Austin


Iran democracy vigil 012

Tex & I managed to stay silent for the entire minute of silence, but, o be perfectly fair, no one else at tonight’s Austin vigil was silent either.

iran-democracy-vigil-019

Most of the 700+ people who protested with candles were Iranian, and they all seemed to know each other.  Between me and Betsy, we knew three other people, but everyone was there for peaceful purposes.  In addition to the protesters, there were police officers on bicycles and a few regular joggers and bicycle riders who happened to be using the same bridge.

I spoke with a 19-yr-old student who has family in the South of Iran and a grandmother in Teheran.  She says that her grandmother hasn’t left her apartment at all in the past 10 days, but she feels safe living on the 19th floor of a large apartment building.

iran-democracy-vigil-005Tex spoke with a family that was in Iran in 1977-79 and the mom left with her infant daughter four days before Iranians took over the U.S. Embassy there.  The whole family are dual citizens and want their votes counted in both countries.

Austin has six TV stations, and five of them had satellite trucks at the vigil.  There were also print reporters and a few radio stations.

iran-democracy-vigil-019We walked back to the parking lot with a family from Iran, and the father of the family said that he missed Wednesday’s rally but was glad that he made it tonight.  He said that he’d have to stay better tuned in because we’ll be needing more vigils and protests, but I sincerely hope that we don’t need any more.

Iran democracy vigil 018

animated texas flagSometimes I think I live in an entirely backwards state that does more harm than good. Other days I read stories like these that make me proud to be a Texan:

El Paso denies feds access to road for border fence

EL PASO, Texas — The country’s largest border city has decided to block efforts by federal authorities to use an access road that cuts across city property to work on existing border fencing.

The El Paso City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque district, from using the access road.

The vote, which City Councilman Steve Ortega described as “symbolic,” is the latest salvo by cities and property owners opposed to plans to build several hundred miles of new fencing in Texas.

“They haven’t made a case of why we need a new fence,” City Councilwoman Susie Byrd said after the vote.

Byrd said she was most concerned by what she described as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s lack of cooperation with local communities.

“The first time we’ve heard from them was today,” Byrd said.

In El Paso, Homeland Security officials have proposed replacing stretches of fencing near the city’s downtown that have been in place for well over a decade. There is also a plan to add new fencing that would cover more than a half-mile near one of the city’s international bridges.

…..Councilman Steve Ortega said the vote sends an important message about the city’s opposition to what he said was a symbolic attempt to secure the border.

“We met symbolism with symbolism,” Ortega said.

Austinites protest ICE presence in Travis Co. jail

Austinites protested federal immigration agents presence inside Travis County jails Tuesday on the front steps of the building.

The group says giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, an office inside the county jail isn’t fair. So along with protesting, the group delivered a letter of protest to the sheriff Tuesday.

The crowd also took turns voicing concerns of racial profiling and of dividing families. Leaders are worried an increased presence of ice will compromise public safety. They say documented and undocumented immigrants will fear reporting crimes because they could be removed from the country.

Sheriff Greg Hamilton responded to their concerns, saying it’s his job to keep the community safe and that means working with other law enforcement agencies.

student taking a test

I agree with the teachers. TOO MANY TESTS! (Also too much homework, which is why I am spending less time on my blog.)

Teacher group says schools should ease up on testing

Educators say they feel the pressure of ratings system.

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The third week of school is under way. In other words, it’s time to start testing.

In the Austin school district, some teachers must start giving benchmark tests, which measures students’ strengths and weaknesses heading into the new year.

. . . . .

The statewide Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills is the favorite punching bag of teachers and parents who say schools are too focused on tests.
But Malfaro said that much of the testing burden in Austin comes not from the state but from district officials who require teachers to give district-produced tests throughout the year.

Ann Smisko, the Austin school district’s associate superintendent for
curriculum, said the district, like most, “regularly assesses students for one main reason: to ensure that children receive better, more focused classroom instruction.”

