Saturday, March 31, 2007

Congratulations ! Consent Of The Governed Reaches Its 10,000th Visitor!

I started this blog on December 3, 2006, with my first post "Welcome To My New Blog!"

Since then, I have learned so much and met so many wonderful bloggers. Thank you to everyone who stops by to read, lurk, comment, or just pass through via some search engine. I am always amazed at the variety of places people come from to "Consent of The Governed". It's a virtual global blogfest!

So congratulations to a visitor from the United States
for being my 10,000th visitor!

Don't Talk About Religion Or Politics - Especially At Work In CT

Our CT legislature has proposed yet another pair of idiotic bills - which seem to me to be a violation of free speech. Perhaps those guys and gals need a refresher course on the Bill of Rights.

The offending legislation of which I speak are the so-called “captive audience” bills which are being promoted by organized labor to prohibit employers from communicating with their employees about a wide variety of subjects in mandatory staff meetings. Here is a brief report from the public hearing on this.
These bills ban an employer or his agent from requiring employees to attend employer-sponsored meetings with the employers of his agent for the primary purpose of communicating an employer's opinion on religious or political matters or the decision to join any political, social, or community group or activity or labor union. Such mandatory meetings are referred to as “captive audience” meetings.
Hmmm.. I wonder how that would be enforced, as well as how businesses that actually deal with those subjects, will be able to operate. No business will be able to organize to fight against legislation being proposed that will hurt them!
SB-602 was approved by the Labor Committee and HB-7326 was recently heard by the Judiciary Committee.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association sees this as very anti-business legislation, and add to the hostile environment that CT already has toward business.
They say this:
Although the bills purport to prohibit only discussions about religion and political matters, the term “political” is so broadly defined that almost any topic could be considered off limits in the workplace — including developments at the State Capitol, government contracts, employee health benefit plans, and community and social issues.

Federal law already ensures a proper balance of communications between employers and employees on union-organizing and other labor law issues. This bill only upsets that balance in favor of labor organizations.
Personally, I find this type of legislation more nanny state interference in the operation of business and also very restrictive to the ability to speak freely. If anything, a business should decide policies for themselves without the State horning in and dictating to them what they can and cannot do or say on their own premises. What comes next? Barring what people can say in their own homes?

So let's read it again...
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
UPDATE after posting : I was thinking today... if these bills pass then how would that be any different than the "captive audience" that school teachers have with students and the influences they have over them regarding religion and politics?? That goes for college kids as well... That wouldn't seem to be any different in my mind. That argument never even came up in public hearings.. perhaps something should be said about that. What do you think???

UPDATE 04/03/07 : Apparently the bill has had some language revisions:
Nothing in this section shall prohibit: (1) A religious organization from requiring its employees to attend a meeting sponsored by such religious organization or to participate in any communications with such religious organization or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate such religious organization's religious beliefs, practices or tenets; (2) a political organization from requiring its employees to attend a meeting sponsored by such political organization or to participate in any communications with such political organization or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate such political organization's political tenets or purposes; (3) an institution of higher education, or any agent, representative or designee of such institution, from meeting with or participating in any communications with its employees concerning political or religious matters that are part of the regular coursework or any symposia or academic program at such institution; or (4) casual conversations between employees or between an employee and an agent, representative or designee of an employer, provided participation in such conversations is not required and such conversations occur in the normal course of the employee's duties.
It is still absurd.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Homeschoolers - Are We Socially Irresponsible?

Note: This is an article that I wrote in 1999 and I have updated it a bit, but overall some things never change.

Are Homeschoolers Socially Irresponsible?

Someone once told me that I was socially irresponsible for taking my children out of the public school system. They claimed that I was abandoning the system instead of trying to change it or help it to function better. I would then ask, “Are people who send their children to private school just as socially irresponsible?” For one thing, homeschooling is not only about parents who are dissatisfied with public education. It is about parents having the freedom to choose between a few options when it comes to educating their children. Homeschooling parents are pretty normal people who you might even bump into at the local store. They are doctors, lawyers, homemakers, computer consultants and come from just about every income bracket and walk of life.

Homeschoolers typically have varied reasons for choosing to homeschool. Some do it so their kids can have time to focus on a specific talent like ice skating or even train to become an Olympic athlete. Some do it for religious reasons. Some do it because their family lifestyle dictates that they travel and relocate often. Some do it because they reject government intervention in their life, or maybe have a specific pedagogical belief, and still more just want to be involved in their children’s learning experiences. There is of course a percentage that are just unhappy with what public or private schools have to offer. That percentage seems to be growing ever more to the extent that some school systems are fighting parents who wish to withdraw their children from school in order to homeschool them.

Homeschooling does require a lot of time and commitment and dedication to your kids, but overall, so does parenting. One parent, or caretaker, typically stays at home to teach the children. But the benefit to this, that I have discovered, is that this builds strong family ties and is the breeding ground for solid moral, ethical and spiritual growth. Families really benefit by being together, learning together, and growing together. There is also strong intergenerational learning and bonding that happens when kids are around their older and younger relatives more regularly. I believe that strong families are a cornerstone to society. They face life’s problems and joys together and learn to deal with everyday life. Homeschooling parents don’t live with kids who are totally disconnected from them. Homeschoolers learn to see and share their common interests and respect their differences. Kids carry those lessons with them through their life.

Family bonds become very important, unlike government schooling where we have heard the common mantra of "cut the apron strings", or from kids' peers that "the parents are the enemy". Advice and help of parents are usually tossed aside because "the teacher said this is a better way to do such and such". One cannot deny that government schooling does in many ways disconnect kids from their families. I often hear things like older kids don't want to engage with younger cousin Jane because "she's a third grader", and that type of thing. There is also a lot of negative socialization that happens in government schools. So as far as I am concerned, regarding social responsibility, our homeschooled kids are learning to get along with their own family, and to resolve their differences at home in times when there is conflict.

And while I am on the topic of "socialization", the socialization aspect of homeschooling is wonderful. Homeschooled kids typically are involved with intergenerational social contacts. They learn to get along with people of all ages, not just their own peer group. They have friends older and younger than themselves. They get out and see lots of people on a daily basis, either through field trips with other homeschoolers, or get-togethers, or whatever kids do when they are being kids. But that is just part of the story. The rest is about community.

I have found that homeschoolers tend to be extremely socially responsible. Their families spend a lot of time and energy in community involvement, either through church or other volunteer activities in many different types of organizations. They spend time out in their community everyday helping neighbors, or working in food co-ops, or patronizing local businesses. Homeschoolers incorporate a lot of volunteering and mentoring activities into their daily life. Our kids learn by doing, and many take the opportunity to work as interns or apprentices in the areas that are of interest to them. They learn to give their time and talents to their community, while learning about the world they live in. Homeschoolers contribute a lot in the way of time, skills and talent to many civic and religious groups. They volunteer in nursing homes and political campaigns and just about every facet of life that you can imagine. That is incredibly socially responsible.

But what about the public school system? If kids from families who are so committed to involvement and education are pulled out of school doesn’t the system suffer a bit? Wouldn't those homeschool parents be the same people who would be room moms or PTO presidents or chairs of various school activities? Don’t the schools lose valuable funding for each child who does not sit at a desk all day? Perhaps, but that is such a weak argument, and the fact of the matter is that there are still many other children still in the government school system. Class sizes are already bursting at the seams. I do not think that the schools are missing my children that much. I do not believe that those kinds of numbers have had a negative impact on the government school system, at least not just yet.

It might just be though, that if public/government schools continue to offer poor results that people will continue to leave. I have heard that homeschooling is growing at the current rate of 15% a year! But the fact still remains that more kids go to private school than attend homeschool nationwide.

