieved a commanding lead in Colombia's presidential elections Sunday, but still must face a runoff June 20. Santos received 46.5 percent of votes to 21.5 percent for former Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus, according to official returns.

  • Terrified shoppers fled a crowded SuperTarget Sunday after a brazen shooter walked into the store and shot and killed a cashier, a former girlfriend, before killing himself. Shoppers fled the store, leaving belongings and purchases behind, and one family sought refuge in a walk-in cooler.

  • "Shackles, hanging from the ceiling, and a tombstone with somebody's name on it. ... But that wasn't the real problem," said 71-year-old Linda Burkitt, shaking her head.

  • The holiday isn't meant for mall sales or picnics, but to pay tribute to the fallen, from the eight minutemen who died in Lexington, Mass. to the nearly 5,500 troops who've been killed since 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Rand Paul is not as politically unsophisticated as the media, tea party organizers and Republican strategists would like you to believe.
    In the hours after his victory in a Republican senate primary, Paul did not let it slip accidentally during an NPR interview that he opposed aspects of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. And it certainly was no fluke that later in the day on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show he repeated his "libertarian" philosophies supporting a business owner's right to discriminate racially.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Truthout 5/30

George Lakoff | Obama's Missing Moral Narrative
George Lakoff, Truthout: "Barack Obama may be one of the best communicators of this generation, but he is not living up to his own talents. In a year of disasters, communication failure doubles the disasters."
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BP Oil Spill: "Top Kill" Failure Means Well May Gush Until August
Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor: "With the failure of the BP 'top kill' maneuver, the effort to combat the BP oil spill is increasingly becoming an attempt to manage expectations. A month ago, when the spill was barely a week old, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told CNN that the 'ultimate relief' - drilling a relief well - was still '90 days out.'"
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Marjorie Cohn | Rwandan Arrest of US Lawyer Motivated by Politics
Marjorie Cohn, Truthout: "Professor Peter Erlinder, noted criminal defense lawyer and past president of the National Lawyers Guild, was arrested Friday morning in Rwanda for 'genocide ideology.' Erlinder's representation of high-profile defendants before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has incurred the wrath of government officials, who have charged him with 'negation of the Tutsi genocide' for mounting defenses of his clients that conflict with the government party line about who was responsible for the 1994 genocide."
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Defense Spending the Top Priority, Critics Fear
Yana Kunichoff, Truthout: "As the United States retains its place as the world's largest defense spender for another year, and the Cost of War counter inches toward the $1 trillion mark, community activists bemoan the priorities of the Obama administration."
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Fuel Swap Shakes Sanctions Draft, Prods U.S. on New Iran Talks
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service: "Although the Barack Obama administration continued to dismiss the May 17 Iranian fuel swap agreement Friday, there are indications that Iran's move has shaken the agreement among U.N. Security Council members on sanctions, and is bringing Russian diplomatic pressure on the United States to participate in new talks with Iran on the swap arrangement - something the administration clearly wished to avoid."
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Why Misogynists Make Great Informants
Courtney Desiree Morris, make/shift: "In January 2009, activists in Austin, Texas, learned that one of their own, a white activist named Brandon Darby, had infiltrated groups protesting the Republican National Convention (RNC) as an FBI informant. Darby later admitted to wearing recording devices at planning meetings and during the convention. He testified on behalf of the government in the February 2009 trial of two Texas activists who were arrested at the RNC on charges of making and possessing Molotov cocktails, after Darby encouraged them to do so."
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House Hears of Dental Mercury Ending Up in Fish
Randy Rieland, Truthout: "An agreement to have dentists voluntarily reduce mercury emissions from their offices has been largely ineffective, exposing Americans to more mercury in their fish, representatives of state environmental agencies and a mercury watchdog group told a House of Representative subcommittee last week."
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Red State Road Trip 2 - Finale! (Video)
Chris Hume, Truthout: "10,000 Miles Later - Beyond Hope. After crossing the width and breadth of this land, we arrive in the tiny crossroads of Hope, Arizona. Red State Road Trip 2 wraps up with a look back at all the inspiring and disturbing moments that we encountered on the back roads of America."
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Dean Baker | Ordinary Workers Would Be Fired in a Second If They Screwed Up Anywhere Nearly as Bad as the Bankers Have
Dean Baker, Alternet: "The world is suffering from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The crisis has left tens of millions unemployed in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. The huge baby boomer generation in the United States, now on the edge of retirement, has seen much of its wealth destroyed with the collapse of the housing bubble."
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Oil Spill's Scope Threatens Gulf's Endangered Marine Life
Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers: "As the magnitude of BP's oil spill becomes clearer, scientists fear that the volume of oil, the depth of the leak and the chemical dispersants the company is using will combine to threaten a vast array of undersea life for years."
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Chevron Bars Entry to Global Victims at Annual Shareholders' Meeting
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy NOW!: "Chevron has had five protesters arrested at its annual shareholders meeting in Houston and refused to allow another two dozen people from Chevron-affected countries around the world, like Nigeria, Ecuador and Burma. Those denied entry held legal shareholder proxies."
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"Dumpsites in Disguise:" Reuse of Coal Ash Largely Unregulated by Officials
Sue Sturgis, Facing South: "Coal ash isn't just dumped; it's increasingly being recycled into building materials and other uses. But in states like North Carolina, the failure to adequately regulate one so-called 'beneficial use' of the toxic-filled waste is putting communities at risk."
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Iraqi workers and occupation Pt. 4

