Archive for August 9th, 2009

Opinion — Some thoughts on government education, by Artur Bagyants

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Some Thoughts on Education

By Artur Bagyants

Money – In almost any debate about education policy, money is the central question. Should we make investments or cuts? If you want to spend more, you’re pro-education, and if you want to spend less, well, you aren’t. This is a false choice – merely a political tool – and does a real disservice to both teachers and students. Money is a prerequisite; necessary, but not sufficient. An increased investment does not necessarily translate to higher test scores and graduation rates.

The Kansas Constitution directs the legislature to “Make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” In other words, make sure our schools have the money they need to accomplish the goals they have. This is, and should always be an enduring commitment we make to the next generation. But if the goals themselves are faulty, problems arise, which brings us to the second point. (more…)

LA Times — Mexico’s war on civil rights: Obama must demand an end to abuses linked to President Felipe Calderon’s drug crackdown.

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

When President Obama goes to Guadalajara, Mexico, this weekend for the North American Leaders Summit, he will surely praise Mexican President Felipe Calderon for the courage he has displayed fighting the war on drugs. The applause is well deserved. Calderon has turned the crackdown on drug traffickers into the centerpiece of his administration and has pursued organized crime with undeniable zeal. But before Obama becomes too effusive and pats Calderon on the back for a job well done, it’s important that the U.S. president remember the cost and the consequences of his counterpart’s crusade.

WSJ: Geithner Asks Congress to Increase Federal Debt Limit

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Washington – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asked Congress to increase the $12.1 trillion debt limit on Friday, saying it is “critically important” that they act in the next two months.

Mr. Geithner, in a letter to U.S. lawmakers, said that the Treasury projects that the current debt limit could be reached as early mid-October. Increasing the limit is important to instilling confidence in global investors, Mr. Geithner said.

CNET: Should Starbucks ban laptops?

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

In my local Starbucks, there’s a bald man who wears the same pristine white Prince tennis shoes every day. He is always perched on a stool, his PC open in front of him, typing away with the middle finger of each hand. He has one of those Bluetooth thingies in his ear and he’s often talking as he’s typing. This somewhat peculiar gentleman is, indeed, running his business from Starbucks.
One might wonder whether he’s just getting the slightly better end of this deal. I have never seen him eat there. Perhaps he orders one or two coffees. Which seems to indicate that he is renting business premises for around 7 dollars a day.

Mark Steyn: A Fifth Of European Union Will Be Muslim By 2050

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

“Demographic time bomb” [Mark Steyn]
Since my “alarmist” book came out, I notice the British and European media have begun to meet me halfway:

A Fifth Of European Union Will Be Muslim By 2050

Britain, Spain and Holland will have an even higher proportion of Muslims in a shorter amount of time, an investigation by The Telegraph shows.

A couple of points. The “European Union” is a fairly meaningless statistical concept including as it does places far off the Muslim-beaten path (Estonia). What counts are real jurisdictions – first, the major cities, which are already on the brink of majority Muslim status, from Malmo in Sweden to the EU capital Brussels; and, after the cities, individual nations. Critics of my thesis, most of whom don’t seem to have read the book, like to obsess about the point at which Europe becomes 50.1 per cent Muslim: Steyn’s full of hooey; it won’t happen till 2100, or 2200, if ever. But as I say about 30 pages in. it is not necessary for Islam to become a statistical majority in order to function as one. At the height of its power a millennium and a quarter back, “the Islamic world” stretched from Spain to India, yet its population was only minority Muslim.

On Linda Douglass — The empty words of a journalist turned flack, By: BYRON YORK

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

She’s one of several former journalists who are part of Team Obama, and her story, in particular, illustrates the difficulties that politically connected Democratic journalists can face both inside and outside the government. (Although a few Republican reporters have joined GOP administrations, this is mostly a Democratic problem, given the left-leaning sympathies of most journalists.)
As a reporter, how does one keep from rooting for the home team? And as a government official, how does one flack for the boss while ignoring the questions any journalist should ask?

CNET: Why consumers won’t buy tablets

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Rumors have it Apple is a month away from announcing a tablet computer. Another tablet, the Crunchpad, is also due for imminent release. These and other fine keyboardless computers get great play on gadget blogs (including our own Crave), but in the real world, I believe this whole category is a nonstarter. Why we keep waiting for the killer tablet computer is beyond me. Few people really want one, especially at the prices that they will have to sell for.

Pajamas Media: Smile, You’re on Government Camera! Dissent was patriotic during the Bush years, but now Obama wants Americans to inform on those who disagree with him.

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Ah, those were the days, when protesters had the support of the likes of Hillary Clinton and media outlets with questionable reporting about the actual numbers of protesters involved.

Don’t forget progressive art – for years, George W. Bush was depicted as the Joker, a vampire sucking the life out of Lady Liberty, and with a gun to his head – to name just a few tasteful items. Yes, indeed, one’s First Amendment rights are precious.

Flash forward to 2009. Many Americans, dismayed by the unprecedented growth of government, rising taxes and the wasteful spending that accompanies it, and last but not least a health care plan that is a one-way ticket to socialism, begin to voice their concerns by attending grassroots tea parties and town hall meetings held by elected representatives. A number of these Americans, concerned about the direction in which their nation is headed, are attending such gatherings for the first time.

The following are just a few examples illustrating how this time, the protests aren’t welcome:

A CNN reporter was openly contemptuous of the tea parties; she was more interested in arguing with attendees and criticizing her cable competition than simply reporting the facts. (Later, her contract was not renewed, but it is not clear if this kind of “reporting” had anything to do with it.)
CNN and MSNBC hosts and guests used vulgar terminology on the air to describe tea party attendees.

WSJ: France Fights Universal Care’s High Cost

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

France Gets a Clue [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Just as we lose our minds. From the Wall Street Journal:

France Fights Universal Care’s High Cost
When Laure Cuccarolo went into early labor on a recent Sunday night in a village in southern France, her only choice was to ask the local fire brigade to whisk her to a hospital 30 miles away. A closer one had been shuttered by cost cuts in France’s universal health system. Ms. Cuccarolo’s little girl was born in a firetruck.

Bob Owens: Why the Marine Social Media Ban May Not Go Far Enough

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

An immediate ban on commercial social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace went into effect for all Marine Corps personnel using the unclassified Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) NIPRNET this past Monday. This ban does not affect the personal use of social media by Marines on their own private computers or wired devices.

But perhaps it should.

The Scandal that Helped Merkel Become Chancellor — Gerd Langguth

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The Christian Democratic Union’s donor scandal of the 1990s led to the political fall of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the party’s chairman. Their sudden departure from the stage led to Angela Merkel’s swift rise. Without the affair, she might never have become chancellor.

Angela Merkel should be grateful to Karlheinz Schreiber. After 10 years, Canadian officials this week extradited the former arms lobbyist and he will soon face charges of tax evasion, fraud and bribery in Germany. Without him, she would not be where she is now: the Chancellor of Germany and, according to Forbes magazine, the most powerful woman in the world.