According to Separation of School and State website there are 56 million elementary and secondary school children in the United States, 8 million of those children, or around 14%, are educated independent of state schools:

* 6.3 million children attend private schools,
* Nearly 2 million children are home schooled.

Homeschoolers along with privately schooled children would absolutely choke the current government school system if they all enrolled tomorrow. So we are all really doing them a favor by not being there. Again, that could be viewed as being socially responsible.

If anything, the fact that homeschoolers pay taxes, which support the public/government school system, and yet they do not, or may not, use the resources that they pay for, is in and of itself a testimony to the fallacy of being socially irresponsible.

Aside from that, since we are learning apart from government sponsored education, we can and do try lots of different methods and create many successes. We are usually an example of "best practices", and perhaps can show government schools what the necessary ingredients are for providing good education. I believe choice and competition are integral to the realm of education, because that makes for better education overall as a society. If there is no choice then the system falls into mediocrity and fails. As long as we have this choice it is our duty and obligation to take advantage of it and it is socially responsible to keep the choices open and vibrant and available.

If anything - I would say that it is socially irresponsible for government schools and educrats to continue to offer mediocre programs and curriculum, and as long as they do, parents will exercise their choice to leave and do the socially responsible thing - and that is to make sure their children get an appropriate education.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

2006 Homeschool Blog Awards

Sprittibee has graciously taken on the job of conducting the 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards. I hope that you will take the time to visit the 2006 Blog Awards site and nominate some of your favorite homeschool bloggers.

Nominations will be accepted
from March 26th - April 7th.
Voting for these nominations will begin
on Friday April 13th.

REMEMBER that these awards are for 2006! Blogs that started in 2007 (no matter how GREAT they are) can NOT be nominated. Save your favorite newest 2007 blogs for December's 2007 Homeschool Blog Awards.

In The UK - Authorities Will be Checking The Prams For Criminals - Beware, This Can Happen Here Too!

It's bad enough that the UK has a national curriculum for babies, now there is a news item, Children could be monitored for signs of criminal behaviour, which is even more disturbing. The government wants to monitor kids all along their developmental path and check them for emerging signs of criminality. The kids could face compulsory checks to discover if they are at risk of turning into criminals.

This controversial proposal came as part of a wide-ranging review of crime and security policy published by 10 Downing Street. What are these people thinking?

This is what England's brand of Democratic Socialism is spawning, and it is clear that the United States has also been marching toward this path with state legislatures proposing and adopting all kinds of crazy laws. One only has to look at the proposed legislation in Illinois and New Jersey requiring mandatory mental health screenings and all kinds of other government intrusions, as well as states setting up DNA databases and requiring DNA samples of newborns. Ohio has even instituted guidelines for newborns and toddlers through their "Help Me Grow" initiatives . Why, we even have programs like KidTrax already here. Kidtrax website is here. And Here's more.

Other proposals set out in the UK policy review included:

• Extending the police's ability to seize non-cash assets from criminals, such as plasma screen televisions, jewellery and laptop computers;
• Encouraging businesses to make their products "crime proof", such as introducing fingerprint activation on MP3 players such as iPods, because the devices are partly behind a rise in street crime;
• Placing restrictions on prolific criminals after they are released from prison, which would lead to up to three years in jail if breached;
• Developing technology could also lead to the introduction of "crowd scanners" able to detect bombs, and the use of "automatic facial recognition" to spot criminals on CCTV images.

The UK review also appeared to advocate further expansion of the DNA database when it suggested including "all suspected offenders who come into contact with the police".
Currently anyone arrested for a recordable offense in England and Wales must give a DNA sample - which remains on record even if they are not charged, or are acquitted.

One person who commented on the article in the Daily mail said:
"Under a socialist system, even children are suspects and potential enemies of the state. No doubt they'll be arresting babies in their prams for having a criminal look about them."
So what does a kid who may some day turn into a criminal look like? I'll bet some of the most heinous criminals in history were normal looking/acting kids.
This whole screening and tracking mentality that is emerging is absolutely ridiculous and entirely dangerous. One only has to wonder what young lives will be ruined by this and perhaps may even make kids angry enough to turn to a life of criminality.

A wonderful site to keep up on UK news and government control shenanigans is Blogdial.. give them a visit or two.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Where Are The Bees?

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." - Albert Einstein
Honeybees are disappearing from hives all across the country - Harvesters in 24 states report hive population rates have mysteriously fallen 30% to 70%.
It's alarming.

Apparently bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and never returning to their colonies. Researchers seem to think that the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or disoriented and falling victim to the cold. All beekeepers know is that the hives are empty - like little ghost towns.

Aside from producing honey, bees pollinate a variety of plants that are in our food supply. Each year bees pollinate an estimated $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, largely fruits, vegetables and nuts. If there are no bees - then we will have an agricultural disaster on our hands.

So what is going on here?
We do know that bees are dying in such dramatic numbers across the country that the economic consequences could soon be dire. No one knows for sure what is causing the bees to perish, but some experts believe that the large-scale use of genetically modified plants in the US could be a factor.

Some point to GMO (genetically modified organisms) corn which is genetically engineered to kill moths, which is why there is also a decrease in the butterfly populations. They are now looking at the pollen from GMO Corn as the possible cause of the bee die off. There are many anti-GMO websites like this one and other websites that say that GMO grown foods are not a problem. Many European countries have banned importing some GMO grown agriculture.

Some point to an invasion of mites in the colonies which were reported 2 years ago. Mites have damaged bee colonies, and the insecticides used to try to kill the mites are harming the ability of queen bees to spawn as many worker bees. The queens are living half as long as they did just a few years ago.

Others point to overall bee stress.
Bees are being raised to survive a shorter off-season, to be ready to pollinate once the almond bloom begins in February. That likely lowers their immunity to viruses. Researchers are also concerned that the willingness of beekeepers to truck their colonies from coast to coast could be adding to bees' stress.

Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction, and there are reports of similar problems in Germany.

One thing is for certain... any upset in the food chain can spell disaster.
Never mind global warming... we need to help bring back the bees.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Delay On Mexican Trucks, American Kleptocracy, and Lou Dobbs Speaking Out Against The North American Union

In a previous post I mentioned the plan for 100 Mexican trucking companies to haul freight and begin to travel deep into the United States.

In this Associated Press story, apparently those trucks are going to have to wait a bit longer.

A Congressional Senate panel voted to delay the plan by requiring the Bush administration to publish details about it and allow the public time to comment on it. That is very good news. I hope that the public will speak on this issue. Of course the administration's Transportation Department is still pushing for the program, saying how it will be so beneficial to our economy.
"The administration is rushing to open the border to Mexican-domiciled trucks without assuring their safety and enforcement of the law of the U.S.," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "They can't go rushing forward in opening the border without having explained what their pilot project is."
The Bush administration was also criticized for opening the border to Mexican trucks before Mexico opened the border to U.S. trucks.

The move to delay the administration's plan was welcomed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Their website shows the opposition that they have to this plan. You can even make public comment to Congress about this issue on their website.
Here is an excerpt of a sample letter which lists some of their concerns, that you can send through their website (you can edit the text and send your own letter):
* There's an impact on homeland security initiatives. Will the drivers be checked against the terror watch list or will our borders be open to anyone with a Mexican driver's license? Will the drivers be required to carry a Mexican passport, as U.S. citizens are required to present their passports when entering the country from Mexico or Canada?

* The DOT has been disingenuous about this pilot program, indicating only a few weeks ago that it was not pursuing this pilot program. What else are they lying about?

* Enforcement of hours of service in Mexico, false log books and fatigued drivers entering the U.S.

