Political


School started today and I have to find a news story for a current events assignment.  I don’t think I am using this TIME story, but I do find it weird and interesting.

Rifqa Bary, 17, reads a Bible during her court proceedings in Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 21, 2009
Rifqa Bary, 17, reads a Bible during her court proceedings in Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 21, 2009
Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando Sentinel / Landov
Florida has a knack for turning family dysfunction into national spectacle. Ten years ago it gave us the Elian Gonzalez mess; five years later came the Terri Schiavo debacle. Now we have a new domestic dispute that threatens to become another culture-war circus, complete with a clash-of-religions angle to boot: the battle for Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old girl from Columbus, Ohio, who ran away to an Evangelical church in Orlando, Fla., because, she claims, her Sri Lankan Muslim family has threatened to kill her for recently converting to Christianity.
Forget for a minute that this story has nothing to do with Florida being dysfunctional, the real question is why this is in the news?  Either she’s a minor and her name shouldn’t be used, or she’s an adult and can make her own decisions.  And why is she reading the bible in court?
There’s a lot in the right wing blogs about this story because they see it as anti-Christian discrimination.   They’re focusing on this:
The Orlando lawyer who claims to represent Rifqa, conservative activist John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council (which fought in 2005 to keep Terri Schiavo on life support), last week wrote in a petition to keep the girl in Florida that she “is in imminent threat of harm from the extreme radical Muslim community in her hometown of Columbus.” He warned that one of the world’s largest “cells of al-Qaeda operatives” once worked from a Columbus mosque the Barys have attended.
But there’s a lot more in this story to be concerned about.
For instance, how did they go two weeks without telling the police or CPS?  I have left my home four or five times, and the police have always known about it at the time or an hour or two later.  Almost three weeks?  Why didn’t the people in Florida tell anyone? Did her parents report her missing? Did her friends know where she went?  My best friend knows if I go out of my house for 5 minutes!
The saga began in mid-July when Rifqa, after a dispute with her parents, bolted from her home and rode a bus to Orlando. There she took refuge with the Rev. Blake Lorenz, the pastor of a conservative Christian congregation, the Global Revolution Church, and his wife Beverly, whom the cheerleader and honor student had met on Facebook. Almost three weeks later, on Aug. 6, the Lorenzes finally let authorities and Rifqa’s frantic parents know the girl was with them. Then, a few days later, Rifqa dropped a bombshell to an Orlando television station: she had run away, she claimed, because her family, angry about her conversion to Christianity, had “threatened to kill me.”
Maybe she was taken away from the pastor and his family because it took them so long to contact authorities.
After its probe of the situation this month, Florida’s Department of Children and Family Services took Rifqa from the Lorenzes and placed her in foster care. At a hearing in Orlando on Aug. 21, a judge ruled that she could remain in Florida until he decides, probably at a later hearing slated for Sept. 3, where she should ultimately go.
As Fox News sees it,

Court Expected to Send Runaway Teen Home Despite Muslim Honor Killing Fears

Personally, I think they are exploiting it.  This girl’s story may be good for a newspaper for judges and social workers, but it shouldn’t be on Fox News or in Time Magazine.

living-room

I don’t have a view of the same beach from here, but it’s a nice place and we can hang out until Peanut Butter gets the electricity turned back on over at Relaxed Politics.

No dancing on the tables or breaking stuff!

President Obama got in a lot of trouble this week when the press took a still picture from a video and made it seem like he was looking at a 16 or 17 year old girl’s ass in a tight dress. A few comments on this.

  • That’s NOT what he was looking at. Watch the whole video.

US Magazine says this:

Pictures can be deceiving.

Yesterday, a photo surfaced of President Barack Obama seemingly checking out the backside of a 17-year-old junior delegate at the G-8 summit in Italy.

But new video tells a different story.

See Obama’s “Just Like Us” moments.

It appears Obama wasn’t sneaking a peak; instead, he was just helping another young delegate down the stairs.

But French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s intentions aren’t as clear.

The Head of State — who’s married to former model Carla Bruni — keeps his face drawn toward the 17-year-old.

