Tag Archives: obama

The big problems with the Obama administration’s new teacher-education regulations

October 24 at 6:01 PM

The Obama administration recently published long-awaited regulations for programs that prepare new K-12 teachers.

The U.S. Education Department had attempted to do this several years ago, but that effort was notable for several controversies, one of them a suggestion that teacher-preparation programs be evaluated in part by the standardized test scores of the students being taught by program graduates. Now we have the final regulations — and critics of the original draft remain unsatisfied.

For one thing, the new regulations, as this story by my colleague Emma Brown explains, require states to issue annual ratings for teacher-prep programs, an effort, supporters say, to separate the successful programs from the failures. They still also require each state  to evaluate teacher-training programs based on student learning, but this time leaving it to the states to decide how to measure academic growth and how much it should weigh in an overall rating.  That means that the department will permit states to use test scores for evaluation — a method that is not used to evaluate any other professional preparation program.

 There are other problems with the new regulations, as well, as explained in this post by Lauren Anderson and Ken Zeichner. Anderson is a professor and chair of the Education Department at Connecticut College. Zeichner is a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle who has done extensive research on teaching and teacher education.
Full Read  – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/10/24/the-big-problems-with-obama-administrations-new-teacher-education-regulations/

Civil rights activist group says the Air Force Academy favors Christianity over other religions

Using new billboard, ad campaign to spread message

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A civil rights activist group is taking aim at the Air Force Academy accusing it of favoring Christianity over other religions.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said the problem has been going on for years and the group has now launched a new campaign to try to get President Barack Obama’s attention.

The private group has put up a billboard on I-25, south near Garden of the Gods, and plans to have a banner flown by a plane that says “Why is Jesus the Commander in Chief at USAFA?”

It also launched a TV advertisement that says, “Welcome Mr. President to our Airforce Academy. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation asks the questions: why is Jesus Commander in Chief here?”

“At the Airforce Academy today it’s a freaking train wreck when it comes to the separation of church and state,” said Mikey Weinstein, Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Weinstein said cadets are often treated differently, if they’re not fundamentalist Christians.

“We’ve had cadets bullied and pressured, members of the staff pressured to attend the national pray events that occur there,” he said.

Weinstein said they hope President Obama will take notice of their campaign, and address the issue when he speaks at the Academy’s graduation on Thursday.

“This destroys unit cohesion, good order, morale and disciple,” he further explained.

Denver7 reached out to the Air Force Academy about the group’s concern, but was told the academy had no comment.

For Weinstein, he said they’re fighting for the rights of cadets of all faiths.

“We would like to see people who are violating the oath to the U.S. Constitution aggressively investigated and visibly punished at the Air Force Academy,” he said.

Sourced From     – http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/colorado-springs-area/civil-rights-activist-group-says-the-air-force-academy-favors-christianity-over-other-religons

Monsanto Given Legal Shield in a Chemical Safety Bill

WASHINGTON — Facing hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits, the giant biotechnology companyMonsanto last year received a legislative gift from the House of Representatives, a one-paragraph addition to a sweeping chemical safety bill that could help shield it from legal liability for a toxic chemical only it made.

Monsanto insists it did not ask for the addition. House aides deny it is a gift at all. But the provision would benefitthe only manufacturer in the United States of now-banned polychlorinated biphenyls, chemicals known as PCBs, a mainstay of Monsanto sales for decades. The PCB provision is one of several sticking points that negotiators must finesse before Congress can pass a law to revamp the way thousands of chemicals are regulated in the United States.

“Call me a dreamer, but I wish for a Congress that would help cities with their homeless crises instead of protecting multinational corporations that poison our environment,” said Pete Holmes, the city attorney for Seattle, one of six cities suing Monsanto to help cover the costs of reducing PCB discharge from their sewers.

The House and the Senate last year both passed versions of legislation to replace the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, a law that theEnvironmental Protection Agency acknowledged had become so unworkable that as many as 1,000 hazardous chemicals still on sale today needed to be evaluated to see if they should be banned or restricted.

Democrats and Republicans—along with the chemical industry and even some environmentalists—agree that the pending legislation would be a major improvement over existing law.But from legal liability shields to state-based regulatory authority, the House and Senate versions have major differences to resolve. The remaining disputes revolve around the basics of pre-emption: Who gets to sue? Andwho gets to regulate the chemical industry?

A Monsanto spokeswoman said the company had received no special treatment from the House or the Senate.

“Monsanto does not consider either version of the bill, with respect to the effect on preemption, to be a ‘gift,’ ” the spokeswoman, Charla Lord, said.

Already, attorneys general and top environmental regulators from 15 states have written to leaders in Congress demanding changes.

“Our future work depends on striking the right balance to strengthen the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s abilities and funding, without limiting state powers in creating and enforcing needed protections,” said aletter, obtained by The New York Times, sent by the top environmental regulators in California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia.

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Some of the most vociferous objections relate to the so-called Monsanto Clause. The provision does not mention the company by name, but between the early 1930s and 1977, Monsanto manufactured almost all of the 1.25 billion pounds of PCBs sold in the United States.

The chemicals were initially admired for their ability to prevent fires and explosions in electrical transformers and other equipment. But as the use of PCBs skyrocketed nationwide in products as varied as paints, pesticides and even carbonless copy paper, evidence mounted that they were contaminating the environment and potentially causing health problemsincluding cancer and immune-system complications. The E.P.A. banned their production in 1979.