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Truthout 5/29

William Rivers Pitt | Top Kill Indeed
William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: "'Top kill.' That has been the phrase on the lips of every network news talking head, and in the lead paragraph of every news report, all throughout this last week. British Petroleum (BP) describes the process this way: 'The primary objective of the top kill process is to put heavy kill mud into the well so that it reduces the pressure and then the flow from the well. Once the kill mud is in the well and it's shut down, then we follow up with cement to plug the leak.'"
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Criminal Investigations of Massey Energy Go Forward as Citizen Pressure Builds for Prosecution
Kevin Zeese, Truthout: "Just over a month ago, I wrote urging criminal prosecution of Massey Energy executives for the deaths of coal miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine. Since then, more evidence of criminal wrongdoing has been shown and federal prosecutors and the FBI are investigating the corporation and its executives. In addition, citizen pressure urging prosecution is growing and financial problems for the corporation are showing."
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Election-Year Politics Derail Bid to Save Teachers' Jobs
David Goldstein, McClatchy Newspapers: "Congress bailed out Wall Street and the auto industry, but it appears to have drawn the line - at least for now - at rescuing teachers. A Democratic plan to send $23 billion to the states to save the jobs of 100,000 to 300,000 public school teachers, librarians, counselors and other employees slated for layoffs looks dead for the time being."
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Court to Guantánamo Uighurs: Accept Resettlement or Stay in Prison
Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor: "A federal appeals court in Washington delivered a terse message on Friday to five Chinese ethnic Uighurs long held at the terror prison camp at Guantanamo Bay: Accept the US offer to resettle in a third country or stay at Guantánamo."
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China Suicides: Is Apple Headed for a Consumer Backlash?
Kathleen E. McLaughlin, GlobalPost: "As Apple released the iPad today across Europe and Japan, a key supplier in China continued fortifying factory buildings with anti-suicide nets and bracing against a growing tide of public criticism about working conditions after 10 apparent employee suicides this year - including one this week hours after the company chief visited."
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More Deepwater Disasters on the Horizon?
Hannah Rubenstein, Inter Press Service: "Despite a federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling, new permits and controversial environmental waivers for oil rigs continue to be granted, sparking criticism from policymakers and environmentalists. On Thursday, President Barack Obama issued a six-month extension of the moratorium on permits and environmental waivers for the drilling of new deepwater wells."
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Peak Oil and Apocalypse Then
Melinda Burns, Miller-McCune: "Oil is the backbone resource of industrial society, but the Oil Age will come to an end, someday. The pessimists say the world reached maximum oil production in 2008. Middle-of-the-road optimists say peak oil won't occur until 2030. Either way, production is already past its peak and on a terminal decline in 54 of the 65 largest oil-producing countries in the world, including Mexico, Norway, Indonesia and Australia."
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Makers: DIY Agents of Social Change
Alyce Santoro, Truthout: "As our society collectively awakens to the realization that it must devise ways to stem the hemorrhaging caused by years of denial and excess and as the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement grows in popularity, Joseph Beuys' words, 'everyone is an artist' ring all the more true."
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How Has the Pill Affected Women's Lives?
Rose Aguilar, Your Call: "This month, the birth control pill turns 50. The pill, as it quickly came to be known, was originally used to treat infertility and menstrual disorders. The Food & Drug Administration approved the pill as a contraceptive on May 11, 1960. Within two years of its approval, 1.2 million American women were taking the pill every day. By 1964, the pill was the most popular contraceptive in the country. It unleashed a contraceptive revolution. For the first time, women had access to an effective form of birth control that did not require men's cooperation or even their knowledge."
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LOVE for the Environment
Dan Brook, Truthout: "All we need is LOVE. There are many things and we can (and should) do to preserve and protect our environment if we want to preserve and protect life on Earth. Reducing consumption of resources, reusing products and materials, and recycling what can no longer be reused are all critical to being more sustainable. However, the most important personal thing we can each do for the environment is to fall in LOVE: Local, Organic, Vegetarian/Vegan Eating."
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At Every Step, a Neo-Liberal Mortgage
Rosa Moussaoui, Humanite in English: "The policies of liberalization and deregulation have been confirmed and deepened in each of the European treaties, leading up to the present impasse."
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NIEER early ed news roundup 5/28