Smisko said the district uses benchmark tests at the start of school to see where students are, in the middle of the year to measure progress and at the end to see whether students need extra help before moving to the next grade.

District officials said the number of days per year that a class spends on testing varies by grade and campus.

Ken Zarifis, who teaches eighth-grade language arts at Burnet Middle School in North Austin, said he and colleagues spend more than 40 of the 180 instructional days in a school year giving tests that they do not write themselves.

Those tests include state-written exams such as the TAKS and district-produced tests, such as six-week exams and the three-times-a-year benchmark tests.

 

solar panelsOK. Texas started. In addition to the ones mentioned here, there are also schools with some solar panels. Can the whole country do this? Can we do a better job at recycling at school? Can we turn in more work electronically and not on paper? Can they cut down on the AC sometimes? What’s happening where you live?

Schools find it easy being green

Districts strive to make campuses eco-friendly.

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, August 26, 2007

When it comes to building schools, district leaders and taxpayers are focused on being green: being environmentally friendly as well as fiscally responsible.

Several campuses are opening for the first time Monday in the Austin area, and dozens of other campuses and school buildings are under construction or are being renovated. Many have gone green — using recyclable materials in construction and operation and saving on water and energy — as part of a nationwide movement that touts green schools as healthier for students and cheaper to operate.

Almost four years ago, the Austin school district made the largest purchase to date of renewable energy from Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program: 45.7 million kilowatt-hours annually of solar, wind or geothermal power. It was the largest such purchase by a school district nationwide. The district is eligible for $430,000 in Austin Energy rebates for environmentally friendly projects in the 2004 $519.5 million bond program.

When Pickle Elementary School opened in Northeast Austin in 1999, it was the first Austin campus to include green building features like proper solar orientation to better take advantage of natural light, which helps it use 25 percent less energy than other campuses, along with rainwater collection to replace water that evaporates out of air conditioners and salvaged long-leaf pine floors. An analysis estimates that those features will save the district $12 million over the life of the school.

Schools represent the largest construction sector in the nation, with $53 billion being spent this year, and they are the fastest-growing market for green building, which is expected to account for 5 percent to 10 percent of the school construction market by 2010, according to the Council of Educational Facility Planners International.

About 60 schools across the country, including two in Dallas and Houston, have been certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization in Washington that sets “green” standards. An additional 370 are in the pipeline; one San Marcos school is among the nine in Texas.

I wonder who is behind THESE people.

Not everyone believes that it’s easier being green, however. Saying that building costs would skyrocket, the Fast Growth School Coalition, a group of 124 Texas school districts, helped defeat a bill during the most recent legislative session that would have required all school construction to fall in line with standards set by the Green Building Council.

I just got this email. But it sounds like people in other states can call their governor too.

—Freckles Cassie

Dear Cassie,

George Bush has done it again. He has sided with insurance and drug company profits over the health and well-being of our nation’s children. Late Friday night, the Bush administration released a letter to state health officials that
effectively eliminated health insurance coverage for millions of American kids. This underhanded one-size-fits-all cutback limits Texas’s ability to cover uninsured kids and cripples any chance of reasonable expansion.¹

What can you do? Let’s face it; President Bush isn’t going to take your call.

On the other hand, when the governor of a state calls, even Bush will listen.

Call Governor Perry right now and demand that Texas stands up to President Bush’s anti-children campaign.

Governor Rick Perry
512 463-2000

Here’s what you can say:

“President Bush’s new rules which reduce the availability of the Children’s Health Insurance Program for uninsured kids must be repealed. Governor Perry must call President Bush today and demand a complete rollback of the new rules. Can I count on the governor to stand up for our kids?”

Please report how your call went here:
http://www.DemocracyforAmerica.com/chipcalls

This is a very important time. Congress is poised to send an extensive expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Plan to Bush’s desk next month, and Bush has already threatened to veto it. If we amp up the pressure now on a rules change they didn’t even think we’d notice, we send Bush and Republicans in Congress a clear message that the health of America’s children always comes first.

