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4 April 2008

From Catholic Schools to Charters: What's Left? - Raw Fisher


From Catholic Schools to Charters: What's Left?

The bottom line is clear, says Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl: The Catholic Church can no longer afford to run a full complement of inner-city parochial schools serving a population that is, by an overwhelming majority, non-Catholic.

So, facing a deficit of about $50 million over the next five years, the church is moving to convert at least seven D.C. elementary schools into secular, taxpayer-funded charter schools.

"We simply don't have the resources to keep all those schools open," Wuerl said in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors the other day. "We have exhausted the resources available to us."...MORE

GroundReport | India | The Plight of the 'Transgenders'


The Transgenders though born either as males or females, due to their predominant masculine or feminine physical features i.e  a person born as a male but with predominant feminine features and a person born as a female but with predominant masculine features, become ‘Transgenders’, by undergoing surgery to that effect, even by inviting the wrath of their own family members, at the risk of getting ostracized and isolated from their families and the society as well. In the result the ‘Transgenders’ look exotic, with a predominant male voice but with all the characteristics of a female or vice versa...MORE

Land of Hope and Glory at Trinidad and Tobago News Blog


At my primary school, each morning from nine to ten, was devoted to religious education. Under the guidance of the principal, each student was taught the tenets of the Christian religion and we learned our catechisms from the Book of Common Prayer. We were told about the divinity of Jesus Christ, the virtues of the King and how to honor “our betters lowly and reverently.” In other words, we were taught to be good servants of the Crown and devoted children of Jesus Christ.

This emphasis on religious training involved a desire to prevent our descent into “savagery” and to teach us to embrace civility. Charles Taylor, a Canadian philosopher, observes that attempts to discipline a population and reduce it to order “almost always had a religious component, [and] required people to hear sermons, or learn catechism.” How it could be otherwise, he asks, “in a civilization where good conduct was inseparable from religion?”..MORE

Man Caught Stealing Grease from Burger King : NPR

Man Caught Stealing Grease from Burger King
Morning Edition, April 4, 2008 ·

Rising prices of commodities like grain and fuel are sparking an increase in crime.

Thefts of these increasingly precious goods are being reported all over the world.

But in California this week, commodity crime took a new turn. A manager at a Burger King spotted a man
siphoning oil from a storage tank outside the restaurant — the kind of oil used to make burgers and fries.

Police suspect he may have intended to recycle the oil at a refinery, where it could be turned into biofuel.

80,000 Jobs Cut in March- New York Times


As the housing slump erases home equity values and the crisis on Wall Street puts a crimp on the ability of businesses to lend, Americans from all walks of life are facing one of the most difficult job markets in years.

In March, private payrolls dropped for a fourth month, as factories, home builders and retail outlets all slashed positions. The only increases came in education and government jobs, as well as the leisure and hospitality industries.

Employers cut 76,000 jobs in January and February, far more than originally estimated.

In the Chicago area, the last year has brought shift eliminations at auto plants as well as layoffs in the manufacturing, construction and financial services industries.

George Putnam, an economist with the Illinois state government, says that when he talks with employers about hiring, he hears caution in their voices...MORE

3 April 2008

Education Week: Dropout-Prevention Summits Popular, But Effects Not Clear


“The bottom line is that the achievement gap and the dropout problem is a huge social issue, and public schools cannot do it alone,” said Ms. Finch, the principal of Stratford High School and a member of a mayoral task force appointed late last year to work on the city’s graduation challenges. “It’s not the kids’ abilities, it’s often their home and neighborhood environments, and we need the entire community working with us.”..MORE

Angola: Miss Landmine Angola


Augusta Urica has just been crowned Miss Landmine Angola 2008. A 31-year-old woman who lost part of her leg after stepping on a landmine, Ms. Urica was among the 17 women modeling gowns and bathing suits for the competition.
Thanks to participating in the competition, the generally unemployed contestants will receive aid from the government so that they can go back to school or start a small business; as a prize for coming in first place, Urica was awarded a new prosthetic limb. [CNN]...MORE

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse | Danger Room from


The police officer's potential for hitting his adversary during armed confrontation has increased over the years and stands at slightly over 25% of the rounds fired. An assailant's skill was 11% in 1979...

