Saturday, December 27, 2008

Teachers banned from using red ink in case it upsets children

Edumacation: Yes, the ban the red ink because it makes the children feel useless and worthless which is gaining steam in America has no reached cross the pond to the UK. Thus the continued wussification of children gains momentum.

Hundreds of schools have barred teachers from marking in red in case it upsets the children.

They are scrapping the traditional method of correcting work because they consider it ‘confrontational’ and ‘threatening’.

Pupils increasingly find that the ticks and crosses on their homework are in more soothing shades like green, blue, pink and yellow, or even in pencil.

Traditionalists have branded the ban ‘barmy’, saying that red ink makes it easier for children to spot errors and improve. There are no set government guidelines on marking and schools are free to formulate their own individual policies.

Crofton Junior School, in Orpington, Kent, whose pupils range from seven to 11, is among those to have banned red ink. Its Marking Code of Practice states: ‘Work is
generally marked in pen – not red – but on occasion it may be appropriate to indicate errors in pencil so that they may be corrected.’

Headmaster Richard Sammonds said: ‘Red pen can be quite demotivating for children. It has negative, old-school connotations of “See me” and “Not good enough”.

‘We are no longer producing clerks and bookkeepers. We are trying to provide an education for children coming into the workforce in the 21st century.

‘The idea is to raise standards by taking a positive approach.

‘We highlight bits that are really good in one colour and use a different colour to mark areas that could be improved.’

....Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Banning red ink is absolutely barmy. Common sense suggests that children learn by their mistakes and occasionally they need upsetting to teach them to pull their socks up.

‘Self-esteem has to be built on genuine achievement, not mollycoddling, which only harms children in the long-run.

‘Red ink is the quickest way for pupils to see where they are going wrong and raise standards. I give teachers who have ditched their red pens nought out of ten. They’ve failed.’

Generation X was the last great generation of human beings, everything after including Gen Y are going to be fragile wimps who can't handle anything in life.

Ohio wants a bailout.

Nation: They are going to get it as well considering Obama's spend our way into a better economy plan which is basically create a bunch of welfare jobs to give the illusion of prosperity. It would be cheaper to cut everyone a check.

As the economy sputters and tax revenue plummets, governors and mayors across the United States are lining up to ask President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress for hundreds of billions of dollars to plug holes in their budgets, arguing that services will suffer and joblessness will rise if Washington does not come to the rescue.

In Ohio, which has shed 100,000 jobs in the past year, Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and his budget team spend a lot of time delivering bad news to constituents and plotting ways to wring money from the federal government. He announced $640 million in cuts for the budget year ending June 30, for a total of $1.9 billion since the economic crisis began.

"We're not crying wolf. This is real," Strickland said in an interview in his statehouse office, pointing to charts that project the most serious erosion of state income in 40 years and a two-year budget deficit of $7.3 billion. Revenue shortfalls in the upcoming two-year budget could amount to about 25 percent of the state's discretionary spending.

Strickland recently picked up the telephone and called Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff. When he heard the recorded voice of his former congressional colleague, he left a message: "Rahm, it's Ted. You've never failed me and I need $5 billion."

....Hamler-Fugitt worries that the federal stimulus will have only limited benefits: "It's one-time money. We have a structural deficit." Habat said something similar, pointing out that tax cuts passed by the state legislature in 2005 will save taxpayers and cost the government roughly $4.4 billion during the next two years, more than half the projected deficit.

"With the magnitude of the problem, there's no way Ohio can expect the federal government to give it that kind of money," said Habat, whose organization calculates that the recession will cost the state another $4 billion in revenue during the next two years.

"Ohio always lags in recovering from recessions," Habat said.

State policymakers are united in saying that any recovery will require federal tax dollars, and lots of them.

As for the telephone call Strickland made to Emanuel, asking for billions: The governor said Emanuel called back and said "something to the effect of, 'I hear you. You may not get everything you want, but you'll get help.' "

Retailers want a bailout.

Nation: No , just no damn it.

The country's largest retail trade association asked President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday to add a series of sales tax-exempt shopping days to a coming economic stimulus package in an effort to revive consumer confidence and spur spending.

The National Retail Federation called for three periods of sales tax-free shopping that would last 10 days each in March, July and October 2009. The trade group estimates that it would save consumers about $20 billion, or $175 per family.

Under the industry group's proposal, which would exclude alcohol and tobacco sales, the federal government would reimburse states for the lost tax revenue. State sales tax rates range from 2.9% to 7.25%, the group said. The five states without a sales tax -- Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon -- would also receive monies.

