Archives for posts with tag: America

csi

 

Charter Schools are on the rise across the country as America’s failing education system attempts new models to improve itself. For the most part, these Charter and Innovative schools are making a difference and improving graduation rates, test scores, and retention. Because of this there is a demand by parents  for more charter schools.

Along with their success has come a backlash of lawsuits and legislation meant to slow their progress and in some cases terminate them altogether.

Reasons for these  lawsuits  range from civil rights violations, education equality violations, and even accusations of un-constitutional standards and requirements.

The instigators of these lawsuits are varied.  Parents, Teacher’s associations, School Districts and the  ACLU have filed complaints against charter schools. Now, the  Black Lives Matter Movement is accusing them of propagating racial injustice. In the same way crime rates were reduced by the increased incarceration of black Americans, the NAACP and BLM believe that test scores in minority rich urban charter schools are being accomplished by increased suspensions and expulsions of black students.

Most explanations for the suits are financial. As the numbers of Charter schools continue to grow, money is diverted from traditional schools and, therefore, limiting their resources.

At a  recent Conference on School Choice  I  attended, put on by the Franklin Center for Public and Government Integrity, the point was made by Ben Scafidi of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice that if the student is no longer in the school, it is no longer an expense of the school, so it is not costing the school anything if it loses funding.

A school board member with whom I am acquainted, says that this is a simplistic interpretation and not a real picture of the costs to traditional public schools in losses to their program funding.

Perhaps the lawsuits are more motivated by control issues between Teacher’s Unions, Districts and government entities all vying for their own education agenda. Whatever the reasons, there is a cost and the cost is the children.  Money that would otherwise be used for supplies, teachers, curriculum and programs is spent on attorneys and court costs.

As Tim Keller, an attorney who represents charter schools for the Institute For Justice, and another speaker at the conference said, Charter Schools are here to stay”.  It would make sense to accept this, and learn to work with them and not against them for the sake of our children.

The  Denver Public Schools  have made great strides because the district and charter schools are learning to work together and support  each other’s efforts. As America continues to grow in cultural diversity, it is important that our educational system accept and embrace this change.  One of the ways that it can do this is through charter schools that are better suited to the ESL population.  These programs may not work in a more homogenized setting or curriculum, but only in the freedom allowed in the charter schools. Charter Schools by their nature have less regulations and can be more innovative in programs and curriculum.

The Strive Program in Denver is an example of how charter schools can meet the needs of the ESL segment of the community through curriculum created for them that integrates English learning.

If we really want to make America great, it begins with educating our children to be the best in the world.  With only two countries in the world that outspend us on education per child   there is no reason why we shouldn’t be the best educated in the world.

It is time to try a new model for learning. Perhaps the charter schools are leading the way. If only the naysayers and opponents would just give them a chance and end the lawsuits and legislation attempting to stop them.

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my body is not your political battleground

Women are banding together to say they #wontbepunished for having an abortion in response to Donald Trump’s statement that “There should be some kind of punishment”- for women who have an abortion if it becomes illegal.

FYI Mr. Trump the trauma of having an abortion is punishment enough.

I know women who have regret, pain and even guilt about their decision. It is so common that psychologists have a special term for it- Post Abortion Stress Syndrome or PASS.

Most pro-lifers are so because of their religious beliefs. The saddest part of this, is that, to avoid the stigma of publicizing your carnal sin by being an unwed mother, many women will opt for the abortion and compound guilt by one sin for another. The religions that are so opposed to abortion seem to, unknowingly, promote it.  This is corroborated by statistics   showing the large number of women who have religious beliefs that abort.

What proportion of U.S. women obtaining abortions are religious?

Answer

More than seven in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation (37% protestant, 28% Catholic and 7% other), and 25% attend religious services at least once a month.[38] The abortion rate for protestant women is 15 per 1,000 women, while Catholic women have a slightly higher rate, 22 per 1,000.[32](gutttmacher.org)

Unfortunately, I have witnessed firsthand the stigma and ostracization of those within the church who have bravely chosen life and continue to attend church with their pregnant belly baring the shame of their sin. I also experienced a church that disciplined a staff member who got his girlfriend pregnant.  Because, they chose life, and did not hide their sin, he was punished.