Please call the Governor right now. Your neighbor’s kid might be depending on it.

Charles Chamberlain

Political Director

¹: “Rules May Limit Health Program Aiding Children” NYTimes,8-21-2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/washington/21health.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

 

Lady Bird Johnson in the wildflowers

LADY BIRD JOHNSON — 1912-2007

Former first lady and conservationist.

If Austin can do it, then so can other cities!

—Freckles

wind turbines   house with solar panels in austin, tx  solar panels in Austin, TX

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Austin considered nation’s top city for clean energy

City gets high marks for enviro-friendly initiatives


WEST COAST BUREAU
Monday, March 12, 2007

LAS VEGAS — In the 1970s and 1980s, cities across America bet their economic futures on recruiting banks, insurance companies and other white-collar employers to replace factory and farm jobs.

In the 1990s, it was the computer industry. Then came biotech firms. The latest rage in economic development is “clean energy” companies that do everything from building windmills and solar panels to turning cow manure into fuel.

“This is bigger” than previous growth industries, said Lara Valentine, who was hired by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce to lure clean energy companies to the Texas capital. “Everything we do in this world revolves around energy.”

Austin, which became a hub for high tech during the computing revolution, is fast gaining recognition as a nationwide leader in clean energy and other clean technology ventures.

“Austin right now is the leading city in America” when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts, said Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, which promotes the industry.

Austin’s Clean Energy Incubator, a joint effort involving the city, Austin Energy and the University of Texas, is the first of its kind and has garnered national accolades. Started in 2001, the center helps clean energy ventures find funding and get their ideas to market.

About 18 companies have gotten a start in the program, including businesses that make biodiesel fuel, turn waste tires into electricity, make more efficient turbines and use the Internet to reduce irrigation needs.

The city’s Climate Protection Plan, a pet project of Mayor Will Wynn, is considered among the most forward-thinking municipal programs in the country.

The plan, which officials passed last month, calls for all city buildings to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy by 2012 and for the entire fleet of city vehicles to run on either electricity or nonpetroleum fuels by 2020. It also could make Austin building codes the most energy-efficient in the nation.

City-owned Austin Energy is becoming known nationally for its clean energy efforts.

The utility plans to get 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020, and Wynn’s office has said he would not support a traditional pulverized coal plant if a new generating facility is needed.

Austin Energy’s Green Choice program, which lets customers choose whether they want to get their energy solely from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, claims to be the nation’s biggest and has been so successful that there’s a backlog of customers who want to join.

More recently, Austin Energy announced that it would open up its power grid to clean energy companies from across the country looking for a place to test new technologies. Besides providing new sources of clean energy for Austin Energy, the program could help recruit more clean energy companies to the city.

Last month, SustainLane Government, a group that tracks sustainable living programs in U.S. cities, named Austin the nation’s No. 1 city for clean technology.

Balcones Recycling Inc. last week disclosed plans for another clean energy first for the city.

The Austin-based company said it plans to build a 125-acre Environomics Park northeast of downtown to recruit similar clean tech companies from around the globe. Balcones eventually wants to build a plant at the site to make alternative fuel pellets from recycled paper, similar to another plant it operates in Arkansas.

The city’s leadership role in clean energy is starting to pay off by attracting new companies to the area.

Among them: DT Solar, which last month picked Austin for its Southwest headquarters, which will probably create about 25 jobs. DT Solar, which is backed by media mogul Ted Turner, develops solar energy plants.

But Austin isn’t alone.

One year ago at the annual Power-Gen renewable energy conference in Las Vegas, Austin was the only city trying to recruit clean tech and clean energy companies, Valentine said.

Last week, economic development officials from New York, Washington, Oregon, the United Kingdom, Germany and elsewhere also had booths.

“Clean tech . . . is the next big thing,” Oregon economic development liaison Glenn Montgomery said.