May 28, 2010 (Erie Times-News, Erie, PA)
Erie business leaders urged to invest in early childhood education
Speakers at the region's first Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investments said that money spent on preschool education pays dividends in economic and work-force development.

May 26, 2010 (The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA)
Pre-K progam puts students on right course
Data shows that students perform better in school after some early childhood education. Students are taught how to behave in school, basic skills, numbers, colors and precursors to reading during a year of pre-kindergarten.

May 26, 2010 (The Birmingham News)
Most Alabamians favor state spending for pre-kindergarten
A coalition dedicated to expanding quality pre-kindergarten education for 4-year-olds in Alabama has found voters support spending more money on the effort -- regardless of party affiliation. Jan Hume, executive director of the alliance, said the results were a surprise to pollsters -- Alabama support for pre-kindergarten education remains as strong as it was four years ago, even in the face of high unemployment and a tepid economy.

May 25, 2010 (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Pre-k program's popularity fuels waiting lists
Georgia's voluntary pre-kindergarten program started in 1993 with 750 students and now has some 81,068 students in public schools and private day care centers in all 159 counties. Waiting lists, however, are becoming more common, especially in the metro areas.

May 23, 2010 (The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA)
Should taxpayers foot the bill for preschool?
Preschool spending has climbed at a time when public schools have been forced to raise property taxes, lay off teachers and combine classes to deal with their most difficult budgets in years. Universal preschool is in addition to Head Start and other government-run preschool efforts that target low-income families.

May 20, 2010 (EmaxHealth)
Depression Among Preschool Children
Preschool children not only suffer with depression, their symptoms are often unnoticed and thus the condition goes undiagnosed. Recent findings on preschool depression indicate that it is not a temporary condition and that early detection is important.

May 20, 2010 (Babble)
Raising Bilingual Kids
These days most experts agree that the developing mind can easily handle the double input. And research is beginning to show that, in addition to the linguistic benefits, learning multiple languages might provide valuable mental exercise for kids that could have positive long-term effects.

May 20, 2010 (WFMY TV, Greenesboro, NC)
North Carolina ranks among nation's top two states for pre-K education
For the second year in a row, North Carolina ranks among the nation's top two states for preschool education. The state tied Alabama for first, scoring a perfect 10. It's also the fifth time the state placed in the top 10.

May 19, 2010 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Parents who engage their young children in conversational give-and-take help their offspring gain a significant leg up in terms of language acquisition, new Dutch research reveals. The boost to childhood language proficiency appears to be predicated on allowing children to engage in so-called "serious" conversations with their family members -- dialogues that permit them to make meaningful contributions to the subject at hand.