  • I am a 17 year old girl and I know that if I wear sexy clothes and walk a certain way, MOST men will look at me. It’s the reason I wear short skirts some times and don’t wear them other days. So what if he DID look? Who cares? It’s not like she had an ID out that showed her age.
  • Girls and women have the power to dress the way we want to dress in the United States. And be who we want to be. We don’t all need image consultants, and we don’t all mind if men look at us when we walk past.

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

It’s time to end the Iraq War and Occupation!

Protesters march to Pentagon, call to end Iraq war

(more…)

While it is certainly true that historians and economists are still debating the actual causes of the 1929-1939 Great Depression, some lawmakers and political pundits today are nevertheless making bold and ludicrous claims about what happened back then to support their agendas. Even so, it is still possible to come to a general agreement about some of the positive results of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs despite the partisan bickering.

This timeline shows the date of each relevant event of the 1920’s and 30’s. Many of the country’s financial problems began even before the 1929 Stock Market Crash.

(more…)

These judges should be put in jail in solitary. How much hope have they cost the kids who were innocent? Or who were only guilty of small things? What would they do if it was their own kids?

This is from the New York Times:

Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit

Niko J. Kallianiotis for The New York Times

Hillary Transue was sentenced to three months in juvenile detention for a spoof Web page mocking an assistant principal.

Published: February 12, 2009

At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.

Prosecutors say Judges Michael T. Conahan, and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., above, took kickbacks to send teenagers to detention centers.

Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.

She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.

“I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare,” said Hillary, 17, who was sentenced in 2007. “All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”

The answers became a bit clearer on Thursday as the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.

While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.

“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of anything remotely approaching this,” said Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, who was appointed by the State Supreme Court this week to determine what should be done with the estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003. Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention.

The case has shocked Luzerne County, an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that has been battered by a loss of industrial jobs and the closing of most of its anthracite coal mines.

And it raised concerns about whether juveniles should be required to have counsel either before or during their appearances in court and whether juvenile courts should be open to the public or child advocates.

If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar. They are expected to be sentenced in the next several months. Lawyers for both men declined to comment.

You’d think that they would DEFINITELY be going to jail, right?  Forever?  But the article talks about their pensions!  Like they ought to be around to enjoy them or not!

(more…)

Are you depressed about the last eight years? Of course! But now that it’s ALMOST over, we can start looking back on it.

This is Keith Olbermann’s retrospective from the other night.

I can’t find the transcript, but it will be here when it does come up! 😦

Here are three stories involving kids and the authorities, and my opinions about all three.

When I was 14, I got into serious trouble (at home) for sending a photo of myself in a bathing suit to a good friend, and sending pics of myself fully dressed to man I knew only from the internet. I should have been in trouble. I should have gotten internet restrictions and I should have been taught why it could be a serious problem. But I am very glad I was not arrested like these kids.

Pornotots: Teens Charged With Pornography For Sharing Photos Of Themselves

300px-several_mobile_phonesProsecutors have discovered another hotbed of child pornographers: Greensburg Salem High School. Prosecutors have charged teenagers with child pornography for sharing nude and seminude pictures of themselves over cell phones. The girls are 14 or 15 and the boys are 16 or 17. Pornographers all.

Capt. George Seranko of the Greensburg Pa. Police Department explains that “It was a self portrait taken of a juvenile female taking pictures of her body, nude.” Teachers seized the cell phone and instead of just calling parents, they apparently called police as well. Additional pictures were found. The lesson, Seranko notes, is “Taking nude pictures of yourself, nothing good can come out of it.” Ok, but where to the criminal charges come into the lesson plan? It appears that turning them into felons is the way that the good people of Greensburg educate their children.

This is a national problem of teens sending semi-nude and nude pictures to friends. Should all of these children be moved into the criminal justice system?

The girls are charged with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography while the boys face charges of possession. It seems like there is a need for adult supervision at the Greensburg police and prosecution offices.

The next story is of a case that IS a problem, a case where the father should never have custody or visitation of his daughter:

Quick (depressing) hit: California man sells daughter

From the Associated Press:

Police have arrested a Greenfield man for allegedly arranging to sell his 14-year-old daughter into marriage in exchange for $16,000, 100 cases of beer and several cases of meat.Police said they only learned of the deal after the 36-year-old man went to them to get his daughter back because payment wasn’t made as promised. The man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of human trafficking.

