Friday, March 30, 2007

Most Children Left Behind

The typical child in the USA stands only a one-in-14 chance of having a consistently rich, supportive elementary school experience, say researchers who looked at what happens daily in thousands of classrooms. The findings, published today in the weekly magazine Science, take teachers to task for spending too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, reasoning, science and social studies. They also suggest that U.S. education focuses too much on teacher qualifications and not enough on teachers being engaging and supportive. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, educational researchers spent thousands of hours in more than 2,500 first-, third- and fifth-grade classrooms, tracking kids through elementary school. It is among the largest studies done of U.S. classrooms, producing a detailed look at the typical kid's day.

Fifth-graders spent 91.2% of class time in their seats listening to a teacher or working alone, and only 7% working in small groups, which foster social skills and critical thinking. Findings were similar in first and third grades. In fifth grade, 62% of instructional time was in literacy or math; only 24% was devoted to social studies or science. About one in seven (14%) kids had a consistently high-quality "instructional climate" all three years studied. Most classrooms had a fairly healthy "emotional climate," but only 7% of students consistently had classrooms high in both. There was no difference between public and private schools.

Although all teachers surveyed had bachelor's degrees — and 44% had a master's — it didn't mean that their classrooms were productive. The typical teacher scored only 3.6 out of seven points for "richness of instructional methods," and 3.4 for providing "evaluative feedback" to students on their work.
  • JJ Commentary: Standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind Act reduce classroom instruction to the lowest common denominator focused more on test results than on learning.

Evolving Premises

NEW YORK (AP) — The big dinosaur extinction of 65 million years ago didn't produce a flurry of new species in the ancestry of modern mammals after all, says a huge study that challenges a long-standing theory. Scientists who constructed a massive evolutionary family tree for mammals found no sign of such a burst of new species at that time among the ancestors of present-day animals. Only mammals with no modern-day descendants showed that effect. "I was flabbergasted," said study co-author Ross MacPhee, curator of vertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

At the time of the dinosaur demise, mammals were small, ranging in size between shrews and cats. The long-held view has been that once the dinosaurs were gone, mammals were suddenly free to exploit new food sources and habitats, and as a result they produced a burst of new species. The new study says that happened to some extent, but that the new species led to evolutionary dead ends. In contrast, no such burst was found for the ancestors of modern-day mammals like rodents, cats, horses, elephants and people.
  • JJ Commentary: And so it goes with evolutionary theory. New data doesn’t fit? Fine, revise the premises – over and over again. Never mind questioning the original premise.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Identity Theft Prevention

BOSTON (AP) — More than two months after first disclosing that hackers accessed customers' financial data from its computers, discount retailer TJX has revealed that information from at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards was stolen over an 18-month period. In a regulatory filing that gives the first detailed account of the breach initially disclosed in January, the owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and other stores in North America and the United Kingdom also said another 455,000 customers who returned merchandise without receipts had their personal data stolen, including driver's license numbers.

TJX spokeswoman Sherry Lang said the extent of the damage may never be known because of the methods used by the intruder. Much of the transaction data was deleted by TJX in the normal course of business between the time of the thefts and the time they were discovered, the filing said, making it impossible to know how many card numbers were obtained.
  • JJ Commentary: Identity theft, like terrorism, cannot be fully contained. Our best protection is prayer and the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, March 19, 2007

God-Given Land

The European Union supports Syria's goal of regaining the occupied Golan Heights from Israel, the EU foreign policy chief said after meeting President Bashar Assad on Wednesday, on a visit that ended a two-year freeze on high-level EU contacts with Damascus. "We would like to work as much as possible to see your country Syria recuperate the territory taken in 1967," Javier Solana told a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, according to Ynet News. Syria has made it clear that its cooperation to help end violence in Iraq was tied to Western, especially US, backing for its peaceful campaign to regain the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied during the Middle East war four decades ago.
  • JJ Commentary: Notably missing from this dialogue is that God said this land belonged to Israel.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Global Hysteria

ABC NEWS INTERNATIONAL: From the Babylon of Gilgamesh to the post-Eden of Noah, every age has viewed climate change cataclysmically, as retribution for human greed and sinfulness. In the 1970s, the fear was "global cooling." The Christian Science Monitor then declaimed, "Warning: Earth's climate is changing faster than even experts expect," while The New York Times announced, "A major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable." Sound familiar? Global warming represents the latest doom-laden "crisis," one demanding sacrifice to Gaia for our wicked fossil-fuel-driven ways.