* The application of U.S. standards to Mexican drivers including the requirement that U.S. drivers have a Commercial Drivers License, undergo regular physicals and meet minimum age requirements.

* The integrity of drug and alcohol testing. Though testing will be done in U.S. labs, it is unclear who will oversee the collection of random samples creating a system ripe for abuse.

* DOT's assertion that all trucks will be inspected by U.S. officials in Mexico and at the U.S. border when less than ten percent of all Mexican trucks entering the commercial zone are inspected now.

Don't let the DOT and the Bush Administration put our families at risk. Stop these dangerous trucks from rolling across our borders before this pilot program starts. Say "No Mexican Trucks" until Americans' safety can be assured.
They also have a link to a great video featuring Lou Dobbs (2/23/07) and others speaking about this issue. You really must take a few minutes to listen this video. It really demonstrates how this North American Union initiative is being done outside the purview of Congress and the American people. Some Congressmen are not happy about this at all.

Apparently big business is the driving force behind what has been dubbed as "American Kleptocracy" - A government characterized by rampant greed and corruption. Capitalism and free trade are one thing - but total open borders with no assurance to public safety, possible changes to our money, and the flood of cheap labor, and non-citizens using our social welfare system (as well as Canada's), are troubling. Even Congressman Ron Paul, who is a free market libertarian at heart, is against this.

You can bet that we are now in the middle a tremendous geopolitical event which will have dire consequences for us all. Our sovereignty, and our rights as citizens to be heard and heeded, is at stake as this administration condones an infrastructure to be put into place - which will not be dismantled easily.

Will the American people stand for this, or will they continue to be so media-controlled or asleep that they either cannot or will not be capable of handling the truth of what is happening here. Roads are being built with our tax money, and plans are being made without Congressional consent which will ultimately force an EU style government upon us.

See more of Lou Dobbs on this issue here.

If you care, it is time to act.
Speak up and write to your Congressman.

It's not about truck safety, it's not about trade...
It's about the laws and rules we will be living under.
This has been done in the shadows, and many feel that we have been lied to.
Enough is Enough.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Chalk One Up For Freedom OnThe Internet!

Eli Lilly Loses Effort to Censor Zyprexa Documents Off the Internet

Excerpted from the article:

In New York a U.S. District Court judge refused Eli Lilly's request to ban a number of websites from publishing leaked documents relating to Zyprexa, Eli Lilly's top-selling drug. Although the judge rejected the First Amendment arguments made by a variety of individuals eager to publish the documents, the court concluded that "it is unlikely that the court can now effectively enforce an injunction against the Internet in its various manifestations, and it would constitute a dubious manifestation of public policy were it to attempt to do so." The order is a victory for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which represents an anonymous individual who was previously barred by the court's earlier orders from posting links to the Zyprexa documents on the wiki.

The Zyprexa documents were leaked from an ongoing product liability lawsuit against Eli Lilly. The internal documents allegedly show that Eli Lilly intentionally downplayed the drug's side effects, including weight gain, high blood sugar, and diabetes, and marketed the drug for "off-label" uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ). The documents were the basis for a front-page story in the New York Times in December of last year, and electronic copies are readily available from a variety of Internet sources. EFF's client posted links to one set of copies on a wiki devoted to the controversy that were part of extensive, in-depth analysis from a number of citizen journalists.

"This ruling makes it clear that Eli Lilly cannot invoke any court orders in its futile efforts to censor these documents off the Internet," said EFF Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "We are disappointed, however, that the judge failed to appreciate that its previous orders constituted prior restraints in violation of the First Amendment."

The court stayed its ruling for 10 days in order to permit an appeal. Zyprexa is Eli Lilly's best selling drug, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Eli Lilly has paid more than $1.2 billion to resolve lawsuits involving Zyprexa.

For the full order on this case look here

For more on the Eli Lilly Zyprexa litigation look here

and you can also Contact:
Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

My past blogpost on this is here.

So bloggers, continue to blow those whistles and spread the news, and your views, on the Internet!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Total Control - Students Can't Have MySpace Account At School Or Home

According to this report, and this report, it looks like it is time for Catholic school students in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, to rebel against infringement on their rights. The school is enforcing a new policy that bans the use of MySpace at school, or at home! And the school will even have employees monitoring the Internet to check on their students. (Yeah, like that's a good use of the kids' tuition money).

The school claims that the majority of parents approve of this measure. I would think that if the parents cannot control their kids and what they do at home or on the Internet - then what makes them think the school can, except to make demands with a consequence of denying admission to the school. What these kids need is to be educated about the dangers - not restricted in the use - of the Internet. What other sites will they be restricted from with the threat of dismissal from the school? Censorship is censorship.
"The Internet can be wonderful for educational material, but it also can be unsafe," principal Sr. Margaret Van Velzen said.
At the beginning of each school year, students and parents will be required to sign an Internet policy. The policy states that students enrolled at the school can't have a account or any similar type of personal site. "Students who have existing accounts must delete them. Students who do not delete their accounts cannot attend the school", Van Velzen said.

School officials said it was necessary to apply the new policy because recently there were adults, some in authoritative positions, who posing as minors were able to talk or meet with young boys and girls. OK, so they created their own "sting" operation. Maybe what they ought to have done is used those instances to educate the kids instead of punishing them with this edict. They ought to use the opportunity to show kids how vulnerable they can be. Maybe, instead of banning MySpace, they should have seminars on how to use it safely and correctly.

Van Velzen said the decision was made with full support from the school's parents' organization.
A St. Hugo parent, Liza Stanczak, said all schools should implement the policy
"I think this is just the beginning of schools taking a stand against this kind of thing," Stanczak said. "I think this is going to have to happen because things are getting out of hand."
Well goodness sakes, the world itself can be a wonderful place, but it is also unsafe. Should the kids stay in their homes for the rest of their lives? It is so stupid to think that MySpace is the problem!

This MySpace obsession that schools, and parents who are utterly clueless, have is absurd at best. If kids are getting raped and killed because they end up in hotel rooms it isn’t MySpace’s fault. Blame it on their out of touch parents and the stupidity of the little tramps and troublemakers that go off to meet people they don’t even know. MySpace already has plenty of controls. Kids with half a brain use them. Someone looking for trouble on the Internet can find it in many places besides MySpace. Idiot kids do not have my sympathy nor should they be the reason why the Internet should be policed. There are bad people everywhere and it’s primarily a parents responsibility to protect and teach their kids how to navigate their way in this world, not shut them out from it. If the kids refuse to listen then they just take their life into their own hands, which is what some seem to want to do anyway.

But good parenting aside, the main fact here is that schools are monopolizing kids' lives. They not only demand what the kids do at school, but now apparently they wish to control them outside of school. It's no different then if your boss making demands that you do not smoke or eat trans fats at home.

The entire education establishment, public and now private, has veered away from the real purpose of education. Instead of imparting knowledge they have created an institution which is more boldly indoctrinating specific ideas (like liberal agendas) such that they demand you practice what they preach outside of the school house doors.

Often there is also no distinction between home and family as teachers are known to call their students "their kids" and desire to create a "family environment". Just like you cannot be "a little pregnant' it seems you cannot be "merely enrolled in school" as they demand full participation all day and even after school with homework and school events and meetings. They want to be involved in all aspects of a child's home and family life now.