This month, German solar cell company Solarworld AG said it had picked Hillsboro, Ore., for a plant that will employ at least 1,000 workers.

Other states are getting into the clean energy act, too.

Florida officials last month awarded the first of $15 million in renewable technology grants for clean tech ventures. Among the winners were projects to promote solar energy use, to make ethanol from citrus and sugar cane waste and to replace natural gas in factories with gas from switch grass and other plant materials. Gov. Charlie Crist recently recommended a $68 million spending package on other ways to encourage alternative energy businesses.

California, the leader in solar energy and other alternative energy use, is investing heavily too. Late last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a $95 million package to support research, and this year, he launched an unprecedented solar power initiative.

In a major coup, the state and the University of California at Berkeley in February landed a $500 million clean energy research program funded by petroleum industry giant BP.

Whenever a new solar power company comes to town, whenever an ethanol refinery opens up, whenever a new wind turbine operation starts spinning, it creates jobs, Eckhart said.

Running a wind energy farm or installing solar panels doesn’t take as many workers as a factory churning out personal computers or semiconductors. And for now, clean energy initiatives are absorbing subsidies from states and cities, not creating tax revenue.

But governments are making the investment because they see the new businesses as requiring less infrastructure, polluting less and providing energy rather than consuming it.

“For every kilowatt of energy produced by renewable energy, about five jobs are created,” Valentine said.

What’s different about clean energy today is that it’s not just environmentalists talking about the benefits, Eckhart said. It “has now become a positive growth industry.”

Top cities for clean technology

1. Austin: Although cited specifically for its Clean Energy Incubator and Austin Energy’s plans to open up its grid to clean energy companies that want to test innovations, the city’s ambitious green energy plans also count.

2. San Jose, Calif.: Got good marks for its abundant venture capital sources and its major push into solar technologies.

3. Berkeley, Calif.: Could become a hotbed for biofuel research after the University of California at Berkeley landed a $500 million grant from petroleum giant BP and additional state funding to create an Energy Biosciences Institute.

4. Pasadena, Calif.: Got accolades for its Entretech high-tech development group and energy research being done at the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech.

5. Boston: Besides California, it leads the nation in clean technology venture capital investments. Programs such as the Ignite Clean Energy Competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also are fostering clean energy industry growth.

Runners-up: San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Diego and Houston.

Source: March rankings by SustainLane, which tracks sustainable living and clean technology initiatives

bkeefecoxnews.com

 
 
 


Find this article at:
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/03/12/12cleantech.html

 

Also check out: GreenChoice® Energy Sources from AustinEnergy.

Many thanks to Jordan for alerting me to this story, which is happening practically in my own back yard, right in Taylor, Texas!

—Freckles

From Texas cell, Canadian, 9, pleads for help

Family in limbo after unscheduled stop in Puerto Rico

From Friday’s Globe and Mail

AUSTIN, TEX. — Even if you try to look past the eight-metre-high chain-link fence, beyond the scores of uniformed guards patrolling the perimeter and away from the cameras, metal detectors and lasers, there isn’t the slightest evidence of children inside the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center.

No one is playing outside; there are no sounds of laughter.

But inside the thick, whitewashed walls of this former maximum-security prison in the heart of Texas are about 170 children — including a nine-year-old Canadian boy named Kevin.

Call it international limbo. Detained by U.S. Customs officials after their flight to Toronto made an unscheduled stop on American soil nearly four weeks ago, Kevin and his Iranian parents, Majid and Masomeh, feel they are being held hostage not only by the physical parameters of Hutto, but by the politics of nationality.

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Related to this article Enlarge Image

'Dear Mr. Prime minister haper I don’t like to stay in this jail. I’m only nine years old. I want to go to my school in Canada. I’m sleeping beside the wall. Please Mr. Priminister haper give visa for my family. This place is not good for me. I want to get out of the cell. Just pleace give visa for my family. My home land is in Canada, My life is over there. I’m also sleeping beside wasroom. Mr. Priminister haper pleace bring me and my family to Canada. Thank you so much.'