Extreme weather events are ever present, and there is no evidence of systematic increases. Outside the tropics, variability should decrease in a warmer world. If this is a "crisis," then the world is in permanent "crisis," but will be less prone to "crisis" with warming. Sea levels have been rising since the end of the last ice age, most rapidly about 12,000 years ago. In recent centuries, the average rate has been relatively uniform. The rate was higher during the first half of the 20th century than during the second. At around a couple of millimeters per year, it is a residual of much larger positive and negative changes locally. The risk from global warming is less than that from other factors (primarily geological).
  • JJ Commentary: Global hysteria leads to more global government.

Deadly Deceptions

JERUSALEM — A prominent scholar looking into the factual basis of a popular but widely criticized documentary film that claims to have located the tomb of Jesus said Tuesday that a crucial piece of evidence filmmakers used to support their claim is a mistake. Stephen Pfann, a textual scholar and paleographer at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said he has released a paper claiming the makers of The Lost Tomb of Jesus were mistaken when they identified an ancient ossuary from the cave as belonging to the New Testament's Mary Magdalene. The filmmakers also suggest that Mary Magdalene was buried in the tomb, that she and Jesus were married, and that an ossuary labeled "Judah son of Jesus" belonged to their son.

The scholars who analyzed the Greek inscription on one of the ossuaries after its discovery read it as "Mariamene e Mara," meaning "Mary the teacher" or "Mary the master." Before the movie was screened, Jacobovici said that particular inscription provided crucial support for his claim. The name Mariamene is rare, and in some early Christian texts it is believed to refer to Mary Magdalene. But having analyzed the inscription, Pfann, who made a brief appearance in the film as an ossuary expert, published a detailed article on his university's website asserting that it doesn't read "Mariamene" at all.

The inscription, Pfann said, is made up of two names inscribed by two different hands: the first, "Mariame," was inscribed in a formal Greek script, and later, when the bones of another woman were added to the box, another scribe using a different cursive script added the words "kai Mara," meaning "and Mara." Mara is a different form of the name Martha. According to Pfann's reading, the ossuary did not house the bones of "Mary the teacher," but rather of two women, "Mary and Martha." "In view of the above, there is no longer any reason to be tempted to link this Mary Magdalene or any other person in Biblical, non-Biblical or church tradition," Pfann wrote.
  • JJ Commentary: Satan will use any excuse to cast doubt on Jesus’ resurrection because that is the linchpin of Christianity.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Greed Triumphs

Arizona business leaders are increasingly at odds with Republican Party leadership over immigration issues, particularly leaders who aim to crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers. Last week, 32 chambers of commerce sent a letter to state lawmakers and Gov. Janet Napolitano imploring them to hold off on state actions and work for "comprehensive immigration reform" in Congress this year. This puts the business sector, a key component of the Republican Party, in opposition to the party's leadership in the Legislature, which has made immigration reform a top goal this year.

The business leaders say that an Arizona-only immigration crackdown would hurt the state's competitiveness and make it less attractive for prospective employers. And, they complain, there still is not a surefire way to verify the legal status of would-be employees. That would put employers at risk of prosecution if they're later found to have an unauthorized worker on the payroll.
  • JJ Commentary: Once again greed tops all other motivating factors. The god of mammon rules.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Right Rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court overturned the District of Columbia's long-standing handgun ban Friday, rejecting the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applied only to militias. In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued intermittent enrollment in the militia." The court also ruled the D.C. requirement that registered firearms be kept unloaded, disassembled and under trigger lock was unconstitutional.

"The district's definition of the militia is just too narrow," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the majority Friday. "There are too many instances of 'bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense."
  • JJ Commentary: Wow, a court got it right!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Judicial Madness

A ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that municipal employers have the right to censor the words "natural family," "marriage" and "family values" because that is hate speech and could scare workers. "We are going to take this case right up the steps of the United States Supreme Court," said Richard D. Ackerman, who along with Scott Lively argued the case for the Pro-Family Law Center. "We are simply unwilling to accept that Christians can be completely silenced on the issues of the day – especially on issues such as same-sex marriage, parental rights, and free speech rights," he said.