I see something inherently wrong here in that this type of thing trains kids to believe that they cannot do anything without someone else's consent. School is becoming the parent in far too many instances, and kids are being taught that total control by others is acceptable, instead of learning how to control themselves.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Support The ResolutionTo Fight The North American Union

Contact your Congressional representatives today and tell them to support this resolution. HCON 40 IH
Sponsored by Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. [VA-5]
(You can LINK to the BILL on

Title: Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in the construction of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada. (Introduced in House)
Sponsor: Rep Goode, Virgil H., Jr. [VA-5] (introduced 1/22/2007)

12 Co-Sponsors:

Rep Cubin, Barbara [WY] - 2/16/2007
Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] - 1/22/2007
Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5] - 1/22/2007
Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] - 1/22/2007
Rep Norwood, Charles W. [GA-10] - 1/30/2007
Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] - 1/22/2007
Rep Regula, Ralph [OH-16] - 2/8/2007
Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] - 2/8/2007
Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] - 1/22/2007
Rep Tancredo, Thomas G. [CO-6] - 2/16/2007
Rep Tiberi, Patrick J. [OH-12] - 2/8/2007
Rep Wamp, Zach [TN-3] - 1/22/2007

Latest Major Action: 1/22/2007 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in the construction of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada.

Whereas the United States Departments of State, Commerce, and Homeland Security participated in the formation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) on March 23, 2005, representing a tri-lateral agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico designed, among other things, to facilitate common regulatory schemes between these countries;

Whereas reports issued by the SPP indicate that it has implemented regulatory changes among the three countries that circumvent United States trade, transportation, homeland security, and border security functions and that the SPP will continue to do so in the future;

Whereas the actions taken by the SPP to coordinate border security by eliminating obstacles to migration between Mexico and the United States actually makes the United States-Mexico border less secure because Mexico is the primary source country of illegal immigrants into the United States;

Whereas according to the Department of Commerce, United States trade deficits with Mexico and Canada have significantly increased since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);

Whereas the economic and physical security of the United States is impaired by the potential loss of control of its borders attendant to the full operation of NAFTA and the SPP;

Whereas the regulatory and border security changes implemented and proposed by the SPP violate and threaten United States sovereignty;

Whereas a NAFTA Superhighway System from the west coast of Mexico through the United States and into Canada has been suggested as part of a North American Union to facilitate trade between the SPP countries;

Whereas the State of Texas has already begun planning of the Trans-Texas Corridor, a major multi-modal transportation project beginning at the United States-Mexico border, which would serve as an initial section of a NAFTA Superhighway System;

Whereas it could be particularly difficult for Americans to collect insurance from Mexican companies which employ Mexican drivers involved in accidents in the United States, which would likely increase the insurance rates for American drivers;

Whereas future unrestricted foreign trucking into the United States can pose a safety hazard due to inadequate maintenance and inspection, and can act collaterally as a conduit for the entry into the United States of illegal drugs, illegal human smuggling, and terrorist activities; and

Whereas a NAFTA Superhighway System would likely include funds from foreign consortiums and be controlled by foreign management, which threatens the sovereignty of the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That—

(1) the United States should not engage in the construction of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Superhighway System;

(2) the United States should not allow the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) to implement further regulations that would create a North American Union with Mexico and Canada; and

(3) the President of the United States should indicate strong opposition to these acts or any other proposals that threaten the sovereignty of the United States.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Congratulations To Homeschooler Joseph Henares - CT Spelling Bee Winner!

I am so privileged to personally know the Henares family. They are such wonderful people.

Their son Joseph won the New Haven Register’s 2007 Spelling Bee Thursday night by spelling the word "charisma." This eighth grade homeschooler is a well deserving kid and we are all thrilled he will be going on to the nationals in Washington, DC.

This was announced in an email from the Greater Waterbury Homeschool Educators group:
Joseph Henares winner of our GWHE Spelling Bee has won
the New Haven Register Spelling Bee. Joseph competed
last night in New Haven against twenty-one
contestants, winning on the word 'charisma.'

Joseph will progress to the Scripps-Howard National
Spelling Bee which will be held in Washington, D.C. on
May 30-31st. He won a $500 savings bond and an
all-expense paid trip for him and one adult to

Way to go, Joseph!!!
Joseph also won a $100 Samuel Louis Sugarman Award. To help him study, he also gets a Merriam-Webster Third New International Dictionary.

According to the New Haven Register report:
Hungry for victory, Joseph studied six hours a day and enlisted his siblings to surf the Internet for challenging words to spell. That was after he had memorized a book of common spelling bee words.

"He likes to win," said his mother, Jean Henares. "He was determined to win it this time," added his father, John Henares.
Congratulations to Jean and John and the entire Henares family. We wish you well and are so very proud of Joseph's accomplishment.

For Homeschoolers - The Myth Of Equivalent Instruction

This post is an excerpt of the article originally written by NHELD.

Many states use the term “equivalent instruction” in their education statutes especially as it applies to homeschooling.

Did you ever think to ask why? Equivalent instruction is a myth. There is no such thing and there can be no such thing. Even if it were possible to reach the goal of equivalent instruction, why would parents who instruct their own children according to their individual needs, want or be required to instruct in a manner with methods and materials that are “equivalent” to the public school system when the public/government school system has proven in many ways to be such a dismal failure? Why should parents be compelled to abandon a superior method of individualized education in favor of a mediocre method of proven failure? Isn’t it time that parents stop engaging in the argument about what laws are best to assure equivalent instruction and start engaging in efforts to eliminate from all laws any reference at all to “equivalent instruction”?

What does Equivalent Instruction mean?
Some states have statutes which say something like this:
"Equivalent Instruction" shall mean a program of instruction approved under the requirements of the compulsory attendance law as an equivalent to attendance at a public school or an approved private school.
Equivalent instruction is an idea that is very difficult to prove or to emulate even within a public school system from district to district, from school to school, from class to class. How, then, can homeschooling parents be held to employ “equivalent instruction” when the very government imposing that rule cannot define it?

For example, Even if you say one should teach math as a subject ... equivalency, in that instance, means nothing – as there are many subjects in math. Any one school may be teaching math in a very different and unequivalent way than another, even within the very same school district! But even if you pick a specific subject like multiplication, that can also be taught numerous ways.

If one school teaches Miquon Math and another teaches algebraic concepts, is that equivalent instruction? Both schools are teaching “math”, but yet the content is in no way equivalent, so how can that subject being taught by those two schools be equivalent? Even if they are teaching the same information, the way it is delivered may also not be equivalent. If one school uses Saxon and another uses Scott Foresman texts, are they still providing equivalent instruction? So how can instruction be equivalent? Perhaps the outcome can be deemed equivalent: you either learned how to multiply or you didn’t.

How can anyone buy into the whole “equivalency argument” especially when in any given local school system, where supposedly they are all teaching the same things, the curriculum, materials, and methods are really unequivalent from school to school and class to class?

In Connecticut, there was a major lawsuit brought against the State Department of Education. In 1989, lawyers for an interracial group of urban and suburban children brought suit against the state. In that case, Sheff v. O'Neill, they argued that racial segregation in the Hartford region violated their state constitutional guarantee of the provision of an equal education. The courts agreed and ordered the General Assembly to create plans for achieving equal educational opportunity. This case was not only about desegregation, but about making equal education opportunities available to all students everywhere. Although the plaintiffs won, and the State was charged with making changes to remedy “unequivalent” education, to date little has really been achieved. Civil rights groups were back in court to again to sue the state in 2004 after concluding it hadn't met a chief goal of a 2003 settlement resulting from the landmark case -- integrating Hartford's public magnet schools. Many magnet schools and charter schools have been designed to be more inclusive and diverse, but one will clearly still get a much different education in Bridgeport (an urban area) than in Simsbury (a suburban area). The problem is not a lack of funding; it is the absurdity of the notion that every school can offer the same education to all children.

So what does this particular public school squabble have to do with homeschoolers? Well, here, again, is the whole notion of equivalency. If the public schools can not even get themselves to have equivalent instruction throughout their state districts and even within some districts, then how can homeschoolers be held to the task of meeting “equivalency”?