What moron would support this sort of stupidity? We would get tax free days and then pay it back later in federal taxes and give 5 states who don't have a sales tax undeserved money. This makes sense in what world?

After Christmas sales were bogus.

Nation: Via Instapundit who asked.

MORE BIG SALES EVERYWHERE. That’s happening all over. It’s like Black Friday II.

UPDATE: Or are the sales phony?


Two hours before the doors were set to open Friday morning, a Miami-area Wal-Mart parking lot was full of cars -- and possibility. But in a Christmas shopping season in which many Americans were unwilling to spend, even a packed lot doesn't always translate into holiday cheer for stores.

As stores offered rock-bottom prices and extended return policies, shoppers returned to the malls the day after Christmas. But many were on the hunt for big bargains on specific items or hoping to return unwanted gifts -- not looking to splurge.

Brenda Peterson was looking for "flat-out bargains" after driving 35 miles to arrive at a J.C. Penney in Raleigh, N.C., at 5 a.m., a half-hour before the store opened.

But she left empty-handed. A toy that she had spotted before Christmas -- a stuffed dog that rolls over and shakes its paw -- was gone. And even sales of up to 60 percent off clothing and other items weren't too enticing. After all, she had seen those sales before Christmas, too.

That was a common refrain among shoppers Friday, who appeared to be searching for a deal unlike any they had seen so far this year.

I went to two places that were making news about their sales, J.C. Penny and Sears. Both places among others like Walmart or the local Brandsmart just did not have any sales or just carried over from before Christmas. Put it this way. I got to Penny and Sears around noon. Penny's shirt department was basically spotless and in order. The same goes for Sears though they had some David Taylor stuff for 8 bucks. The malls had people but the parking lots were a lot less empty than before various pre-holiday weekends and the stores were just not crowded.

If you were looking for Christmas decorations and cards for next year you were in luck, but even that stuff wasn't sold out in the afternoon like earlier years.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

US laser warplane under threat from Barack Obama

Military: Leave the awesome laser plane of doom alone. If its over budget then make it come under budget which keeps it in development. In all seriousness, this is the future of warfare and any program that has made progress with the weapons of tomorrow should be kept going as long as verifiable progress is made.

One of first the first decisions of US defence that the President-elect will face in office will be whether or not to continue funding for the futuristic Airborne Laser weapons programme.

The system aims to send an invisible, ultra-powerful laser beam from aircraft hundreds of miles from their targets, and could one day alter the nature of aerial warfare.

Primarily designed to strike enemy missile silos, the US Missile Defence Agency has called the ABL the answer to "rogue states" or terror groups equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The first, very limited, test firing was staged in late November. The laser was loaded on to a Boeing 747 and fired from a stationary plane at a target on the ground just a few yards away.

But already 12 years in the making and way over budget at $4.3 billion (£2.9 billion), developers Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman fear it could fall victim to the new administration as it seeks to save costs. Mr Obama has stated a preference for abandoning weapons whose efficacy is not yet proven.

Boeing is now planning to develop the weapon's planned target range to include aircraft and enemy ballistic missiles in flight.

UAW vows to change bailout terms to their liking.

Business: The American taxpayer just wasted billions on the auto industry. It would have been best to make them go into bankruptcy which would force all sides to make concessions. Instead we have the UAW looking to Obama to change the bailout to their demands which he will of course. Good ole Barney Frank will make sure of it.

The nation's automakers are preparing to ask for wage and benefits concessions from their workers in early January to meet the conditions of a $17.4 billion federal aid package, but labor officials say they will seek to renegotiate the terms of the bailout rather than make those sacrifices.

The remarks by union leaders have set up yet another contentious battle in the auto industry.

In agreeing to provide federal assistance to General Motors and Chrysler, the White House demanded the firms cut worker compensation to the levels paid at the U.S. divisions of Toyota, Nissan and Honda. But Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers, said earlier this week that he would seek to remove the wage-reduction provision of the loan, calling it "an undue tax on the workers" who have already made "major" sacrifices for the benefit of the auto industry.

Gettelfinger said that what is being asked of the autoworkers -- who agreed to concessions in 2003, 2005 and 2007 -- is "unrealistic." He has said he wants to work with President-elect Barack Obama to remove the wage provision.

....Most of the terms of the loans were based on a failed legislative effort to give Detroit $14 billion in aid.