May 18, 2010 (The Sentinel, Lewistown, PA)
Business leaders address early childhood education
Return of investment of early childhood education includes school success, graduation, work force readiness and job productivity, [former president and CEO of Weis Markets Inc. Norm] Rich said. "Investing in children is investing in America," he said.

May 18, 2010 (The Christian Science Monitor)
Report: Reading skills in early grades are crucial to success
A new report argues that third-grade reading proficiency heavily influences later achievement, including high school graduation. What's needed, say the report's authors and other education advocates, is more focus on children's 0-8 years, as well as a system that does a better job of integrating early-childhood education, K-12, parental support, and health and human services.

May 17, 2010 (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)
States' budget problems cut into help for children
All over the country, the financial crisis has forced states to make cuts to close what the National Conference of State Legislatures found was an overall budget gap of $174.1 billion this fiscal year and has lawmakers looking to cut another $89 billion next year. That means slashing services to children, the one population they have long protected.

May 16, 2010 (The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN)
Editorial: Learning from the START
The economic tailspin forcing states to look closely at spending priorities didn't keep 29 states from increasing enrollment in their preschool programs last year. Regrettably, Indiana still languishes among the handful of backward states with no support for high-quality pre-K.

May 16, 2010 (The Charleston Gazette)
Op-Ed: Child's first years are key to success -- or failure
What West Virginia needs is greater investment in early childhood education, especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged of children. Almost one-third of West Virginia's youngest children under 5 live in poverty. If we do not address their needs, we will never achieve the prosperity we all desire.

Child Development, Volume 81, Issue 3 (May/June 2010)
Among the articles in this issue are the results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development that tracks children to the age of 15, finding that the positive effects from high-quality child care last into the teenage years. Another article discusses findings of a study looking at very young children's topographic representations of their own bodies, finding that children possess an explicit, if rudimentary, topographic representation of their own body's shape, structure, and size by 30 months of age.

Leadership Matters FY11
The latest edition of this annual report from Pre-K Now finds that if all of the governors' FY 2011 budgets were to pass as proposed, total state pre-K funding would remain roughly the same as FY 2010 – about $5.3 billion. Beyond the national total lie big variations, ranging from expansion plans in Alabama to elimination of state pre-K in Arizona. Nine governors propose expanding pre-K, 10 propose flat-funding it, and 12 propose cutting funding.

Listening and Learning About Early Learning Tour
This web page gathers in one place presentations made by prominent education experts who participated in U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) recent Listening and Learning About Early Learning meetings. The presentations address four subject areas: Understanding Preschool–Grade 3 Structures, Workforce and Professional Development, Family Engagement, and Standards and Assessments.

Among the 16 presenters were Jerry Weast, superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland; Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York; Marcy Whitebook, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley; Eugene Garcia, vice president for education partnerships at Arizona State University (and a NIEER scientific advisory board member); Ruby Takanishi, president of the Foundation for Child Development; Deborah Leong, Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado (and a NIEER senior research fellow); and Linda Espinosa, associate professor, University of Missouri, Columbia (and a former NIEER co-director).

NIEER early ed hot topics 5/28

Volume 9, Issue 11
May 28, 2010
Contact: Carol Shipp (732) 932-4350 x225 or Pat Ainsworth (732) 932-4350 x229

Study Finds Young Children with Autism Use Different Brain Regions
The Wall Street Journal reports that researchers scanning the brains of sleeping babies say autistic children as young as 14 months of age use different brain regions than more normally developing children. In typically developing babies, both the right and left temporal areas of the brain were active but in autistic children, the left temporal area, which deals with language, was far less active. While only 43 children were in the study sample, it appears to confirm why poor language comprehension is a red flag for autism in young children.