My personal understanding of the pain of abortion, lies in a miscarriage I had with my first child. I lost my baby at 8 weeks, which is about the time that most women abort.  I remember the emotional pain of that loss to this day.  There is an incredible bonding that happens between a mother and baby that is meant to give the baby its best chance for survival.

Recent studies give us a deeper biological source of this bonding. Your baby leaves souvenir cells in your body.  This could explain why women say that having a child is like watching your heart walking around outside your body

As a member of a healing prayer team, I had the privilege of witnessing God’s heart for women who suffer from their decision to abort. In one session, we prayed against the Spirit of Death.  Two women came forward for prayer for their abortions.  As I prayed for them, I had a vision of Jesus holding their baby in His arms. As I shared my vision with these women, tears rolled down their face and the shame and guilt melted away.

I think of the words of Jesus to the woman caught in adultery.

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience,[h] went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,[i] “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?[j] Has no one condemned you?”

 

11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

 

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and[k] sin no more.”

If the church wishes to be prolife, it is time that it celebrates and not punish those who choose life outside of the bonds of marriage. It is also time to embrace and love those who suffer the pain of not choosing life. If Mr. Trump is going to call himself a Christian he should follow Christ’s lead and forgive and not condemn.

bibi

This was a historic week.  For the first time in U. S. History an American President refused to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel or even acknowledge his visit to the United States. Instead, without the consent or approval of the President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives invited him to speak to a joint session of Congress.  This was scandalous.  So scandalous that in protest and solidarity with the president, the vice president and approximately 60 Democrat members of Congress boycotted the event.

Historically the U. S. has been Israel’s strongest supporter and ally. Since World War II the U.S. has given over $121 billion   in aid to Israel.  There are political and philosophical reasons for this support, but the overriding factor is spiritual.  Eighty three percent  of Americans claim to be Christians. Because of the historic importance of Israel, specifically the Jewish roots of Christianity, the majority of Americans believe in supporting Israel.

Christians believe in the Bible.  The Bible is the historical transcript of the History of the Jewish people and the development of the Jewish sect we now call Christianity, named for Jesus the Christ or Messiah, who was prophesied in the Torah or Old Testament of the Bible. Christians understand that the establishment and protection of the nation of Israel is critical to future prophesies concerning the return of Christ and the End of the World.

Christians also believe the pronouncement of God over Israel and the Jewish nation to the father of the nation, Abraham:

Genesis 12:3New Living Translation (NLT)3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

It seems that those who boycotted Mr. Netanyahu may have suffered a little bit of a curse based on this clip from “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” .

The main purpose of Bibi (Netanyahu)’s  speech   was to encourage America’s support in standing up to their biggest bully-Iran.  He drew references of Israel’s past bullies the Nazi regime and the Pharaoh of Egypt. He reminded us that the price of Hitler’s regime was more than 60 million lives Jew and non-Jew as well.  He warned that Israel’s current bully Iran could cost the annihilation of the world as we know it. In other words, what is good for Israel is good for the world.

He also reminded us that this time, unlike those other times in its history, Israel is a formidable force in the world that will stand alone if necessary.

As he spoke, I reflected on the prophesies of Israel as told by St. John in the book of Revelations.  According to these prophesies Israel will stand alone against the armies of the world.

Revelation 20:9New Living Translation (NLT)

9 And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.

America has lost many of God’s blessings as it turns further and further from the Christian nation it once was.  Will the blessings turn to curses because of an administration that no longer supports Israel or will it continue to stand because it stands with Israel?

oscar statue

I blogged a few weeks back about how depressing the Oscar nominees were this year and how in the midst of wars and beheadings, protests and murders all over the world, Americans just want to escape.  This is evidenced by the fact that the biggest money makers  for Hollywood were all fantasy and sci-fi fare.

More than any other Oscar Award Ceremony  in history, this year’s show was charged with the reality of the world situation despite what the American movie goers voted for with their hard earned American dollars.

The first dose of reality for me was the winner for best short documentary Crisis Hotline Veterans Press 1. This was a humbling moment for me because I had entitled my previous Blog on the Oscars “And The Winner Is…The Suicide Prevention Hotline” not knowing that this film was up for an Oscar.  Making light of such a serious subject made me ashamed.  The fact that I am a mother of a veteran who suffers emotional issues, made me horrified at my blunder.