What was that again about feminism being unnecessary? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

(more…)

Congress started today,

Will the Real Senate Please Be Seated

and already fighting with each other,

Senate Dems May Try To Seat Franken

Defiant Burris Heads to Washington to Claim Senate Seat

Obama is back to work in Washington,

Obama Discusses Tax Cut On First Day Back: Wants $500 Tax Cut For Most Workers 

the teachers had to go back, but we have one more day of freedom!

Not sure how much more I will get to post now that I’ll be focusing on classes, debate, clubs, and trying to graduate early or enroll in the dual credit program, so may not be here much.

Happy new purple beach house to the folks at Relaxed Politics!

Why are you a democrat?  Or a republican?  Or a liberal?  Do you know?  Is your vote for sale?  Here’s a true story about a boy from my school who is a republican for life because of skittles!

skittles

When George Bush was governor of Texas, Oscar and his dad won some sort of contest and the prize was a year’s supply of water bottle.  Stupid prize, but OK.  But now Oscar is a republican for life and he’s only 18!

I wonder if there’s a stupider reason for voting republican.


Contradictions, Misleading and Outright Lies: Recent Speeches by Sarah Palin


Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s speeches are excellent examples of the use of propaganda, distortion and dishonesty in support of an ulterior motive.  In Palin’s case, she attempts to energize the base of her party by promising things they want to hear, while using absolutely contradictory and often false buzz words that are the currency of conservatives in this country.

This is some of what she said in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Tuesday:

Our opponents put their faith in government; John and I, we put our faith in all of you.

If they don’t put their faith in government, why would they want “all of us” to put our faith in them?  This is empty rhetoric which is contradicted by the fact that they are running for the presidency.

(more…)

Dear Governor Palin,

I understand that you want to be the VP of a party that thinks no one should ever be able have an abortion no matter what. And you don’t believe in teaching kids about sex and STD’s and birth control. AND your 17 year old daughter is pregnant, still in high school and not married. AND you don’t want us to talk about it because it is your family.

Well Mrs Governor, it doesn’t work that way.

You see, your policies and your republican platform are terrible! They don’t work! Here are some examples:

Abstinence-only sex ed defies common sense. Education policy spreads ignorance, sends confusing message to teens

“One in eight youth are sexually experienced, having engaged in intercourse, oral sex or both before the age of 14,” the Journal of Adolescent Health reported in 2006. According to the Project Connect study, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: * “9 percent reported ever having sexual intercourse…and 8 percent ever had oral sex (active or receptive).” * “Of those who reported intercourse, 36 percent were age 11 or younger at first sex, 27 percent were 12, 28 percent were 13, and 9 percent were 14 or older.” * “Alarmingly, 43 percent of sexually experienced participants reported multiple sex partners.”

Kate Walsh: Abstinence-Only “Not Working.” Cites One-In-Four Teen Girl STDs Rate In U.S. As Proof Fed-Sponsored Sex Ed Needs Broadening

So we do get to talk about your policies. And we do get to talk about hypocrisy. You asked us to repect your family’s privacy, but you won’t respect my family’s privacy to make our own decisions!

“Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that, as parents, we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned,” said Palin, 44, and her husband. “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.” They asked the media to respect their child’s privacy.

How come she gets to make a decision but the rest of the girls and women in America don’t! You won’t even let me learn in school about all the decisions I might need to make!

Governor Palin, when I had my first boyfriend, my brother talked to me and to him about why we shouldn’t have sex. Actually, we had to sit down in my boyfriend’s living room with his parents and my brother and hear all about STD’s and love and all the reasons we were too young for sex. AND they told us about condoms and other ways of preventing pregnancy even though we promised to keep all hands above the waist until at least 16.

Did you have a talk like that with Bristol and her boyfriend? Did anyone show him how to use a condom? These are fair questions because of the policies you advocate for.

I am glad that Bristol decided to have her baby. Will she and her boyfriend raise it? Will they give it up for adoption? Who is going to pay for her to give birth? And for all the other doctor visits?