‘Dear Mr. Prime minister haper I don’t like to stay in this jail. I’m only nine years old. I want to go to my school in Canada. I’m sleeping beside the wall. Please Mr. Priminister haper give visa for my family. This place is not good for me. I want to get out of the cell. Just pleace give visa for my family. My home land is in Canada, My life is over there. I’m also sleeping beside wasroom. Mr. Priminister haper pleace bring me and my family to Canada. Thank you so much.’

_______________________________________________

“We can’t go home because I am Canadian but my parents are not,” Kevin said in a telephone interview with The Globe and Mail — no personal interviews have been granted.

Majid and Masomeh — they prefer their last name not be used — initially fled Iran for Canada in January, 1995, to seek political asylum. Majid did odd jobs, eventually becoming manager of an east Toronto pizza parlour, paying the rent for their one-bedroom apartment.

In 1997, their only son, Kevin, was born. “For the first time, I was happy,” Majid said from the Hutto detention facility.

“I had my family with me — it’s the only family I have — we didn’t have any problems and we lived happy in Toronto.”

Kevin attended a Toronto school until Grade 3. Meanwhile, his parents were seeking refugee status, based on fear of persecution in Iran, but their application was denied and, in December, 2005, the family of three was deported.

Upon their arrival in Tehran, Majid said he was taken away from his family to a prison cell. For three months, he was detained, beaten and tortured, he said. When he was released, the three were reunited, and, with the help of friends and relatives, they connected with a people smuggler in Tehran.

“I pay him $40,000 to [get us] to Canada. It included everything: fake passports, tickets. He got $20,000 in Iran, and $20,000 in Turkey.”

(more…)

There should be more stories like this, and the public should be more involved in helping the troops and their families. 365 deaths from just one military base!!!! And for what??? Why are we still in Iraq? The mission is over.

—-Freckles

memorial picture


Fort Hood support center: http://www.goldstarfamilysupport.org/

Army families: http://www.armyfamiliesonline.org/skins/WBLO/home.aspx

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Military Faces Growing Ranks of Bereaved


AP National Writer
One of the first sights greeting visitors to Fort Hood is a day-care center’s playground, brightly colored evidence of the Army’s commitment to be family friendly.

A few blocks away is a more poignant symbol: an office building recently converted into a first-of-its-kind support center for women and children whose husbands and fathers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. From Fort Hood alone, the toll has passed 365.

This photo, provided by war widow Melissa Storey, shows Melissa with her 4-year-old daughter, Adela, Dec. 16, 2006, on a hotel balcony in Anaheim. Calif., where they were attending a holiday gathering for families of fallen service members. Melissa, whose husband, Army Staff Sgt. Clint Storey, was killed in Iraq last August, is pregnant with a son conceived during her last days with her husband. (AP Photo/Courtesy Melissa Storey)

“It’s our sanctuary,” said Ursula Pirtle, whose daughter frequents a playroom at the center. Three-year-old Katie never met her father, Heath. He was killed in Iraq in 2003.

Over the past 15 years, America’s armed forces have taken huge strides to retain married service members — improving schools, health programs and child care. But now, as never before in this family-embracing era, the military is struggling with the toughest home-front problem of all: Doing right by the often outspoken and ever-growing ranks of the bereaved.

Of the 3,350 Americans who died in Iraq and Afghanistan through early January, 1,586 of them — 47.3 percent — were married. Those fallen warriors left behind 1,954 children, according to the Pentagon’s Manpower Data Center. More recent deaths have pushed that figure past 2,000.

Compared to the heavily draftee combat troops of the Vietnam war, today’s volunteer fighting force is older, more reliant on National Guard and Reserve citizen-soldiers, and more likely to be married.

And more so than their Vietnam counterparts, the new generation of bereaved spouses has been vocal — on their bases, at congressional hearings — in pressing for more compassionate, effective support.

