Friday, January 13, 2012

Math lessons using slavery problems; Taliban leaders on Obama's release list; Obama administration gets Supreme Court smackdown; 900 Dead people voted in S. Carolina; the honorable Rand Paul; Candidate Obama disses soldiers in Baghdad; Coast Guard must protect ship from Occupy protesters; Dead New Hampshire residents got to vote in primary; Creator of fake Tea Party candidate sentenced; Education Association says teacher should not lose her job; White Gun like Fast and Furious?

Daily Caller reports: A few weeks ago, my seventh-grade daughter’s school put regular classes on hold for a “sustainability day.” One of the things they did during this reprieve from the rigors of math, history and English was watch a video titled “The Story of Stuff,” starring Annie Leonard and lots of animated illustrations. The video has been around since 2007.
If you haven’t seen the video, here are a few highlights:
You get the idea. We are destroying the planet because we have been convinced that the only way to have value as human beings is to consume as much or more than the other guy.
But that’s not my favorite part of Ms. Leonard’s version of “Apocalypse Now.” The best part is this: “It is government’s job to watch out for us, take care of us, that’s their job.”
Only 4% of our original forests remain? There are more forests in the United States today than when Europeans arrived thanks to the Native American practice of burning vast areas to promote hunting and agriculture.
The bad news is that Leonard’s little project has been so successful that she now has a staff and has produced other fanciful videos about bottled water, cap and trade, Citizens United, cosmetics, electronics and how we’re not really too broke to finance all manner of government good works.
The good news is that my daughter found “The Story of Stuff” laughable. But she thinks some of her classmates have abandoned their pillows. After all, they heard it at school.
ABC News reports: A type of giant tortoise, observed in the Galapagos Islands in 1853 by Charles Darwin but thought to have been extinct for 150 years, is apparently alive and well. This news, from a team of biologists at Yale University, would be welcomed by conservationists, and it adds an ironic twist to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
The tortoise, known as Chelonoidis elephantopus, originally lived on Floreana, one of the islands in the Galapagos chain. Biologists believed that by the mid-1800s, they had been wiped out by whalers, who hunted them for food.
But Gisella Caccone and Ryan Garrick of Yale organized a team that took DNA samples from the blood of 1,600 tortoises on Isabela Island, 200 miles away — and the genetic makeup of at least 84 of them was such that they had to have at least one parent who was a member of C. elephantopus.
Conservative Byte reports: Washington Post opinion writer Marc A. Theissen has published a list of the Taliban leaders President Obama is reportedly planning to release from Guantanamo Bay detention center — and their rap sheets just might (or not) shock you.
The Obama administration is allegedly considering the release of these senior Taliban leaders as part of a deal to bring the militant Islamist group to engage in peace talks. According to Theissen, if Obama does in fact proceed with the release, he will do “tremendous harm” to U.S. national security “and to his prospects for reelection this fall.”
Theissen writes:
Fox News reports: The fired minister -- who also taught secular subjects -- claimed discrimination in employment. The Obama administration, always looking for opportunities to undermine the bedrock of First Amendment religious liberty, eagerly agreed.
There was just one big problem standing in the way of the government's plan: the U.S. Constitution. For a long time American courts have recognized the existence of a "ministerial exemption" which keeps government’s hands off the employment relationship between a religious institution and its ministers or clergy.
Here, in this case, the Department of Justice had the nerve to not only challenge the exemption’s application but also its very existence.
But, Chief Justice Roberts pushed back hard, telling the government essentially to butt out: 
“Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the free exercise clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the establishment clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.”
Read more:
Carolina Politics Online reports: The director of South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles has told the State Law Enforcement Division that more than 900 people who were recorded as having voted were actually dead.
DMV Director Kevin Shwedo told legislators about the issue Wednesday as the U.S. Justice Department questions a new state law requiring people to show photographic identification when they vote in person.
In response, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson asked SLED to review the evidence.
“Director Shwedo’s research has revealed evidence that over nine hundred deceased people appear to have ‘voted’ in recent elections in South Carolina,” said Wilson in a statement. “This is an alarming number, and clearly necessitates an investigation into potential criminal activity. I have asked SLED Chief Keel to review Director Shwedo’s research.”
Now keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Injustice just declared South Carolina’s new voter ID requirement unconstitutional.  I’m curious as to what exactly is Constitutional about standing idly by and allowing the votes of legitimate voters to be canceled out by fraudulent ones.[Attorney General Eric Holder is refusing an investigation.]
Politico reports: Freshman Sen. Rand Paul is making good on his promise to cut federal spending. The Kentucky Republican and tea-party favorite said Thursday he’s returning $500,000 to the U.S. Treasury -- money from his operating budget that his office never spent.
The half million dollars represents about 16 percent of Paul’s annual budget, and he contends no senator has returned as much to taxpayers.