In 1992 the overall police hit potential was 17%. Where distances could be determined, the hit percentages at distances under 15 yards were:
Less than 3 yards ..... 28%
3 yards to 7 yards .... 11%
7 yards to 15 yards . 4.2%
It has been assumed that if a man can hit a target at 50 yards he can certainly do the same at three feet. That assumption is not borne out by the reports.

An attempt was made to relate an officer's ability to strike a target in a combat situation to his range qualification scores. After making over 200 such comparisons, no firm conclusion was reached...MORE

2 April 2008

The Homeless and the Not So Homeless


Why is it that when one is in need, and we are the cup of sufficiency, we scoff and ridicule, not taking one moment's time to think of the plight of the guy next to you?
Why is it that when trouble befalls us we stare out into space and cry, curse the world and feel hurt when no one comes, when no one cares?
Why does man expect from his brother that which his brother cannot expect from him?
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.", why is this so hard? In truth it isn't, if we listen with our eyes, follow with our ears, and think with our heart.
Should one follow this one simple guide then maybe, just maybe, the why's of life will become the ties of hope...MORE

JPI: Jail populations exploding; massive growth devastating local communities


The impact of increased jail imprisonment is not borne equally by all members of a community. New data reveal that Latinos are most likely to have to pay bail, have the highest bail amounts, are least likely to be able to pay and, by far, the least likely to be released prior to trial. African Americans are nearly five times as likely to be incarcerated in jails as whites and almost three times as likely as Latinos. Further exacerbating jail crowding problems is the increase in the number of people being held in jails for immigration violations—up 500 percent in the last decade...MORE

1 April 2008

GroundReport | 40 Years After King’s Death, Unions Still Best Route to Better Life for African Americans


According to the study, unionization has an even more dramatic effect on black workers in low-wage jobs. Among African American workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, union members earn 14 percent more than those workers not in unions. In the same low-wage occupations, unionized black workers were 20 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 28 percentage points more likely to have a pension plan than similar black workers who were not in unions...MORE

Helping Special Education Students Move Beyond Graduation Day


During their public school years, children with disabilities are entitled to a menu of special services, such as music or occupational therapy, extra reading help and door-to-door transportation.

The law also requires they be given an Individualized Education Program, a blueprint tailored to their needs with involvement from educators and parents.
It's a comforting safety net that often ends abruptly when students leave school.

They might get help securing a job, enrolling in a technical school or giving college a try.  But it's just as likely they won't, says Karen Leggett of Silver Spring, Md., who leads a group trying to improve the transition out of high school for students with disabilities...MORE

40-Going Forward: States Target Higher Ed. for Cuts Once Again


Higher education, which also accounts for a large percentage of discretionary spending in state budgets, is feeling the effects of the slow revenue growth, too. Consequently, tuition and fees at public colleges and universities are likely to continue going up, and state scholarship programs might get more competitive.
All this is worrisome news for high school students, their parents, and school counselors.

Continued spikes in the cost of attending college are certain to have “implications in terms of student access,” said Murray J. Haberman, the executive director of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, an agency that plans and coordinates higher education in the state—one of several where cuts in higher education are occurring. “People still think there is value in higher education, but families are going to be making different decisions,” he said, about whether their children go to college at all.

The deficits come at a time when states have been strengthening efforts to improve high school graduation rates and make students more focused on preparing for college or a career. For example, a bill in the California legislature would establish an “early-commitment program” guaranteeing students a spot in a community college—or a university if they met application guidelines—in exchange for taking rigorous courses and fulfilling high school graduation requirements...MORE

31 March 2008

Wise Bread| The weird logic of economic growth


Besides growing the workforce, the other way to increase growth is to increase productivity.  If each worker can do more work, everybody can come out ahead.  The main way make workers more productive is through investment in things like tools and equipment. 
You can also make workers more productive through education, although we've not had much success with that, except where workers choose to make themselves more productive by investing in their own education. 
(A third obvious possibility--greater productivity by making job conditions more like sweatshops--doesn't get much praise, except in industry-specific trade journals.)...MORE