"Public employees are permitted to curtail employee speech as long as their 'legitimate administrative interests' outweigh the employee's interest in freedom of speech," said the court's opinion by judges B. Fletcher, Clifton and Ikuta, who noted that their writings are "not appropriate for publication."
  • JJ Commentary: That’s odd. I don’t remember “legitimate administrative interests” being a guaranteed right in the Constitution as is freedom of speech.

Monday, March 5, 2007

End-Time Enthusiasm

Pro-Israel ministry leader Jan Markell says she is frustrated that many Christians are apathetic about the idea of the glorious return of Jesus Christ while Muslims, for the most part, demonstrate intense passion and fervor about their belief in the imminent return of their Islamic "messiah." She believes "seeker-sensitive" churches are partly to blame, AgapePress reports. Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, says Muslims around the world, particularly in Iran and Iraq, are causing death, violence, and destruction in attempts to hasten the return of the one they regard as the ultimate savior of mankind, their so-called twelfth Imam or Mahdi.

"When I look at the enthusiasm and, if I can use the word, barbarism that some of the Islamic people are perpetrating for this Islamic Mahdi to return, they are absolutely adamant that there's a great day coming," the ministry spokeswoman says, "and that the Islamic messiah ... is going to transform the Earth." Unfortunately, she notes, she does not see the same kind of enthusiasm among Christians for the prophesied return of the biblical Messiah.
  • JJ Commentary: Please, not the same kind of enthusiasm that results in barbarism. Instead, enthusiasm that produces a passion to save the lost through love, grace and mercy.

Mormon Deceptions

The Christian Post reports that a new Gallup poll found that Americans' favorable and unfavorable views of the Mormon religion are almost evenly split. 46 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Mormon religion in general while 42 percent have a favorable opinion. Those who attend church regularly tend to have highly negative views of Mormons. Americans who seldom or never attend church are more likely to have a favorable view. When asked what comes to mind first when they think about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the most listed term was "polygamy" among both parties who have favorable and unfavorable opinions.

Those holding favorable views of the Mormon religion also listed "good people/kind/caring/strong morals" while those with unfavorable views listed "dislike their beliefs/don't agree with their doctrine/false teachings." The poll comes on the heels of questions about Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has also been invited as the commencement speaker at Regent University.
  • JJ Commentary: Mormonism, which came out of Freemasonry, is a dangerous deception that has lured many unsuspecting people into a religion that believes Satan is Jesus’ brother and co-equals, that Jesus is not God, and that we can be redeemed into various levels of heaven by our good works.

Global Bollocks

Accepted theories about man causing global warming are "lies" claims a controversial new TV documentary. ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ - backed by eminent scientists - is set to rock the accepted consensus that climate change is being driven by humans. The program, to be screened in the U.K. on Thursday March 8, will see a series of respected scientists attack the "propaganda" that they claim is killing the world’s poor. Even the co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, is shown, claiming African countries should be encouraged to burn more CO2.

Controversial director Martin Durkin said: "You can see the problems with the science of global warming, but people just don’t believe you – it’s taken ten years to get this commissioned. "It’s very rare that a film changes history, but I think this is a turning point and in five years the idea that the greenhouse effect is the main reason behind global warming will be seen as total bollocks.
  • JJ Commentary: I don’t know what bollocks are, but I do know that global warming theories are not the slam-dunk that the media want us to believe.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Financial Betrayal

Dozens of major United States banking institutions led by Bank of America are implementing a nationwide amnesty program for millions of illegal immigrants by accepting as valid identification Mexico's matricula consular cards, which are just a "laminated piece of paper," critics of the plan have charged. The plan, which was outlined in a report by the Center for Immigration Studies four years ago, is gaining notoriety only now because of the Mexican government's specific goal of flying under the radar by working with local and area jurisdictions, instead of national leaders, according to the CIS report.

Headlines in the past few weeks on the issue have been dominated by plans by Bank of America to accept the consular cards to establish credit card accounts. Officials with Americans for Legal Immigration also have released a long list of American banking institutions that are moving down the same path. Worse yet, the acceptance of Mexico's card "sets a precedent, making it almost impossible to reject similar cards presented by illegal aliens from other countries, including those which have sent terrorists to the United States in the past," the report said.
  • JJ Commentary: It’s not surprising that our financial institutions, motivated by greed and avarice, would undermine the illiegal immigration situation. The New World (Dis)Order has made it a point to gain control of finance and the media to further their goal of a one-world government.