If the government is trying to hold parents to a standard of “equivalent instruction”, ask yourself, can the government even define the standard to which they are trying to compel you to meet? Chances are they cannot. What, then, is the result? The result is to leave it up to the “discretion” of the public school official in charge of overseeing the “equivalent instruction.” We know what the results of that is – arbitrariness, inequality, and, all too often, abuse of authority.

If there were such a thing as equivalent instruction there would be one textbook company, one method of delivering information, and one curriculum for all. Perhaps that may exist in a Communist regime, but for the time being it does not exist in a free society such as ours.

Education cannot be homogenized and made into a one size fits all or one product that can be consumed by all. Education must be unequivalent to meet the needs of each child, and how they learn. In reality, education even within the public school system already is and will continue to be unequivalent. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Additionally, why should homeschooling parents who already are providing a superior and individualized education to their children bow to the pressures of those who have so miserably failed in operating the public/government school system and succumb to providing “equivalent instruction”?

The education the public/government school purveyors provide should not be emulated. It should be eradicated. Public/government school purveyors can see the success of parental instruction. They see the numbers of parents who are instructing their children continue to grow. They see an ever-increasing threat to their existence. They see that parents with no formal teaching credentials are raising and educating children in a far better manner than people who claim expertise in the field of education. This is precisely why organizations like the National Education Association and their affiliates are so squarely opposed to homeschooling. They need to maintain control over parents to stem the tide of a mass exodus from the public schools. They seek to maintain this control by manipulating the minds of parents and of government leaders. The public/government school purveyors have been successful so far at this. They have succeeded in convincing government leaders into adopting laws that require parents to show “equivalent instruction”. For the most part, they have succeeded in convincing parents that their argument about “equivalent instruction” is a valid one. Parents have fought the adoption of laws requiring “equivalent instruction”, but have not fought the basic premise behind the laws. The premise is false. Public/Government school instruction is not superior. Public/Government school instruction is far inferior to that individualized flexible instruction a parent is able to provide. Why, then, should parents who are providing superior instruction be compelled to forsake the superior instruction in order to provide the inferior “equivalent instruction” of a public school?

If your state law requires you to show “equivalent instruction”, work as hard as you can to get it changed. Tell your legislators that you don’t want to be forced to provide inferior instruction to your child. Let them know that the concept of “equivalent education” is a myth.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Northern Virginiastan

Northern Virginiastan otherwise known as Baileys Crossroads, Va., is supposedly teeming with Islamic radicals just as hostile to the U.S. government as their counterparts in London.

You must read the article:
Authorities across the pond now fear that even more Muslims - possibly numbering in the thousands - are plotting terror. On this end, however, U.S. officials still can't see anything in the pipeline.

Responding to new alarms raised by the Brits, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says not to worry, the threat inside America is less severe. He maintains that this country doesn't have the kind of "pockets" of concentrated radicals seen in Britain, where terrorists can find support and plot with virtual impunity.

Chertoff must not get out much.

Right across the Potomac from his office is the second-highest concentration of Muslims in the country. Baileys Crossroads, Va., is teeming with Islamic radicals just as hostile to the U.S. government as their counterparts in London.

Baileys Crossroads is the heart of the Wahhabi corridor, which includes the safe houses where the hijackers stayed and the mosque where they and dozens of other terrorists have worshipped.

Another area mosque preached to members of the Virginia Jihad Network, who plotted to kill American soldiers after 9/11 and praised the space shuttle Columbia disaster as a "good omen" for Islam. The area also includes two luxury apartment high-rises that erupted into cheers when the World Trade Center fell on 9/11. Law enforcement has dubbed them the "Taliban Towers." Investigators routinely find posters and computer screen savers celebrating Osama bin Laden as a hero.

Down the street is a Saudi charitable front for al-Qaida once run by bin Laden's nephew. The U.S. branch of the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood is in the same office park. Farther down in Alexandria is the Saudi madrassa that's graduated several terrorists, including the al-Qaida operative who plotted to assassinate President Bush.

Agents on the ground working the inordinate number of terror cases in the area say it's no less than the base of operations for the bad guys in America - and it's right in Chertoff's backyard. Despite raid after raid, however, none of the entities along the Wahhabi corridor has been shut down. Thanks to institutionalized political correctness and Saudi Embassy complaints, the terror-supporting infrastructure has not been dismantled.

The hijackers didn't operate in isolation, like visitors from outer space. They were secreted inside the Muslim community for well over a year, and got substantial aid and comfort from dozens of facilitators at no less than seven mosques from coast to coast. Some knew the evil they planned and helped them anyway.

Assimilation? Hardly. In Baileys Crossroads, skinned goats are delivered daily to several halal butcher shops located in shopping centers where all the signs are in Arabic. Women shop in head-to-toe black abayas. You'd never know this is a suburb of the nation's capital.

Concerned longtime residents have seen it turn into "Northern Virginiastan."

The pundits who mouth pleasant platitudes about American Muslims being more "integrated" have never spent much time in Northern Virginia, or for that matter, in Bridgeview, Ill.; or Jersey City, N.J.; or Dearborn, Mich., where residents are routinely subjected to rallies and marches for Hezbollah and other terror groups, along with calls to pray blasted over mosque loudspeakers five times a day. These places look and sound more like little Cairos than any American city, and they provide perfect cover for Muslim terrorists and their supporters.

Terror experts say there are hundreds if not thousands of potential suicide bombers already established inside the Muslim communities in America. They need to be ferreted out.
Since Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff doesn't seem to think this is a problem, some people are speculating that perhaps this is part of some sort of bigger picture. They are saying that our government is allowing illegal aliens to flood over the border and Islamic terrorist cells to really take root here so that when another 9/11 calamity happens here the government can pose Marshall Law and our rights and freedoms will be taken, and very easily so. The same people are saying a Government takeover would be relatively easy, since people will want the government "to protect them". People would be more apt to buy into the notion of carrying identification papers with biometric information as well as forgo their rights regarding searches and privacy, and seizure of personal property if they think it'll make them safer. The Bill Of Rights would get trampled on and no one will mind. Consider the fact that most people don't really understand how our founding documents secure their rights and freedoms to begin with. The Constitution and our sovereignty could then be more easily replaced with the globalism of a North American Union, especially since most kids/teens today are being taught in school that this is a good thing and very acceptable. Perhaps their tolerance and diversity training will make them more accepting of "sharia law". On top of all that some people are even saying that the US dollar is headed for a collapse. Conspiracy theory? Fantasy? A plausible picture or the ravings of lunatics?

Now I don't know about all that - but we are certainly putting ourselves at risk here by having a government that has done absolutely nothing with regard to securing our borders, in fact they are making them even more porous. The whole issue of unsecured borders is quite unsettling.

Now what did Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne, in “Poltergeist” say???
They’re heeere!

(Hat Tip - LeAnn S.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Canadians Don't Want The North American Union Either !

Canadians are fighting for their sovereignty as well. They do not want to see themselves merged into a "North American Union". Their term for it is "Deep Integration".

This website, Vive le Canada, has launched a red and white ribbon campaign.

NO Deep integration!

They say,
"Red and white were chosen because they are the colours of the Canadian flag. Since the U.S. flag is red, white and blue, wearing a ribbon which is red and white symbolizes a commitment to Canadian sovereignty. There is no blue on this ribbon."
Another website is The Council of Canadians (you gotta check that out!), and they have a whole list of actions they want Canadians to take in order to protest "Deep Integration".