It’s a constituency that politicians and generals do not want to alienate. The result has been numerous policy changes, ranging from improved benefits to better training for the officers who break the grim news of war-zone deaths. Even the Fort Hood support center materialized due to pressure from widows and their allies.

But the learning process is ongoing and the results are mixed.

“The war on terror has presented us with new challenges we haven’t seen before, in terms of number of casualties,” said an Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Kevin Arata. “We know we’re not perfect — there are things families have said we can do better, and we’ve listened to that.”

Interviews with a dozen widows at Fort Hood and across the country reveal varied experiences, but also some common bonds.

Across the board, the widows are proud of their husbands — even if they disagree on the wisdom of the Iraq war. Each woman is still grieving, and those with children have extra worries — financial and psychological — that extend far into the future.

Some are deeply grateful for the support provided by the military after their husbands’ deaths; others are critical. Among the common complaints — that notification and assistance officers were sometimes ill-informed or aloof, and that they were bounced through different parts of the military bureaucracy when seeking help.

“We have to have someone who knows what they’re talking about,” Pirtle said. “The blind-leading-the-blind system isn’t working out.”

(more…)

Ugh!!!!!! Coal? THAT’s the best we can do???? Ugh!!!! We protested against coal just a few weeks ago. Not sure we did any good.

Rockdale smelter

Central Texas plant gets OK

By SCOTT STREATER
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER

TXU Corp. received permission Wednesday to move forward with plans to construct a coal-fired power plant in Central Texas. The plant is one of three that the company’s prospective new owners still plan to build.

A federal judge in Austin approved a settlement Wednesday among TXU, the Justice Department and Alcoa Inc. that allows TXU to build the Sandow power plant in Milam County, about 50 miles south of Waco.

The Sandow plant will replace three older coal-fired units used to power Alcoa’s aluminum smelter in Rockdale and will be much cleaner.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks comes days after two private equity firms working to buy TXU announced that they’ll scrap plans to build eight of the 11 power plants. They also agreed to commit to other clean-air initiatives that drew raves from many environmentalists, elected leaders and citizens groups fiercely opposed to the plants. (more…)


p2110010.jpg Today I was with hundreds of other people protesting against the governor’s plan to use 9 additional power plants for coal. There were people of all different ages, and a lot of people brought their dogs. They had different kinds of political music there and lots of speeches. One was by a state senator, one by a pastor, one by a doctor, and a few by high school and college kids. Here are some pictures. I wrote about the rally last week and you can read that post here. (Thanks Betsy for taking photos!)

MONDAY UPDATE: There is a story and pictures about the protest in today’s Austin-American Statesman.

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Just got this from MoveOn. I hope to go. If you are in Texas, please come.

—Freckles

Governor Rick Perry and the Texas State Legislature are deciding whether or not to build 19 new dirty coal-fired power plants. Come to Austin and tell them we need a clean energy future—not more health problems and global warming! Can you come to the State Capitol for the rally?

Stop the Coal Rush Rally
Sunday, February 11th, 2007
3:00 p.m.

And if you can, stay for the Citizen’s Lobby Day
Monday, February 12th, 2007
2:00 p.m.

Register here: http://www.stopthecoalrush.com/moveon


Dear MoveOn member,
Governor Rick Perry is pushing through the construction of 19 new dirty coal-fired power plants in Texas—just as the new Congress is getting serious about global warming solutions in D.C. These plants alone would release more greenhouse gasses into the air than would be cut by the most progressive proposals currently in Congress.

He is rushing to get the coal plants built before any new legislation kicks in, and if he succeeds, he’ll be unilaterally taking us backward in our urgent fight against global warming. And Texans can look forward to more bad air quality days and increased asthma rates.

A coalition of groups including American Lung Association and Texas Sierra Club Legal Action have organized a rally at the Capitol in Austin at noon this Sunday to stop this. Can you join them to demand that Texas pursue a clean energy future?