As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record - New York Times

As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record
Published: March 31, 2008

“People sign up for food stamps when they lose their jobs, or their wages go down because their hours are cut,” said Stacy Dean, director of food stamp policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, who noted that 14 states saw their rolls reach record numbers by last December...MORE

30 March 2008

America’s New Slavery

America's New Slavery: Black Men in Prison
By Charlene Muhammad
Special to the NNPA from the Final Call

Although the costs of prisons is skyrocketing and consuming state budgets, money continues to be spent to push more Black youth into prison, activists assert.
Many education and prison advocates charge there is a plot to populate U.S. prisons based on the dumbing down of America's youth.
Figures show those most likely to be incarcerated and to return generally have the lowest level of education.
The report said, "While states don't necessarily choose between higher education and corrections, a dollar spent in one area is unavailable for another."...MORE

The Omega-3 Man

Why Men Need Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If you’re a victim of high cholesterol or have suffered from strokes in the past, getting more Omega-3 fatty acids into your life is the first great step towards a healthier and brighter future. It’s not hard to incorporate more Omega-3 fatty acids either.
The most convenient way is to purchase fish oil in capsules or Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, which can be found in any store. When purchasing such supplements, make sure you’re choosing a product that contains pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that are distilled so you’re safe from toxins, mercury particles and other harmful ingredients...MORE

Journal Issues Warning on Two Cholesterol Drugs - New York Times

Journal Issues Warning on Two Cholesterol Drugs
Published: March 30, 2008

CHICAGO — Two widely prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, Vytorin and Zetia, may not work and should be used only as a last resort, The New England Journal of Medicine said in an editorial published on Sunday...MORE

Crisis Mgmnt

Questions to be Answered

How does disaster change leadership goals?
What signals should leaders send during a crisis?
How should organizations learn from failure?
Can leaders anticipate disaster?
How does disaster change leadership goals?

Shackleton: An Entrepreneur of Survival
On a trek across Antarctica, Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance
became trapped in ice. How did Shackleton lead his isolated team for
almost two years through extraordinary hardships? Professor Nancy F.
Koehn discusses lessons for leaders.

Key concepts include:

As the ship froze into place, Shackleton quickly overcame his own ego to
reset the enterprise to focus on survival.
Shackleton played to his strong suit and identified the strong suits in
other team members.
Leaders must be prepared to act when the stakes are much greater than
What signals should leaders send during a crisis?

High-Stakes Decision Making: The Lessons of Mount Everest
On May 10, 1996, five mountaineers from two teams perished while
climbing Mount Everest. What can business leaders learn from the
tragedy? For one, small decisions have big consequences.

Key concepts include:

Words and actions by leadership shape perceptions and beliefs of
organization members.
Leaders need to hold a delicate balance in nurturing confidence,
dissent, and commitment within their organizations.
After-action reviews often neglect to address the multiple factors
contributing to large-scale organizational failures.
How should organizations learn from failure?

Mission to Mars: It Really Is Rocket Science
After successive failures to land a spacecraft on Mars in 1999, NASA
blamed its own "Faster, Better, Cheaper" program as the culprit. But
Harvard Business School professor Alan D. MacCormack says the failure
was more about organizational execution.

Key concepts include:

Although individual projects fail, the root cause may be at an overall
program level. Some decisions are best made outside individual projects.
Institutionalizing postmortems on all projects, successful or not, is
the only way of generating robust insights on how well an organizational
change effort is proceeding.
In organizational transformation efforts based upon trial-and-error
learning, it is critical to understand at which points you will receive
feedback on progress.
Can leaders anticipate disaster?

Planning for Surprises
A company doesn't need a crystal ball to see impending disasters.
Leaders can foresee and avoid predictable surprises.

Key concepts include:

Predictable surprises happen when leaders had all the data and insight
they needed to recognize the potential of major problems but failed to
respond with preventative action.
Psychological, organizational, and political factors conspire to keep us
from dealing with potential problems.
Assuming a "veil of ignorance" can help leaders to see beyond themselves
and more effectively ward off a predictable surprise.


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