But the provision that requires the car companies to match wages at their Japanese rivals was inserted by the White House when it took over the effort to prevent a collapse of GM and Chrysler.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that the condition was an "unfair assault on working men and women."

"I believe that the incoming administration and the Congress should take whatever steps are necessary to remove" the provision, he said in a statement last week.

This is the first test for Black Jesus. Will Obama actually be logical about this or just be another lapdog for the unions? I am betting on the latter.

Eight soldiers found decapitated in Mexico

Nation: Drug wars over there are getting to a breaking point. The cartels have no respect or fear of anything to pull off something like this to the Mexican military.

Mexican authorities are investigating the violent deaths of eight soldiers, whose decapitated bodies were found after one of the most brazen attacks yet by the country's drug cartels.

The severed heads were found on Sunday morning in black plastic bags dumped near a superstore in the southern city of Chilpancingo. Their bodies were recovered along two motorways leading to the coastal resort of Acapulco 50 miles away.

All the victims were wearing civilian clothes, with unofficial reports suggesting they were picked up after leaving their barracks on a few days' leave.

The military is at the forefront of a two-year-old campaign against the cartels that control cocaine trafficking to the US as well as local production of marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine, and a growing market of local users.

A defence ministry statement called the murders "cowardly acts by criminal organisations seeking to scare off the armed forces."

Mexican newspapers cited a note found beside the heads warning: "For every one of ours you kill, we will kill 10 of yours." The note prompted speculation of a direct revenge attack after the deaths of three gang members nearby on Friday, killed in a shootout with soldiers. Propaganda messages have become a regular feature of Mexico's escalating drug violence which has killed 5,300 people this year, already double the record total of 2007.

Plus eight more bodies were found on Tuesday.

U.S. needs to 'Americanize' immigrants, or face trouble

Immigration: Ya think? But whenever you bring up assimilation it becomes an outcry that you are trying to put down another culture. Instead everyone should embrace multiculturalism which leads to more trouble.

The United States must embark on an aggressive effort to integrate immigrants, including teaching them English and U.S. history, a federal task force recommended Thursday.

If this "Americanization" fails, the nation could see major problems in 20 or 30 years, with foreign-born populations detached from the larger society and engaging in anti-social behavior, said Alfonso Aguilar, who heads the U.S. Office of Citizenship.

Aguilar compared the potential strife to what is occurring in some Western European countries where foreign-born populations do not feel part of the larger society and are not accepted by many as full citizens.

"We should not be naive and assume that the assimilation process is going to happen automatically," Aguilar said at a news conference.

The Task Force on New Americans recommends that the federal government take a leadership role in an "Americanization movement," but also says that states, local governments, nonprofit groups and the private sector should play a key part.

The report strongly emphasizes that immigrants must learn English in order to fully integrate into American society.

Aguilar said immigrants currently want to learn English but many cannot find classes.

He said the report is not recommending "an ugly, English-only approach," but "a friendly, pro-active literary effort."

Monday, December 22, 2008

SAG posts a Guide To California's Unemployment Benefits

Entertainment: As Consumerist points out this is also a good guide for non-actors to use to steal benefits from hard working taxpayers.

In California? Unemployed? The Screen Actors Guild guide to California Unemployment benefits is easier to use than CA's hard to navigate unemployment site, and the advice is general enough to work even for non-thespians. [SAG]

Even Hollywood players see the upside of being a blood sucking leech.

Welfare system creates benefits baby boom

UK: You needed a study to figure this out? If more babies equal more welfare checks, then yeah the amount of babies born will go up because they have created a system where being a pez dispensing mom gets more money.

Labour hikes in benefits for mothers produced a baby boom among poor families, Government-sponsored research showed today.

Tax credits and big increases in means-tested state payments have resulted in 45,000 extra babies a year - around one in 15 of all children born.

And it found that young women with the least education stopped using contraception after the benefits were pushed up because they were trying to get pregnant.

The findings mean that Gordon Brown's benefit reforms now stand alongside immigration as the main reason why the number of babies born in Britain is going up.

They also signal that that decisions of millions of people, especially those on low incomes, are powerfully influenced by the way the Government arranges the benefit system and taxation.

.....Tax credits and increases in the means-tested benefit for the workless, Income Support, pushed up the incomes of couples with children in the poorest fifth of the population by more than 10 per cent.

The increase in benefits was 'unprecedented', the report said.

It found that the women more likely to have children were younger women living in couples.