The next reality check was the winner for Best Documentary, Citizenfour-the story of Edward Snowden and his revelations about the NSA.  Seeing Glenn Greenwald holding an Oscar moved me to tears as, I reflected on how much was risked and the price that was paid to inform the American public about the immense breach of privacy that they suffered by the US government.

Laura Poitras, the Director said in her acceptance speech ,

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” Poitras said in her acceptance speech. “When the most important decisions being made, affecting all of us, are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden, for his courage, and for the many other whistleblowers. I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth.”

The glamour and glitz of the fantasy world of Hollywood was breached by the real world.

We were confronted by the suffering of those with ALS through the story of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, which won the Best Actor nod and those with Alzheimer’s Disease with the Best Actress win for Still Alice.

We wept during the powerful rendition of the song “Glory” with the realization that the fight for racial equality is not over. We were admonished to continue the fight for gender equality in the workforce by the Best Supporting Actress winner who portrayed the struggles of a single mom in Boyhood.

We were faced once again with the struggle against suicide in a cruel, ridiculing world because of The Imitation Game, which won best adapted screenplay.

It may have been the most political Oscar Award Ceremony in history, but it was also the most meaningful.  The hope is that we as individuals will take these messages and do our part to continue the fight. Just maybe, then we can have the America of our dreams and not our nightmares.

Hitler Allah

If there was ever any doubt as to whom President Obama has his allegiance to there is none now.  He had the audacity to downplay the barbarism and violence of The Islamic State of Islam or ISIS and other Islamic terrorists at the  National Day of Prayer  breakfast.

Our “one nation under God” that this country was founded on was not the God Allah, but the God Yaweh- the Judeo-Christian God.  At the prayer breakfast this God and his followers were defamed and ridiculed by comparing the Historical violence of Christianity to the present atrocities of the followers of Allah.

Obama has a very dim understanding of history, because both the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades were in retaliation to the violence and invasion of the Islamic Jihad  during the 1400’s. To compare Christ who murdered no one to Mohammed who murdered innocents is also a misinterpretation of history .

The question might be what is the motivation behind Mr. Obama’s statements?

Is it to justify his lack of concerted effort  against ISIS?

Is it some kind of reprimand against Christians for disagreeing with his policies on marriage, and Obamacare’s forcing organizations to provide abortions for their employees? Steven Crowder  called it “evil” to make this kind of accusation against Christians.

This made me reflect on one of the most evil rulers in history- Adolph Hitler.  I found that in his speeches, he blamed past wars and the historical so called “evils” of the Jewish people as a justification for the Holocaust .

Was the President blaming Christians for the murders committed by ISIS and other Islamic terrorists?  Is he setting up the American people for an American Jihad against them?

The anti-discrimination laws are already putting Christians at risk of incarceration as I mentioned in my last blog.

The question is-will non-Christian Americans believe the rhetoric the way non-Jewish Germans did in 1941 and allow it to happen?

The Bible promises that “pride goeth before a fall”. The pride of this man far outweighs that of any other Commander in Chief in the history of the United States.  His executive orders have made him more of a monarch than a president. The  monarchs of England   who took the kind liberties that Obama has taken were soon out of power. How far will we let his abuses go as a nation?

RIP Bethboy hugs cop

As violence increases in movies and TV, it continues to increase in our lives as well.

I have been watching The Walking Dead for the past two seasons. During that time there have not been too many characters that I have grown fond of.  As the Apocalypse progresses the characters are evolving to be less compassionate, less vulnerable, and less human.  They are not very lovable.

Even Rick and Darryl, both initially good men, have changed because of the violent callousness they are forced to embody in order to survive.

Hope for humanity is left to the next generation, the children, who have been shielded and protected from most of the violence and for the most part have not had to participate in the killing of walkers or corrupt humans.  Beth is one of these.

After she is rescued from the safe house where she was staying with Darryl, she is taken to a hospital in Atlanta.  She continues to have some hope but finds herself imprisoned by the law enforcement officers, led by Dawn Lerner, who run the hospital.  In the process of earning her keep by working in the hospital, she is put in two situations that force her to kill law officers.  By the final episode of the season Beth realizes that she was set up to make these killings by Dawn so that she could get rid of potentially subversive officers without culpability.