PCB litigation has surged in the last year as cities and school systems struggle to comply with directives from federal and state regulators to reduce PCB levels in sewer discharge and in caulk once used to construct schools. Separately, a group of individuals who received diagnoses of a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma sued Monsanto last year, claiming the company should pay damages.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in a June reportaccompanying its version of the legislation, asserted that neither existing toxic chemical law nor any revisions pending in Congress should be seen as a way to “pre-empt, displace or supplant” the right to sue for damages in lawsuits like the ones filed against Monsanto.

The House also voted to preserve the right to sue if individuals or local governments believe they have been harmed by a chemical, regardless of future federal regulations of the substance. But a critical paragraph added to the House bill in late May made sure past regulatory requirements by the E.P.A. would continue to disqualify legal claims, and it specifically referred to the section of the 1976 toxic chemical law governing PCBs, giving Monsanto clearer authority in the future to ask judges to dismiss lawsuits filed against it.

Congressional aides involved in the drafting said the language was inserted at the request of Republican staff members at the House Energy and Commerce Committee. One Republican committee aide disputed any suggestion that this was a gift to Monsanto, but he said he was not allowed to discuss the issue on the record.

And Ms. Lord, the Monsanto spokeswoman, said the company did not ask for the change.

Read Full  Article – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/business/monsanto-could-benefit-from-a-chemical-safety-bill.html?_r=0

Since Obama can’t handle ISIS, what say we outsource the job to the mafia?

POSTED AT 2:01 PM ON NOVEMBER 29, 2015 BY JAZZ SHAW

A significant majority of the country recently spoke up in a NY Times/CBS poll saying that they had essentially given up hope that the President was going to figure out what to do about the JV Team. These perceptions were likely buttressed a bit when the White House informed us that ISIS was largely “contained” just hours before they lit up Paris like a pinball machine. So maybe we need a new approach? Anonymous apparently declared war on the terrorists recently, though aside from ruining their credit rating I’m not sure exactly what they’re going to accomplish. But lo and behold, a new force is stepping up to the plate and may be positioned to do something a little more… forceful. It arrives in the person of Giovanni Gambino (yes, from those Gambinos) and if nothing else he seems to have the messaging right. (Apologies for NSFW language in graphic and several quotes to come.)

“These people are like walking machines. ISIS brainwashes them through the Internet,” Giovanni Gambino told Mic of the terrorist threat. “You need to beat the fuck out of them to the point where they stop coming back to life.”

Gambino, a prolific author of mob history and a scion of the family that saw the rise of the likes of John Gotti and Paul Castellano, said the nature of the mob made it fundamentally better equipped than traditional law enforcement to handle a threat like ISIS.

“Back in the day, probably the safest place ever was an old Sicilian neighborhood like Bensonhurst or Knickerbocker Ave.,” said Gambino of two Brooklyn neighborhoods. “We got our kids going to those schools. We got families in those neighborhoods.”

Read Full Article – http://hotair.com/archives/2015/11/29/since-obama-cant-handle-isis-what-say-we-outsource-the-job-to-the-mafia/

The Legal Definition Of A Refugee, Which Obama Pays No Attention To

A puzzlement about the debate over accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees next year and more in the future is the lack of discussion of a fundamental point: Does Obama have the legal authority to order their admission to the U.S. as a humanitarian measure?

The answer is “no.”

The dictionary definition of a “refugee” is “a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.”

This definition underlies most of the media discussions of the Syrian situation, with its emphasis on the humanitarian crisis, which is indeed horrendous. The definition also underlies the President’s uncontested authority to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees outside of the United States if he believes that such assistance will “contribute to the foreign policy interests of the United States.” [22 U.S.C. sec 2601(b)(2)] The U.S. has already spent over $4 billion on Syrian relief under this authority.for this purpose.

However, the meaning of “refugee” in U.S. immigration law is narrower than this dictionary definition.

In immigration law, for purposes of admitting someone to the U.S., the crucial factor is whether a person has a legitimate fear of persecution, not whether a humanitarian crisis exists. By statute [8 U.S.C. Sec.1101(42)], a “refugee” is: “any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to return to . . . that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion…”

The statute then stretches this definition to include a person who is within his own country but who has the requisite fear of persecution. But the status of “refugee” can be granted only under “special circumstances” specified by the president. And before determining that special circumstances exist, the president must “consult,” in the form of in-person discussions between cabinet rank officials and members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees concerning all aspects of the situation. No agreement is necessary; just consultation [8 U.S.C. Sec. 1157(e)].

Section 1157 also provides for caps on the number of refugees admitted each year, and for presidential estimates of the likely numbers at the beginning of each year.

Nothing in the stretched definition changes the basic requirement that a refugee be someone who has well-founded fear of persecution.

The current controversy started on September 10, when the administration announced via press briefing a plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. The next step was a formal Presidential Determination on refugee levels for FY2016, which projected admission of 85,000 total. The word “Syria” does not appear in the Determination, and the goal of resettling 10,000 Syrians appears only in news reports and briefings, such as a WhiteHouse.gov memo by DHS on How We’re Welcoming Syrian Refugees While Ensuring Our Safety.

Neither the press briefing nor the Presidential Determination nor the DHS memo mentions the statutory criterion of fear of persecution, and it is unclear why 10,000 Syrians will meet the standard. The State Department’s Report to Congress reviewing the section 1157(e) factors and explaining the reasoning behind the estimates does not explain why Syrian refugees meet the criterion.

Read Full Article – http://www.forbes.com/sites/jvdelong/2015/11/19/syria-who-is-a-refugee/