'We find consistent evidence that the increase in government support coincided with a rise in births among the low-education group relative to the high-education group, and we attribute this to the effect of the reforms,' the report said.

It added: 'We find evidence that the age at first birth falls among younger women, suggesting that these women are bringing forward their childbearing.'

The biggest increases were among childless young women or among those who already had two children, the report said.

Many childless women appeared to be inspired into motherhood by more generous benefits, the researchers found.

The effect accounts for 45,000 of the 670,000 babies born last year, according to their calculations.

They said: 'There was an increase in the proportion of women in the low education group reporting that they were not using contraception because they were trying to get, or already were, pregnant.

UAW balking at jobs bank elimination.

Business: Considering what a crisis the auto industry is in you would think they would be talking now till they come to an agreement. But everyone needs a paid holiday I guess.

GM plans to begin this week "brief and high level" talks with the UAW, bondholders, banks and suppliers, although it's unclear how much progress they can make with the Christmas holiday coming on Thursday, the Journal reports, citing people involved in discussions.

The Journal quoted an automotive analyst who said the automakers are likely headed for some tough talks with the UAW, and must come away with significant cost cuts quickly in order to qualify for a second round of loans in the first quarter.

GM and Chrysler are likely to seek the complete elimination of the so-called Jobs Bank, a program in which laid-off workers continue to get paid even when their plants close and they no longer report for work, the Journal reports. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has said the union will suspend the Jobs Bank.

Taxpayers having to pay for others to sit on their ass even if they are out of work. In polite company its called a welfare check.

"Youths" riot in Malmo, Sweden.

World: The generic youths of Europe riot again in another city, the legendary Malmo.

Hundreds of youths who have rioted against police in the southern Swedish town of Malmo for two straight nights this week gathered again but no serious clashes took place.

After cars and garbage bins were set ablaze and stones were thrown against police in violent clashes on Wednesday and Thursday in the heavily-immigrant populated neighbourhood of Rosengaard, youths assembled relatively quietly on Friday.

They were watched by a large police deployment that had switched to a new tactic of engaging them in dialogue in a bid to prevent a third night of riots.

The troubles began as a quiet protest linked to the recent closure of an Islamic cultural centre in Rosengaard that housed a mosque, but have spread to become a general expression of discontent among disadvantaged youths.

The police "think they can appease us by joking with us, but they hassle us all the time, they arrest us for nothing and then they're surprised that we fight back," Ahmed Baccar, a 20-year-old unemployed Palestinian with a shaved head, told AFP.

"And they hit 11- and 12-year-old kids, set their dogs on us like they did yesterday, and then you want us to like them," said his friend Rached El Ali, an 18-year-old Palestinian.

Police reinforcements had been called in from Stockholm and Gothenburg.

While the evening was primarily calm, demonstrators did set off firecrackers and five cars and several large garbage bins were set on fire, police said.

Chavez takes over a mall for socialism sakes.

World: We have come to this under Chavez.

President Hugo Chavez ordered construction halted on a major shopping mall in Caracas on Sunday, saying the government will expropriate the unfinished building.
Chavez said the new Sambil mall would severely clog downtown Caracas with traffic and would not be permitted to open its doors.

"We're going to expropriate that and turn it into a hospital—I don't know—a school, a university," Chavez said to applause during his Sunday television and radio program, "Hello, President."

Constructora Sambil, the company building the mall, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It operates Sambil malls in cities across Venezuela, including another vast shopping center in Caracas.

Chavez objected to the new mall scheduled to open in Caracas' downtown La Candelaria district next year, saying the area is already so crowded that "not a soul fits." The hulking concrete and brick structure takes up an entire city block and according to the Sambil Web site was to include 273 shops.

The Venezuelan leader said it would be out of line with his government's socialist vision to allow such a mall to take up precious urban real estate—and that unbridled consumerism isn't his idea of progress either.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rob Parker of Detroit News needs to be fired.

Media: Security should have thrown this bastard out of the media room on his ass.

Marinelli was repeatedly asked about the job done by defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who is his son in law. It’s a relationship that infuriates fans: cronyism killing the team. Marinelli wouldn’t specifically blame Barry. This was on the head coach first. Finally Detroit News columnist Rob Parker laid it out. “Do you wish your daughter had married a better defensive coordinator?” “Next question,” Marinelli said.

The exchange on television makes Parker even more of an asshole than it reads even here. You can question the coach but he stepped over the line with that last question. He should have been fired when it was found out he makes up stories.