Beth has struggled to stay positive throughout the series, even making a suicide attempt in episode 2.

She seems to have lost hope completely by the mid-season finale episode.  She sits in the broken elevator shaft staring longingly down, remembering her escape attempt with Noah.

“Are you gonna jump?” Dawn asks her.

Maybe Beth is contemplating a more permanent escape.  She does voice her hopelessness to Dawn:

“You… You keep telling yourself you have to do whatever it takes just until this is all over. But it isn’t over, this is it. This is who you are and what this place is until the end.”

Beth shows that in spite of it all, she has not lost her compassion or her humanity.  She fights for Carol when Dawn orders her life support machines be turned off and steals medicine in order to keep her alive.

Her final act of humanity is to kill Dawn to save Noah from imprisonment in the hospital.  Did she know this would be at the cost of her life?  It is hard to say, but I don’t think she would regret her decision either way.

She died with her humanity intact because she was willing to risk her life to end Dawn’s cruel reign of terror and save Noah. As the Good Book says :

John 15:13

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Maybe Beth’s sacrifice will be the conduit to break the hardened hearts of the other characters, so that it will serve a higher purpose as the story unfolds.

As art imitates life, I can reflect on the violence and mayhem that one young man’s death has perpetrated in Ferguson, Missouri and throughout the U.S.  Are we as a nation losing our humanity, our love, and our compassion?  Are we unable to forgive and:

Romans 12:19

never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.?

I am reminded of the words of another young black man:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

May we as a nation return from darkness to light, from hate to love.  May we live and die with our humanity intact.

Rest in Peace Michael and Beth.

media confusion

It is not often that I defend the actions of the current administration. There is much talk about King Obama and how he is usurping his power and violating the Constitution with the Acts of War that have been instituted without Congressional approval in the Mid East.

But today as I read another article blasting these actions, I remembered an odd movie that recorded some of the beginnings of American dealings with terrorists in the same region. The movie was called Charlie Wilson’s War. Charlie Wilson was a U.S. congressman from Texas who had a conservative Christian friend who was a rich socialite.  She was concerned about the Soviet expansion into Afghanistan and convinced Charlie to use his position to intervene when the U.S. was hesitating to get involved.  Through appropriations by Congressional Committees, he was able to fund the local insurgents in their fight to oust the Soviets.  He also gained the support of Pakistan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Most of the aid went to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar , a senior Taliban leader and backer of Al-Qaeda.

From President Carter to Obama and every president in between there have been covert funding of these insurgent groups with ties to Islamist extremist terrorist groups. Even President Reagan who is held in such high esteem by conservative Americans had a role through his Reagan Doctrine  . With the help of American dollars and military equipment, we have empowered these groups and created the danger that they have been and continue to be in the world.

Although the pattern of this U.S. foreign policy goes back for almost four decades, and President Obama continues this involvement of funding covert wars without congressional approval, he is maligned as though it is some new, strange phenomenon. I am not saying that he is right but I am saying he is not more at fault than any of his predecessors since 1978.

I have heard President Obama say that his is the most transparent administration that there has ever been.  This may be true, but not because of anything the administration has done on its part.  What is different in this administration is the proliferation of alternative media sources throughout the world and the power and speed of communication via the internet that have made the doings of the U.S. government throughout the world more visible than ever before.

It is the almost instantaneous reporting of world events that make it impossible to keep under wraps what previous administrations were able to keep from the American public. This awareness sheds light on these events and call into question practices that have become commonplace over the years but are nonetheless unconstitutional.

We are long overdue for a scrutiny of the American military action throughout the world and the havoc it has and continues to create without the due process that is mandated by the Constitution. It is time to say “no more”.

two-new-maleficent-posters-released

 

 

One of my favorite fairy tales just had a liberal Hollywood redo.  I suspected as much as I saw the previews for the film.

I have always loved Disney because its stories were great analogies of true good and evil that exist in our world.  As the lines get blurred (yes, I’m talking to you Robin Thicke) in our society, so are the new remakes of these stories.

Morality is no longer black and white but “50 Shades of Grey” and with it good and evil.