Here is some of the things they are saying:
* Join a local chapter of The Council of Canadians.
* Read and distribute our materials.
* Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
* Donate to The Council of Canadians.
* Tell a friend about the Council's website
* Send a postcard to the PM!

The Canada Free Press has also done a number of articles about it.
This one explains what it is all about.
This one talks about the flood of Mexicans into the US.
Here is another article, which reports Canadian protesters were flying the Canadian flag upside down.
Connie Fogal, the leader of the Canadian Action Party said "we are opposed to the plan to develop the Security and Prosperity Partnership into a EU-style North American Union government" which "amounts to treason and is a total violation of the constitutional rights of Canadian citizens."
I am glad to hear that Canadians are as angry about this initiative as many Americans are. Obviously we both have much to lose and there is a lot at stake here. Write to your Congressman. Tell your family, friends and neighbors.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If You Are Really An Environmentalist - Ditch The Prius

This well done report by Chris Demorro is an education about how the Prius is manufactured and what the real truth is about it's "greeness".

Mr. Demorro says that the Prius creates incredible environmental damage just based on its nickel batteries alone, the production of which is a source of some of the worst pollution in North America! It even takes more combined energy to produce a Prius than it does to produce a Hummer! The report is very well researched.

But just say the word "green" and everyone falls for it and jumps on the bandwagon without even checking out what they are being sold.

Check it out:
The Prius is powered by not one, but two engines: a standard 76 horsepower, 1.5-liter gas engine found in most cars today and a battery- powered engine that deals out 67 horsepower and a whooping 295ft/lbs of torque, below 2000 revolutions per minute. Essentially, the Toyota Synergy Drive system, as it is so called, propels the car from a dead stop to up to 30mph. This is where the largest percent of gas is consumed. As any physics major can tell you, it takes more energy to get an object moving than to keep it moving. The battery is recharged through the braking system, as well as when the gasoline engine takes over anywhere north of 30mph. It seems like a great energy efficient and environmentally sound car, right?

You would be right if you went by the old government EPA estimates, which netted the Prius an incredible 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles per gallon on the highway. Unfortunately for Toyota, the government realized how unrealistic their EPA tests were, which consisted of highway speeds limited to 55mph and acceleration of only 3.3 mph per second. The new tests which affect all 2008 models give a much more realistic rating with highway speeds of 80mph and acceleration of 8mph per second. This has dropped the Prius’s EPA down by 25 percent to an average of 45mpg. This now puts the Toyota within spitting distance of cars like the Chevy Aveo, which costs less then half what the Prius costs.

However, if that was the only issue with the Prius, I wouldn’t be writing this article. It gets much worse.

Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare.

“The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside,” said Canadian Greenpeace energy-coordinator David Martin during an interview with Mail, a British-based newspaper.

All of this would be bad enough in and of itself; however, the journey to make a hybrid doesn’t end there. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?

Wait, I haven’t even got to the best part yet.

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Prius’s arch nemesis.

Through a study by CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.

So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.

One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses.
So there you have it. Maybe the best thing for environmentalists to do is stick with a diesel car and use biofuel or french fry oil to run it, or they could always hitch a ride with someone who owns a Hummer.

Monday, March 19, 2007

North American Union - Mexican Trucks Coming To The US In April

Here is an excellent paper to answer your questions about the coming of the North American Union, otherwise known by some as Mexicamericanada. Please take the time to print it out and read it.

You may or may not know about the latest move in the initiative. There was this report and another one which tells how and when Mexican trucks will be able to cross our borders in April.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters went to El Paso to make the announcement that for the first time, starting in April, 100 Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to make deliveries anywhere in the United States, and she put no limit on the number of trucks the 100 companies can operate. This is a major step toward Bush's vision of a North American community.

U.S. truck drivers must meet strict requirements that include enforcement of hours, regular physicals, age limits, and drug and alcohol tests. We have no way of telling how many hours Mexican truck drivers have been on the road before they reach our border inspectors.

Mexico has no limits on how many hours a driver can drive a truck, and no credible drug testing of drivers. The Mexican trucking industry, with few exceptions, has never successfully been monitored, much less supervised.

Over the last several years, there have been many fatal accidents caused by cars and trucks driven by Mexicans, legal and illegal. The most tragic and costly truck accident in Midwest history, resulting in the incineration of Rev. Scott Willis's six children in 1994, was caused by a Mexican truck driver's inability to comprehend warnings in the English language.

Secretary Peters claims that the Mexican drivers will be able to understand English, but we are entitled to doubt Bush's enforcement of the English-language regulation. Mexican drivers unfamiliar with our roads and signage, plus language incompatibility, are a danger to all driving Americans.
I'll bet a taco dinner that those trucks will not be up to US safety standards, and that Mexican trucks will be a menace on our roadways.
So where are the US truckers unions?
Hey Teamsters are you awake?
Or are you gonna roll over and die?
What's up with that?

Here is more salient commentary on the issue:
The next time you contact your congressman, here are a few unpleasant questions to raise as your representative attempts to console you that Congress is on top of things to make sure that Mexican trucks will be safe when driving on U.S. roads:

• Given the number of illegal immigrants being smuggled into the United States now, what will happen when thousands of trucks are coming back and forth into the U.S. daily? What will happen to our already chronic problem with illegal immigration once the border opens up further?

• Since our own government seldom bothers to do anything about crimes committed by illegal aliens, what will happen when a Mexican trucker commits a crime on U.S. soil, and flees straight back to Mexico? What recourse will American citizens have, given Mexico's unwillingness to extradite violent felons to the U.S.?

• What will happen in our communities with the increased flow of drugs, and as the violence fomented from the ultra-violent cartels slops over into our own backyards?

• As the war in the Middle East likely spreads, what effective means will there be to prevent terrorists and their WMDs from being smuggled straight across our border on wide open U.S. freeways?
Plans are underway and our country, as we know it, will be gone by 2010! The trucks are coming, roads are being built, and the Kansas City Customs Port will become Mexican Soil (AKA Mexican Sovereign Territory)! It is being rolled out slowly - no one is paying much attention. The media is tragically silent. When NAU is here it will be too late for all of us to protest.

Why are we allowing this to happen?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

They Can't Speak English And You're Going To Teach Them Chinese?

In this first article we learn that BEV is the rule of the day at some schools - BEV is Black English Vernacular - or more commonly - Ebonics.

It is usually littered with foul language, poor grammar, and degrading comments to women and other minorities - but here is a sanitized example:

"You gots to git those Benjamins so you cin git dat bling-bling fo yo ride"
"You need to get money so that you can get expensive accessories for your car."

In my opinion Ebonics is not a language - it is illiteracy glorified to the status of language, and allowing kids in school to continue speaking it is allowing illiteracy to flourish, in order to keep the masses down and stupid.

However, the Rochester City School District officials say it's OK for students and teachers to speak Ebonics in class. The newsletter, Diversity Dialogue, suggests teachers use BEV to communicate with students.

It says teachers can:
- Switch into BEV in specific situations or informal discussion.
- Translate common phrases in Standard English into BEV.
- Read and retell stories in both BEV and Standard English.

"We need to embrace the diversity they bring into our schools," said the district's Chief of Diversity and Leadership, Michele Hancock.

We want (teachers) to have a better understanding of what BEV is so they can incorporate it into their teaching. That way, they're not alienating the students who are speaking the vernacular and degrading them. Ebonics is defined as a speech pattern used by some African-Americans that does not follow standard grammar.

I think those "educators" need to have their teaching credentials revoked, and those kids need to learn how to speak proper English to be able to succeed in life. Taxpayers in Rochester should fire those Bozos and find educators who will give them their money's worth.