There's No Benefit in Delaying Immunizations in Children
Parents who delay children receiving a portion of the vaccines they are supposed to get out of fear that “vaccine overload” will negatively affect development are doing their kids no favors. If fact, they may be exposing them to disease, say University of Louisville School of Medicine researchers who studied data from speech, behavior and intelligence tests conducted years after children received their vaccines. Analyzing the data from more than 1,000 kids, they found there wasn’t a single variable where the kids with delayed vaccination did better than the kids who received 10 shots by the age of seven months. The authors also refuted the concept of vaccine overload. Their study is published in the May 24 online edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Kids Who Were Cognitively Stimulated in Three Settings Did Better in Math
Researchers who studied more than 1,000 children on the basis of the settings in which they were cognitively stimulated found that kids who were consistently cognitively stimulated at home, in preschool or child care, and in the first grade classroom had higher math achievement. Kids who were consistently cognitively stimulated at home and in preschool or child care had higher reading achievement. These effects were more pronounced for low-income children.

GAO Sting Turns Up Fraudulent Enrollment Practices in Head Start Centers
When the Government Accountability Office (GAO) used fictitious identities and bogus documents to attempt to register over-income children at Head Start centers in six states, they found that in eight out of 13 attempts, Head Start staff fraudulently misrepresented information, including disregarding part of the families' income to register over-income children into under-income slots. It its report, the GAO concluded over-income children may be getting enrolled in Head Start while legitimate under-income children are put on waiting lists. At no point was information submitted by the GAO's fictitious parents verified, suggesting parents are able to falsify earnings statements and other documents to qualify.

Will Early Education Be a Part of ESEA Reauthorization?
At least the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is considering it. This week, University of Virginia professor Robert Pianta, a NIEER scientific advisory board member, testified that "Incorporating high-quality early childhood education into reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would produce policies that would create a new portal into the education system." He and other experts, including fellow NIEER scientific advisory board member Lawrence J. Schweinhart from the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, went before the committee to address how federal policies can foster alignment between early childhood and K-12 education. A webcast of their testimony is available here.

Annie E. Casey Foundation Calls for Renewed Emphasis on Literacy
In its new KIDS COUNT Special Report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for a renewed emphasis on reading success and spells out four steps aimed at achieving grade-level reading proficiency for all children by third grade. They include development of a coherent system of early childhood education that coordinates what happens from birth through third grade, parental supports, turning around low-performing schools, and solving the problems of chronic school absence and summer learning loss. The report provides state-level data to help parents, policymakers, educators, and concerned citizens rally around the effort.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Truthout 5/28