There is confusion over who really is to blame for the murderous group Isis , or the immigration crisis  , and good Christians are maligned over standing up for Christian Values  in our “One Nation Under God”.

And so in the remake of the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty called Maleficent, we find out that the wicked fairy Maleficent is not really so evil and her evil was justified by a traumatic assault that she received at the hand of the man she loved.  She is not only less evil than her depiction in the original story, she actually has become the heroine in the retelling. (Spoiler alert) It is her love that brings Princess Aurora back to life.

Why does this make me sick?  It makes me sick because true evil makes me sick. Sin makes me sick.  The Bible says –

James 1:15New Living Translation (NLT)

15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

Sin and evil destroy.

You don’t have to look very far to see the results of declining morals in America today. One in ten  Americans are taking anti-depressants, and the suicide rate has increased 30% from 1999 to 2010 with more Americans now dying from suicide than auto accidents.

If we gloss over sin and evil in this world and white-wash it away we will be destroyed by it.

The Bible warns us that-  I Cor. 11:14 Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Don’t be fooled by the false light of evil.

John 1:8-10New Living Translation (NLT)

8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Let us seek the true Light-and find peace in a world of chaos.

7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

UKIP
I pride myself on not being an ethnocentric  American. I have traveled the world and served in third World Countries. I studied Anthropology in college and keep myself abreast of most world events. But as we libertarians spout a return to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and balance of power in the government, we look at the world through our red, white and blue glasses with no view for understanding-myself included.
A case in point is our harsh judgment of UKIP (United Kingdom Independent Party) as libertarians. They are touted as the Libertarian party of the UK, yet most American libertarians when presented with their party platforms and listening to their speeches, give them a “thumbs down” in the Libertarian assessment pool. UKIP is making some huge strides in the political realm of Great Britain. Their membership has reached a whopping 28% in EU elections (where they recently won their first seats) and polling at 15% in the general elections. Its American counterpart polls around 8%. This is especially impressive considering UKIP is about 20 years younger than the US Libertarian Party.
The reality of my skewed interpretation of UKIP hit me between the eyes or, I suppose ears, recently as I listened to Robin Koerner of Blue Republican Radio as he interviewed the Chair of UKIP, Steven Crowther. http://dailypaulradio.com/ukip-libertarian-interview-stephen-crowther/
We, as Americans, measure liberty by our culture and our Americanized view of the world. Two of the measures of liberty we fight for are freedom to bear arms and free market health care. We view both of these as an important measure of limiting government and, therefore, important libertarian issues.
When presented with these issues Mr. Crowther could not comprehend them as an important libertarian issue. In the culture of the UK, a society free of weapons (even in the case of the police) and unlimited free health care, is a benevolent function of government. It was in his view almost revered.
Never mind the fact that more medical breakthroughs have happened thanks to the free market medical system of the US. There is also the American clichéd view of Brits not having straight white teeth like the American obsession due to their social medicine. Had the British soldier who was knifed to death by militant Islamists been armed, he wouldn’t have lost his life. But I digress back to my American paradigm.
In any case listening to Mr. Crowther’s confusion at Mr. Koerner’s insistence on the importance of these issues for liberty caused me to recognize my own bias and lack of understanding of the differences between us.
It also struck me that if we strive for liberty in all areas we may be like the lion in the circus, who when presented with the three legged stool, not knowing which one to focus on, is controlled by the trainer. Maybe, like UKIP, who focus on getting out of the EU and immigration reform, we can take a few key issues, that are most important to Americans-like privacy and decriminalizing drug use. Then we can win them over for Liberty and a better America.

Image

Another Memorial Day has come and gone.  The parades are over. The celebrations have ended.  The flags are put in storage. We go back to our lives and forget.

We forget that war is still being fought over unclear reasons in Afghanistan. We forget that our Veterans are not receiving health care. We forget that more veterans are dying from suicide  than in war.

The reality of how America treats her heroes makes the holiday a mockery.

It is personal for me.  I have family and friends who have served.  Military life is a sacrifice to body and soul regardless of whether or not life and limb have been lost. The truth of my Marine Corps daughter’s tat haunts me “All gave some but some gave all.”

The military culture leaves scars.  I have seen those scars on people that I love.

Let’s make every day Memorial Day and work to change the military culture and reduce the military machine of America.