If you want your family life to stay private, the please don’t bring your family on stage with you when you campaign, and please stop being a hypocrite.

Sincerely,

Cassie

I wear shorts like these

I wear shorts like these

I live in Texas where girls where jeans, short skirts, or short shorts.  I have 2 skirts for times when I have to dress up and one fancy dress.  But, when I came up here for a three week program, I mostly brought shorts, and both skirts, and one pair of jeans.  Here’s the problem: ALL THE GIRLS HERE WEAR LONG SHORTS and I am afraid they will think I look slutty if I wear my regular shorts.  So … do I buy a pair of long ones at the university shop for a zillion dollars a pair?  Or cut up my jeans and make something like this?  Or become best friends with a girl who wears my size?  Or wear jeans every day?  Ack!

Or like the ones on the right.

Or like the ones on the right.

But everyone else wears shorts like these.

But everyone else wears shorts like these.

I could make these from my jeans.

I could make these from my jeans.

I am currently in a college program for HS juniors and seniors interested in US History and the Constitution.  It is a very different program from anything I’ve ever done before, but is completely worth it.  Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

  1. I am learning a lot. (More on that in future posts.

  2. The students here are very smart and interesting, and they’re all interested in learning.  No one acts bored if you give an answer that’s more than three words.

  3. The professor is teh awesome!

  4. This is giving me great experience for when I really do go to college.

  5. There is a TON of food in the dining room and no one cares if you take seconds.

Cons:

  1. The shower in the dorm has no privacy. Ick!

  2. I miss my family.

  3. My brain might explode from all the reading.

  4. I miss my Texas friends.

I have never really gone to any special summer camps, but I went to the rec center camp when I was younger.  Some of my friends have done tennis camp, karate camp, and gymnastics camp.

This year I’m going to a very cool three week program for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in politics and US history.  But check out these camps!

Extreme Summer Camps

News: Goodbye, crafts and color wars. Hello, explosives and Dianetics. Some summer camps for kids with very specialized interests.

July/August 2008 Issue

Lil’ Angels Kids Spa Camp
(Newark, Delaware)
Activities: Etiquette, modeling, mani/pedi, and facial skills in a “magical milieu.” Plus: “Limousine field trips every week—because only the best will do!”
What to Pack: Mommy’s platinum American Express card

American Idol Camp
(Lake Arrowhead, California)
Activities: Singing, dancing, developing “personal style.” Includes “master classes” by past Idol finalists such as Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon, but no guarantee that you’ll end up on the show.
What to Pack: A thick skin

Wagon Train Junior Camp
(Hume, California)
Activities: Discipleship in a Wild West setting. Campers sleep in covered wagons, eat at the Outpost, and study the Good Book with counselors like Wagonmaster Shep and Pancho Peet.
What to Pack: “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammo” T-shirt

Food Allergy Summer Camp
(Edmonton, Alberta)
Activities: Dietary restriction-themed storybooks at bedtime. Milk-free, egg-free, and nut-free cinnamon buns!
What to Pack: EpiPen…just in case

Scientology Camp
(Sheridan, Oregon)
Activities: With L. Ron Hubbard’s study program, “the world of knowledge becomes fully accessible and a young person with abilities and interest discovers his unlimited potential for success.” Plus: Tom Cruise’s kids are rumored to go there.
What to Pack: Solar E-Meter

Spy Camp
(Lake Como, Pennsylvania)
Activities: “Martial arts, code breaking, surveillance techniques and undercover maneuvers.” Plus evasive driving and paintball.
What to Pack: Spy camera (boys); camera-jamming device (girls)

Summer Explosives Camp
(Rolla, Missouri)
Activities: Blowing stuff up. To attend, kids write an essay titled “Why I Am Interested in a Career Focusing on the Application of Explosives.”
What to Pack: atf waiver

Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids
(Papillion, Nebraska)
Activities: Lessons on “the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, Hunter Safety and law, International Bow Education” from the man who brought us “Jailbait,” “I Am a Predator,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Daughters.”
What to Pack: Hunter-orange Ritalin dispenser

Kiera Butler is an associate editor at Mother Jones.

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