Ex-EPA Officials: Why Isn't BP Under Criminal Investigation?
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "Why hasn't the government launched a criminal investigation into BP? That's the question several former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials have been asking in the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig last month that killed 11 employees and ruptured a newly drilled well 5,000 feet below the surface that has spewed tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf if Mexico."
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Eighteen Senators Back Timetable for Afghanistan Withdrawal
Robert Naiman, Truthout: "On Thursday, 18 senators voted for Senator Feingold's amendment to the war supplemental requiring the president to establish a timetable for the redeployment of US military forces from Afghanistan. This could be a turning point in US policy on the war in Afghanistan."
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House Votes to Repeal Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy
William Douglas and David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers: "The House of Representatives voted 234 to 194 Thursday night to repeal the military's 17-year-old policy that prohibits gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the nation's armed forces."
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News in Brief: Senate Approves $60 Billion War Funding and More ...
Yana Kunichoff, Truthout: "The Senate has approved continued funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amounting to $60 billion, reported Democracy Now!. This will include full funding for the 33,000 additional troops that will be deployed for President Obama's escalation of the Afghan war. The Senate also rejected an amendment from Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, which would have made President Obama put forward a timetable for US withdrawal from Afghanistan."
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Hubris: Techoil, Techweapons
Winslow Myers, Truthout: "As I write, a plume of crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion is moving toward Cuba, our purported enemy - but an enemy surrounded by the healthiest coral reefs in the Caribbean, a breeding ground for fish that eventually come to populate vast reaches of the single interconnected ocean that surrounds all continents."
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"The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom and the End of the American University"
Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout: "Ellen Schrecker, a history professor at New York City's Yeshiva University, starts 'The Lost Soul of Higher Education' with a blunt assessment: 'In reacting to the economic insecurities of the past forty years, the nation's colleges and universities have adopted corporate practices that degrade undergraduate instruction, marginalize faculty members, and threaten the very mission of the academy as an institution devoted to the common good.'"
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Welcome to Arizona: "It's a Dry Hate ..."
Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., Truthout: "First, it was legally-sanctioned racial profiling, with a touch of totalitarian 'Show me your papers' thrown in for good measure (SB 1070). Next, we were delivered a new law banning Ethnic Studies programs or any teaching that promotes 'ethnic solidarity' (HB 2281). Then, the state's school superintendent announced a policy whereby teachers with 'heavy accents' would be prevented from being in classrooms in which instruction was being given in English."
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Truth Spill: Gulf Disaster Brings Home the Real Costs of Fossil Fuels
James K. Boyce, "'An upside-down faucet, just open and running out.' That's how an oil-spill expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute describes the massive release of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico that began April 20th at British Petroleum's Deep Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana."
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Alexander Cockburn | Vietnam MIAs: Ghosts Return to Haunt McCain
Alexander Cockburn, Truthout: "The ghosts that haunt Sen. John McCain are about 600 in number and right now, they are mustering for a final onslaught. McCain, one of America's foremost Republicans and President Barack Obama's opponent in 2008, is currently locked in a desperate bid for political survival in his home state of Arizona."
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Eugene Robinson | Case for a Moral Imperative
Eugene Robinson, "In June of 1969, the stretch of the Cuyahoga River that runs through Cleveland was so polluted that it caught fire. Time magazine described the Cuyahoga this way: 'Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows.'"
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Taliban Attacks Two Muslim-Minority Mosques in Pakistan
Issam Ahmed, The Christian Science Monitor: "Gunmen stormed two separate mosques in the eastern city of Lahore during Friday prayers, killing at least 80 worshippers of the minority Ahmadi sect. The Pakistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks, says a senior Pakistan intelligence officer, who asked to remain anonymous. If true, it represents the first instance of a highly-coordinated attack against the Ahmadi Islamic sect, which many human rights activists regard as the most persecuted of Pakistan's minorities."
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David Sirota | The Michael Jordan of Bailouts
David Sirota, Truthout: "Based on John Kerry's 2004 declaration that 'I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,' you could credibly argue that the Massachusetts Democrat is the founder of modern political flip-flopping - the James Naismith of the political world's most dazzling sport. By that metric, though, you would also have to acknowledge that Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is the game's Michael Jordan."
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FP flashpoints 5/28

The 10 Worst Security Council Resolutions Ever
By Colum Lynch
(It was hard to pick.)
China's Most Embarrassing Allies
By Joshua E. Keating
Five unsavory governments that couldn't survive without Beijing.
Israel’s Most Illicit Affair
By Glenn Frankel
A new book reveals that Israel’s secret relationship with apartheid South Africa went far deeper than previously understood.
The Not-So-Radical Roots of Miss USA
By Hanin Ghaddar
Rima Fakih is no Hezbollah hottie -- she's the living embodiment of Lebanon's cultural complexity.
By Charles Homans
How caged animals became a tool of statecraft.

May/June 2009
Also don't miss:
Frau Germania
By Cameron Abadi
How Angela Merkel's selfishness is killing Europe.
By Carl Schreck
Why is the Kremlin meddling in international chess elections?
The Special Relationship
Foreign Policy gathered eight prominent figures in the Jewish community to discuss Peter Beinart's controversial essay in the New York Review of Books, and whether the ties that bond American Jews to Israel remain strong.
We're All Swedes Now
By Andrew Brown
How the world caught up with detective novelist Stieg Larsson.
How Ganja Warlords Took Over Jamaica
By Ilan Greenberg
U.S. demands for the extradition of a notorious gang leader have exposed an island paradise as a violent narcostate teetering on the edge of chaos.

To stay up on the world’s most important news, don't miss our Global News page, the indispensable Morning Brief, and our AfPak Daily Brief.

FP morning brief 5/28

BP resumes "top kill" as Obama heads to Gulf

Top story: BP has resumed efforts to stop the escape of oil in the Gulf of Mexico by pumping heavy dilling liquid into the well, a procedure known as "top kill." The procedure was halted last night when engineers noticed that too much of the drilling mud was escaping the well along with the oil. BP CEO

Tony Hayward says it will be 48 hours before they know if the procedure has worked and put his confidence level at 60 to 70 percent.