Click here to attend the Stop the Coal Rush Rally:

http://www.stopthecoalrush.com/moveon

What: Stop the Coal Rush Rally
When: Sunday Feb. 11 at 3:00 pm
Where: Texas State Capitol
Austin, TX

Already, more than half of Texans live in areas where the air fails to meet federal minimum health-based standards. These plants would add an additional 124.5 million tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the skies over Texas each year, further threatening the health of Texas citizens and accelerating the pace of global warming.

(more…)

This is important news, and I am very glad that this program is starting. I hope they also offer it for free to 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th grade girls as well.

—Freckles

UPDATE:

According to Ralph Blumenthal in today’s New York Times,

Under the order, girls and women from 9 to 21 eligible for public assistance could get free shots immediately. The governor’s office said parents could opt out of the school program “for reasons of conscience, including religious beliefs.”
nurseVaccine   nurse1.gif

Governor requires HPV vaccine for sixth-grade girls

Sexually transmitted virus can cause cervical cancer.

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, February 03, 2007 nurse

Gov. Rick Perry on Friday issued an executive order calling for all girls entering sixth grade in Texas, starting in September 2008, to receive a vaccine against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. While Texas parents will be allowed to opt out of having their daughters get the vaccine, conservative groups are protesting.

Texas is the first state requiring girls to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, the country’s most common sexually transmitted disease.
Some strains of HPV cause cervical cancer, a disease that killed nearly 400 Texans in 2006, the governor’s office said.

“The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer,” Perry said. “Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs.”

Texas Capitol

But Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum, a pro-family organization that opposes mandating the vaccine, said it gives girls false hope that sex is safe.

“We’re very unhappy because it’s not a crisis, because parental rights are being usurped and we believe young girls are being experimented upon,” Adams said. “Would they be more promiscuous? Chances are very good that they would be.”

Perry ordered that the vaccine be made immediately available to low-income Texans through the Texas Vaccines for Children and Medicaid programs.

That would cost $50 million in the first year: $29.4 million in state funds and the rest in federal funds, said Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody.

The market cost of the vaccine, Gardasil, is $360 for the three-dose series.

Federal officials approved the vaccine in June and added it to a list of recommended vaccines for girls. Most insurance companies cover vaccines
on that list.

Merck, the drug company that makes Gardasil, is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating the vaccine for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

Perry received $6,000 from Merck’s political action committee during his
re-election campaign. And one of the drug company’s three lobbyists in
Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff.

“This is not a political issue,” Moody said. “This is an issue of women’s health.” State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, author of a bill proposing a
required HPV vaccine for girls, said Perry’s order is “terrific news.”

“A big chunk of my work is done,” said Farrar, who said she had precancerous cells removed a few years ago after having an abnormal Pap
smear. “I’m very excited he’s made this such a priority. This is going
to save so many lives. This is going to wipe out a cancer.”

(more…)

In the past few days, two people died who’ve affected my life indirectly. The first was Molly Ivins, one of my role models and a great liberal Texas voice. The second was Kenneth Kincaid, who I never met, but who must have done something right to raise Bob Kincaid and to be so admired by him.

I’ve also been touched by a few other deaths in the past year. The most horrible was the sudden death of a 7th grade girl that I knew, a girl I went to elementary school with. She was younger than me and died only a few hours after getting sick. That was super sad for her family and for the whole community. She died while she was on a school trip, and that made it even worse.

The other death was of a 38 year old man who was the father of a friend of mine. He spent almost three years dying, and a lot of that time preparing his family and himself for his death. He wrote letters that Elyse will read when she graduates high school and when she gets married. He also recorded videos for her and her mom.

dove

I have an internet friend who is dying of cancer, and who talks about it. Yesterday he said that he will soon be visiting with Molly, and that got me thinking even more about death. I will miss him a tremendous amount when he dies, but I don’t know what will happen to him. The real him, the soul and not the body.