In a related story, it is believed that learning to speak Chinese is of utmost importance.
Interest in learning Chinese has surged in the United States, as China has risen as a global and economic power. In 2000, there were about 5,000 students studying Mandarin Chinese in U.S. public schools, according to the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Now that number is between 30,000 and 50,000, leaving states and districts scrambling to find enough qualified teachers.

The federal government has provided one of the biggest boosts for Chinese. In January 2006, President Bush announced the National Security Language Initiative to increase Americans’ proficiency in “critical languages” such as Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Japanese and Russian. The program handed out $22 million in grants to states and districts to set up or expand language programs.

The program is why the number of Connecticut students studying Chinese has increased tenfold over the last two years, from 300 to 3,000 students, said Mary Ann Hansen, the state education department’s World Languages consultant. Last year Connecticut hosted five Chinese teachers, and this year added another four with help from Hanban. One school that used a volunteer last year hired a teacher from Connecticut this year.
We have Chinese being taught in our local public schools in West Hartford. In fact our previous CT Commissioner of Education, Betty Sternberg (now superintendent of schools in Greenwich), went to China 2 years ago and brought back all kinds of "best practices" to share - along with lots of awards and trinkets from the Chinese which adorn her walls to this day. It was enough to make you gag.

Unfortunately they are teaching the wrong version of Chinese. I personally know a wonderful woman, Pei-Pei Champion, who spends her time educating people about the way the language was changed for political reasons. She conducts Chinese classes here in CT. She is an incredible woman and I applaud her efforts to bring "pre Mao" Chinese to those who wish to truly learn the language. Pei Pei refers to the simplified characters, created under the rule of Chairman Mao Ze Dong during the communist revolution, as a kind of plague upon her language. Chairman Mao wanted to eliminate the Chinese characters, viewing them as part of the “old culture” that he sought to break away from. Actually he wanted to eliminate any way for people to know about their own past. Every good dictator knows the importance of cutting people off from their past, and it is especially important to make it so they cannot read original documents from their own history (providing they still exist).

Yet, I just knew that there was an underlying plot unfolding: even the little papers in the fortune cookies were attempting to teach us all Chinese. I guess we'll need to know the language when our country goes totally Communist, especially while me and my homeys be chillin' in da crib.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Big Pharma Drugs and Lawsuits

Court dockets could be filling up.
Attorney Generals are suing Big Pharma.
The lawsuits are multiplying like rabbits.

There are lawsuits on the 5 atypical antipsychotics: Abilify, Geodon, Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa.

At least 8 State Attorney Generals have sued the makers of those antipsychotic drugs in the states of Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia

At least 4 more states have issued subpoenas to the makers of those antipsychotics:
California, Florida, Illinois and Vermont

And on the federal level:
Bristol-Myers Squibb agreed to settle a federal investigation on Abilify.

Johnson & Johnson said it received subpoenas from U.S. attorneys on Risperdal

And Congressman Waxman has sent subpoenas to Eli Lilly on Zyprexa and AstraZeneca on Seroquel.

TMAP - Texas Medication Algorithm (guidelines) Project - It looks like TMAP is going to go down with a large slam. The Texas attorney general says TMAP was just one part of an elaborate marketing scheme to increase psychotropic drug sales.

TMAP was recommended by the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.
And just FYI - TeenScreen was also recommended by the New Freedom Commission and Laurie Flynn, the head of TeenScreen was also involved with TMAP.

Connecting the dots just couldn't be easier. Thank goodness for the researchers and whistle blowers, who by the way are not all Scientologists (wink)- some are even Baptists, Jews and Catholics - among others. (gasp!)

Also there is breaking news about the dangers of sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta. The most widely prescribed sleeping pills can cause strange behavior like driving and eating while asleep, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which announced Wednesday that strong new warnings would be placed on the labels of 13 drugs. As recently as last year there was a huge media push for these drugs in print ads and TV ads. Sleep studies have been cited to promote later school start times across the country, and also claimed that we are experiencing "sleep deficits" that are causing car accidents and other calamities. People believe that studies were all designed to push these sleep medications. The National Sleep Foundation has received funding from the pharmaceutical companies. According to a Washington Post article on sleep research, NSF has received money from the makers of the sleeping pill Ambien to alert people about an insomnia "public health crisis" as part of a marketing campaign. (Washington Post, A2, 2/15/02)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Homeschoolers - Virtual and E-Charters Versus Sovereign Parental Instruction

There has been some talk lately about Public/Government, Private, Virtual and E-Charter schools and what it all means to homeschoolers.

As a homeschooler, you understand the commitment and work it requires being directly responsible for your child's education. There are many different reasons why people homeschool. There are many different ways to home educate. I think we all understand that, and appreciate the diversity in our opinions, styles of educating and choice of curriculum. Heaven knows there are so many options out there for the homeschooling family to choose from. We do need to understand what those choices are and what they mean. I think we can all agree that public/government schooling is not homeschooling.

New homeschoolers, in particular, may not be as aware of the implications of various choices because they are still exploring the alternatives to public/government and private education, especially if they have experienced public/government education with their kids and may have chosen to do something different.

For purposes of discussion, we should get our terms straight. I believe there are three categories of education that most people commonly recognize. I believe that it is erroneous and misleading to bring into the discussion WHERE education is taking place. The "where" is not particularly important. What is important is who is managing the education, who is determining the curriculum, and how it is being paid for, as well as whom is being paid (or not paid) to do it.

Public/Government School - includes all publicly funded activities no matter where they take place. Public/Government education can take place on the moon if you provide the students with materials and resources which are paid for by the taxpayer, and have a curriculum directed by state/government entities. Children can be enrolled in public/government school via a charter, virtual, or on-site in a brick building. Charters and Virtuals may be done at home but that is not homeschooling in the true sense of what homeschooling has come to mean. In many ways the term homeschooling has been usurped by government school programs done at home.

Private School - is all education where services are paid for by parents such that OTHER PEOPLE are paid to organize and manage the education of their children on a day to day basis, and most often done in an institutional setting outside of the home. Primarily, parents pay OTHER PEOPLE to educate their children. Tutoring may not necessarily fall under this category because it isn't an ongoing full time activity (i.e. 8 hours a day - 5 days a week)- Tutoring is an occasional activity which may be privately contracted but not considered "Private school". Homeschools are considered Private Education in some states simply because they are lumped under the moniker of "Non-Public" education. It commonly accepted that kids who are enrolled in Private School umbrella programs done at home (like "Oak Meadow") are homeschoolers. Technically I'd call them private schoolers because they are enrolled in a private school program, especially if the umbrella school keeps track of their progress and prepares their transcripts, and awards credentials. My daughter is enrolled in such a private school distance program, so technically I suppose we are not really independently "homeschooling". If you simply purchase materials from umbrella schools, without actually enrolling in a program of study, to be done at home under your direction, then that to me is closer to the independent homeschool model.

Homeschool/Sovereign Parental Instruction - Parents take complete responsibility and financial expense of their children's education - completely autonomous from the state and federal management of education. Parents keep track of their child's progress and may even award their own credentials. Curriculum is determined by the parent and child and the goals and purposes they set forth on their own. Suffice it to say that homeschooling has been around since the dawn of time, but the label "homeschooling" is relatively new. The parent may facilitate the learning, arrange for contracted tutors, or purchase specific materials from various sources, including umbrella schools. Learning takes place in all sorts of places and need not happen in the "home", in fact, sometimes it occurs in the car (smile).