President Barack Obama is heading to the Gulf region today for a briefing on the rescue effort. The president, yesterday, announced major new restrictions on offshore oil drilling, pending results of a comprehensive safety review. S. Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service became the first federal official to resign in connection with the oil spill yesterday. Obama said on Thursday that the agency had developed a “cozy and sometimes corrupt” relationship with oil companies under the Bush administration.

Somewhere between 18 million and 39 million gallons of oil have now spilled into the Gulf in what is by far the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Milestones: The U.S. death toll in Afghanistan has passed 1,000.

Asia and Pacific
  • North Korea has responded to a South Korean anti-submarine exercise by saying it would meet war with "all-out war."
  • Gunmen in Pakistan attacked two mosques belonging to a minority sect.
  • More than 73 people were killed in a train crash in Eastern India that authorities have linked to Maoist rebels.
  • The U.S. and Japan say they have reached an agreement on the U.S. base in Okinawa.
Middle East
  • A flotilla of cargo ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and supplies are heading for a confrontation with Israeli authorities today.
  • Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused countries critical of the Turkish-Brazilian nuclear deal with Iran of being "envious" of their "diplomatic success."
  • Israel has partly reopened a West Bank highway to Palestinian drivers in compliance with a court ruling.
Europe and the Caucasus
Editor's note: The Morning Brief will be off on Monday for Memorial Day.
-By Joshua Keating

Win McNamee/Getty Images

McClatchy Washington report 5/28

  • Under pressure to step up his response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, President Barack Obama tried to assure the country Thursday that he and his administration are in charge and working feverishly to clean up the mess. The U.S. Geological Survey said new estimates show as many as 25,000 barrels of oil rushing into the Gulf waters each day, or as much as five times oil giant BP's original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.
  • Mexicans drink more bottled water than the citizens of any other country do, an average of 61.8 gallons per person each year, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp., a consultancy. That's far higher than Italy, and more than twice as much as in the United States. A rising mistrust of tap water is behind the thirst for bottled water.
  • At least 20 people were killed after terrorist staged a gun and grenade attack on two mosques belonging in a persecuted religious minority, in the eastern city of Lahore, officials and reports said.
  • The House of Representatives voted 234 to 194 Thursday night to repeal the military's 17-year-old policy that prohibits gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the nation's armed forces.
  • A new immigration law will not be passed in South Carolina this year, but lawmakers set the stage Thursday for one to be debated in 2011. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee met to discuss a bill that would require police to check a person's residency status after he or she was stopped or detained for another reason. It also would make it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit work.
  • For hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the delay in seating a new government, which already has lasted nearly three months, has complicated everyday errands and added bureaucratic frustration to lives that are hard enough thanks to persistent violence and the lack of basic utilities.
  • As oil seeps into Louisiana marshlands, economists say the financial fall-out is only just beginning to spread across the Gulf of Mexico — and possibly beyond. Even if BP teams succeed in capping the undersea gusher, the economic damage could drag on for years depending on how much oil actually lands ashore and how extensive the damage is to Gulf fisheries.
  • The Senate late Thursday defeated Sen. Jim DeMint's bid to require completion of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border within a year. The 52-45 vote against DeMint's measure largely followed party lines.
  • For the past five days, the people of Jamaica's Tivoli Gardens have been trapped in their homes as government forces hunted alleged drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke and exchanged fire with gang members. Residents described a four-day nightmare of gunfire and chaos that has left more than 70 dead and about two dozen injured. About 560 people have been arrested.
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman continued her record-shattering spending streak this spring, burning through $33.8 million in about two months, according to a campaign finance statement filed Thursday.
  • The Alaska Legislature's ethics panel decided Thursday to start letting legislators campaign during trips on the state's dime, including raising money for their races.
  • Based on recent party maneuvers and elections, it appears that GOP officeholders who have been around for a while are marked for extinction, no matter how effective they have been. They are targeted by a bold, angry, anti-establishment and ultraconservative political breed determined to become the leader of the pack.

What do you think it symbolizes?