I have no idea what happens to us after we die. I don’t know if our mind or soul goes to the places we visit in our best dreams or if we see the people that died before us or if nothing at all happens and it’s just over. I don’t know if we go with angels or with God or old friends. I don’t know if this is something I will understand better when I get older or if it’s just something to think more about.

I also think about how I never met my grandparents and about how I will feel when my parents die. I think I probably won’t feel too much about my dad’s death because he hasn’t been in my life since I was five. But I think about my mom dying a lot. She’s an addict and she’s in prison, so her chances of dying early are pretty high. I worry about her and hope she gets better. She also abused me really badly for a long time and part of me thinks it will be easier to finish getting past all that myself after she dies. I don’t wish her dead, but I don’t know how I will react when she does die.

My brother is in the military, but he is safe and sound in Texas. I can not even imagine life without him, so I refuse to even consider the idea that he will die before he turns 100.

—————–

I also think about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you asked a kid my age there, how many people would they know that died? Would they be people that died from accidents and diseases? Or from bombs and bullets? How scared are the kids there about never seeing their families again? Or about dying themselves?

—————-

There is no solution to death. But if everyone had all the medical care they needed and if no one started wars, a lot of people would live a lot longer and have a beautiful dignified death with the people they love sitting by their beds.


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Have you ever heard anything this crazy? One middle school has lousy scores so they’re closing it and sending the kids to schools that are just as bad! What a crock! Why not HELP the school and the kids. How do they expect everyone to pass the test when half the kids don’t speak English yet????

Webb WildcatOh, also look at how many of the kids are low income and how many are not white. Think they’d do this at a school where all the kids are white?

Webb Middle School parents react to closure proposal

Most of more than 200 people at meeting scorn proposal.

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, January 26, 2007

More than 200 people packed a cafeteria at Webb Middle School on Thursday,
most of them to condemn a proposal to close the campus in May because
of students’ poor performance on state standardized tests.

“This school doesn’t even have enough textbooks to send home with the children so they can study,” said Melissa Mullins, parent of a sixth-grader. “They need more assistance, not less.”

Austin Superintendent Pat Forgione said he wants the school board to order the
campus, just west of Interstate 35 off St. Johns Avenue, closed before the state does.

The school has received the state’s lowest rating for three years, and if the students fail to meet passing standards in any area on the state achievement test this spring, the state could require closing or alternative management.

School board members, many of whom were in attendance Thursday, are expected to vote on Forgione’s proposal next month.

“We must think this through and do what’s best for our children,” Forgione
said, adding that Webb’s faculty and campus advisory council support his recommendation.

Almost one-third of Webb’s 663 students come from families that constantly move into and out of the area, which can reverse test gains. Nine of 10 Webb students are from low-income families. About half don’t understand English.

Nearly 40 percent of Webb’s teachers declined to return to the campus last year, one of
the highest teacher turnover rates among Austin middle schools.

(more…)

Update: It is ALL CLOSED AGAIN tomorrow. One more day off from school !

YEAY

—Freckles

Icicles
Check out all the stuff that’s closed tomorrow. EVERYTHING!!! They ought to just tell us what’s OPEN during the ice storms!

 

Tuesday: School Cancellations, Closings & Delays

  • ACE Academy
  • Acorn Learning Academy in Round Rock
  • Austin ISD
  • A+ Learning Center in Elgin
  • Austin CAN Academy
  • Austin Community College
  • Austin East Side Story Afterschool Program
  • Austin Graduate School of Theology
  • Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
  • Bartlett ISD opening at 10 a.m.
  • Bastrop ISD
  • Beaver Brooks Children’s Center
  • Bluebonnet Montessori School of Lakeway
  • Brentwood Christian School
  • Brushy Creek Community Center opens at 5 a.m. All morning classes and programs are cancelled.
  • Burnet CISD
  • Busy Bee Learning Center
  • Capital City Kids Daycare
  • Calvary Episcopal Christian School
  • Concordia Academy High School
  • Concordia University
  • Coupland ISD
  • Covenant Presbyterian Preschool
  • Del Valle ISD (more…)

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