Buzz Feed reports: Michael Hastings' new book, The Operators, jabs at what could be a vulnerable spot for the Obama Administration, the president's relationship with the troops.
The book describes a visit to Baghdad:
After the talk, out of earshot from the soldiers and diplomats, he starts to complain. He starts to act very un-Obamalike, according to a U.S. embassy official
who helped organize the trip in Baghdad. [He was a candidate at the time.]
He’s asked to go out to take a few more pictures with soldiers and embassy staffers. He’s asked to sign copies of his book. “He didn’t want to take pictures with any more soldiers; he was complaining about it,” a State Department official tells me. “Look, I was excited to meet him. I wanted to like him. Let’s just say the scales fell from my
eyes after I did. These are people over here who’ve been fighting the war, or working every day for the war effort, and he didn’t want to take -------- pictures with them?"
TDN News reports: The U.S. Coast Guard will escort the first ship coming to the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview this month, and the Occupy movement and local labor groups say they are planning to greet the vessel with a massive protest.
EGT officials say they have not scheduled a date for the ship's arrival. The freighter is expected to haul thousands of tons of grain to Asia, but opposition groups are already marshaling their forces to support the lengthy protest by union dock workers at the grain terminal.
"We just want to swell the population of the city to show there are people behind us," said Jeff Washburn, president of the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Central Labor Council, which passed a resolution calling for a protest this week.
ABC News reports: A video posted the day after the New Hampshire Primary from conservative gonzo James O’Keefe either exposes why voting laws are too lax or comes close to itself being voter fraud (or both), by obtaining the ballots of dead Granite Staters on primary day.
The video has already sparked an investigation in the New Hampshire State Attorney General’s office, both because of the weaknesses of the electoral system it seems to demonstrate and the potential legal violations those making the film might have committed, according to N.H. Associate Attorney General Richard Head.
Detroit Free Press reports: A former Oakland County Democratic Party operative was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay more than $2,500 in fines and court costs for his role in creating fake tea party candidates during the 2010 election in an effort to siphon off support for Republican candidates. In November, Bauer pleaded no contest to five felony counts of perjury and falsifying notarized documents.|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s
Atlanta Journal Constitution reports: Parents should not rush to condemn third-grade Beaver Ridge Elementary teachers as racists for using slavery beatings to teach math concepts, say officials with Georgia educator organizations.
The slave math lesson created by a teacher to reinforce a lesson on Frederick Douglass may have used poor judgment, but it shouldn’t lead to the termination of those who wrote or handed it out without reviewing it, said Calvine Rollins, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, a professional organization of about 42,000 members.
The math assignment was sent home with more than 100 students. Among its 20 questions were word problems on slaves picking cotton and oranges. Some mentioned Douglass: "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"
LA Times reports: Now members of Congress who have spent months scrutinizing the Fast and Furious debacle are seeking to determine whether White Gun was another weapons investigation gone wrong.

"Apparently guns got away again," said one source close to the investigation, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). "How many got into Mexico, who knows?"

Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declined to comment on whether any firearms were lost in White Gun. But unlike Fast and Furious, they vigorously defended the previously unreported White Gun operation as a well-managed investigation that produced three arrests and convictions.,0,3917291.story

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