With that all said, Virtual schools and Charter Schools are in fact public/government school. They are funded by tax dollars; chartered by local school districts; and operated in a variety of fashions. The most prevalent model of virtual schooling is that it is operated by using personal computers for instruction. Often those computers are set up in people's homes, funded by tax dollars. There are lesson plans to follow, and work must be completed and documented. Parents work under the auspices of the government school and their children are subject to all the rules and regulations of government school, including state testing and other mandates. Parents are used as primary teachers or facilitators in this model. Parents may or may not be paid by the state. Their children are enrolled in public/government school. Education is done in a home setting, and kids may even participate in local homeschool group activities, but this is NOT homeschooling in the traditional and commonly accepted sense.

People may mix and match some models - perhaps they have kids enrolled in a private umbrella school like Oak Meadow or American School and also do some independent homeschool curriculum. Sometimes they add in a Community College course which is really public education.

My point, and purpose, is not to try to pigeonhole anyone or to say that one model is better than another, because the model that is better is the one that works best for your child and your family. Certainly education choice is key even as we are able to mix and match models to suit our children's goals, needs, and abilities. My point is that there are distinguishing features between the different options, and some families may believe that they are homeschooling based solely on where the education is happening.

This is precisely why no one can really define what homeschooling is, except that in its pure sense it embodies sovereign parental instruction (a term coined by Deborah Stevenson of NHELD). Sovereign parental instruction is the instruction of children by their parents in whom independent and supreme authority for that instruction is vested. It means parental instruction of children in freedom, autonomously, without government interference. That being said, I don't really care what you want to call yourself - but I do care what the government says you are.

I think that as homeschoolers we all really need to recognize that if there is no true distinction between “government school at home” and “home school”, then there is no choice at all; there is no freedom to educate; there is only government school. The idea here is not to pigeonhole anyone, but to understand that differences are important. We really must be careful with terminology simply because there appears to be an agenda to usurp the terminology of "homeschooling" such that it will bring those who practice "sovereign parental instruction" into the net of public/government education and it's legislation and regulations purely based on the term "homeschooler".

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Homeschoolers - NYU Splash!

You might have heard of the MIT Splash program through ESP - Lots of homeschoolers flock to the program in Boston around Thanksgiving time.

Well now, NYU is putting together a similar program - Math Classes at NYU for grades 9-12 called cSplash. On Saturday, March 24, the Courant Institute at New York University will be running cSplash, a program modeled on MIT's own Splash but offering primarily mathematics classes.

CSplash runs for one day and is filled with interesting classes on diverse topics in theoretical and applied mathematics, including physics, computer science, and other related topics. Many of the instructors are graduate students at NYU; in addition, several of the folks from MIT ESP are going down to New York for the day to teach!

cSplash is free and is open only to students in grades 9-12. If you would like to sign up, just visit their website

Registration ends this Sunday, March 18th, so sign up soon! If you have any questions, feel free to contact the cSplash organizers directly at

Beware the Ides of March

Today we celebrate the 2050th anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar, so be on your toes, and "Beware the Ides of March."
Great Post over at the Capitalist League.

Governor Perry - Apparently No One Died And Left You King

A Bill challenging Governor Perry's vaccine order wins the vote in the Texas House and the Texas Senate support is strong.

Thank goodness the people in Texas know how to fight tyrants.

The Texas House voted Tuesday to unravel Gov. Rick Perry's order that all sixth-grade girls be inoculated against the virus that can cause cervical cancer, giving overwhelming support to a bill that would allow only the Legislature to mandate the vaccine in the future. None of this "Executive Order" nonsense.

After an emotional and confrontational three-hour fight over the issue, House members voted, 119-21, for a bill by Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, that says the vaccine for human papillomavirus cannot be required as a condition for school entry. Someone give Rep. Bonnen the "Legislator Of The Year Award."

The force of Mr. Perry's mandate – which lets parents opt their children out of the vaccine – was limited this week when Attorney General Greg Abbott said that a governor's executive order to a state agency does not carry the weight of law.

• The bill now heads to the Senate, where it has broad support.

• Once the House and Senate have passed identical versions, the measure goes to Mr. Perry. If he vetoes it and the Legislature is still in session, lawmakers could override his veto with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

- The vaccine is relatively new, and it's unclear whether it has long-term side effects.
- Education and early diagnosis can also prevent cervical cancer.
- The bill would not keep anyone from getting vaccinated if they can pay the cost, and it would leave open the possibility of the state buying the vaccine for low-income Texans.
- The measure maintains parental control over medical decisions for children.
- Mandatory vaccination could give a false sense of security against sexually transmitted diseases and encourage girls to have sex.

See my previous posts on HPV Vaccine

also see where the bills are across the country and what's been happening with them.

SSShhhh..... I Never Told You This...

I wouldn't tell anyone to do anything illegal.
I do like to share though.
I came across this nifty "How To" for all you "do-it-yourselfers".
It's a blog post that I jut have to pass along.
It has to do with a hammer and an RFID chip.

There's good reason to be annoyed with RFID technology used for identification applications - for one thing it seems that your identity can be easily stolen. The whole procedure was very interestingly outlined in another blog post.

In the UK, the Daily Mail revealed how easily a person’s identity can be stolen from new biometric passports. Security gaps allowed the personal details and photograph in any electronic passport to be copied from the outside of the envelope in which it is delivered to homes, or even from 6 feet away while people are at the airport waiting for their next flight!

Using a simple gadget built from parts bought on the Internet, it took the Daily Mail less than four hours to copy the details from one passport after removing it from a person's mailbox. With her permission, they took away the envelope containing her passport and never opened it. By the end of the afternoon, they had stolen enough information from the passport’s electronic chip - including the woman’s photograph - to be able to clone an identical document. More significantly, they had the details which would allow a fraudster, people trafficker, or illegal immigrant to set up a new life in Britain. The criminal could open a bank account, claim state benefits and undertake a myriad financial and legal transactions in someone else’s name.

In the UK, each of these newly issued passports is now an ID transmitter that silently puts personal information out there to whoever wants it. On the back of the page is a tiny computer chip, surrounded by a coil of copper-colored wire. This is a Radio Frequency Identification microchip, which can be read using radio waves. Encoded on the passport’s RFID chip are three important files. One contains an electronic copy of the printed information on the passport’s photo page; the second holds the electronic image of the holder’s photo. The third is a security device which checks that the previous two files are not accessed and altered. In order to get into the files, the computer needs an “electronic key”. This is the 24-digit code printed on the bottom line of the passport’s Machine Readable Zone. It is called the “MRZ key number”. The UK Government said the biometric chips are protected by “an advanced digital encryption technique” and without the MRZ key code it is impossible to steal the passport holder’s details if you do not have their travel document in your hand. hackers of course know how to crack these codes, and unlike ATM machines that only give you a few tries to input a code, they can try all kinds of iterations of coding until they find the "key".

Anyone carrying one of these ID transmitting passports around can also have their information pirated as they walk down the street. The "pirate" will put antennae near the entrances of banks (or anywhere else that people regularly show their passports) and then sit back and watch the data roll in. They will not even have to be there. All they need to do is set up a system that phones home when it collects a batch of passports. Cheap laptops in a small box could do it with ease. It took the Daily Mail no time at all to unravel the crucial code, using a relatively simple computer software program and a scanning device.

Now there are those out there who will say - simple to solve this problem - just keep your RFID chipped documents in a special holder that blocks the signals. I suppose that's a solution. But in general, a passport is supposed to be used only to tell governments of other countries that you are an American (or in this case, British) Citizen entitled to protections afforded to such people. Far too much weight is given to passports and identity documents like driving licenses. Identity documents will NOT stop terrorism. They will create other problems.

It is interesting to note that the US Department of Homeland security has found the US Visit program which used RFID's in visitor cards to be a bust.

While I might not mind RFID's being used to inventory CD's or socks in a store, I am not really enthusiastic about them being used to tag or identify human beings like cattle.